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    Filzmoos
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A Different Love - 15. Chapter 15

I’d arranged to meet Connor in the Rose and Crown after work. It was two weeks since dad had been rushed to hospital with a heart attack and much to our relief, he was now back at home. The doctor had told mum that this time he was lucky to have made it and it could very well have been a different story. Despite the poor state of his health he was still largely cheerful and happy, actively encouraging me to go out and meet ‘Connie’ whenever the subject raised its ugly head. I hated lying to him and would have loved to pluck up the courage to tell them both the truth, but causing dad any unnecessary stress at the moment was totally out of the question.

Connor had been over to Ireland to see his parents and I hadn’t seen him since the night I’d stayed over, but we’d arranged to meet tomorrow night. Then out of the blue, he sent me an urgent text asking me to meet him as soon as possible, as he had something important to tell me. For some reason a feeling of dread and apprehension tied my stomach in knots as I tried in vain to guess what it could be.

My train from the city was slightly late arriving in Hamborough that evening and by the time I reached the pub, Connor was already waiting for me. He was sitting in the far corner of the room and as soon as he saw me, I tilted my hand towards my mouth to ask if he wanted another drink. He held up his almost empty glass to indicate he was ready for another and as I approached the bar Liz welcomed me with a broad smile on her face. Reaching for a glass in anticipation of my order, she greeted me warmly in her usual cheery manner.

“Hello Jason, a pint is it?

“Two please, Liz”

“Two! She exclaimed in a surprised voice “Connor’s thirsty tonight, that’s for sure!”

“What do you mean?”

She leant over the bar slightly and lowered her voice to a whisper. “This is his third and he’s only been here for twenty minutes!”

My heart sank and I was surprised to find that my hands were shaking slightly as I reached for the pints of beer.

“I’d better go and find out what’s wrong then!” I answered, sighing worriedly.

As soon as I reached the table it was clear he was upset about something. His usual smiling face was shrouded in anxiety and his whole demeanour shouted nervous apprehension.

“Hi Connor, you ok?” I asked him anxiously

“Yeah I’m fine” he replied, deliberately avoiding my gaze.

It was obvious he was anything but fine and his flushed face and incessant chewing of a fingernail only served to emphasise the fact.

“Liz said this is your third” I exclaimed, setting the beer down in front of him.

“Oh yeah” he admitted, laughing nervously “I needed some Dutch courage!”

“Why Connor, what's wrong? You had me worried with your text!”

My eyes widened in surprise as I realized he was already halfway down this pint as well and as he raised his arm to take another drink, I grasped it firmly and pushed it back down on the table. It was a little too firmly, however, and beer slopped over the top of the glass onto his hand. He seemed to be a million miles away and was already lifting his glass up yet again to take another swig. I frantically attempted to mop up the spillage with a beer mat.

“Connor, for god’s sake!! Stop drinking and tell me what’s wrong!!”

There was a pronounced silence until his eyes reluctantly met mine and he gave a deep sigh of resignation. “I had a phone call this morning” he began hesitantly.

“And…” I countered impatiently, intrigued to know what was going on.

“From Ireland” he went on in a shaky voice.

My heart fluttered as I instantly thought about his parents and the poor state of his mother’s health.

“From your parents?”

“No, no it’s not that”

I frowned slightly and my heart sank “What then Connor? C’mon, who was it from”

His voice quietened, almost as if he didn’t want to tell me “It was from Daniel…….in Dublin.”

He gazed at my slightly puzzled face and as he opened his mouth to enlighten me, I remembered what he’d told me on our first date. Daniel was the guy that Connor had worked for in London, the one who’d offered him the chance to manage a new club he was opening in Dublin. When the job had fallen through at the last moment, Connor had been left extremely disappointed. It would have enabled him to live near his sick mother, allowing him to visit her whenever he wanted and with the added bonus of a well-paid, interesting job. He gazed at me imploringly, as if willing me to understand his predicament and I tried desperately hard to keep the look of sheer disappointment off my face as I guessed what he was about to say.

“He’s offered me the chance to manage his club in Dublin again!” he revealed, trying hard to keep the excitement out of his voice.

Even though I knew what was coming next it was still a shock when he actually came out with it.

“The thing is….” he went on as I held my breath “It’s too good an opportunity to miss Jason. I’ve told him that I’ll take it!”

