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and somebody spoke and i went into a dream

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It is December 9th, 1980 at 8:25 in the morning, the beginning of a brisk, clear day, when Paul McCartney gets the worst news of his life, and forever after he will hate this weather, cold sunlight glinting off the frost on the windows, every exhale a cloud of fog dissipating into the light blue of the sky. He stands utterly frozen in the kitchen, calloused bare feet gripping the chilled tile floor. His eyes catch on one particular crystal of frost clinging to the window above the sink; it melts, spoke by spoke, in perfect clear detail and slides down the glass, finally defeated by the rising sun. A sun John would never see again.

“Paul?”

He remembers that he is holding the phone to his ear, that someone on the other end of the line is still speaking. He cannot remember who he is talking to.

“Yes, I’m here,” he says. His voice sounds miles away, an echo down a long tunnel.

“I’m sorry, mate, I don’t know anything else,” the unknown voice says. “I’ll call if I hear anything later.”

John’s dead, Paul thinks dully. There isn’t anything else.

 

He finds himself standing in the driveway, still barefoot, with only the vaguest impression of how he arrived there, arms wrapped tight around his torso. Great puffs of air swirl in front of him. His chest feels as though it might cave in at any minute, and he realizes dimly that he is hyperventilating. A car pulls into the driveway; Linda returning home from taking the kids to school, he thinks, though his vision is too blurred to tell for sure. There is something hot and wet streaking his cheeks. The car pulls closer, slows, stops. Someone gets out and steps tentatively toward him.

“Paul?” Linda’s voice, deep with worry and the lingering effects of a cold. She approaches him as black spots begin to crowd his vision. Someone whimpers pitifully; it occurs to him, as he drops to his knees in the middle of the driveway, his wife running to catch him, that the sound came from his own throat.

Mercifully, he blacks out as Linda’s arms wrap around him.

 

--

 

Paul wakes slowly, clawing his way to the surface of consciousness. For a blissfully long moment he forgets that it is the worst day of his life; then it crashes back upon him, stealing his breath with incredible force. He rolls over and finds the other side of the bed empty. The clock reads 8:25. Rain slides past his bedroom window and he wonders in the back of his mind how long he had been unconscious; when he’d passed out it had been clear and bright, no clouds anywhere to be seen.

Dragging himself to his feet, he searches the house for Linda, but she seems to have vanished. Thinking she had maybe gone to the front garden for some fresh air, he steps outside, barefoot onto the thin film of rain on the ground. He walks out to the driveway, still dazed with sleep and shock and it takes a moment to register that the car pulling up the driveway is Linda’s.

His brow furrows in confusion. Had she put him to bed and then just left him alone? To wake up by himself with the knowledge that his best friend had--

He can’t process it, can’t even approach the thought of it, so he turns instead to anger. “What the hell, Lin?” he growls, stomping up to the driver’s side as she parks and gets out. “Where have you been?”

Her face, previously smiling and clear of concern, fades into a look of bewilderment. “I was taking the kids to school,” she says slowly, as though speaking to a particularly slow child.

“But you-” did that already, Paul finishes in his head. He stares dumbly at her for a moment, and she stares back, bewilderment morphing into worry, which switches to alarm when she catches sight of his bare feet.

“Jesus, love, get inside, what were you thinking?” she scolds as she pushes him into the house. He goes willingly, too confused and angry to fight. She ushers him into the kitchen, and he stands in the middle of the room while Linda bustles around him making tea. As Paul watches her, the window above the sink catches his eye, and he watches the rain strike the glass and splash the sill, drop after drop, until he realizes there is no frost, not even a hint of it. His sludgy brain struggles to catch up with what he is seeing.

“Linda,” he says slowly, “what day is it?”

“Monday, the eighth,” she responds.

Paul’s whole world spins backward on its axis. There are stars exploding in front of his eyes before Linda gets to him and forces him into a chair, keeping a steady hand on his chest. “Jesus,” he gasps, and finally manages to take a deep breath; it feels like the first real breath he’s taken since he woke up. “Jesus, Lin, I had such a dream,” he says, laughing, shaky with relief. “It was so bloody real.”

Her face finally clears itself of worry, and a smile takes over. She leans forward and kisses him comfortingly. As always, she breathes life into him and he smiles against her touch, pushing further until she giggles into his mouth, hitting him playfully on the shoulder. Suddenly Paul frowns, remembering something: “I thought yesterday was Monday.”

