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It was the end of March before the publicity train finally slowed enough to let them off. After the success of the first part of the trilogy, the second part had had a disappointing result in terms of recognition and awards, and all focus now turned toward the final chapter.
A constant supply of scripts kept arriving for Orlando’s consideration, usually returned within a day or two and showing no signs of having been read beyond the first scene. He did his own canvassing independent of his agent, chasing up leads on projects that hinted at the possibility of rising above the mediocre. It was just his luck that there were currently far more interesting roles being written for women than there were for men. Consequently, he found himself competing with a larger pool of cohorts for a dwindling range of choice parts and, at the next level, being elbowed aside in the same competition for interim theatre work.
A blind item eventually appeared in a column in one of the trade papers, hinting that 'a rising star is being brought to heel for daring to overestimate his own talent’, and ending with a warning that ‘beggars can’t be choosers, Flower’. The result was a sudden paranoid scramble within the population of young male actors to get their signature on anything available. Orlando succumbed and signed for two.
In mid-April, he booked a flight to Auckland. He told no one, giving Craig no hint or warning of his plans during their last phone-call. Somehow it seemed less likely those plans could be ruined if no one knew of them.
From the airport, he called his agent, informing her that he’d be unavailable for about two weeks and would return in time for fittings. He hung up before the lecture started.
He had purposely chosen a flight that landed in Auckland at some un-Godly hour of the night. Upon arrival, he exchanged the contents of his wallet for Kiwi dollars and then promptly made a sizeable contribution to the local economy – the cab driver who drove him up to the city was a Maori, and Orlando happily parted with twice the fare simply for the pleasure of his company.
‘I love this place, love the people…’
He let himself into Craig’s apartment as quietly as possible, locking the door behind him again. There was light coming from the direction of the main bedroom. He left his bags near the front door, tip-toed across the living room and down the hallway toward the light. He peered around the door-jamb.
Craig had apparently fallen asleep while reading his lines for tomorrow. The bedside lamp was still on, and what looked to be a photocopied script, lay on the bed.
Orlando debated over whether to scare the living daylights out of him by launching himself in a flying leap and landing on the bed beside him, or whether to be a little more gentle about it, to simply slip into bed without waking him, and surprise him in a couple of hours’ time. The digital clock beside the lamp was showing twenty past three.
“I’m up at five, in make-up by seven, swilling coffee and brushing up on lines until eight then working through until six or seven at night, five days a week,” Craig had said a few conversations ago.
Orlando very carefully dispatched the script to the nightstand and turned off the lamp. He undressed and eased himself into bed. Craig didn’t stir, and Orlando lay awake for a long time, listening to the quiet, steady breathing of the man beside him. He wasn’t sure what time zone his inner clock was running on but sleep was a long way off and Craig was frustratingly close.
He kept his distance until the digital clock showed quarter to five. He moved toward Craig, now facing away from him. He molded himself against the warm back and whispered, "Mae govannen, Haldir o Lórien.”
Craig stirred slightly. Orlando repeated, “Mae govannen, Haldir o Lórien. Do you know you’re the hottest, sexiest elf in Middle Earth and as soon you pointed your arrow at me, I just knew I had to have you?”
Craig woke abruptly, reached out and groped for the lamp-switch, squinting his eyes shut against the shock of light. He rolled over, raised himself up on his elbow and stared down at Orlando in disbelief, blinking several times until his pupils adjusted.
“When did you get in?”
“A few hours ago.” Orlando was grinning in delight, loving to be the deliverer of surprises.
“But why didn’t you let me know? Why didn’t you wake me?”
“One, because then you’d have raced around trying to reschedule stuff and I didn’t want you doing that. And two, you looked tired.”
Craig sighed and lay down again. “Come here.”
He gathered Orlando against him and pressed a kiss against the lush mouth. “I love you. It’s incredibly good having you back.”
Orlando eyed him hopefully. “Mmm, got time for a quickie?”
“Give me another minute to wake up properly and I’ll make time.”
He was already easing away, reaching into the top drawer of the nightstand and retrieving a tube of lube. He opened it and squeezed some of the gel onto his fingers, at the same time looking down at Orlando lying there, limbs now splayed wantonly. His weight seemed to have stabilized at a healthier level, the lines of his body more curved and fleshed out now.
