To Mend a Broken Heart (6 page)

Chapter Six

 

 

Six hours later, I am a wet sobbing mess. Surrounded by Richard’s clothes. Clearing out his things was a bad idea.
Why did I think I could cope with this, today of all days?
I place the last few items into the black plastic bags and tie them up. They are only clothes, thousands of people probably own the exact same things. But they still smell of him and I can still remember what he looked like in every single item of clothing that now sits in these bags.

 

Was this all one amazing life became? Black bags. It was even more sad seeing it surrounding me. There was nothing else. We didn’t have any children. What mark on the world did we make as a couple? What did Richard leave behind to show the world our love? I lift my left hand and my rings catch the light.
These
. This is what he leaves behind. I press my left hand to my chest over my beating heart.
This.
The mark he left on my heart, the place he will live forever. It didn’t seem enough, it didn’t seem nearly enough. Standing up, I stretch my back and head back to the kitchen for something to eat and a large glass of wine. Half way through my second glass my phone vibrates. I have a message from a number I don’t have stored in my phone.

 

Hello Katie. I hope you don’t mind me texting you, you must have put your number in my phone along with your address. Thank you, it gave me a way to get in touch without coming round and putting you under more pressure. I wanted to check on you. Make sure my actions last night and today haven’t upset you. I should never have acted the way I did. I know you’re vulnerable right now and it was wrong in every way. I hope you can forgive me. I hope we can remain friends, we are friends, aren't we Katie? I do hope so. Well, you have my number now. I hope you’ll at the very least, let me know you’re okay. And I really hope you will meet me for coffee sometime over the weekend? I’m pretty free, so any time works for me. I really am sorry. Daniel.

 

He doesn’t need to be sorry. I don’t remember telling him no. I don’t remember him flipping out and asking him to leave. That was all me. I wanted to help him, but I think I just hurt him more. I wanted him to hold me, I admitted that to myself. I was okay with it when I fell asleep, so what changed when I woke up? As I’m trying to make some sense of my feelings, Ginny phones.

 

“How is your day going, sweetie?” her happy voice comes down the phone.

 

“It sucks actually.” I tell her honestly.

 

“Why?”

 

“I messed things up with Daniel and then I decided today would be the day I sorted through all of Richard’s clothes…”

 

“Oh, sweetie. What happened with Daniel?”

 

“It’s so stupid, I overreacted so much.”

 

“Overreacted to what?”

 

“He asked me out for a drink after the hospital, just as friends, he didn’t want to spend another night alone and I… I’d had such a good day and he makes me…”

 

“He makes you what?” Ginny’s voice is kind, there isn’t any judging.

 

“He makes me feel better, Ginny.”

 

“There isn’t anything wrong in that. I’m not seeing how it goes wrong from there?”

 

“I got in the car to leave, I was going to follow him back. But while I sat in the car, I started to think, you know what I’m like, I overthink everything and all I could picture was Richard. I don’t need to tell you what happened do I?” I sigh and rest my head in my hands, then tell her anyway, “Daniel knocked on the window and did something so simple, he wiped away a tear and I just crumbled.” I take a deep breath and whisper, “And he held me, right in the middle of the car park.”

 

“He sounds incredibly sweet.”

 

“He is. After I got it together, we came here. I really didn’t want to be surrounded by people. He bought some wine, and we had a takeaway. And then we went to bed. Separately. He stayed on the sofa.” I stop talking and wait.

 

“Are you hoping I’m going to tell you, you did something wrong? Because it isn’t going to happen.”

 

“He woke me up at five this morning making a coffee. We sat in the kitchen drinking coffee, He’d been dreaming, we spoke about it. He told me what the dreams were about then he just broke down in front of me. Ginny, I think my pain consumes me, I think my pain is the worst thing in the world, it’s nothing compared to the pain he feels.”

 

“You can’t compare pain sweetie, not this kind of pain.”

