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My Last Betrayal

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When somebody cheats on you, you always know. There is something inside, something that is set on fire with intrigue, and you cannot stop until you know what it is that drives the internal clockwork of mystery. You start to notice little things, like their kisses. They seem different. They are quicker and they linger for less time than it takes you to blink.

They stop touching you in the way that previously set your heart on fire with passionate love, replacing the intimacy with a shy, aghast emotion you cannot describe. They hardly want to look at you anymore, instead their heart leaps for those they would have previously found menial or annoying, and your mind runs riot with images of lusty betrayal and affairs.

You don’t confront them or ask why, you just continue to slide into the cold, cotton sheets night after night, next to the one who has stolen your heart, but the comfort which you yearn for so much in the darkness never comes.

I am sure, in the deepest depths of my heart, I always knew Michael would find out.

 

I’ll never forget how I felt that day in Panama when he finally caught up to me in the crowd. It was so hot my thin white shirt was plastered to my skin and tiny, salty beads of sweat littered my brow. When I left the police station and set off down the street without a single idea as to where I was going, the only sound I heard was the crunching of Panamanian sand under my flat soled shoes. I failed to notice the feverishly hot shimmer of shadows following me in my numb, alone state.

Normally I am observant, and considering what I had been through over the last few weeks, I thought I would have noticed. I was tired and I ached all over. I didn’t think I could run anymore. My leg muscles burned like a forest fire within my body and I couldn’t focus. As I stumbled down the streets, bumping into the crowd of darkly tanned locals and shrieking children, I didn’t hear a single one of them. It wasn’t until I felt a firm grip on my elbow that I started to feel again.

I spun, turned to face my attacker, and the dark blue shirt buttoned only half way, and the light, khaki slacks, made him look like a regular tourist. I knew he wasn’t a tourist because of my panicked reflection staring back at me from his government issue black sunglasses. The street crowds had dwindled and even if I could break through the soul freezing fear and scream, no one would hear me. Michael was gone. Lincoln was gone. I was alone.

He didn’t say a word. I remember his face staying perfectly still, staring through the blackened lenses right through me, and then nothing. I pinched my eyes closed so tightly I felt the blood stop flowing to the muscles that would peel them open again. I smashed my elbow against an old discarded table made of metal as I sunk to the ground, immediately curling into a tight ball and fisting my hair between my fingers.

I remember the dull crack of someone’s jaw as it snapped from their face. I remember the scuffling sound the heavy treaded boots made in the debris littered floor, crunching on every twist and turn of the huge feet within them. I remember shaking, quivering in an adult heap of immature fright while the dust was kicked towards my face, covering my hands as I shielded my eyes. And then, like nothing I have ever experienced before, I felt the silence. Cold, hard, tangible silence that could have been punched with the same velocity as my attacker.

Then all I remember is the thick cloud of silence lifting and the gruff, wheezy panting filling the air. I can remember peeling my eyes open, my shaking hand obstructing my watery vision as my eyes adjusted to the kicked up dirt, and then feeling the wash of relief rush over me. To my left there was a man, the same man who had grabbed me, face down in the dirt with blood splattered all over his face. His glasses, although still on his face, were crooked and one of the lenses had been smashed.

To my right, alternating between grabbing his knees and grabbing at his oxygen starved sides was my rescuer. Broad shoulders stood erect and he swiped the back of his hand across a bloodied lip. I stumbled to my feet, brushed my humidity soaked hair from my forehead and on a breath I never knew I had, I whimpered his name.

”Lincoln.”

 

As I look back on it now, it seems that I was blinded by the want to feel safe again. I had never looked at Lincoln in the way I did that day. Not in Fox River or whilst on the run with the brothers. He wasn’t Michael. My heart belongs to Michael. From the first day I saw Michael Scofield in Fox River I crossed a line. It wasn’t a line you could see or draw, but it was a line within me that I had only ever crossed once before.

You don’t stop being an addict just because you are clean from the drug you once were addicted to. You don’t stop being an addict because you have a steady job that you hate but get up for every day because it pays the bills. You don’t stop being an addict because you attended meetings and shared your experiences with other addicts, and you most certainly don’t stop being an addict because you don’t look like one. Michael Scofield pushed me over that internal line and I was addicted to him.

Lincoln reached out for my hand that day in Panama and like a fool I took it.

 

“It’s okay, Sara. You’re okay.”

I was shaking so much, despite the abnormally hot weather. Cold sweat rolled down my face, drawing lines in my skin that had been powdered by the dirt floor. I stumbled sideways, my ill-fitting shoes dragging my feet sideways in the rubble and I balanced myself quickly. My eyes were wide, dry and stung from the dust but I couldn’t blink. If I’d blinked, he might have disappeared.

The echo of footprints pounded in my ears as he stepped towards me, his large bear like paws outstretched. He was still talking, soothing me with his words and I let him, feeling each and every word soak into my subconscious. I can’t describe what I was feeling because no matter how you look at it, it shouldn’t have been there. A mixture of arousal and relief washed over my ancient feeling bones and I collapsed into his arms, taking the final step to close the gap between us on my last energy reserves.

“I’m here. It’s okay, I’m here.”

Lincoln’s words were transformed as he said them, turning into what I wanted to hear. I heard Michael, but I knew it wasn’t. He was on his way to prison again, leaving me alone, like he promised he wouldn’t. In that exact moment in time, I felt cheated and betrayed, so I clung to what I had. I clung to Lincoln.

My hands found his face, blunt fingers clawing at rough, stubble to hold him close. He resisted for only a second, but the words I heard were still Michael’s, softly spoken and loving, desperately trying to hold back what he was feeling. Huge, tarnished fingertips clung to my wrists and held my hands steady as they shook against his skin but all I felt was the soft caress of Michael on my delicate inner arms.

I wanted more and without a second thought of where I was, who I was with or the repercussions, I lifted my dreary head and slammed my lips into his like I might never kiss anyone again. That was when I realised he wasn’t what I had felt all along. He wasn’t Michael. Lincoln was something new, something forbidden, and I was foolish enough to want more. I kissed him harder, knowing he wasn’t Michael, and it was like nothing I had ever felt before.

My heart skipped a beat in my chest and then took off like a thundering train, pumping hard, adrenaline fuelled blood around my body. It echoed on every beat in my ears with welcome warmth and I heard myself moan against Lincoln’s mouth. I wasn’t ashamed of my involuntary mirth, nor did I blush or pull away. It was a first kiss like no other and like a true addict, I pushed for more.

There was no resistance to my frenzied kiss. Lincoln met my lips with his own and kissed me like he wanted to and like he had wanted to for so long. I continued to a new point of no return and my lips parted gently, inviting the moist tongue that occupied his mouth into mine to duel with my own. My legs went weak, almost collapsing from under me but he held me up. His hands found my hips and my arms locked together behind his huge, rounded skull, my fingers interlocking against his soft, downy stubble and holding his face to mine.

I never wanted to let go and as he held me afloat in the aftermath of the storm, I couldn’t. I felt safe with Michael but I felt secure with Lincoln. I had started something I knew I’d never want to finish and something I knew would inevitably be my end.

 

I know what you are thinking because I had the exact same feelings the second our lips parted. How could I do such a thing, especially to someone as kind as Michael? The truth is, at the time, I didn’t know Michael as well as I thought. Yes, he was my hero and I would do anything for him but in reality, I had known Lincoln the exact same amount of time. It just happened that Michael was bold enough to cross the line that Lincoln had not.

Do I wish things were different? Of course, but it cannot be changed. There is no excusing what I have done and there never will be. Michael is not a stupid man, by any means, and neither is Lincoln. But perhaps more alarming is the bond that they share as brothers, comrades and soldiers of reality means that whatever I do with one, the other undoubtedly knows about it.

