I’m sitting in a dingy bedroom, holding the hand of my wife’s lover.

‘You’re the best thing ever happened to her,’ he says through shallow breaths.

‘Except you,’ I say.

‘The best, Allyn….’ He spits in a paper cup. ‘…not most important.’ An attempted laugh convulses him.

‘She told me you were a conceited bugger,’ I say.

He tries to laugh again. His grip loosens. ‘Where is she?’

‘On her way,’ I say.

‘No hospital.’

‘We’ll see.’

Gabriella never hid her love for him. They’d lived together for eight years, bouncing off each other’s volatility, until she started forgetting who she was. So she left him, but never entirely.

I loved Gabe for her passion and her openness. When Edgar told her he had only months left I knew she’d go to him.

She asked me to join her as the care he required intensified.

Even skeleton thin and drugged to his eyeballs I couldn’t help warming to Edgar’s crazy, restless spirit.

‘You need anything?’ I say


‘She’s coming.’ I lift his head and put a water glass to his lips.

He makes a gesture like he’s smoking.

I light him a cigarette.

He takes one weak puff then waves it away. Taking my hand he kisses my fingers.

Then it’s finished.

And the front door opens.


2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (