And Then That Happened
Should you settle for a nearly perfect happiness or put your heart on the line for more?
It’s 1999 and 28-year-old Dominic’s carefully planned suburban life with his boyfriend Luke is perfect. His job as a nurse, his best friend Matt, his relationship with his parents, everything is just right. He and Luke have been together ten years, seen each other through friends’ deaths and their parents’ ups and downs, and even had a commitment ceremony.
Gabe isn’t happy with his boyfriend, but he stays with him, because, well it’s complicated.
Fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life. And then that happened. Gabe’s open relationship, impulsive nature, enthusiasm for life and straight talking advice are fascinating to Dominic. They’re friends, they click over a shared love of Goldie Hawn and Gabe shows Dominic there can be more to life than planned and safe. So why can’t he take his own advice?
And Then That Happened is about finding a new kind of happiness, even when what you have is already perfect. And how sometimes perfect isn’t quite what it seems.
Gabe and Dominic discuss their past love lives after going to a concert together
Lying on twin beds, we compared notes on our favourite bits of the concert, sipping hot chocolate from the room’s store. Gabe said he couldn’t believe I’d never been to a concert before.
I said there were lots of things I’ve never done before. Gabe lay on his bed, arms behind his head, smiling at me.
‘I wish I’d tried a few more things, a few more men, before Luke,’ I said quietly. ‘You did, you’ve got more than your fair share of men during your early twenties.’
‘And before,’ he replied.
‘I can’t shake this feeling I’ve missed out on so much. Missed something which, for so many gay guys, is such an important part of coming out, growing up gay.’
‘You must have had your reasons why you didn’t.’
‘Course I did. I was scared, scared of all the people around me dying. And I’d met Luke, and he was nice to me, so…’
‘…you stayed together.’
‘Yeah, weeks became months, months years, and before I knew it, we’d been together a third of my life.’
‘I didn’t really think about it at the time, it wasn’t an experience, I was just living my life, being me, meeting people, seeing what happened. Same as you I suppose, only none of the people I met, stuck, so I moved onto the next one. It’s no better or worse, just different.’
‘You would say that, though, wouldn’t you?’
‘I don’t have anything to compare it to, so I don’t know.’
‘I just feel like I’ve missed out on so much, from being scared to try things.’
‘But it doesn’t matter if in the end, you’re happy.’ He paused. ‘You are happy aren’t you?’
I picked up my book and started to read. Gabe sat on the bed next to me, stroking my arm slowly. I put the book down and lay on my side, tears making the pillow damp, I felt Gabe lay behind me, his arm around my waist; we lay like spoons, fully clothed as he turned the light off.
Eight things about Liam Livings, one is untrue, can you guess which one?
- He lives, with his partner, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex.
- He was born in Hampshire with two club feet (look it up, it’s not nice) and problem ears, needing grommets: this meant he was in plaster from toe to groin until he was two, and had to swim with a cap and olive oil soaked lamb’s wool over his ears – olive oil bought from a health food shop, before it was sold by supermarkets.
- He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day.
- He grew up on the edge of the New Forest – not in the New Forest mind, but on the edge. Now it’s a national park, it’s so much more glamorous. He went to uni in London and never really left.
- One evening, flicking through the channels, he stumbled across the film, Saving Private Ryan, and it took twenty minutes of not seeing Goldie Hawn in an army uniform, before he realised it wasn’t actually the film, Private Benjamin.
- When not writing, he also enjoys baking.
- He avoided any sport at secondary school by having an orthodontist appointment between the age of 14 and 16, and when he was old enough to drive, just drove home instead of playing rugby/hockey/whatever.
- He is a car geek, his particular passion is old French classics, and his every day car is what is popularly referred to as a ‘hairdressers car’ a Mazda MX5 in powder blue – Muriel.