Discretion is not something you can afford to disregard when you are a cheater. That’s what I am in all honesty. I cheated on Michael with Lincoln, I cheated on Lincoln with Michael and I cheated on them both with my silent partner. I never had any intention of using again but circumstances throw you into a state of disarray sometimes, and sometimes, you cannot ignore the thrall of a familiar fix.

 

There is only so long after an event, only so much time that can pass before one of the parties involved cracks under the pressure of hiding the truth. Two weeks had passed since Lincoln found me in Panama and we were back in the United States. He was free and I was free and we were ironically living in Michael’s apartment. We had hardly spoken since the day we lost our ability to say no, instead trying to focus all of our energy on saving the one person who could right everything that had happened.

I never once felt awkward living in the apartment of the man I love with his brother who I wanted to love. I also never once let my feelings get the better of me. When we spoke, it was of Michael and legal plans to get him free and bring down The Company. There was no mention of how we felt, what had happened that afternoon in Panama, and neither of us pushed to find out.

Secretly, all I wanted was to know. Kisses work two ways, with two people. They say it takes two to tango, but what does that mean anyway? Was tango some euphemism for cheating? Was cheating a fast frenzy of lovers entwined until the bitter end, or were the stories all false? Any way you look at it, somebody always got hurt. Someone always got betrayed, and it was always the nice guy. It was always Michael.

I remember watching Lincoln from the other side of the expensive black marble topped counter in Michael’s kitchenette breakfast bar and losing myself in thought. I thought about the way his hands held the pen as he scribbled its blue blood over the paper before him. I thought about his hands doing other things, in other places, leaving their mark on soft, milky skin like a brand. The thought of Michael being free in less than twenty four hours thanks to our hard work and the unexpected confessions of Caroline Reynolds never entered my thoughts.

I can’t remember how long I was staring for, mesmerized by the scrawny, uneducated scratching of Lincoln’s handwriting. All I remember is Lincoln’s husky words vibrating through my pink blushed soul and shaking me back to reality. My reality, our reality, Michael’s reality. I never expected what he said, not in a million years, and his words stunned me to silence. Was I really a pane of glass that everyone was seeing through, or was I dirtied and stained and only Lincoln could see in?

“I can’t stop thinking about you either.”

 

Would you believe me if I told you that that night, the very same night the man I loved was due for release, was the best of my life for all the wrong reasons? I’ll never forget it as long as I live, and I’ll never regret it. I am an adult and could have said no. Lincoln is not an animal with no boundaries, or some feral beast only out for one thing. I saw a side to Lincoln I had never known about that night, and I wanted to see more.

There is always something deep in the back of your mind, a niggling feeling of doubt and fear that can halt anything. I can honestly say that that night, there was nothing. We both knew what we were doing was wrong, and we kept saying we should stop, but how can something that feels so natural and so right, be so wrong? Believe me when I say that if I had the faintest trace of doubt I would have stopped.

Making love to Lincoln is like being on a rollercoaster. You shiver and shake in anticipation while you are teased to the peak of your ability, and then you hold on because if you let go, even for a second, you will be lost. Of course you will always be found but you never want to leave what you have, what you are feeling on every thrust of his powerful hips. You climb to the top of the next vertical drop into blinding oblivion and then darkness envelops you and you are sweating, tensing and holding onto the ride for dear life.

And then, once it is all over, you want to get back on and ride the rollercoaster some more.

Making love to Michael is a totally different experience but just as nerve shattering. He knows how to make me feel like I have never felt before and I wonder how he can know me better then I know myself. He has a gift, the ability to please without even breaking a sweat, to make me mew his name like a kitten calling for its mother. It’s a slower kind of sex and I feel every inch of him inside of me as he pants against my already dampened skin, gripping into the mattress beside me like he might fall into me and be lost forever.

Michael always calls my name when he orgasms but I never hear his voice. Even during sex with Michael I am with Lincoln. I am with the first brother that felt me from the inside and ended my sobriety of innocence.

 

“He can never know. This would kill him.”

