The Cycle of Love

"Please don't ever stop loving me."

"Never, not even when I take my last breath."

Cover Photo Curtesy of: Rebecca Botin

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Reynold's Pub - 20 April 2018

It rains a lot in England. Sometimes it'd fall so lightly that you barely notice the droplets misting from above and sometimes so heavy that it would seem as if the River Thames would overflow and we'd all be whisked away. That night the rain fell at a steady pace, pattering against the roof of the pub like it were drumming to a soundless beat. I didn't think it was that bad; I just thought it was a normal April shower.

I used to love the rain too. I found it calming, but now it just fills me with overwhelming sadness and slight rage to the Gods above.

That day started out so normally. I woke up to light kisses being peppered across my face by the man I loved. After a brief rendezvous between the sheets, we went about our mornings like a normal married couple.

James had to be into the office early for meetings and I had to get a fresh start on the inventory at the pub. It had been a long week, where I would be coming home in the wee hours of the morning just to curl up to a sleeping husband or we'd arrive home together only to go straight to bed out of pure exhaustion.

We decided that night we would have a staycation. I called off at the pub and James would get his work done before picking me up from work. It'd just be us surrounded by peace and quiet within our flat.

"Maisie?" With a damp dish rag in my hand and a blank stare on my face, I turned around to face Greg. "I thought you wanted to go at eight." I look over towards the clock on the wall and read the time.

"It's only eight-fifteen, Greg. What are you trying to do? Get rid of me?" Greg laughed at my tone as I went back to wiping down the bartop. "Besides, I'm waiting for James to pick me up."

James was never one to be late, not even five minutes late, but with his busy work schedule this week and the pouring rain outside I could understand his tardiness.

I never remembered my phone buzzing with a notification from my husband, but I decided to check it anyway, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I found nothing but a couple e-mail notifications and a reminder to pick up a bottle of Merlot on the way home. I sent him a joking text asking if he forgot about me and waited.

"Darlin', can I get a pint?"

"Sure." I try not to worry about James, and the lack of response to my text, and distract myself by tending to the former university professor who had plopped down on the opposite side of the bartop.

Fifteen minutes was nothing, yet I had this sickening feeling in my stomach that something was wrong. I didn't want to think too much into it, but my stomach churned with worry, or possible the fish I had for lunch. But as time went on, and customers filed in and out, my worry only grew.

"His meeting probably ran long and he hasn't been able to call." Ethan suggested as James was nearing an hour late to pick me up and I had left two more texts and a phone call.

"I guess."

"Or maybe he's driving." I kept the comment about James having bluetooth speakers in his vehicle to myself and simply nodded towards my boss.

"I'll be back in a moment." I walked away from the bar and pulled my phone out of my back pocket, the notification-less screen causing a sigh to be released from my lips. James was pushing an hour and a half late and every second that passed created a painful jab in my gut.

With shaking hands, I dialed his number again and brought the device to my ear, whispered pleads for him to pick up leaving my lips through heavy breaths.

"You've reached James Quinn, leave a message after the tone and I'll get back to you." I cursed, my eyes fitting up to the ceiling before my eyelids begin to blink away salty tears.

"Hey babe, um, it's me again. I'm just wondering where you are. It's nine-thirty now and I'm a little worried, James. Call me, please. I love you." I left the message and hung up. The few tears that slipped down my cheeks were swept away in an instant. I didn't want my boss and male coworker to notice that I had been crying and I didn't want to seem like a wimpy girl whining about my husband being late to pick me up.

"No answer?"

"No." Ethan nodded as I snuck behind him to get to the other side of the bar.

I noticed the look of pity in his eyes before he turned away from me. His look disgusted me. It made me feel weak. Here I was, looking like a girl who had been stood up and I couldn't even do anything about it.

"Maisie, maybe you-" My phone buzzed in my pocket, interrupting my attention on Greg. A heavy sigh leaves my lips as I push my way out from behind the bar and dig my phone from my pocket.

"James, thank God." I rubbed my forehead to rid myself of the stress headache that had been accumulating over the last hour. "Where are you?" I laughed. I had been worrying so much about something horrible happening to him and here he is finally calling me.

"Is this Maisie Quinn?" My heart stopped when instead of the voice of my husband, I heard an unrecognizable feminine voice. Out of confusion I pulled the phone from my ear, thinking maybe in my desperate need to speak with James I had forgotten to check the caller ID. Unfortunately, despite the unknown person on the other line, the call was in fact coming from my husband's phone.

"Who is this?" I demanded, my voice holding more worry now than it had before.

I knew James would never do anything to compromise our marriage, so cheating was out of the question. I couldn't deny that for half a second my brain went there, but the calm demeanor of the woman on the other line told me otherwise.

"Mrs. Quinn?"

"Yes. Why are you calling me from my husband's phone?"

I didn't know true heartache until that night, until that unknown woman explained to me who she worked for and why she was calling from James' phone. She had to repeat the words, "I'm so sorry, but your husband was involved in an accident" and "he's gone" multiple times before they sunk into my brain and I was a crumbling, sobbing mess on the floor of the pub.

I didn't believe her. It just wasn't possible for him to be dead, for James to be gone. I had seen him that morning, smiling and laughing; he was perfectly healthy. I argued with the police officer, telling her she must have made some mistake, that my husband wasn't possibly dead. But the more she spoke with me, the more I just knew that the sickening intuition in my stomach had been right.

He was gone and I was all alone for the second time in my life.

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