I run the bath, the trickling pressure of the water brewing a melancholy for me like it always does. There's something about the way the steam builds on the water... I don't know. It just is.
I'm not much of a bath person, but the idea... it's poetic, isn't it? My blood should be on display.
A noose would be cleaner. Or maybe even a gun. But they didn't get that choice. Their blood spilled faster than I could have imagined.
I wonder how long I'll be in this bath. Part of me thinks it would be nice if it were forever. All of me knows he'll have to find me eventually.
"You are my sunshine," Will murmured.
"You are my sunshine."
Today was a particularly hot day. My skin felt like it was about to fall off or something and my throat was so dry it hurt. The sun he seemed to be referencing, and which for some reason did not affect him at all, was blinding. You couldn't look at anything remotely reflective without going blind for an unknown period of time.
"Will..." I begged. For once, if he could just explain something properly, that would be great. He smirked.
"The ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, hell, even the Australians worshipped the sun. Aztecs would create giant temples for the sun. They would sacrifice hundreds of their people just so the sun would bless them and shine another day."
"That's kinda intense," I noted.
"Kinda? It's insane. Who the hell doesn't know the sun is a weather thing? You don't have to kill people for it or worship it or feel even a little bit grateful for it."
"No... Nico, you don't get it," he grabbed my hands. "Me. I don't know that the sun is a weather thing. If you're the sun, I'll worship you until my life is over. I'll spend all my money on tribute. I'll lose my life for you. I'll slay thousands. Anything. Anything and everything. You are my everything, Nico. You are my sunshine."
"What the hell am I supposed to say to that?"
"Most people just agree with me. I am a doctor, you know."
I thought about it a moment. I thought about how you only got one sun. I thought about how that big dumb gas ball in the sky meant food and water and everything living... I thought about how even now, melting half to death in it's rays, I relied on it.
"Yeah. You are my sunshine."
- Nico -
I never finish training early, but it's Valentine's day for fuck's sake. Plus Will just lost another patient a couple days ago...
I've never been able to imagine how that would feel. How devastating it would be. There's no way you wouldn't feel guilty. And Will... well, he takes his responsibilities more seriously than most anyone I've ever met. It's harder on him than it should be.
Because of this, I'm quiet when I unlock the door of our apartment. Once or twice I've kicked the thing open and he's scrambling to cover up the tear tracks on his face and the tissues strewn around the house. He doesn't need to be embarrassed, too, on top of all the rest of the shit. If I'm quiet I might be able to just sneak away without him seeing.
He's not in the living room, but I can hear the bathwater running. Baths have always calmed him down for some reason, whether or not he likes to admit it. I put two and two together and know not to search for him, instead deciding to acknowledge the rumble growing in my stomach.
My keys are put on the granite counter, my phone beside them. I grab the bread and the peanut butter and get to work. About halfway through getting the spread *just* right, I notice a neat little envelope across the island and on our ridiculously tiny coffee table. After I've finished making my snack I naturally gravitate towards the thing, picking it up on my way to the couch. I flip it over in my left hand, the other holding my plate. I had expected a letter to his patient's mother or something of the sort, but Katherine was written nowhere on it. No little city off Surrey or in Iowa or some other place. No careful remorse etched into the PO box. Just thin letters, all caps. NICO.
Casual curiosity had my fingers in the envelope crease, forehead kneaded to make soft lines for the questions in my head. But I'm smiling, I realize, because it must be for Valentine's. That stops me. He probably wanted me to open it in front of him. He loves reactions. With a smirk, I put down my peanut butter bread, envelope in hand. I have a great idea.
I fix my hair in the mirror and turn around, listening at the door a few seconds to make sure he really wasn't crying before cracking it open, staring at the envelope. Steam takes over my lungs immediately, and my chest feels tight as I murmur little greetings.
"Hey, sunshine." I flip over the crisp white paper again to look over the neatness of the writing. I can almost imagine his gentle, slow hands drawing out the simple line like art. My socks get wet one step in and I'm not even mad about it. Actually, I laugh at it. "How'd you get water all the way over~"
But it's not a splatter or a splash. My sock is actually soaked. It came in pools. Or one. One pool, flooding from the still-running bath faucet. And what should have been yellow against the floor tiles was not soft and peaceful and clear, but a crystalline rose. A soft shade of pink I've always been fond of, actually. The envelope hasn't hit the floor by the time I'm there, scrambling to pull him up, my short body unable to compete with the tall porcelain walls of the tub. All the sudden I'm in the water. I don't care. I don't care, his face is out of the water. His expression is so horribly peaceful, and I think it must be the worst thing in the world, but the water is flying because I'm flying too, to his left wrist, where the water has not yet faded to pink but instead is lit up with angry swirls of crimson. I've whipped my shirt off, shaking and crying, desperate panic silencing what might have otherwise been a cry for help. I lift his wrist, and I was wrong. His quieted face is not nearly so horrible as the ugly white of cut skin I see before it is crowded over again with evil red. I'm trying to keep from retching as I rush to stop it from running down his arm, tightening my sopping shirt around it, clenching my hand over it, anything, anything. Anything to make it stop. The blood was much too slow. I know. I know. Shut up.
