You Specialize in Dying

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Michael opens his eyes like he does every morning, except the bed is hard under his aching body and instead of holding Luke to his chest, there’s an empty space, and his hand grips at the cheap hospital sheets in place of Luke’s waist.

He thought, for some reason, that Luke would be there.

He’s empty now. His stomach hurts as it turns in on itself. And, besides his stomach actually being a hollow pit, he feels the emptiness of the situation. There’s awful clarity now, and it’s so sharp it slices him right open. He has no voice, even if there was somebody to call for, and he doesn’t move at all.

He stares up at the white tile ceiling, swallowing past his sore throat, blank.

He’s full of thoughts that distract him from his discomfort.

What will his family think?

Will they think he’s fucked up? Will anybody visit? Will anybody care?

And the band.

Is he kicked out now? He’s not the easiest guitarist. He’s not the easiest friend. Did they bother to come visit? He can remember Calum crying distantly, such an uncharacteristic display of emotion. It hurts, more than he thought it should, to hear your friend cry because he thinks you’re going to die.

And Luke, what about Luke?

What about Luke?

Luke will know. Luke will find out. Michael doesn’t want to see Luke. He doesn’t want to see Ashton get upset. He doesn’t want to see Calum get awkward when he runs out of ways to tell Michael it’s okay.

Michael pulls up the sheets to his chin. The air conditioning is placed so unfortunately over his bed, freezing him in place. Everything about this place is barren and cold, really. Impersonal. Michael means nothing in this hospital; he means nothing in this world. He’s nothing more than a cold body. He will live, and then die, and he will be cold in heart and in grave.

Those who have no purpose in this world have no place, either. Those who are not needed will simply stray by the wayside and fade out to a dying soundtrack. People are so easily forgotten. Expendable. For every person who shatters into indiscernibly small pieces, there are plenty more people to take their place. People with a purpose.

So why the fuck is Michael still here?

It takes an eternity for the nurse to come in. Because in a hospital room with no clock, a sick boy with no voice and no sense of passing time cannot measure the hours of pain, the minutes of lucidity, or the seconds of wasted breath his failing lungs will impose on him.

“How are you feeling, darling?” she asks. She’s forgettable, too. But she has a purpose. Either that or a shit ton of money to spend on medical school.

Michael merely shrugs, turning his face so he can look in her direction. He doesn’t trust himself to speak.

“Let me just check your blood levels, and then we’ll have a talk, yeah?” she says casually. Michael cringes internally at the thought of what she might ask. What she might already know.

She talks to herself, unintelligibly under her breath, as she adjusts the IV drip that leads into Michael’s wrist. She writes things down, checks stats on different machine, takes Michael’s heartrate and pulse, all while Michael stares at a fixed point on the wall, wanting to get this over with.

“Alright,” she says, pulling up a chair and bringing it up to the hospital bed. “Let’s chat, shall we?”

Michael props himself up very slightly. He doesn’t have the energy to sit up all the way. They don’t want him to, anyway.

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