Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction.  Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

The story contains references to sexual acts of a homosexual nature.  If such material offends you or if you are under the age of eighteen please leave now.

 

Warning: Last Night deals with topics some readers may find distressing.

If you are looking for a positive, feel-good story that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, please do not read on.

 


 

 

I leaned over the railing, staring down through the yellow haze thrown up by the streetlights at the road far below me, gazing at the pavement, at the cars parked along the street, at the couple who wondered hand-in-hand toward the bright lights of town.  I envied them.  Actually, I hated them.  I despised them.  As they walked they leaned into one another, their shoulders rubbing together, every couple of paces one or the other stealing a glance at the person by their side.  They flaunted their happiness, mocked me with it, screaming silently at me that they had something I would never know.

 

I glared at them as the turned the corner, disappearing from my view entirely oblivious to me, never knowing that they had been watched.  It made me hate them even more.  Not only had they taunted me with their love, but they hadn’t even had the courtesy to know they were doing so.  They had been so wrapped up in themselves, in each other, they hadn’t even noticed the young man standing on the rooftop above them.  They had simply passed by in the night without a care in the world.

 

I turned my attention to the stars above me, a thousand eyes watching me in silence, unmoving as I slipped my leg over the railing, uncaring as I twisted my body over the side, swinging my other foot over the metal bar and setting it down on the ledge.  I watched them intently, daring them to stop me, but their cold gaze never faltered.  It was as if they were daring me to go through with it, challenging me to finally find the courage to end my pain.

 

I cursed them.

 

As a child my mother had told me to wish on a star every night before I went to bed, to stare at it, focus on what I wanted and if I desired it badly enough my wish would come true.  At the age of four I had believed her.  I had sat at my bedroom window for ten minutes every night praying for my father to come back home.  Every night for two years I had picked a different star, convinced that all I needed to do was find the right one and my family would be whole again.  My mother never once told me that even the stars could not raise the dead.

 

I had abandoned my plight not long after my sixth birthday, abandoning my father along with it, but just three years later I began again.  Just like the first time I picked a different star every night, wishing, begging, pleading for my mother to get better.  I watched as her body weakened, as she became unbearably thin, her body racked with constant, unyielding pain.  After a year I realised that she was not going to get better and modified my wish, requesting each night that I could have one more day with her.

 

For two years the stars granted my prayer, but then they abandoned me, taking her away on the cruellest night of all, on Christmas Eve.  I was with her when she died.  I was the only one with her.  For weeks she had lain in hospital while the doctors pumped her full of drugs, chemicals that stole her mind from me while leaving her body behind.  They had been convinced that they could buy her a little more time, that she would get well again, if only for a little while.  Every night that she was in hospital I prayed at my window until I fell asleep, until exhaustion finally claimed me.

 

Then one morning my aunt took me to the hospital to see my mother, a fleeting visit before school.  I had expected to find her sleeping or awake but so intoxicated by the drugs they were feeding her she wouldn’t even recognise me, but that morning she sat up as I entered, greeting me with a broad smile.  I rushed over to her, wrapping my arms around her and hugging her to me, babbling incoherently about how much I had missed her, telling her everything that had happened in my life while she had been in her drug-induced dream-world.

 

I was convinced that it would be the last chance I would ever have to talk to my mother, to hear her sweet voice, to feel her arms around me.  I fought my aunt when she tried to take me to school, weeping and bawling like a little child as she led me from the hospital, even trying to escape school twice to return to my mother before the end of the day.  When my aunt arrived to collect me that afternoon I had pleaded with her to take me to the hospital, but she had refused, telling me that she was taking me home instead.

 

I had hated her throughout that journey, convinced that she was keeping my mother from me, but when I walked through the front door and saw her sitting there on the sofa my heart sang with joy.  I missed the remaining two days of school that year, spending every minute I could at my mother’s side, planning our Christmas together.  I had known as well as she did that it would be our last Christmas, but neither of us said it.  Neither of us admitted that in less than a year, most likely less than a month, she would be gone and I would have to live the rest of my life without her.

 

Of course, neither of us really knew how little time she had.

 

That Christmas Eve we decorated the tree together, my mother fixing the baubles to the lower branches while I adorned the middle of the tree in a variety of different shaped sparkling ornaments.  My aunt, under our careful direction, finished dressing the tree, wrapping the lights around it, sprinkling strands of silver foil everywhere, carefully setting the angel on top to watch over us all.  My aunt and I set the presents around the base of the tree, standing back and admiring our handiwork when we were done, our efforts applauded heartily by my mother.

 

We sat up watching a film, my mother’s arm wrapped around me, a true feeling of Christmas flooding the room.  Even though I knew my mother was going to die, I was happier that evening than I’d ever been in my life.  I fell asleep in her arms, my head resting on her shoulder, my last thought of how it was going to be a perfect Christmas, one I would remember for the rest of my life.

 

I don’t know what woke me, but my first thought was that I was alone in the room.  It was strange.  I could see that my aunt’s chair was empty, that the door to the room had been closed, that a blanket had been thrown over me, but I could also feel my mother’s arm around my shoulders.  I could feel her beneath me, but somehow I knew that I was alone.  As if to confirm my fears I had leaned forward, a dull pain spreading through my chest when my mother’s limp arm dropped from my shoulder to the seat behind me.

 

I didn’t need to check her pulse or rest my ear next to her mouth.  I knew that she was gone, that her mind and soul had departed her body, that all I had left was an empty shell.  I didn’t care.  As the tears flowed down my cheeks I leaned back into her, lifting her arm around me once again, closing my eyes.  As I drifted back to sleep I swore that never again would I trust the stars to grant me my wishes.

 

After my mother’s death I moved in with my aunt and uncle, sharing a room with my two cousins.  They tried to treat me like a son and brother, but I refused to let them, refused to allow myself to feel like a part of their family.  I knew that I was just a guest in their house, that I no longer had a home, that I was truly alone in the world.  I kept myself to myself, working hard at school, never really forming anything more than the most casual of acquaintances.

 

I didn’t need anyone else.

 

The day I left for University was a quiet day.  I know my aunt and uncle had tried their best to be good parents to me, but I had rejected their every effort, turned away from their attempts to nurture me, pushing them further and further away until they were almost glad to see me go.  I knew they loved me, but knowing it and feeling it are two different things.  My aunt stayed home while my uncle drove me the two hundred miles to the halls of residence on the University campus.

 

For months I had wondered if I would allow myself to make new friends at University, to try and build some semblance of a life, but after so many years of keeping myself distant from people I found that old habits truly do die hard.  I locked myself away in my room that first night and every night thereafter, focusing on my work, studying hard, determined that I would succeed in spite of the burning desire to just give up.

 

Those first few months at University were difficult.  The campus was a place of education, but it was also a social hub nearly twenty-four hours a day.  In the mornings students would meet in one of the three cafés on campus to chat over a cup of coffee before their classes began.  Over lunch they would gather in those same cafés or congregate in the courtyards, a few even paying an early visit to the campus bar.  The evenings saw the majority of the student socialisation, clubs meeting in various rooms, the bar and cafés packed, parties taking place in the student accommodation, it was a veritable hotbed of activity.