"Will," I sobbed. "Will, you goddamn idiot."
And then the only person I can think of for help, because I don't need an ambulance. I don't need a hospital. "JASON! JASON!!"
My apartment neighbour, who's always home with his girlfriend or playing dumb video games.
I can't recognize my own voice. It's shredded and ripped, the pain warping it. That voice is the voice of a madman or a junkie. That voice is the voice of someone who knows they've lost. That voice cannot be mine.
One more time. "JASON!!!"
I think I broke it. I think my voice must have been stolen, because all I can do is hoarsely repeat my neighbour's name, Will's hand and my t-shirt between our chests. I was still pressing the fabric into his skin when Percy found us, and when the blood started seeping again into the water. I would not move until the paramedic took his wrist for me, and then the tears stopped.
They stopped completely. It's stupid. No one ever talks about their tears breaking. Their hearts, sure. Their minds, their souls. But not tears. I don't know how to fix tears. I'm stuck on it. They should have fallen more. They should have let loose. A pool of my own should have started. A tidal wave, a monsoon. Even please, just a single drop. But nothing? I thought I wanted to give him all my tribute, spend all my days worshipping, but apparently I can't manage even a tear.
Not when he was carted between the pews with an American flag. Not when his mother hugged me and shed tears of her own. Not when she whispered, 'I know you loved him as much as I did. I'm sorry.' Or when all I could reply with was 'I'm sorry too.'
I didn't cry when his sister told us what a meaningful life he had lived.
I didn't cry a week later when we gave his ashes back to the earth like he'd said he wanted when we talked about our lives in a senior's home.
I'm ungrateful. That's what I think. I was the luckiest man in the world and I'm too stupid to even be able to mourn my loss, never mind his.
That envelope's been sitting in the bathroom for a month. I've just ignored it, except to wipe off a fleck of toothpaste that landed on it. I'm not worthy enough to do anything with it. I didn't tell anybody else about it. They aren't either.
My mind or my soul or my heart I can forgive now they're broken. But tears come cheap. Tears are practically free, if you think about it. A dime a dozen.
It's a curse. I first thought those letters were written so careful to illustrate love. But it was sadness. Guilt. I can't stop staring at the damn things, for fuck's sake. Of course, it wasn't some fucking letter. It was a note. I know it was. A letter would have been tucked away in his room. Somewhere he would have to take it out of to present to me. And my name on a letter wouldn't have been erased several times over and slow and careful and painful like that. A letter wouldn't be a constant throb in my chest. I have to set a deadline or something. I can't just leave it unopened forever.
March 12th. Two days after my deadline, actually. But I've been working at the edge of the paper for thirty minutes. It started to grow soft and gained several creases before I got it open. But it never ripped, despite the wet stains and the faint pink color that's washed over most of it. That's all I need to think maybe it could be sort of okay. Believing that, of course, is a different story.
My tears are still broken. And it still makes me angry. It still makes me ashamed. Shame's not enough, though, I think. He wanted me to read it. So I have to. No more excuses.
"Nico, I'm sorry. I know you're angry."
God, fuck. Will you dumb asshole. Of course, I am. One thing I've definitely been forced into learning the last couple of weeks is that sorry doesn't fix everything.
"It was always you before. I've never been healthy about this sort of thing really. But there are just some things I didn't tell people. I trust myself. I don't need a second opinion. And when that confidence did wear down, you were always there to guilt me.
You're so damn pretty. I hate the face you make when you cry, like someone's put a gun against your head and is forcing you into it. I couldn't bear for you to make that face because of me. You know?"
I hate this already. Will's writing is shit, even though his printing is nice
"I love you so much, you know that. But it's not about you. I never could write pretty like you, so I hope you know what I mean when I say that kid took the last bit in me. When his heart burst... it was my fault. He didn't get any of those second chances or those miracles everyone talks about.
I'll tell you a secret. I'm supposed to be the miracle.
You know what else? When you disappoint someone who's alive, they can take it out on you if they want. You get what you deserve. They get what they need. It all works out in the end. But death isn't like that. Death isn't fair. Dead people don't get what they deserve, Nico. Unless, of course, being dead is what they deserve. I didn't get what I deserved until now. You have to understand some part of that. You have to.
If you didn't get it somehow it wouldn't be worth it. That would mean it was all in my head. It wasn't. That kid should have lived. All seven of them should have lived. I'm a shit doctor if I can't do my job, I've said it again and again. You say not to take my job home with me, but how could I not? They're fucking dead.
I had to wash his blood off my hands after. I had to scrub clots out of my fingernails. I threw up until my stomach was beyond empty. That fucking medical sink became one hell of a metaphor.
I wish I could have died sooner. Maybe not so many would have died because of me. Maybe another doctor would have done them better.
I love you. I love you so much. And I wish you weren't so angry, but
You always have been and always will be my sunshine, Nico. You'll get through this, just as good as you got through everything else. Hopefully, this letter will make it a bit better.
You are my sunshine, Nico. I'm sorry I had to do this to you.
A tear hit the paper.