Thirty-two steps up to his apartment. Turning the key in the lock twice. Calming shaking hands and racing thoughts. Connor enters his sanctuary and pulls his boots off his feet. He puts them where they belong, in their spot by the door. Connor begins touching each finger on his hand with his thumb. Forward and backward. Forward and backward again. Until he feels that he calmed down enough to function again. Yes, that helped. Oh, the embarrassment of having been hit by a ball in the face in public, and falling off a bench like some lunatic who can’t sit upright on his own. The humiliation of seeing Thomas again in this situation. Connor often fantasizes about seeing his ex-lover again. But never in his wildest fantasies has he thought that he would look this weak. In his imagination, he faced Thomas as a made man. In a fancy suit and with his act together. And it is still Connor’s determination to become rich and famous, but he is not there yet. Thomas on the other hand – he looked just as handsome (and evil) as he has always looked. As if the events of the past have not left any dents on his soul and scratches in his mind. The world is a weird place to exist. There is a painting on Connor’s wall. Birds in the sky. Light as a feather, heavy as a cloud. These explosions of emotions leave him drained of energy. And he left his book behind. There is no way to distract himself. There is no way to stop repeating the events in his head. And he can’t start to read a new book. He hasn’t finished the other one. Connor’s face is throbbing and swelling on one side. He wishes that he could cry. But he can’t. There are no tears left in him. They were all cried for someone else. No more tears for himself.