“You mixing up your days again? What is this, the sixties?” Linda asks, teasing, but she strokes his cheek with the back of her hand and smiles warmly to show that she does not mean to be unkind.

“Must be,” he says agreeably, and the last of his apprehension melts away. The tea begins to whistle on the stove, and as they stand, Paul stretching cramped muscles, the thought flits into his head that he ought to call John today. But as soon as he thinks it, the thought is gone again.

 

The day progresses uneventfully. The sessions with the band go reasonably well; they’re recording the same songs as the day before, but Paul dismisses it, thinking perhaps something happened to yesterday’s tapes (wouldn’t be the first time, he thinks wryly). The kids aren’t too fussed about the rain and play quietly in the living room all evening. He and Linda sit on the sofa reading different books until it’s time to put the kids to bed; they make love after the rest of the house is asleep and it’s sweet and beautiful, just like Linda herself, and he does not think about his dream, and he does not call John.

 

The next morning the rain has moved on and the sun is slowly rising above the tree line as he kisses the children goodbye, wishing them a good day at school. He’s making his morning tea when the phone rings, and he thinks nothing of it as he answers.

“Hello?”

“Paul, I-I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time, but I’ve got some bad news.”

Paul’s knees turn to jelly. He grabs the back of a chair, clutches the phone so hard he can feel the plastic creaking under the pressure. The person at the other end of the line is still speaking, but Paul already knows. His eyes drift to the window above the sink, and, yes, there is that one tiny crystal that had caught his attention in the nightmare. He watches it melt again, spoke by spoke, unable to move, frozen to the cold tile floor.

“Paul?”

He realizes, again, that he still has no idea who he is meant to be speaking with. “Yes, I’m here,” he says, again, like running lines for a play he’s already performed.

“I’m sorry, mate, I don’t know anything else,” says the voice from his nightmare, and Paul mouths the rest of the words as the voice says them. “I’ll call if I hear anything later.”

John’s dead. There isn’t anything else.

Then he’s standing shivering in the driveway, arms wrapped around himself, and he thinks this is getting too eerie to process. He is breathing very fast and his face is wet and Linda pulls into the driveway, he knows it’s Linda because it was Linda in the nightmare, and something is happening but he doesn’t understand and the enormous horror of it knocks him to his knees, and he passes out under Linda’s strong hands.

 

--

 

Paul wakes slowly, clawing his way to consciousness like a drowning man claws for the air. He rolls over, finds the bed empty of Linda. The clock reads 8:25. It’s raining.

What is going on?

He drags himself to his feet in a daze, unsure of everything, wary even of moving too fast, though he doesn’t know why. His fingers touch the door frame, the wall, the photographs hanging in the corridor; they all seem real enough. A squeak from the floorboards nearly gives him a heart attack. He digs his nails into the soft flesh of his arm, and it hurts so it can’t be a dream, leaves four little red moons imprinted there, starkly real, stubbornly ordinary. He counts under his breath in a slow 4/4 beat, steadying his breathing to match. He steps into the kitchen, almost on tiptoe, and checks the calendar; the last date crossed off, in neat black pen, is the seventh.

He realizes that he is frightened, and his terror is a deep black chasm, yawning and bottomless. Paul stands in the center of the kitchen with his hands spread out from his body like he’s trying to settle an excited child. His eyes scan back and forth, looking for something, anything out of place that would peg this as a dream, or a hallucination. He almost expects something to jump out at him from some shadowy corner.

The front door slams and Paul jumps half out of his skin, but it’s only Linda, coming home from taking the children to school. He hears her shake out her umbrella, sniffling a bit with the remnants of a cold.

“Lin?” he calls. His voice is weak and pathetic.

“Paul, you’re awake!” she responds, she walks into the kitchen. “I’ll put the tea on. How was your little lie-in?” She stands on tiptoe and pecks him on the cheek. It is a testament to how off-kilter he is that he doesn’t move into her kiss at all.

“My… Ah… It was-Linda, what day is it?”

She gives him a strange look. “It’s Monday the eighth.”

The bottom falls out.

Shaking hard, Paul somehow manages to slide into a chair instead of crashing to the floor. He buries his face in his hands, muttering “Something’s happening” into his palms. Linda comes to him, as she always has.

“What is it, love?” she asks gently, pulling his hands away from his face. She squeezes his trembling fingers.

“Something is-I’m having a-some kind of nightmare or premonitions or-something, I don’t know, I don’t understand, it’s-”

Linda cups his cheek with one hand. “Complete sentences, baby,” she whispers.

