Sometimes, I sit and think of him. My only love, the only man who ever made my heart pound and my skin heat. I sit and wonder what our lives would have been like, if things turned out the way they should have. I fantasise about the small, neat little house we'd live in, the blonde haired, chubby cheeked children who'd run around our backyard until they were breathless, coming home from school each day clutching still-wet paintings, excited to show mommy and daddy their masterpieces. I picture how we'd coo and praise them, our hands clutching theirs. Sitting at our dinner table, eating, laughing, before bundling the children off to bed with lots of kisses and a bedtime story, and then settling down with a glass of wine in front of the television, hands always touching, enjoying each other's company. So different to my life now, with my cold, distant husband. A Georgian mansion and all the beautiful clothes I could wish for mean nothing. They can't replace the warmth of the love I lost. They can't replace Eddie.
I met Eddie at college. It was fall, and the world had suddenly turned magical. The leaves on the trees were luxuriant red and sunshine yellow, and crackled underneath my shoes as I walked to my classes. I was in love with England, all grey skies and green fields, so different from the busy, thriving metropolis of Seattle I'd left 3 weeks ago. I was so nervous, an American in England, I felt so out of place, with my blonde hair, pale green eyes, and my collection of cowboy boots, I was a world away from the elegant, dark haired, pale skinned girls of England. These girls wore floaty dresses and pearls, and spoke in an accent so refined, even their drunken ramblings at 3am seemed classy. I was so nervous, but I enjoyed every second of it, I loved the vibrancy and simple elegance England offered. I made a few friends, and we'd go out for happy hour every Thursday. Life was great.
It was 8pm on a Thursday night, and we were at the bar as usual. My friends, Clara and Michelle, had insisted I come out, despite the fact that I was feeling exhausted after completing a huge assignment three hours before. I looked hot, despite the exhaustion. I'd gone for a red dress, tight at the top, floaty at the bottom, which showed off my bust and accentuated my calves. I've always looked after myself, hitting the gym four times a week, and only occasionally giving in to the temptation of chocolate eclairs, my new favourite sin. My face was made up, a tinted foundation, blush and a slick of mascara to open up my eyes, finished off with a generous glaze of cherry red lipgloss. My blonde hair hung shiny and sleek around my waist, and my 5 inch heels lifted my butt and lengthened my legs. I looked good, and I knew it. I was stood at the bar, trying to replenish our drinks, but the queue was huge, and the pub was heaving. I looked down the bar at the throng of beautiful women and handsome men, chattering, laughing, kissing and drinking and smiled to myself. I was pretty tipsy, having drank two bottles of wine with Michelle and Clara before we'd even left for the bar. The stool a few feet away from me, a moment ago occupied by a lithe, tanned girl in a backless silver dress, was suddenly empty. I tottered over to it, as quickly as I could, but was beaten to it by a broad shouldered, muscular guy in an expensive suit. He sat down, his back to me. My feet protested angrily as their promise of relief was stolen from them. I actually stumbled a little as I attempted to back away from muscly chair-stealing guy, and bumped, (okay, fell) in to someone behind me.
"Whoa, steady!" I heard the person laugh, his hand on my back. I whirled around and found myself staring in to the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. My heart was suddenly in my mouth as I took in the rest of him. Light brown hair fell in to those startling blue eyes, he had a strong nose, and full, soft, pink lips. His jaw was lightly speckled with stubble, and he was dressed casually in a blue pullover and jeans. He was the most beautiful human I'd ever laid eyes on.
"Are you okay?" He asked, smiling. When he smiled, his eyes crinkled up and I found myself struggling to form coherent words. His hand had stayed on me as I whirled around, now resting on my waist.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thank you." I stuttered, my body hyper aware of his hand. He removed it, and my body felt bereft. I glanced quickly at my waist, and then back to his eyes.
"I'm Edward Harrington, and you are?" He offered me his hand, and I took it, relishing the feel of his warm, calloused hand against mine.
"I'm so sorry, these heels are a nightmare to walk in!" I mumbled. He waved my apology away, while keeping my hand clasped in his.
"That's quite alright. Your name?"
"Emily. Emily Stanton." I told him, unable to tear my eyes away from that beautiful face.
"Well, Emily, I'd like to buy you a drink." He smiled again, and I knew from that moment on, I was in trouble.
