Disclaimer: Don't own, just torture them. The story is mine.
A/N: Thanks for mycrookedsmile for looking this over.
If there are mistakes in it, totally my fault because I didn't check it again, lol.
Oh and the working name of this was 'Angstfest'. It is HEAVY. You might not want to read it if you're not into angst at all. JS.
About continuing it? Maybe drabbles at some point or something... Don't know.
I sat there for a long time. Hours, probably. That's what my life had come to, after him. Either because of my tears or the rain pounding on the glass window, I was unable to see through. I knew what was there though: the large expanse of the backyard, the little pond and the gazebo next to it. Neither had been there when we first bought this house.
The loss of him weighed me down. I could feel it in my bones; my flesh screamed his name whenever I thought I caught his scent while turning my head in the room. My skin felt numb while the rest of me was in constant pain. The only thing that could awaken my skin would be his touch. My skin was as good as dead.
The sorrow, the despair, the loss.
Funny how you could feel nothing even when your emotions were crushing you.
The absence of him is everywhere.
Where did I hear that sentence? It makes no difference now. Why? Because it is true.
The window-seat I was sitting on was deep enough for an adult to sit on comfortably. I could stretch my legs in front of me and my toes still didn't touch the other side of the window's frame.
I remembered it like it was yesterday.
It was the last thing we'd built together. The windowsill for me to sit on while he worked on his computer on the other side of the room. He'd either write or check our stocks. I'd stare out of the window and think, then draw something in the large sketchbook on my lap.
"It looks inviting. I love the colors, but then again you chose them so I'm not surprised," he said and I smiled as I leaned my head back on his shoulder.
The fabrics were deep, rich colors. Blue with specks of silver mixed with earthy brown. The throw pillows were quickly tossed on the floor when he mumbled something about christening the windowsill and took me right there, in the late afternoon sun that warmed us through the glass.
It seemed like time had stopped. The sun had retreated behind the cover of clouds. How long had it been now?
My cell vibrated; his sister was calling, again.
With a sigh I pushed the button and raised the phone to my ear.
"How long has it been?" was my way of greeting her.
"Three weeks, four days." Her voice was compassionate.
"It feels like more."
"Yes, most days it does for me too." She sighed. At least she had her family to keep her mind occupied. Her two children were too young to know what exactly was wrong.
"Still nothing?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
There was a deep, weary sigh and then, "It wasn't your fault. You know he would have gone anyway, he wanted to take the job and when he decided something he always did it. Not your fault. You were a supportive husband like you should be," she said once again, those words were like her mantra when we spoke of him.
"I think I know that, rationally, but my heart says I should have not let him go." I sighed, in turn using my own mantra.
"He knew the risks. You did too. We all did. Even his boss says they warned him not to go to that zone. It was not safe there."
Another set of words I knew by heart.
I loved my husband for his passion. He had been so passionate about us getting married after dating a couple of years so we had, not that I had anything against that idea. He had been a journalist before we met. He was back home from another dangerous country, taking a mandatory break when we met each other that evening in the club. He looked pained, mostly because of the loudness and the way people thought it was the most important thing in the world. He later told me he had seen so much in such a short time, that it changed him forever. The club scene was something he learned to loathe as soon as he got back from 'the job'.
It was a chance encounter. I had been out with my friend Tyler and his boyfriend and I wanted to leave because I had a headache. My future husband made me forget all about that in an instant. He had been anxious to get away from the noise and the grinding bodies.
We were both leaving the club early, and bumped to each other by the door. One look and we knew we had found it: our other half. It sounded like a cliche, we knew, but when we spent the next four years getting to know each other, getting married and renovating our house, nobody questioned us.
His mother called us each other's forever. Who knew forever could be such a short time?
A month and a half ago he left again. To another war zone, in a country with a reputation of not being very friendly towards journalists. He promised he'd be back, he'd be careful. He'd never leave me. So I let him go because I knew it was what he needed to be happy. To do the work he was supposed to. The freelancing he had done locally wasn't enough for him.
At first there were almost daily emails. Then they stopped. Then his boss called his sister. She called me. My world broke down around me.
He hadn't been seen since traveling through a particularly dangerous zone three weeks and four days ago. They had taken precautions; journalists and photographers from different countries were moving from area to area together. They all vanished without a trace.
A video was posted online somewhere. Another journalist, from Germany, was shot in front of the cameras and the message was clear. None of the journalists who had been with him would make it out of the jungle alive.
The count was up to six kidnapped now, well, five if you didn't count the one they shot. The whole world knew what happened to him.
I didn't know what anyone was doing about the situation—if the countries were negotiating, if the rebels had made demands. None of that made any difference because I'd get the news eventually.
So I went on, sleeping when my body forced me to. Ignoring calls I didn't absolutely have to take, after all, The Call, that they had found his body, could come any minute. I didn't want to hold the line.
I did eat. I needed the strength to be able to wait for my call. I only left the house when I needed to restock the fridge. It took me fifteen minutes to get to the store, a maximum of ten minutes to shop (I chose to go so when there were less people around to slow me down) and then another fifteen to get back home.
Every time, even though I had my cell with me at all times, I checked the answering machine at the house before doing anything else. Just in case. My email and his, I checked those too as I had a password for his for emergencies. If this wasn't an emergency, I didn't know what was.
It was almost summer. There was a bit of color in the flowerbeds around the gazebo now. It rained a bit less but it was still your typical Forks weather.
No word, nothing.
I wasn't grieving, that was something I was reserving for the moment I finally got the call. Grief would let me say goodbye.