Paul takes a deep breath and starts over. “I’ve already lived this day. Or I think I have. It might have been a dream, or this might be a dream, but I don’t think so. All I know is that I got a phone call on Tuesday morning, tomorrow, and-” he swallows, unable to face it, even if this is just a dream- “and I walk out to the driveway and black out and I wake up and it’s Monday again.”

Linda frowns. “You didn’t take anything by accident, did you?”

“No! I don’t even have anything except weed in the house, I haven’t for months, you know that!”

“All right,” she says with her hands up. “Maybe it is some kind of premonition then. What was the phone call about?”

“What?”

“The phone call,” she repeats patiently. “That you get tomorrow morning.”

He closes his eyes. “It’s… I don’t remember who, but… Someone calls to tell me that John was shot to death. Will be. The night of the eighth, today.”

“Your John,” she clarifies. He nods, eyes still closed. Yes, his John, that was close enough, wasn’t it.

The silence hangs like a dead body on the gallows rope. When Paul opens his eyes a moment later, Linda is biting her lip in concentration, watching him with such concern and gentleness that he swallows around a sudden lump in his throat. “What’s happening?” he whispers.

“I don’t know,” she answers honestly. “Maybe it is a premonition of some kind,” and Paul falls in love with her all over again in that moment; she just accepts his crazy story, accepts him, at face value, not even entertaining the idea that her husband could just be going very suddenly insane. Of course, they had always been aggressively ambivalent about organized religion, but more open to general spirituality and supernatural occurrences. To Linda, the thought of Paul having some kind of twisted vision of the future is unusual, frightening even, but not out of the realm of possibility at all. Paul relaxes fractionally, enough to squeeze the hand still holding his.

“What do we do?” he asks, trying not to sound as desperate as he feels.

Linda takes his face in both hands. “Let’s just get on with the day,” she says. “Maybe it was just a dream. We’ll see how everything feels later, yes?”

Paul nods, relieved to have a plan, something to do. “I should call John,” he says half to himself, and begins to reach for the phone, but Linda stops him.

“It’s four in the morning in New York, he won’t answer,” she says reasonably. “Call him later.” Paul nods again.

He calls John from the studio at a reasonable hour, but no one picks up. He leaves a message on the machine that he hopes doesn’t sound as wound up as he is, asking that John call him back. He tries to ignore the way every sentence spoken around him, to him, has already been said before; he does his best to convince himself that it’s just a particularly strong sense of deja vu. Linda watches him out of the corner of her eye.

John does not call back. Paul goes to bed and forces himself to close his eyes, too preoccupied to do anything more than kiss Linda goodnight. Somehow, in the blackness of early morning, he drifts off.

The next morning is the same. Seeing the kids off, making the tea, puttering around the chilly kitchen, and then at 8:25, right on the dot, the phone rings.

His eyes fall closed, heart shattering into a thousand splintered pieces.

“What is this?” he snarls down the receiver.

“I-Paul, I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time, but I have some news. Some bad news.” The voice stumbles over words Paul is already reciting in his head. They are not any easier to listen to, no matter how familiar they are now.

“Paul?”

He hangs up.

 

--

 

The fourth Monday he gets out of bed as soon as he wakes up, determined to fix whatever it is that the universe thinks needs fixing. He rings John, despite the fact that it is three in the morning in New York and John will most likely eviscerate him for waking the household. At the moment, Paul doesn’t care. He just needs to hear John’s voice, even if it is laced with venom.

The phone rings and rings. Linda comes home while it’s still ringing, shaking out her umbrella in the front room. Still ringing when she walks into the kitchen and gives him a quizzical look, still ringing when he waves her off. Still ringing when-

“This had better be bloody good,” John’s sleep-roughened voice grumbles, and Paul is so relieved he has to lock his knees to keep them from buckling. For a moment he forgets how to use his voice, and John grunts in disgust and dismissal.

“Wait, John, it’s me,” Paul says quickly, all in a rush, so it sounds like one word: WaitJohnitsme.

“Paul,” John sighs. “What the bloody hell, brother, it’s dead night!”

“I know, I know, sorry,” Paul says, placating. “Sorry. I…” And his mind goes blank. Now that he has John on the phone, the whole nightmare seems a little further away, a little less plausible; not only that, but Paul had no idea what to actually say to him. John might believe the repeating day story, but certainly not after being woken from a dead sleep, not at three in the morning. “I just…” he stars again, helplessly, but the sentence trails off into nothing.