Just like that, Edward was in my life. A drink at the bar turned in to five, as we discussed everything and anything. I told him about my upbringing in Texas, my haughty mom who wanted me to stay and become a trophy wife for the CEO of an oil company, my father's death, leaving Texas and moving to Seattle, my dull office job that I worked my ass off at to pay for tuition in England. In return he told me about his quiet, wealthy upbringing in North London, his mom and dad who doted on their only child, his dreams of becoming a veterinarian, and his love of guitars. I blurted out that his passion for guitar explained his calloused hands, and he laughed freely, tossing his head back and taking my hand again. I watched him with quiet adoration, and when he asked me to walk with him a while, I jumped out of my seat with such eagerness, I made him laugh again, and I swear it was the most beautiful sound in the world. After apologising, quickly and profusely to the friends I had abandoned all night, I left the bar with Edward Harrington, who held my hand and led me to a small patch of grass near my campus. I eyed it suspiciously. My shoes protested on my feet again.
"Sit down a moment." Edward smiled, gesturing toward the grass, gently illuminated by the full moon above us. I looked at him in horror.
"My dress! I'll get it dirty!" I whimpered, but complying anyway. He smiled as he knelt in front of me, and taking my poor, abused ankle, he gently slipped off my heels, stood up and offered me his hand again, my shoes dangling from the fingertips of his other one.
"At least you'll be able to walk now, without these crippling you." He said, winking at me. I almost melted in to a puddle there and then.
I was about to make some smart-ass comment about my feet becoming dirty, as well as my dress, but the feel of the soft grass underneath my feet was such an exquisite sensation, my words caught in my throat. I looked at Edward, staring back at me. I swallowed, nervously. The alcohol in my system had disappeared, leaving me with a feeling even more intoxicating, a feeling caused by Edward's ice blue eyes locked with mine. My stomach seemed to be filled with butterflies, and my heart pounded. Was he going to kiss me? I found myself desperately wanting him to pull me close and touch his soft pink lips against mine. Instead, he smiled, and continued walking. He talked about a book he was reading, the songs he was listening to, and questioned me about the same things. We discovered that we had much in common, we'd even visited the same art exhibition the previous week. I was babbling away about a restaurant in Seattle, and was suddenly silenced by the huge, glistening lake stretched out in front of us. The moonlight bounced off the water, which was so still you could see the flecks of tiny silver stars reflected on the surface. Trees dipped lazily in to the water, and the quiet hum of nature surrounded us. I looked to Edward, who was smiling serenely at me. His hand left mine and moved to my waist, while the fingers of his other hand tucked a piece of hair behind my ear.
"You are exquisite, Emily Stanton. You are quite simply the most beautiful girl I've ever seen." He murmured softly. Before I could respond, he tugged me to him and kissed me so sweetly, my blood sang.
The magic didn't end after that night, we spent every moment outside of class together. Talking, laughing, eating, dancing. I fell in love with him so quickly, my head spun. His face made my heart pound every time I looked at him, and my body responded to him eagerly, urgently, every time we made love. Under the stars, in our rooms, in his car. We were crazy about each other, lost in our own blissful little bubble the outside world couldn't penetrate. We'd go to bars, and he'd get on stage and serenade me with his guitar, his fingers moving deftly over the strings, his soft, honey tones reverberating through every cell in my body as he sang to me. We'd hang out with friends, hands always touching, lost in each other. Our friends playfully made fun of us, but we knew that they yearned for the kind of perfect love we had. We laughed every day, clutching each other while we giggled about the most trivial things. We challenged each other, sometimes arguing, but knowing that it would ultimately end with our bodies joined as one. We were compatible on a primal level, our bodies connecting and providing each other with such pleasure, we found it difficult to drag ourselves out of the bedroom each morning. We were soulmates in every way, two halves of the same person, and every moment with him was a precious gift. Soon, we'd enjoyed a year of perfect happiness, and as he led me to that lake one moonlit night, dropped to one knee and presented me with a beautiful 3 carat engagement ring, it took me less than a second to fling myself in to his arms, sobbing my agreement in to his neck.
Soon, it was time for me to meet his parents, and as we made the journey to London, I fiddled nervously with the ring on my finger. Eddie placed his hand firmly over mine, steadying it, and calming me instantly.
