Melting Point | Chapter 10 of 23 - Part: 1 of 5

Author: Kate Meader | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1081 Views | Add a Review

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chapter seven

GAGE SMILED AT ANNIE, the nurse who always greeted him at Hillview. Usually he checked in with her after each visit, but today she beckoned him over before he made it to the activity room.

“She’s been asking for you. For Gage.”

Gage’s heart kicked a slap shot to his ribs. He’d told the staff his true identity back when he first started visiting, but had asked them not to mention it to Emmaline, saying their relationship had been acrimonious and he didn’t want to upset her.

“Did somebody say something?”

Annie shook her head. “Sometimes they have moments of lucidity, spaces where the smoke clears and the past rushes in to fill the gap. It could be that you being here has triggered something. She might not have made the full connection, but, whatever’s happened, it’s the first time we’ve heard her say your name.”

She cut him a weird look, and only then did he realize that he had backed up, like he wanted to run. Firefighter Gage Simpson, afraid of no one and nothing, was turning yellow.

“My childhood wasn’t a very happy one,” he said by way of explanation. After Emmaline gave up on antigay bath time and other aversion therapy fun because she had run off to join some cult in New Mexico, it had been fine. Or, on the road to fine. It took him awhile to develop coping strategies to block out the taunts of “Gay Simpleton” from the other kids at the home. And then he had been chosen, like one of the three-eyed aliens chanting “the Claaaw!” in Toy Story. Sean and Mary Dempsey had wrapped him in a big Irish hug and assured him every day that he was worth something no matter that his dick pointed in the direction of boys.

“With this condition,” Annie said, clearly sensing his hesitation in facing this head-on, “deterioration could happen very quickly, and you might run out of chances to reconcile.”

Wasn’t this what he had been waiting for? An opportunity to get closure and put that painful chapter of his life to rest?

“She in the usual spot?”

Annie smiled her confirmation, squeezed his arm, and went about her business.

Not quite ready to deal, he stepped outside the main entrance and battled to control the maelstrom of emotions swirling through him.

His mother was dying.

The caseworker he’d met before the first visit had explained that anything could take her at any time—pneumonia, a heart attack, just her broken body catching up to her poor choices. Gage had placed that in a box for examination later, and now he needed to open it up and comb through the contents, especially if her memories were returning.

What if she started screaming when she saw him? Or chanted Bible verses and called him a dirty little Sodomite? Worse, what if he lost his shit and screamed right back? But she had asked for him. If she still carried all this hate inside her, would she have done that?

The September air was still warm, but his body’s temperature was cooling, his skin turning clammy. In his chest that all too familiar tightness was gaining a foothold.

A panic attack.

He should have outgrown this. As a kid, certain things triggered the shortness of breath and darkness closing in on the edges of his vision. The smell of swimming pools. Or, leather-bound books with thin, silky pages. When he went to live with the Dempseys, Sean would recognize the signs immediately: Gage’s breathing would pick up and he would fall uncharacteristically quiet. His foster father’s strong arm around Gage’s scrawny ten-year-old shoulders, and rough-yet-soft Chicago accent soothing in his ear, would yank him off the ledge.

But Sean had been gone for over eight years now, having saved three lives in a high-rise fire. After he had saved Gage’s own so many times.

He extracted his phone with a shaky hand. If he called Alex or Luke to get that anchor he needed, they’d immediately know something was up. He’d have to listen to their censure about this choice he was making, this world of hurt he was choosing to bring upon himself. Beck or Wy would be better, but the result would be the same. They’d hear him out and then say, “You know I gotta tell the others,” because the Dempsey code had always been one for all, all in yo bizness.

But even before he’d pulled out the phone, he knew whom he wanted to talk to. The only person who wouldn’t judge him for not being 100 percent on.

He scrolled and hit call before he lost his nerve.

“Yeah?”

That gruff voice rocketed through his bloodstream like jet fuel.

“Just checking in on the patient,” Gage said, working to speak more slowly than usual. His voice sounded like it was coming from a spot two feet to his right. Clink-sizzle-clank. The noise in the background on the other end of the line drew his focus to something not related to whether his mom might have suddenly remembered the gay son she despised.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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