I never expected to die like this.
I always imagined I'd drink myself to death like my father before me. But this, this isn't what I pictured. There's too much blood, there's too much blood, it's choking me.
As a child, I was always bathing in my own blood. Coming home from school with bruised knuckles and a split lip, at which my mother would shake her head and smile fondly.
"You're going to get seriously hurt one of these days, young man."
Ever since I met Ernst, I've tried to be careful. And I've been good, keeping up with schoolwork so I could catch Ernst up afterwards. Soon our silent conversations became the only thing keeping me afloat, our fumbling hands telling endless stories.
There wouldn't be any more of that. My hands will grow cold and stiff; Ernst's hands will grow old. Never again will we be able to lie in silence, legs intertwined, dreaming of the distant stars.
Soon I'll be with the stars.
I'll be a distant memory of someone you used to know, someone whose name would come up every so often in passing. Nobody important, nobody that matters.
And now my heartbeat is slowing, I comfort myself knowing I'll never have to see Ernst cry over me. I'll be unconscious to his pained face, to the fury that replaces his tears when he realises what happened.
Hopefully, he'll never figure it out. He's smart, but he always believes the best in everyone, he'd never assume I was murdered.
Though maybe the law won't see it that way, what's the policy on ridding the world of a sodomite? Is that all I'll be to the world when they find my body? I hope not, for Ernst's sake rather than my own.
I wish I'd told him I love him. I've said it, but only out loud, behind his back so he couldn't see my lips moving. I was always too afraid, fear was always my greatest limit.
A shriek, thundering footsteps, a hand on my face. Ernst.
This isn't something I want him to see, this isn't how it should end. I'm meant to be alone, I'm meant to die silently, bitterly regretting every choice I ever made in life. I'm meant to go without struggling.
He signs my name, all shaking fingers and panic-stricken eyes.
I cough, a small trickle of red obscuring my vision, all the same, and I try to smile. He doesn't need to endure my tears as well as my death.
He cups my face with his hands, brow furrowed in fear, still beautiful, despite it all. And I know it's my only chance, my only time to tell him.
My hands lift, shaking with fear, or with pain, I'm not sure anymore. With painstaking effort, I sign it all. How much I love him, how sorry I am for leaving him behind, how I wish we had more time together. He cries then. I wish he'd stop; I didn't mean to make him cry.
Now I'm departing this sorry Earth with nothing but a fractured heart and a mouthful of blood. This is how I was destined to go. I know that now.
But I'd take a million deaths if it meant I could put Ernst to rest. If I could tell him to move on, to find someone else, to stop missing me and live his life.
Out of everything that's ever happened to me, the most painful is my dying thought, I've done what I always promised myself I wouldn't do: I've left him behind.