Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 4:24 pm


I had to ask Thorpe a favour today; always a tricky thing, considering his moods.  He’s been particularly grumpy ever since I relayed Masterson’s words to the group.  I suppose now, on reflection, it was the part about the doctor’s family that upset Thorpe the most, not the information about the call.

I’ve often seen him fiddling with something when he’s not busy.  He always puts it away when someone comes over, slipping it into a pocket that he checks regularly to make sure it’s still there.  I didn’t think much of it until I came around a corner and almost walked right into him, and saw what it was.

It’s a ring, a gold band with a distinctive platinum strip inlaid into it.  I recognised it, and blinked as I tried to remember where I’d seen it before.  I’d seen someone else fiddling with it – it feels like a lifetime ago, though it was only a little over three weeks.  That someone else was Trevor, his fire-crewmate and, apparently, something a lot more.

Pieces fell into place then.  How he’d been so awful since the rain started, why he had reacted so badly to certain things.  Like his reaction to saving Sally, when he couldn’t save someone he cared about.  I remember having to hold him back when it happened; he had been ready to run into the rain for a chance to save Trevor and it had taken three of us to stop him.

He must have had to go through Trevor’s spent clothes to retrieve the ring, a strange thing for someone as unsentimental as Thorpe to do.  Trevor must have meant a great deal to him.  I can’t imagine what that must have been like, going through a familiar, empty shirt for a scrap of a keepsake.  Not even having a body to mourn over or say goodbye to.

He hasn’t cried, not once since it happened.  Not within anyone’s sight, anyway.  He keeps it all locked inside, like the fist that closed over the ring as soon as I came around the corner.  Not in time, but almost.  He knew as soon as I looked at him; my expression must have given me away.  He knew that I knew, and I could almost hear the shutters clanging down behind his eyes.

I didn’t know what to say to him, so I said the first thing that same to mind: “I’m sorry.”  Not for interrupting him, not for almost walking into him.  He knew I meant Trevor, and I think he knew that I meant it.

He didn’t break down; he didn’t even nod in acknowledgement.  He just looked away.  I don’t think he’s used to people talking about this kind of personal matter, and abruptly I could imagine the two of them as a couple.  Thorpe’s stoicism and Trevor’s levity, solidity and gentleness.  They must have made a good pair.  I’m sorry that I never saw them together the way they really were.

I wonder if anyone ever did.  I don’t think Ben knows; he would have said something, I’m sure of it.  Thorpe and Trevor worked together, so they probably had to keep it a secret; otherwise, one of them would have had to leave.  And Thorpe is so private; maybe that’s just how he is.  He’s still keeping that secret, not letting anyone see him grieve, not letting anyone know that he lost something precious, that it died right in front of him.

I’m not sure what made me do it.  A part of me wanted to cry because he hadn’t, because he couldn’t.  Instead, I took off one of my necklaces, unfastened the chain and let the pendant slither off into my hand.  Then I asked him if I could see the ring, just for a moment.

He didn’t want me to; he might hide the softer emotions, but he’s unrestrained with his distrust.  I promised that I would give it right back, please, just for a second.  I thought he was going to refuse, but he passed it over with a hand heavy with reluctance.

It was hard to know what to say, so I told him about the chain.  About how my grandmother had given me the pendant when I was four years old, a St Christopher’s disc worn so much that it’s almost blurred smooth now.  It had taken us seven years and five chains to find one that I couldn’t break after a few minutes.  Since then, I’d worn this one, and it hadn’t failed me once.  Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got another one I can put the pendant on, the other one I wear all the time, the same as this one.  And could he please bend down a bit, because he’s very tall and I couldn’t reach to fasten it.

He tucked the ring and its new chain under his shirt as soon as it was in place.  He didn’t say anything, but there was a restrained note to his frown, as if he was holding something back.  And that’s okay; that’s what he needs to do, I get it now.  There wasn’t anything else for me to say, so I gave a little smile and turned to leave him alone.

“Did you come and bother me for a reason?”  His tone wasn’t as sharp as usual, as if something in him had unbent, just a little.

“Um, actually, yeah.”  I had forgotten about why I had been looking for him in the first place, thoroughly distracted by his truth.  “We need a couple of car batteries and some parts.  Was wondering if you’d take Dillon and see if you can find them.”

He shrugged.  “All right.”

“Great, I’ll send him out to find you.”  On impulse, I added, “Hey, what’s your first name?”


“But you prefer Thorpe?”


“Okay.  Thanks.”

I’m not sure what made me ask, but I wanted to know who he was.  Calling someone by their surname always seems distancing, keeping people just that bit more at arm’s length.  I know it’s hypocritical of me because I used to do it, I used to go by Mac.  I never realised that about me before, but I guess it’s true.

But this isn’t about me.  This is about a man named Jack Thorpe, who lost a love he won’t tell anyone about, who carries a ring to remember him by.

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