 

Sometimes I would stroll through the campus, watching people talking and laughing, wishing I could be a part of their groups while at the same time shying away from the idea.  Once or twice I had found my way into the bar of an evening, taking a seat at a table in the hope that someone would join me, but every time I found myself with company I would quickly make an excuse and leave.  A couple of times I signed up for one of the clubs, but I never attended a single meeting, never even preparing myself to attend.

 

Many nights over those first few months I lay awake wondering if my life would ever change, if I would ever be able to experience normality, if I would ever have someone in my life I could call a friend.  Every time I began to think about my future I convinced myself that I could managed with simply going through the motions, turning up at work each morning, leaving in the evening, experiencing things vicariously by watching and listening to others.  I was fooling myself, I knew that even at the time, but even so I found comfort in those thoughts.

 

Then I met him.

 

I shook my head, casting all thoughts of him from my mind.  I knew that if I began thinking about him again I would weaken, break down and cry, once again fail to do what I knew needed to be done.  Twice already I had fallen into that trap, allowing my thoughts to get the better of me, allowing my motions to overpower my resolve, giving in to fear.  Both times I had slinked back to my room in the halls of residence, ashamed of my cowardice, disgusted with myself, more convinced than ever as to what I needed to do, but lacking the courage to go through with it.

 

Not this time.

 

Already the doubts were creeping into my mind.  I couldn’t allow them to get the better of me.  Not again.  I leaned forward, shuffling my feet towards the edge, staring down at the pavement below me.  I wondered if the building was tall enough, if the fall would kill me or simply leave me crippled, a vegetable, a burden on others, a mind trapped in a body that could do nothing.  That was the only fear that held me back, but as I gazed down at the pavement fifteen storeys below I knew that I was simply finding another excuse to back out of it.

 

The fall was more than enough to kill me.  I knew that already.  Just three months earlier I had read in a newspaper about a young woman who had thrown herself from the very same rooftop, the impact killing her almost instantly.  I would dive from the building, fall forward, aiming my head towards the concrete below.  Sure, it would create one hell of a mess and my family would miss out on viewing my body in the Chapel of Rest as I had view my mother seven years earlier, but that was not my concern.  By then I would be no more.

 

I leaned out, tightening my grip on the bar behind me, leaning until my arms were stretched tight, until the only thing stopping me from plunging to my death were my hands.  I closed my eyes, picturing my mother’s face, praying that she would be there to welcome me or if not that all the talk I’d ever heard about life after death was a fabrication conceived to allow people to feel a little better about the inevitable.  Whatever lay in store for me I knew that I could not allow my fear of it, of the unknown, to dissuade me.  I loosened my grip, releasing my thumbs from the bar, slowly relaxing my fingers.

 

A hand clamped around my wrist, pulling me back before I could react, dragging me from the edge with such force that my body span, my right foot swinging over the abyss before me before finding solid ground again, stumbling forward, my hips slamming against the metal railings.  I grunted, jerking my arm back, attempting to free it from whomever it was who had interfered in my plan, cursing them with all my might.  I would have done it.  I would actually have done it.  I was just seconds away before they intruded, foiling my plan, cheating me from the fate I so desired.

 

I tugged at my arm, lifting my head to look the intruder in the eyes, but the moment I saw him all strength left my body, all fight fading away.  He gripped my tightly with both hands, steeling determination in his eyes, his face red, mouth twitching at me as though he was trying to work out what to say.  I wanted to strike him, to push him away and throw myself over the edge, but I knew I couldn’t.  I could never hit him.  I could never allow him to see me take my own life.  Even if he didn’t care, I knew it would take a heartless person to be unaffected by watching another commit suicide and the last thing I would ever call him was heartless.

 

I sighed, holding up my other hand to indicate that I would fight him no more, but Dan kept hold of my wrist, refusing to take the risk of releasing me.  I felt a flash of anger, annoyance that he didn’t trust me, but even that faded away as I stared deeper into his eyes.  How could I blame him?  He was my best friend.  My only friend.  From his perspective I had betrayed his trust by trying to take my life without ever talking to him about my reasons, without giving him any warning as to how I was feeling, without giving him the opportunity to help me.  He couldn’t know that there was nothing he could do, that I was beyond help, that it was he who had prompted my decision.

 

I leaned against the railings, slumping over them, allow my whole body to go limp.  Suddenly I was ashamed.  I wasn’t ashamed that I had attempted to take my own life, for I knew more than ever that it was what I needed to do, but I was ashamed that he had found me, that he had seen me at my most vulnerable, that he had felt the need to intervene.  I shook my head, trying to suppress the tears I felt building in my eyes, holding them back, refusing to allow them to escape in his presence.  I wanted to hold on to what remained of my dignity, but when I felt one of his hands leave me wrist and drop onto my shoulder it opened the floodgates, the tears cascading down my cheeks silently.

 

‘How did you find me?’ I asked him in a weak voice, refusing to look at him, refusing to allow him to see my face.

 

‘You left a note,’ he reminded me.  ‘I knocked for you a dozen times this evening hoping that we could play some cards or listen to some music or something.  Finally I got worried and tried your door.  You didn’t lock it.  I found your note on your desk and spotted that newspaper clipping in the book next to your bed.  That’s one hell of a bookmark you’ve been using, Chris.  I didn’t know you’d be here, but your note made it perfectly clear what you were intending and the newspaper clipping was my only clue.’

 

‘You shouldn’t have come,’ I whispered, turning my face away from him, wishing more than anything I had locked my bedroom door.  I hadn’t exactly been rational when I’d left that evening, deciding that if the door was unlocked it would be easier for people to find out what had happened to me, prevent them from worrying for too long. 

 

Had I spent a couple of minutes contemplating it I would have realised that my body would not have lain on the ground for long before it was discovered, that the police would have found my wallet in my pocket, that they would have told people what had happened to me.  I hadn’t needed to leave my room unlocked to allow Dan or anyone else to find my note.  Perhaps subconsciously I had been hoping that someone would stop me, praying that someone would find me in time, but certainly that was the last thing my conscious mind wanted.  I wanted the pain to end, my troubles to finally be over, the constant struggle of getting through each day finished.  I wanted to die.

 

‘What kind of friend would I be if I just sat back and let you kill yourself?’ he asked, squeezing my shoulder.  ‘My best friend is hurting and in case you haven’t worked out how these things work yet, it’s my job to do all I can to help.  That includes not letting you do something you haven’t thought through properly.’

 

‘I have thought about this!’ I snapped, spinning my head towards him, suddenly not caring whether he saw the tears in my eyes.  ‘I’ve thought about nothing else for months now.  I know exactly what I’m doing and I’m sure that this is what I want.’

 

‘You’ve thought this through?’ he asked, his eyebrows raised as if announcing he didn’t believe me.

 

‘Absolutely,’ I confirmed, nodding confidently.

 

‘Then you’re a fucking prick,’ he stated, shrugging and shaking his head.

 

'What?’ I demanded, unsure as to whether I’d heard him right.

 

‘You’re a prick,’ Dan repeated.  ‘I mean that.  If you’ve thought this through then you’ve obviously thought about the effect killing yourself would have on your family and friends.  You’ve thought about how fucking shitty I would feel knowing that there was something you couldn’t talk to me about, something so bad that suicide was the only way out you had.’