On so many levels, I knew Lincoln was right. There had never been any official announcement of Michael and me as a couple but it was one of those situations where people assume you are so. I had heard so many times before that love is between two people and should be eternal. What I had never heard was how many people could participate in love before things became too blurry.

I was confused. The night before Lincoln had told me so many things, so many times over. It was like we were in a bubble and were protected from the glares and judgement of the world. We had made love in Michael’s bed, the sheets smelling musty and aged because of his incarceration, and so many things had been said. I knew Lincoln was scared, as ridiculous as that sounded at the time, but what I didn’t know was that he was afraid of what he was feeling and not his brother finding out.

I confessed my feelings that morning at the same time as we changed Michael’s sheets and removed our sins from the cotton. We both knew that that night would be the first time Michael and I would make love but we didn’t talk about it. I thought about it a lot. Some of the most depraved questions crossed my mind that day. Even as we drove the half rusted, second hand faded red pickup to the airport where Michael was being flown to from Panama, I couldn’t shut them out.

Perhaps the most atrocious thing of all was when I told myself to follow my heart. I smiled, maybe even cried as I embraced Michael at the airport with Lincoln standing nearby watching the scene with the unaltered expression he was so good at maintaining. He shifted uncomfortably and crosses his arms when Michael pulled me in for a kiss that I delved into hungrily, needing to prove my loyalty, and all I could think about was the approaching night.

If I was to follow my heart, I would be lying, but I figured that by having sex with Michael less than twenty four hours after sex with Lincoln, Michael would never know the feel of any other intimacy and I could therefore make love to both brothers and casually slip into purgatory unnoticed.

 

Or so I thought. Things are just so much easier in theory and purgatory seems such a fun filled world of happiness compared to where I am now. Judge me if you wish but at the time I wanted them both and it’s because I wanted that I have lost it all. What I did was wrong; I know that, I knew it all along. So much potential for broken hearts and torn souls. Nothing ever ends fairly for any party involved.

What I never understood was how I could have loved two men at once. People often say that it happens but I don’t believe in love at first sight or other affairs of the heart. When you love someone it is for them and them only. You fall in love with them as a person, and that includes their quirks, appeals and downfalls. If Michael and Lincoln were the same people, my life would have been so much easier.

I can’t sit here, writing my life’s last accounts guided only by the sound of the keys of my laptop. How ironically modern, right? Last words written but not written at all. Please don’t try to make sense of this because I can’t. I don’t even know how I got here. All I can do is continue on with my story and hope by the end we both understand.

 

After Michael’s release, pardon and our first sexual encounter, the weeks passed too slowly. Not too slowly in the sense that I wanted something at the end of them as a reward, but rather, too quickly with one brother and not enough with the other. I didn’t want them to end. We had all agreed that it would be easier for us all to live in Michael’s apartment until we had all found jobs. However, not many places were hiring two ex cons and their accomplice.

It was about three weeks until Christmas and I had been sleeping with both brothers for three months. I thought I could fall out of love with one of them and the other would never know about the affairs. Of course Lincoln knew about Michael because men talk and boast, regardless of how much chivalry they hold on to. Michael was like a boy in a candy store every time we made love, parading about the apartment in his boxers with a cheery whistle.

This particular day was like any other. Michael would wake and tell me how much he loved me, to which I would reply with the honest answer of “I love you too.” It wasn’t a lie, because I did love Michael. We would then shower separately and cook breakfast. The thing about Michael was he needed a routine to follow each day, something to keep him occupied and to live his life by. Lincoln on the other hand lived life as it came to him, taking each twist and turn in his stride.

That’s how I wanted to live my life. I liked routine and order but Michael was military and Lincoln was more of an escape than anything else. I remember on this day the sun was shining rather unusually for December. It had snowed, and the ground was covered in a layer of half frozen water crystals that crunched under the foot of the mailman as he wheezed and struggled to scale the path to the apartment block.

