Elio was stood staring at his shoes; the dirty white laces were shoved clumsily through the metal loops to criss-cross so that he could lace them at the top. This was the only pair he had with him, and they still had mud of the mountainside that he'd clambered up only a few days ago still clinging to the rubber edges. He couldn't bear to look up; it was as if the huge lump in his throat was preventing him from moving his head. He was going to cry, he just knew it, but he didn't want it be yet. He wanted to wait until there was nothing else, until there was no one, until he could collapse into the sheer misery that was waiting to explode in that lump, deep in his chest and in his throat.
He heard the train door slam, and he couldn't help it, he just had to look. He lifted his eyes, expecting to see a closed green door, and the back of his beautiful blond head, ready to be carried away into a life where he, Elio, would have no part to play.
But that wasn't the sight that greeted him. Oliver was still stood on the platform; his hand on the train door handle, looking back at him.
A train guard approached them both, a whistle between his lips. He removed it to speak.
'Scusi, se vuoi prendere il treno, devi salire a bordo pronto,' he said to the tall blonde man, who was still standing there, an unreadable expression on his face.
Elio was searching his face, every moment of the last few weeks crammed into a few seconds as they stood in silence, the deafening sound of all that happened crashing around them for no one but them to hear.
Then Oliver held out his hand towards him; his eyes insistent and desperate.
'Come with me?'