CHAPTER FORTY SIX
I knew that it was happening. For the third time, it was happening. I didn't need any affirmation other than that first missed call. That first dead silence.
But still, something within me wouldn't except the fact. Maybe I had dialed the number wrong? I put down the phone. I redial, the rotary clicking with every feverish motion. The same response. I tried again.
Yet, again and again the robotic voice taunts me, "The number you have reached has been disconnected."
It is not until the twenty fifth time that I dial the same number that I realize...
There is no other explanation...There really is not other affirmation needed.
It only takes a matter of seconds. My heart starts to palpitate, so loudly I could hear it in my ears. My chest tightens, my temples throb. My eyes water, tears running down my face. I try to speak out, to say anything, but all I could feel was a weight upon my chest that wouldn't allow me to speak. I was being crushed by the weight of his absence. My whole body shook, and as I tried once more to say anything, all I could do was gasp for air, hiccup for oxygen.
There was a knock at my door, a light rap.
"Emmie? What's going- Emmie!"
Ollie runs to my side, his eyes widened in fear, "Emmie what's wrong?"
"I—" I try so hard to speak, to say anything, but my breath is shaky, my brain struggling to form the words.
"DAD!" Ollie runs frantically out of my room, screaming down the hallway "DAD! DAD! SOMETHINGS WRONG WITH EMMIE!"
There were the sounds of feet hitting the wooden floor roughly, the creaks indicating how they were racing to come to me.
"Emma? Baby?" Dad tries, approaching me.
My motor skills stop functioning, robbing my brain of any and all control of my body. I try to get away from dad, away from his touch. And as he approaches, I manage to scream out in a single breath "DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Dad looks at me, eyes widened and hand still extended towards me. Ollie looks at both of us, tears gathering in his eyes.
I try to breathe in and out, my heavy breaths finally starting to my lungs feel normal.
"Emma." Dad kneels before me, resting a hand next to me upon my bed, "What is going on, baby. What's wrong."
I take one more big breath, praying that my voice doesn't fail me and respond, "He's gone."
A flash of remorse spreads across dad's face, but it disappears almost immediately, "Who's gone?"
Hot anger rises up within me, bubbling over and I can feel it, red flashes before me, my voice screams, "YOU KNOW BLOODY WELL WHO!" I take three deep breaths, "YOU DID THIS!"
"Emma." Dad stands up and puts his hands on my shoulders, trying to stop me from shaking.
I push him off of me, "GET AWAY FROM ME!"
"Baby, you need to calm down." Dad says in an even voice.
"TELL ME WHERE HE IS THEN."
"Dad? Who's gone?" Ollie asks in a whisper.
Dad doesn't look at Ollie, he continues looking at me. He has the nerve to say, "Who are you talking about, Emma? Who is gone?"
"YOU KNOW WHO! NIALL! NIALL IS GONE!"
And there it was, the look of recognition on his face. There was no shock, no surprise whatsoever. He knew.
"Ollie, put the kettle on."
"Go, Ollie. I can handle this, okay?"
Ollie nods, running out of my room and rushing down the stairs.
"I need you to calm down, baby."
I don't reply. I don't have it in me to do so. My chest was heaving, my lungs not able to keep up with the amount of oxygen I needed.
"Emma, you're having a panic attack. Please. Just calm down." His hand goes over mine, trying to reassure me, to keep me safe. But all I feel is disgust.
I slip my hand away from under his, he looks at me sadly, "Ems, I don't know where he is."
"Liar." I whisper with the little amount of strength I had managed to recover.
"Baby, I'm not lying."
"I'm...not...stupid." I take a deep breath, "You don't...want...him here."
"Emma. I didn't make him leave."
"But he did...didn't...he." I say, looking at him head on.
"I don't know, baby. I don't know if he left or not."
"No, Emma. I don't."
I look up to see Ollie standing at the doorway, unsure of what to do with himself.
"Dad?" He says, leaning against the wooden frame, "The kettle is whistling."
"Okay." Dad says getting up and looking at me, "I'll be right back."
As dad leaves the room, Ollie comes in cautiously approaching me. He climbs up upon my bed and wraps me in his arms, "Please be okay, Emmie. He'll come back."
I heave for air, desperately I breathe in and out.
I could feel Ollie rubbing my back, "Please, be strong, like you always are. I don't like this Emmie."
"He's gone." I mutter pathetically.
"He'll be back, Emmie. He'll be back."
I awaken in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. A sliver of light was coming from the hallway into my room. I could hear dad on the phone, muttering fervently.
"Mum, please just put Edie on the phone. Yes...yes mum I know I've been a proper arse....yes...MUM! I know, alright!? This is important! For the love of God, please just put my wife on the phone."
I turn to look at the clock, 8:45. It wasn't too late, but it felt as if I had slept for days, not mere hours.
"Edie? Yeah. Look, we've got a situation. I know you're mad, and I know I've been a proper twat, but love, I need you. What happened? I fucked up Edie, I fucked this whole mess up and I've no idea how to fix it. No...I just. Yes, yes I did."
I turn over in bed, trying to decipher how I had fallen asleep. How I had gotten under the covers.
"Please, yes. You will? Thank you. Thank you, love. I love you."
I hear dad approaching my door, and I feign sleep. The door opens slightly, his head popping in to check up on me. As soon as he leaves, I sigh quietly.
I didn't know what to make of dad. I didn't know what to do. There was a crushing weight upon my chest, that no matter how hard I tried to lift it, it just wouldn't budge.
As soon as imagined Niall's face, his voice, his fingertips upon my side, an audible sob escaped my lips.
He had promised. He had bloody promised he wouldn't leave.
Yet, he's gone.
Gone, gone, gone.