“Oh!” I responded, completely stunned.

My feelings quickly shifted from a mixture of shock and surprise to disappointment and dismay as his words slowly began to sink in. I thought that was all he had to say and was totally unprepared for the bombshell that came next.

“The thing is Jason…..I want you to come with me!”

It wasn’t often I was completely lost for words, but for several seconds I had no idea what to say. I was incredibly touched that he’d asked me to join him and my emotions came rushing to the surface as I struggled to give him an answer. My words eventually tumbled out, accompanied by a huge sigh of disappointment.

“Connor…..I’m sorry, I just can’t. My dad…”

“I knew that’s what you’d say” he immediately interrupted “And I understand, I really do. But it doesn’t have to be straight away. You could give it a month, two months even. At least we’d still be a couple!”

His voice was loaded with excitement and enthusiasm as he continued to try and persuade me to go with him. He’d obviously thought about it a great deal and in his imagination, we were already there.

“Just think about how brilliant it would be Jason! You could get a job in a store over there and we’d be able to afford a place of our own….together!”

The imploring tone of his voice was hard to ignore and for a short while I was swept along by his enthusiasm. Unfortunately, reality once again took hold and I came crashing back down to earth with a bump. I’d never actually admitted it to myself before, but there was a real possibility that dad’s next attack could prove fatal. The thought sent a shiver running up and down my spine and I knew that if anything happened, there was no way I wanted to be in a different country, even if it was just a few hours away.

“Well...…What do you say?” he urged, desperately trying to read my expression.

The hopeful, slightly pleading look on his face tugged at my heartstrings and I felt terrible for having to disappoint him.

“I’m sorry Connor, I’d love to come with you, but I just can’t”

His face dropped a mile and when he spoke his voice was choked with emotion. “You don’t even want to think about it? he asked incredulously.

“It wouldn’t do any good Connor. I just can’t come with you”

“It’s just that I thought we were a couple”

“We are….I mean…we were…”

The look of utter disappointment that was etched across his face made my heart sink and I scrambled to make my confused words into a coherent sentence

“What I mean is, we can’t be a couple if you’re living in Ireland Connor! It just wouldn’t work”

“I have to do this Jason, it’s too good an opportunity to miss! I don’t want to be a barman for the rest of my life. And then there’s mum”

“I understand perfectly Connor. You have to take it, but you must understand why I can’t go with you”

He gazed at me with a devastated expression on his face and quickly downing the rest of his pint, reached for his coat. His eyes were blurred with tears as he stood up to leave and I grasped his arm to stop him

“Connor! Where are you going?”

“Sorry Jason. I have to be somewhere”

“Please…… sit down!” I implored him “We need to talk”

He shook his arm free and quickly struggled into his coat “There’s no point Jason. Like you said, we’re no longer together!”

“You know I didn’t mean it like that Connor…Please….”

He roughly wiped away the tears with his sleeve before replying “Whatever Jason!”

“But when do you go?” I asked him frantically “Will I see you again?”

He shrugged his shoulders and without saying another word, walked away. As I watched his rapidly retreating figure, I half stood up to go after him, but deciding it would be a waste of time, sat down again with a sigh of resignation. It was far better to let him calm down and regain control of his emotions rather than risk upsetting him anymore than I already had.

As I stared at his empty glass on the table it reminded me how emotionally drained and empty I felt. His devastated expression was ingrained in my mind, but going with Connor to Ireland was simply out of the question and in any case, there was no way I was ready for such a huge commitment. Then again was I really just making excuses? By this time a lot of people were making plans to flee the nest, settling down with a partner in a place of their own. But if I went to live with Connor in Ireland it would immediately reveal my homosexuality and I refused to cause dad any further stress at the moment. And in any case, I was extremely reluctant to stray too far away from home for the time being, at least whilst dad’s health was so unstable.

The whole episode caused me to re-examine my relationship with Connor in a concerted effort to justify the deeper reasons for my refusal to accompany him. During the short time we’d been together something special had definitely built up between us and I was sorry that it had to end so prematurely. I loved being in his company and knew that he’d developed real feelings for me. Although I’d enjoyed our time together immensely and was still incredibly attracted to him, I realized that I wasn't really sure what our relationship meant to me, other than a mixture of close friendship and pure unadulterated lust. There was every possibility our relationship would have turned into something much more substantial given time, but now that Connor was disappearing to Ireland, we would never know. It was the first time I'd ever been so close to someone other than my family and I realised with dismay that now it was unlikely we'd ever get to share a physical relationship together. Nevertheless, there was no way I would ever forget him.

