A strange midnight, roles reversed; Tanim this time, slumped against the bathroom wall, elbows resting on his knees and hands dangling limply. Reek of alcohol on his breath, red rimmed eyes staring with pupils wide as dimes within a thin ring of stormy iris. I’d ask what he’s taken but in this condition he probably doesn’t even remember, the promise of chemical oblivion enough to drive him careless and desperate to drink and drug. “Tanim…” Kneeling at his side and he flinches from the verbal contact, shrinks into himself – clearly not oblivious enough in this narcotized state – and glassy eyes dart up, away, back, above sleepless shadows. Then: “Don’t leave,” he begs, hands flashing out, grasping for mine, gripping as if he has no other anchor in the swell of panic, “don’t leave me, please, don’t leave, I can’t, I can’t stay behind, don’t leave me behind, please, I can’t lose you…” a rush of intoxicated babbling silenced only by a kiss to his sweet-sour lips. Nothing to say; I cannot promise eternity, after all, no extra year or month or day, not even a precious second past my due. Trembling hands slacken over mine and a choked sob blocks his throat as I gather Tanim in my arms and he crumples, the bereft lover helpless against inevitability. Don’t leave, he pleads, as if I have a choice.