Abraham had fallen in love with him in August. It was most likely before that, but it was August when he realized it.
That day was hot as hell, and they were walking home. Carter threw his head back and laughed, and that was the moment Abraham knew it. A week later, he was throwing up flowers.
Luckily, he had been in his room the first time it had happened. He was trembling and horrified, holding some of the flowers in his hands and the rest surrounding him on his bed.
Dark red carnations; he had recognized them immediately. They were Carter’s favorite flowers.
He knew what this was. Hanahaki disease. He’d heard of it before, read it on the internet, an article he had found while scrolling: Hanahaki disease is an illness born from one-sided love, where the patient throws up and coughs of flower petals when they suffer from one-sided love. The infection can be removed through surgery, but the feelings disappear along with the petals.
But he had never actually seen someone in real life with it. Unreciprocated love occured often, but he didn’t see it here, not where he lived.
Once he read about it, he immediately put it on his list of fears. It nearly reached the top of that list, and here it was, laughing at him. What he didn’t expect was how much it hurt.
Throwing up typically hurt, the heaving making it hell, that was normal. But this pain came from somewhere else. It came from some deep place inside him, some place he knew that he hid. Hidden from both himself and everyone else.
He sat there for a long time, just staring at the flowers. He couldn’t tell Carter. Absolutely not. It may leave him guilty to not tell his best friend, whom he told everything, but he couldn’t do that.
Should he have surgery done? Remove the flowers and the feelings all in one go? The thought was tempting, but Abraham didn’t think he could live with himself, altering himself so much.
After thinking for long enough, he decided to look up what carnations symbolized, specifically dark red ones. He had a pretty good guess at what they meant, but he needed to see it written down.
And just as he had thought, they meant love. Deep love and affection. Luck must’ve been laughing to the point of aching ribs right then and there. Abraham only felt like crying.
Now, three months later, Abraham was sitting in a bathtub at a “Christmas” party, throwing up the most carnations he ever had, including the first time, which he already thought had been a significant amount.
Sometimes he threw it up all in one go, other times he’d cough up a petal or two in class, but never this. Usually it was maybe a dozen flowers at most, but this when way past that many.
He had come here with Carter, the two of them invited to this party. It was thrown by a bunch of teenagers, wrongly named a Christmas party. Abraham was pretty sure Christmas was supposed to be holy and innocent, relating to religion, and this was nothing like that.
Abraham and Carter had only been here ten minutes before a girl had come up and started touching Carter too much. Carter had obviously not minded, and flirted shamelessly back. It caused Abraham’s throat to seize up, and his stomach to twist.
He wasn’t able to dwell long on his jealousy, because the flowers were quickly making an appearance. He’d coughed twice, both times producing a flower petal, but he knew that this was going to escalate.
He put a hand over his mouth, and pushed through the throng of people, panicking. Carter didn’t notice and didn’t care, and so did everyone else. There were too many people here, and not only was he about to throw up carnations, but he was also on the verge of a panic attack.
It hadn’t taken that long to find the upstairs bathroom, finding the second floor empty, but it felt like forever. He’d shut the door, locked it, and collapsed into the bathtub, finally heaving up the flowers.
He’d been there for a few minutes now, and was sobbing his heart out as flower after flower emerged. This was the most painful he had felt from this. His throat felt raw and his ribs ached and his head was throbbing. He couldn’t keep his crying quiet even if he’d wanted to.
There was no one there to hear him, and the music downstairs was too loud, and so he wailed as loudly as he’d wanted. Which wasn’t much, because flowers were muffling any sound he made.
When he finally stopped, he’d felt wrung out. He couldn’t move, and he couldn’t stop hiccuping. Seven minutes. He’d counted each minute and that’s how long it lasted. It had felt like hours.
Abraham stayed there, head leaning against the wall, and decided that he would stay there the entire time. He felt quite content with the decision, it would give him time to get rid of all these damn flowers.
Suddenly, someone knocked on the door, making all the blood drain from Abraham’s face.
“I’ll, uh, I’ll be out in a second,” Abraham said, sounding throaty and completely giving away that he’d been crying.
“Dude, I’ve been knocking for, like, three minutes. Is everything okay?” asked a male voice.
Abraham jumped up and almost fell back down. Three minutes? How did not hear him knocking for that long?
“Shit,” Abraham said to himself, and then to the guy, “I’m fine. Do you need to use the bathroom? Isn’t there one downstairs?”
“There is but I’m more concerned about you. Open the door, please?”
Abraham stepped out of the bathtub but leaned against the wall for support. His legs felt weak and like they would give out at any second. “I would rather not.”
He could hear the boy huff in frustration outside the door. “Well, can I have your name at least?”
“Abraham.” It wouldn’t hurt to tell him, would it?
“Oh! Abraham? You came with Carter! I’ll go get him.”
There was harm in giving him his name. A lot of harm. “Wait!” Abraham called.
The boy was already gone, and Abraham didn’t dare try and walk to the door. He fell against the wall and slid to the ground. Hopefully, the guy wouldn’t be able to find Carter and he’d give up.
His luck continued to fall when he heard footsteps and voices come toward the door.
“Abraham?” Carter asked.
“Yeah?” Abraham felt his stomach flip-flop and his head spun at the feeling.
“Is everything okay? This guy here says you’ve been crying. You sound like it right now too.”
There wasn’t a point in denying it, so he said nothing. Saying nothing was the easiest choice, and maybe something he should do for the rest of his life.
To the boy, he heard Carter say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this now. You can go.”
Abraham heard the boy’s footsteps go and fade as he walked away. For being so worried earlier, he didn’t seem to care as much now.
He says the same thing that he said to the boy. “I would rather not.”
