If he hadn’t spoken, I wouldn’t have known it was him. He stood in the doorway, light flooded from the room, and his black silhouette paused in front of me. His face: scarred with the memories of war, his eyes: dead. A fountain of emotion erupted in my head as time stood beside me. Emotional pain, I though, was worse. It lingers in your mind until it comes to one of two places: Hopelessness or acceptance. I questioned myself, in our never-ending quest for happiness, is some of the joy taken away? He stood, motionless.
I remember when we met. There was just something unreal and unnatural about him. His face, somewhat luminous, had a pale tone to it. The eyes were a piercingly sharp shade of indigo. The auburn locks that fell to his cheeks framed his enchanting face. I’d longed to reach out, to place my hand upon his skin, but refrained from doing anything of the sort. I stood, attempting to draw his attention, and swaggered past. There was a crash of books and I was upon the floor, flushing a deep shade of scarlet. Well I’d definitely drawn his attention. He was at my feet, grinning a perfect smile, my body tensed, taken aback. He scooped up my books in one hand, placing them onto the table I’d been sitting at before slipping his hand into my own. I shook as he pulled me up: his beauty was something paranormal. His warm hand pressed against my own, and I realised I was already standing, still clutching his hand. Grinning again, he sat with me, for what was apparently hours.
I dreamt of him that night, his strange beauty bewildered me. I slept restlessly that night, waking continuously. I sat with Maurice, my father, at breakfast the next morning. Deep shadows hung below my eyes, and he scanned my face as I entered the room, but simply smiled. We ate breakfast pretty much in silence, apart from the odd question here and there about how my day had been. My reply had been simple: Okay.
There was a stream outside my house, and each day it would glide past, unnoticed. This is how my days were with Adam. I kept them secret, we all know how fathers can be and Maurice was no exception to the rule. Except one day, Adam had asked they be introduced, and I followed his wishes. That night at 6pm, he was to meet my father. Chills danced up my spine at the very thought of it. The time quickly arrived, and I rushed downstairs. Maurice sat silently; hands clasped tensely, knuckles pale. As I entered the room he glanced up at me, and quickly turned away. “ You look pretty, Belle” He sighed.
There was a knock upon the door, hard, heavy: Maurice beat me there. His eyes widened as he pulled the door open. A hand was immediately sprung upon him, “It’s good to finally meet you, Sir” Adam beamed. Maurice took his hand, and nodded, jaw dropped slightly. They sat together, and unexpectedly instantaneously fell into conversation. I stood, apparently unnoticed, and left to make drinks. When I returned with the hot smell of coffee in the air, they were still immersed in conversation. I smiled to myself placing the drinks between them and snugly sliding under Adam’s arm.
Over the next few weeks Adam visited often, he and Maurice got along well. Until one week, I stopped hearing from him. His calls became less frequent and his visits rare. I returned home one day after shopping for my father and sat in the kitchen, embracing a cup of Hot Chocolate in my hands. There was little worse than feeling alone, and even though Maurice was around, that’s how I felt. I became lost in thoughts, questioning what I’d done wrong. Nothing had changed over the past few weeks, I didn’t think I’d done anything, maybe he had? The shrill scream of the phone pierced my thoughts and shaking with the sudden shock I grasped it in my hands. “Belle? It’s Adam. We need to talk. I’m coming to pick you up” and then he was gone. My heart thudded, and a swift ache pulsed through my chest. I rapidly tied my hair back and grabbed my coat, forgetting to say goodbye to Maurice as I rushed outside.
He was there. I climbed into the car and he leant over and kissed my cheek. My eyes were on my feet, I looked up at him, and his face was tense. “Where are we going?” I whispered, unintentionally. He squeezed my hand with no reply, and pulled out of my driveway. We drove for minutes, silently, until he pulled in by a lake. It was cold and the bitter wind lashed upon my face. He walked ahead and I followed timidly behind shivering as I’d left my coat in the car and didn’t want to ask him to return. He stopped upon the bride, staring over the calm indigo waters. “Belle,” he sighed, stroking my cheek “I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been around much but I’ve been very busy lately and I just-” his gloves slipped out of his hands and he leant down to pick them up. It dawned on me then what was happening. “I just wanted to ask you, would you marry me?” He smiled up at me. “I’ve been with your father, he said that he’d allow it to happen, I love you”. He slipped a ring upon my finger and I poured into his arms, “I love you too. Of course I will”.
