A man with everything but a peaceful soul falls into poor health and strikes up an unlikely relationship with a person he now depends on for everything. What starts as a professional arrangement, including assisting with his independent living and medication, soon develops into something more soul-searching as the ravages of his past must be laid to rest before he can be.

We walked on to our usual dirt road silently as the icy air and fierce winds took our breath away. There was a sinister beauty in knowing at this hour, the building behind you was full of both life and death. Some people breathed their last gasp whilst some were taking their first. It almost seemed surreal for one structure to contain such juxtapositions. And here I was on the silent back road where the stars still hung bright in the sky, away from it all, until my feet touched the hospital edifice. When we finally stopped, I reached into my woollen coat pocket and retrieved my cigarettes and lighter. Offering one to Sally, but she kindly refused and retrieved her pre-hand-rolled ones. I felt that first warm breath enter my lungs and bloodstream, soothing the tension in both body and mind. Upon exhalation, we both were able to converse again.

I couldn’t shake the memory of that touch; it was painfully beautiful. I felt something almost electric as our fingers touched. Almost as if I had desired to be that close to him all this time. Despite the speed of my withdrawal, I knew deep down inside that I wanted it to continue. I wasn’t sure, though, where I wanted it to lead. Despite the ravages of cancer, he still looked achingly beautiful, and for all his tantrums and poor behaviour, I wanted him to pull me closer to him. And then what? What did I want? The touch of a nurse is not the same as a friend or family; he had called me a friend once, and it had felt like like a great honour. It could be argued that he had paid for my friendship. I preferred to see it as he had paid for my emancipation. Once you free a man from their chains, they develop a deep bond beyond paper and coin.

Was he just elated by the warm human touch of a friend? Or did he feel the same as I did? Now that I had been given time to mull it over, I wished I had not shunned his second attempt. I hoped he would not feel hurt by this. I would hate it if he had planned to embrace me and now thought he couldn’t, that his touch revolted me, that I felt I would catch death from him. I was not surprised at his sensitivity; no one could write music like his unless they thought even the slightest rebuff was a character assassination.

Kiss Goodbye (Abridged)

“Come closer. I should like YOU to kiss me this time.” I leaned in closer. I was more aware that I could smell the cancer upon him, death was his fragrance now, but this did not matter to me. I watched as he slowly, softly closed his eyes. His sparse eyelashes could not touch his sunken gaunt face, not even grace the grey rings beneath, but to me, he was still beautiful—he was the powerhouse artist he had always been to me. I held his stubbled cheeks in my hands and softly kissed his dry, cracked lips. He pulled me closer to his weak body, and I felt his tongue press against the seam of my lips, begging for permission before searching, entwined with my tongue. His frail arms embraced me and cupped the back of my head closer. I felt my world fall away in his arms, and I wanted this moment never to end as we rhythmically kissed in primal desire. I wanted his soul to take me with him if he had to leave me.

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