The day had been a scorcher. I baked in the ambulance; my uniform clinging to me as I cleaned the back out after our last call. I longed to strip off my shirt but the singlet underneath didn’t quite cover the scars on my back; burns from a childhood accident. The scars on the side of my face were the ones I couldn’t conceal.
I wiped down the stretcher, lost in thought. Maybe I should quit? I considered, not for the first time. Or I could transfer. I couldn’t see any other solution. My choices were leave, or continue to endure. I sighed. I wouldn’t leave.
Why did he have to be so damn gorgeous?
‘You almost done?’ Sean startled me, bringing me abruptly out of my musings. He tossed the kit bag he’d replenished on to the stretcher.
‘Yeah. Do we have another call?’ I asked, jumping down.
‘No. But I got me a bad hankering for some onion rings.’ Sean closed the back doors.
I joined him in the cab. The drive over to our favourite diner was the same as usual. Sean, the king of too much information, was telling me all the sordid details of his latest date. In the three years we’d worked together I’d learnt to tune out.
I smiled, remembering the good times we’d had over the years. Like the time Sean locked the keys in the Ambulance and we had to call the station. He still hadn’t lived that one down.
Sean was laughing. I looked up. ‘What?’
‘You zoned out on me,’ Sean hit my arm playfully. ‘You’ve been quiet today,’ he said, concerned or was it curious?
I sighed, running though mental images I’d concocted of the two of us together. It would never happen. ‘Just tired.’ I scratched at the scars. They itched, reminding me they were there. Yet another obstacle. Why would he want me?
The radio squawked to life. ‘Oh no!’ Sean wailed. ‘There goes my onion rings,’ he pouted, crestfallen. I laughed at the expression on his face.
‘We could ignore it?’ I suggested with a smile.
Sean appeared to contemplate it but shook his head. ‘Damn it,’ he muttered and lifted the handset.
We were sent to an address in one of the more affluent suburbs. The house, while not quite a mansion, certainly wasn’t the average family home. It was grand yet understated and elegant at the same time.
Sean and I approached the large double doors and I pressed the door bell.
Voices floated through the hard-wood. ‘Just stay there…jeez. Serves you right!’ I heard some-one say over loud wails of pain.
The doors opened. The man in the doorway wouldn’t have been more than thirty and his opened shirt revealed a toned body, although not overdone. ‘Oh thank God, he’s back here,’ he ushered us in.
‘What’s his name?’ I asked.
‘Terence and I’m Jackson, his partner.’
We were lead to an outdoor room, overlooking a stunning pool area and oceans of lawn beyond. Off to the right was a fully equipped gym.
Sean let out a soft whistle, eyeing the set up.
Terence was sprawled on the floor, wearing nothing but trunks. He was clearly a friend of the gym.
‘Hi Terence. Can you tell me what happened?’ Sean asked.
‘I hurt my back lifting weights,’ Terence said, cringing in pain.
Jackson scoffed. ‘Because you were puffing yourself up and preening around like the ape you are,’ Jackson turned to me. ‘He was showing off for the workmen we have remodelling the upstairs bathroom – whom, I might add, laughed themselves off for the day when I had to call for an ambulance.’
‘They did not,’ Terence said, crying out as a spasm attacked his back. He was well enough to give me a sheepish grin and a wink however. I giggled.
‘We better get you to hospital Terence,’ Sean said and we swapped barely concealed smirks. ‘I’ll go get the stretcher,’ he left, giggling to himself all the way out.
We somewhat reluctantly handed the couple over to the staff at the hospital. The ride in had been highly entertaining with the pair keeping us in stitches with their blow-by-blow account of the accident.
‘Thanks so much,’ Jackson said before the orderly could wheel Terence away.
‘You know, you two make a really cute couple.’ Terence said.
‘Oh…we’re not…’ Sean and I said together.
Jackson gave us a knowing glance. ‘Could have fooled us,’ and followed Terence as he was wheeled off.
The ride back to the station was awkward. When we arrived Sean turned the engine off and we sat in silence. Sean looked at me and I smiled, trying to laugh it off but panic threatened to grip me.
Oh God. He knows how I feel.
‘Is it true?’
‘What?’ I said, giving it one last chance to blow over.
‘Do you like me? I mean…more than friends?’
Terror overwhelmed me. What do I do? Do I lie or should I be honest?
‘Don’t be silly,’ I said, but even I heard straight through the lie.
I could feel Sean watching me.
‘I can transfer out,’ I muttered.
Sean was silent for a minute. ‘No. You don’t need to do that.’ He said.
‘I know you don’t feel the same. I don’t want to make things weird between us.’
Sean sighed. ‘The problem is I do feel the same. I’ve just been too gutless to tell you.’
‘What? But…what about all those girls?’
‘I lied. Didn’t want you to think I was sitting home on a Saturday night wishing I could call you. Be with you.’
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seemed so unreal.
‘I figured I wasn’t your type or… or the scars turned you off,’ I said, terrified of what he would say.
Sean gently turned my face to him. He ran a finger down the damaged skin. ‘You wouldn’t be you without them.’ He smiled. ‘I love you too Joshua.’