“Look, all right, I can’t translate you right now,” John says. “I’m going back to sleep.”

“Johnny,” Paul says, and he knows the desperation crept into his voice without his consent, because John doesn’t hang up. “Wait. I’ll let you alone, just… I had a dream, sort of, and… You were killed outside of your apartment, and, I don’t know, I just want you to be careful today.”

“Jesus, Paulie, I thought you were done with acid.”

Even half asleep, John can still get under his skin, and Paul bristles at the old taunting nickname. “This isn’t a trip, John,” he snaps. “I’m serious.”

“Well, I can take good care of meself without your help, thanks,” John says, poison in the words, and the call is threatening to turn ugly, but then Paul catches Linda watching him with concern and confusion written across her face. And he remembers how it felt to hear the news of John’s death, almost like he’d been shot himself, and the feeling of Linda’s hands catching him as he fell, and Paul takes a deep calming breath and deliberately softens his voice.

“I know,” he says, quiet, with no malice. “I know. This dream just really threw me, I dunno why. Just figured it couldn’t hurt to be careful for a day or two, you know. Please.”

There is a silence, then an exhausted sigh from the other end. “Whatever.” Then a dial tone.

 

It ends up not mattering. John dies in the same way, bleeding out in the entrance of his apartment building, and Paul gets the same phone call the next morning, and Linda wears the same terror on her face as she keeps Paul’s body from hitting the ground.

 

--

 

There is a long stretch of Mondays-into-Tuesdays that blur together in a terrible monotonous haze. He stops trying to explain himself to Linda after the twelfth Monday, because as understanding and practical as she always is, he cannot stand having to describe his horror to her gently quizzical face every single morning. He stops answering the phone a few Tuesdays after that. After that first early morning call to John, he doesn’t dare wake him again; instead he calls John from the studio where they are working on the same song they have been working on for weeks of Mondays. Most of the attempts John doesn’t answer. Sometimes Yoko answers and says that John is “out”, refusing to say anything less cryptic than that. When John does answer, he seems in a rush, or only partially paying attention, or in a bad mood, and Paul doesn’t know if it’s just the nature of this nightmare state that’s doing it, but he cannot manage to make John listen.

“John, please,” he begs once, for what could be the tenth or the hundredth time. He feels like he’s edging toward some precipice of sanity. “Please, I’m begging you, please don’t go home tonight. Stay somewhere else, anywhere.”

“Yes, all right,” John finally says, irritated, and Paul covers his eyes with one hand, sagging against a wall for support. For the first time since this nightmare began, he senses a tiny spark of hope that this could end it, somehow. If John isn’t there, he can’t be shot, he can’t die, everything goes back to normal.

In retrospect, he thinks in a detached way when the phone rings at 8:25 on Tuesday morning, just the same time as it has for the past fifty consecutive Tuesday mornings, I suppose it couldn’t have been that easy.

“Hello?” he answers.

“Paul, I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time, but I have some bad news,” the regretful voice on the other end of the line says.

“No,” he hears himself whisper.

The voice doesn’t hear him and plows on. “John Lennon was in a car accident on the way to a friend’s place last night. He’s passed away. I’m so sorry.”

“But-but-” Paul stammers, mostly to himself. “I-he was supposed to be safe-if he didn’t go-home-I-”

“Paul?”

The realization slams into him over and over, shock wave after shock wave. He’d thought if he could convince John to just stay away from the shooter that somehow this endless nightmare would be over, finally. But he feels like he’s only been looking at a few square feet of the ocean and it’s only just occurred to him to look further; and when he looks, when he really opens his eyes, he sees the stormy waves spreading out in front of him, behind him, to all sides, infinite in all directions, bottomless. John dying and dying and dying and dying and Paul, the unwilling witness, astonishingly small and insignificant in the middle of it as it threatens to drown him.

“I’m sorry, mate, I don’t know anything else,” the voice says for the fiftieth time, the hundredth time, the thousandth time; it doesn’t matter how many times he runs through this day, how many times he hears these words, it does not get easier, and he still thinks the same thing:

John’s dead. There isn’t anything else.

 

--

 

Paul can’t get out of bed for the next several weeks of repeated days after that. John dies again and again and there is nothing he can do about it, so he doesn’t try.