 

‘You’re being selfish,’ I stated.

 

‘Then that makes two of us,’ he retorted.  ‘You obviously don’t care about anyone else.  You’re just thinking about how you feel and that’s selfish.  What about your aunt and uncle?  What about your cousins?’

 

‘They wouldn’t care,’ I told him.

 

‘Oh no?’ he asked.  ‘That’s why your aunt calls you every week.  That’s why your cousins visit whenever they can.  That’s why your uncle drove over here before Christmas to take you home and tried for six hours to talk you into staying until the New Year.  And so what if you’re right?  So what if they don’t care?  Don’t you think I care?’

 

‘Do you?’ I asked, instantly regretting my question when I saw the change in his eyes, the pain my words caused him.

 

‘Fuck you,’ he muttered.  ‘Obviously our friendship means more to me than it does to you.’

 

‘You have no idea how important it is to me,’ I insisted.  ‘You just don’t have a clue.  Of course you matter and of course I care that you’d be upset, I just think you and everyone else would be better off without me.’

 

‘Do you remember the day we met?’ he asked me.  ‘I don’t mean the handful of times we passed each other in the corridors, but the first day we actually spoke.’

 

‘Of course,’ I nodded, trying to recall a single time before that day that I’d set eyes on him.  I remembered our first conversation, everything about that day, as though it happened only yesterday, but I couldn’t recall encountering him once before the evening I found him sat in the common room.

 

‘I was so miserable that day,’ he reminded me.  ‘I’d just found out my ex had been seeing someone else and all I wanted was to be alone, but you saw me and insisted on talking to me.’

 

‘I still don’t know why,’ I mumbled.  ‘I’d barely said two words to anyone before that.’

 

‘Maybe it’s because you’re a good person,’ he suggested.  ‘You saw that I was hurting and you wanted to help.  And you did.  When you sat down next to me I told you to leave me alone.  Do you remember what you said?’

 

‘I told you that I might not be able to help,’ I recalled, ‘but it didn’t hurt to talk about it.’

 

‘It helped,’ he nodded.  ‘You helped me, Chris.  Now let me say the same thing to you.  Let me make a deal with you.  Climb back over the railing, sit down with me and we’ll talk about this.  We’ll discuss why you’re up here and see if I can help.  If I can, brilliant, we’ll go back downstairs and head home.  If I can’t then…’

 

‘Then you’ll leave and let me finish what I started,’ I interrupted.

 

‘I didn’t say I…’

 

‘That’s the deal,’ I told him, wondering why I was even considering talking to him when he was the last person I could ever talk to about my reasons for wanting to end my life.  ‘Take it or leave it.  We can stand up here all night, but eventually you’re going to let go and when you do…’

 

‘Fine,’ he agreed, emitting a heavy sigh.  ‘We’ll do it your way.  We’ll talk and if you still want to go through with this when we’re done talking and I haven’t come up with any solutions to whatever the problem is then I will turn and walk away.’

 

I stared at him for a few moments, wondering if he would still be so anxious to help me once he knew my real reasons for wanting to die.  I doubted he would.  If I found the courage to tell him and didn’t make up some bullshit excuse to appease his curiosity then most likely he would tell me to get on with it.  Whatever happened I knew my plan had been foiled, that I would not be able to go through with it that night.  If I told him the truth I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to go through with it afterwards and if I lied I knew there was no way he was going to just walk away.  All he wanted was for me to climb over the railings, to talk to him so he could talk me out of it.  I didn’t want to talk.  I was tired of talking, tired of thinking, tired of everything, but at the same time I couldn’t let him watch me die.

 

‘Come on,’ he urged.  ‘What have you got to lose?  If you’re determined enough there’s nothing I can do to stop you from killing yourself.  You’ll find a way.  If not tonight then tomorrow or the next day.  What harm will talking do?  Maybe I can help, maybe I can’t, but do you really want to give up without trying?’

 

Yes.

 

I knew that I didn’t even want to try, that the idea of trying was much less appealing than the idea of dying, but what other choice did I have?  I wouldn’t let him watch me die and in truth I did owe him an explanation.  He had been a good friend to me, my rock, my reason for not giving up sooner.  He was the only person in the entire world I truly cared about and probably the only person I honestly believed cared about me.  Talking would change nothing, but if it would make my death easier for him to handle then I would do as he asked.

 

Sighing reluctantly, I swung my leg over the barrier, shuddering as he wrapped his arm around me, as he tried to help me back.  I didn’t need the help, but his touch felt good, arousing emotions in me that I had long since tried to repress, tried to hide even from myself.  When I was safely over the railings he pulled me to him, hugging me briefly before leading me away from the edge, back towards the door that led back into the building.  As we drew close to it I pulled away from him, not hard enough to break his grasp on me, but more than enough to bring him to a halt.

 

‘We talk up here,’ I insisted.

 

‘Let’s go back downstairs and find an all-night coffee shop or something,’ he suggested.  ‘It’s cold up here and I would rather have somewhere comfortable to sit while we…’

 

‘No,’ I stated flatly, my tone telling him that there was no room to compromise, that I was determined.  ‘We stay here or we don’t talk.  If you want coffee feel free to go get some.  I’ll wait for you here.’

 

‘Yeah, like that’s going to happen,’ he responded with a wry laugh.  ‘Fine.  We’ll stay here, but don’t get any ideas.’

 

‘I give you my word that I won’t do anything until we’ve finished talking,’ I promised, the words coming out of my mouth before I had a chance to consider them.  ‘We’ll talk and then you’ll leave.’

 

We’ll leave,’ Dan corrected.  ‘I know you don’t think there’s anything I can say or do to help, but I think maybe I can.  I’ve never encountered a problem that can’t be solved if I think about it hard enough and I don’t see why your problems should be any worse than mine.  They may seem worse, but that’s only because you’re not thinking clearly right now.’

 

‘That’s just it though,’ I answered.  ‘I feel like I’m thinking more clearly that I ever have.  I’m finally seeing things with a clarity I’ve never had before.  My problem is me.  Me.  There are only two solutions and I don’t think I’m capable of changing who I am.’

 

‘And I wouldn’t want you to,’ he stated, smiling when I raised my eyebrows at him.  ‘OK,’ he admitted, ‘so you’re hardly the life and soul of the party.  You’re a little morbid at times and once or twice you’ve been downright depressing to be around, but given the choice I would rather have you here depressing me than not have you at all.’

 

‘Thanks, I guess,’ I frowned.  ‘I didn’t realise you liked me that much.’

 

‘You’re my best mate,’ he told me, ‘patting me on the back.  I love you and I hate seeing you hurting like this.  Now come on,’ he said, nodding towards the wall beside the door.  ‘If we can’t go get a coffee we can at least sit down.’

 

In spite of myself I smiled, nodding to him, following him to the wall and sliding down beside him.  I tried to keep a bit of distance between us, but Dan shuffled closer to me his arm brushing against my own, his thigh pressed tightly against mine.  Part of me wanted to move away, but there was a greater part that found some solace in the contact, a part that told me to relish it, for when our conversation was over it would never be available to me again.

