But that was 19 days ago and life changes in the blink of an eye. A car driving too fast, wrong place at the wrong time, an overheard comment in a restaurant bathroom, a missed call, a slip and fall, a lie. One action, one second and everything is different.
I light another cigarette, the shop is filled with a putrid, grey cloud of smoke. The ashtray, a floral Wedgewood saucer, is overflowing with the carcasses of smoked memories. It’s dark outside. I haven’t moved from the chair in 10 hours. It’s nearly midnight. My eyes focus on the cold, marble floor, as my hand strokes firmly along the left side of my nose and across my eyebrow, as if by doing so, it can release the cause of tension knotted there. I blink. I take a breath. I try to make it a deep one, but my chest gets caught on an emotion, ragged and raw. I gasp an involuntary suck, and my body slumps back into numb. My eyelids sting as if I have been crying. I haven’t. They are swollen and heavy. I want to shut them and sink into the black. Forever.
I don’t. It’s not that easy. I just sit and remember.
The night of the engagement was something we planned in a little less than two months. Simultaneously with the wedding. It wasn’t that hard really.
“Why wait Katherine? We could date for years and then…. What? Just live together and grow old? Be boring and plain. Live in the suburbs of mediocrity. Then in ten years finally decide to get married. That’s not us. Why not do it now, while we are passionate. Start our life now. Neither of us will be happy, till I make an honest woman of you, so don’t make us wait. You’re literally procrastinating about being happy.
Princess, you know I literally breathe in and absorb every cell of your goodness. I’m totally addicted to you. How much do want from someone before you realise they belong together?
You are part of my life’s plan. Everything that’s happened before I met you, means I’ve earned the right to be with you; to deserve you. Princess, you will make everything in my life right. God, you certainly deserve me. I’m offering more than you ever dreamed of, and you’re worthy of that world because you are so pure. I know you will do good with what I bring into your life. I have faith that you will step up. One day you will look back on everything that happens because we met, and I just know, you will be a different person. I want to help make you an even better person. Help you to help others.
Katherine, at the end of the day, we simply have to announce that we have both finally found our soul mate. That we are going to be happy till we die of old age, together, like the couple in the photo. Curled up around each other dying at the same time. We need to get married, so all our friends and family know this is real. This is it. You are the one to turn my life around.
And I’d like Ollie to think of me as a stable father figure. He needs that in his life. I know I don’t have to marry you for that, but I think he would feel the security. I think he needs to know you are finally safe.
I want to marry you. I can see myself getting old with you, but it needs to start sooner not later.”
He was Chinese water torture. There was no denying it. Paul was determined and fast paced. I was forever telling him to slow down. He was forever telling me to catch up.
Organizing both events, focusing on the end result of a marriage for life, was instantly a full time job. My biggest whinge was that I had managed to mess my email accounts up, and four out of five stopped working, and I needed to cc everything via friends or Paul. I didn’t have time to sort the issue with my provider, so just struggled along, knowing that by the time I was married, the accounts wouldn’t be needed anyway. Utterly first world problems.
If co-ordinating invitations, addresses, seating plans, order of service, suits, bridal parties, hiring companies, wedding planners, venues and all the minutiae involved wasn’t enough, Paul also decided to pull the pin on all of his Australian business ventures. He wanted to make a new life in America. He would liquidate his Australian interests and focus entirely on the American side. This translated apparently, as to become entirely a man of leisure. We would make home in New York. He had suggested the West coast for the sun, but if I was moving, then it was to New York. I’m a city girl. I wasn’t prepared to move away from Oliver and then have a life I didn’t want. I’m not really a sun type of girl.
“That’s ok, my business is based in Boston, so it’s only an hour flight away. I can pop over there whenever needed and you won’t even know I’m gone. Not that we need to be involved in that, it’s self sufficient and sustaining. The person I now have in charge, is totally under my control.” He laughed. “And they have my business interests totally under control. Just doing their job making me money. So sure, we can buy a penthouse in Manhattan, if you want, but I’m telling you, Princess, you’ll last one season and hate the cold. I’ll buy you something with a stunning view of the Park, to keep you happy, and then you’ll feel guilty because we will always be traveling. You’ll never stay there. We have the time and the money now to enjoy ourselves, and you will have the means to do whatever you want.”
In my head and to my friends, I had said, that infact he had no idea how much time we would be spending at home. I like to travel, but I just wanted to be still. I needed the calm and to be able to breathe. This was a whirl wind romance and I felt the ground spinning way underneath. Added to that, was the mounting pressure of my shop. I desperately needed a break. Time out. Too much romance, attention, movement, action and business stress. Too much of everything.
All good, he has his plan, and I’m a woman who has hers. He wanted biggest best, and I was happy with less, less, less. Anything more than I was achieving on my own was a bonus. I was aiming for normal. I was craving it. His dreams would surely slow down. He was such a home body here, now. We went out twice, three times a week, and that was only with my friends, so I figured, it would more likely be the same life, just different geography, albeit, somewhat grander. The engagement, as Paul created it, was an indication of just that. It was lavish, and clearly over the top. I took on board this was a precursor to a lifestyle that was more than enough. It was, if anything, going to be too much….but it came with Paul.
September 12. 2014
I can’t eat. I’m grateful that I still have the flu. I’ve had it four days now. Since the day before the call.
Exhaustion gnaws at my very being and I hope that eventually at some point in the later hours of the morning I will finally succumb to sleep again. But for now, I just sit. My bones ache. I’m cold and hot, and I have no idea if I feel this way from what’s happening or because I am sick. I light another cigarette and stare at the laptop. It will have answers. My phone lying beside it, indicates 78 unopened texts. It’s on silent. The constant ringing, voice mail, and Facebook posts and threads are too much to deal with right now.
What has happened to my wonderful Paul? I need him here beside me. Where are you? My heart is crushing under the pressure, making my chest feel physically heavy.
How much do I need to know? I can’t fully believe anything. I can’t comprehend what has just happened, let alone how. Do I really want to? Isn’t this enough already? I can’t seem to make sense. I am not functioning. I’m fixated on finding an explanation that I can accept. I think it will save me and find him. Then everything will right itself.
It’s not even logical to even think it could get worse. Because it just can’t. There is nothing left that can happen now.
1 day since I was threatened with a tree shredder and a man named Vito.
2 days since I lost my beautiful Paul.
3 days since my world came crashing down.
3 days since the phone call.
But, before then. February. A different call. The first of two that would change the direction of my life.