Up and Away
“Tom! Thomas! where are you?”
Charles tried to push the fear erupting in his stomach down again, but all his instincts told him it had happened at last. He’d been living in fear of it for most of their thirty years together and if he was right, his worst nightmare had just come to pass.
Charles wanted to blame Tom but couldn’t. Tom had been honest with him from the moment they’d met. Initially he’d only alluded to being different, but once they’d settled into a relationship, Tom had told the full story. Charles’ cheeks still burned red with shame when he thought back to how he’d reacted to Tom’s tale.
“You’re joking right? What am I missing? Do you celebrate April Fool’s Day in the middle of July?”
The pain he’d recognised in Tom’s features when he said those words was an image he’d never managed to erase from his memory. Charles had spent the next three decades trying never to hurt Tom like that again and he liked to think he’d succeeded. He’d convinced himself that after all this time the danger had passed, that with Tom being as happy to spend his life with Charles as he was, the danger no longer existed. Love conquers all. Isn’t that what everybody always said? After thirty years together, Charles had come to believe the truth in that cliché. Love had indeed overcome the danger.
Except now Tom was gone. Charles had looked everywhere and hadn’t been able to find a trace of the man he loved. The fact that he hadn’t come across a note either was what really worried him. Of course Tom had been away without Charles before. No matter how much they loved each other, it hadn’t been possible to spend that much time together without ever being in different places. They hadn’t been joined at the hip or anything. But Charles had always known where Tom was and when to expect him back. Now he knew neither.
Charles opened the front door to search outside again while pressing Tom’s name on the screen of his phone with the thumb of his other hand. Before he could raise the phone to his ear he heard Tom’s ringtone. Confused Charles looked around, trying to locate the source of the sound. The grounds surrounding their house were empty. Charles could see for miles and nothing within his range of vision resembled the shape of the man he needed to feel in his arms.
As Charles looked up at the sky, knowing what he would see before he saw it, Tom’s words from all those years ago came back to him.
“It’s a curse, Charles. They say every man dreams of being able to fly. All the first born males in my family can. But when we do, we change. We gain the freedom to go where we want, but we lose our ability to love and belong with the human race.”
The sky above Charles’ head filled with a swarm of birds as they welcomed their long lost brother.
As always more flashes based on the same image can be found in the Monday FlashFics Group on Facebook.