Part two of my five-part short story Shooting the Sparrow! Find part one here: https://stephanheard.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/shooting-the-sparrow-1/#respond
Petya had many good memories with Andrei. Petya assumed that he would be able to be with him for his entire life, and though that was a little premature to say, Petya felt that the odds were in his favor, that he had luck and fortune. Sure, his family didn’t know, but they honestly didn’t need to know. He was, in a sense, an adult, or at least a mature teenager, and he could live his life the way he imagined.
In one of the best moments that Petya remembered, he was over at Andrei’s place, his parents were gone, it was just the two of them. They were here allowed to be intimate with each other, because no one needed to know. They loved each other, and it wasn’t a secret to them. They were going to do what lovers did. They were going to enjoy themselves, enjoy each other’s company.
They were talking about sparrows.
Andrei said, “I still think sparrows are the most innocent bird out there. I mean, doves are fair competition, but I have to admit, I like the innocence and humility of the sparrow. The sparrow isn’t self-conscious, the sparrow isn’t worried about impressing anyone. He just kind of exists in nature, doing his thing: the sparrow just wants to procreate and fly.”
Petya nodded his head. “Yes. Sparrows are a beautiful creature. They’re so unassuming, you know?”
Andrei laughed. “Yes. Unassuming. If only us together, could be that unassuming,” Andrei said to Petya, and he looked at Petya with that wonderful look of admiration that Petya was used to and loved deeply.
They were going to kiss.
“If only we were all as innocent as the sparrow,” Petya said. “If only we could be that simple.”
“But we aren’t simple, of course,” Andrei said, with that wisdom that he had, that Petya loved. “We wish we could keep things simple, for our own sake and our own sanity, but we are hardwired to create our own problems. It’s frustrating, but, you know: we do it.”
“But I’m not going to do that with you,” Petya said, and moved closer to Andrei, gave him a gentle kiss. To Petya, it felt good, it felt sinful and pure. He had been worried recently about some of the propaganda being distributed in his hometown, saying that homos were undeserving of God’s love and that they were going to Hell for having sex and being intimate with each other.
Petya had heard stories of there being purges in some parts of the world, on par with ethnic cleansing, determined, the authorities believed, to purge the country, the nation, of homosexuals. Petya knew the history, there was enough of that in the world. Petya got discouraged sometimes, because it seemed to him that things weren’t getting better.
And yet, he had to hope, and he said this to Andrei.
“I don’t think we need to worry about it,” Petya said.
“Yeah, hopefully,” Andrei said. “I want to be able to be with you.”
Petya nodded, and took Andrei’s hand. All of this, it felt so right to him, even if he couldn’t necessarily articulate why. The Bible had endless condemnations about such things, but what was weird, was that Petya didn’t feel any need to justify his stance, his philosophical position, he didn’t want to justify it, even. He believed that he was doing the right thing, and he didn’t care if that went against religious authority and dogma, it wasn’t what he felt was right. Maybe that made him a minority, with an uncommon perspective, but he wasn’t going to worry about it. They didn’t have any hold on him.
If only one could see the way in which history moves. If only one could understand how oppression and murder work.
Andrei and Petya held hands for a little while, making small talk, just enjoying each other’s company. It was, in all honesty, a beautiful moment for the couple. Maybe they weren’t understood, but they didn’t need to be, they had each other.
When the tide turns, however.
“I don’t want to shoot the sparrow,” Andrei said.
Petya knew what his boyfriend meant, and he found it such a beautiful metaphor, like a kid with a knife in their heart. “Yes. The sparrow. People shooting the sparrow just because, they have no other disposition for innocence and beauty. The albatross, you know. Destroying something so beautiful and innocent, telling us, with hate and political clout, that we’re devastated by our love for each other. Shooting the sparrow is the worst sin.”
“I never want to shoot the sparrow,” Andrei said, “and I’ll never understand those who do. We make love a political game, hurting entire groups of people, they say that our government is coming after us, but I honestly think, we’re going to be okay. This is our home, and we have each other. We are home. Nothing can take that away.”
Petya smiled at this. He loved being with his boyfriend, it meant more to him than anything in the world. It was hard sometimes, acknowledging what he felt in a culture that was repressive, but in the end, he knew he couldn’t care. Love was supposed to cross limitations and boundaries, it was supposed to subvert the established order.
The two were still holding hands, but Petya wanted to move. So, he reached in, and kissed Andrei again, and the two stayed like this for a little while, Petya feeling connected with his partner, feeling as though nothing could take away from it. It was because he knew he couldn’t live without Andrei, the two were so very reliant and dependent on each other, love cementing the relationship solid.
As Petya kissed Andrei, the feeling was overwhelming, he had a hard time imagining that this, what he felt, could ever be so wrong or bad. When kids all over the world died of hunger, when terrorists bombed innocent nations, when women were raped in war torn countries and soldiers gave their life for nothing, not even honor or freedom. When the world was predicated on lie after lie, when everything felt corrupted, and yet, Petya could acknowledge that he had something special and important, even if he wasn’t sure what the future held for him.
Andrei, of course, felt the same way. Andrei loved Petya deeply, and he wasn’t even sure why he loved him so much, these things were better left in silence, lacking any kind of logical or scientific explanation. People in the world wanted to make love a political thing, they wanted to make it a religious thing, but Andrei wasn’t going to trade his partner for anything at all, anything in the world, at all. This was because he loved kissing Petya, the smoothness of his lips, his innocence, the way that he moved gently and yet with purpose and conviction. He wasn’t about to limit himself. It felt good being with Petya, it was like taking care of a bird. A sparrow, perhaps. And all of the walls that people set up to protect each other couldn’t limit what Andrei felt for Petya.
But he was also worried about Petya. He was worried because he didn’t know, how long peace would exist in their culture. There was no telling what could happen in the near future, and with instability pushing against the LGBT culture more and more, he wasn’t sure what to expect, and it scared him to a degree. He tried not to have fear, it wasn’t like his culture was literally going to try to purge him from the world, it wasn’t as though they were literal targets.
The truth was, Andrei didn’t know what he would do without Petya. It was a possibility he wasn’t willing to explore. He wanted Petya, and Petya wanted him. And Andrei saw the innocence in their love for each other, over and over again, they embodied true innocence. The two, together, loved each other so deeply that they were forever equal to each other. The equation didn’t make sense without one of them present.
And Andrei was not going to die. He had to be here for Petya. He was immortal for Petya.
If anything did go south, they could always flee, but all of that was just paranoia and background noise.
Petya knew this. They weren’t coming for the gays. They weren’t going to punish homosexuals, especially homosexual teens, people who were still developing and learning how to be a good citizen and person.
“The sparrows will continue to fly around us,” Petya said. “They are forever with us, in our hearts. We fly with them, we are free. They can never be hurt.”
Andrei smiled, looking at Petya with the adoration he could never stifle, and they continued to kiss, nothing was going to stop them, and, unable to stop himself, Andrei took off Petya’s shirt, and Petya took off Andrei’s shirt, and the two were together, nothing could tear them apart, they were together.
They consummated and they were clean, worthy before God, pure of heart and spirit, innocent before the Lord: They were divine in spirit, and connected with true purity and power, and Petya and Andrei were together.