“You look wonderful,” he murmured, working his fingers skillfully.
“So hurry up and make me feel wonderful too.” Orlando writhed against him. “We’ll do it politely tonight. Right now I just want it really good, hard and fast.”
Craig asked casually, “Do I need to use anything else?”
“Why, what’s changed since last time?”
“Nothing as far as I’m concerned.”
Orlando sighed, mildly irritated. “Stop bullshitting about, love. The only sex I’ve had since Wellington is the occasional wank to Bryan Adams. And I was thinking of you the whole time. Happy?”
“Which one do you think? Oh God, don’t answer, just get on with it.”
“Impatient tart.” Craig growled. He pushed into Orlando’s body, impaling himself in a single movement and thinking that if it hurt, it served the little bugger right. He withdrew again just a little, then filled him again, hard, and heard a satisfactory yelp in response.
Orlando gurgled with laughter. “No!” And then the laughter died away and he locked his limbs around Craig, urging him, “Please? You can tease me tonight if you like but right now, I really want this, really need it.”
Craig kissed him, whispered “Okay,” against his lips and began to drive into him in deep, rhythmic thrusts. Orlando slid his hand between their bodies, seizing and stroking his erection, all the time watching Craig through half-lidded eyes. He murmured, “Tell me when,” received a single nod, both understanding without saying that it would be over very quickly.
Craig closed his eyes, concentrated on savoring each minutiae of sensation, the heat and tightness of Orlando’s body, the contrasting textures against his own flesh – his skin and hair – like silk – the responsive movements and sounds to which he was finding himself so much more attuned each time they made love.
Soon enough, he heard Orlando’s breathing start to quicken, coming now in rapid half-moans-half-sighs from low in his throat. He could feel the slight, damp film of sweat forming on Orlando’s skin and knew without having to see, that the dark eyes would be darker still, and would soon lose the ability to focus, and that Orlando would close them or simply gaze toward some distant unseen place.
It came as no surprise when Orlando almost whimpered, “Craig, love, I can’t – I’m not going to last,” all lusty bravado gone, to be replaced by that sweet state of undeniable need.
I think this is when I love you most – Craig thrust into him hard a final time, felt the pulsing flood of his own release and Orlando clenching around him with his entire body, almost weeping his name – when need and gift are perfectly met.
They held one another tightly, prolonging the moment of absolute oneness until Orlando gradually unwound himself and his limbs splayed again, heavy with satiation. He gave a slow feline smile and a purred, “Mmm…” as Craig rolled onto his side and gathered him close again, cuddling him and nuzzling his face against Orlando’s. “And is Bloom happy now?”
“Very happy now. Thank you.” Orlando poked a finger into Craig’s ribs. “Don’t be late for work.”
“I’ll make it up to you tonight. Promise.” He kissed Craig a last time before giving him a gentle shove away. “Go on, get moving. I’m close to falling asleep now anyway.”
“How long can you stay?”
“I’ve got costume fittings for the next load of rubbish in eleven days time so I’m staying for ten. I’ll learn my lines while you’re at work.”
“Ten days,” Craig repeated, his smile somewhat unsteady, “I can’t believe it! You know, I don’t realize how much I miss you until you’re back again. It’s like – I don’t know – like I’ve had to bury all thought of you just to make your being away more bearable. And when you come back, it all feels incredibly new and exciting again.”
‘Craig doesn’t handle distant relationships very well… he withdraws into himself, goes into denial that there’s anything there…’
Orlando watched him as he rose from the bed, recalling Rebecca’s warning. A faint breath of unease suddenly began to gnaw at him, now that he’d heard Craig himself admit how effectively a strategy of denial worked for him.
He thought, as Craig headed for the bathroom, “Just don’t bury me away too deeply or for too long. It might work too well.”
He rolled over onto his stomach, burying his face in Craig’s pillow, and he dozed lightly, lulled by the sound of the shower running. He was almost asleep when Craig peered into the bedroom a last time before he started out for the studio.
He watched Craig approach the bed through one heavy-lidded eye, and smiled sleepily as he felt his hair eased aside and a kiss pressed against the nape of his neck.
“You off now?”
“Yeah. See you tonight.”
As Craig began to draw away, Orlando murmured, “Wait. That won’t last me all day.”
He rolled over onto his back and locked his arms around Craig’s neck. He pulled him back down and kissed him, whispering, “Mmm… Love you. Can’t wait.”