The wedding happened shortly after. I stood at the alter my hands fitted perfectly inside his, “I do” I repeated after the vicar, turning to look at my father with tear filled eyes. Adam pulled me into his chest, kissing me hard on the mouth, before we turned to our family. They beamed back at us and we strode down the aisle together. My life was now perfect.
I looked at him. Tears stung my vulnerable eyes. What happened to us? I couldn’t move. I wanted to touch him but I couldn’t bear the thought of it. He was so handsome. Now he just sat there, careless. How could he not care, didn’t it matter to him how he looked? Scars burned it precious face, his metallic legs looked icy. His dead eyes burned me, and I whimpered, stepping backwards. Three medals gleamed proudly on his chest. He traded his legs for his medals, is it worth it? I attempted to drift back to our past; I couldn’t bear the present just yet.
I remember moving into his home. It was vast, the rooms felt hollow, empty. I ignored this, I wasn’t one to believe much in the spiritual signs that everything supposedly had, some people thought they were warnings, I thought they were just in need of decoration. We spent everyday together, married life seemed perfect. We regularly would venture out together, on the days Adam wasn’t working, and return home and cuddle up watching a film together. Who knew one simple day could ruin your life. There was a knock on the door early one evening. I pulled myself from Adam’s arms and skipped to the door. My skin turned to ice as the men stood before me. Dressed in smart uniforms with caps upon their heads they heavily said, “ Is Mr Adam Smith here please?” They bellowed. It wasn’t really a question as they stepped past me and into my home. Adam raced to the door, “What’s going on, Belle?” He called out; turning the corner he made the same realisation I had. A white sheet drained over his face. He was handed a role and the two men abruptly left my home. “When do you start?” I whispered, avoiding his face. “Three days” was all he replied, before leaving the house.
I sat alone that evening, crying into my knees. I was awakened later after falling asleep from exhaustion. Adam was sitting at the end of the sofa, his look hadn’t changed. “ You know I love you, Belle, right?” his eyes pierced mine. I nodded, falling upon his lap. A tear burned his cheek and fell upon my shoulder, we sat in silence.
I’ll never forget the day he left, how could I? Especially now. It was the loneliest time of my life. Maurice visited often, attempting to comfort my broken spirit, but there was no change, he was gone. Gaston, a local man from the village visited often, he’d had feelings for me for quite a while, but I accepted his comfort none the less. He sat with me in the quiet evenings, stroking my hair as Adam once had, he needn’t say anything, I was just happy to have someone there. He promised to never leave my side.
I looked up at Adam once more. Gathering my courage I stood, and slowly moved towards him. Silence. I reluctantly placed my hand upon his cheek and smoothed down his scars. I shook my head, and tears streamed from my eyes. “Belle, I’m so sorry. I’m still me, I love you.” He reached out for me but I instinctively jumped away. I left the room. In seconds Gaston was upon the phone. “Belle, are you okay? Do you need me to come over?” I shook my head, then realising I was on the phone I replied, in a faint murmur “No, it’s best you don’t anymore, I’m married, the last few weeks I apologise for, but we cant continue like this. I’ll call you later, goodbye,” I cried down the phone, hanged up. Life was unfair. I heard the faint rumble of the television in the background. I poured coffee into a mug, as usual, and ferried it into the lounge. Nothing has changed I repeated it to myself, he’s still Gaston, beauty is not skin deep. He smiled lovingly at me as I placed the hot mug into his hands, and we said little more.
The days passed and I became more accustomed to him, but my heart wasn’t all there anymore. I longed for something but I didn’t know what. I couldn’t accept that my marriage had been based on looks. I wouldn’t accept it. But that’s all I could think. Gaston called regularly. I met him while I went shopping of to the town. Adam had never been one to voluntarily leave home anyway. This is wrong, I told myself, and eventually told him. At home Adam was asleep, so I quietly packed the shopping away and locked myself in the bathroom. I cried distraughtly. I felt I was betraying Adam, even though nothing had happened, physically, between Gaston and I. I threw myself into the corner of the room whimpering helplessly.
