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IMAGINATION

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Daniel threw the vegetable knife into the sink and slumped onto the kitchen stool, tears streaming down his face.

He took his glasses off; laying them carefully on the counter as he pulled a Kleenex from his pocket with the other hand.

Blindly peering around the silent cabin, he wondered why he was doing this. Why was he making himself suffer like this when there was no need?

He’d lived here with Jack for many years; so many happy years.

He let the tears run unchecked down his cheeks as he looked towards the living room. He didn’t need to see it; he knew every inch like the back of his hand.

His eyes moved towards the large couch; where he could imagine Jack sitting, feet on the coffee table, watching TV; the sounds of the Simpsons or a hockey game filling the air.

But there was no-one sitting there now and the TV was silent.

He thought about the summer months; picturing Jack outside trying not to cremate the steaks on the grill, while he was fixing the salad in the kitchen.

He thought about the winter months when they would close the drapes and snuggle together on the couch in front of a blazing fire. Sometimes they would watch TV, other times they would make love, but occasionally they would just lie there listening to the fire crackling and spitting. Daniel loved to see the flickering of the flames reflected in Jack’s sparkling brown eyes; the sparkle increasing as Daniel’s hands moved across Jack’s warm body.

The fire was alight now, but there were no logs near the fireplace to make it really come to life.

Daniel turned his head towards the door, imagining it opening and seeing Jack standing there.

He closed his eyes tightly; rubbing them with his still damp hands, making them sting. This started the flow of tears yet again.

He could hear the door opening; feeling a gust of cold, winter air blow across him. He heard the door click shut and then the sound of Jack removing his boots by the door, before padding across the living room to pile the logs, he’d just been cutting, by the fireplace.

He heard the moments silence as Jack carefully laid one of the logs on the fire; the slight sizzling of the small amount of sap left in the log, as it bubbled up through the bark, before the log itself started crackling.

He heard the padding of feet again as Jack walked back to the door, removing his thick jacket and handing it on a hook.

Then he felt strong arms lifting him from the stool and wrapping tightly around him; the scent of sweat and fresh air assaulting his nostrils as he was pulled into the warmth of Jack’s woolen sweater.

He could feel himself being led into the living room and being pushed gently on to the couch; Jack sitting at his side holding him tightly.

He could feel more Kleenex being thrust into his hands as Jack’s hot breath brushed across his mouth, before the soft, wind-chilled lips settled on his own.

(Alternate ending from here.)

Yes, it was all imagination.

Daniel whispered into the stillness, “I can’t go on like this anymore.”

“No you can’t, Danny.” Jack’s voice was soft and tender.

“Jack, but … but … you’re … you’re …”

“Dead. Yeah. Could do with some company, though. Ready?”

“Yes.”

Daniel smiled as he took Jack’s outstretched hand.

The cabin was suddenly empty.