Invitation by Michael Donkor

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This One, That One, The Third. Michael Donkor paints a startlingly intimate portrait of an unconventional relationship in this short story

Here is a list of the things The Third left at our flat:

a ragged London Library Membership Card
a dead biro
a cock ring
two euros
an orange scarf
a Breton T-shirt, sagging at the collar
a folded ticket for Sweeney Todd

While we were all together, this pile lived on the bedside table, with my pants and postcards. After Us Two got The Third’s final message, we needed to move his traces somewhere less visible. So we put those last effects in the cupboard under the built-in bookcase, with the letters for previous tenants or the ones that should have been directed to our landlord’s new address.

Those things still smell of him even now, a scent that is herbal and deeply green, but the beginning is harder to grasp.

It could have begun, for example, with The Third on one side of that pub Us Two loved, the one we later discovered was at the end of his road. But we did not encounter The Third there, say, on a Friday night, ecstatically boozed, sliding through strange choreography. Us Two boys – my boyfriend and I – were not standing at the bar. Our glances did not snag on the looks he threw us, mid-sway, looks that angled our feet towards his.

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