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Fiddly-Hand Thing

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The day I got out --

June wouldn't let me tell her, Finn, and it's silly to tell you when you were already there. You already know. But I've never had the chance to tell anyone about that day.  I've never had the chance to tell anyone much of anything about you, until June.

I know there are things she doesn't want to hear.  There are things I don't want to tell her.  It's how I can let her keep secret her stories of you.  I have my own secrets, some even good -- nearly all of them, when it comes to you.

God, Finn, the day I got out of prison and saw you standing there, so nonchalant against the gate, it was ten times more amazing than the day we met.  I don't know if there exists a real something that's the opposite of a black hole, but to me you were it.  Instead of sucking the life out of everything and turning it dark and empty, you sucked me in and propelled life into everything.  Seeing you there when I got out made me take my first deep breath in years. Not just because I was outside the prison boundaries then; shut up.

No, don't shut up.  What I'd give to hear your voice again outside my own head.  Sometimes I imagine I hear it coming out of June's mouth.  Her pluck and her wonder, the beautiful places she can imagine and how she can drop herself into them rather than being here in reality, it's the same as how you put me into all those postcard scenes.  You called it "WISHING YOU HERE."  But, really, you were insistently taking me there, everywhere.  I couldn't have resisted.  Wouldn't ever have.

The day I got out I ran to you.  So long with only those tiniest of touches that had been our whole world, and I wanted to explode it.  You sucked me in all over again.  When I crashed into you and we were touching head to toe -- even through clothes -- I thought I was going supernova.

But then you took me home.  You stripped me down in every possible way and bathed me and wrapped yourself instead of a towel around me.  Rather than my bursting apart, you held me together.  You became home.

I decided during one of our classes that you should never be without colour.  I never told you, but I'm sure you knew.  You must've known, even if you hadn't a clue why.  Every present I bought for you, everything I fiddly-handed for you, always had colour.  You never made a black-and-white painting, but sometimes I could see grey just creeping over you.  Even before you got sick, there were insidious moments -- usually after some wanker on the streets yelled at us for walking too close, or after you'd tried to have a heart-to-heart with Danni -- when grey washed out your colour.  And that was so utterly wrong.  No one who'd propelled life into me and into so much of the world around me should ever have been grey.

I knew that I didn't have vibrant enough colour in myself to give.  I'm parlour tricks, flash and mirrors reflecting the bright and beautiful around me when I can, maybe spinning a little light from my guitar.  But I could buy you green neckties.  I could knit you red scarves.  I could fold napkins of every hue into butterflies and birds and all sorts of things teeming with paper life.  I could fan out a deck of cards and pull the king of hearts, because, yes, sir, that was your card, every time.

It's silly.  Of course, it's silly.  I couldn't have kept the grey out of you. No more than we could've kept each other from dying.  But I meant what I said to June, Finn.  I meant it when I told her that you saved me.

When you came into that class and told us all so easily who you were -- not just one of the "homos" but funny and uncompromising and open and just a little daredevil -- you saved me.  I'd become so frightened of being myself.  I still couldn't, not really, while I was stuck in there.  But when I was in class with you part of me was awake, alive.  The slide of your fingertips warm along the back of my hand when we sneaked a letter between us.  The thrill of knowing I'd soon be reading more of your words and you'd soon be reading more of mine.  That kept me alive.  Those moments were like finding a box of matches while living on a winter planet.  I could warm myself only briefly, enough that the spark was startling, almost painful, after being dulled by the ice.

Then the day I got out, you yanked me into the fire with you.  You lit me up and we burned together.

We burned out together.

I'm caring for June the best I can, but I'm rubbish.  You knew I'd be rubbish.  All I have for her are more of those parlour tricks and whatever bits of you I can reflect.  I hope that's enough.  For her and for you.  For me too, in this odd little triangle of ours with such embarrassing love, but for her and most of all for you.

I'm going to leave June the guitar pickles.  She hasn't a use for them -- unless she takes up guitar down the road, I suppose --, but I've caught her eyes on them.  She doesn't know, can't remember like I can the shape of your mouth when you first called them that.  Your lips pursed around the words, with comic exaggeration as though you'd eaten something unexpectedly sour, and then you kissed me so very sweetly.  I almost thought I tasted pickles on your tongue.  Then you let me play songs on your skin until all we tasted and felt and knew was each other.

To June "guitar pickles" is just a funny term from you for things she now knows are from me.  A couple of the tools of my fiddly-hand trade.  But maybe they'll remind her of both of us.  I hope in a good way.  Maybe they'll keep some colour in her greyer days.

The day I got out, you transformed all my grey.  I couldn't believe you had waited for me.  Didn't believe it, until I was in your arms.  Every particle of me was yours.  Is.

Wait again, Finn.  I'll follow the colour trail to you.

 

With the rightest love I can muster,

Toby