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Written by Leah Jane

Photograph by   ROBIN     WORRALL

Photograph by ROBIN WORRALL

I’ll see you tonight. Love you lots xxx

Hope’s phone flashed with the words and a smile escaped her. Every time she got a message from Wyatt, her instant reaction was to beam like the Cheshire Cat.

It’s too long to wait! I’ve not seen you for 12hrs now! Xxx.  

Send.

They were to be at a rehearsal tonight for a brand new show. Hope couldn’t wait. She loved seeing Wyatt. This was not the first show they had been in together. Hope remembered the first show like it was yesterday: Pride and Prejudice. Wyatt played the moody Mr. Darcy and Hope, the youngest, most liberal Bennet sister, Lydia.  She smiled as she recalled their first interaction.

“Hi, I’m Hope,” she’d said abruptly, extending a hand to him.

 “I’m Wyatt,” he’d replied and took her hand. That smile, she could never forget it, she remembered commenting to her friend in the cast, much to her embarrassment, that it could melt steel. Throughout the rehearsal process, however, things changed.

It began when she realized he made her laugh constantly. Even her ex, Dylan never made her laugh that much. She loved talking to him, he was full of intellectual conversation. Then, after a while, she would find herself looking forward to rehearsals days before. Naturally, he would be there and her heart skipped a beat when she saw his car parked by the theatre.

 He would always make a B-line for her, envelope her in a massive bear hug and they would discuss how their weeks had been, both offering little morsels of advice here and there. Hope was happy in Wyatt’s company, he made her feel smart and that her opinion always mattered to him.   

 But it wasn’t until recently they had made the leap and actually opened up to each other. Once, when he wasn’t himself because of ‘something going on at work,’ as he had put it. Not one to pry or nose into other peoples’ problems, Hope had made him a coffee during the break (black 2 sugars) and given him her number.

“Text me any time,” she had said, “day or night.” and he had done. “Thanks for your understanding tonight, can I tell you something?” of course Hope had replied he could tell her anything he wanted and the floodgates had opened. They swapped stories about families and lost loved ones. Hope began to invest in this man’s life; From his teacher who called him out for losing the race at sports day to the girl who went travelling and left him brokenhearted.

That evening, Hope was leaving the office with many ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see you tomorrows’ to the girls around her. She checked her phone, still no reply from Wyatt. Working with women, Hope had found, was difficult. Gossip amongst women spread like wildfire, everyone knew everything. There were never any secrets; no date went unspoken, no photos were left unseen. She was pleased to be going when that clock struck. She raced home to her small, poorly decorated one bedroom flat, forced some food down, showered in the barely adequate bathroom and left again.  

Driving to the theatre was a massive issue in itself. Traffic was a nightmare with ‘road closed’ signs and a way off she could see ambulances on her usual route, so Hope had to make a detour, making her late. Not that this was new.

The first thing Hope always noticed when she got to rehearsals was whether Wyatt’s car was there. As she arrived, now ten minutes late, she immediately noticed the absence of that Blue sedan she knew so well.

‘Strange,’ she said to herself. ‘He loves to be here before me.’ After months of mocking her, calling her out every time she is late, he always made a point to be there before her. Time keeping wasn’t her best skill admittedly but she always tried to be prompt.

She went into the theatre auditorium and waved at her friends on stage.

‘Ah, here she is!’ called the director.

‘Sorry Simon, traffic getting home was a nightmare! The duel carriageway was closed,’

‘no worries, apparently its been closed for most of the day. And anyway you’re here now,’ he said, flashing a smile.

 Simon was a lovely man. He was flamboyant which Hope adored. After a while there was still no sign of Wyatt, and everyone began to ask Hope where he was.

‘Where’s the boyfriend tonight?’ asked her friend Jamie.

‘I’m not sure,’

‘He is coming, isn’t he?’ asked Simon whipping his fringe from his eyes.

‘I’m sure he is,’ was her reply ‘I’ve not heard he isn’t.’

Where are you? We’ve had to start without you. Xxx.

