His phone made the characteristic “new text” sound. Not even looking down at his phone, he knew what it was going to be: another one of his teammates wondering why he wasn’t at the New Year’s Eve party with the rest of them.
He had already told them that he was still recovering from injury; what more did they want from him? Now he read the text, and, as expected, it was Shayne Whittington: “Yo man where r u? The ball drops in twenty.” This text, like all but the first, did not receive a reply from George. They did not need to know the real reason: he had nobody to kiss when the clock struck midnight.
Yes, he had any number of women who would have died for the chance to attend a party with him as his one and only girlfriend, but that wasn’t the problem. The one person he wanted so badly to kiss was off-limits.
Opening the scrapbook which he had been assembling for years, he looked longingly at the pictures within. Tears began to well up in his eyes. There was him and Paul George on a fishing trip, there was him and Paul George, arms around each other, at a skills camp for little kids, there was a fragment of Paul George’s shooting sleeve, clipped surreptitiously from the original article, there was a large pink heart with “George + George” written within in purple gel pen.
It was all too much. Closing the book, he replaced it in its secret spot. The clock now read 11:59. He thought about Paul George, at the party with everybody else, hugging tight whatever woman had captured his fancy at the moment. The thought made George sick. And when the clock ticked over into the new year, the only sound in George’s apartment was the sound of a grown man sobbing, the sound of a man who had nobody to love.