Sean listened to the echoes of the knocker, forcibly preventing himself from turning away. He would say what he had to say, then go. He was filled with uncertainty. He knew that Will loved him, knew it bone-deep, as an absolute truth. But what if Will loved Emma as much? He had to know.
He knocked again. From within, dimmed by passage through solid Victorian masonry, he could hear the same two songs, being played over and over. Otherwise there was silence. Even the noise of the street traffic was muted. He was filled with a sudden misgiving, with the certainty that something was wrong. Unable to shake off his concern, yet also doubting that it was justified, he knocked again, louder. He noticed a button for a bell, set onto the door jamb. He pressed his finger against it, and left it there. Still no response. Why was the music playing? Just two songs, again and again?
Suddenly doubt hardened into conviction. Something was wrong. He stepped back from the door, and looked up and down the street. There must be an alley at the back. Running, panic in his mind, his heart bumping like a lorry on a country road, he reached the end of the side street, and ran up the main road. The alleyway was where it should be, with wheelie-bins; creepers cascading over the corrugated iron fences, winter jasmine blossoms chrome yellow against Windsor green; the spikes of daffodils and iris next to the fences bright against the cobbles, buds swollen in anticipation of spring.
He stopped, panting, and tried to work out which house was Will’s. He strove to regain his breath, to remember how many houses up from the corner the house was. He thought it was the seventh. He stood for a minute to see if he could hear the music. His heart was still so noisy that it seemed impossible that he would. Then with a shock of recognition, he saw a transparent mobile that hung in the window of Will’s bedroom. Will and Emma’s.The thought was a knife into his heart. For a moment he stopped, leaned against the rough corrugations of the fence, despair and loss making him weak. What on earth was he doing here? Will belonged to Emma. He, Sean MacDonald, didn’t count, any more than he ever had. He was just a nobody. A nothing. Will and Emma would stay together. Will would go on picking up blokes in gay bars. He might even fall in love with one of them. Sean turned round and leant his head against the fence. Flakes of paint prickled his forehead. Give up, he thought. Give up. It’s all over.You can read it here.