There is no air.
I suck gulps.
It’s pointless. All I hear is pathetic wheezing and my future breaking into pieces.
Black edges my vision, the inky rings drawing me under.
My head falls between my splayed legs in an attempt to get closer to the floor, where I pray the blessed darkness takes me at long last. I want her to. If he dies, I don’t want to live.
This can’t be happening. Why is this happening? Why aren’t the doctors coming out? It’s been six hours.
That can’t be good, can it?
Distant buzzing fills my head, getting louder by the second.
You deserve this, Mavs, she whispers sweetly in my ear.
Karma, that ruthless bitch. Her saccharine tenor cuts through the incessant ringing with clarity.
You caused this. You deserve this.
I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe this is the only way to atone for past indiscretions and sins. Losing the one person in this world I hold most dear. I start sobbing uncontrollably, my cries muffled by my position.
“Maverick, calm down,” he says sternly beside me. He reaches for my hand, but his touch burns. I jerk away, hissing like an infected animal ready to attack.
“Hey,” he says softer this time. The gentle, calming tone I’ve heard my entire life echoes loudly off these four bland white walls that hold chaos, suffering, and shattered lives. It sounds like nails being driven into my ears. “It’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay.”
He was shot! Gunned down by a fucking lunatic at work, and he’s telling me everything is going to be okay in that eerily calm voice like I’m ten years old and my gerbil just died.
I hate him. I hate that he’s here, talking, breathing, living, and the man I want more than anything is fighting to come back to me.
“Just breathe. Nice and slow. You’re going to pass out.”
His hand lands on my shoulder and squeezes lovingly, reassuringly.
I jump up and lose it. “I don’t want you here.” My voice is strangely even but poisonous. “This is your fault.”
My behavior is irrational, but how does one react when the love of her life is fighting for his? I need to transfer the bone-crushing agony and debilitating fear that’s threatening to overtake me. I’m suffocating. Drowning slowly in heart-wrenching torment and a lifetime of regrets and wrong decisions.
We haven’t had enough time. Not nearly enough.
His mouth drops open then closes. Without a word he stands, grabs my shoulders, and forces me back down into the hard plastic chair I’ve been occupying for hours and hours. I don’t even feel it anymore. My body is as numb as my soul. Kneeling in front of me, he takes my hands, grips tight, and just breathes with me.
My shoulders shake with silent terror and morbid thoughts. Tiny stings of misery run in droves down my face. They hurt. I hurt. Every part of me hurts. I take it back. I’m not numb. I’m nothing but a distorted ball of pain.
The past pelts me as I struggle to remember every touch, every word, every memory. There are so many. So many.
Our lives are eternally interwoven. Our futures together already penned. They have been since the day of my birth.
He can’t die.
We were just starting our lives together. The way it was meant to be.
I can’t go on without my soul mate.
I bore my watery gaze into the man in front of me, the one who loves me so much, and spit venomous, hateful words. Words I don’t mean but can’t call back now that they’re out. “I wish it was you,” I say heartlessly, callously.
I ignore the hurt in his eyes. Hurt my words inflicted. He’s already devastated enough after how things ended between us weeks ago, and here I am…adding to it with my heartless tantrum.
I wish I could make myself care.
I am destroyed. I will never survive this if he’s taken from me.
“If it would save you even a moment of pain, Maverick, then so do I,” is his quiet, sincere reply.
He doesn’t move. He doesn’t release his grasp, even the tiniest bit. He’s holding me here, tethering me to a place I’m not sure I want to be a part of anymore.
He doesn’t move, so neither do I.
We both sit just like this, leaning on each other, praying like we’ve never prayed before.
I park my car in the desolate, dim parking lot, turn the key to the off position, and sit there for a few moments, gathering my wits for the day ahead. The glint of my wedding set catches in the streetlight, drawing my eye. I hold my hand out and study it, ignoring the French manicure that’s now grown out.
It’s stunning. A near flawless three-carat cushion cut surrounded by a carat of pavé diamonds, all set in platinum. The wedding band boasts another two carats of round diamonds that span the entire length of the circle.