Sometimes the bare tile is comforting. Daren wipes the film of vomit from his lips and lowers his aching body to the bathroom floor. The smooth porcelain is hard and cold against his flushed cheek, as cooling as a lover’s touch but without the revulsion of such intimacy. He prefers this: a bed of cold tile to suffocating arms, darkness and sterile solitude to a companion’s claustrophobia. Every breath rattles in his concave chest but he closes his eyes and listens to the dead tiles, grateful for their silence and their inability to pity. He has never wanted pity, nor any intrusion into this private suffering. The tiles do not care that his body trembles with chills despite its fever. The tiles do not wonder when he has last eaten or if tomorrow morning he will finally be unable to rise again. The tiles do not question him, do not pry into him, and so he remains curled upon their cold face and waits for slow asphyxiation to draw him into unconscious slumber.

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