"It's going to be fine, they're going to love you." He assured me in a low voice. I smiled at him, and leaned in to kiss him. He was my rock, my safe place, and I would be lost without him.
"I can't wait for the day that I can call you my wife. You are exquisite, Emily. You take my breath away." His words soothed me, calming my nerves and making my blood warm against my skin. I smiled, too emotional to talk, and rested my head on his shoulder.
"I want to give you something." He continued, his long fingers stroking my wrist. He reached in to his suitcase and pulled out something small and flat and handed it to me. It was a CD, the front cover was a collage of pictures of the two of us, and my name was emblazoned at the top in silver print.
"A mixtape?" I asked, turning it over to see the back, which was blank. He smiled softly at me, his eyes full of reverence and love.
"Something like that."
The train journey was long, and we passed the time in each others arms, talking about sightseeing in London. I was much calmer with Eddie's arm around me, his fingers gently stroking the skin of my upper arm. I stood up to go to the bathroom, but not before pulling his gorgeous face to mine and kissing him.
"I love you Edward Harrington." I smiled at him, my fingers stroking the side of his jaw.
"I love you too, beautiful girl." He grinned, smacking my behind as I strode off to the bathroom.
In the cramped stall of the bathroom, I did what I needed to do, and moved to the sink to wash my hands. As I reached for the taps, I heard a deafening screech, and a crash that made my ears ring. My stomach briefly lurched, and I was thrown backwards in to the bathroom wall, my head smacking off a mounted mirror, which shattered and covered the floor in shards of glass. I screamed for Eddie, my voice cracking as tears of shock and fear tumbled down my cheeks, I heard screaming and the sounds of metal crunching, the screeching continued as I was thrown around the stall, I briefly felt a stabbing pain in my side, before my entire world went black.
Eddie died that day, his beautiful laugh silenced forever in a second. The other half of me, ripped away from my side because of a fault in the railway lines. I woke up in hospital, my neck in a brace and all sorts of tubes and needles poking in and out of my skin. The doctors informed me that I was one of three very lucky survivors, the other two were recovering in a ward close to mine. Neither of them were Eddie. I survived somehow, with two broken ribs, and a hairline crack on the side of my skull. Eddie's death was instant, the front of the train crushed in on itself with the force of the impact. I would have joined him in death if I hadn't left for the bathroom. The moment I realised Eddie was gone, I collapsed in to hysterical, wracking sobs, and my world was plunged in to darkness again. I slipped in and out of consciousness for the next three days, the doctors keeping me dosed up while I recovered. After a while, they lowered my dosage, and I was plunged in to my own personal hell. Unconsciousness was better than the heart shattering pain I endured every moment I was awake. My mother was called, and although she spoke to the doctor, she had no interest in talking to me. She never liked Eddie, he was wealthy, but he was no oil baron, and she disapproved of our relationship vehemently. I was alone, a broken shell of a person, the vivacity and life drained from me, evaporated forever now that Eddie was no longer with me. I didn't eat, speak, or sleep for days, they force fed me through tubes, and occasionally, if they were feeling merciful, amp up the dosage so I would slip away in to heavenly oblivion. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks before they let me out, I wasn't even allowed out for Eddie's funeral. The only time I stopped crying was when I thought about my future, a colourless, bleak stretch of space with no Eddie in it. My heart was dead, it had left me to be with Eddie, where it, along with the rest of me, belonged. I withdrew from college, and booked a flight back to Texas. There was nothing left for me in England. The day before I was due to leave, I walked to our lake, where we first kissed, and where he dropped to his knees to ask me to be his wife. I crumbled to the floor, haunted by the vision of his face. As I crouched, crying on the floor, I heard my name.
"Emily? Miss Stanton?" The voice called, soft and low. For a moment I felt a surge of joy, perhaps the hospital had made a terrible mistake, my Eddie was alive and well and coming back to me. My head shot up from my knees and looked for him, and my heart dropped to my feet as I watched an elderly couple walking towards me. A tiny, white haired lady, and a tall gentleman approached. I was confused, who were these people? They reached my crumpled form, and as I stood up and looked at the lady, I saw my Eddie's icy blue eyes gazing back at me. I clasped my hand over my mouth as tears welled in my eyes. She began to speak.
