Lost & Found

After her husband dies in a car accident, Emma Haines-Gaunt is encouraged by her mother and sister to attend a therapy group for widows. Though reluctant to even give it a try, Emma finds herself in a church basement listening to heartbreaking stories of tragedy from her fellow therapy members. When she notices a mysterious man during the session, Emma is intrigued by him, only to realize it is her childhood friend and ex-love Harry Styles. Her mind spirals when she realizes he must have lost his spouse somewhere along the way. And try as she might, she can’t seem to shake him from her mind. The two of them begin a harrowing journey of loss and redemption, determined to help each other find solace in the tragedy that their lives have become.

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4. The tale of a bewildered girl.


“Emmy. Hi,” Harry breathed.

Emma was frozen, completely statuesque. Her eyes stared into his as he stared back, but she couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak.

“Your jacket. You forgot it,” he said, holding the peacoat out to her. His voice was much, much deeper than she remembered. And she could barely contain the way it affected her.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked as his brow furrowed.

“Uh… um. Thanks,” she said, grabbing the jacket from him, only breaking her eyes away from his to replace it on her body. As she did, Harry pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

“Terrible habit,” she found herself speaking before thinking. Harry scoffed with a slight laugh.

“Well, there are worse things,” he said, looking out across the street as he puffed on the cigarette.

“I’m sorry. I-I… sometimes I don’t have a filter,” she said, trying to make up for her snap judgement.

“I remember,” he nodded, before taking another drag.

His words cut through her, slicing away at her, making her feel like she couldn’t breathe. ‘I remember’. A part of her thought she was dreaming. Another part of her imagined the man standing in front of her wasn’t the same boy she grew up with, the boy she loved. But his words made everything feel so real again, so present, so conscious. He remembered.

Emma caught it when he looked over at her out of the corner of his eye, because she was doing the same. She quickly looked away, feeling like an adolescent with the way she was averting her entire self away from him.

“I never thought I’d see you again, Emmy,” he breathed through the night air, cutting through some of the tension.

“I never thought I’d be back,” she admitted quietly. He nodded, drawing in a ragged breath.

“Why are you back?” He asked a moment later.

There was a hesitation in his question and Emma knew he already knew the answer to it. He was in a therapy group for widows. What more was there to say?

“I-I…” She stammered.

“It’s okay. I… it was rhetorical. Should have stayed in my head,” he said, brushing it off as he threw down his cigarette at his feet and stomped it out. Emma didn’t speak.

“It was good to see you, Emmy,” Harry said as he began to descend the steps outside the church.

“Harry!” She found herself shouting. He turned to look back at her with his sad eyes.

“Something bad happened to you, didn’t it?” She asked with worry-filled eyes.

“Yeah. Yeah, it did,” he nodded, staring at her for a few moments before turning to continue down the steps.

A few moments later, he disappeared behind the church where the parking lot resided. Emma took a deep, shaky breath in, trying to calm her nerves, just as Piper pulled up to the curb.

 


“How are you feeling about your sessions?” Emma’s mother asked as they sat eating their dinner a few nights later.

“Hmm?” She asked, pulling her brain back into the conversation. She found herself zoning out more and more, usually thinking about Harry. Her mind wouldn’t let her forget their run-in.

“I asked how your therapy sessions are going,” her mother asked again.

“Oh. Uh. Mostly, they’re pretty depressing,” she said with a shrug, taking a sip of her wine.

“What about them is depressing? I mean, specifically,” she asked, looking concerned.

“Well, we’re still in the sharing portion of the sessions, so people are sharing stories of their loved ones passing’s,” Emma told her.

“Have you shared?” She asked curiously.

“No,” she admitted sheepishly as she took another sip of her wine.

“Will you share?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“I don’t know,” Emma said, shrugging her shoulders, feeling her cheeks heat up.

“Don’t you think it would help to talk about Patrick?” She asked carefully.

Emma’s blood tingled inside her body with the mentioning of his name. She did not want to share with complete strangers. She just didn’t feel comfortable. She would sit there and listen to the brave few that could stand up there talking about how their wife committed suicide or how their husband drown, but she was not comfortable sharing her own harrowing tale. It was still too new for her, too early. Patrick’s grave was still too fresh, the wounds on her heart were still too raw.

“I just… I’m not ready,” Emma told her, trying to appease her enough so she wouldn’t continue to push it.

“I hope that someday you will be ready… for Madeline’s sake,” her mother said, laying the guilt on thick.

It was moments like that when she could tell her mother was born and raised Catholic. The ability to throw out guilt-trips was like second nature to her.

“I… uh, Harry Styles goes to the sessions,” Emma blurted out, changing the subject immediately.

Only, she changed it to a subject she wanted to talk even less about than sharing about Patrick in her groups. Again, this was her talking before thinking.

“Harry Styles. Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in ages,” her mother said, her eyes lighting up.