Carter sounded more panicked when he asks, “Why? Are you hurt? Did something happen?”
Abraham reached into the tub and pulled out a flower. It looked quite normal, and not at like it had just been inside his stomach and forcefully regurgitated. “You could say that.”
“What the hell does that mean? Let me in.”
Feeling decidedly petulant, Abraham said again, “I would rather not.”
“Abraham.” He said it with such worry and sternness that Abraham almost dragged himself up and opened the door to apologize until he was forgiven.
He brought his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them. He started pulling petal after petal from the carnation, speaking after each petal. “I would rather, I would rather not, I would rather, I would rather not.” His voice trailed off, getting softer and softer.
Maybe this disease was affecting his mental stability more than he thought.
Abraham looked up as he heard Carter jiggle the handle, with more ferverence than he has heard the handle jiggle all night. The door swung open easily. He frowned at Carter’s figure, more worried about the door than having his privacy invaded.
Carter’s face tightened for a moment, but then relaxed a fraction when he really stared at the tub. Abraham looked at the tub as well, realizing that the flowers were the color of blood and made the tub look like it was splattered with it. He resisted the urge to laugh.
“Where did all these flowers come from?” Carter’s face was painted with confusion. How many emotions was this boy going to feel tonight?
Abraham took two fingers and pulled down his jaw, opening his mouth.
Carter softly said, “Oh.”
Abraham gave him a look that said, That’s all you have to say?
Carter swallowed. That’s all he had to say. He stared at the flowers for a long while, and Abraham dropped his hands and stretched his legs out, look at the two for a long while. They didn’t talk, Carter melting in the silence, Abraham relishing in it.
Carter lifted his hand, his wrist nearly limp, pointed at the tub and asked, “Who is it?”
Lolling his head to the side, Abraham grabbed a handful of the flowers, and thrusted his arm at Carter. Carter took them, and Abraham pointedly stared at his jaw and neck, avoiding his eyes.
He answered so softly that Abraham nearly missed it. “Me?”
Abraham continued the heavy silence. He felt something awful building inside him.
“I don’t understand. Me? You’re in– You–”
“Will you quit stuttering and actually say something?” Abraham snapped. He was mad, and he didn’t know why, but it felt good to be angry. Maybe he should swear.
“I don’t see why you’re snapping at me.”
“Oh goodness, maybe it’s because I just threw up an entire bathtub of fucking flowers.” There it was. Such vehemence felt good.
Carter didn’t say anything back. He looked at Abraham in a way that made Abraham realize that he knew why he was angry. That he was using it to cover everything else up. That he wanted a fight, but Carter wasn’t going to give him one.
He sat down in front of Abraham, crossing his legs and softly dragging his fingers across the petals of the carnations. He looked the softest and sweetest Abraham had ever seen him. He wanted to punch something.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” Carter asked.
“What do you fucking think?”
Carter gave him a look that said he disapproved of his swearing, and he needed to be civilized.
He didn’t want to be civilized.
“Maybe I can try and love you,” Carter tried.
“I don’t want anything fake between us, or any of your damn pity. The flowers would tell the truth anyhow.”
“And who says I don’t actually love you?” Carter had a too vulnerable look to his face. It made him livid.
“These goddamn flowers do!”
“It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t.” Carter was calm. Too calm. Abraham couldn’t stand this, all that was inside Carter and inside himself. He wanted to run and run and run until he couldn’t breathe. He wanted to scream until his throat bled.
Abraham’s voice was terrible. He was trembling again. “And why would you want to try?”
Carter looked at his face, and his eyes said the answer before his mouth did. “Why wouldn’t I? You matter to me, Abraham. You mean everything.”
He didn’t say anything back. He had nothing to say, with his chest and shoulders heaving, brought it back to the silence he always resorted to.
But Carter wasn’t having any of it. “How long?”
Abraham looked up, frowning.
“How long have you had this disease.”
“Three and a half months,” he answered in a deadpan voice.
Carter’s voice shook, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to put that weight on you,” Abraham said more to the floor than Carter.
“I don’t feel weighed down right now. I feel like I can help you.”
“And how was I supposed to know that?”
Carter opened his mouth as if to answer, but realized that he didn’t have one. He shrugged instead.
Abraham collapsed all at once. He slumped forward with his head in his hands, and started to shamelessly cry. He was done with handling it all. In his crying, he found that his ribs still ached and his wretched out sobs did nothing to soothe his throat.
He heard Carter shift in front of him and felt him press his face into the top of his head. It felt as if he was going to kiss him, but Abraham knew he wasn’t. He wished he would.
Carter whispered into his hair, “It’s okay. We’ll work this out.” He ran his knuckles against Abraham’s spin, and it took every ounce of strength from Abraham to not wilt into the gesture.
Abraham dragged himself upright, and said in the most broken voice, “I want to go home.”
“Alright. That sounds good.” Carter gave him a soft smile, hoping Abraham would give one in return. He did not.
Carter stood up and offered his hand to Abraham. He did not take it and stood up on his own, wiping the tears from his face. He turned and looked at the flowers.
He raised his hand to point at the tub and asked Carter, “What do we do with all that?”
“I think we should just leave them. It’s a party, and weird stuff happens at parties all the time. The host will just have to deal with it.” Carter reached over and grabbed a few more flowers to add to the bouquet he already had. “Alright. Let’s go.”
Carter walked out with confidence while Abraham kept his head down and hoped that his scrunched shoulders made him invisible. He didn’t think it worked all that well.
They reached Carter’s car that Abraham never found loud enough or fast enough, and he curled up in the passenger seat.
Carter started to drive him home, but home would never be enough. Abraham wanted more than that, and was afraid that he was never going to get that; that Carter wasn’t going to be able to give him that.