“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
The soft Scottish burr of the actor flowed from the television. The Captain thought he might fall from his perch on the arm of the sofa. He closed his eyes and took some deep, steadying breaths. He could do this. He had managed every other moment of 80 years, he would not be undone by some talkie.
Alison had put on Four Weddings as her choice for movie night. Everyone else seemed to have enjoyed it and indeed even the Captain had found some amusement in the high jinks of the weddings. Apart, of course, from the filthy and unnecessary language at the beginning. Modern standards were so lax.
But now. Now the jolly chap with beard who had been such outlandish fun was laying in a box and his partner was allowed to stand in front of a church full of people and declare his love, his grief, his pain. The Captain felt the surge come up through his chest and stick in his throat. It was bally unfair, that’s what it was. His eyes stung and he swiped at one with the back of his hand. He sucked in a deep breath and straightened his posture. A Captain of the King’s army did not comport himself in such a way. The immediate danger passed but his eyebrows were still knitted together. He let the sadness settle on him like a weight. Why not. He had carried this far already. It was an old companion. He looked back to the television resolutely.
Julian glanced up from his position on the sofa to the Captain’s right. Seated on an actual cushion, instead of the arm, his shoulder was level with the Captain’s hip. He narrowed his eyes as if reading the Captain’s face. Cap looked at him very briefly then again as he realised he was being assessed.
“Yes, quite well, thank you.”
After a few more seconds, the Captain gave an exasperated tut and turned back to the screen. He fought to hide his surprise at feeling a warm hand briefly cover his where it lay on his knee and give it a small squeeze. It was gone as quickly as it had arrived, unseen and unnoticed by anyone else. The Captain kept his face fixed forward but he dropped his eyes for a moment. He swallowed and gave the tiniest of nods as acknowledgement of the gesture before squaring his shoulders once more. Perhaps, like the man on the screen, you could bear weights more easily when supported by your friends.