A rollercoaster of feelings surged through me, ranging from an aching disappointment he was leaving, to an underlying sense of anger that he couldn't seem to understand how important it was for me to stay.

There was one thing I knew beyond all doubt though. I couldn’t allow us to part on such bad terms and I was determined to see him again before it was too late. Even if I had to take tomorrow off work, I refused to accept the possibility of not being able to say a proper goodbye.

I jumped slightly as Liz unexpectedly sat down beside me. “You look as though you’ve lost a pound and found a penny Jason!” she remarked, fixing me with a look of concern “Why did Connor shoot off so quickly?”

The mention of Connor and shooting off in the same sentence reminded me what I’d missed out on the other night and if it was possible, I felt even more downcast than before. Liz’s voice was filled with sympathy as if she knew what was coming next and I sighed deeply before replying.

“He doesn't want to see me again Liz!”

I could hear the incredulous tone in her voice as she responded with disbelief to the news. “I'm sure that's not true?” she exclaimed “You two seem so good together”

A tear escaped my eye before I could stop it and I gazed at Liz forlornly "I thought so too"

She gently squeezed my shoulder and her voice was filled with concern “So what's all this about then?”

I swirled the beer around in my glass before taking another swig.

“He’s taken a job in Ireland Liz!” I answered, blinking back the tears.

She was clearly shocked by the revelation and her manner soon turned to one of anger “But why Jason? How could he do that to you? He’s got no right to....”

“He asked me to go with him!"

She stopped in mid-sentence and her eyes almost popped out of her head as my revelation suddenly registered.

“So let me guess, you said no?”

“I just can’t go Liz! For one thing the timings all wrong”

“And let me guess, you’re not really sure how you feel about him either?” she commented shrewdly, raising her eyebrows enquiringly.

As usual Liz had gone unerringly to the truth and I couldn’t hide the expression of resignation that clearly showed on my face. She smiled at me sympathetically and with a look of understanding gently urged me on as I struggled to continue.

“It’s such a huge commitment Liz, and well…..I don’t know if I actually love him! Not yet anyway” I added hastily.

“And now you won’t get the chance to find out” she said quietly, shaking her head.

“You think I should have gone with him?” I asked her quietly.

“No, no it’s not that Jason, I’m just surprised that he’s willing to go without you”

I relayed the gist of our conversation in an attempt to try and explain it from his perspective, but she still wasn’t fully convinced.

“So do you think you'll see him again?”

I shook my head sadly and had to admit how uncertain I was. “I just don’t know Liz! He left without saying anything”

She spluttered in amazement and the tone of her voice was tinged with anger “You mean he didn’t even say goodbye!”

I was determined to make sure that he did and despite what had happened, I still couldn’t help defending him “He was just upset Liz that’s all” I insisted, crossing my fingers underneath the table “I’m sure he’ll come round when he’s had time to calm down”

“I hope so Jason” she replied, standing up. “He owes you that much at least”

As she shook her head and walked away with Connor’s glass, I felt like reaching out to grab it, afraid there would be nothing else left to remind me of him.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2021 Filzmoos; All Rights Reserved.
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It seems that Connor in his head had allready left for Ireland with Jason. He was so sure he would come with him. But Connor should have realished that for Jason to just up and leave when his dad just came home from hospital, would'nt be a so easy. I hope he's mature enough to at least say goodbye to Jason, but maybe not... 

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Connor had almost convinced himself Jason would drop anything to go to Ireland with him. I can totally see why Jason couldn’t, being so concerned for his dad's health. I reckon Connor just rushed out because it was the only way he could deal with the situation. If Jason went with him and his dad had another heart attack, he’d never forgive himself. If Connor stayed, he'd end up resenting Jason for missing out on an opportunity that might not come again. Sad, but inevitable.

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I agree with the comments above, I am sad that Connor, who in taking the job, would be closer to his sick mother, could not realize/understand that Jason, has the same feelings and concerns for his sick father.

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