There are days when Nick can get out of bed. There are days that are easier than others. When he can put a smile on his face and pretend like everything is okay. He doesn’t do it because he needs to. He does it to make everyone else feel better.
He can feel the way some of them look at him when they don’t think he notices. He can feel their eyes, so full of pain and sorrow and sympathy and pity, and after a while he just gets so tired of it. So, he masks what he’s really feeling. He puts on a smile for the crowd, hoping that when his back is turned they start to talk about how well he’s doing instead of how they hope he’ll pull through and that it just “takes time.”
However, for Nick, time passes by slowly. There’s nothing there for him anymore. And because of this, it’s so agonizingly slow that he wants to shove out the rest of the world and tear out every other memory outside the ones he lives in. He wants to live in this never ending cycle of pain where he can at least pretend. Time is his worst enemy and he lives in a hell where it’s suppose to be his best friend.
He covers his ears sometimes. Sometimes he shuts his eyes and remembers what things use to be like. He remembers how colorful things were and how he could hear the calming sound of rain hitting the roof of the studio apartment. He remembers how warm the bed was with the sheets tossed around in a pile and clothes laid around on the floor. But it just makes it hurt worse when he opens them and listens to the sound of nothing, there’s a pull in his chest and his eyes start to sting. There is no rain. There is no warmth. The arms around his back are gone and voice he use to wake up to has vanished.
But… it hasn’t.
He does it subtly. There’s nothing worse than the looks he knows he’ll receive if they found out. Some moments when he’s in a crowded room full of people, out to dinner or sitting around the tv is when it hurts the most. There are people around him, getting by and living and he’s stuck looking around the room for that familiar face even if he knows he’ll never see it again. Nick excuses himself and find a dark corner where he can do it in peace. It’s in those fifteen seconds that he finds himself feeling as best as he possibly can and at his very worst. He’s torn between smiling and collapsing onto the floor. Every time.
There are a few times when it happens that he leaves without saying anything. He’s reduced to choking on his own tongue. He’s gagging and crying so hard that he can barely make it out without falling over himself. Sometimes he knows that this will happen, but he doesn’t care because he needs something to remember that it really happened.
That he was really here.
And there are nights when he falls asleep to it. His cell phone is pressed against his ear and his face is half hidden in his pillow. Sometimes there are tears running down his face and seeping into the fabric of his pillow. Other times, he’s just too tired to cry. His fingers shake as he quickly works to redial as soon as he’s enveloped in silence, because as soon as the noise stops, he feels his stomach drop and he panics, as though uncertain the voice will still be there.
Because there’s no warmth at his back. There’s no smile he’ll roll over to. There’s no blond hair for Nick to brush from his face to see those beautiful hazel eyes. There’s no laugh that will ring throughout the apartment. There is nothing for him here except the sound of the voice in his ear.
Over and over he plays it because he’s too scared of the silence. He’s too scared he’ll never hear it again.
In the distance, somewhere across the room on top of a dresser full of clothing, half of which doesn’t fit him, a cellphone screen lights up.
“Hey, this is Jeff! Leave me a message and I’ll try to get back to you if I’m not already preoccupied… if you know what I mean.”
There’s a chuckle and the faint sound of his own voice in the background and then it cuts off.
Nick dials again.