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The Love Left Behind

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The loss is immeasurable.
But so is the love left behind.

—Anonymous

 


 

It’s just after midnight when the call comes in. David’s phone rattling around on his bedside table rouses Patrick from his sleep. David, of course, is blissfully oblivious. Patrick reaches over his husband—David could sleep through a freight train rolling through their bedroom—and grabs the phone. His brow furrows when he sees Alexis’s name on the Caller ID.

“Alexis? You okay?” Patrick mumbles, putting David’s phone to his ear. He stretches and yawns. He realizes Alexis hasn’t responded. “Alexis?”

A quiet sniffle, a muted whimper. Then he hears his sister-in-law sobbing on the other end of the line. 

“Alexis? What’s wrong?” Patrick puts the call on speaker and reaches over to gently shake David awake. David groans and slaps Patrick’s hand away, burrowing further under the covers. “David!” Patrick gives up on gentle and gives his husband’s shoulder a shove. “David, it’s Alexis. Something’s wrong.”

David is awake instantly, sitting up and reaching for his phone, fingers fumbling as he takes it from Patrick. He takes it off speaker and cradles the phone between his shoulder and his ear.

“Alexis? Where are you? What do you need?” David is out of bed already, stumbling around in the dark. Patrick hears him in the closet, the soft rustle of fabric, the quiet zrrrp of a zipper. “What? No that’s...B-but I just talked to him last night. He...I…”

Patrick strains to hear, but David has gone very quiet. All Patrick can hear are whispered ‘okays’ and ‘I knows’ and ‘we’ll figure it outs’.

David emerges from the closet, dressed in a pair of soft, grey sweatpants and a black hoodie. He sets his leather duffle down on the bed. His expression is blank. Neutral. His phone hangs loosely from his slack hand at his side and Patrick reaches out to take it before it falls. They can’t really afford to replace David’s screen again this year.

“Everything okay?” Patrick asks softly. He already knows the answer, but he needs to ask. “Is Alexis—“

“My dad died,” David says, his voice a flat monotone. 

Patrick blinks. He swallows. Did David just...did he just say… “Oh my God.” Patrick’s throat constricts, he can feel a tingling in the back of his jaw, a tightness that’s a precursor for the tears he knows are coming. He reaches out to David, kneeling awkwardly on the edge of their bed and pulling David into his arms. David returns the hug, but it feels perfunctory, like his heart isn’t really in it. Patrick pulls back, gently cupping David’s face in his hands. “Oh my God, David! W-what...How...Are you okay?”

David nods, eyes downcast, mouth set in a tight, crooked line. “Yeah, I just—“ He clears his throat, “—I have to go. Do you know where my passport is? I checked and there’s a flight to Toronto from Elmdale that leaves in two and a half hours, so…”

Patrick nods, thumbs gently scraping over the scruff on David’s jaw. “Okay. Our passports are in the safe at the store. Give me ten minutes to pack a bag and we’ll swing by on our way to the airport.”

He sees David’s eyes widen, the line of his mouth twitches. “W-we?” he asks softly. “But the store…”

Patrick shakes his head, leaning in and tilting David’s head down so he can kiss the deep V that has formed between David’s eyebrows. “We’ll figure out the store. I’ll put a sign up for now and Jocelyn has a key for emergencies.”

“B-but…”

“I’m coming with you.”

David shakes his head. “I, um...I think it should just be me. My mom...She’ll need all of my attention. I’ll need to look after her.”

“And who is going to look after you?”

David’s lower lip wobbles and he blinks rapidly. “I’ll be fine,” he says softly, and Patrick thinks David almost believes it.

“David.”

David shakes his head. “I’ll only be gone for a day. I just need to get my mom and bring back my dad’s—“ He breaks off with a quiet choking noise in the back of his throat and his eyes dart down to his duffle. He fiddles with the zipper and clears his throat. “He wanted to be buried here. So I’m just going to bring him...bring him home.”

“At least let me drive you to the airport,” Patrick pleads. Every bone in his body is telling him this is wrong, David will need him, he should go. “Is Alexis going to go to LA too?”

“She was already there for work, so I’ll just bring her back with me,” David says, still not meeting Patrick’s gaze. “Um, can she...can they…”

“Of course.” Patrick kisses David’s trembling lips and pulls him into a hug. “Of course they can stay here.”

He feels David relax against him, just a bit. Patrick rubs firm, soothing hands up and down David’s back. “Thank you,” David whispers against Patrick’s neck. 

“Anything, sweetheart. Anything you need,” Patrick assures him. He gives David one final squeeze. “Let me just put some clothes on and I’ll drive you to the airport.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.” Patrick kisses him again, because David looks like he needs it, and maybe Patrick needs it too. Then he hops off the bed and heads for the closet, pausing to hand David his phone. “Book your flights. I’ll be ten minutes.”