When Things Fell Apart: Part Four
- I won’t lie, I did cry writing this part - Yet I am still amazed at the amount of praise this series is receiving so thank you! -
Walking through the platform I breathed in fresh air for the last time in this place, thinking my chances of returning for these reasons are slight, unnecessary even. Glancing around the aisle of the plane my eyes find a window seat. Being by the window was calming for me, it allowed me to get a glimpse at this limited view and offer a temporary escape from confinement. Sitting down after twelve paces I allow myself to breathe, let out a final breath before letting this consume me entirely for the day that awaits me.
It takes time before everyone has boarded, an elderly couple sit next to me, smiling widely with greetings as they continued their conversations, laughing as they went. Seeing them made my heart ache, how after all the innocence and tears, after ageing and laughter lines blending into the creases of age they still seem as in love as the day they first met. How they hold hands as the plane takes off and giggle as we go.
Tearing my eyes away I focus on the outside, seeing everyone become minuscule, irrelevant, something of the past. My hands involuntarily reach for the box that was stored in my bag beneath my feet, the difficulties I’ve overcome for this box in security, having to cry on a guard’s shoulder about my problems discreetly before stories on me crying over Luke came about. Yet somehow here it is, placed on my lap like some alien that I wish to no part in knowing.
Except I can’t tear my eyes from it, it’s a glue, a force that keeps on pulling me in. I’m scared, no petrified of what is inside, whether or not it will create more puzzle pieces that I’ll have to figure out and decode. Perhaps it’s a goodbye, an acceptance to our new selves and allowing the door to gently shut rather than slam abruptly. A pair of eyes burn into my skin, on my hands as I brush the smooth wood for the thousandth time, feeling myself grow heavy with anticipation I turn to see the lady smiling gently in my direction whilst her husband sleeps soundly like the majority of the cabin surrounding us.
“Love isn’t easy dear,” She begins as I glance down to the box in my hands that now feel dry, tired like the rest of me. “if it were there would be no fun to have.” I let out a small huff in response, smiling as I did. A cold hand was placed on top of mine, covered in marks to show all she had been through in her life, her veins remained prominent and the wrinkles showed clearer than the worry in my eyes. “Things, feelings, they take time to develop.” Her eyes tore from mine as she motioned to her sleeping love next to her. “You think I fell to my knees when this one first saw me? No way, I wasn’t willing to become some housewife.” A huff escaped her lips, I could see the glazed look in her eyes as if she were thinking back to the day they first met, part of me was curious to know what it must’ve been like then, how it must’ve been so different.
“What was it that made you change your mind?” I asked now fully intrigued.
A silent smile formed on her lips, the glint in her eyes grew as her husband’s hand remained on top of hers, even as he slept soundly. “Something that took my breath away.” Moving the hair out of my face I allowed myself to open the latch of the box at last, hearing the air that was trapped inside being released after who knows how long. “When it happens you just know it dear,” She rubbed my forearm sweetly like my mum would do when I was upset as a child after a difficult day at school. “and if it is inside of there then count yourself lucky.” Before I could ask anymore she hushed me, and pointed to the box before drifting off against her husband’s shoulder; such a simple act that was often overlooked yet seeing them at peace, in pure comfort with one another was enough for me to know now was the time.
Closing my eyes I heard a light squeak as I lifted the lid, allowing the hinges to work yet I was unsure on what to expect from this. Part of me thought there would be something bigger than what was in front of me, that there would be more than three pieces of paper. Raising an eyebrow I lifted the better quality piece out of the box first, it was addressed to me yet the handwriting lurked in the back of my memory.
It wasn’t his.
Opening it up it began with my name, it continued into something I didn’t expect, the neat writing that I had witnessed countless times during late night sessions in the studio, all of those times I saw notes he left on the instruments before a show. How neatly my name had been written with such accuracy and thought, this was something that they needed to do.
After the second date you and Luke shared we were the first to know how it went, actually the second to know as he told his brothers, my bad. He came into band practise with a wide smile that wouldn’t budge no matter how depressing the covers we tried were. Everything about him was different and when we took a break he could barely hold it in, he just beamed excitement over some girl he had met a few weeks prior who was unlike any girl he’d met before. He told us how genuine she was, she had humour that made him laugh without your presence required, he said you had this smile that comforted him when he felt upset or nostalgic. He only ever spoke wonders of you and never a bad word to your name.
This is why we were so confused to receive that phone call.
He kept swearing, mumbling excuses under his breath to us that we couldn’t understand. After a few minutes of incoherent nonsense he began to make sense, when he said those exact words, muttering how he did that to you, you of all people I wanted to punch a wall in the shape of his face. Never had I felt more frustrated that he threw away his opportunity to blossom with someone so ideal for him, someone who knew him prior to everything that happened for us, someone who knew the real him. All he said was he was sorry, he didn’t know what to do and that was when he became easily manipulated. It was horrible. We didn’t see him for a while and it was as if he wasn’t the guy we knew anymore, he became reckless, they became known and you were nothing but a memory he drank away.
It hurt us, it nearly killed his family to see him destroying himself like that whilst she smiled for photos without a second thought. He is getting better, withdrawal symptoms were expected but in that time he had being isolated from everyone he cared about and loved something else happened to him. No one is entirely sure but that look in his eyes faltered, and we weren’t able to stop the damages being done.
I guess I’m trying to tell you is that we, we all miss you. We miss you coming to visit us, listen to us play at the big arenas or in the garage like old times. I miss you listening to me about my worries or how you played games with Mike until the early hours of the morning. How you had patience for all of us no matter what was happening, you may have not seen it or thought about it too much since everything fell apart but we have.
If only we knew the impact of that day, the impact your name appearing in our minds for the first time and how special you would become, how dear you became to each and every one of us. Then I think we wouldn’t have mocked the baby of our group, we would’ve listened more and most importantly, we wouldn’t have let you go without a fighting chance.
We are so sorry, we wished things had a different outcome. We see the regret that lingers in his eyes when someone mentions your name on the off chance, how he freezes up. He can’t do this without you, we aren’t forcing you, or in anyway pressuring you to take him back willingly. We are telling you to listen for ten minutes, and then maybe have at least twelve shots with us, for old times sake.
Farewell nightingale, Ashton x
Wiping away my tears that continued to stain the paper, spreading his words that were neatly, precisely written. I wouldn’t have expected anything different from Ashton, he always had a way with words that made me curious. Yet now as I read over his words again and again I allow myself to memorise each and every line, wiping my face frantically to just stop seeming so pathetic to these strangers.
Letting out a shaky breath I neatly folded the letter, reforming the creases that he had made long ago. My eyes moved away from the box as I continued to blink away tears that seemed to be in an abundance, the sky seemed blurred above the clouds as if we were dreaming.
Everything felt like a dream as I focused on the peaceful pillows that remained below us, how delicate everything seemed below until you penetrate that barrier, you break through the dream and enter that all too painful reality.
Trying to focus on my hands as they continued to shake I picked up the next letter, my heart felt like it had returned to the familiar place in my throat, throbbing drastically as I recognised his rushed handwriting all too well.
Except as I began to open it up it wasn’t in the format predicted, then again with him I learnt to expect the unexpected. Even now he didn’t fail to surprise me, and as I looked to the letters in bold my breath hitched and everything froze, even the tears that rolled down my cheeks as I scanned the letters.
The Only Reason.