Maybe it was fate - destiny – written in the stars – God's will…. Call it what you like – but fate had most definitely decided that Mackenzie MacHale was meant to live most of her adult life un-happy as far as love was concerned.
She was a huge believer in fate – always had been – she always thought that everything happens for a reason but that didn't mean she liked it – fate that is. In her opinion, Fate had dealt her a pretty bad deal and whatever happened it seemed she was never going to get the happy ever after that she dreamt about.
It was the middle of December 2017, it was bitterly cold, the rain was lashing down outside and Mac had been in a foul mood for most of December. She sat cross-legged on her bed, a glass of wine on the cabinet next to her bed and stared hard at the box in front of her. She knew she shouldn't – she knew it never did any good but she pulled the lid from her box of memories and reached for the letter than had been read so many times now that she knew it by heart….
My Darling Mackenzie,
I know I shouldn't probably call you that anymore but the truth is you'll always be my darling. We may not be together anymore and you and I may pretend that this is for the better good – for both our trouble minds – but I can't pretend it's Okay any more or bear to hurt you anymore – I've done that enough. We were once best friends, lovers (twice now) and now we can't even talk civilly to each other outside of the office and inside the office isn't that much better either.
I know this is a Coward's way out and it's so hard to actually write what I want to say but I can't see me being able to say these things to your face without us tearing each other apart any more. I hope you believe me when I say that all I ever wanted to do was to take care of you and make you happy and I honestly thought we had a shot at that when we reconciled those five long months ago. The first few weeks were amazing but soon enough one of us manages to screw it up and of course it has to be my turn this time.
Life with you and I being together has just become too hard now Mac and the argument yesterday showed that. You said you didn't want to be together anymore but I can't be with you at work and be just colleagues. I love you so much and I know you love me and yet we can't find a way to be together and make it work – God knows we both want that and we have tried so hard. I can't stand another argument going over the same old things. I know that I am to blame – please don't think that any of this is your fault – this is me – all this hurt and lack of trust is my fault and, believe me, I despise myself for it.
You know about my father and what happened in my childhood but I don't think I ever told you how scared I've been my whole life of turning into him. I fight to keep my temper under control so much when things aren't going right for me and lately I can see certain traits from my father in me. Maybe it's Dr Habib's constant prodding of my childhood that is causing this right now but my inability to forget what happened with you and Brenner all those years ago is starting to make me realise just how much like him I am. It's becoming like a noose around my neck and I can't see a way out of this situation between you and me. I don't like who I have become and I must do something about it before I can even attempt to forgive you. I promise you, I have tried so very hard to forgive – I want to desperately – but still I see you two together when I close my eyes at night. I had it under control while you were away but since you came back into my life - since us being back together it's gotten worse and worse. Maybe the biggest mistake was me pushing us back together so soon – I kind of knew it was too soon in the back of my mind – that I hadn't sorted my head out but I was so desperate to be with you again – to love you again that I couldn't help but beg you for another try. Again, this is all my fault Mac – you asked me time and time again if I was ready and I assured you I was.
I spoke with Charlie today – or rather he shouted at me for most of the meeting – telling me how badly I have treated you and just what I should do to make it right again. The thing is Mac – I'm not sure it ever can be made right again. I can see when you look at me lately that you loathe me for all the hell I've put you through. I know I've hurt you but you must know that I've never meant one single bit of it – I love you Mackenzie – I truly do... but sometimes love just isn't enough when there's a stack of shit to wade through from the past.
Charlie told me your plans today Mac and I think you're right. I'm not mad (Charlie said you thought I might be) I think you're brave and, deep down, I know you're doing the right thing for both of us. So much so, that I have also resigned today – effective immediately. Charlie didn't even try to stop me – I think I've lost his respect and friendship as well as yours. Sensibly, the only thing for both of us is a fresh start and I wish with all my heart whatever job you take works out for you better than this has. You are the best EP in the business Mac – don't let anyone else ever tell you otherwise. You came back here two years ago and transformed News night - you should be proud and I personally thank you for everything you've done for me and my career – I wouldn't be anything without you pushing me in the right direction over the years.
I hope this letter makes sense to you my darling. It's getting late and I really have to go. It's Christmas Eve and I've a plane to catch – I need to get away and clear my head – god knows I need it. I know I shouldn't say this but I wish you were coming with me but of course, I know that just can't be right now. Whatever happens from now on in Mac I hope and pray you find some happiness and contentment – you truly do deserve that at the very least. It's like a dagger to the heart for me to say this but I hope you find someone who will love you and who you love in return.
What's the old saying? If you love someone set them free? Well that's what I'm doing Mackenzie – I'm doing the honourable thing. I have loved you from the day I met you and I will always love you so I'm setting you free. Please take this as it's meant – I want you to love again – it's not a punishment for us not being able to make us work – it's a release for you.
Whatever happens –Please be happy my love - It will make all this hurt worthwhile if I can believe you're happy.
With love always
Mackenzie read the last line over and over again as she had so many times over the past six years... "How the hell can I ever be happy if you're not with me Billy?" she whispered to the empty room.