I’ll never know why I had woken up and chosen this day. Everything I had ever wanted was taking his last sip of murky brown coffee, biting into a slice of cold buttered toast and grabbing his grey suit jacket as he headed out of the apartment door. Everything I had ever wanted would never be enough, especially not with me sleeping with the one thing I could never truly have. That day I decided that before I set off for work I would motivate Lincoln to find his own apartment. I would tell him I loved Michael and I couldn’t see him anymore.

I tried to ignore the hurt in his face. I tried to ignore the constant pang of heartbreak as my own cold, traitorous heart shattered in my chest. I tried to explain that what we were doing was wrong but he retaliated with the one question I had kept asking myself. I had no words after that, just the silent stare into his soul that gave neither of us the answer we so eagerly sought out.

“How can this be wrong if it feels so right?”

 

I did the right thing, right? I took it upon myself to make a life altering decision that would hurt the least amount of people. I felt bad I had hurt Lincoln, and for months afterwards I yearned for him so much. I can’t even describe the feeling of loss and depravity. Even if there was a word to describe it, it wouldn’t have been justified.

As I suspected, Lincoln moved out a few days later. Michael told me that he had found an apartment a few miles away but I knew exactly where he had moved to. It was probably his downfall in the end, but I could sit here blaming myself for the rest of my life. It wouldn’t change the fact that I made the wrong decision. Or I think I did anyway, but when people live their lives of what ifs and maybes, they are sure to crumble.

I suppose worse things could have happened to me. Worse things could have happened to the brothers. Last night I had a dream that I met Lincoln in a bar in downtown Chicago. Rene’s it was called in my dream and it had a red and yellow flashing neon sign above the door. It wasn’t a dive; it was just average looking establishment with a pretty waitress, a pot bellied barman and Lincoln in a spotlight.

Yeah, I know. A spotlight. How clichéd is it that in my dream, the one thing I should have chosen for the rest of my life was highlighted for me. Do you think, in some kind of twisted alternative reality, my subconscious was mocking me? Teasing me with what I could have had? I don’t know. I can’t analyse dreams. If I could, I’d be worth a fortune and this would be my memoirs. As it turns out, no one is going to want to pay to read this.

”Sara Tancredi, will you marry me?”

At the time, Michael’s words were so meaningful they actually penetrated deep into my heart. I knew exactly why I was crying as I stood in the harsh metallic looking kitchen with the diamond ring clutched between my white, bloodless fingertips. My answer was yes. It had always been yes but I was crying tears of woe. My answer had always been yes for Lincoln.

Asking me to marry him was one of Michael’s order and routine exercises. In his mind, the next step to our relationship was marriage. Every time I looked at Michael I saw the man I loved but not the man I wanted to marry. I didn’t want his children. I didn’t want to even own a dog with him. I just wanted all of that with Lincoln, all of that and more.

So unable to say anything else, I nodded my teary head and lunged into Michael arms, emptying my salty sorrow into the softness of his blue cotton t-shirt while he held me. I could feel him smiling as he pressed his lips to my soft, auburn hair, accepting my nod as my final answer. I never wanted to say the answer out loud. Yes was so definitive, so end of the line. If I stood tall and said yes, I was lying to Michael and I was lying to myself.

There is only so much heartache the human heart can actually endure. When Lincoln arrived at our apartment that night to the meal we had invited him to, I could tell by the three day growth littering his jaw that he was already on the verge of breaking down. I had never thought he cared for me as much as I cared for him, but comparing my emotional turmoil to his would have been cruel.

I remember the whiteness of his clenched fist as Michael told him we were to be married. Michael was standing behind me his fingertips clinging nervously to my shoulders while I held Lincoln’s gaze across the table. I was apologising. I was trying to apologise so hard for everything I had ever done to him or taken from him. I was trying to tell him I didn’t want to marry Michael. I was trying so hard, and then he surprised me.

Lincoln stood up, the crisp, white table cloth falling back over the edge of the table from his lap as he rose and walked towards us. My heart beat faster in my chest because I was scared of what he might do or say. Lincoln had said some things to me I had never heard from Michael before and unlike Michael and I, Lincoln and I had actually talked about a future. I think that’s what made what he did so hard for me to take in.