 Send.

This was odd. He never missed a rehearsal without telling someone. She was getting slightly worried. What if he was ill and needed help? What if he had hurt himself somehow? The rehearsal carried on regardless of Wyatt’s absence. All evening Hope couldn’t shift that feeling in her gut that something wasn’t right.  

Let me know you’re okay please. Love you xxx.

 Send.

 As she lay in her bed in her darkened room lit only by her phone, she willed a text to be there in the morning. She was sure there would be. Maybe he’s fallen asleep. She looked at the time on her phone, by now he would have.

‘Lazybones.’ she chuckled to herself.   

***

BUZZ BUZZ   BUZZ BUZZ

Hope groaned as she looked at the cursed number that disturbed her slumber. Uma? Oh god. Wyatt’s mum. She sat up in bed. What had happened? She spent far too long staring at the phone. Too scared to answer it.

‘Hi, Uma. What’s up?’ said Hope, tentatively.

‘Hi, honey, have you seen Wyatt? He never made it back after rehearsal, did he stay with you?’

Hopes heart dropped and all colour drained from her face, she couldn’t speak, her mouth burnt, every dry swallow was like glass down her throat.

‘Hello? Are you there? Hope?’

‘Yeah, yeah I’m here, Uma, I don’t know where he is. He wasn’t at rehearsal either.’

The silence between them was deafening, neither of them daring to break it. It was the realization that a son and a boyfriend had gone missing.

‘Okay, I’m going to call the police… then umm… then I guess I’ll go out looking.’ Uma sounded like she was seconds away from bursting into tears. Hope couldn’t bear to listen to a mother’s cold, numbing fear.

‘Ill keep looking too, keep me posted,’ said Hope.

‘Yeah, you too, okay? Speak to you later,’ came a shaky reply.

They hung up. In that exact moment Hope sat without moving, her whole body was cold. She felt her hands drop her phone to the floor and made no attempt to rescue it. She didn’t know what to do but she knew she had to do something. She reached for her phone, her comfort, and her safe space. He was at least on there, pictures, status updates, tweets. He was safe in there.

Please be okay. Get in touch if you can. I love you xxx.

Send.

There was no reason why she did it. But it did lessen her grief. He might reply. She kept thinking.

Minutes later, she snatched her keys from the worktop, threw her coat on, and made her way to her car making a hasty call to her boss on the way.

‘Look I know, I know, my deadline is soon but I can’t be in today, something has come up. Of course it’s an emergency! I wouldn’t be calling otherwise.’    

She went to his work to see if he was there, she went to their favourite café, she went to his brothers house and every single time she was turned away with a sympathetic “No”. 

‘Let me know if you hear anything,’ The amount of times she heard that; it was getting almost monotonous. She slammed her car door closed and started the engine yet again.

 BUZZ BUZZ  BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

 'Uma?’ said Hope. A reply didn’t come. Not for a long time. There was that glass shattering silence again.

‘Hope,’ Said Uma. Her voice was weak.

‘What is it? Have you found him?’ Hope asked. She was shaking.

‘I’m not sure how to say… there was an accident.’ said Uma. ‘He was driving towards the town centre.’

‘What?’ said Hope.

The realization hit her, he was on the way to see her. ‘Oh my god.’

‘The officer said it happened at around half past five last night on the duel carriage way,’ said Uma. Her own tears were welling in her eyes. She tried not to let it get the better of her, she shouldn’t assume the worst. ‘don’t jump to conclusions, Hope’ she told herself.

‘I’ve got another call, I’ll phone you back,’ Uma said quickly and hung up.

 It all made sense, Hope recalled last night. The traffic and the road closure.

 Don’t let it be you. Tell me it isn’t you. Xxx.  Send.

Hope decided she would head to his ex girlfriend’s place. She didn’t know why but she was desperate.

As she was about to turn at a junction, her phone started to ring. Uma. Hope pulled over.

‘Hello?’

‘It’s Wyatt,’ came a strangled reply, ‘they took him to the General Hospital but they aren’t sure if he… how soon can you get there?’