Now I just felt his absence; he could have been anywhere and I wouldn't have been any wiser. I couldn't grieve if there was no body, no funeral. No grave I could take flowers to.
Somehow I kept on waiting. Sitting on the blue and silver covers, the brown pillows gathered behind my back.
I would have to go to the store today. I was waiting for the first wave of people to get to their schools and places of work before driving to town.
While I waited I wondered why his sister hadn't called me yet. The calls were less frequent now. At first they came twice a day, then once a day. They were like the last droplets of water that was poured from a pitcher. Finally they'd end, I knew. Now it was every couple of days.
I never called her, she always chose to call me instead and I was grateful. Calling her was almost like I was going to admit something was wrong. Of course I knew nothing was right but I was trying to hold onto the facade I had built. The whole town looked at me with the same sad eyes. They knew he was one of the journalists that had gone missing in that god forsaken part of the world.
I stood there, in the line at store. There was a line for once, for a reason unknown to me. Had I forgotten some holiday? No...that wasn't it.
"There's a party at the Newton house." I heard a voice behind me. It was the first friendly tone I had heard in over two months. It was nice to hear the lack of pity in it.
Turning around I faced her.
"Good day, Angela." I managed a little smile.
"I want to ask 'how are you,' Edward, but I know how you are already," she said and I huffed a tiny bit of something that almost sounded like laughter.
"I won't be okay until I know," I told her and she nodded, her eyes full of compassion but not pity.
Then it dawned on me that she might just be the one person in the whole town who knew how I actually felt. My realization must have been clear on my face, because it made her giggle softly and place her hand on my arm.
"Don't worry, I'm just glad someone doesn't remember. To you I'm the librarian, not the widow of a soldier who died in Iraq." She smiled, the sadness still flashing on her pretty features.
"So, what's this about the Newton house?" I asked and she smiled, explaining to me that Mike and Jessica's twins were turning ten tomorrow and people were doing last minute shopping for the big party and picnic and whatnot.
"You're doing your shopping in the wrong time today," she said and I ducked my head a bit, probably blushing.
"Hey, none of that now, Edward. I didn't go out during the daytime for the first two months. I shopped at the gas station at night when I needed something Lauren couldn't bring for me. I know how it is. I'm just hoping that you get closure in some form. Even if it is like mine," she said and smiled warmly.
I could only nod, then the line moved again and I got to pay for my groceries.
"You know, Angie, would you like to come over some day? For a coffee or some wine?" I asked her and she smiled again.
"Sure, I think I have your house number somewhere. I'll call you once I get my schedule for next week?" she asked as we walked towards our cars in the parking lot.
"Absolutely. Thanks." I smiled for the first time since the phone call nine weeks ago.
That night I lay in our bed. I was staring at the ceiling, just like I usually did when I was willing my body to relax.
Every half an hour or so a car drove by, but I wasn't paying attention anymore. The first month I nearly jumped out of my skin when the cars passed by our house. Not anymore.
He wasn't coming home, not like that, without letting me know beforehand. He wouldn't do that to me and I knew it now.
Somehow I managed to fall asleep. In the morning, after the mandatory caffeine and toast, I took my sketchbook and went to sit in the gazebo. I had the back door of the house propped open so I'd hear the phone and my cell was next to me on the bench.
When would I tire of this, the waiting?
And then I was drawing, not really paying attention to what exactly, but I was drawing properly, letting the image flow out of me and it felt strangely good.
When I was half way done I was snapped out of it by my cell going off.
We had the usual call, no news, still missing him, her family fine, me not so much but couldn't be helped. The usual.
When I set the cell down again, I looked at the sketch.
It was an image of him.
I had even used some color—his eyes, hair and lips were lightly brushed by the colors I remembered so well. His expression was a bit sad, like he knew something I didn't, but there was love in his eyes.
I don't know how long I sat there, looking at the image and not thinking anything in particular. Hunger took me back inside and I had something to eat and went back to spending my time sitting on the windowsill.
Two days later the house phone rang and shook me from staring at the closed fridge door. I had been staring at the little notes there, the few photographs and some drawings from children we knew.
I wasn't even scared to answer the phone, feeling so disconnected from reality.
"Yes?" I breathed into the receiver.
"Edward, it's Angela. How about tomorrow night?" she asked and I had to think hard for a moment. Then she clarified, "The wine. At your place."
"Oh...sure. I have wine but you can bring something if you want to," I said and she confirmed she'd be here after she got off work and we hung up.
I liked the fact that I didn't need to apologize and that she didn't need to explain what she meant. She knew what I was going through and that helped so much.
When Angie arrived at the house the next evening, she was carrying a box, chocolate cake from the local bakery, and a lovely, friendly smile.
I found myself feeling happy that she was there. For the first time since my husband disappeared, I felt good about something, anything.
The chatting was almost easy, the laughter mostly genuine. After some dinner—I made some mushroom ravioli for Angela—and some cake, we sat on the couch near the fireplace and enjoyed the wine.
It was like sitting there with a sister, almost. I was smiling a little and I saw Angie smiling in response, happy that I was showing emotion.
She was just telling me a story about the old librarian, Mrs. Joyce, when my cell rang.
It was on the coffee table next to my knee. Immediately I knew it was too soon; I had just spoken with his sister the other day.
The panic was clear on my face when Angela passed me the phone.
She didn't ask if I wanted her to get it for me. She knew I had to take the call myself.
Somehow we both knew what call it was. That in the next minute I'd know for sure. I closed my eyes for a moment and swallowed hard.
I tried to even my frantic breathing before I swapped my wineglass for the phone and pressed the button.