Lincoln extended his hand, gripped to Michael’s equally sized paw for a congratulatory hand shake and then, with a beaming smile I could translate as the ultimate in bereavement, he spoke the biggest and most forced lie I will ever have the misfortune of hearing. If my heart was not already on the verge of emotional suicide, it was at that moment.

“I’m so happy for you both.”

 

Again I ask the question, how can you love more then one person? I don’t mean in your lifetime. I mean at the same time. I’ve been to shrinks, three in fact, and they all say the same thing. They all tell me I was in love with neither brother. I was in fact in love with the prospect of having two providers. Two big strong men to call my own and take care of me. I told them all they were talking bullshit.

The first shrink, a woman with dark curly hair and square glasses that she perched on the end of her nose, I laughed at. Wouldn’t you? She tried to tell me what I was feeling. What I had felt since the start of the whole botch affair. Wasn’t it her job to listen to what I was feeling? I promptly walked out of her office safe in the knowledge she would never be able to find ‘Sara Sidle’ to send the bill to. Thank you CSI.

The second, Dr Monet Cruzer, was slightly more tolerable. She had at least some kind of fashion sense and wasn’t sporting a huge, ugly mullet that had escaped from the eighties. She actually listened to me, for all of about fifteen minutes. It seems the second you tell someone that you have been sleeping with two brothers at the same time, you are branded. God only knows what Monet branded me as, but again I got the story of being in love with multiple providers and had dropped off her client list quicker than it took her to finish her sentence.

The third shrink was a man. By my own admission, I figured a man might be able to understand me a little better than a woman. You see, women have this tendency to automatically see another woman and judge her. We don’t mean to do it, it just happens. ‘Her dress is ugly’ or ‘oh my god, look at how bad her hair looks’. Never compliments. Never smiles and kind words. Always bitching and back stabbing.

So I thought a man would be different. I thought wrong. Dr David Mitchell was pleasant to look at, young and virile for a doctor of psychiatry, however extremely judgemental. If I had known better, I would have said he was a woman in a past life. Or maybe in the start of this one, I don’t know. Again, straight out of the Psychiatrists Handbook for Chicago based Practices, I was told about my want for more providers.

You know you are a hopeless case when even your shrink makes you laugh. That or you’re insane, but I’m pretty sure I’m not that. Yet. I can still remember my name and the entire travesty I have lived through over the last three years. Who could forget?

 

Every day after I had nodded and sealed my fate, I wished I could take it back and every night I dreamt about Lincoln and what we could have had. I wasn’t unhappy with Michael, and I did still love him, in my confusing world of emotional funfairs, but for someone so neurotic and intricate, he was rushing. Michael was rushing to get us married like some kind of race of masculinity. I had to be his. We had to be Mr. and Mrs. Scofield as soon as humanly possibly.

What was even worse, but for whom I am unsure, Michael made no attempt to exclude Lincoln from the arrangements. I suppose, being his brother, I should have realised that he would have been Michael’s best man. Why I had thought that by some small miracle Michael would ask Sucre I did not know. Sucre was still on the run as far as I knew, and we hadn’t heard from him in as long as we hadn’t seen him.

It bothered me that after telling him that we couldn’t be together anymore, Lincoln and I were suddenly thrown together for wedding arrangements. Just by looking at him I could tell how much he was hurting inside. I knew he was being torn up every time Michael laid his hand on me lovingly, or kissed me softly in his presence. I knew it because tiny shards of glass penetrated my own heart at the same time.

We were connected. We were one with each other. Soul mates. That’s how I felt. Seeing Lincoln every day, faking his smile and pretending his wasn’t crumbling inside was as hard for me as it was to pretend I still didn’t want him. I remember at once stage Michael was finalising catering options with a petite foreign man who called himself a chef and Lincoln and I were left alone. He reeked of alcohol as it seeped through his skin and enveloped him like a vapour cloud.

