Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Fine Line

At first I struggled with the prospect of being alone. But I had gotten used to it. A new-found sense of freedom made the time pass quickly and eased my conscience somewhat.
And then today I found an old photograph taken of us when we were toddlers. A Christmas picture with Santa taken at the mall. We were smiling. We looked happy in our matching outfits. Thankfully, I didn't remember it.
And I didn't recall when things had changed, only that they did. We'd grown up together, with so many things in common and yet we were so different from each other. I'd always been the one that cared too much, until one day, I just didn't.
That day had come two years ago. It had been two years since I'd held her in my arms. Two years since she'd died. Two years and I could still feel her pulse weakening beneath my fingertips. She had passed out but I didn't turn loose of her, I couldn't. Her words echoed in my head and my grip had tightened.
"Loser. You'll never be anything, and no one will ever love you. You're ugly."
It was her morning mantra directed at me as she greeted me at breakfast every day.
Tears had streamed down my face as hers had turned an off shade of blue. My were fingers were locked around her neck, all I'd had to do was wait. I remembered it fondly just like it was yesterday. I'd counted in my head until she'd stopped breathing. Had I known it would be that easy I would've done it years before I finally did.
How odd that the old photo made me miss her. The duality of loving someone so much that you actually hated them had always been my cross to bear. And now, apparently, so was the guilt.
She had been my best friend.
My only friend.
My twin.

©2015 Garden Summerland

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ten til Six

I stared down at the phone in my hands. It seemed like I had been waiting for hours. It had only been ten minutes, it was almost 5:30.
I checked the volume. I turned it off and then back on again. I changed the ring-tone. Five times. Still nothing.
It had now been twelve minutes.
I needed an answer. The test had been positive. What were we going to do?
Maybe he hadn't gotten the message yet? It had gone straight to voice mail.
What a thing to say on voice mail.
“Danny, I'm HIV positive.”
That's all I'd said. My voice hadn't even cracked. In fact, I wasn't upset about the potential death sentence I'd been handed. I'd known since yesterday afternoon, but couldn't bring myself to call my lover until this morning. And now....
I should've told him in person. But I just couldn't face him. I was ashamed even though I'd done nothing wrong.
This didn't happen to people like us. I thought this kind of thing only happened to junkies and promiscuous amorals. Not a committed couple of three years.
We'd always been careful.
I thought for a moment... had he been unfaithful? Was this his fault? Surely it wasn't mine.
I'd only been with two other men in my entire life. But what about Dan? Somewhere deep inside me, I blamed him. Yes, it was his fault... it had to be. He had been with a lot of women before me. He had used drugs. He was... well he used to be one of those promiscuous amorals. I thought he had changed.
Still the phone didn't ring.
I laid it face down on the table in front of me. I sipped my latte and tears began forming in my eyes.
I didn't want to cry. Certainly not in a busy coffee shop.
I swallowed back my pain. No. I would not do this. There was no point in getting upset. There was nothing to be done now. And the doctor had said that with proper care, my prognosis was good. It wasn't like in the 80s; there had been quite a few medical advances, and I could live a long healthy life. As long as I followed a certain protocol.
The words echoed inside my head. “Certain protocol”.
If Danny had followed a certain protocol I wouldn't have this dread disease.
Suddenly I didn't want him to call and I wished I'd never called him. But I had been specifically instructed to inform anyone I'd had intimate contact with in the past ten years. I was thankful I'd only had to make one call.
It had been fifteen minutes.
He wasn't going to call me. How could this even be happening?
My life was coming apart at the seams because of sex. And carelessness. Oh god how would I tell my parents? My family? What had I done to deserve this?
My heart beat wildly inside my chest and my brain was swimming. I needed something stronger than a latte. I put ten dollars on the table and got up to leave. There was a liquor store around the corner.
Nausea swept over me and I felt faint. The room began to go dark... I was falling; then I felt my head crack against the tile floor.
My eyes fluttered and there was blood everywhere. And people.... they were scrambling around me.
I screamed at them not to touch me. I squinted and strained to see the huge white clock on the wall. It was ten minutes til six. I began to convulse and then everything went black again as my phone vibrated in my hand and my new ring-tone played. Mad World; it certainly was.
My last thought was of Danny and how much I had loved him. I wondered if he was finally calling me back. I'd never know.

©2015 Garden Summerland