LENGTH: 8,360 words
This story is included in the anthology, Perchance to Dream
After a bad car accident, Jory’s lover Peter assures him he’s doing fine. But when Jory attends a get-well party at the house of a coworker, he’s surprised when no one asks him how Peter is doing. More disconcerting, Peter’s gold cross necklace is missing, and Jory suffers from headaches whenever his best friend Bruce brings up the accident.
Where is the cross? And why does Bruce keep asking Jory to remember what happened to his lover?
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In the car on the way home, Jory stares at his reflection in the window and watches the night pass behind his glassy eyes, a blur of snow-covered ground and bare-limbed trees in the darkness. He can see the faint scar on his temple, a red slash beneath brown bangs just beginning to grow back after being shorn in the hospital after the accident. “You know what bothered me about tonight?” he asks softly.
“What’s that?” Bruce keeps his gaze on the road and one hand on the wheel. His deep voice is gravely from the wine and low between them. When Jory doesn’t answer immediately, Bruce gives him a sharp look. “Jory? What’s wrong?”
“No one asked about Peter,” Jory replies.
At the sound of his lover’s name, the headache that threatened him all evening suddenly flares to life behind his eyes, sending a wave of nausea washing through him. He leans his forehead against the cold window and waits for the sickness to pass.
Gently, Bruce says, “Maybe they didn’t think you’d want to talk about it.”
Jory frowns at his reflection. Talk about what? he wonders, before the pain sears through him again and bright lights cloud his vision. He has to speak around the thin taste of bile in his throat. “Well, they could have at least asked if he was okay.”
“Is he?” Bruce wants to know.
“Yes,” Jory answers, a little too quickly. Peter’s doing fine. Like he is. Fine.
“Where is he right now?” Bruce prompts.
The pain flashes through his head again, and Jory closes his eyes against the onslaught of images flooding his memory. A white shroud of snow covering the hood of the car like a blanket. Something wet and hot dripping into his eyes, pain in his legs, the radio low. The clench of Peter’s fingers holding his, keeping him warm. In the distance, a wail of sirens ...
“Jory?” Bruce asks.
Jory blinks away the visions of the accident. The sirens grow louder, somewhere out in the darkness of the night. They’re real, not remembered. Someone somewhere has been hurt, and sirens race to the rescue.
“He’s okay,” Jory whispers. Peter’s fine. “Probably sleeping right now. He’s ...”
He frowns. Peter’s okay. Just a little shaken up from the accident still, but he’s doing okay. Jory can’t wait to get home and hide away from the rest of the world, the staring eyes, the hesitant questions. He’ll crawl into bed and into the safety of Peter’s arms, and he’ll forget the evening at Janice’s. Peter will kiss away the headache and make everything fine again. Make everything okay.