“Me either. Go back to sleep.”
It took a real conscious effort for Craig to break away from that kiss, and to distance himself again. The temptation to climb back into bed with Orlando, to wrap himself around him and hold him as he slept was suddenly overwhelming.
He left the apartment before he succumbed to it.
It was an incredibly relaxed, happy week-and-a-bit, despite the fact that Craig’s work commitments kept them apart for the bulk of it.
It had occurred to Orlando that he didn’t have any clothes or other possessions either here in Auckland or down at Raglan, nothing of his own sharing a drawer or wardrobe space with any of Craig’s belongings. He thought it was time he established some kind of indication of impending residency, in spirit if not in actuality.
Dressed in anonymous clothes, with his hair scraped back in a single uncomplicated ponytail and eyes shielded by a pair of sunglasses, he had spent a couple of days wandering around the city shopping for an assortment of things he had every intention of leaving behind.
On his first outing, he bought jeans, tees and sweaters, some Nikes and a jacket, paying with cash he’d withdrawn from an ATM rather than handing over his credit card and making his presence known.
On the second occasion, he browsed the shops at a more leisurely pace and bought some books and CDs. That same day, he had stopped by a deli on the way home and bought fresh pasta, a jar of sauce – Craig’s favorite, Pomodoro e Basilico – a small wedge of Parmesan cheese and garlic breadsticks.
Craig had commented over dinner that it was nice coming home to someone again. There were some benefits, he had admitted, in returning to the peace and quiet of an empty apartment after a long day on a noisy set. But there were undoubtable pleasures too, in opening the door and catching the waft of a meal in preparation, and in knowing that someone there was interested in how his day had gone.
They decided against spending the weekend down at Raglan. There seemed no point in opening up the house for what would essentially be an overnight stay. They hibernated in the apartment on the Saturday, spending most of the day in bed, making love, drowsing, reading or simply talking quietly.
On Sunday, they wandered around the city, window shopping and browsing through the street markets, which Orlando adored. When they returned to the apartment in the late afternoon, his backpack was stuffed with assorted bits of paua, greenstone and carved-wood knick-knacks, some second-hand books, and a hand-knitted woolen jumper in a rich shade of chocolate. His favorite acquisition was an inch-thick sheet of Kahikatea pine, roughly ten by eighteen inches in size, sanded and polished smooth. A single word had been burned into it.
“I like it when people give their houses names,” he’d said to Craig as they stopped in front of the display at the Victoria Park Market. There were several dozen similar-sized sheets of the wood, each individually ‘named’.
“It’s how the words look more than anything,” the woman stallholder had laughed when Orlando asked her to explain some of the names, “Half of them are pure gibberish and have nothing to do with houses, but they look and sound nice.”
Orlando had pointed to the word with the intricately shaped capital ‘T’. “What does that one mean?”
“Toujours. It’s French and means ‘always’. Nice, isn’t it?”
“It’s lovely. How much?”
“She saw you coming,” Craig had teased him as they wandered away again, the sheet of wood wrapped in brown paper and tucked under his arm, “You’re a magpie, Orlando. A collector of junk.”
“I’ll remind you of that every chance I get.” Orlando had grinned back.
“Where are you going to hang it?” Craig asked as he started preparing a meal. Orlando was sitting in the middle of the living-room floor with his new possessions spread out in front of him.
“I bought it for the beach-house. It needs a name.” Orlando picked up a small greenstone tiki attached to a length of leather thong and examined it happily. “Makes it feel more like a home. You’re so bloody unsentimental.”
“That’s bordering on flakiness, Bloom.”
Orlando left for LA two days later, more relaxed and happy than Craig had ever seen him. It made him breathe easier, and worry less.
“Let me know when you’re coming over next time,” Craig told him, “So I can make more time for us.”
Orlando did another movie, six weeks of work starting in early May in which he was a 'Young Robin Hood' for Disney, recalling his archery skills and making eyes at an even younger Maid Marion. He recognized it for what it was, something for the teen market that capitalized on his popular appeal, and to help springboard the career of a vacuous eighteen-year-old starlet.
