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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3. The tale of a conflicted girl.


“Mum, what happened to my boxes from high school?” Emma asked with her head in the hallway closet.

“Your what?” She heard her mother shout down the hallway.

“You said you saved all my stuff from high school. From before I went to London,” Emma reminded her.

“Oh. Uh, have you checked the attic?” She asked.

“The attic?” Emma grumbled to herself.

She always hated the attic. It creeped her out more than she cared to admit. Piper always loved it up there. She would spend hours up there reading by the old stain glass window, whereas Emma found it dusty and spooky. But Emma was a grown-up now. Things like that shouldn’t affect her anymore. But even so, she got that familiar shiver as she crawled up the attic ladder on her quest to find her memorabilia from her formidable years.

The indistinguishable smell of the past wafted through her nostrils, giving her even more of an eerie feeling. She didn’t like that any of her stuff was up there. She pulled on the string for the light and waited as it flickered to life.

Looking around, Emma couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the number of boxes her mother kept up there. From Christmas decorations to baby clothes to camping equipment – it was all stored up there. Even after her father passed away, her mother kept all of his things tucked away in this very attic. God knows nobody in this house was going to pull out that camping equipment and use it anymore. It was her father’s passion, not his wife or daughters. The days when they went camping as a family had long passed.

It took Emma a bit of time to come across the box labeled ‘Emma’s Things’. She dusted the top of the box off before pulling it out of its little nook in the attic. She wasn’t about to spend any more time than necessary up there, so she took it down to her bedroom with her. She set the box on the bed and took a deep breath before she opened the top. She was about to dredge up memories she long since repressed or forgotten. She was doing it willing, yet she was scared to death of it.

“Come on,” she coaxed herself as she pushed away the flaps from the top of the box.

On top lay her yearbook from her final year of school in her hometown. Holmes Chapel Collegiate School was written in large letters across the cover along with the swooping numbers of 2010 below it. That was the last year she went to school in Holmes Chapel. Grabbing the book out of the box, she took a seat on the edge of the bed. With another deep breath, she opened the cover.

There wasn’t much she remembered – the years decayed and distorted her memories of her life at HCCS. Her most recent school memories all took place at Bridgeport in London. But there were some things she would never forget – like the way Harry Styles made her feel during the time she spent with him. And that was something she’d never find in a yearbook.

Her heart skipped slightly when she came across a photo of Harry in the book. He was standing in the middle of a group of friends, with a smug smile on his face.

He was the type of lad who always had friends because he was just so likeable. He was always making people laugh. But no one laughed harder at his jokes than Emma did. She sighed looking at the face of the teenage boy she left behind. If she had to do it all over again, she might have actually chosen to stay in Holmes Chapel with him instead of going to boarding school in London. But then she thought of Patrick and how amazing her life was with him by her side. And she knew it wasn’t fair to put Harry up on a pedestal like she was doing. Patrick was just as significant in her life, if not more. He was the man she married, the man she had a child with.

Emma flipped to her own picture in the yearbook. She looked almost unrecognizable. But deep down, passed the overly highlighted hair and goofy smile was the same girl she always was. Emma Haines. She was Emma Gaunt now, taking Patrick’s family name.

Just on the next page over, came the students with last names starting with ‘S’ – including him. Harry Styles. His sophomore yearbook photo was by far one of her favorite pictures of him.

It was one of the few pictures of him she took with her to boarding school. She hung it next to her bed, and her roommate and all her friends constantly gawked over it.

Quickly, Emma closed the yearbook, unable to take the feelings that were bombarding her all at once.

 


Emma kissed Maddie on the forehead before she left the house for therapy that night. She was sleeping in her grandmother’s arms as she was being fed a bottle. The guilt was almost consuming. Emma should be the one to be feeding her. She was her mother. But then she remembered what the focus and purpose of the meetings were for. It was all for her. Emma was sure the root of the guilt she felt came from the selfish reason she wanted to go to the meeting – to see if Harry would be there.

“Come on, Em. You don’t want to be late, do you?” Piper coaxed her out of the house.

It wasn’t raining, but there was a slight nip in the air. A cold front had blown its way through, chilling her to the bone.

