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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Suite d'Existence - 5. Grave

Note: this relatively heavy chapter deals with depression. If you're sensitive to reading about such feelings, please be careful in your decision whether or not to read this.

(from the previous chapter:)

His speech was interrupted by a pair of slightly cracked lips kissing his.


Tristan pulled his head away a bit too slow to have considered it a reflex. To hide his own insecurities he quickly stood up and took a few steps away from the bed.

“What…Why… Why the hell did you do that?” he said in a broken voice.

His guest seemed just as, if not more, shocked as he was. His face had turned completely pale and he was stuttering incomprehensibly. Hastily he searched for the two mugs, grabbed them and started to make his way to the door.

“Ernest! Don’t leave. Fuck, can you at least explain?” Tristan mumbled, struggling to form coherent sentences too. “Sorry, I’m just… I’m shocked, okay?!”

Ernest halted his escape in front of the door whereupon he stumbled back to the bed again, scared to look at anything but the wooden floor.

He should have walked towards the bed to comfort his coworker, but Tristan couldn’t make himself do it. Instead, he just stayed where he was, trying not to look at Ernest’s face.

“Look, Tristan. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. Shit…”

“So…I… So I guess you like men, right?” was Tristan’s weak attempt at lightening the mood.

“I do”, came the short and broken response.

“Why haven’t you told me before…Man, we’ve been hanging out almost constantly for two months now, you surely could have told me?” He was surprised his words did make some sense at this point.

“I…I’m sorry Tristan. Goodnight.” Before the addressed could say anything, Ernest had left the room, taking the two empty mugs with him.

While his talking had been quite sensible for the short period he’d used it, Tristan’s mind was all over the place and over another place as well. Of course he didn’t care his friend was gay, but at the same time he did. He didn’t know what he díd think, that seemed to be the biggest problem now. Ernest was such a masculine guy, and all the women had eyed him and… Argh, screw the stupid prejudices, he hadn’t ever believed them. Not since…

No! Stop it. Get it together, man. Don’t be such a fool.

At this point it was all getting a bit too much for a ‘nice’ trip. Tristan stumbled, his eyes closed, to the bed and let himself drop forward. Lying there, he could still see the grey cotton shirt, the light blue eyes, the slightly pointed…

Why hadn’t he told him he was gay? He obviously didn’t have a partner, judging by the things that just happened. He realized he really didn’t know anything about Ernest’s past at all. Nor the present, for that matter.

Hell, he didn’t even understand himself. It had all gone really well, with the therapy and all, until two months ago. At that time, someone had caused his pseudo-stability to become wobbly. The ‘someone’ had understood him; the understanding was mutual. But he hadn’t thought about there being even the slightest chance that…

Christ, get yourself together! Take your pills and go to sleep.

And so he did. Apart from the sleeping part. That didn’t seem to work out too well this night. He’d briefly thought about knocking on the door of the room next to his, but he’d discarded the idea immediately. From there it all went downhill quite quickly.

Tristan could feel himself slip into a cycle of negative thoughts, and today he wasn’t able to talk himself out of it like his therapist always suggested. The medication had got rid of his manic episodes, something he was glad for, but the depressive periods couldn’t seem to be controlled. No, he hadn’t had a bad psychosis for a substantial period of time now, but those bloody bad days, weeks, months.

Schizoaffective disorder; a nicer way of saying one’s a complete nutcase, Tristan always told himself. It was easier to deal with when he joked about it.

He had a wife and two children, a nice house, a nice job, realistic ambitions; why would he want to wish for more? Did he wish for more? He didn’t know at this moment. All he wanted was to get home and be safe, protected by Mara and his kids. How pathetic was that, he couldn’t even be there to protect them. Weak, that’s what he was. Stupid and crazy and weak. And unable to think clearly.

It didn’t get much better throughout the night.


It had been really tough to get out of the now untidy double bed that morning. He knew it would seem weird if he didn’t, though, so he pushed himself up from the mattress and stepped onto the cold floor.

Even from this far he could already see his sunken face in the mirror, the bags under his eyes, the general look of someone who hadn’t slept for weeks. Well, it wasn’t completely untrue. Tristan hadn’t slept that well since the arrival of Sara, but it had been manageable. This morning though, with light already pouring through the windows at six, it was a lot harder to handle.

