I told Dan and Phil about the tumour. I didn't mean to but they rang me up, demanding to know what was up between me and PJ and it sort of...slipped out. Phil got so upset I think he was almost crying and Dan ordered me to tell PJ immediately but I knew I couldn't. It's too late now. I've lost my chance.
"Chris, ring him now," Dan barked at me as we sat in my kitchen a few days after they found out. Phil was having lunch with his parents so Dan had come over to my house.
"I can't tell him now, it's been way too long since I found out," I told him, rubbing my head nervously. Dan shook his head.
"It's never too late, Chris." Maybe he's right...but what about all the lies?
"But I lied to him."
"Then tell the truth now. He deserves to know," Dan said coolly.
"I might try it tonight. On Skype." I didn't know if I would actually do it. I didn't even know if I was capable of telling him. But I suppose the thought counts.
Hey can we talk on Skype tonight? About 7? Chris xxx
I read the text through tired eyes as I was slumped lazily on the sofa, my laptop balanced on my knee. It sounded serious, what was going on?
Yeah sure, anything important? xxx
"He said yes," I told Dan, who was sipping his coffee anxiously. I felt almost jealous of Phil and Dan for having such a good relationship when mine was falling apart in front of me.
"Good," Dan answered.
"So how are things with Phil then?" I was texting a short message back to PJ as I spoke, but I was genuinely interested.
"It's okay, I think. His parents aren't exactly...in favour of our 'lifestyle' but I think they know that there's not much we can do. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I think I might be in love with him. The serious kind of love, not the 12-year-old girl MSN profile description that says 'Love ma boyfriend forever' but...I really think I love him."
I laughed at Dan's impression of a 12-year-old girl and felt horribly guilty about what happened with PJ the other week. He had told me he loved me and I couldn't say it back. I didn't know whether I did.
"Have you told him?" I asked.
"No," Dan answered, giving me a half-smile. "But I will."
I need to tell PJ. I need to tell him ASAP.
Kind of, don't worry too much. Chris xxxI tried not to worry, but I'm a bit of a soft-soul when it comes to things like this so I spent the whole day trying to imagine what was wrong. I came up with almost every situation imaginable but I couldn't really work out which one it would be.
Was he breaking up with me? If he was, why would he be telling me not to worry? Was he moving away to another country? Was he pregnant? That's not even physically possible, PJ, you complete and utter idiot. Or even worse...was he dying?
Finally the clock read 18:59 and I sat with my Skype open, dressed in a Zelda t-shirt and my usual black skinny jeans. Chris came online and requested a video call. I accepted before the ringtone had even played.
Chris' face came up on my laptop screen and I gave him a fake smile, pretending to be totally okay when I felt like throwing up or curling up in a ball. My nerves were like a tangled ball of stress and anxiety. What could be so important?
"Hey Peej." Chris spoke first, breaking off the icy silence.
"Hi," I answered, pretending to be fumbling with the laptop in order to avoid staring at him.
"You okay?" he asked, sounding pretty tired and nervous. He had purple bags under his eyes that even a poor-quality webcam doesn't hide.
"Good, you?" I said quickly. It was like I was rushing the words out of my system.
"I'm...actually I'm not okay." Chris seemed to be experiencing some kind of inner conflict as he spoke.
"Is this what you wanted to talk about?" Chris nodded and looked deep in thought for a few seconds.
"PJ...I'm not sure I can do this anymore."
The words came out of my mouth then I realised what I'd said. What have I done? In the split second before I started speaking, my brain came to the conclusion that PJ would be better off without a boyfriend with a brain tumour who could possibly become a vegetable if something went wrong in the surgery. Even though I didn't want to ever be without PJ, the words had been spoken.
"R-right." PJ looked completely shocked but then disappointed. He looked away from the screen. "Can I ask why?" He swallowed loudly and I could see his eyes straining to keep his tears from falling. For once, don't lie. Just for once, Chris.
"I have a brain tumour." Finally I hadn't lied. It was the complete truth but I still felt horrible saying it. PJ suddenly looked back at the screen, the hurt expression fading from his face but a new emotion was forming. I think it was sympathy or pity or some kind of deep sadness that was separate from me hurting him.
"What? When did you-" PJ stuttered, looking baffled. "Chris, why didn't you tell me?"
"I found out after the accident," I told him, bracing myself for the storm to come.
"You've known this then? All these weeks? Why didn't you tell me?" PJ was starting to look angry. Oh shit.
"Because I'm having surgery in less than two months and I didn't want you to- I didn't think I would be helping you if I...if I died or became a vegetable or if I didn't get any better." I couldn't find the perfect way to phrase it but PJ's eyes were enough to show that he was incredibly sad. Tears were forming under his eyes and I knew that he was struggling to understand my actions.
"Peej, I'm so sorry," I apologised profusely. PJ just looked even sadder.
"Chris, you don't need to be sorry about the tumour but why didn't you tell me? And why does this mean we have to end? I don't need you to protect me, Chris. When I...when I said I loved you it was because it was the truth. I do love you Chris, but I can't believe you wouldn't tell me something like this." I was astounded by PJ's short speech. He was always talented with words but I was practically speechless.
Chris looked heartbroken on the screen, but that was a fraction of how I felt. I couldn't believe everything that had happened without me knowing. Did Dan and Phil know? Did his parents know?
"Does everyone else know?" I asked after a long, heavy silence. Chris shook his head.
"Dan and Phil found out a few days ago because I was planning to tell you and I needed their advice." Well thanks, Chris. I thought angrily. Even though I felt angry, I was more hurt by the idea that Chris wanted to protect me from all this and had lied to me.
"What about your parents?"
"I only told Dad last week, I haven't spoken to Mum since the last time we saw her. Dad was pretty...upset. Look, PJ, I am so sorry. The reason I thought I shouldn't tell you was because the surgery is dangerous and the idea of you...upset because I was worse or resenting me for not being the same anymore was just too much...I know it's not probably not worth much to you now but-" Chris hesitated and thought before he spoke again.
"I love you too PJ. So, so much." Tears had welled in his eyes and I could see that he was holding in sobs.
I completely lost it and burst into tears, holding my head in my shaking heads as I sobbed. Chris loved me too and that meant everything. But after all this...where did that leave us? Chris kept apologising as I cried but eventually my eyes dried up and I looked up at the laptop again to see Chris' matching red eyes.
"I don't want us to end, Chris," I said quietly, as though I was saying it to myself. He looked at me sorrowfully and almost laughed as he answered.
"Me neither," he smiled with tears in his eyes and staggered breathing.
"So no more lies?" I asked, wiping my eyes.
"No more lies."
"And I'll be with you for all the treatment?"
"As long as you want to."
Chris gave me one of his amazing half-smiles and rubbed his eyes.
"I love you," he whispered to me through the camera.
"I love you too."