Dancing With The Daffodils
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance.
Val, an English teacher, takes an exchange position in Australia to recover from the death of his lover. He stages Romeo and Juliet at his school, and becomes close friends with Anna, the head teacher. Oliver (who plays Romeo) falls in love with Val, and although the feeling is mutual, because of his position Val cannot allow the relationship to develop.
Val struggles with his feelings, unable to come to terms with Oliver’s youthful seductive ways, and unable to reconcile his heartache over David’s death with his developing affection for Oliver, which he must reject both internally and externally. And at the same time he must make a life for himself in a country far from his friends and the world he knows. How do you decide between love and duty?
The frost sparkled on the pavements and the piled snow on the bare branches mocked me with its whiteness. My breath smoked out its pain as I waited for Sean. A bitter wind whipped up as I stood there, and it began to snow again. The morning was freezing. I was freezing, and the warm coat, scarf and gloves couldn’t penetrate the chill of agony that ate out my insides. I pulled the coat around me, shivering, and wondered whether I would ever be warm again. I turned and stared at the house for a last time, then bent and picked one of the early daffodils, briefly immobilised by the pain of memory as his laughter echoed across the frosty lawn.
“We’ll have daffodils next spring!”
And I had helped him up after the bulbs were safely in, and complained that he stank of fertilizer. I twirled the daffodil between my fingers and I refused to allow the tears to fall.
Sean was uncharacteristically quiet as he helped load the suitcases into the boot and we hardly spoke as he drove me to Manchester airport, but that was his way of showing me that he understood, his way of allowing me to wallow in my despair. I glanced up and peered into the snow as he pulled the car over to the side of the road. The flurries whirled outside the windows, and I strained to see where we were in this neverending world of whiteness. When I finally realised, the ice immobilised me, froze me to my seat.
"We’ve got time before the plane leaves," he whispered.
But I couldn’t. I knew I ought to do this - that somehow this small detour along the journey was expected of me, was something that I should do. But I couldn’t even bring myself to leave the car. And it didn’t matter that Sean thought I didn’t care, because there was no way anybody could think that, and if they did, they had no right to think it. I did care. I felt the hot prickles of care welling up behind my eyes. But I couldn’t move. It would have been too final, and however much I needed to leave - and they all said I should - I couldn’t actually say goodbye.
So we drove on from the cemetery without a last visit to his grave, and it didn’t tear my heart out because at that point, I remember thinking, I didn’t really have a heart to be torn. Just ice within my chest cavity - ice, which would melt into emptiness in the meaningless sunshine of where I was going - Australia.
“You will email me.”
Sean’s soft words, whispered close to my ear, were heavy with tears. I held on tightly. He had loved David too, had loved us both, and he had given me nothing but unwavering support. Even when he could have hurt me with the truth of my actions he hadn’t. He had recognised that the pain I was giving myself was enough, that it didn’t take his stating the obvious for me to know what I had done wrong. And I loved him for that. I held on, my nose buried in the wool of his coat, unable to let go.
“Of course I will.”
“I need to know how you really are. Not what you think I want to hear.”
I nodded. I couldn’t say any more. The words were stuck there somewhere in a lump, and wouldn’t come out. He understood, as he always did.
“Come on, lad. Let’s get you on this plane.”