 

‘So what’s this all about?’ Dan asked.

 

That’s part of what I liked about him.  He was always so direct, always heading straight to the heart of the issue, never allowing his inhibitions to hold him back.  Many times I wished I could have been like him, just said what was on my mind rather than keeping it to myself, bottling it up until it either exploded out of me or I sank into a deep depression.  He and I were very different creatures though and I doubted I could ever be like him.

 

I shook my head in response to his question.  I knew the answer, of course, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak the words.

 

‘Jesus, Chris,’ he sighed.  ‘You’ve got to talk to me, mate.  I don’t care what’s wrong.  I mean, I care, but whatever you say isn’t going to make me turn against you.  Just tell me what the problem is.  Share it with me and we’ll talk it through.  I can’t even try and help unless I know what’s wrong.’

 

‘Maybe I don’t want you to help,’ I muttered, bowing my head, overcome by a sudden desire to run away, to escape him before I said too much.

 

‘Is this about your mother?’ he suggested.  ‘I know we’ve talked about her before, but you’ve always shied away from discussing her properly.  If she’s part of the reason why…’

 

‘She’s got nothing to do with this,’ I said quickly, my voice a little more abrupt than I would have liked.

 

‘Of course she has,’ Dan protested.  ‘Do you really think she would want you to kill yourself?  Do you think that’s what she wanted for you?  Do you think it would make her proud?’

 

‘Fuck you,’ I growled, pushing myself away from him.  ‘You don’t know the first thing about her.’

 

‘I don’t know much,’ he retorted, ‘but that’s only because you won’t open up.  I know enough though.’

 

‘Oh yeah?’ I sneered.  ‘Why don’t you tell me exactly what you think you know?’

 

‘I know she fought to survive in spite of enormous pain so she could be with you for as long as possible,’ he stated, his words cutting deep into my heart.  ‘I know that she discharged herself from hospital, taking herself off the medication that could have kept her alive longer so she could enjoy her last days with you.’

 

‘Yeah,’ I sighed bitterly, fresh tears flooding my eyes.  ‘She died because of me.’

 

‘Don’t be an idiot,’ Dan scoffed.  ‘She died because she had cancer.  She kept fighting because of you and when she realised that her battle was lost she decided she would rather give you a few days of her company without being knocked out by the medication she was on rather than lie semi-comatose in a bed until she finally withered away.  She gave you a gift.  She gave you the opportunity to remember her as she was, not as a pathetic woman who didn’t even know who you were.’

 

He was right.  I knew he was right.  My mother had sacrificed another week, perhaps another month at life just so she could spend some real time with me, so I would have a true mother in her last days.  I both loved and hated her for it.  In some ways it would have been easier to see her slip away free of pain, to know that she didn’t suffer in her last days just because of me.  I loved our last days together, but while I cherished them it was also painful to remember them, to remember her in such pain, to know that I was the cause.

 

‘I will never get over my mother’s death,’ I stated, surprising myself with the admission.  ‘Thinking about her always hurts and always will, but I’ve learned to deal with it.  It’s not why…it’s not why I’m up here.’

 

‘So why the hell are you doing this?’ he demanded, frustration creeping into his voice.  ‘If it’s not because of your mother then…what?  Are you having trouble with your course?  Did something happen in your family?  Are you sick?  Come on Chris, I thought we were friends.  I thought you were my best friend.  Just tell me what’s going on.’

 

‘You don’t understand,’ I growled through clenched teeth, pushing myself up and walking across the rooftop to the railings once more, gripping them with my hands, squeezing the metal bar so hard my knuckles turned white.

 

‘Of course I don’t understand, that’s why I’m asking.  Just tell me what’s wrong,’ he requested, his feet crunching on the rooftop as he slowly approached me.

 

‘I can’t,’ I stated.  ‘If I did you’d hate me.  You’d fucking tell me to jump.  You might even push me over yourself.’

 

‘Then you’ve got nothing to lose have you?’ he asked, his tone seeming to simplify a situation that was all too complicated in my mind.  ‘You were planning to kill yourself anyway.  If I do respond as you think I will then what have you lost?  I’ll go away and you can jump just like you planned.  Or maybe I’ll surprise you and…’

 

‘I love you,’ I announced, shocking even myself with the ferocity of my words.  ‘And before you misunderstand, I don’t mean I love you like a friend, I mean I am in love with you.  I want to kiss you.  I want to hold you in my arms.  I want to sleep beside you.  I want to fuck you.  Happy now.  I love you.’

 

‘You love me?’ he echoed, unable or unwilling to disguise the shock in his voice.

 

I winced.  I knew what it meant.  Shock was the first reaction, the reaction I had expected.  From shock would be born disgust as he began to digest my words, as he contemplated the idea of another man harbouring desires for him.  From disgust, hatred would quickly follow, hatred and a burning rage as he began to feel violated, as he pictured me masturbating in bed at night as I thought about him, dreaming about the two of us together, imagining myself kissing him every time we were in the same room.  My only hope was that his rage would not cause him to beat me so badly I was unable to finish the task I had set out to perform, that I would still be able to end my life when he finished punching, kicking and abusing me.

 

‘You love me?’ he repeated again.

 

‘Goddamn it!’ I shrieked, spinning on my heels to face him.  ‘Yes!  How many times do you want me to say it?  I love you.  I have almost from the first moment we met and every night since then I’ve fallen asleep wishing you could be mine.  I’ve even cried myself to sleep a couple of times knowing that you could never love me the way I love you, that we could never be anything more than friends.  I love you!  Got it?  Understand now?  I’m gay.  I’m queer.  A fag.  A homo.  Come on!  I know that’s what you’re thinking.  I’m sure you can come up with a few names to add to the list.’

 

‘Cocksucker?’ he suggested, taking a step towards me.

 

‘Shit stabber,’ I added, feeling like the lowest form of life on the face of the planet, watching as he took another step towards me, waiting for that first blow to come.

 

‘Queer,’ he stated.  ‘Bum-bandit.’

 

‘Fairy,’ I retorted.

 

‘Arse-fucker,’ he nodded, stepping close to me, his body just inches from mine, close enough to assault me at any moment.

 

‘Bulgarian,’ I said, my voice barely more than a whisper.

 

‘Bulgarian?’ he frowned, seeming a little taken-aback by my suggestion.

 

‘It’s a theatrical term,’ I informed him.  ‘In parts of America in the 1920s it was forbidden for openly gay characters to be portrayed in any play, so writers would find euphemisms to use instead.  Bulgarian was one of them, or so I heard once.’

 

‘Makes sense,’ Dan shrugged.

 

I opened my mouth to reply, but before I could his hand shot up.  I flinched, squeezing my eyes shut, bracing myself for the blow, but instead I felt his hand brush over my cheek, his fingers stroking my face delicately.  They were gone in an instant, but then they returned, his hand sliding around the back of my neck, drawing my head down towards him.  I opened my eyes, gasping as his lips met mine, as his other arm slipped around my back to pull me against him.