“Hey, Pipe?” Emma asked after she got into the driver seat next to her in the car.

“Hey, what?” She asked.

“Do you— Uh, do you remember Harry… Harry Styles?” Emma asked, looking at her cautiously.

“Of course I remember, Harry Styles. The question is, do you remember Harry Styles?” Piper threw at her.

“Well, that was rude,” Emma said, pursing her lips at her sister.

“Well, you did kind of up and leave him to be some snobby city girl at boarding school,” she giggled.

“Oh, shut it,” Emma snapped at her.

“I don’t really think you know how upset he was after you left,” Piper told her, looking in her direction.

“Wh-what do you mean?” Emma asked cautiously.

“He used to talk to me after you left… a lot,” Piper told her.

“What?” Emma asked quickly.

“I think he just missed you, is all. I was the closest thing he had to you since you were gone,” she explained.

“You didn’t—” Emma choked out, thinking the worst. If Harry slept with her baby sister, she didn’t know what she would do. She didn’t know if she could handle it.

“Em, no. Jesus. You think I would ever fool around with Harry when I knew how you felt about him,” she scoffed.

“Good,” Emma said quietly.

“He was absolutely gorgeous though. Oh my days, he was gorgeous,” Piper said, smiling knowingly.

“Shut it,” Emma told her.

“What made you bring him up?” She asked curiously.

“I, uh… I was going through some old things from when I went to school here. I saw his picture in the yearbook,” Emma told her.

It was only a half-truth, but it was as much as Emma wanted to reveal to anyone at that point. She still wasn’t sure about her feelings since she saw Harry last week. She needed to wrap her head around it before she could even think about speaking about it out loud.

“I’ll pick you up when it’s over,” Piper told her as she parked outside the church once again.

Emma was still scared as shit to go inside, but this time for a completely different reason.

“Thanks,” Emma told her as she got out of the vehicle.

She slowly made her way up to the large wooden doors of the building, feeling terror rise up from deep inside of her. She had to keep telling herself she was doing it for Maddie. That therapy was a good thing. That Madeline deserved much more than a broken mummy. Yes, therapy was a good thing – with or without Harry Styles.

When Emma walked into the Sunday school room, her eyes immediately scanned the crowd. When she didn’t see his face, her eyes scanned the room again. He didn’t show. He saw her last week and ran for the hills. Why would he want to see her again after she apparently broke his heart, like her sister just informed her? It would just be another thing to add to his latest misery. He didn’t need her gunking up his grieving process.

Emma took a deep breath and took a seat, telling herself it would be better if he didn’t show up. She’d be able to find a healthy way to do her own grieving rather than latching onto the memories of her former love. Yes, it would be better.

The meeting started and Emma started to feel really good about it. She was really able to concentrate on what the counselors were saying. That was until the door opened to the classroom.

“Welcome back,” the man that introduced himself to Emma last week, Chris, greeted the late arrival.

Emma turned to see the harrowing face of Harry Styles walking through the door to join the meeting.

Their eyes met briefly before he took the first available seat and sat down. She couldn’t help but stare at him out of the corner of her eye. He made sure not to look up, much like the previous week. He just folded his arms across his chest and slumped down in the chair making himself unavailable to everyone.

Emma made it a point to at least try to pay attention to this week’s session. How were they supposed to help her if she disregarded everything they said?

A man stood up and shared the heartbreaking story of how he came home from work to find his wife of ten years dead in their bed from an apparent over-dosed of sleeping pills. Their two children left mother-less for the rest of their lives. Much like Maddie was left father-less without a chance of ever knowing him.

By the end of the session, Emma felt entirely drained. She just needed to get some fresh air. Without thinking, she raced out the door as soon as they were dismissed. The blast of cool air on her face was comforting as she made her way outside. But after a few moments, she began shivering and looked down to see she forgot her coat. When she turned to go back inside, she slammed right into someone.

“Oh my god! I’m so sorry,” Emma gasped, peeling herself away from the person.

When she looked up, she saw those eyes. Those green, empty eyes – the eyes that used to hold so much life and laughter.

Harry.

“Emmy. Hi,” he breathed. The nickname sent a shot of electricity through her body. Oh, God.

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