WHEN IT came down to it, he ran.
wasn’t the reaction he was hoping for.
had hoped that when this—his darkest secret—came to light he would
accept it with humility and grace. Some sort of action that would never cause him to look back in
he switched his phone off, and ran. He didn’t even want to guess what Simon was possibly thinking about him;
he could tell by the amount of calls ‘missed’ on his mobile, which were well
into the double digits. Although
Simon hadn’t left as many voice messages as he had attempts to call, they had
become increasingly panicked each time.
just call me,” the last one, from only twelve minutes ago, had said. “Dec, I really need to talk to you. Or even if you can’t
talk, just text. Just let me
know you’re still out there.” A
pause, so long that Dec had thought he hadn’t hung up properly. “Just let me know you’re okay.”
did Simon think he was going to kill himself, or something? No, he wouldn’t think that . But he would be sick with worry. He could hear the desperation in Simon’s
voice, and Dec knew that even though it was in no way Simon’s fault he would
still be blaming himself for it all.
desperately wanted to speak to him, but he just couldn’t bring himself to dial
that number. Speaking to Simon
would only make it all the more real, whereas at this moment in time he could keep on believing that it was just a dream. Maybe he was even currently knocked out
on the football field, and this was all some coma fantasy. He would wake up in the change rooms, be
checked out at the hospital, and then he could go back to Simon’s and they
could laugh about it. They would be
he was wide awake , and his phone was off, and he had
come to the only place he could feel safe. It was strange that he should run but end up in the very same place he
wanted to avoid, where the conversation he had avoided for so long would
finally be broached.
strange atmosphere filled the air at his parents’ house – everybody was walking
on eggshells around him, while still worrying about their dad, and there was
media camped out with no sign of getting bored. He had seen them on a news bulletin
doing the same thing at Simon’s house – which seemed deserted bar the
fact Maggie was sitting in the lounge windowsill watching them all with the
cool sense of detachment only cats could pull off so well.
his mother had come home from the hospital, she had taken him into her
arms. “You tell me what you want to
tell me, when you want to tell me.”
he did. He still struggled with
some of the words, except when it came to Simon. It seemed he could talk about him easily – it was talking
to him that was proving to be the problem.
Declan kept talking. With his
siblings, after they battled their way silently through the horde of
journalists, with his dad – by phone, through the hospital – and
they had all said the right things, the things that you hoped would be said when you eventually came out but feared the
exact opposite would be the reality. He even caught his mother poring over the photos in the newspaper,
trying to make out Simon’s features so she could know who had claimed the heart
of her son. She had a million
questions, and Dec could have answered a million more.
where is he now?” she asked, and the answer caught in Dec’s throat. The last thing he wanted was his mum
thinking Simon had run out on him when it was furthest from the truth.
even though he still felt loved and supported, the general feeling of weirdness
continued. This was probably all coming from himself, and most likely
exacerbated by the media circus outside, but it had led to him hiding in his room
a lot and wishing Simon would show up even