“Hi Joe,” James said to his partner over the phone, “I’m unfortunately running late, just leaving the office now.”
“Okay love,” Joe replied, “don’t take too long. We are having your mom over for dinner.”
“Will try my best,” James responded. “Bye, I love you.”
“I love you too,” Joe said ending the conversation.
Joe thought that he had ended another typical conversation with his partner over the phone, but what Joe had yet to discover was that nothing would be typical again.
James had gotten into a car crash on the way home and had to be rushed to the hospital. James’ mother, Mary, had already been at the couple’s home when they got the call about his accident. Joe and Mary had to rush to the hospital as quickly as they could, calling brothers, sisters, friends and parents along the way to let them know what had happened. Everyone was rushing to the hospital in hope that the news that awaited them was nothing horrific.
When Joe and Mary arrived at the hospital they had no idea where to go and were trying their best to remain calm- not letting their minds wander to negative thoughts. The twenty minutes it took for a doctor to find them in the waiting room, had felt like hours. James’ brother Edwin, along with Joe’s sister Ashley, their best friend Matthew and his wife Kimberly were all waiting alongside Joe and Mary when a doctor finally showed up to inform them that James had sustained a head injury. She said that they would be unable to know how extensive the damage was until he regained consciousness.
They eventually got the opportunity to see James and to their surprise they found him awake in the room. Dr Martin had been under the impression that James was unconscious when she informed them about his condition, so she was just as surprised to discover him awake.
She was ready to send them back to the waiting room, so that she could properly make her prognosis but James insisted for a few minutes with his friends and family. They reached a compromise and soon enough, she was ready to inform them about her prognosis.
“James had sustained a head injury and usually these cases have an unpleasant outcome but he was very fortunate. From what I have seen he remembers all the relevant things like who he is, where we are and who’s president. I just have to perform one last memory test then once that’s completed we’ll know where we stand.”
Dr Martin went around pointing to each person and asking James who they were and random additional information about them. It appeared that everything had turned out alright until she had asked James if he knew who the man next to his bed was.
“Do you know who he is?” Dr Martin asked indicating to Joe.
“He’s Joseph,” James replied. Joe couldn’t help but smile broadly at hearing his partner utter his full name since he’d always just called him Joe.
“We met 3 years ago,” James continued.
It was ultimately that sentence which caused everyone in the room to that notice something was off.
“James we’ve known each other for 6 years,” Joe corrected.
Dr Martin sensed that she had made a mistake by not asking James what year it was, and swiftly tried to rectify it immediately.
“James,” she started, “what year is it?”
“2012,” he said.
Joe’s heart broke instantly.
That was the year that everything had changed; James broke off his engagement with Monique, and came out of the closet and had their first kiss in June.
It was that very kiss that led to the start of their relationship.
“Where’s Monique?” he asked, looking around his bed, “I hope this doesn’t delay the wedding.”
As if every word was another nail in the coffin of their relationship, James continued speaking without an inkling that he was deeply hurting someone who loved him with their whole heart.
“But James honey,” his mother Mary started, “you’ve been with Joe for the past three years? Surely you must remember that?”
“What do mean been me and him?” James said.
“Together,” Edwin said, “you are the most in love couple I know. It gets annoying sometimes actually.”
“Stop talking shit, Joseph and I aren’t fucking faggots,” James laughed as everyone else winced at the slur. “It would be like saying Ed here was married. That’s never going to happen...”
“But I am married,” Edwin replied, showing him the wedding band around his hand.
All Joseph could do was stand and watch as the last three years of his relationship had vanished into thin air. The James he had fallen in love with had yet to materialise and making peace with that fact was especially hard for him considering the main reason for tonight’s dinner was so that he could propose. He had already asked Mary for her permission to marry her son and she had given it eagerly saying, “It was long overdue.”
She had been at their place to help him recreate their first date, but that was all pointless now.
“I’m going to get some air,” Joseph choked out, holding back the tears. “Give you all some time to yourself.”
Joseph felt like he could not breathe. The walls were closing in and it all was all overwhelming for him.
He never thought this would happen to him but now that it did, it changed his world. In the course of a day the life he envisioned, the love he had shared- all gone. He did not know what would happen but with all the thoughts banging around his head, he needed to get outside.
When Mary came to check on Joseph, she wasn’t surprised to see the young man leaning against the wall; the moon illuminating his tear soaked face as he clutched onto a small black box in his hands. Joseph never knew that such a small box could weigh so much.
He kept staring at the box; the love it was meant to represent now null and void.
He suddenly felt arms wrap around him, pulling him into a tight hug. He recognised who it was by the smell of her rose scented perfume. He couldn’t help but further break underneath her grasp, involuntarily releasing sobs of pain as he now had to put together a life without the man he loved. Joe loved James with every fibre of his being and James loved Joe just as equally too... or at least had loved him. Their relationship had its challenges but they always got past them. This time Joseph wasn’t so sure they would make it at all...