Saúber by D. I. Jolly

“Oh, I don’t want to be doing this anymore”

“Shut up. Just, shut up.”

“I just wanna go home.”

“Well, you can’t!”

“Why not?”

Josh dropped the sponge into the sink and turned.

“BECAUSE WE ARE ALREADY HOME! Now get back to fucking cleaning or I’m going to drown you in the dirty sink water.”

Josh turned back to the task at wrinkled hand and suddenly felt the red mist hit him like a tidal wave. Turning again and shaking with anger he felt all control leave his body.

“No, you know what, fuck you. We wouldn’t be in this literal mess if you hadn’t decided to host a New Year’s Eve party, and then invite an entire bar of randohs!”

Johnny’s eyes grew wide and he felt his skin tighten with fear. Not only had he never seen Josh this angry, he’d never actually seen anyone that angry.

“And every time I tried to get them to fuck off, or to turn down the music! You kept telling me that I needed to go with the flow, to let the good times in and then fucking wander off to try hit on someone’s girlfriend. So fuck you, fuck your complaining, fuck this flat and fuck you again! I’m leaving.”

Josh plunged his hand back into the sink, grabbed his sponge and threw it with no accuracy across the room in Johnny’s direction, while Johnny stood as still as possible waiting to see what would happen next, hoping that Josh wasn’t about to actually attack him. But to his relief and regret, Josh simply stomped and swore his way out of the flat.

It then took another minute before Johnny was able to move or think clearly, and as soon as he could, he burst into tears.

Not specifically because of anything that had been said, but because of the way it had all been said. Josh was genuinely furious with him. And, apparently had been for two days, and he hadn’t noticed. Or not noticed that it was any worse or more meaningful than his general levels of impatient frustration.

Until that very moment Johnny had thought the party was a wild success, and that Josh, while not exactly a party person, had had a good time. But that was clearly not true.

As the tears dried up and the adrenaline wore off, Johnny felt his energy evaporate into an urge to clear space on his bed and just go to sleep. But the idea of Josh coming home to find him asleep without having finished, wasn’t something he could face. Just the thought sent cold shivers over his body, and he had to push the pictures out of his mind or he’d start crying again.

So he went back to cleaning, and started telling himself that if he could get it all done, or mostly done before Josh came back then everything would be alright. Josh wouldn’t apologise, and probably didn’t have to, but it would be ok because the problem would be gone. He just needed to get as much of the bigger messes done in the few hours he had, and then everything would be alright again.

But as time passed and the sun set, Johnny started to wonder about the much more frightening idea that Josh might not come home.

He’d done a lot of cleaning and there were still a few things to do, but it had gotten back to a normal level of not clean, but it was late, and he was exhausted.

The idea of going to bed no longer seemed frightening. His fears had shifted to wondering if Josh was okay, if he was going to come home, and if he was actually allowed to call him and ask. Because, if he wasn’t coming home, he was maybe still super angry and calling him before he was ready, might kick the whole thing off again.

And there was no world where Johnny saw himself being able to interrupt Josh in that state to tell him that the flat was now mostly clean. But he also couldn’t shake the fear that something might have happened.

So, he gave into the tired and decided he’d sleep on it, and in the morning, he’d find Josh in the flat and apologise and finish cleaning on his own.

As he lay in bed, he played out the nicer versions of that idea until he drifted off to an uncomfortable half sleep, listening to imaginary sounds of Josh coming home. Until he woke up to a sound which he wasn’t sure if it was real or from a dream, and lay in bed listening for evidence the Josh.

It took a few minutes more before he checked the time and saw that it was somehow 0730, and he’d gotten no message or missed calls. It then took another half an hour for him to work up the courage to actually get up and check the flat.

Which was exactly as he’d left it with no Josh in sight.

“He always says you can’t call people before 9 o’clock. Just get this place back to normal and then you can call him.”

Said Johnny to himself, but his words were masking an ever-growing fear that Josh might be fine, and just, not be coming back. That he might actually have fucked up so bad that he’d broken something incredibly precious.

But again, he had to force the pictures out of his mind in order to stay functional. But when he got to the sink to finish the last of the dishes he started to cry again.

When he was done, he looked at his phone and saw that it was passed 9 o’clock, and realised that he still didn’t have the courage to call Josh. He thought about food for the first time in a day, and decided he was too scared to make any more mess to actually cook. So just lay on the couch and waited.

When the door clicked open, Johnny sprang to his feet and wanted to rush to Josh, but felt the fear grip him again. So stood still in the middle of the room, waiting.

When Josh appeared in the doorway, he looked blurry eyed and extremely tired, but was looking around the room and specifically not at Johnny.

“Thank you for finishing the cleaning.”

“You’re welcome.’ He stopped as his mind cleared and had to force himself to find thoughts and words. ‘You look a bit rough. Late night?”

“Something like that… I’m sorry I yelled at you; I don’t think you deserved all of that.”

Johnny smiled and felt tears on the edge of his eyes again.

“I’m sorry about the party. I genuinely thought you’d have a good time. I thought that you did have a good time.”

Josh looked up but stopped himself before he got to Johnny’s face. Instead staring actively at the logo on his shirt.

“I tried to; I really did. But I just couldn’t believe that you’d do something like that without talking to me first. Or even letting me know it was happening.”

“I’m sorry. It… I won’t do that again.”

“It’s… it’s okay.’ Josh took a deep breath and locked eyes with Johnny. ‘Look, I love you man, but I can’t live with you anymore. I cannot live in a place with this much chaos and uncertainty. I just need to be somewhere were nothing is going to move, unless I move it.”

Johnny opened his mouth to protest, but stopped and felt the tears that had been on the edge of his eyes start to roll down his face, and like a small child he shook and pumped his fists in frustration.

“No! No, damnit! I did break something! No!”

“Johnny?”

“No! Fuck… I kept telling myself that if I cleaned up the mess that I could fix this, and that when you came back everything would be alright, and normal, but it’s not, and it’s not going to be normal ever again.”

Johnny covered his face with his hands and started to try and take deep breaths to calm down, and Josh moved at speed across the room and wrapped his arms around his friend.

“You didn’t break anything; I just need to move out.”

Johnny pulled his arms free and returned the hug, burying his face in Josh’s shoulder.

“But I don’t want you too.”

“I know, that’s… that’s why it took me so long to talk about this. I’ve wanted to live alone for a while now, but haven’t had the courage to tell you, and I think that’s also why I lost my temper so badly. I’m sorry.”

“I promise to never throw a party again.”

“One, that’s not a promise you can or will keep, two that’s not really the point. It was just the final straw. Man, we’re not broken, I’m just moving out.”

“Do you, like, already have a place?”

“In this city? Of course not, are you kidding?”

Johnny felt a light laugh bubble up out of him and he was finally able to take a full breath.

“So, you’re not like, leaving today?”

“No, but it really is going to happen.”

Johnny took another deep breath and nodded his head. Then let a few more moments pass before loosening his grip to show that the hug could end.

Josh stepped back and waited to see what would happen next, and Johnny tried to find a way to lighten the mood, and then said.

“Can we get pizza, I spent so much time cleaning.”

Which made Josh laugh, which brought light back into the room and made Johnny realise that today could still be normal, even if tomorrow might not be.

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