Life is becoming hard. Almost too hard. I can feel myself slipping into depression and know the reason why, yet I'm unable to do anything about it. Sorting out my life means quitting my job, and I can't. I'm in love. Deep, emotional love. Soul-wrenching, heart-breaking love. If I quit I'll never see him again, and if I stay, everyday will be torture. What can I do?

"FUCK!" I slammed my journal shut, and threw the pen hard across the room. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

I seldom swore, but when I did I liked to use 'fuck'. It was so beautifully onomatopoeic, and got rid of my pent-up anger in short shrift. This time it didn't work. Tearing my hair out was an option I'd thought about, but it was too dramatic for me. I liked drama, but I wasn't a drama queen. Besides it would hurt, and pain of any sort I tended to avoid. I jumped to my feet, the chair falling to the floor behind me. Two steps and a jump later I'd kicked a hole in the closet door, and broken the mirror with a clenched fist.


The pain lanced up my arm, and blood, my blood, spattered down my jeans, dripping onto the linoleum as I made it into the bathroom. I sank to the floor, not caring about the mess, endorphins flooding my body, taking away some of the pain. But not the pain I wanted it to, not the pain I needed to lose. For that: only time and distance, or maybe death, would help. I started crying; anguish making the sobs ever more poignant in my addled brain. It was no good. I was no good. What was the point?


I've thought about cutting. I went out and bought a pack of razor blades, but every time I try, I wuss out. I'm a coward, a fucking coward. I can't tell him how I feel; I can't cut him out of me. I love him so much it hurts to think about him. FUCK!

"Sweetheart, time to go to work!" My mother called up the stairs. "Your father's waiting."

"Tell him I'll take my own car, mum," I called back. I was standing naked, looking at my body. It wasn't that bad. I was normally normal, according to the polls I'd taken, and articles I'd read on the Internet. I wasn't hung like a horse, I wasn't stunningly gorgeous, very tall, very short, very anything noteworthy. I was just me. Just me ... in love with a guy who had no idea I existed.

I changed my mind, as I had for the last three days. "Mum, I still don't feel up to going in," I called down in a plaintive voice. "Would you …."

She sighed as she walked upstairs and came into my room. "Your father and I are worried about you, Daniel," she started, her eyes opening in concern as she saw my bandaged hand. I watched her as she glanced around and spotted the broken mirror and the hole in the closet door. She straightened the duvet on my bed and sat down, patting the place beside her. I shook my head and sat down on the easy chair by the bathroom door, dreading the next few minutes.

"Will you tell me what's wrong?" She was kind, she was my mother, but I knew it would end badly once she knew. 'Ostracized' was the word. My life would be over either way.

I shook my head, and she sighed as she tried again, annoyance creeping ever so slightly into her tone. "Your father gave you a job because he thought you were ready for it; ready to handle the responsibility." I nodded dumbly, thinking that if my father knew, he'd keep me a million miles away from the company. My mother looked at my bedside table, and frowned. Leaning over, she picked up my journal. I was just about to leap up and grab it from her when I realized she wasn't opening it -- she was looking at the cover.

"Oh fuck!" I said in a small, thick voice; but she didn't look up, didn't scold. Stupidly I'd titled the book in thick black felt tip, outlined in red, and decorated with hearts: 'The Unrequited Love of Daniel Norfolk!' it said, and it was that she was staring at.

I didn't know what to do or what to say. I'd never come close to the subject with either my mother or my father: in our family talking about relationships simply wasn't the done thing. It was as if time had stopped. Only the ticking of my bedside alarm told me it was still trundling along, uncaring in its omnipotence as to how I might be feeling.

Eventually my mother put the book back, then looked at me, her eyes watery. "Oh, Daniel, why didn't you say … oh, baby, you're in love, that's so sweet! Who is the lucky thing?" Again I shook my head, too glum to give voice to the lies I knew I'd have to tell.

"Daniel, you have to tell me. I'm your mother."

"Yes, mother, you are, which is exactly why I don't want to tell you. I'm nearly twenty-one, and my life, and … my love is mine. Mine, not yours or father's to play with …."

