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Time (2)


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40 years we've been together. 40 years of mornings and evenings, warm summer days and cold winter nights, loud laughter, quiet support and a long friendship. 40 years of breakfasts at this table.

He's sitting opposite me like he always does. He's munching slowly on the cornflakes, eyes unfocused into the middle distance, thoughts somewhere a long way away. I take a mouthful of my tea and we sit in silence for a while.

"I'm sorry, Eric", he says.

I look up. His eyes are full of tears and he's looking straight at me.

"I'm sorry", he says again. "I really tried, but I just don't think I can go on like this."

Eric. That was the name of his first boyfriend. A traveling salesman with an ex-wife and a charming little daughter. They met in -

"You do understand, don't you? I do care about you, I really do but...but..."

I put down my tea and move to his side of the table, taking his frail hand gently in mine.

"It's alright", I tell him. "There's no need to say anything. We knew it was a gamble, and it didn't pay off. Just move on, keep the good times with you and don't hold on to the bad. I don't regret trying."

The tears overflow down his cheeks and he breathes a juddering sigh of relief. We hug, holding on for minutes, then I let him down, smile reassuringly and go back to my seat.

The real Eric had given him a black eye. That was...sixty years ago.

He goes distractedly back to his cornflakes, as though a conversation had been derailed in the middle of a sentence and he's was trying to find the thread again.

The clock on the wall seems to tick too loud as I go back to my tea and scan the newspaper. I look up when he speaks again.

"I don't need your say so. I don't need your approval. And I certainly don't need you."

His face is twisted with hate. He's obviously terrified, but trying to hide it with contempt. I don't know who he thinks I am, and for a second I'm lost for anything to say.

"I'm never coming back, and I'm never saying sorry.". He glares at me, as though daring me to...I don't know. "Get it now Dad?"


"Tom. Tommy. I'm not going to say I understand or I like it but...if it makes you happy, well then I'm glad. If we can't be friends anymore, lets at least not be enemies. Please son?"

I stick out my hand gruffly for him to shake. After a startled silence he reaches out and shakes it briefly, nervously, confused, then quickly turns away.

It was only a year ago he started to forget things - little things at first, then more. Appointments, old friends, then whole years of his life. Once he went out for a walk, leaving the front door open, and just stood outside in the street, lost. Sometimes he'd look at me, puzzled, as though struggling to remember who I was.

There were times I found him looking in the mirror, troubled by some vague wrongness that he could never put his finger on. As though there was something not quite right about the face looking back. But then he'd look away and seem perfectly lucid again.

"Paul", he croaks.

Paul. My name.

"What will it be like?". There's a contented smile on his lips, and he's looking away shyly.

"What do you mean?", I ask.

"When we're old together. Because I think we will be together - when we're old men. I know it's only been a few months and I know it sounds silly, but I've just got a feeling about it. What will it be like?"

I take his hand again.

"It'll be exactly like it is now."

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This is INCREDIBLE. Wonderful, poignant; just lovely. If Des doesn't give you his award for excellence for this then I think I'll have to have a talk with him.

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I am not without some experience of Alzheimer's disease, my grandmother suffered from it and so too, did my first lover/mentor, both now departed.

I recognise in my advancing years the brain fog that occurs from time to time, but the scans I have had show no plaque forming, so it is just normal aging, easily remedied with Ginkgo and Brahmi supplements.

Enough about me.

This story is outstanding in its construction but it is the loving twist at the end, the compassion of knowing when to say exactly the right thing that strangely only comes with age, or inspired youth like Kapitano, and even then only in the moments of brilliance that sometimes illuminates our lives, our awareness; and rewards everyone with the love that makes it all worthwhile.

And this story is more than worthwhile. I have no hesitation in doing what Trab suggests.


Awarded to


for his

outstanding contribution

to life and love in his Flash Fiction story,

Time (2)

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