Alfie turned his key in the lock and then pushed the front door open. He was greeted by a dark and empty hallway, none of the lights had been turned on. The whole flat seemed very quiet and still, he couldn’t even hear a television playing quietly anywhere in the background. Was Jason even home?
Alfie hung his coat up in the hallway, pushing it off his shoulders and not bothering to empty out the collected items from it pockets. Part of his mind was hoping that Jason was out, even if he’d only gone for a short walk. His day at work hadn’t been bad or stressful, just very dull. For most of the afternoon he had been clock-watching, almost counting down the hours and minutes until he could leave for home, his work had so failed to engage his mind. All he had been doing was correcting endless reports, badly written by other people. He’d felt almost released at five-thirty, when he could leave for home.
He opened the door to the sitting room and walked through it, now half expecting to find the room empty. Instead he was greeted by the room dimly lit by only one of the room’s up-lights, pointed towards the ceiling. Lying on the sofa, still dressed in the same thick jumper and pyjama pants that he had been wearing that morning, when Alfie left for work, was Jason. He was lying on his back, an open book resting on his belly, his half closed eyes staring up at the ceiling. Jason was almost in the exact same position as when Alfie had left for work, that morning, he had barely moved. Alfie felt a flash of anger and disappointment rush through his mind.
Alfie slammed the door behind him and almost shouted, “Jason!”
“Oh, hi Alfie,” Jason replied, his voice slow and groggy, as he slowly pushed himself up into a slouching/sitting position.
“Have you been lying there all day?” He almost snapped at Jason.
“Sorry... I’ve been so tired....” Jason mumbled, pushing his feet over the edge of the sofa as he sat more upright, his face was a mask of tiredness.
“You’re in the same clothes as you were in when I left,” Alfie replied.
“I didn’t go out today,” Jason said.
“You’re still lying on the sofa, exactly where you were when I left.”
“I haven’t been out today.”
“Have you taken your medication today?”
“Yes... I think so...” Jason mumbled.
“Have you eaten?”
“I haven’t been hungry”
“For God’s sake Jason!” His anger snapped hold of his mind. “You’re not going to get any better if you don’t start doing things for yourself.”
“I’ve been so tired today...”
“For God’s sake!” he snapped at Jason. Then he turned his back on Jason and stormed back into the hallway. Without stopping, he marched into their bedroom, loudly slamming the door behind himself. Biting down on his anger, he dropped down onto their bed, the bedclothes still in the same disarray as they were when he left that morning.
He knew Jason was depressed, Jason’s GP had started him on anti-depressants two weeks ago but since then he hadn’t seen any change in Jason. He mood was still as flat and slow as it had been for the previous three months.
Jason hadn’t always been depressed. When they had first meet Jason had been full of live and fun, full of jokes and entertainment. After they moved into together it had been Jason who had planned and organised their new home, taking great pleasure in doing so. Jason had taken charge of so much of the running their home together and Alfie had actually enjoyed it. He liked being taken care of. Jason had explained that it was his way of showing how much he cared for Alfie, even when he was well Jason wasn’t the most articulate of people.
Over four months ago Jason had lost his job. It hadn’t been the greatest of jobs, working in a warehouse, but it had been important to him. He earned much less then Alfie and was always sensitive about it, though it was never an issue to Alfie. At first Jason had been positive about finding a new job and thrown himself into job searching, seeming to email out his CV hundreds of times a day. But he barely received any replies, and when he did they were blunt rejections. Soon his enthusiasm was slipping and the number of his emailed CVs was rapidly falling. Alfie wasn’t sure when it happened, but at some point Jason stopped trying to find a job and had slipped into depression.
At first Alfie didn’t even recognise the change in Jason’s moods as depression. Jason seemed to just slow down, his energy levels vanished, he was eating less and less and leaving the flat less and less, his sex-drive slowed down and stopped, and his moods flattened down until he seemed not to care about anything. Previously, Alfie had thought that depression was when someone was deeply sad and miserable, the melancholic heroine of Victorian novels. It was his old friend Rupert, when Alfie was telling him about Jason’s flat mood, who had said:
“You think so?”