I thought about how I had treated him. I thought about how, while I was living the falsified life of luxury, he had nothing. It kept me awake for most of the night and I had segregated myself to the outer most reaches of our king sized bed. I felt so guilty I couldn’t even bare to look at Michael’s back as he slept beside me. Even the radiation from his body made me feel worthless.

The thought didn’t stop and I realised what it was like to be an addict once more. Addiction happens when you are subjected to a substance that makes you feel alive. It is normally the worst thing for you but you cannot do without it. I realised that night, as I stared blankly at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock, that I was still addicted to Lincoln. I pushed back the covers silently, padded barefoot to the lounge where I had stored another addiction of mine behind some of my old medical textbooks I knew Michael would never want to read.

Slouching down onto the sofa, I stared at the shot of hard liquor in the bottom of the laser cut glass for thirty minutes. It was then that I decided a quarter of a glass was not enough to numb the pain. It was then that I filled the glass to the top, rested the half empty bottle of putrid brown whiskey on the table beside it and drank until dawn.

 

You could say it was now that my life started to go a little askew. From here on out, it will seem like I get everything that I deserve. What I can honestly say is nothing that happens to Michael or Lincoln from here on out, was intended for them. What they did endure is beyond redemption, even for me. No amount of good doctoring and volunteering could undo what I caused.

The first thing I am sorry for is Michael finding out about me drinking again. Coming home to see your fiancée blind drunk, passed out and hugging an empty bottle she failed to find her answers at the bottom of, is not how most men imagine uncovering a dirty secret. Most women’s dirty secrets are huge great big laundry day underpants, not failing to be sober and falling back into an addiction that nearly broke you before.

I don’t remember his face because being a drunk as I was, I don’t remember much. All I remember is waking up the next day and finding a note on the kitchen counter. He said he would be back but he needed time and he suggested that before he came back, I found some help. Help? There was only one thing I really needed and sadly, it was the one thing Michael did not ever need.

A rift is described as a break in friendly relations, particularly among siblings. I had found the help I so desperately needed that day, over and over again in the form of Lincoln. It was like having sex for the first time, only this time, to numb the pain we were causing each other, we periodically drank our sorrows away in bed. In mine and Michael’s bed.

Three condoms and an entire bottle of Jack Daniels later, we were both too high on euphoria and alcohol to notice the creak of the front door. Or the thud of rubber against laminate flooring as Michael plodded around the apartment in his heavy soled boots, gently calling my name. I can only imagine his voice must have been full of hurt and disappointment and not finding me waiting for him on the couch must have sent his mind reeling.

What I can never imagine is how he must have felt as he walked through the hall to our bedroom and pushed open the door. I remember the light spilling across my face and the sculptured curves of Lincoln’s muscles as they rippled and tensed in the luminescence. We froze, me looking up from the sweaty bulk above me at the same time as Lincoln looked over his shoulder. If there was ever a time for feeling at your worst, that was it.

I didn’t expect what Michael did next. I didn’t think in a million years he would resort to violence to solve any kind of problem he might have had. If lunging across the bedroom with the sound of his footsteps drowned out by my pained pleading for him to stop hadn’t made me realise what I was actually doing then and there, nothing would have.

Michael left the apartment that night with a broken hand and a broken heart. He had punched Lincoln in the face so hard that the bridge of his nose had split open and blood had poured all over our sheets. It represented the life that we were meant to live in but that I had ruined. It was a crimson stain on our potential marriage. A wrong that could never have been righted.

Strangely I felt a wash of relief the second I heard the front door slam closed, the mirror rattle on the wall and slid to the ground where it shattered. Like a metaphor for our three way love triangle, it was bust wide open for all to see. It was out and we didn’t have to pretend we were all happy anymore. I patched up Lincoln in the bathroom but neither of us looked the other in the eye or said a word.

Michael was more bruised than either of us. Lincoln had physical black, purple and swollen bruises all over his face. I had the green remnants of sexual escapades all over my hips where Lincoln had held me down. But Michael was more than bruised and with a silent nod of agreement, Lincoln and I decided to numb the pain and arguments that were yet to come. With a shaky, worthless hand, I reached into the sink unit and plucked the glass vial from the underside of the back of the porcelain bowl.

