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Free online fiction by Alex Draven

There's a picnic table in the park where he escapes to. One of those old fashioned one-piece units : two benches and a table in the middle. It's weathered, the wood grain open and cracked and the bolts deep-set and darkly matt with erosion. It's one of the places he goes to sit when he needs to think. When he's walked off enough of his anger to be able to think but he knows that if he goes back now the argument will just flare up again.

He hates arguing with Petir. He hates the angry words and barely contained violence. Loathes the sick sense of inevitability that trickles right from careless words through to knuckles bruised on plaster and doors slammed open before anything worse happens. Hates the arguments and despises the part of himself that wants to fold and beg and sob like a child. And if he's honest with himself, which he can be, boxed in here in an old wooden bench, digging his finger nails into spongy wood, this time he was arguing more with his own ghosts than with his lover. Most of the time he is. It's depressing to realise just how often.

The park's blessedly empty, the children back in school and the days getting colder. The wind gusts and plucks at the last leaves left on the beaches and shivers the surrounding bank of evergreens. Nothing to focus on but his hands and his demons and the memories of words spoken in anger that can never, ever, be taken back.

He doesn't think he's at all clever, but he always knows as soon as the words leave his mouth when he's got something spot on. When he's said exactly the right thing to rile Petir, to shred the last of his patience, and to make quite sure that Petir's not thinking about anything elsefor a minute save him. He knows when Petir bellows something true too, something his lover is going to feel guilty for giving shape to.

Maybe he is always going to be that six year old craning to see over the back of the sofa, desperate for his step father to turn round and ask him to join the rough housing. Maybe. But maybe Petir won't stay. He's never quite sure why Petir does. Or maybe this is the time that they can get past this. The time when he'll come back home and Petir will be there and there won't be beer bottles in the bin and they actually talk, instead of him waiting anxiously to apologise and Peter forcing him silent with kisses and turning soured anger into lust.

** end **

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