"Play with?" she said with a light laugh, getting up from my bed. "Whoever it is, we'll be delighted." She patted me on the knee, looking once again at my bandaged hand. I frowned as I watch her leave, thinking back over what she'd said, and what she hadn't. I started chewing my bottom lip as I realized she'd been careful to avoid gender specific pronouns.


Perhaps there's hope after all. Not that he'll love me … but that mum and dad might accept me for who I am. Oh God, I wish I knew who I was. God? Typical! He's never around when you want or need him. Bloody deities.

On the 28th I went back to work.

I knew exactly how smart I was. I wasn't. I was the son of the company's founder, and as such I was treated with a respect I knew I didn't deserve.

He was sitting at his workstation when I walked in, and I tried to force my heart to behave. Tried and failed miserably. I smiled at him, and he grinned back. "Hiya, Daniel, I'm glad to see you're back," he said, his eyes crinkling with good nature as he spoke. I glanced over the rest of the room before looking back at Lucas. I was so damn sure they all knew I was head over heels for him, it was eating me up inside: because though I was sure, I didn't actually know.

He'd hit me with a proverbial mallet the first time I'd set eyes on him. I'd been sitting, at my father's behest, as the fourth member of an interview panel. "Learning the ropes" was the way it had been put, but I knew it was because I was family. Then in he'd walked: the star programmer they'd been talking about for weeks, and I'd felt my heart fracture, as it re-arranged itself with Lucas Altman at its core. I'd felt his presence flood through me, though he was sitting on the far side of the boardroom table, and from that moment I knew love: pure, unrequited love. As his eyes met mine it was love, not lust -- though lust was there in copious amounts too -- that made my mouth drop open. I closed it with a snap, but he'd seen, and I don't think I ever recovered.

"Thanks, Lucas," I said and walked on, acknowledging the others' cheerful greetings. I made it to my office, and as I closed the door I made the decision I'd been putting off for nearly two years. I logged on to my terminal and was about to send him an email when I changed my mind, and opened the door instead.

"Lucas!" I called. He popped up from behind his cubicle, the other programmers all turning to see what was going on; but I didn't care. Though the room was full, he was the only one I saw as I captured the way he looked in my mind, his dark blonde hair swept back from his brow in a center parting, his cheeks slightly flushed, his crystal blue eyes seeming puzzled.

"Yes?" he asked, sounding worried.

"Would you mind popping into my office for a couple of minutes?" He looked away, at something I couldn't see, then back at me.

"Right now?" I was beginning to lose my nerve and found my left foot was tapping out a weird samba. I gulped, managing to keep a straight face.

"Please, or soon as," I said, then turned and closed the door, sinking into a visitor's chair in anguish.

I'd just got up and was starting to pack my things in a filing box when there was a soft knock.

"Come in," I said, and he did. He was carrying his jacket and briefcase, and set them down on the visitor's chair before closing the door and walking over to look out of the window. I wanted to touch him, but I couldn't, so I forced myself to sit down, putting the box of personals on the floor, just in case he guessed what I was up to.

"Lucas," I said almost under my breath, savouring the word: his name.

"Hmm?" He turned, and I frowned, seeing his eyes glistening with what seemed to be tears. He sat down on the corner of the desk and sniffed as he looked away, back out of the window. I pulled open the bottom drawer and took out a box of tissues, handing it to him.

"I hope you haven't got what I had," I said, thinking how pathetic it sounded. Then I steeled myself. "Anyway, the reason I asked you in here is tha …."

"I would like to speak first," he interrupted, plucking a tissue from the box, "before … before I lose my …." He petered off and looked at me with a wan smile. "Nerve." I shook my head to clear it. I hadn't been paying any attention, just thinking how he was going to take what I had to say. I watched as his smile vanished. "Oh!" he added, and blew his nose.

"Oh?" I queried, unsure what had just happened.

His smile flickered. "You go ahead, Daniel."

Daniel. My mind latched onto the fact that he'd never called me Dan, or D, or Cub, and I wondered why. It was true that I'd never called him by anything other than Lucas: even when others in the office called him Luke, or Codewalker. Picking at my bottom lip, I cleared my throat, and looked steadfastly at the stapler.

"I'm … I have decided … erm …." I looked up, and into his crystal blue eyes. Except for brushing by him on the stairs, I'd never touched him. I'd never run my fingers through his hair, or felt his lips against mine. Never discussed anything other than work, never quoted him the Rubaiyyat, or seen him weep at a glorious sunset. I forced myself to look away from him, down at the stapler again.

"I'm resigning," I said, and heard him gasp. "But before I go, I have an admission that I have to get off my chest." I was starting to gabble: I knew it, yet the sooner I got to the end and left, the sooner he'd be able to go off and have a breath of fresh air, and a good laugh with his friends. It was going to be awkward, but I was determined to finish, leave and then …. The tears started unbidden. I wiped my sleeve across my eyes and sniffed, covering it with a cough. "I can't … no … I won't leave without telling you that …." Glowering, I picked up the stapler and threw it into the box, then wet my lips and clenched my fists. "I'm sorry, Lucas, this won't be easy for you to hear." I took a deep breath. "Ifellinlovewithyou."

The phone rang, and I leapt in the air. Lucas did too, though I didn't see him, just heard him land on the corner of the desk and wince in pain. I wanted to comfort him; instead I snatched the phone.

"What!" I almost screamed. My father replied, his voice warm, sounding excited.

"Is it true, Daniel?"

"What? Is what true?" I snapped, expecting a curt retort.

"Sorry, I thought you'd finished." He hung up. I stared at the phone, then put it back on its rest and looked up. Lucas was now standing by the window, his back to me.

"My father," I said. The silence stretched on, becoming unbearable. "Did you hear what I said?"

"Mmm hmm … you said 'fell', past tense." I blinked.

"Erm … ye … yes," I stuttered as Lucas turned. His hair was backlit by the sun, which gave him the appearance of having a halo: his face, in deep shadow, inscrutable.

"Is it over, then?"

"Over?" I said, taking a step towards him, not understanding and needing to clarify. "I fell in love with you the very first time I saw you … I'm so in love with you it almost hurts to breathe when you're in the room. I'm gay, Lucas. I'm a fag, a queer," I paused to take a deep breath, the tears freely rolling down my cheeks, all pretense at trying to keep it quiet from the rest of the office long gone, "… and now I've finally worked up the courage to tell you, I'm leaving to let you get on with your life." I shut my eyes. "Now, please … please go."

"I can't." Lucas kept his voice down, but I heard a hitch in his breath.

"Please?" I whimpered, close to losing it entirely.

"When I came to the interview and saw you sitting there, I knew you'd fallen in love with me."

"No!" I said, appalled, opening my eyes. He was staring at me, and our eyes locked. "You couldn't have … you couldn't have." He nodded, and I saw him swallow, his tongue licking his lips as he nodded.

"I did … because I fell in love with you too."


5th Anniversary

Sorry, Journal. Sorry for not keeping you up to date: but seeing as how you were designed to be my epitaph, I thought it best to put you aside for a little while. Now I don't have to bother with thoughts like that, I can be as candid as I like!

Life is fucking great! Lucas is sleeping beside me as I pen this - sorry for the atrocious handwriting btw, but hey, who cares? I'm thinking I'll convert you to a blog.

Lucas and I have never been happier, and my parents - who are downstairs and about to call us for Sunday lunch - are happy, too. They knew I was gay all along. Go figure - and there I was thinking I'd played the straight son so well.

And Lucas and my dad were in cahoots. He'd put on his résumé that he was gay, and he'd spoken to my dad soon after he was hired, telling him he loved me.

Hey ho! Isn't life just one strange ball of oddness? All you need is a little faith and some courage.


Courage by Camy

Huge thanks to Kitty, editor extraordinaire, and my soul sister.
Courage is loosely based around a song I wrote in 2006.
It was written and edited on the 28th August 2007.

Thanks for reading, and especial thanks to those who 'jot a crit' in the forum. Your words make my muse sing, though if you ever catch him at it, I'd advise ear plugs. ;)


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