 

You expected something less than my relapse back into drugs? What would you have done in that kind of situation? I turned to the only thing in my entire life that made me forget. Because that is what I wanted to do. Forget. I wanted to forget the pain. I wanted to forget the loss. I wanted to make sure I never remembered the look on Michael’s face again.

It was truly horrific. It’s like, when you are at a zoo, and the keepers feed small live animals to larger ones. There is some shock mixed with a little disgust, except Michael’s expression was pure hatred. His blood had been boiling so hot that as Lincoln hit him back, confessing his love for me while his blood sprayed across my bare skin, I was burned.

When I was in med school, I wanted to be able to live but feel nothing. Feeling nothing was a massive part of my success as a young doctor. If you could be as good as your mentor you were something special. I was something special until people found out I was using morphine to keep me awake for days on end. When you think about it, I was just doing what a lot of people do to survive. The only difference is I was experimenting with my life.

I’d been with Lincoln until Michael came home four weeks later, found us both high and kicked us both out. He was fair. Why should he have two drug addicts fucking in his apartment? And yes, he did take back the engagement ring. In fact he took it all the way back to the shop and got his money back. That hurt a little but what right did I have to feel that sort of pain?

I know pain and losing Michael was not it. Losing Michael was a bitter sweet wake up call to the rest of my life. No, drugs were not supposed to be the rest of my life. I was supposed to be clean by now but pain has a funny way of making you want to eradicate it from your very soul. Morphine was my pest control for pain, surging through my body and floating the pain to the surface where it evaporated next to Lincoln’s memory. Losing Lincoln was pain redefined and also proof that you cannot have your cake and eat it.

 

Some people believe in karma. They believe that one good deed deserves another and all that other biblical jargon that fuels the debates of the world. I didn’t believe in fate, or coincidence and I certainly was not religious. There were some occasional slip ups of modern accepted blasphemy but nothing major. That was until I awoke on a hot summer’s day with an ice cold body next to me.

As an addict I had been around dead bodies before. As a doctor I had been around a hell of a lot more, but it is always a different feeling when you wake up next to one. What amplified the feeling of the world dropping out from under me was the fact I was waking up next to Lincoln. The only problem was, no matter how hard I shook him, screamed into his blue lipped face, and slapped at his immobile chest, Lincoln was not waking up this time.

I felt numb. Ironically, I had spent the better part of the last year and a half shooting up and drinking, trying to feel the numbness I so desperately didn’t want to feel at that moment. I wanted to feel anything, but my pale, blood drained face and bloodshot eyes betrayed me. I couldn’t feel a pulse, a heartbeat or a single expulsion of breath from his lavender lips. Lincoln was dead and yet, he still had his huge arm slung haphazardly around my tiny torso like he never wanted to let go.

 

The coroner came and ruled it an overdose. I’ll never know if it was intentional or accidental. Lincoln was always so careful with quantities and syringes but it is so easily misjudged. Drugs vary from batch to batch. I don’t like to think that maybe after everything that happened, life with me, the only thing in the entire world that stopped Lincoln seeing his only family, he just wanted out. And after everything that happened to all of us, I know if Lincoln has been freed, I want the same.

I love Michael. I love him with all of my heart and I always will. But I was in love with Lincoln and that is the difference between happiness and a lifetime of sorrow. So this is my goodbye. Michael if you ever get to read this, I am sorry. I know that will mean absolutely nothing and will be an insult to say to you in light of what happened, but I need to say it. It’s one of the steps, you know?

Don’t hate me anymore. Move on with your life and don’t let it get consumed by fury. I’ll be with Lincoln so I’ll be safe. Even if he was a back stabbing bastard who stole your fiancée, he cared, and you know that. To the rest of you, I am also sorry. I know you all wanted this to be a happy ending but the truth is there is no happy ending for sinners. I have sinned and will never get a happy ending. I never really deserved one.

Goodbye.