Worryingly, it was the pick of the offers coming his way lately. There were no good, meaty roles, no dramas, nothing to stretch the talents he knew he possessed, but of which he seemed incapable of convincing others. With each professional compromise, he realized how much his acting currency was being devalued but, as it was constantly pounded into his head, the important thing was to be seen and to keep working while waiting for the better roles to come.
He subsidized the acting income with paychecks from modeling and fan-magazine shoots. If there was no interest in what he could do, there was no lack of it in how he looked. He was currently the Number One poster-boy, and his face on the cover of a fan magazine, or an Orlando Bloom article or photo spread within, virtually guaranteed top sales.
The first severe depression hit him toward the end of June, and for a week he was unable even to go to bed, believing that if he fell asleep he wouldn’t ever wake up. He spent a week huddled in an armchair in front of a silent, flickering television, occasionally nodding off, only to jerk awake in terror convinced he was dying. He moved only to use the toilet and to look in the bathroom mirror to see if he was still there.
Afterwards, when the oppressive darkness lifted as suddenly as it had enveloped him, he could barely remember anything of it other than it had been like a particularly nasty panic attack, only a bit longer than usual.
He sought out Elijah and stayed for a couple days in the studio apartment adjoining the Wood’s house, unable to give an explanation for hollowed cheeks, frightened eyes and a generally unkempt appearance. He slept mostly, with the light on and the bedroom door open.
‘I don’t want to be alone…’
After that particular episode, Elijah had started calling him again every few days, just to ask how he was and to find out what he was doing. Elijah was rather vague and out of sorts himself, Orlando suspected, and it also sounded as though he was checking up on him again which, when Orlando thought about it, was sweet.
About a month later, Elijah appeared unannounced one day, standing there at the door of Orlando’s apartment surrounded by bags and boxes. He wore a slightly sheepish smile on his face.
“I had a fight with my Mom. Can I stay a while? Please?”
“Sure, as long as you don’t smell and you keep the noise level down.”
“That’s what the fight was about.”
“Oh God no, not the smell!”
“No, the noise.”
“Just as bad.”
“No, she worried that I wasn’t making any. She said I was too quiet so there must be something wrong with me, and man, she just won’t let up. She treats me like a fucking twelve year old. I just needed some space.”
Orlando helped set him up in the spare room.
“So what’s wrong, Lij?” he asked as they made up the bed.
Elijah groaned, “Oh man, don’t you start!”
“Okay, forget I said anything. I’ve just never known you not to be noisy. You’ve always been a hyperactive little shit.”
“Yeah, well I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Okay. Want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know, Orli -- maybe not yet. I just want to think first, just work out a few things. You’d probably understand better than anyone where I’m coming from so when I figure out how to put it into words, I’ll let you know.”
“Sure, in your own time.”
Orlando looked doubtfully at the bed. “I can’t vouch for how comfortable it is. It came with the place. All the furniture and stuff did.”
“It’s okay. I’m only going to be sleeping in it. Hey, um – “ Elijah hesitated. “I’m not going to get in your way or anything. You know, three’s a crowd?”
“You don’t see anyone else here, do you?”
“No, but – you know – if you want to bring anyone back, just let me know and I’ll – “
“That’s not going to happen. There’s no one else. Not here anyway.”
“So you and Craig -- you're really together then? I mean really for real?”
“Not enough but basically, yeah -- we’re for real. So now you’ll be able to let him know first-hand that I’m okay. No more phone calls to talk about the weather while you’re trying to work out how to ask me if I’m eating properly and getting enough sleep.”
Elijah’s eyes became impossibly wider, “How the fuck did you – “
Orlando smirked, “You just told me. I thought he might've put you up to it.”
“Sorry. He was just worried about you -- and I guess I was too because you kinda hide away here and don’t go out any more. I think I understand why now. I feel like doing the same. Listen, if I start crowding you, just tell me to go get my own place. I won’t mind.”
They went through to the kitchen, made some tea and perused the contents of the fridge and cupboards for something to eat.
“You don’t hang out much anymore, Orli, so what do you do with yourself?” Elijah asked as they assembled something that partly resembled pizza but was more like foccacia. “I’ll go down to the market later. I don’t think I could handle eating like a lactose intolerant vegetarian for too long.”
“I don’t do much of anything. What about you?”
“I was thinking of going back to school or just taking some classes at community college.”
“Yeah?” Orlando stopped what he was doing and regarded Elijah with interest, “What sort?”
