“He... he died. Two years ago.” Sam says quietly as he stares at the photograph from his position near the desk. “We used to argue a lot, and one day... we had a big fight - the biggest one we ever had. We were both too stubborn to apologize or admit we were wrong, so we weren’t talking. That afternoon he called me, and I was still annoyed so I declined the call and switched my phone off. I ignored him.” His hand drifts absentmindedly to the edge of the desk, “That evening, as it was getting dark... the... the police knocked on my door. He had been attacked. Someone found him in an old alleyway, and it was already too late. He’d been dead an hour.” His eyes finally meet mine, “He called me twenty two times.”
I stare at him, lost for words.
His gaze slides to his phone, lying on the edge of the desk. “I... I couldn’t listen to the voice messages to start with, but after his funeral, when everyone else had else left... I listened to them. Eighteen messages. Once I started listening to them, I didn’t want to continue - I couldn’t bear it - but at the same time I couldn’t stop. I had to make myself listen. The first ones he sounded normal. He pretended to still be angry, to resent having to call me for help. He laughed at me for ignoring him. But as they went on... his voice got weaker, more unsteady. He sounded more desperate. When he laughed I could hear pain and fear and tears in his voice. In some of the later ones there was just a few seconds of silence, or a few rasping breaths, or just him breathing my name. The last one was the longest. By then he was barely fighting unconciousness, and I think he realised I wasn’t coming.” He stops suddenly, choking on the words. “He laughed at me for being so stubborn, and he said goodbye and told me he loved me. He said ‘Don’t worry, Sam... I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.’. He didnt call anyone else because there was no one else he trusted. No one else who could have saved him. When he needed me the most, I let him down.”
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