 

“I wrapped my arms around him, I just needed to comfort him and for him to comfort me. The whole thing was so haunting. And when he…” the words just keep tumbling out.

 

“When he?” she prompts gently.

 

“When he picked me up and carried me to the sofa and laid us both down, I let him. and I fell asleep just like that, in his arms. The comfort I felt there, I shouldn’t have felt. Not in another man’s arms, not this quickly. It’s so wr


 

“Don’t say it, Katie.”

 


Wrong.
” I let the word slip out and go silent.

 

“Katie, you’ve finally found something that helps you deal with everything. God, I haven’t been able to help you deal with it all. I’m there for you, but I can’t help you like I want to. I’m not going to tell you it’s wrong. There is nothing wrong about it. If it was a female, if the person who was helping you through all of this was a woman, would you be questioning it?”

 

“Of course not.”

 

“So because it’s a man, it’s wrong?”

 

“Yes.” it’s how I feel, it’s the truth.

 

“Why? You didn’t sleep together. And even if you told me you had, I wouldn’t be judging you, it still wouldn’t be wrong. And no one would tell you it was.”

 

“It is wrong. I was married, I wanted my whole life to be with Richard. My. Whole. Life. And now three months after he dies, I’m in the arms of another man, sobbing and finding comfort and solace and…” I stop talking, I can’t say any more.

 

“And what, Katie? What does he make you feel?”

 

“I can’t.” I whisper.

 

“You find him attractive? That isn’t wrong either. Did you find other men attractive when Richard was alive?”

 

“Of course I did.”

 

“Then why now he’s not here, is it unacceptable all of a sudden?”

 

“Because he isn’t here. And I should be mourning him, not lusting over another guy.”

 

“Were you lusting?” she half laughs.

 

“Ginny, if you saw him, you’d be lusting. He is..
beautiful.
If a man can be beautiful. He stirs feelings in me that I haven’t felt in months.” I clap my hand over my mouth to stop any more coming out.

 

“It’s okay, Kate,” Ginny laughs, “It really is okay. I can see the effect he has on you. You sound…
Happy
. For the first time in months. I want you to be happy again.”

 

“I just feel so guilty, Ginny. So incredibly guilty, it overwhelms me all the time. And Daniel, he is so broken he makes me look whole.”

 

“I can’t even imagine how he is surviving, if anything happened to Aidan…”

 

“I know.” I whisper, the thought not one I want to dwell on.

 

“So where did it go wrong?”

 

“I woke up in his arms and I flipped out. I told him to leave. That it was wrong, what we had done. I think I broke him more.”

 

“So go and see him and tell him, explain. From what you’ve said. He will understand.”

 

“He sent me roses, to say sorry and he text me, to apologise. He wants to go for a coffee this weekend.”

 

“Then go for a coffee.”

 

“Ginny, I’m not sure I can.”

 

“It’s a coffee, Katie. He hasn’t invited you to a swingers club or something.”

 

I laugh then, in-spite of myself. The thought of Daniel in a swingers club. He could be into that for all I know, I doubted it, but it could be possible.

 

“I’ll go for a coffee. I’ll explain. He deserves that.”

 

“And you deserve him. You deserve to have a friend who helps heal you and by the sound of it, you heal him too. Maybe you can put the broken pieces of each other back together.”

 

“Thank you, Ginny.”

 

“No need for thanks. I love you to the moon and back, Katie. I’d do anything for you.”

 

“And I you.”

 

“Now, don’t wallow. Do you want me to come over and pick up the things you sorted? Get them out of the bedroom?”

 

“Would you? I can’t look at them anymore. I’ve said goodbye to him, so many times, and the clothes, they won’t bring him back.”

 

“I’ll be round as soon as Ryan is back.”

 

“Thank you. I can’t thank you enough for everything.”

 

“You don’t need to. Just get better sweetie, become you again.”

 

 

 

* * *

 

I text Daniel back and agree to meet tomorrow morning for a coffee. I try to explain in a message what happened, but I don’t think I do a very good job of it. His reply makes me smile, I don’t know Daniel very well but it seems so him.

