I splutter, I splutter, I splutter, and I rise up heaving out of the black sea. The water spilling is red.

And I see it still: the reflection of the green, the amber, and the red, off the glassy surface; the lines and blurred lines of black rain pelting onto the windscreen, as it all rushes back into sight:

In the car, the hand on mine is white. As I turn, the face is white. He is completely bone-white, because the summer tan has gone.


He closes his eyes, withdraws, and buries his head in his hands.

There's salt now.

It's not him crying; I can't help it. I hear him inhaling, exhaling, inhaling and trying to deal with the idea that he's just turned an empty rent boy's empty life completely upside down. Bastard: I think. It's probably what he thinks, too.

"I loved it," I say, and my mutter cracks. When I cough, the blood bubbles, bursts, flows afresh over my chin. "I loved that shit."

He brings his head back up, his eyes wide and a new kind of expectant. "Are you pissed?"

I stare at him. I'd heard something.

I think it was fear.

"Am I pissed?"

He tries to straighten his face, stop his own eyes from staring.

"Am I pissed? Seamus, look where I am now."

He looks.

"Look at me."

He can't.

I'm your perfect horse-ridden whore. The sugar's eaten away at me. I'm paler than my bed sheets, I'm sore, I'm red, there's purple where there shouldn't be purple and black where there shouldn't be black. There'll soon be purple and black in the nook of my arm. There'll soon be no arm at all. I know this.

I know another thing. Whatever I'd thought back then, it hasn't stayed with me.

"I'm fucking ashamed of myself," he says. But he doesn't say it, he's crying now. He's actually crying into the steering wheel.

My own get angry. Red tears and blood.

"I'm sorry, Aiden!"

Aiden. Not anymore.

I loved it once, then there'd been a few years, and now I don't love it one bit. At least the bastard who led me along is fucking sorry. That's all I need, except a good fix.


"Well..." I say, cracked still, "I guess I should just go now..."

He grabs me. "Don't go. Don't fucking leave, please."

"You can tell me anything, nothing can really change things now."

"It's been three years," he chokes, pulling me back in, "Three years..."

I don't care.


I pull away, throw open the car door–


–and stumble out onto the roadside.

"Please! I'm sorry..."


"I'm sorry, Aiden!"


"Please, I wanna help you!"

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