‘I’m leaving now, give me fifteen minutes.’ she said. She let the tears run down her face, her heart was beating and every limb shaking.

No, you can’t be gone. This is not happening! Xxx. 

Send.

When she arrived she ran into the ward and found Wyatt, hooked up to life support. He looked so peaceful. She welled up at the sight of this strong man on a cold, hard hospital bed. Hope ran her hand down his face. His skin was so soft.

‘I’ve given consent to turn the machine off tomorrow,’ said Uma.

Hope felt a sudden anger towards the lady who had welcomed her into her family.

‘Why?’ she snapped.

 Uma walked towards her and put a hand on her shoulder.

‘He wont recover, He’s had a severe bleed on the brain, even if he did wake up, he will need round the clock care.’

Hope and Uma held each other for the longest time. This wasn’t how their life was meant to be. Wyatt loved her and she had never doubted that but now it was gone, she wasn’t sure she could adjust to life without him.

‘I’ll go and get you a coffee, speak to him.’ said Uma. ‘The nurses said he can hear.’

Hope walked to him, sat by his bed and held his hand. Just the two of them, the only interruption was the slow, regular beep of the heart monitor.

‘I don’t know what to say. Funny isn’t it? I know what you’d say: normally I don’t shut up,’ She took a deep breathe and composed herself as best she could. ‘Everyone at rehearsal will be devastated,’ she paused. ‘We never did get to Venice did we? Or to Prague, you always wanted to go there.’ She kissed his hand and she willed him to wrap his fingers around her hand. His hand was still and lifeless.

***

Hope’s alarm stirred her, the sun was starting to blare through her white curtains. She sleepily turned over and put her hand over a large, firm chest. She kissed his cheek.

 ‘Buongiorno,’ she whispered.

‘Good morning. You are picking up the language quick.’ replied her muscular, blue eyed companion.  

‘I’ll make you a coffee before I go,’ said Hope.

‘No, you get the shower, I make it, you have a big day today.’ came a sleepy reply.

Hope beamed. She never thought anyone else could make her smile again but after 9 months, Alessandro was a godsend.  He had helped her heal, even when she wasn’t sure she could.

A short while later, Hope was closing the door of her new apartment. She was in love with it; A beautiful studio apartment in the most beautiful area of the world. She had made it her home. Full posters of her performances covered the walls, beautiful artwork and stunning, ornamental furniture.

Addio!’ called Hope.

As she walked down the Grande Canal, she let herself take in all the noises, colours and smells around her. She stopped, looked out to the water and smiled to herself. She reflected on the 18 months that had passed. The worst moment in her life was the start of something amazing. she gave herself a new life.

She was setting up her laptop ready for the presentation. She walked around the large oval table when she heard footsteps behind her. As she turned around to the glass door, they opened.

Bonjourno, Miss Hope,’ said a kind lady. She was wearing a smart skirt suit and amazing red Louboutin shoes. She offered her hand to Hope and she took it with a smile.

‘You must be Lilly, nice to meet you,’ she said.

‘Are you ready?’ asked Lilly. ‘The investors are just outside.’

Hope took a deep breath and nodded.

The room was soon packed, chatter filled the air and Hope began to feel butterflies. These people would decide if this would succeed. She needed to remember why she was doing this. It would not happen to anyone else if she could help it.

‘Ladies and gentleman, thank you for coming today, I would like to talk to you about my campaign called “don’t risk it, don’t answer”, which aims to educate young drivers and parents to the dangers of using your mobile while driving, but more importantly, how it affects the people around you.”

Later, she dropped into her favourite café for an escape from the summer heat. She sat at her usual window table overlooking a bridge which had a couple hand in hand walking across it. Hope sighed. The sight made her smile. Although she wished that her and Wyatt were here together, she knew she was doing some good in the world in his name. As she sat there, sipping her drink, she took out her phone and started to type.

Happy birthday, Handsome. Thinking of you always. All my love. xxx.

 Send.


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