 

I groaned, parting my lips as he pulled my mouth tightly against his, welcoming his tongue as it slid into me, greeting it with mine.  We wrestled briefly, fighting each other for dominance, but then I relented, yielding to him, allowing him to take control.  His tongue glided over mine, massaging it softly, caressing it, finally lifting it, coaxing it into his mouth.  I obliged, thrusting passionately between his lips as I wrapped my arms around him, sliding my hands over his back.

 

I felt his hand drop to my buttocks, squeezing each one in turn, sending wave after wave of pleasure through me.  I moaned, my body falling limp against him, surrendering to his touch, inviting him to take me as his own.  He pulled me away from the railing, breaking our kiss only when he had me a safe distance from the edge, brushing my face with his hands.  For a moment I thought that maybe the kiss had merely been a ploy to get me away from the railings, to prevent me from following through with my plan, but then his hands dropped to my shirt, plucking at the buttons one at a time.

 

As he spread my shirt wide, sliding it over my shoulders and down my arms, I caught his hands, staring into his eyes.  As if to reassure me he leaned forward again, brushing my lips with his, a brief, tender kiss, a kiss that followed with an equally gentle smile as he moved away again.  He ran his hands over my chest, brushing my nipples with his thumbs, the sensation causing me to moan softly.  With a mischievous grin he leaned forward, his tongue flicking out to lap at my right nipple, tracing a cold circle around it.

 

I gasped, heat spreading through my body, swelling within my groin, my erection threatening to burst from my trousers as he began to plant delicate kisses across my chest.  His lips encircled first my right nipple, then the left, his teeth nibbling on my flesh, the brief flash of pain quickly subdued by his tongue as it swept over them.  Dan dropped to his knees, his mouth journeying over my stomach, diving into my navel as his fingers began to unbutton my trousers.

 

I felt the button on my trousers come loose, felt the zip lower, but it was only when I felt cold air sweep over my legs that I realised what was happening.  I looked down at him as his tongue traced a path down my treasure trail, halting only when its path was obstructed by my shorts.  He lifted his head, raising his eyes to meet mine, watching my reaction as his tongue dipped beneath my waistband.  A smile spread across his face as I let loose a shuddering moan, a moan that only intensified when his chin brushed my throbbing member.

 

I reached out for him, placing my hands on the back of his head, pulling him tight against me.  I nearly gasped when I felt my shorts slip down, my erection popping free of them, slapping against his throat, icy air seizing my buttocks moments before his hands clamped over them.  His tongue continued its voyage south, twisting its way through my mound of pubic hair until it reached the top of my shaft.  I couldn’t contain the groan that forced its way up my throat as his tongue travelled down the hilt of my erection.

 

He hesitated for a moment, smiling up at me as he knelt before me, offering me the reassurance I so badly needed, telling me that he was doing this for him as much as me, that he wanted me, that he needed me.  I caressed his head with my hands, running my fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp, but all movement from me stopped as he leaned into me, his lips parting, taking me inside his mouth.  I cried out at the sensation, the pleasure, the joy, the excitement more than I had ever known.

 

His mouth slid up my shaft, his tongue wrapping around me, dancing across the base of my erection as he swallowed me whole.  I gasped as his lips brushed against my pubic hair, marvelling both at how he had managed to take all of me into his mouth and the sensations he evoked in doing so.  I had imagined it many times, picturing it as waves of pleasure washing through me, but there were no waves, just a long, throbbing, unending sigh from within me.  It was like there was an orchestra playing within my body, violins pumping back and forth, drums beating hard, trumpets and trombones singing out, the tempo increasing with every moment, building as his mouth slid back and forth.

 

I could almost hear the music, so loud it overwhelmed the moaning that escaped my lips, overpowering the beating of my heart, the blood rushing through my ears, racing towards a mind-shattering crescendo.  I felt my knees begin to weaken, every muscle in my body seeming to tighten and relax with him, with his movement, with the pleasure he was giving me.  I felt an unfamiliar sensation behind me, a feeling that evoked a moment of panic, a brief desire to flee, but before my body could respond to the invasion I felt him slip a finger inside me.

 

There was a momentary flash of pain, but even that was overwhelmed when Dan withdrew his mouth to the tip of my penis, running his tongue around its head, causing my eyes to roll back in my skull.  When I felt a second finger attempting to enter me I was ready for it, but rather than resist as I would have done the first time, I relaxed myself, allowing him to enter me.  Once again there was a moment of discomfort, unease at the unfamiliar sensation as he slipped inside me, but my efforts were quickly rewarded as his fingers slipped deeper inside.

 

I had read about the prostate on the many gay websites I had visited over the years, but never had I imagined the feeling just touching it could evoke, the pleasure that consumed me as his fingers brushed against it.  I let out a cry, gripping the back of his head tightly as the orchestra reached its crescendo, my whole body seeming to explode, overwhelmed by the bliss my orgasm created, my mind momentarily slipping into another world, a dark world where everything was peaceful, comfortable, where I was surrounded by pure joy.

 

I felt my body begin to fall, but before I hit the ground I felt Dan’s arms wrap around me, catching me, guiding me gently towards the surface of the rooftop.  My whole body tingled as I lay there, wrapped in his arms, a smile plastered across my face.  For the first time in my life I felt truly contented, happy beyond my imagination.  It was as though I was experiencing the best dream I had ever known, a dream from which I never wanted to wake, but as I felt Dan climbing up my body, felt his hands on my chest, I opened my eyes.

 

His chest was bare, his smooth, pale skin moving towards me, the sight of his lightly muscled chest re-igniting the fire in my loins, arousing me once again.  He slid up my body kissing my chest as he approached, smiling all the while.  As his mouth met mine I gasped, my hands instantly sliding over his back, driving down until they cupped his bare buttocks, confirming that it was indeed his exposed erection that pressed tightly against my own.  I groaned into his mouth, desire building within me again.

 

As if detecting my readiness to resume, Dan lifted his head from mine and smiled at me, his tongue flicking over his bottom lip.  His hands swept over my sides as he retreated from me, my legs parting as he transferred his bodyweight to his knees, crouching over me, his eyes travelling over my naked body.  I closed my eyes, uncertain as to what would come next, but preparing myself to take him into my mouth as he had me.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that, if I wanted that part of him in my mouth, pumping into my throat, but I would try, I would give it a go for him.

 

I was just about to make that offer when I felt his hands slip across my legs, his fingers wrapping beneath my knees.  I smiled at him as he lifted my legs, pushing them back, taking them from him, holding them high.  He bent over, his mouth attacking my exposed balls, his tongue lapping them, pulling them inside his mouth one at a time, sucking them hard.  I groaned as his mouth moved away, as he smiled down at me again, the pleasure he had given me over all too soon, but when I saw him move towards me, one hand guiding his erection towards my buttocks, my eyes widened once more.

 

Part of me wanted to scream when I realised what he intended to do, my mind crying out for me to pull myself away from him, but the memory of the pleasure of his last venture inside me coupled with my desire to give him the same pleasure he had afforded me stopped me.  Instead I relaxed my body, held back my legs, attempted to prepare myself for the invasion I knew was coming.  I wanted it, I wanted him, but I didn’t know if I was ready, if I could give him what he wanted.