 

Daniel:
Nothing to be sorry for. We will work this whole thing out. I promise you that. I’ll have a mocha with whipped cream ready and waiting for you. D

 

I stay in the lounge while Ginny brings the bags downstairs and loads them into her car. She pulls me in for a hug before she leaves. She whispers in my ear, to let myself feel again, that although it was scary, it would be okay. I did believe her.

 

I spend the evening watching
Frasier
and giving myself a manicure.
I laugh and by the time I go to bed I have a smile back on my face. It still feels a little strange. I’d left the wardrobes open after I finished clearing out, Ginny had closed them thankfully and straightened my bedding. I brush my teeth, wash my face and slip under the sheets. I wasn’t tired yet, but I wanted to get comfortable. I pick up my kindle and switch it on, ready to lose myself in a fictional world for a few hours. It works, I fall asleep and don’t wake up until the next morning.

 

The sun is shining and the sky is blue when I wake up. I step out onto the little balcony I have outside the bedroom and inhale the sweet smell of summer. The sky was so clear today. Deciding to have breakfast in the garden, I make myself a bacon roll and a cup of tea and take it outside. I turn my face up to the sunshine and smile. Today was going to be a better day, I wasn’t going to overthink everything, I wasn’t going to question how I felt or why I felt it. I was just going to live. One day at a time.

 

 

* * *

 

 

“Katie, thank you so mu


 

“Rule number one, no more thanking me. I’m going to explain everything about how I felt today and then, no more talking about it. We need to move on Daniel, I have come to treasure your friendship in the short time we’ve known each other and I don’t want anything to spoil that.”

 

He smiles at me, a smile that reaches his eyes, which is so rare right now. I smile back and take out my purse.

 

“What will it be?”

 

“You’re not buying my coffee, this is my treat.”

 

“It was.. It’s not now. I want to treat you. So, what would you like?”

 

“A cappuccino and I wanted a muffin.” he grins cheekily at me.

 

“Then I’ll get you a muffin, which one?”

 

“Double chocolate of course.” he smiles, taking a seat.

 

“Coming right up.”

 

As I walk to the counter, I can feel his eyes on me. As it’s hot, I decided on my favourite floaty white dress. I love white and it seems so does Daniel. He is attracted to me too, I can tell. But that’s okay, friends can be attracted to each other, men and women can be friends without having sex.
Can’t they?
We get the awkward explanations out the way then focus on everything that isn’t that. Daniel tells me he plans to do some work in the garden this weekend and wonders if I’d like to go over for a barbecue. I love barbecues so I don’t hesitate to say yes.

 

“One condition though.”

 

“What is it first?”

 

“I bring the
Pimm’s
.”

 


Pimm’s?
I’ve never tried it.”

 

“Really
?
” He shakes his head and I laugh.
How can he not have tried it?

 

“It’s the ultimate summer drink! You’ll love it! And if you don’t, well, you’re very strange.”

 

“Well I am very strange.” his face is happy today and that makes me happy.

 

I need to get some food for the week in, so I tell Daniel I’ll pick up some things and then go over. I have to fight my instinct to panic and freak out when he suggests, if I want to have a drink, he has a guest room I can stay in, save me getting a taxi home.

 

“I’ll bring my overnight things, thank you, Daniel.” I smile, swallowing down my panic.

 

“No thanking remember? Your rule.”

 

“Not gratuitous thanking.”

 

“Can it
ever
be gratuitous?”

 

“Probably not, let’s move on. Give me your address.”

 

He puts his address into my phone and we say goodbye, Daniel assuring me he has everything we will need for the barbecue so I don’t need to bring anything over, I will anyway. I head to my car and drive to the supermarket. I pick up everything I’ll need to make
Pimm’s
and after firing off a quick text to Daniel, I tell him, I’ve got dessert sorted, Eton Mess, perfect for the summer.

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