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You know, I truly can’t believe you sometimes. You show up, out of the blue, as if you were never away. As if two years of separation never happened. Two years of you, who should have been dead, and I, who spent every day wishing I were buried deep below the soil next to a body I thought was yours,  living as ghosts. Living apart.

But I didn’t know you were living. I didn’t know you would leave me. Never did I imagine existing one day without you because all my days are, were supposed to have been, yours. Completely, utterly, without any second thoughts, yours.

Here I am now, next to a body, above the soil, that isn’t yours, and I’ve told her all my days belong to her now. I’ve made a promise, foolishly, because this promise I know cannot be kept. Not anymore. We belong to each other, you and I. We are absolutely two halves, and Mary doesn’t fit.

Mary, who is sleeping silently next to me, has no room in my life anymore, which is beyond strange because just this morning I was giddy with the prospect of her filling my life entirely, mending all the holes and cracks your absence left behind.

I’m not sure if she understands yet, or if she ever will really. Christ. How could I even explain? “Yes, Mary. This is how it is now. You and I will be married, but none of my vows are for you. None of my love belongs to you. If I ever follow someone into the endless night, that someone will not be you because my heart is the property of a pale, lanky, not-dead git, and I, in turn, am his heart.” Something tells me she wouldn’t understand.

Mary shifts beside me. Her hand brushes my arm in the same place you grabbed me earlier, and the sensation triggers my muscle memory. Suddenly, the ghost of your beautifully long fingers squeezes my bicep. The ghost grips me just as forcibly as you had, and God, I hate you, but, oh, how I love you so much more.

Tears prick at my eyes. Again. It feels like the hundredth time tonight. I wish I could sleep. I wish darkness would take me and lift me out of this reality, if only for a few hours. I wouldn’t even care if my dreams took me back to Afghanistan, just as long as I don’t have to think about you being dead—not dead—or Mary being so desperately out of place now.

I hate this. I’m suffocating. Your weight, Mary’s weight, the weight of this bloody duvet, you’re all crushing me and killing me and I can’t fucking breathe.

I stand up, quickly, throwing off the sheets and darting to the bathroom. Once there, I notice daylight sneaking its way in through the window. I’ve been up all night. The alarm clock buzzes violently in the bedroom. I’ve been up all night, and now I have to get ready for work. I hear Mary get up and quell the mind-numbing sounds emanating from the alarm.

“John,” she calls to me. “You okay?”

“Fine,” I call back to her, surprised by how steady my voice managed to sound. She mustn’t know how torn up I’ve been all night. She mustn’t know what I’ve been torn up about. “Just woke up a bit early. Thought I’d go ahead and have a shower. I’ll be out soon.”

“Alright, love. Want me to join you?” she’s being playful. I can hear the smirk in her voice, and for a second I think maybe it would be fine. Maybe pleasure would erase the pain. I let myself imagine how it would go before I tell her yes or no. I picture hands on my body, gripping my length, caressing the curve of my arse. Lips on my neck, my collarbone. A tongue, buried in the hair on my chest. In return I put one hand on your arse, and I knead your soft flesh. I put my other hand in your dark brown hair, and I pull, wrapping a silky curl around each of my fingers. You moan, deep and dark and obscene and I’m iron hard. I turn you around in my arms, pinning you against the shower wall. The water cascades down our backs. The steam fills our lungs. I tug at your cock as I line up behind you, ready to enter you, ready to take you until the only word on your lips is my name.


Not Mary.


“Uh… No,” I shout back to her. I need to see you. “Sorry. It’s just… I need to get going.”

“Okay. I’ll get some tea ready then.” Well, she doesn’t sound bothered. That’s good. Shit, what is going on with me?

I strip and get in the shower, turning the water on as hot as I can stand it. I scrub my hands over my face, and I feel the bristles of my moustache beneath my palms. I should shave it. You—no, Mary hates it.

I really need to see you today.

After work, I’m going to see you again.