 

He pushed against me, sending a wave of pain through my body, but I restrained it, refused to allow him to see it.  Instead as he pushed against me again I pushed back, parting just enough to allow him to break through.  I clenched my teeth together, suppressing the urge to cry out as he rocked against me, each thrust moving a little more of him inside.  It felt as though all of my organs were being forced up into my chest, as though I was being sliced open, but amidst the pain was a sense of satisfied pleasure as I realised that I was about to lose my virginity to the man I loved.

 

I closed my eyes tight, forcing my body to relax, refusing to even acknowledge the pain as he drove into me, sliding deeper and deeper until I was sure I could contain no more.  Finally I felt him lie atop of me, felt his lips press against mine, felt a tickling sensation on my buttocks as I realised I had taken him all.  As I opened my eyes I felt a sense of pride, of accomplishment, a smile spreading across my face as I kissed him back.  My smile faded as he pulled back within me, a gasp escaping my lips as he thrust into me again, burying himself completely within me, pain erupting through my abdomen.

 

I could do little more than gasp and moan and he pushed and pulled within me, gaining in speed, withdrawing a little further each time before driving deep within me again.  Just when I thought I could bear it no longer I felt him brush against the place his fingers had found earlier, the pain subsiding almost instantly, replaced with pleasure that resuscitated my erection.  Over and over he drove deep within me, the sensation still unfamiliar, still slightly uncomfortable, but no longer painful, every so often filling me with joy, causing me to moan.

 

As Dan picked up the pace once more, driving into me ferociously, thrusting with a speed I hadn’t believed him capable of, he clamped his hand around my erection, massaging it between our bodies.  His lips covered mine once again, his tongue driving into my mouth.  I wrapped my legs around him, at first leaving them limp, allowing him to move, but as the pleasure began to build I used them to pull him inside me, directing him to that spot that filled me with ecstasy.

 

The whole world seemed to slip away as he pummelled me, everything around us fading to black.  There was only me and him, only the pleasure he brought me, only the sound of our breathing, heavy and hard, broken my the occasional moan.  He kissed me hard, his fingers on his left hand entwining with my hair as his right pumped me vigorously, massaging me expertly, reawakening the orchestra with a passion.  I felt my scrotum tighten, my balls shrinking within me as my second climax of the night approached, but my lover beat me to it by a narrow margin.

 

I felt an explosion within me as Dan let out a blissful cry, the sensation of his fluids rushing into my body enough to trigger my own orgasm, my seed pumping out of me, coating my stomach and his.  He thrust into me a couple more times as his orgasm began to subside, driving the remainder of his juices out, evacuating every last drop inside me.  Once, when I had first began to acknowledge my sexuality, the idea would have sickened me, but now, as Dan fought to feed me all he could I yearned for it, tightening my muscles around him, squeezing him as his erection began to fade, as he slowly slipped out of me.

 

Finally we collapsed beside each other, his legs entangled with my own, sweat coating our bodies in spite of the frigid night.  I lay beside him, listening to the pounding of my heart, listening to his laboured breathing, relishing the fading pleasure of the experience.  I knew that even if it never happened again I would always cherish the memory of our time together, that as long as I had him in my life I would somehow find the strength to carry on.  I knew that I loved him, that I didn’t want to live without him, that I had been foolish for not sharing my feelings sooner, for running away rather than admitting them.

 

At the time it had seemed harder to confess that I was gay, that I was in love with my best friend, but if I had trusted him enough to at least accept me I could have spared myself a lot of heartache.  None of that seemed to matter as I looked across at him.  I didn’t seem to care how we had come together, how our relationship began.  All that mattered was that he was mine, that he wanted me as much as I wanted him, that he shared the love I felt for him.  As my breathing slowly returned to normal I felt a smile spread across my face, an unfamiliar sensation building within me, a feeling so alien it took me a moment to realise what it was.

 

I was truly happy.

 

‘We should get up,’ Dan stated, breaking the tranquil silence.

 

‘Why?’ I groaned.

 

‘Because it’s just gone midnight and it’s getting cold,’ he told me.  ‘Besides, I haven’t eaten yet and I’m starving.’

 

‘Well we can’t have that,’ I grinned, leaning over and kissing him softly.

 

‘Most certainly not,’ he replied as our lips parted.

 

‘Let’s go then,’ I sighed, pushing myself up, climbing to my feet with surprising ease before reaching back down for my lover.  He took my hand, allowing me to pull him up, dragging him into an embrace, into one last kiss before our magical moment ended.  ‘I’m sorry,’ I whispered into his mouth.

 

‘For what?’ he asked, pulling his head back to look at me.

 

‘For…well…for the reason we’re up here,’ I blushed, shaking my head, trying to remember why I had ever wanted to end my life.

 

‘Forget it,’ he instructed.  ‘Well, don’t forget it.  You need to remember why you didn’t go through with it.  What I mean is, don’t even think about it anymore.  First, it brought us together.  Second, it happened yesterday, technically, and what happened last night doesn’t count.’

 

‘Didn’t we have sex last night?’ I asked, nudging him with my elbow.

 

‘OK,’ he laughed, ‘well what happened last night does count.  What I mean is, you made a mistake.  It was last night, in the past, and you can’t dwell on the past.  Look to the future – it’s a bright one, I hope.’

 

I couldn’t stop grinning as I dressed, as I watched Dan dress, as I watched Dan watching me dress, his own smile rivalling my own.  A couple of times our eyes met and I felt my heart scream with joy, pounding hard in my chest, threatening to burst through my ribcage.  If I had stopped to think for a moment I would have wondered how it was possible for me to go from the depths of despair to unbridled joy in a matter of minutes, to want one moment to throw myself off a building and the next to throw myself into his arms.

 

I didn’t stop though.  I didn’t let myself.  All my life I had analysed everything, scrutinised everything I said and did, everything everyone else said and did, drawing from it the worst possible conclusions.  I wasn’t about to allow what could possibly have been the happiest moment of my life be ruined by anyone, including myself.  Sure, I would doubtless analyse every last gesture, every word, every sensation when I was back in my room, but until then I would just enjoy the moment, savour it, cherish it as I knew I always would.

 

I had surrendered my heart to him, given him my virginity, offered him my soul, my life, and he had accepted each in turn.  He had not shied away from me.  He had not turned from me.  Not only had he stood by me when I confessed the secret that had tormented me for so long, but he had embraced it, welcomed it, rejoiced in it.  He felt for me precisely what I felt for him.  He loved me and wanted me in a way I could never imagine anyone ever loving or wanting me.  How could I not smile?  How could I not be happy when, for the first time in my life, the stars had answered my prayers?

 

‘You ready?’ he asked me as he pulled his jacket on.

 

‘For what?’ I enquired.

 

‘For the rest of our lives,’ he grinned.  ‘As much as I will always treasure this place, I really don’t want to spend the rest of my days up here.  I was kinda thinking we might head back to the halls, get something to eat and then maybe take a shower before bed.’

 

‘Together?’ I asked, my heart skipping a beat as I considered that he might not want to sleep with me.

