Jason lay half asleep next to Esmé, needing to wee but very unwilling to get out of the snug warm bed and expose his unclothed body to the chill late autumn night air. He drifted back into sleep. He woke again, a bit later. The clock on Keith’s bedside table displayed the time in scarlet letters: 5.15. Far too early to get up. And maybe they could have a repeat of the night before. His morning wood hardened.
Reluctantly, he slid out of the bedclothes and stood up, yawning silently. He went through to the toilet, his thoughts far away. He started thinking about Brent, wondering what he would have thought about him and Keith and Esmé. He had the oddest feeling that Brent was near, and for the first time since Brent had killed himself, he didn’t think of the other man as unhappy. The images which came into his mind were happy ones: he and Brent swimming in the nude in a stream after a cricket game on a very hot and sticky afternoon and being startled by two teenage girls from the village who had teased them, before making off. Or a freezing winter’s night, in a snug pub, the fire friendly in the hearth, the flickering flames reflected off the polished brass, with their connection so strong they didn’t need to touch, yet also desperately wanting to. But they were in public, so they just looked at each other. Their invisible connection had to suffice. Yet it was a happy memory. Brent leaning on his elbows, smiling at him on Sunday mornings, his eyes alight with love and desire and happiness.
But then the images shifted. Brent looked worried, and then, as clearly as if he’d spoken aloud, Jason heard the words, Look at your phone, love. Now.