”Mornin.” Joe didn’t look up or even move when Byron came in the kitchen. He was sitting at the table starring into a half empty coffee-mug .
“Did you get any sleep last night?”
Joe shrug his shoulders still not looking up. Byron sighed and felt the feeling of defeat filling the room. He poured the rest of the coffee from the pot into a mug and sat across from Joe. “How many nights is it now?”
Joe took a sip of the coffee. If Joe had made a whole pot, he must have been on his third mug by now. He didn’t use to drink coffee on a regularly basis, but lately he’d been downing over a pot a day. Byron continued to try and get an answer from his roommate; “Five? Six?”
“Six.” Joe’s voice was ragged from not being used until now.
Byron had to tread carefully. Last time he’d confronted Joe about his nightmares he almost found himself without a roof over his head. However, this was the fourth row of nightmares in two months, and judging from the sounds coming from Joe’s room, they weren’t getting better.
The taller guy was running his fingers around the edge of the mug, turning it around, grabbing it with both hands before leaving it on the table. He placed both hands in his lap and took a deep breath. “It’s getting worse isn’t it?”
There was silent for a few seconds before Byron decided to look up at Joe. Joe was biting his lover lip, still starring into the mug. Maybe he didn’t hear him.
“Can we not talk about this?” He sounded annoyed even with a voice so low it was almost a whisper.
“It’s been five months. Joe.” Byron wanted to apologize for intruding, but he knew that something had to happen. Something had to change.
“I know how long it’s been!” Joe suddenly regained a voice. Without making eye-contact he went by his roommate and placed the mug in the kitchen sink.
“Joe. I’m sorry, but…” Joe disappeared into his room locking the door before Byron could say more. He didn’t know how to finish that sentence, without starting a fight, anyway.
At 8.30 pm Byron decided that he would go to his room for the night. They hadn’t spoken more that day, but Byron had decided to stay in the apartment if Joe decided to come out. He only did twice; once to go to the bathroom and once to pick up a plate of the dinner Byron had prepared and announced with a careful knock at the door. Byron had kept his distance while Joe was in the kitchen, but had asked if he was okay. Joe had looked at him and nodded, he looked tired and Byron wondered if he’d been crying, but Joe broke eye-contact before he could be sure. He’d taken the plate to his room.