 

--

 

“Johnny,” he sobs into the phone one drizzly Monday afternoon. He has pulled himself into the kitchen and is sitting against the cabinets on the floor, one hand supporting his head, elbow on one knee, tears dripping from his chin and into his lap. Two bottles of whiskey, one empty, the other halfway there, sit next to him. “Johnny.” His dizzy brain can’t form any other thoughts beyond the name of the man at the other end of the line, the name of the man who has been murdered on dozens and dozens of Mondays, the man who is going to be murdered again tonight, and the night after, and the night after.

“Paul?” John’s tone seems gentler this day than it has been on most previous Mondays, more open, and Paul thinks this would be a good time to tell John the truth about what is happening to him. Except that he can’t stop crying, can’t catch his breath enough to voice anything except the next gasping whimper, or John’s name. “Paul, Jesus, what happened, mate?” John asks. “Did something happen to Linda, the kids?” His voice is achingly tender, careful, and it makes Paul’s chest contract even harder into one endless, silent wail, mouth open and stretched in a rictus of grief. He curls over his knees with the pain of it. He digs the heel of his hand into his forehead, scraping fingernails against his scalp, tugging savagely at his hair. He wants to open up his skull and scoop out every memory he has of John Winston Ono Lennon.

“Look, Paul-” John says, distressed; he’s interrupted by a muffled voice that sounds like Yoko calling his name, but he dismisses her with a quick shush. He sounds near tears himself when he turns back to the phone. “Macca, come on, what’s going on? I can’t help you if I don’t know.”

Tell him, Paul thinks. Instead he gasps out, “Please don’t die, Johnny.” He can’t hold himself up anymore. His forehead thumps down on the tile floor, free arm curling over his neck in a weak useless gesture of protecting himself.

John sighs, a little shakily. “Everybody dies, Macca.”

 

--

 

One Monday, John gets on a plane to come see Paul, and the plane goes down over the freezing Atlantic, killing everyone on board.

 

--

 

Another Monday, Paul manages to keep John on the phone all day and well into the night, and John dies of a sudden massive heart attack while Paul listens helplessly.

 

--

 

Another Monday, he checks himself into the mental ward at the hospital. He blacks out at 8:25 the next morning, while the nurse is bringing him breakfast, and he wakes up in his own bed, rain splattering the windows, with the calendar proclaiming it to be yet another December the eighth.

 

--

 

Another Monday he takes a knife to his wrists. Linda finds him before he can do too much (enough) damage and holds his wrists tightly pressed together in a cross, and as she pulls him to her heaving chest, he whispers, “It should have been me.”

 

--

 

Repeat.

 

--

 

Repeat.

 

--

 

Repeat.

 

--

 

On Monday, December 8th, 1980, Paul McCartney gets out of bed at 8:25 in the morning. He pulls on a sweater, jeans, and a worn pair of boots. He greets Linda with a smile and a kiss as she shakes out her umbrella, and he sends her on to the studio alone with an easy story about feeling under the weather, wanting to take a day off. She accepts it without question.

He spends the morning tidying the house, hoovering, washing dishes, making beds. At lunchtime, he makes himself a sandwich and tea. When there is nothing left to clean, he pens a short note for Linda and leaves it in the center of their bed, folded neatly in thirds. Then he leaves the house, closing the door gently behind him, and drives away with the windshield wipers scraping at the endless rain. Flipping the radio on, the car is suddenly filled with John’s voice, his new single; Paul smiles and hums along. It’s a good song, and John’s voice hasn’t lost a bit of its pull, that unnameable quality that tugs on Paul’s heart and makes him listen. By the end, he’s singing along, adding in a rough harmony, delighting in the sound of their voices twining together again.

About thirty minutes later, he pulls into the airport carpark. He buys a ticket from the starstruck woman at the front desk and signs a pamphlet for her that she pulled randomly from a stand nearby with a fluttering hand. “Enjoy your flight,” she calls as he walks away.

Paul waits calmly for the long hours before the boarding. No one bothers him. He boards without incident, a one-way non-stop flight into JFK International Airport, arriving in New York City around nine thirty, eastern standard time.

The flight is long and uneventful, almost boring. He gives up trying to sleep early on and simply watches out the window as the plane chases the darkening horizon. They land in New York City without a hitch, the unloading of passengers proceeding with almost eerie smoothness. It is almost as though something, some spiritual cosmic Other, is easing the way. Paul feels strangely relieved, and more than a little frightened, to think that he’s doing the right thing, finally fixing this nightmare glitch in the universe.

