Prompt #8: "The Long-Lost Roommate"
To the outside observer, it's a simple gesture. Truth is, there's a deeper hidden meaning behind the subtle nodding salutation that they give each other as they pass. It's not bromance, they aren't blood brothers, or even part of a wolf pack. No, those two gentlemen were roommates once.
Whether it was for years, for months, or even for a few days. They shared a space commonly not much larger than a hotel room. At the beginning they upheld a sense of normalcy for each other. It was a kindness, it was polite. They used headphones when listening to music or watching movies. They kept their laundry as out of the way as possible. The beginning was a tense peace. Both held back their oddities, hoping that the other would soon show some sign of abnormality so they could breath easy, letting their metaphorical gut of uniqueness hang out.
Soon, it happened. Maybe one of them accidentally left the headphones out and their computer began playing 'My Heart Will Go On' on full volume, and they frantically muted it as the other gave them a look showing they were unsure what to think. Maybe one of them walked in as the other was just finishing getting undressed for the shower. Perhaps it was as innocent as passively quoting an obscure film and having that reference unexpectedly recognized. No matter what it was, the flood gates had opened.
They were freer now, and it was both a blessing and a curse. It freed them to show the uniqueness of themselves. One started playing an instrument the other had no idea existed... or could get so loud. The other would start displaying some figurines they had collected from a nostalgic medium they loved as a child... and they took up quite a bit of room on the shared desk. They soon found freedom to passively and actively express themselves. The figurines would get shoved aside, and soon the other one would claim to know that he had no idea putting a wooden pan-flute by the humidifier would warp the pipes.
But there is an unspoken law among them. Certain things can be said in the outside world. They can say the other one snores horribly. They can say the other one keeps a trash pile around the trash can. But certain things would stay secret to them forever. Some so secret, in fact, that even they would be hard pressed to remember what exactly they had locked so deep in the vault.
It's been decades now, and they don't speak as often as they used to, and they most certainly don't see each other nearly as often. They might meet at a party, pull each other in for a quick one-armed hug and a pat on the back. They might meet in a formal setting, and give each other a firm shake of the hand. But these meetings are always punctuated with the specific seal. The nod. The nod that they will give, no matter what the circumstances. It follows each salutation, as well as stands on it's own should they merely pass on the street someday.
The nod that says "I acknowledge." They acknowledge all that had happened. They acknowledge the time spent. They acknowledge their perseverance. They acknowledge each other as something close to, but somehow unlike friends. It is a deeper, and somehow darker connection. One that is mentioned in passing. "He was my roommate a while back". A few anecdotal stories are told perhaps, but nothing deeper. There are stories that can only be understood by those who made them, after all.
Besides no one wants to hear about how your buddy locked you out of the room in a towel like... eleven times in a week. Why are you in a towel that often anyway? That's almost twice a day, bro. And seriously, just take the keys with you. They have hooks in the showers. It ain't hard science.