I needed to know he loved me for me. Crushing my arms round my ribs I tried to stop the pain. My eyes burned as I caught something in the corner of the room. A small red bottle stood quietly, watching me with deceiving eyes. I’m not sure how long passed as I stared, rapidly thinking. Slowly I dragged my self to my feet, hoping they could support my unsteady balance. I reached the bottle, shaking viciously. It was icy as my fingers spread across its precarious form. Hazard signs screamed their names at me as my eyes scanned its form. I slowly twisted at the cap, uneasily. The smell burnt my lungs as it drifted down my airway. I coughed instinctively as I brought it closer to my face. I peered into the small container, corroding my eyes as I did.
A moment of stupidity can ruin your life. I slashed the bottle across my skin, falling horror struck. My mind screamed for mercy as I fell to the floor in agony. Blisters grew mockingly as the derisive liquid danced upon my skin. I whispered for death before darkness fell upon me.
I heard a faint beeping sound beside me. I opened my eyes. Darkness. The beeping quickened as my hands raced around me. What was going on? I grabbed whatever I could reach in an attempt to pull myself away from whatever clung to my body. Tortures pain struck my body, laughing at my miserable attempts to escape. I felt hands upon me, grabbing, restraining. I called out but nothing more than a faint murmur escaped my mouth with the slight tinge of blood. I calm voice hushed me, whispering my name. Hospital. I blurted out questions, well attempted. I was told in a tranquil voice that I was in hospital, that my husband had called an ambulance early this morning. Morning? I had been unconscious for hours. A bandage had been placed around my head in an attempt to heal my sorrowful eyes.
It was weeks before the bandage came off. The doctor stood before me, I could speak again. We chatted carelessly about Adam and his work. After rolling the last of the bandage around his expert hands he smiled at me. His smile confused me. There was no happiness, more pity. I saw a blur of Adam behind him, angrily exiting the room. My puzzled look lead to explanations. Days later I was up and moving around the burn unit. I stepped into the ladies restroom, and sorrow filled my eyes. A woman stood before me, I pitied her. Her face was disfigured. I considered asking her her story, but I decided against it. I just smiled weakly, and she returned my smile. She I gathered my courage and decided to say hello, but embarrassingly at the same moment, her mouth had opened, so I waited blushing, allowing her to talk first. She did the same, I noticed she too was embarrassed, and had a smile about her. The process repeated, and I became confused. We stepped closer to each other. Her swift eyes scanned my body. I stepped back, horror struck. Burning crystals fell from my eyes, as I moved towards her as she cried. I reached out my fingers and touched her hand. A sheet of glass was before my fingers.
The next few days were difficult. I saw very little of Adam, I didn’t understand. Gaston visited once, but I hadn’t heard back from him either. I remember his face as he briefly visited: Disgust. I was allowed to return home today. A taxi arrived at the hospital and drove me to my house. I stepped through the door, feeling the warmth of home. The crisp smell of coffee drifted past me, Adam was here. I shut the door and tripped, catching my hand upon the radiator, steadying myself. Several suitcases were standing patiently in the doorway. Had someone visited?
I called out his name; I’d missed him dearly. He sat in the living room, unresponsive, his wheel chair silhouette in the fireplace. I whispered his name, grinning quietly. He didn’t look at me, but he sighed quietly. I spoke to him, gently, questioned who was staying, hurt that he hadn’t asked of my well being yet. I got a harsh response of “No one”, and little else. He turned to me silently. He looked at me with disgust. “It’s over Bella.” He said, carelessly. “Your things are waiting, it’s not going to work for me anymore. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but that would be a lie. I want you out.” A searing pain ripped through my already broken chest. I cried for him. Falling to my knees tears once again ripped down my cheeks. Hours passed by, and he didn’t speak again. I dragged myself to the doorway, pulling at my things, dead inside. This had been for him.