“Probably something like accounting first, then maybe management, marketing, that sort of thing. I’ve got all this fucking money, Orli – investments and stuff – that I just don’t have a clue about. It’s all just sitting there and someone else is controlling it. You hear of some parents robbing their star-kids blind, you know, spending all their earnings, but Mom was really good and let an expert take care of it all. Now I wanna take a bit of control. I don’t wanna have other people doing everything for me. I’m really sick of it. I don’t really control anything in my life.”
“Why don’t you just hire an accountant to teach you what there is to know?”
Elijah grinned, “Then I wouldn’t get to go to class, would I?”
Orlando shrugged. “I hated school. I’m not smart enough to get anything out of it. I’m more artistic. I’d prefer someone else looked after the business end.”
“I wanna take some control, Orli. I’ve just got to.”
As they ate, Elijah gradually started downloading what seemed like years of anxieties.
“I just figure it’s time for a re-think, you know, a re-evaluation. This is all coming full-circle -- it’s almost over. Acting's not fun anymore. It’s not a game, not that it ever really was, but now it just feels like really hard work, and all the people and the publicity, the control it has over who I am -- It just feels like part of me – an important part of me, Orli – is being swamped or smothered or just ignored. I want to stop and maybe just backtrack a bit.”
Orlando listened without interrupting, knowing himself the value of just being able to talk to someone who gave a damn. And he realized there was something about listening to someone else’s hassles that could add a bit of perspective to your own.
“Orli, I never really had a childhood, you know? That’s what it feels like. I didn’t do the things normal kids do – school and college, hanging out and goofing off, experimenting and getting into trouble. I don’t even have a proper peer-group. I don’t have people I can compare myself with and say, ‘I’m okay’ or ‘I’m not okay.’ It feels like I’m in some sort of weird vacuum.”
Orlando frowned. “Who were your friends then, Lij?”
“I didn’t have any, not once we moved here. I worked on-set, I did school on-set, and then I went home. I was home-schooled when I wasn’t working, and the rest of the time, I was never allowed to go out by myself because Mom was worried about freaks trying to kidnap me or something. I was so fucking lonely, Orli, but I got used it, got used to having to make-do with just my own company and never having to worry about making decisions because everything was done for me. Now it’s – “
Elijah started pacing restlessly and Orlando thought he looked perilously close to tears.
“It’s like you and the instant fame shit. One day you’re nobody then almost over-night, everyone’s saying you’re the sexiest bastard who ever lived. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of you, and there’s no escape from it and you just can’t stop it. It kind of threw you, right? Made you ask if this is what you want because it’s just so fucking insane compared to what you’ve always been used to and – and even though you know the before thing wasn’t perfect, it was a whole lot easier than what it’s like now. And somewhere in between before and now, there has to be some perfect state – some place easier to be than here – and I have to go back and try to find it, Orli because I don’t want to be here forever. I keep asking myself all the time lately, the same thing -- if this is what I really want, and if this is who I really wanna be, and I keep coming up with the same fucking answer. No, it’s not!”
He sighed and seemed to deflate and Orlando thought he looked really tired and was probably feeling something that was way beyond unhappy.
“I know what it’s like, Lij…”, Orlando silently commented in his own head.
“Man, you’re so blessed to have Craig,” Elijah said after a long silence, “Someone who wants you any way you are, up or down, good or bad. You can choose to throw it all away, this fame shit, and be a nobody, and he’ll still be there. I don’t know if anyone would give a shit about me if I wasn’t Elijah fucking Wood!”
“I would, Lij.” Orlando said quietly, “We all would.”
"Well I guess I'll find out then, won't I? I'm just gonna try to be sort of normal for a while. I’ll take classes and goof off, maybe spend some time writing. I don’t think I want the fame shit any more. I just wanna try being me, even if it means just hanging out in my room and not going out at all. I couldn’t do that at home. Mom wouldn’t leave me alone. She kept thinking I was doing drugs or contemplating suicide or something. I couldn’t get it into her head that I just wanted to be left alone so I could think about stuff. I have to try to find a place or a state of mind or something like that where Elijah Wood is a real person and not just some fucking name.”
Orlando found himself nodding, agreeing with everything Elijah had said. "I hear you, mate."
“Why aren’t you with Craig now?” Elijah asked, “Why did you come back?”