The city is just as he remembers, all color and light and noise and stink, an assault on every sense. He walks the crowded streets with a baseball cap from the airport pulled low over his head, taking deep breaths, enjoying the feel of humanity teeming around him. Every step feels precious; every beat of his heart stronger, more vital than the last. Music flows through his veins, what feels like a thousand new chords and harmonies all at once, begging to be written down.

Paul’s watch reads 10:46 p.m. when he finally reaches the Dakota Building. He steps up his pace, watching the cabs crawling by from under the airport baseball cap, heart thumping frantically now.

Like some kind of divine timing, he spots a cab slowing and stopping in front of the Dakota’s entrance just as he crosses the street to reach the building. Paul’s heart jolts as Yoko Ono steps out of the cab, followed by John, lean and tall, horn-rimmed glasses perched on his long straight nose. He looks good, healthy, solid. Unsinkable.

He doesn’t have much time. He spots the shooter at the same time the shooter spots John walking past him. The shooter watches John go by, starting for the steps, and the instant he moves, Paul launches himself out of the waiting shadows. He sprints toward John and grabs him from behind in a protective bear hug just as the shooter begins to fire.

Paul’s body jerks as the first shot drills into his back, then the second, third, fourth. The pain knocks his breath away, bleeds all his strength instantly, and he lets go of John without meaning to, sliding to his knees. He thinks for a moment he’s going to fall and roll down the stairs, but then John twists and catches him under the arms and they go down together, Paul half in John’s lap. Through a haze of shock and blood Paul sees John’s face hovering over him, witnesses the horror blooming in his beautiful eyes when he recognizes Paul’s face.

“Paul-oh shit, what the hell-” he stammers, hands fluttering over Paul’s chest, looking for wounds. The explosion of pain that Paul felt when the bullets hit is fading, replaced with a numbness that is shockingly cold. He shivers, at once understanding that he is feeling his own life flooding out of him.

“John,” he says, though not loudly or clearly enough, because John doesn’t respond, just keeps feeling for the wounds, something he can fix, shouting at someone out of Paul’s sight to call an ambulance for fuck’s sake, can’t you see my best friend’s been shot? “John,” he says again, but it’s more of a sigh than a word, and he can’t quite grasp what it was he’d wanted to say after that. A small bubble of blood bursts from his mouth and slides down his cheek and into his hair.

Fuck, Macca, what the fuck have you done,” John shouts as he tries to wrap his arms around Paul’s back. Paul turns his head-not too much, even the slight movement makes him dizzy-and watches his own blood spreading over the steps. He can sense a general commotion rising around them: Yoko’s voice shrieking in panicked, rapid Japanese, someone calling for police, someone else subduing the shooter, maybe. He’s suddenly too tired to focus on it. He shivers again, and John shrugs his jacket off and wraps Paul in it.

“John,” he tries for the third time, and this time John hears him and turns his face down so that their eyes meet. “John, I love you, you know-”

“Oh, no,” John interrupts furiously, “don’t you dare-”

“John, it’s all right,” Paul says with as much strength as he can muster. His limbs feel heavy as lead, eyelids following suit, but he fights it for one more minute. “You’re… Important. Don’t… Don’t waste that.” John starts to sob. His hands finally stop looking for things to fix and come up on either side of Paul’s face. He touches their foreheads together, weaving trembling fingers through Paul’s hair.

“I love you too, you goddamn bastard,” John whispers. “Oh, God, Paul, please don’t die.”

Paul smiles, allowing his eyes to slip closed. “Everybody dies, Johnny.” He wants to ask John to sing him to sleep, but his mouth won’t move, his tongue suddenly turned to stone. He sighs, turns his head into John’s touch.

Sometimes Paul used to think he and John could read each other’s minds. They would nod to each other on stage, hold entire conversations with their eyes over the heads of a crowd. He would at times just know what John needed, whether it was a hug or a cigarette or an aimless drive through the country or just a small word of praise or encouragement. And John, in return, could often uncannily pinpoint what Paul needed as well. They hadn’t been close enough to read each other’s minds in quite a long time, but for the moment, it is like the old days, like they’d never been separated, because John begins to sing: a soft, wavering tune that Paul has never heard but instantly loves. He drifts away to the sound of John’s voice, singing him to sleep.

I know it’s true
It’s all because of you
And if I make it through
It’s all because of you
And now and then
If we must start again
We will know for sure
That I love you.