John has taken in his breakfast quietly, when he could hear no one in the hall. He had requested that it be left like that - on a tray outside his door without disturbing him. Sometimes he is ill and not capable of engaging in pleasantries. At length, after eating it slowly and with difficulty, he leaves the bare plate and utensils outside again, along with a little money and a request that his supper be similarly left for him. John is still in his nightshirt and does not intend on leaving his room today. The night has been long and pain-wracked and he has been left thinking too long and too clearly in ebb and surge of fever. Perversely and against custom, he leaves the door unlocked. It is always he who goes to tap on Wyatt's door, so he leaves his open as he is feeling depressed and grim. No one will come. A pint of whiskey has not been enough this morning. He continues drinking, sterilising the burning pain of his throat, raw from coughing. He continues drinking so he doesn't notice the sting in his eyes that have been sleepless and are still dripping tears for himself. Indulgence, but he is ill. Despite the inadvisability of a horizontal position, he lies on the bed and curls himself around one of the pillow to be holding something. He tries to hold his breath, but is forced to sit, coughing. Josie. Once, he had cherished her, glad at her free youth, and helped her and her friend Addie, proud of being the Southern gentleman, offering his arm to a lady, genteelly disregarding her position in town. Now... he tries not to think of them. His eyes closed, he tries to think of Mattie and what she would expect of him. He cannot bring himself to look at her letter just now. Mattie and her good beautiful Christianity, strong with innocence, reaching out to him, even here. And Wyatt, leaving them, leaving the circle of communion, leaving him
. In the heat from his fever that flushes his face and expands his skull, he sees the vision of Wyatt drawn from him, across the sky, reaching his hand to John, but his face rapt, drawn by Josie, never to say grace as... family... again over the biscuits. At length the surge of heat passes, leaving him wet and shivering. He wraps the blanket about him again.
Secrets. His mind is clear with vision. Secrets. I am ill and jealous and I can never be good enough or loyal enough or unselfish enough, as Bat said, and someday... someday I shall be unable to hold those secrets to myself.
Eventually, in Albequerque, that day comes.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 446
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Nulli Virtute Secundus