“Are you sure you got everything?” Charles turned around and faced Vincent in time to see him tie the drawstring at the top of his bag.
“Yep,” Victor replied without looking away from his task, “I checked twice and there isn’t a trace of us or any thing—he sniggered—or body to be found.”
“I don’t know.” The turmoil in Charles’ stomach was a clear sign of his distress. “I’m just having one last looked around.” He turned on his spot, taking in every detail of the small cabin they’d shared for three months, before opening, inspecting and closing every drawer. Victor was right, apart from the two bags they would walk away with, there was nothing in this tiny space that hadn’t been there when they’d first set foot in it. Even the bed looked as if it had never been slept in. It had been bloody hard work but they’d done a great job.
Charles gaze landed on Victor and his stomach tightened as the result of a completely different emotion. He couldn’t believe they’d walk off the ship they’d called home for months in a few short minutes, make their way to the train station together, part ways, and probably never meet again.
“Are you really sure there’s no way…?” He didn’t finish the sentence. They’d had this discussion at least twice a day for the past week and no matter what he’d said, Victor’s reasons for having to part were far more rooted in reality than Charles’ need to stay together was.
“I’m sorry.” Victor’s voice was soft, his tone heavy and sad. “I wish it was different. If I could see a way for us to stay together and actually have a life, I’d never let you out of my sight again.” He turned his head and stared at the bed.
Charles didn’t look in the same direction. He couldn’t look at the place where they’d slept, where they’d come together, had found each other, and where they’d discovered a love neither of them had ever expected to experience. When a thumb brushed across his cheek he realised he’d started crying.
“Don’t!” Victor said, sounding choked. “Try thinking about it as something we have won, not something we’re losing.” He paused for a moment, and Charles watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed hard. “We’ll walk off this ship and you go back to your life, just as I’ll go back to mine. And we’ll always have the memories of these twelve weeks to look back on. Imagine if we hadn’t met. We could so easily have ended up with different cabin partners.” Victor’s eyes glistened. “Ending it now is horrid. Not having had the experience—not knowing you the way I do—would have been worse.”
Charles nodded. Victor was right. They had no other choice. Look at what they’d already had to do.
The disembark whistle blew and without a word they both picked up their bags and swung them over a shoulder.
“Shit” It weighs a bloody ton.” Charles grumbled.
“What did you expect?” Victor sneered, but Charles saw him fighting to keep his balance too.
“Remember, we’re supposed to be happy we’ve reached the end of the journey.” Victor reminded him.
Charles didn’t know how he managed it but by the time they were on terra firma again they were chatting, smiling and laughing as if today was the best day of their lives. Ten minutes later they entered the train station, found a deserted corner and dropped their bags. They inspected each other’s shoulders, making sure their striped shirts were still clean before giving the two bags a last, hard, stare.
“I do feel bad.” Charles said.
“Me too. But what else could we do?” Anger crept into Victor’s voice. “The fool should never have barged into our room without knocking first. He couldn’t be trusted to keep our secret and now he’ll never be able to share it.”
I hope you liked my flash and would love to hear from you in the comments.
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