The vows we never said

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Patrick sipped his tea in the kitchen while staring out the window. It had been three weeks since Charlie's suicide. Patrick's family - excluding Fabiola - had flown up for the funeral, which was held a few days after. They offered comforting words and prayers. Even that didn't stop Patrick from breaking down at the funeral.

Two weeks later the pain was still as raw as the time he learned that the love of his life was no more. Everything reminded him of Charlie. He would just walk to the bedroom they shared and see a vision of Charlie sitting on the bed and struggling to open a packet of his favorite candy. Patrick would offer to help, but Charlie would have none of it.

Sometimes he saw him standing by the kitchen counter, singing to a song whose lyrics he butchered and dancing – actually dancing – timely with the tune. Those times it seemed like he wasn't sick at all. It would appear like that, but Patrick knew Charlie sang the wrong words not because he didn't know them, but because he couldn't remember them.

Charlie always downplayed it, but it took a toll on him. He became increasingly frustrated and would throw outbursts. Those were not the disease. Those were inspired by the knowledge of what his disease was reducing him to.

The last couple of months Charlie withdrew into himself. Patrick noticed and continued to shower Charlie with love, affection and patience. That obviously hadn't been enough. Patrick still did not know what had led to the suicide. He'd stored Charlie's letter deep in his closet, not ready to know its content.

He was afraid of knowing Charlie knew what he was doing when he jumped in front of that car. He was afraid of knowing he could have foreseen and prevented it. He was also afraid of gaining absolutely nothing from the letter. It was better not knowing Charlie's final thoughts.

There was nothing interesting outside the window, but Patrick continued looking out. It was much better than looking into himself, where there was much turmoil.

He didn't notice as Ariel joined him at the kitchen table. It was a Friday morning. Ariel had been preparing for her classes in her room.

"Hey," Ariel said quietly.

Patrick turned towards her and set his cup down, realizing it was empty. "Ready for class?" he asked with a weak smile.

"Um..." she said.

"Did you finish your assignment? The deadline is coming up," he asked.

"I did last night. Anyway, I...I did something else last night," she said.

Patrick cocked a brow.

"I read Charlie's letter," Ariel said.

Patrick sighed. Charlie's letters were the last thing he wanted to talk about. He didn't have the courage to open his.

"That's...good," Patrick said, almost dismissively.

Ariel opened her mouth and closed it. "Do you want to know what he said?"

"No."

"He loves you," Ariel said. "He said to tell you he loves you every day until you believe it."

"Do you believe it?"

She nodded. "He was lucid when he wrote the letter. There were times when you weren't home and he'd tell me how much he loves you. He didn't stop Patrick."

Patrick nodded. He didn't quite know what to say about the subject.

"I think you are going to be late for your class if you don't leave now," he said instead.

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