Trying to suppress his tiredness, he put his head under the tap and turned on the cold water.

“Stop lying to yourself.” He thought. There wasn’t any way, however, that he could. The ‘managing’ was necessary to protect his family in the only way he was able to.

If he had been honest, he would have accepted he hadn’t felt that depressed at all when in the presence of… Of him. He’d even felt really happy at times, which was rare; normally Tristan lived in a state of emotional neutrality. The heavyheartedness came when he thought about the consequences his happiness would have. Those were something he couldn’t possibly live with, so he had to choose for the emotionless state.

Like every morning he grabbed one of the little boxes from his toiletry bag. He took out one strip, broke the foil of a single compartment and swallowed the tiny pill with a gulp of water.

It was Saturday, the weather was beautiful and he was in great company. He had no reason to complain, he told himself over and over again, while dragging himself to the breakfast hall, neatly dressed.

His face must have told a different story than his clothes though, he judged by the concerned look Sylvia gave him as he walked towards her. His pale complexion didn’t go unnoticed by the other early risers either.

“Tristan, are you all right?” she asked apprehensively.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” His voice had sounded more monotonous than he’d aimed for.

“Seriously, Tristan, what’s wrong?” Sylvia tried again.

“Look, I’m fine. Can’t you see I’m fine?”

At that moment Ernest walked into the hall. He didn’t seem too different, though the joyfulness in his eyes seemed to be absent. Tristan wasn’t able to hide his anxiety very well; the woman opposite him noticed his eyes trying to move anywhere but the object moving towards their table.

“Tristan…”, she tried for a third time.

“Really, drop it”, Tristan hissed, seconds before Ernest had arrived at their table.

“Good morning you two, can I get you something while I’ll get some breakfast?”

“Nah, thanks.”

“But Tristan, you haven’t…”, Sylvia started, but stopped the moment her colleague shot her an angry look she hadn’t seen before.

“I’d like a cup of coffee, please”, she continued along a different track, “thanks Ernest.”

It was not the ideal start to the day, but the night had pretty much ruined it already.


The next eleven hours had gone by in a haze. Today’s ‘fun’ activities had included a trip to the aquariums, a short hike through the woods and a visit to the beach. The only things Tristan remembered were the leaking tears he’d felt while diving into the salty sea.

The concerned looks from his colleagues had become more frequent as he’d become more absent throughout the day. They all knew about his condition and had been really respectful about the whole situation when he’d told them. The only one who didn’t know was the newcomer. Tristan knew it wasn’t fair, but for some reason the past two months he couldn’t get himself to tell the guy. Every time he tried nonchalantly weaving it into a conversation, he was struck with an overwhelming sense of shame.

He hadn’t eaten all day either, which didn’t really help. Everyone probably thought he had a depressive episode or something. Well, they were wrong. Maybe not entirely, but they didn’t know.

I don’t want to be here. I really want to go to sleep right now. I really, really don’t want to be here right now.

His thoughts had taken a turn for the worst. He didn’t even try to come over as enthusiastic anymore. It was dinnertime, and everyone was seated at one long table. They were waiting for their orders to arrive. Tristan could feel the stares from various directions burn holes in his face and the bit of self-confidence he tried to hold onto. And then it came, the dreaded comment:

“Mulder, are you allright?” Mark asked with a slight frown.


“I don’t mean to pry, but are you having a depressive…”

“Then don’t pry, Mark.”

“I can call your wife if you want. Have you taken your medi—“

“Really, shut it Mark.”

“Tristan, everyone knows right? So you don’t have to—“, Sylvia interfered.

Tristan shot her another one of his angry looks and gestured towards Ernest. Unfortunately, the latter had seen the subtle movement.

“Oh Tristan, you shouldn’t be embarrassed. I didn’t know, but it really doesn’t—“, he started.

“Fuck, just because you can’t get yourself a guy doesn’t mean you have to pity me, you know!” Tristan shouted with uncontrollable anger. He jumped up and started to walk away.

Ernest preceded him, though, quickly excusing himself and leaving the diner with long strides. Before Tristan could reach the doors too, he felt a hand on his shoulder holding him back. He turned around heatedly to face who turned out to be Sylvia, looking at him with a mix of confusedness and disgust.