“Mm-hmm,” Emma nodded, stabbing her fork into her perfectly prepared salmon.

“He… he must have lost his spouse?” She said, making it sound like more of a question than a statement.

“He must’ve,” Emma said quietly, keeping her eyes on her plate.

“He hasn’t shared either?” She asked.

“Harry wasn’t much of a talker,” Emma said, not even believing the lie she just told.

“We are talking about Harry Styles, aren’t we? That boy had more energy than a baby on a sugar-rush. And his mouth never stopped going,” her mother said, calling her out.

“Yeah,” Emma breathed. Harry was a big ball of sunshine, always the center of attention, always the center of her world.

“Have you spoken to him?” She asked. Emma looked up at her to find her giving her a reluctant eye.

“Not much. We… we said ‘hello’ last time,” she told her.

“That’s it?” She asked, furrowing her brow.

“What? We… we just saw each other in passing,” she lied.

“You mean to tell me that after all this time, you just said ‘hello’ to one another?” She asked.

“It’s been a long time, Mum,” Emma sighed.

“And you and Harry were always more than that to each other,” she pointed out.

“I left him,” Emma choked out. Her mother continued to stare at her.

“I left him and I didn’t look back. I left,” Emma said, shaking her head.

“You went to school,” she pointed out.

“It doesn’t change the fact…” Emma said, letting her voice die out, looking down at her plate once again.

“You’re going to let him go again?” She asked. Emma’s eyes shot up to hers, fiery and anxious.

“I just lost Patrick. Harry – he lost his wife. I’m not—I didn’t come back for him. I… I… gahhh,” Emma scoffed.

“Calm down, Emma. I wasn’t suggesting you throw yourself at him. You two… you were always such great friends. Why can’t you be that for each other again?” She asked and Emma shook her head.

“There’s too much… too much history,” she sighed.

“Let it go,” she advised. Emma felt her eyes tearing up, knowing it wasn’t that easy.

“You’re never going to find peace with yourself if you don’t let it go, Emma,” she breathed as she stood up from the table, clearing both of their plates.

 


Session number three was harder to get through than the other two combined. One reason was because the man that was sharing his story about his wife, who died unexpectedly from a blood clot to the brain, could barely contain his emotions as he spoke. He stood up in front of the group blubbering and crying almost uncontrollably. Nobody stood up to comfort him or to lend him support. They just let him stand up there drowning in his tears.

The other reason why it was so unbearable was because instead of keeping his head down to himself, Emma caught Harry on several occasions looking over in her general direction or blatantly just staring at her. She had to look away. She couldn’t just let herself get lost in him. She was a wife and a mother. At least, to her, she always would be.

After the session, Emma pulled her jacket on and snuck out the door before she could even catch another glimpse at Harry Styles. She didn’t know why she was running away. Maybe because of what her mother reminded her of. It scared her. Getting close to Harry again, getting to know him again, scared the shit out of her. Mainly because she knew it was her fault they ever lost sight of each other. Because the guilt had been eating her alive for years. And now to find out they have even more in common than they used to by way of deceased spouses was almost too much to take. How did their lives run so parallel after all this time?

Again, the night air soothed her as it filled her lungs. She took a moment to regain her composure, standing at the top of the steps much like the week before. She told herself she was waiting there because that’s where Piper would meet her. But she knew deep down it was because she knew Harry would find her there.

“You want to grab a cup of coffee, Emmy?” She heard his familiar deep voice from behind her.

Emma turned to look in his eyes before nodding her head. Saying yes to him was something she found incredibly easy long ago. The years didn’t changed that.

Piper pulled up moments later, surprising Emma by being early.

“Uh, let me…” Emma told Harry as she made her way down the stairs. He nodded as he watched her.

Emma sprinted to the car and knocked on the window for her to roll it down. Piper’s smile was unyielding as the window opened up.

“Is that Harry Styles? Oh my god. Is that him?” She gasped in a low voice.

“Yes. Just…” Emma said, turning back to look at Harry momentarily. He was still watching.

“Oh my god. He’s still proper gorgeous,” Piper swooned.

“Pipe—just… just shut it, okay,” Emma told her.

“Sorry,” she giggled.

“I’m gonna… we’re gonna… go get coffee,” Emma told her.

“Go, Emma,” Piper said suggestively, smirking wildly at her.

“It’s not like that,” Emma warned her.

“I know. I’m just teasing. Just… just call me if you need me to pick you up later,” she told her with a beaming smile.

“I will. Thanks, Piper,” Emma said, leaning in to meet her with a kiss on the cheek.

“Love you, Sissy,” she said.

“Love you too,” Emma said as she pulled away from the curb with a wave of her hand.

Emma turned back toward Harry, who descended the stairs and was walking toward her.

“Ready?” He asked.

“Ready,” she said with a nod and a small smile.

Maybe.

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