seven - cross my heart and hope to die

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I stumble into bed at three in the morning. I'm slightly drunk and cold so the initial shock of room temperature sheets sends chills through my body. I lay down on my pillow and look up at the ceiling once my eyes adjust to the darkness. Some light from the moon and stars creeps in past my blinds to help my vision a little bit better.

I know Kylie and Nigel are fast asleep in the other bedrooms. My room is considerably smaller than their rooms because mine was supposed to be the office. My bed fits but after that I've got about five feet of space for a basket of clothes and walking.

I turn on my side in bed and close my eyes tightly as I imagine I'm asleep and said imagination will lead to reality.

I guess it worked at some point, because I wake up at one in the afternoon with a mild hangover and a sore throat from dehydration. I cough a few times and it feels like someone is trying to split my throat into several different sections.

"Kylie," I croak out with my dry throat while banging my fist against the wall behind me. That wall connects to the kitchen and I know she's in there.

"Water," I croak out again while banging my fist a few more times. I hear no response at all and no movements from anything or anyone.

I slip out of bed and feel chills immediately prick through my entire body. I run my hands along my arms and find an old flannel tossed in the corner of my room. I start walking into the kitchen and living room but nobody is home. Both bedroom doors are open and vacant so I know they're not still sleeping or something.

I wander into the kitchen now and find a piece of paper taped to the fridge. The kitchen fan is on for some reason so the paper delicately laps against the stainless steel appliance.

I walk over and snag it from the refrigerator, holding it out in front of me like an old man ready to read the obituaries. Instead, it simply reads: "GROCERY SHOPPING - N&K"

I crumble it up in my hand and quickly flip the switch to the kitchen fan. I toss the paper into the trash can from across the kitchen and throw both of my arms into the air.

"Did you see that, Lucky? Slam dunk!" I exclaim to Nigel's fish whose tank is settled in the center of the kitchen table. I quickly realize that fish doesn't give two shits about anything but it's food.

My throat tightens up again and I turn around to grab a glass from the cupboard. I fill it with tap water and take a moment to look out the window behind the sink. The sun is beaming and the naked tree branches sway slowly with the breeze.

I turn around to lean against the counter as I sip my water. I'm staring directly at the front door so I notice the knob begin to jiggle slightly. Nigel walks in with six grocery bags stacked up his arm, and Kylie follows with three.

"Damn, we're gonna be set for two weeks," I teasingly say as I watch them filter inside.

"Would have got more but you weren't there," Nigel flatly tells me as he sets some bags on the kitchen table. He refrains any eye contact with me and I soon notice Kylie is doing the same thing.

"What's up with you two?" I finally ask, taking one more quick sip of water before setting it down on the counter.

"Nothing," Nigel says as he begins unbagging items like a robot.

"Bullshit," I spew back at him, crossing my arms.

Kylie is standing in front of our open door with her hands glued to her phone. "I gotta go into work now and pull a double, someone just quit. I'll be home at midnight."

I don't even acknowledge Kylie because I'm too busy watching Nigel put food away like he's been programmed to do so.

"It's not bull. I'm fine," he tells me again as he strategically places the rice in the cabinet in ascending order from plain to spicy.

"Then why won't you look at me? Why are you ignoring me?"

"What would you do if you accidently told someone you loved them and they treated it as if it's some kind of contagious deadly disease and locked themselves in a room afterwards?"

Nigel is staring directly in my direction now, his eyes piercing through mine as I see his lip twitch slightly.

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal, really," I explain to him as I grab my glass for another sip of water.

He pushes my glass down so we don't break any eye contact. "You might think I'm stupid or mental or whatever, but I fucking know what love is. I can't help the way I am and if you're going to stash me away because of it, then fuck you."

I shrug and slip my hands into my pockets as I let my eyes stay focused on Nigel. I catch a glimpse of Kylie in her work uniform by the front door. Her eyes looked saddened and they transfer to the floor as soon as they meet with mine.

"Oh, come on, what's wrong with you Kylie?" I raise my arms and hands from my pocket, extending one arm in accusation.

"Nothing. Let's forget about it. I just feel bad for Nigel," Kylie states as she buttons up the last few buttons on her top.

"Jeez, you two act like this was the most sensitive information to ever pass someone's lip," I say and sigh heavily as Kylie crosses her arms in the background. I focus back on Nigel.

"I didn't even know you were gay. How the hell was I supposed to know this? You think this was something I saw coming?" I say to him as he licks his lips before quickly answering.

"I'm not gay, I'm bisexual. Now you know," he sternly tells me as his eyes stay focused on me.

"See? Now we know. We know the facts so just forget it and move on with life," Kylie exhaustedly says as she sneaks out the front door to work.

I watch her leave before I deal with Nigel again.

"She's right... again. Let's just forget it. I don't like fighting with you like this. I don't like the tension," Nigel tells me as he glances around the kitchen. I know he's sincere now.

I cross my arms and shake my head.
"You think I like it? I don't."

Nigel shrugs and nods back towards the front door. "Let's get dinner again like old times."

"Old times?" I question him as I cock my head and push my eyebrows together.

"Like usual," he says with a small grin.

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