“What the fuck was that, Tristan?!” she said in a surprisingly non-judgmental tone, considering her choice of words.

“None of your business, now leave me alone”, Tristan mumbled while trying to push her arm away. He didn’t succeed.

“Why the hell did you attack Ernest like that? He’s your friend remember?”

“Sylvia, please let go of me”, he tried again, trying to hold back the tears that were pushing at his eyelids. He could see everyone staring at them now. Their meals had arrived, too.

“For fuck’s sake, Tristan! You know his husband died last year, right?”

Sylvia didn’t get the response she was hoping for. “Right? Tristan, he told you right?” Again, no response. “What kind of friends are you, for heaven’s sake?” she said, sounding more concerned than upset. Letting go of Tristan’s shoulder, she added: “Get yourself together, Tristan. Seriously.”

Get yourself together.


He hadn’t slept that night either. His rumbling stomach had destroyed every possibly successful attempt at falling asleep, so he’d stayed awake all night. Around two he ate the leftover sandwiches he’d packed for lunch on Thursday. He’d absentmindedly made notes onto his sheet music while listening to Pierre Hantai’s interpretation of Scarlatti’s Sonata in A major. It didn’t fill him with the joy like it normally did, though. The rest of the night was filled with thoughts, doubt and tears. He wasn’t able to pull himself together. That scared him to bits.

At half past five Tristan decided he’d had enough of the sultry room. He needed the fresh air and calm the forest on the way to the beach had to offer. He didn’t have to think twice to accept the offer. In a state between consciousness and sleep he got dressed, pulled on a pair of old sneakers and his dark-blue summer jacket, and went outside. No one else was awake yet like he’d expected, so he quietly took the bicycle he’d hired for the four days and silently took off. He knew exactly where he wanted to go.


The annoying thing about the path was the fact that, because of the huge number of turns and hills, you could never be sure what you’d face fifty meters on. It was the exact reason he didn’t notice the figure sitting in the grass until after he’d taken the second turn.

The location was the most beautiful spot on the way to the beach of Hoorn. Behind a wooden fence – not a lot more than two wooden poles supporting a larger beam – the scenery was breathtaking.

You could see the dunes and the heather, as well as a pond that got larger when it had rained. It hadn’t rained last night though, so the only drops visible were the ones that formed the morning dew.

A couple of benches stood on the other side of the road, but the person was leaning against the fence, absorbing the orange-purple glow from the morning sun that was reflected by the water.

Tristan put his bike aside against a tree, before walking towards the view. There was a noticeable absence of sound. Of course it was quiet; it wasn’t even six o’clock in the morning yet. At about two meters distance from where Ernest sat, he stopped and climbed onto the fence. Tristan didn’t speak; he didn’t know what to say or how to say it. Minutes passed before the silence had turned from beautiful to unbearable.

“I’m sorry about last night.”

Ernest remained silent, his hair glistening from the dew that had settled on it. Tristan couldn’t guess how long he had been sitting here.

“Sylvia told me about… She told me. I’m sorry”, he tried again.

Again the silence almost turned unbearable, but this time an answer saved it’s beauty.

“Isn’t it beautiful? Look at it, the light, the water. Listen to the deafening quiet”, Ernest spoke, his voice barely louder than a whisper.

Another minute of silence passed before the man smoothened his wet hair with his hand, and said: “It’s okay. We should talk, though.”

Tristan nodded, relieved the man had started to speak to him. “We should.”

“Come here”, Ernest said, gesturing towards the humid grass. “You aren’t afraid to get wet, are you?” He smiled halfheartedly.

The sky had changed colour, from purple to a lighter kind of blue. Tristan said down on the spot his friend had unsuccessfully tried to dry a bit. It didn’t matter though, the dew moistening his trousers was the last thing he cared about.

“I don’t think I could have understood myself”, Tristan started.

“I don’t have any understanding of the situation, before I understand you”, Ernest interrupted him. “I can’t seem to understand you yet, but I do forgive you. Please let me understand, Tristan.”

He could feel Ernest looking at him. After being forgiven that easily, he could have at least turned his head. Tristan wasn’t able to make himself face the man, though.

“I’m really sorry too, you know, about what happened that night. I really shouldn’t have. I hope I didn’t get you in this state, because—“

“No, it wasn’t that.”

