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Rated: E · Short Story · LGBTQ+ · #2303973
A centenarian remembers a lost love.
         I just turned 106 years old. That time has come. The time every old person dreads. I'm being shuffled off to a nursing home. My great-great niece, Teresa, lives with me. She takes care of a lot. She has been living with me for room and board while she gets her master's in nursing and helps keep me out of a facility as long as possible. She's graduating soon and moving away to live with her fiancee.
         I am in the attic of the home I have lived in most of my life. I am always careful on the stairs, but Teresa fusses anyway. It's my treasure trove. To the outside world, it's just a pile of paper, pictures, books, doodads, journals, and what not that will likely be in a landfill before my body is cold - ghosts no one remembers but me.
         I hear Teresa coming up the stairs to the attic.
         "I was just browsing," I say.
         She smiles at me, "I know, Uncle Henry."
         I take a heavy breath as I gently hold an ancient, crumbling photograph. Teresa comes over and looks at the picture.          
         "You and David look so happy," she comments, seeing two guys in the picture and assuming that one of them was the man I married last year after the Supreme Court said we could even though we'd been together over 80 years by then. He promptly keeled over, leaving me alone in what might as well have been an alien universe, considering the world we inhabited when this picture was taken.
         "That's me," I say pointing to the tall man on the left, "But that's not David." I reply with a sly grin pointing to the dashing young man on my arm.
         Her eyebrows shot up.
         "That's Christopher. He was my first boyfriend. We didn't really call it that back then, but we were an item, if only to each other."
         "When was this picture taken?"
         "1933. About three weeks before his 23rd birthday."
         "How did you meet?"
         "When we were 15, his family moved onto our farm property and his father worked for mine. He and I went to school together."
         "I thought you and Mr. David went to school together?"
         "Oh, he and David knew each other very well."
         Teresa narrows her eyes at me and folder her arms over her chest, "What do you mean?"
         "You only know David and I as ancient old men who are starting to resemble melted cheese, but there was a time when we were the envy of many young women and a few of the fellas." I say with a hint of prideful self-satisfaction in my voice.
         "Huh," she says.
         "There was a time when I looked like that," I say, pointing to the picture of a 23-year-old me from 83 years earlier.
         Teresa looks at me like I'd suddenly sprouted tentacles. She knew I was gay. She knew that David and I were a couple and had been virtually all our lives. She was the maid of honor at our wedding last year. She is shocked that I have not always been an old man. She had to know that intellectually, but seeing a picture and hearing this, she is befuddled.
         "So, the three of you? You were poly?"
         "I have no idea what that means."
         "It's when you have a romantic attachment to more than one person at a time."
         "No. I don't know. I...," It was my turn to be befuddled, "That wasn't something we thought of at the time. Nowadays, I don't know. Maybe. I certainly loved them both and they loved me."
         "What happened to Christopher?"
         "He died. The day before he would have turned 23. He was here on the farm shoeing a mule and got kicked in the chest. I heard my Daddy yelling that Christopher had been hurt. I was there too. He and I were home from university. By the time I got there from across the pasture, he was already gone. Daddy and I carried him in and laid him out in the living room downstairs. His parents had moved away, so David and I washed the body together and prepared everything. We all sat vigil with him that night until the undertaker came in the morning."
         "I'm so sorry," Teresa says with a tear forming in her eye.
         "We were going to have a little birthday party for him the next day. Momma had already made the cake. She loved Christopher, sometimes I think more than me. She always said he was her 'bonus son.' Then he, David, I, and a few friends were going to go to a late showing of Nosferatu. That movie had been out for several years by then, but the theater did showings on Halloween night."
         "His birthday was on Halloween?"
         "That's today," Teresa says.
         "I know," I reply.
         I could see Teresa's mental wheels turning.
         "Let's throw him a 23rd birthday party." She suggests.
         "We can get party hats and a little cake. Just us. Is he buried in the church cemetery?"
         "Yes. In the old part. The new part wasn't built until 1936."
         "Let's do it!"
         I look at the picture then set it aside, "Why not?"
         True to her word, she puts me in a wheelchair with a party hat on my head and a slice of cake on a paper plate in my lap, and we find his grave in the abandoned, overgrown cemetery. After some cheery chatter, she leaves me alone for a quiet moment.
         "Christopher, David and I would have been thrilled to have you by our side all these years. You loved us, I know. I hope you are happy, and I will be along shortly." I shake my head. Where has the time gone?
         I look across the cemetery and I'm certain I see David and Christopher as young men beckoning to me in the distance. They look so happy together. My time is coming soon to be with them again.

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