This is Alfred Jones' last call. Not his last call home or his last call before going on a vacation. This is his very last call.
Arthur answers the phone: "Hey."
"Hey, it's Alfred."
"Hey Al…" Arthur is smiling as he's speaking, and Alfred can hear the grin in each of his words.
"Have you been waiting for me?"
"Good. I am glad you have." Alfred fiddles with his shirt. He feels a tad awkward, because he doesn't know to say. What do you say to your love in your very last call? "I love you." There's a snicker from Arthur, and it makes Alfred smile. "Hey, you.."
"I love you too." Arthur is not snickering. He's sobbing. Alfred bites his lower lip and looks over his shoulder. They're keeping an eye on him, but they're not listening. This is his last moment of privacy. He turns his back to them.
"Don't cry," he whispers.
"I'm sorry." Arthur is still sobbing, and Alfred is peeling his shirt apart. He tries to sound cheery.
"Do you remember that song we used to sing? The one about, uh…"
"The one by Daniel Bedingfield?" Arthur asks. Alfred nods. Then he remembers Arthur can't see him.
"Yeah, that one," he smiles. "If you're not the one." Arthur breathes in loudly, and Alfred starts humming the tune. He purses his lips to lightly whisper the lyrics, but Arthur stops him:
"I cannot…" he says, and Alfred whispers:
"I know." He has tears in his eyes as well. He starts kicking the wall in front of him lightly. If he could, he would kick down the wall and jump on the next plane to England and just hug Arthur close and tell him that it's all going to be okay. But it's not. He closes his eyes and tries to recall the feeling of touching Arthur's hands. They seemed so slim and bony. He swallows harshly. "I just had McD," he says. Arthur takes in yet a deep breath and laughs lightly.
"Yeah. What did you have?"
"I haven't had anything yet. Remember the time difference." Alfred laughs:
"Oh yeah, I always forget."
"You really do."
"Yeah…" Alfred stops kicking the wall and leans against it instead. He looks towards them, but as they see him looking, he quickly eyes the floor. "I'm really sorry, Arthur," he says. Arthur doesn't answer, and Alfred bites the inner of his cheek. "I… I wish I could do it all over, you know that."
"Don't be sorry," Arthur mumbles. Alfred can hear that he's moving something around, but he's not sure what. Then there's a loud sob. "It's in the past."
"If I could, I would be right by your side."
"I would marry you." There's a pause. Then a sad laugh.
"I know, Al, I know," Arthur whispers hoarsely. "Al, what am I going to do?" Alfred feels his throat knot up at the question. He shakes his head a little. His sight is getting blurry. "Who am I going to write to about happy times and call when I am sad and send off packages to?" Alfred tries to control his breath.
"If you find a good man-"
"I won't find better than you!" Arthur is shouting angrily.
"-then it's okay." The tears slip from Alfred's eyes. He wipes them off of his cheeks. "I don't want you to ever feel guilty for loving someone else, okay?" Arthur is bawling now. Alfred presses his hand flat to the wall and slowly closes it to a fist. His fingertips are cooled down by the metal.
"I need you Al.."
"I'm right there, babe. Always."
"I love you so, so much." Alfred bangs his forehead to the wall. He can hear them in the background. They're giving him the sign.
"I love you too," he whispers.
"I am not ready," Arthur says. "Are you?" Alfred doesn't feel ready. For years he believed that when he reached this exact point, he would feel ready for what is to come, but after hearing Arthur's voice again, he feels like a little child. He's scared. He's so scared he feels his heart skip beats. But he can't tell his love that.
"I am ready," he lies. "I deserve it."
"I will pray for you." Alfred smiles a bit and breathes out:
"Please do." He straightens up again and lets go of the wall. He makes sure his eyes are dry as he turns around again. He looks towards them. "Please, do never forget me," he whispers. Arthur starts crying again.
"I won't," he promises. "I will never forget you."
"Goodbye love, please take care." Alfred waits for an answer. He gets none. As he's about to hang up, Arthur answers:"I'll see you again." Then the line is down. Alfred stares at the phone for a moment before he can put it away. He walks back out.
"Alright," he says to them and nods. A man in a uniform leads him to the room where the bed is, and Alfred is instructed to lie down as they strap down his arms, legs and body. They're explaining it all to him, but he's not really listening. He knows the procedure, and even if he didn't, it didn't really matter. He's in no place to protest.
Alfred Jones is a death row inmate, and he just made the very last call of his life.