"Hello, dear. Your friend Clara told us we could find you here. I'm..."
"You're Eddie's mother. My God, you're Eddie's mom." My words spilled out, as uncontrollable as the silent tears that splashed down my cheeks. I couldn't tear my gaze away from her eyes, the exact steely blue that took my breath away every time I looked at Eddie. This would be the last time I'd ever see the eyes of the man I loved, even if they belonged to the woman that created him.
"Yes, dear. I'm Edie, and this is my husband Charlie." She spoke softly. I ripped my gaze from hers and looked at her husband. He was tall and slim, and inclined his head at me, smiling softly.
"Your friend informed us that you are returning to America tomorrow, I'm glad we caught you in time." Edie continued. I frowned and wiped my eyes, still staring intently at her.
"Emily, we had so hoped to meet you in happier circumstances. The day of the accident, we were overjoyed at the prospect of meeting our future daughter-in-law. Edward loved you very much, he told us the day after he first met you, that he'd found the woman he was going to marry." Those beautiful eyes filled with tears, and the sight of it made me cry even harder. My beautiful Eddie, he understood as quickly as I did, that we'd found something special, something rare and precious.
"The thing is, Emily, the police have returned Eddie's personal effects to us, and some of it belongs to you. We wish to return it." At this, Eddie's father handed me a package, wrapped in twine. I hugged it to my chest, wanting to open it on my own. Edie seemed to realise this, and smiled at me once more.
"I want to thank you, Emily. I want to thank you for making our son so happy. I'm sorry that things have ended up this way. You deserved each other." She let out a tiny sniff and waited.
"Mr and Mrs Harrington," I sobbed, her words tearing at the open wound that was my heart. "Thank you, for your son. Thank you for creating the person who gave me the happiest, most wonderful year of my life. I am so, so sorry for your loss." My words didn't even begin to describe the depth of respect, awe and love they were meant to express. I couldn't put in to words how thankful I was for Eddie, how blessed I felt to have him in my heart.
Eddie's mother fixed her eyes on me one last time and kissed me on the cheek.
"Goodbye, Emily. I hope you have the very best of lives." and with that, she and her husband turned and walked away.
Now, 10 years on, I sit in my luxurious Georgian mansion, waiting for my husband to come home every day. The life of an oil baron is a hectic one, so he's often away for days, sometimes weeks, making acquistions on new oil fields. After I moved back to Texas, I knew that I would never find love again. Eddie was my soulmate, and he was gone. There was no point in looking for what we had again. My mother was heartlessly beside herself with joy, setting up the wedding to Geoffrey Rogers less than a year after Eddie died. The multi-millionaire, a perfect match for Christina Stanford's daughter, despite the 14 year age difference and the fact that I didn't and never would, love him. I didn't argue, or try to stop it. I blindly followed along because everything was meaningless to me, the world had no colour. Better to just take the path of least resistance. Now, 9 years of marriage later, we have no children, no relationship, and no intimacy. I am a little doll on his arm, Geoffrey flaunts me as his arm candy wife to his business partners and their wives, and then relieves his sexual urges by screwing any woman who'll loosen her morals for a shiny necklace. I accept it, because it means nothing to me. He means nothing to me.
Every day is the same, I wake up, I shower, I eat breakfast. I wave my husband goodbye and then retire to my personal sitting room. I reach in to my mahogany desk, and pull out a crinkled old package wrapped in twine. Inside it, is a CD, a collage of a handsome man and a beautiful girl, smiling, laughing and touching. The word 'Emily' is written across the top in faded silver letters. I place it in to the CD player and listen as the most beautiful, honey toned voice sings love songs to me, songs about lakes, moonlit kisses, and making love under the stars. As the tears fill my eyes, I take out the journal in the package, turning the pages slowly, savouring every image of the perfect face of the man I love, the man I have always loved, standing next to me, or the girl I used to be, in the sunshine. As I read his words, my mind goes back to the lake, the stars reflected in the crystal waters, and the feel of his eyes on mine. I smile as I read through our relationship, page by page. I may not lead a happy life now, but I wouldn't change a thing, I can ask for no more from my life, because I was blessed with a lifetime of happiness, the year I spent with Edward Harrington.
'Today, I met the girl I'm going to marry. Her name is Emily, and she is exquisite.'