“He says I have unfinished business. I s’pose he’s right. I want to go back and be with him but there’s this niggly feeling that I might regret it. I just want to prove that I can act and that I’m not just a fucking elf. It was what the years at acting school were all about. It was what I wanted to do but I wasn’t expecting the rest of the shit. Not straight away anyway.”
“You must miss him.”
“Yeah, but it’s a nice kind of ‘missing’ now, not so desperate any more. I used to get so strung out and kept calling him up in the middle of the night just to tell him I missed him and spending the whole time whinging.”
Elijah smiled. “That’s so sweet.”
“Not sweet, more stupid than anything. I thought I was being forced to stay here. I’m not. I choose to be here, to finish the Rings commitment if nothing else. I can go back to him any time and live happily every after if I want. I just don’t think it’s time yet. He knew it before I did. Maybe I have to get to the same place you are, Lij – the top – before I can turn back.”
“Oh Orli, it’s a fucking awful place to be. Are you sure you wanna see it first?”
“I think I have to. It’s like having to get the ring to Mordor, whatever the consequences – which are probably all going to be bad. If I don’t give it everything I’ve got – if I just give up – I’ll always wonder if I should’ve kept going just a little bit longer, always worry I gave up too soon and it’ll just eat away at me.”
Orlando took a deep breath, exhaled as a heavy sigh. “Craig said the hardest person to live with is someone loaded down with regrets over things they didn’t try or didn’t finish. I don’t want him thinking I’m hard to live with, so I s’pose I’m doing it for him too.”
Elijah nodded. He was silent for a moment before suddenly laughing self-consciously. “You wanna hear something really stupid and embarrassing, Orli? God, I get so embarrassed every time I think about it but it was important, you know? Sometimes humiliating yourself first is the only way you get to learn something valuable. Someone has to point out to you that you’re being an asshole.”
“Who was it, Lij?” Orlando gave him a look of mock outrage. “Tell me and I’ll kill them for you.”
“It was Craig.”
“I take it back. You must have deserved it.”
Elijah grinned. “I did. I used to have a major crush on him – oh God, I probably still do because he’s not the sort of person you can stop liking, is he?”
Orlando shook his head, smiling almost dreamily. “No, he isn’t. What did you do? What did he do?”
“I tried to seduce him once. I was waiting for him in his bed one night. I wanted to be with him so bad and I thought all I’d have to do was show up and it would just happen.”
Orlando’s expression was carefully composed. “Did it?”
“God no! He slapped my ass, gave me a good talking-to and a couple of days later, he took me out fishing for a day. Never thought I’d prefer fishing to fucking, but it was so special, Orli. I’ll never forget it. We just talked and he made a whole lotta things suddenly make sense.”
“What sort of things?”
“Oh – stuff. Everything really. We even talked for a while about you.”
“Yeah. Even back then he worried about you, but he wasn’t the only one.”
“You were with Dom and he was hurting you, and there was just nothing any of us could do other than just watch and wait. We had to keep out of it, you know. It was so hard, watching two people we loved caught up in something that wasn’t working. It was so sad.”
“It ended.” Orlando said with a dismissive shrug. “Life went on.”
“Do you ever think about it?”
“No. It ended.”
Elijah studied Orlando’s face, searching for some remnant of pain, anger or regret but finding nothing other an aggressive neutrality. He wasn’t convinced they didn’t exist. Orlando had the kind of face that normally revealed everything he was feeling at any given time. When he had plastered in place the kind of blank mask he was wearing now, he was usually hiding a lot. Elijah allowed him that. Even in this close introspective mood, that period of time – Orli and Dom – ‘Do you remember when we went to that bar in Queenstown, round about the middle of Orli-and-Dom?’ – was still a no-go area.
‘He needs to go there,’ Elijah thought, hating that nothing look, as cold and empty as a distant moonscape. ‘It’s his version of the place I’ll have to go to even though just the thought of it scares the crap out of me…’
He wondered if everyone, or just an unlucky few, had places like that, places in which something had happened that had damaged the essential core of their very being, had caused a wound that just wouldn’t heal no matter how many love-happiness-success bandages were applied over the top of it, a wound that remained open – aching, burning, festering, weeping – until one was prepared to endure the pain of cauterization once and for all.
‘Maybe even Craig does too, though, knowing him, you wouldn’t think so…’