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Milo left on a Tuesday. Matt knew this because Tuesday was rubbish collection day and he watched Milo dump a black plastic sack by the wheelie bin on the way out. The dustmen left it there when they collected the rubbish. It wasn’t in the bin, see, and they never took anything that wasn’t in the bin.
Matt gazed out of the window at the dustmen, unsurprised to see them ignore the bag sitting forlornly by the gate. Blinking hard against the tears, Matt thought about going out to beg the dustmen to take it, but he knew what a state he looked—puffy, blood-shot eyes and unwashed hair sticking up every which way. He couldn’t face any of his neighbours catching sight of the usually urbane Matthew Collins looking so wrecked. It wouldn’t be hard to put two and two together. Milo hadn’t exactly gone quietly. A small smile curved Matt’s lips even in the midst of his grief as he thought of Milo’s dramatic exit out of his life, their two-year relationship, and his house. He was surprised the gate was still on its hinges.
The dustcart trundled farther down the road, blocking the entrance to old Mr Jones’ behemoth of a house. It was the largest house in the road, at least seven bedrooms, and a complete waste of land that could be developed for social housing. At least that was what the council was supposed to have said, according to Matt’s neighbour, Mrs Harris. Milo had told him that the last time the council had gone to visit Mr Jones, the hapless official had been met with a primed and loaded urine bottle. Tears filled Matt’s eyes again as he remembered the glee in Milo’s face as he’d told Matt about Mr Jones’ threats, then had twirled Matt around in some sort of mock tango. Milo was always pleased when he heard someone getting one over authority.
Matt looked out of the window again. The black sack was still there. He knew he’d have to go and retrieve it at some point before the old biddy at number forty-four started complaining. Matt slumped back into the settee. It could wait. Everything could wait. He was too fucking tired to move.
* * * *
The black sack stayed outside the gate next to the wheelie bin for five days. Matt stayed in his bed for five days, next to his picture of the two of them, arms around each other, at last year’s uni Christmas party. Milo was wearing a stupid hat and had a matching expression whilst Matt just grinned into the camera, happy and relaxed.
When did happy and relaxed turn into tense and angry? Matt tried to pinpoint when it had all gone wrong. Uni had been an absolute blast. They’d met at the end of the first year. Matt had been doing business studies and Milo, history and politics. Within an hour of meeting, Milo had been giving Matt a blow job in the student union toilets, then bitching all evening about the state of his jeans. Yeah, Matt wouldn’t have knelt on that floor. Things had started to go wrong when they’d left uni and had tried to find work in the real world. Matt had found a job as an administrator in a pensions consultancy. The money wasn’t brilliant but the firm had promised a good training programme and increased pay. Milo had scoffed at paper-pushing and training. He wanted to work in politics as a lobbyist. It didn’t seem to occur to him that it would be a good idea to find any job while he searched for his dream career, and the situation at home had grown tense as they’d tried to manage on Matt’s pay.
Fresh tears leaked into the sheets as Matt thought about the arguments, where he’d complained that Milo was sitting on his arse all day instead of looking for a job. Perhaps he should have been more understanding.
There was a knock at the front door. Matt ignored it as he had ignored all the other knocks and phone calls. He hadn’t moved from the bed except to pee and get a drink of water. He wasn’t hungry, and he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He’d phoned in sick on the first day claiming laryngitis—his throat so raw from crying it hadn’t been hard to fake. What day was it? Matt frowned, trying to remember. Friday? No, it was Saturday. He’d have to go back to work on Monday...maybe.