 

‘You don’t want to?’ he questioned, making no effort to hide the disappointment in his voice.  ‘I mean, I thought after what you said you wanted more than just…well…sex.  I thought…I mean…I want a relationship.  I want you to be my boyfriend.  If I’m off base then just tell me and…’

 

‘Quit babbling,’ I teased, allowing the smile on my face to answer his question even before I spoke the words he wanted to hear.  ‘I have wanted you since the moment we met.  I just didn’t think you would want to move into a relationship so quickly.’

 

‘Why not?’ he asked with a devilish grin.  ‘We’ve just had sex and I don’t give it away to just anyone.’

 

‘Have you…’ I began, but caught myself, shaking my head to dismiss the question, uncertain as to whether I wanted to know the answer.

 

‘Go on,’ he urged.

 

‘It’s not important,’ I told him, taking a step towards him but halting when he held up his hand.

 

‘Let’s start off as we mean to go on,’ he requested.  ‘I want a proper relationship, which means being open and honest with each other.  Part of that is never being afraid to ask a question and never being afraid to answer either.’

 

‘Was this your first time?’ I blurted, my face reddening as the words left my mouth.

 

‘No,’ he answered, my heart sinking with that one word.  I don’t know why it disappointed me so much and I knew I had no right to be upset, but I couldn’t deny my feelings either.  ‘I mean, everything we’ve done tonight I’ve done before,’ he continued.  ‘I’ve kissed another guy once.  I’ve given two blowjobs other than the one I gave you and I had sex with a guy once, but I’ve never…I mean…’

 

‘Come on,’ I coaxed.  ‘Part of the relationship you want is not being afraid to answer any question I ask.’

 

‘True,’ he sighed, taking a deep breath before continuing.  ‘I’ve kissed a guy before.  I’ve given and received a blowjob before.  I’ve been on the giving end of anal sex, but I’ve never…you know…I’ve never received.’

 

‘You’re a virgin?’ I asked.

 

‘I wouldn’t say that, exactly,’ he laughed, his cheeks reddening.  ‘I just…I’ve never done that, although I was kind of hoping that when we get back you might…if you wanted…’

 

‘I want!’ I practically screamed, leaping into his arms and pulling him tightly against me.  ‘If you’re sure you’re ready.’

 

‘I think so,’ he answered.  ‘Just…well, go easy.  I’ve done things before, but it’s not like I’m experienced.’

 

‘Well neither am I,’ I told him.

 

‘Yeah, but you’ve done more than I have,’ he retorted.

 

‘Only what you’ve done with me tonight,’ I stated.  ‘Everything tonight was a first for me.’

 

His eyes widened, his jaw dropping at my words.  ‘You mean…fuck,’ he gasped.  ‘Shit, I’m sorry.  I didn’t know you were a virgin.  I would have been…I mean…I would have done it differently if I’d known.’

 

‘Then I’m glad you didn’t,’ I smiled.  ‘It was perfect.’

 

‘But didn’t it hurt?’ he asked.

 

‘A little, at first,’ I shrugged.  ‘Not too much though.  You were very gentle.’

 

‘I would have been more gentle if…I just assumed…’

 

‘Stop it,’ I instructed, keeping my voice soft.  ‘It was amazing and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it.’

 

‘Really?’ he asked, a smile lighting up his face.

 

‘Really,’ I confirmed, reaching out for his hand.

 

He held my hand tightly as we made our way back into the building, walking silently down the corridor towards the elevator.  Every couple of steps I kept thinking I should have been saying something, but every time I glanced his way I felt his grip on my hand tighten, assuring me that he needed nothing more than my company.  As we waited for the elevator to make its way back up to the top of the building we kissed again, a kiss that didn’t break until we were back on the ground floor, a kiss that stirred the passion within me again, arousing fresh feelings of excitement, arousal, desire.

 

Dan led me through the front of the building, holding the door open as we stepped out into the night.  I couldn’t help but marvel at how I’d entered the building as a single, lonely boy who wanted his pain to end and exited a young man with a boyfriend, a heart full of bliss, his pain a distant memory.  I owed Dan my life and swore as we made our way down the stone steps to the street that I would spend every day of my life trying to make him as happy as he had made me, working to fill his life with happiness, making his every dream come true.

 

‘I love you,’ he told me as we stepped out onto the pavement.

 

‘I love you too,’ I replied without hesitation, the words coming to me with surprising ease.

 

‘Say it again,’ he requested, pausing and turning to face me, his eager eyes glistening, a smile swelling across his face.

 

‘I love you,’ I repeated, stepping closer to him.  ‘I love you so much I feel like I’m going to burst.  I want to scream it out to the world, tell everyone just how much you mean to me.’

 

‘Then do it,’ he challenged, his smile morphing into a mischievous grin.

 

I shook my head, attempting to appear coy.

 

‘Fine,’ he laughed.  ‘If you won’t then I will.’

 

‘Dan…’ I began, but my words came too late.

 

My love stepped back, spreading his arms open wide, turning his face to the heavens and crying out, ‘Christopher Thomas Powell, I love you!’

 

‘Dan!’ I gasped, choking back the laughter that was building inside me, joy surging through my body like electricity.

 

‘Screw it, Chris,’ he answered in a loud voice, ‘I want the world to know.  I want the world to know that I’m in love with this man!’

 

He backed away from me, spinning about, his arms wide, professing his love for me to anyone within earshot.

 

‘I love you and I don’t care who knows it!’ he shouted, stepping into the road, spinning towards the centre, making it his theatre, the world around him his audience.  ‘I have found my soulmate and he loves me as much as I love him!’

 

He span towards me, pausing for a moment to stare into my eyes, his face alight with happiness, filled with affection.  I knew that I could never doubt his love for me when he looked at me like that.  I made a promise to myself, swearing that I would never push him away, that I would never do anything to hurt him, that I would love him with all my heart and show him how much I cared every single day.  He was an angel who had saved me from myself, who had delivered hope to a heart that had long since abandoned it, who had resuscitated the love that burned within me long after I was convinced it could never again exist.

 

‘Christopher Thomas Powell,’ Dan shouted, beaming at me, ‘do you love me?’

 

‘Yes,’ I called to him, laughing softly.

 

‘I can’t hear you!’ he bellowed.

 

‘Yes!’ I repeated, louder this time, but still falling short of his cry.

 

‘Still can’t hear you!’ he practically screamed at me.

 

‘Yes!’ I yelled, the word bursting from me, filling the night, so loud I suspected they could hear it all the way across town.  ‘Yes!  Daniel Riley I love you with all my heart and soul!’

 

‘Then come home with me,’ he requested, reaching out to me, stretching his hand towards me.

 

Shaking my head and laughing softly I took a step towards him, raising my hand, ready to take his when I was close enough, but instantly I froze.  It happened so quickly I couldn’t react, couldn’t even utter a word of warning, couldn’t do anything other than watch.  His body seemed to light up, a white glow enveloping him, consuming him.  He turned his head towards the source of the light, his eyes widening, his mouth dropping open, his hand falling away just as the car hit him.

 

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion.  I watched as his body folded over the bonnet of the car, as his legs were thrown from beneath him, his feet tossed high into the air.  His head hit the windscreen with a sickening thud, a crack, a crunch as the glass crumpled, a yelp escaping his mouth.  His legs continued their journey upward, spinning onto the roof of the car as it continued down the street, his body pulled with them over the top of the car.