“Yes, and you better get him some help because he won’t be able to get it for himself.”
Realising Jason’s depression had been the easiest part, for Alfie certainly. Jason’s flat mood meant that he showed so little care about his own health, seeing his depression as himself just being “tired” and not as an illness. He never said he didn’t want to go and see his GP, but he never managed to do it, always saying he felt too tired to see the doctor. Eventually, Alfie had to physically take him to the GP’s Practice to make sure he kept the appointment. That appointment saw Jason started on anti-depressants but little else.
Alfie bent down and began to untie his shoes. His feet had begun to ache from wearing these shoes. He was still wearing his work clothes, the dark suit and tie that he was excepted to wear, and now they felt uncomfortable. He disliked keeping his work clothes on, when he returned home, as if trying to separate his home and work lives.
He didn’t resent having to looking after Jason, Jason had looked after him so much in the previous five years, but what he found so hard was Jason’s completely flat mood. Jason had no sparks or flashes of joy or brightness about him. Gone was the pleasure Jason found in the world around him. The things that had once interested him or made him happy now barely registered a casual glance from Jason. He would have the same, flat and dull mood about everything, as if he’d been robbed of all emotions except this very flat one. The lack of any response from Jason was the hardest, he wanted Jason to show some response or any response to him, anything except that flat mood that greeted everything Alfie said to him.
It was also so draining for Alfie, having to have the emotions for the both of them. He just wanted his old Jason back, the Jason who laughed and got upset over things, the Jason who had a passionate like or dislike for things, the Jason who still had emotions. Alfie felt so drained, no longer did Jason show him any affection and he had realised how much he relied upon until it once it was gone.
He hadn’t meant to lose his temper with Jason, especially tonight, but all his frustrations had boiled to the head when he saw that Jason had spent the whole day simply lying on the sofa, wasting his time on nothing. Jason’s flat mood, day-after-day, with no change, was wearing him down. He didn’t know how much longer he could cope with it all. He loved Jason, but the old Jason, the Jason of brightness and life, not this flat and unresponsive Jason. He didn’t know now much longer his love for this Jason could last. He didn’t want to be the bastard who abandoned his sick lover, but neither could he pour out his affections forever on this Jason who seemed to return none of them.
He just wanted his old Jason back, the Jason he’d fallen in love with.
He stood up from the bed and pulled his jacket off, dropping it down on the unmade bed, and began to tug at his tie, its knot had seemed to have suddenly become very tight.
“I’m sorry,” Jason’s voice came from the room’s doorway.
It was so unexpected that he actually jumped. He’d expected to have found Jason still lying on the sofa when he eventually returned to the sitting room. He turned around and saw Jason stood in the doorway. Jason looked so small, stood there, his clothes seemed so large upon his tiny body. His arms wrapped around his own chest.
“It’s all right,” Alfie replied. “I’m sorry I lost my own temper.”
“I will try to be better,” Jason said.
“To be better... I’ll try to go out... I’ll try to eat more... That sort of thing,” Jason told him, as he stared down at his own feet.
“We’ll both try,” Alfie told him, as he walked up over to Jason, moving around their bed which partly filled the room. When he reached Jason he just acted on instinct, rather than giving any thought to his actions. He wrapped his arms around Jason’s body and pulled him into a tight embrace. Jason’s body actually shivered as he held him, first inert in his own arms, Jason’s arms hanging down at the side of his own body. Then Jason let out a loud gasp and started to sob, sobs that made his head rock back and forth, the sound of them almost like that of child weeping with pain, and Jason’s arms had grabbed hold of Alfie’s body, Jason’s hands clutching hold of Alfie’s back. Jason felt so helpless in his arms then and Alfie held tightly onto him.
When Jason’s sobs eased and slowed down into silent tears, the only sound from him was his laboured breathing, Alfie quietly said to him:
“We need to get you some proper help, medical help.”
Jason had just nodded his agreement.
Because if we don’t, Alfie thought, I’m going to end up leaving you and I don’t want that. But he didn’t say that, he couldn’t.