A short story: When you next see me

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Ever since Joe woke that morning he had an ominous foreboding. The night before he had sat at his local bar, on his usual stool and knocked back shot after shot. Low and alone, he stumbled home, narrowly missing a pothole in the middle of the side walk. He fell into bed and dreamed the dream. The one he had been having for over a year. Under clear skies, he was in a white room, filled with white people of all shapes and sizes. Tall, thin, short, some distorted and others in perfect proportion. They were all looking at him, eagerly waiting for him to make a move. Dressed in all white scrubs, they were watching as he moved towards someone on an operating table. The overhead lights were suspended – as if infinitely into the sky. Joe was always holding a scalpel in his dream. He was dressed in all white – a colour which did not look good on most people, but on him, against his sun-kissed brown skin, …. well he even dressed well in his dreams. He woke with a cry. Rubbing his forehead, he tried to picture the person who was lying on the table, but not before pausing to think about how good he looked. 

—————-

Two hours later, he stepped into his office wearing white chinos and a light blue shirt. His dark, thick brown hair tied back in a pony tail. He looked good. People passed him, paused momentarily to wish him good morning, some handed him documents, others had papers for him to sign.  Suddenly the the sense of foreboding gripped his body, causing him to reel back. He lost his balance momentarily, excused himself and walked slowly towards the break room.

———-

Being gay wasn’t something one broadcast in this workplace, but that didn’t deter Joe. The moment he joined the team, he told everyone he was gay and that he would not stand for abuse or discrimination of any kind. He remembered that day. There were at least a handful of people who sighed with relief and smiled. That one gesture of his led to 5 other colleagues coming out that month. Now it was part of the fabric, to talk about weekend plans, dates, loved ones and partners without prejudgement.

———-

The break room was brightly lit and Adam was standing in a corner, leaning against the window, reading by the morning light. His copper skin shone, his dark hair clipped close – he looked like a work of art. The muscles in his arm flickered as he turned the pages of a magazine. Joe gasped when he saw him. It was Adam. It was Adam in his dream. He was the one on the operating table.

Adam closed his magazine, turned towards Joe and smiled, ’Hello’. 

Joe hated when Adam did that, speak to him that is. Now they were no longer together it hurt to hear his warm voice. It was more than that. Seeing Adam made him remember what it was like to hold him, to need him, to breathe him in. 

‘What are you doing here?’ said Joe,  trying to sound casual.

‘I have been called to sit in on a meeting – don’t worry, I won’t misbehave’, Adam winked. 

Joe cleared his throat. Was it only two months ago when they were making plans for their engagement? How had he not seen this coming. Adam had called it off. Joe was heartbroken. He just knew Adam was the one for him, even if you asked him now, he would say the same thing. He had had enough of failed dates and mundane relationships. He wanted love, passion and fun with an equal – all of which he had with Adam. He cherished him and every moment they had spent together, Joe grew stronger and wiser, and felt safer. Adam in contrast felt trapped.

Joe gulped back a tear. I’ll erm … leave you to the meeting’ he said softly as he left.

————————-

By three that afternoon Joe had waded through the obligatory paperwork, the sense of foreboding kept at bay temporarily. He took slow deep breaths, closed his eyes and wondered if he was in fact having a panic attack. The anxiety and unhappiness of the past few months perhaps? He clutched his chest.

Loud voices in the corridor startled him out of his thoughts. He could hear people running and yelling. Someone stopped by his door, ‘Joe, it’s Adam, he’s collapsed!’. 

—————————

The operating theatre was brightly lit. ‘Joe, are you sure you are going to be able to do this?’, asked the anaesthetist. A nurse swabbed his forehead. Joe looked down at Adam and said ‘ten blade’.

—————-

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