 

He span in the air, his body twisting as it hurtled towards the cold tarmac, the sound of his landing broken by the screeching of brakes as the car came to a halt thirty or forty feet down the road.  Dan rolled, his arms flailing about him, his body disappearing from my view behind a parked car.  Then there was silence.  It was as if the whole worth froze, as if every human being on the face of the planet simultaneously held their breath, every car coming to a halt, every dog restraining its bark.

 

‘Dan!’ I screamed, running blindly out into the street.

 

Dan lay in the road, on his back, his eyes turned towards the heavens.  His right leg was hooked awkwardly beneath him, shattered, broken and mangled by the force of the impact.  His left arm was twisted beneath his back, his right arm stretched outward on the street, reaching down the road, away from me.  I ran to his side, dropping to my knees next to him, the tears pouring down my cheeks as I stared at him.  I reached out to touch him, but stopped myself, worried that even the lightest of touches would worsen his injuries.

 

His eyes flickered towards me, meeting mine, fixing me with a pained gaze.  His lips curled into a smile, brief but affectionate, as though he was trying to reassure me that he was going to be ok when I should have been doing precisely that for him.  I felt my tears dripping from my cheeks and onto my shirt, my whole body trembling as I tried to focus my mind, to work out what I needed to do.  I knew I needed to call an ambulance, that much had been drilled into me over the years, but how precisely I was to do that I wasn’t sure.  I knew I needed to get him help, make sure he wasn’t moved, keep him conscious and talking if I could, but all I could do was stare down at him, my heart breaking as I saw the pain he was in.

 

‘I love you, Chris,’ I heard him whisper, his eyes echoing his words.

 

‘I love you too,’ I told him, my voice shaking, choking, barely audible even to me.

 

‘Kiss me again,’ he requested.

 

‘I can’t,’ I stated.  ‘I shouldn’t move you.  Just lie still and…’

 

‘Kiss me,’ he pleaded, a tear slipping from the corner of his left eye.

 

I knew that I shouldn’t, that I should get him help, that I shouldn’t risk moving him, but I couldn’t deny his request.  I leaned forward, brushing my lips lightly over his, choking back my tears as his mouth closed around mine, sucking me into a tender kiss, a kiss that ended all too soon as his mouth fell open once more.  I lifted my head, trembling as I gazed into his lifeless eyes, knowing beyond doubt as I had that Christmas Eve with my mother that he was gone.

 

I shook my head, tried to deny it, as if by refusing to accept it I could somehow bring him back, but still he lay there, motionless, breathless, dead.  I collapsed onto the road beside him, hugging my knees to my chest as the grief mounted within me, building to a crescendo as I stared into his face.  I heard a guttural cry, an unearthly wail akin to that of an animal caught in a trap, realising only as it died away that I had been the source of the sound.  I rocked back and forth, lifting Dan into my arms, cradling his broken body, willing him back to life, willing him to be whole again.

 

I wept hard, tears streaming down my face and onto his, pain consuming me, agonising pain unlike any that could ever have been physically inflicted.  I couldn’t understand how he could be gone, how I could have lost him just when we found each other.  It wasn’t fair.  It wasn’t right.  I released his body, lying it gently on the ground, glaring at the heavens above me, cursing the stars and whatever being had created them, daring them to strike me down, to punish me for the hatred I felt for them.  My silent rage was only broken when I heard a voice behind me, a voice filled with panic, with confusion, his speech slurred, unmistakably intoxicated.

 

‘I didn’t see him,’ the voice was saying over and over again.  ‘He just stepped out.  He came out of nowhere.  I didn’t see him.’

 

I pushed myself up, climbing to my feet, all emotion draining from my body as I turned to face the source of the voice.  I stared at the young man, barely more than a kid, perhaps a year or two younger than me, hardly old enough to drive.  He appeared grief-stricken, his face pale, his body shaking as mine had just moments before, his eyes wide, disbelieving, horrified by the sight before him.  He kept shaking his head and repeating those words, staring at me, staring at Dan, frozen on the spot as though his feet had been nailed to the ground.

 

‘I didn’t see him,’ he repeated, lifting his eyes to meet mine.  ‘Is he dead?’

 

I nodded slowly, surprised by how calm I felt as I acknowledged that the man I loved was gone.

 

‘Oh shit,’ the young man gasped, his breath coming out in short sharp rasps.  ‘Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.’

 

‘Were you driving?’ I asked him, my voice seeming to come from some distant place.

 

His eyes met mine again, widening as the realisation of what he’d done began to set in.  He nodded slowly, his face seeming to grow even paler as he did so.  Once more I heard an unearthly sound, but this was one I couldn’t even begin to describe.  It was a sound I wouldn’t have believed could have come from man or beast had I not heard it with my own ears.  It was cold, enraged, a screech from the depths of Hell itself.  It stunned me, sucking me into a black pit, driving all thought from my mind.

 

When I emerged I found myself on top of the young man, his body lying face up on the road beneath me.  I stared down at him, confused by the sight that greeted me.  His face was bloody and swollen, his lips engorged, parted to reveal several missing front teeth.  His nose was almost flat against his face, blood cascading from it like a waterfall.  His eyes were closed, the flesh around them inflated, bloated to the point where he could not have opened his eyes even if he had been conscious.

 

I felt an aching in my right hand and arm.  I glanced at it, seeing it raised above me, my fist clenched and bloody.  Suddenly I knew what had happened to the young man who had taken Dan from me.  I was the cause of his injuries, the reason for the blood that poured from his battered face.  I felt shocked that I was capable of delivering such a beating, but as I turned back towards him my eyes fell on Dan’s crumpled body once more and I realised I felt no guilt.  A beating was the least he deserved for what he had taken from me.

 

I raised my fist higher, debating whether to finish the job, to drive the last of the life from the boy, but my arm fell to my side as once again I caught sight of Dan.  I could kill the kid.  I should kill him for what he did, whether he meant to do it or not, but it would not bring Dan back.  Nothing I said or did could turn back the clock and restore him to me.  He was gone, lost to me forever and as much as I wanted the kid to suffer his suffering could never make up for the loss I felt, for the life he had taken.

 

I climbed off the kid and turned away walking from the street and back to the pavement.  I had lost the love of my life, the only person in the world capable of making me feel anything other than the cold emptiness that had filled me for so long.  Now that emptiness was back, but this time it was so much worse.  I had considered it to be unbearable before, but now it was a thousand times worse, a great chasm that filled my heart, casting away even the few aspirations that had kept me going for as long as I had.

 

I turned back to the road, gazing down at my love, staring at him with an aching sorrow that could never be quenched.  Even tears would not come as I realised that I had watched him die and with him the remaining part of my humanity.  I turned my head upwards, glaring at the stars above me, demanding from them one last wish, a wish I could only hope they would grant.  I wished for nothing that they could not fulfil.  I did not wish for Dan back.  I did not wish them to turn back the clock.  I wished that once again I could see my lover, feel his lips against mine, feel his arms around me as I had last night.

 

My wish cast I turned back towards the building and slowly made my way back up the stone steps.

 

 


 

 

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