Mackenzie folded the letter up and wiped away the tears that had rolled down her cheeks. She knew reading the letter wasn't good for her – it always made her cry and she did her best to ignore it but every now and then, on nights like tonight, when she was missing him so badly the letter bought her some sort of strange comfort. It was as if reading that he loved her once upon a time made it still real – that he might be thinking of her right now the way she constantly thought of him.
She picked up the photo she kept with the letter and gently ran her fingers over the outline of his face… It was hard to believe that she was the same woman as in the photo. She looked so blissfully happy with Will tucked into her side that she often wondered whether it was actually her staring back at her. She shook her head to try and budge the memories the photo bought back but she was out of luck tonight. It was the end of August 2011 and they had been back together for nearly a month and Maggie had taken a snap of them snuggled up on the sofa one night when they were working late. They were surrounded by reports and Chinese take-out boxes but they had posed for Maggie as she'd gotten her phone out and it resulted in a gorgeous picture - both looked tired but the happiness written over both their faces was priceless.
The following few month had been tough to try and get through – the initial euphoria of being back together wore off pretty quickly once Mac realised Will hadn't been able forgive her. He tried so hard to convince them both that he had but he hadn't – that soon became abundantly clear. The constant comments and arguments that followed were almost as bad as the initial split four years previously and it ended up with them officially being together but spending most of their free time apart. The kisses that were once so passionate were now pecks on the cheek and the love making that had been constant had turned into a once a month kind of thing that they felt they had to do. The relationship (the second time round) was doomed from the start when Mackenzie looked back on it now.
She sighed and once again cursed her damn bad luck where love was concerned. Most people met someone, fell madly in love and managed to live happily ever after. She'd done the first two parts – twice now with the same man – so why was she never allowed the happy ever after? She looked down at the photo again – she'd been in love with this man for ten years now – ten years since she'd first met him and still she sat alone on a cold winter's night dreaming of what could have been.
Fate could go and take a running jump in a lake….
Six years had passed since Mac had found that letter slid under the door of her apartment. She remembered it so clearly - it was Christmas Eve night and Mac had found the letter as she trudged off to bed. She had sat alone for most of the day – her only companion a bottle of red wine. They had planned a quiet Christmas – just the two of them in his apartment but all hell had broken out the previous morning at work – a forced kiss when he'd gotten into work very late and she could smell alcohol on his breath. She had questioned him as to why he was drinking by 11am and that was it – the biggest of all arguments ended up with her storming out of the building and god knows what happening to him. She had rung Jim when she had gotten home and told him he was in charge for the rest of the day but when she flicked on her TV at 8 o'clock that night Elliot was staring back at her instead of Will. Furious with Will for not even attempting to contact her she switched her mobile off and drunk herself silly.
The following morning had bought a massive hangover but also fresh hope for Mackenzie and she had a plan. She rang Charlie straight away and arranged to meet him - he wouldn't like the fact that she was leaving ACN but hopefully he would see it was for the better good for her and Will – maybe if they weren't on top of each other all day they would be able to sort out the mess they had made of their personal lives. In her eyes – resigning was the only way to fix their relationship and she had finally decided her love for Will was more important than any job. Mac had never meant for Will to think that it was over – that she was running away but he obviously had and that was just one more nail in the coffin as far as their love affair was concerned.
She found the letter under her door the following night and Mac still found it hard to believe that awful argument was the last time she ever saw or spoke to him. But then again, if you yell "I wish I'd never met you" at someone then you couldn't really blame them for running away. She was livid that he had just swanned off on a plane over Christmas whilst she sat at home and crying non-stop for forty eight hours – Happy bloody Christmas indeed.
By Boxing Day, her anger, mixed with her damn stubbornness had taken over and she vowed there and then she did in-fact never want to see Will McAvoy again - Plan B was needed and her quick mind got to work straight away.
But, Christmas 2011 was all a long time ago now and Mac had moved on – well, she told anyone who was willing to listen that she'd moved on but how could she when Will still had such a tight hold or her heart and mind. After Christmas that year she had headed to a new job in Washington but had only lasted a couple of months until she had decided enough was enough - She was un-bearably miserable and the temptation to hop on a plane and turn up at Will's apartment was too much for her every single weekend. He obviously didn't want her as he'd made no attempt to contact her since the letter so she made the huge decision to move back to London – there would be no chance of bumping into Will there and she was certain London, and the love of her family, would be the best place to get on with her life.
She stayed with her parents for a couple of months but that certainly hadn't worked out either so she found herself now, in a two bedroomed apartment in London's trendy East End. Mac was enjoying her new life most of the time - she had a great job, a whole new set of friends and there had even been a few dates but no man ever came close to Will. She persevered with the dates though, determined that out there somewhere was someone who could make her happy enough to move on with her life. She knew she would probably never get the same kind of love that she shared with Will – that kind of love was once in a lifetime sort of thing - but surely there was something for her – a second best kind of love? She'd settle for second best. Fate wouldn't be that cruel to deny her some kind of love and happiness surely?
So – here she was in London – two weeks before Christmas 2017 and still staring at an old photo of Will McAvoy. She sighed, took a sip of her wine and shook her head – annoyed with herself yet again. She shouldn't be feeling like this - it wasn't all doom and gloom - she now had Michael to love and comfort her but not even his un-conditional love could mend her broken heart.