Wednesday, 29 April 2009 - 7:19 pm

Talking in circles

Things have been quiet for us lately. We haven’t seen many people – the occasional moving body has brushed our peripheral vision, but no-one has come close enough to help or hinder us.

I’ve been glad of it. I needed time to think, to try to deal with the house and what we didn’t find there. If I think about it too much, I get upset, and then I feel guilty. Ben found something so much worse. I can’t talk to him about it; my complaints just sound incredibly unfair and shrivel up in my mouth to leave an uncomfortable silence between us. As if things weren’t awkward enough.

Things have been weird between Ben and me since I found out about him being sick. He’s finding it harder to hide the coughs now, as they get steadily worse. He swallows cough medicine when he thinks no-one’s paying attention. I don’t know how to talk to him about it. He doesn’t seem to want to talk. I usually end up just hugging him, which is probably stupid, but if I’m likely to catch this thing from him, I already have. After all, we sleep together, trading more intimacies than just hugs.

I haven’t told anyone about Ben’s symptoms. I don’t know how well I would handle that conversation – it’s already hard enough not to dwell on the fact that he might be dying. A little every day, slipping closer and closer to that raving coma that took Sax from us. I can’t bear to think about losing anyone else right now.

The only person that I can talk to is Matt, though I haven’t told him about Ben’s condition either. There are so many other things jamming up my skull right now; I’m not short of things to say. It helps, spinning my thoughts around with him. He untangles me, and there’s no guilt the way there is with Ben.

I think the strangeness of my house hit him pretty hard too; he has a lot of memories there. Matt’s father never approved of his life choices: hairdressing isn’t what he wanted for his first and only son, and I think he heard enough about Matt’s other activities to be conservatively disgusted. Matt spent more time at my house than he did at home, and he left home as soon as he was old enough. He hasn’t looked back since. His father moved away a few years ago.

But he understands about my dad, how close I was to him. They got along pretty well, the two of them. “There’s never any pretending with him,” Matt used to say, and he was right. Dad had a way of accepting things without speaking, even if he didn’t like them, and then he would move on to something else. I could always tell when he didn’t approve of something but he would rarely actually have words with me about it. I could never tell if that was just the way he was, or if he knew that it made the guilt worse when I have the release of arguing with him.


I’ve been struggling not to be preoccupied with all of this. Memories and fears and what-ifs have been cluttering up my head. I haven’t been working through it as well as I would have liked, and I think the last few posts show that only too well. I’m trying harder now. My friends need me; the past will still be there when I have time to deal with it.

Ben’s sick and is trying to ignore it. Sally is pregnant and scared. Dillon is worried about me. Masterson is falling back into his habit of sniping and is currently nursing a split lip after saying one thing too many in Thorpe’s hearing. Thorpe is as stoic as ever, and completely unapologetic. Nugget is showing her disapproval of the violence by switching her allegiance to Sally. Jones is learning how to ride on the back of a scooter with much frowning of his ginger ears.

There’s not much I can do about the first two of those except be here and try to be a friend to them both. I’d like to knock Masterson and Thorpe’s heads together, like kids, but I’ll settle for trying to keep them apart instead. Nugget still requires an eye kept on her so that she doesn’t wander off with the cat – she has a habit of doing that just when we’re ready to set off. As if it wasn’t hard enough to mobilise eight people at the same time.

And then there’s–


There’s a noise outside that has the boys all up and alert. I’d better go see what’s going on.