Now Ernest looked relieved by the interruption.

Relieved and strong, and wise, and handsome. No, keep yourself distracted. Breathe in…one…two…three, and breathe out…one…two…three.

“Then what is it? Come on, we’ve talked about a lot these past months, so you can tell me.”

“We didn’t really, though.”

His statement had left his friend confused.

“We didn’t really talk about a lot, I mean. No, I mean…What I mean is—“

“We didn’t talk about personal stuff. I know.”

Oh for heaven’s sake. Just tell him you’ve been tired because of the baby, the long nights, the papers you had to correct.

He couldn’t, he shóuldn’t tell the truth. He couldn’t lie to him either, though. Since that night, the touch of dry lips against his, he had been screwed up. Tristan wanted to feel it again, but he shouldn’t.
“It’s just so unfair.” He’d wanted to say that night. It couldn’t have been more appropriate. Now he had to decide: either the truth or inner disintegration.

Ernest was staring at the scenery in front of them, just like a while ago. The sun had moved up in the sky and had started to warm up the fresh air.

“Two nights ago”, Tristan finally started, not exactly knowing what he was doing.

“I already told you I’m sorry, right?” Ernest interrupted him. “I’m willing to say it over and over again, but you have to know that I shouldn’t have done that. I wasn’t thinking. You have a wife and two children, for god’s sake, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

What about Mara? What about Saar, and what about Daan? He looks up to me as if I were a hero. If he even knew the slightest bit of the truth, his world would collapse. How the fuck can I be so selfish? I shouldn’t have started this. Fuck. Breathe in…one…two…Breathe out…one… Fuck. Breathe in…one…

“Tristan? Are you all right?”

Was he all right? He had no clue. He knew he couldn’t control his breathing at the moment, so he was basically suffocating, which wasn’t really a good thing. So he probably wasn’t thát all right.

“Hey, calm down.” He felt a soft hand stroking his back, and another grabbing the arm that supported a tightly clenched fist. “Try to breathe slowly. Calm down, it’s okay.”

No, it’s not okay.

“No, it’s not okay!”

Really? You weren’t supposed to say that, you idiot.

Tristan tried to free himself from the grip the other man held him in, but his attempts didn’t work. It seemed to make Ernest even more determined to hold on to him.

“Calm down! I really don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Do I have to spell it out for you? Hell, I don’t even know what’s the matter with me anymore!” Tristan yelled, breaking the peaceful silence of the woods, causing a curious blackbird to fly away.

Seeing the harmless creature take flight, he couldn’t take it anymore. Noiseless tears dripped from his cheeks unto the grass that had started to dry.

“Oh no…Shit. Shh…Come here”, Ernest said a bit startled, while putting his arms around his colleague.

Tristan didn’t fight it this time. All he wanted to do was sleep. Either that, or disappearing from this world. Yes, he was a thirty-two-year-old man, but being emotionally broken wasn’t reserved for one kind of people. The feeling of shame was completely overwhelming. Here he was, breaking down in the arms of a relative stranger who’d kissed him.


“I can’t stop thinking about the kiss, that’s the problem…”, Tristan whispered under his breath. Ernest didn’t reply, and for once he was glad about that.

Copyright © 2014 KHCombe; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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You move the story on really well here. Each chapter has real purpose and develops the character interestingly. I'm enjoying reading your story. :)

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On 07/16/2013 07:53 AM, carringtonrj said:
You move the story on really well here. Each chapter has real purpose and develops the character interestingly. I'm enjoying reading your story. :)
I'm really glad you still like it :) It will take a fair amount of chapters for the plot to unfold, so I hope you'll keep enjoying it! And if not, please tell.
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I have to agree whole-heartedly with the other reviewer--the pacing feels perfect. The description of Tristan's panic is very realistic without seeming too dramatic. What is next!?

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On 08/13/2013 10:27 AM, charlieocho said:
I have to agree whole-heartedly with the other reviewer--the pacing feels perfect. The description of Tristan's panic is very realistic without seeming too dramatic. What is next!?
I'm really glad you like the pace. I've constantly doubted it, for it might seem very slow compared to other stories. It's great to hear your reassurance, though, so I'll just continue in this pace. :)
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