So, I was busy working at my computer, when I suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to take a quick break and write some Callian stuff. I knew if I did some work on the next chapter of Sometimes… I'd be there for hours, so this is just a little one-shot, a procrastination tool if you like!
Disclaimer: Don't own any of it
Don't Leave Me
As a psychologist, she knew that a lot of people's issues stemmed from their childhood – it was only natural. Not that it was fair to lay the blame for all your emotional issues at your parents' door, but that is inevitably what most people did. She'd counselled people with such a variety of problems and concerns – addictions, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, victims of abuse – there wasn't much she hadn't seen or helped people with. But, as her mother always used to say, "don't assume a dentist has never had a filling." Being able to help other people sort out their problems didn't mean she didn't have any of her own, or that the ones she did have she was able to deal with effortlessly. Sometimes, she thought nothing could be further from the truth.
'Abandonment issues', that's what she'd call it if it were a patient of hers. Funny how it's always so much easier to view other people's problems objectively, and how blind you can be to your own; how many years had she felt this way, without ever properly trying to deal with it? Her father had left home, countless times. It didn't matter that he came back, the point was, he left. And there was never any guarantee that he would return; each time he closed the door behind him might well have been the last goodbye, not that he ever paid his wife or daughter the courtesy of actually using that word.
At seventeen, she'd fallen in love for the first time. The world had become such a brighter place after she and Dan became a couple, but, even though the realist in her said first love was unlikely to last a lifetime, when Dan announced he was moving to Canada, it was a bitter blow. It didn't matter how much her mother told her she would find love again, that you can't start your life properly until you've had your heart broken once, that she was young and had her whole life ahead of her to fall in love. All that mattered then was that he was the first boy she'd ever loved. And he had left.
In college, she'd had a string of relationships, but none that really meant anything. Not until Jack. He was smart, handsome, charming, generous - she'd had their whole lives together mapped out by the third date (although she'd been wise enough not to tell him that). When they were curled up on the sofa together, he'd be watching the ball game while she thought about names for their children. When they strolled hand in hand down the street, she imagined how he might propose to her. When their second anniversary rolled around, during her final year, she wondered what gift he had bought her, where he was going to take her for the night. Instead, he told her that he'd cheated on her a few weeks ago, while drunk. It hadn't meant anything at the time, but the girl, someone he knew from his course, Michelle – funny how even now she couldn't hear that name without thinking of her – had just told him she was pregnant. So, he was going to do the decent thing – be a father. And try and make things work with Michelle. Because, he said, it isn't fair to you to try and carry on like this, when some other woman is carrying my child. No, it wasn't fair. Nothing about that situation was fair.
And then there was Alec. She'd married him – was it too much to ask that she would at last have found someone who would stay with her? At first, things were going well. They'd had their share of problems – hardly seeing each other sometimes because of work, his interfering mother, and, of course, their problems conceiving. But then they had been blessed, with the gift Gillian wanted more than anything.
Sophie. The greatest blessing Gillian had ever known. Who knew you could feel such a strong love for another human being? Such fierce love, such a strong desire to protect her, look after her, cherish her always. All these emotions and more flooded Gillian whenever she held her daughter. My daughter. The words felt so perfect sliding from her mouth, she found she used them more than was even necessary. I must go, I think my daughter needs feeding. I'm buying this for my daughter, she's three weeks old. My daughter and I came to the park today to get some fresh air.
And then she was gone. No more nappies on the shopping list, no more bottles of milk in the refrigerator, no more baby grows in the wash. Just emptiness, a void that no amount of chocolate pudding could fill.
But she'd still had her husband, her anchor, her support. At least, that was the theory. The reality was that Alec dealt with losing Sophie by throwing himself into his work, even more so than usual – and refused to talk about their daughter. Her real anchor during those days had been Cal. There weren't over the top gestures, dramatic declarations of 'I'm here for you whatever', no tiptoeing around her or treating her with kid gloves just because she'd suffered a loss. But his support was there; she felt it in the gentle caress of his hand on her arm, saw it in the reassuring looks he gave her, sensed it in his quiet but constant presence in her life.
Then Alec's drug addiction had resurfaced. He'd tried to hide it from her, but that was pointless. Even someone who couldn't see what she saw would have noticed the signs. There were times when she thought they might battle through it; their marriage survived losing their child, surely it could survive seeing her husband through rehab. But as their conversations grew shorter, the time he spent at the office grew longer and her patience with him wore thinner, she realised that she had lost the desire to fight. He'd chosen the drugs over her; even if she was the one to finally utter the words I think we should separate, he was the one who'd been walking away from her for months. So now she lived in a house that bore no trace of a husband or a child; she felt further away from the life she'd always wanted than she had a decade ago. Wasn't getting older supposed to be about your life growing and developing, moving in the right direction, not backwards?
She felt a tear leak out the corner of her eye, and gently wiped it away. Most of the time she was able to push these fears aside, paint on a smile and greet the world with warmth and good humour. But sometimes, in the quiet moments when she didn't have something else to occupy her mind, the thoughts would filter in. Alec. Sophie. Jack. Dan. Her father. People she'd loved. People she'd lost. How many more would there be? How many more times would she have to be abandoned by someone she wanted, needed, loved?
There was one person she knew she couldn't lose, and suddenly, she had to see him. Standing up quickly, she brushed under her eyes once more and marched towards his office.
"Hey," he greeted her as she came in. He glanced at the clock. "You should go home, it's getting –" He was cut off mid-sentence as she enveloped him in a tight hug. Although surprised, he brought his arms up to wrap around her, rubbing her shoulders. "Shh," he soothed, as he felt her body shake with quiet sobs. "It's alright, love, it's alright."
"Don't leave me," she whispered, so quiet he had to strain to catch the words. Pulling away from her slightly, he gently ran his hand down her cheek. "Don't leave me," she repeated, and he didn't have to ask why. Explanations weren't necessary; he knew her deepest fear, knew what kept her awake at night, knew the traumas of her past, even those that had happened before they'd met.
"Never, love," he said, pulling her close to him again and feeling her relax in his arms. "Never."