If You're Still Breathing You're the Lucky Ones

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Michael goes from the blank white walls of the hospital room to the blank white walls of his room. The ghosts that took turns sitting with him until visiting hours took turns talking to him on the way home until he shuts himself in his room. The graveyard waiting room fills the house outside of Michael’s headspace.

Michael’s still a dead man, he just looks more alive than he did.

Michael’s filled with feelings, but they all explode in bursts of color and fade away before he can grasp them. Red for his incinerated soul, white for his empty and longing walls, grey for the ache in his bones, black for his despair. Michael’s burning up slowly and surely. The colors drown in the flames and leave Michael just a shell.

Michael locks the door of his room as he steps inside and sighs, looking around the room. Nothing’s changed. Nobody’s been in his room. Ashton and Calum came back to sleep at night, and Luke went back to his parents’ place during his time at the hospital hours. And so Michael’s room is untouched. Perfect. Immaculate. Michael may as well have not existed. With his bed made and his clothes lying in the corner where he left them the night he stripped them off before Luke.

Michael sits on the edge of his bed and runs his hands over the covers. It’s his bed. But it’s not really his bed. It’s some guest bed left here by whoever owns this house. Whoever let them use this house. The walls are empty because nobody really lives here. Michael’s an inhabitant, a passing figure.

Michael didn’t grow up here. He grew up miles away in instability. And he grew up alone. The other boys grew up together. They grew up in homes. Michael simply grew up where he had to.

He lies flat on his bed. The ceiling leans towards him. Michael’s crushed by the cold, impersonal feel of the room. And he’s never realized how much it looks like a hospital room, and he’s never realized how much it feels like a grave.

---

Nobody talks to Michael, and Michael doesn’t talk to anybody.

Michael remains in silence, lost. There’s nobody to shake him out of it. For the first time in days, he’s well and truly alone. Although he’s been alone all along.

The hospital stay did nothing for him. He’s alive. They simply brought him of the edge of an unseen cliff and sent him home with a shove. They gave him back his pills and an excessively clear prescription. So he couldn’t make a mistake again.

Michael never made a mistake. He had no intention of dying, but he did what he believed he had to.

He’s developing some sort of retrograde numbness, starting from when he woke up in the hospital. Everything that happened before is sharp and colored. Even the dizzy days leading up to the overdose are graspable to Michael. Since then, there seems to be an endless stretch of despair in each moment.

He remembers being angry at Luke when he met him, remembers him crying softly in the rain while Michael held him. He remembers the pain of his mother’s memory like a slow knife twisting in him, although it’s faded now. He remembers the tables being turned and crying in Luke’s arms. And he remembers that night, in such agonizing detail, and how terrifying it was to understand for the first time just how much he loved Luke. Like an arrow through his chest, and the overdose yanked it back out.

There would have been freedom beyond. Michael’s sure of that at least.

Please, Michael, don’t scare me again. I love you I love you I love you. Don’t you ever leave. Michael, Michael...

“...Michael?”

Michael shakes himself. “’S open,” he calls.

It’s Luke, always Luke. Michael wonders about the boy he first met who couldn’t even speak to him without looking paralyzed.

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