Loves Me Not (PART THREE)
It took six months to plan my wedding. I didn't want a big wedding, or a particularly long one. I was just excited to go on my honeymoon. I had never travelled further than Spain, and Cuba looked gorgeous! Especially with the dreary spring weather in England. It was two months to the wedding and I was on the phone with my Mum. She was badgering me about wearing her wedding dress, and I tried to tell her politely that her dress was an old fashioned and quite ugly dress.
"I've got to go Mum; I've got a call coming through." I lied and hung up. There was a knock at my door. It was Jess and Maria. "Look what we have." Jess chimed as she pushed through the doorway. Maria strode in behind her. They were both holding plastic casings with dresses inside them. I had forgotten that my dress was supposed to be picked up from the tailor shop that day. "They were supposed to call me." I said as I started unzipping the casing.
"Oh yeah, I changed the information sheet and switched it to my number." Jess said, "Surprise," I laughed and shook it off. It was a nice surprise after the stresses of the day. (Any day you're wedding planning is a stressful one). I pulled out my dress and Maria gasped. "It's beautiful." She said in her quiet voice.
I just nodded. It truly was beautiful. It had a shoulder strap, and was fitted except for the bottom, where it flared out a bit. I laid it back down and opened the other casings. It was Jess and Maria's bridesmaid's dresses. They were baby blue and simple, but still pretty. We all exchanged smiles before zipping them back up. I didn't want them getting dirty or ripped.
With five days left until the wedding, I was awaiting my Mum's arrival the next day. I had cleaned my flat spotless and it was evening. I calculated that Scott would be finishing about now, so I called him. NO answer. I called again and left a message. We had hardly had any time together lately, so I thought we could go to the Café after he finished work.
"Hey Scott, I'm coming down to the sweet shop so save me a Milky Way bar." I laughed and put my mobile in my pocket. I grabbed my car keys and drove five minutes down to the shop. The lights were still on. I walked in and planned to surprise him. I crept to the back where he would be locking up the till. I gasped at what I saw.
A man in a black hood was pointing a gun at Scott as Scott put money into a bin bag. I put my back against the wall, pulled out my phone, and dialed 999. "What is your emergency?"
"I'm at the Sugar Globe Sweet Shop on George Street. There's a man here with a gun. You have to come here quickly." I explained in a panicked whisper. "Hold tight Ma'am, the authorities will be with you soon. Do you mind staying on the line?" The operator said meaningfully. I peeked around the corner again. The man was shouting at Scott to go faster.
Flashing red and blue lights and sirens closed in. I breathed a sigh of relief. We were saved. A shot rung through the air and I instinctively screamed. A shot is not what you would think it would sound like. It was much louder than in expected. The man in the black hood was surprised that I was there. He shot at me before the police came in and he immediately surrendered.
He only hit me in the leg, but it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced. I crashed to the floor, screaming in pain. One of the policemen tried to pick me up. "I winced, and then realized something. I looked around in frenzy. "Scott? Scott, where is Scott?" I asked, but the policeman wasn't answering. "He is my fiancé, is he alright? Scott!" I called out, struggling in the arms of the policeman, and forgetting about the bullet in my leg.
They strapped me onto a bed, but I continued to shout frantically. Why weren't they answering any of my questions? I started to sob. They pushed me into an ambulance and a woman paramedic put a mask over my mouth and nose. I only took a few breaths before I started to calm down, and after a few more, I was asleep.
I woke up two days later. How they kept me asleep that long, I'll never know. I opened my eyes slowly. I was in a pale green room, with scratchy sheets over me, and I was wearing a hospital gown. I hated that smell. Turning my head, I saw my Mum fast asleep in an armchair. The digital clock on the wall said it was four in the morning.
I sat up and observed the clear liquid being fed to me through my arm. Then it all rushed back to me. The robbery, a gunshot, wait, didn't I get shot? I lifted my blanket and leaned forward. There was a thick bandage on my calf. Hadn't Scott been shot too? Suddenly, my Mum woke up with a snort. "Oh darling, you're awake." She said, calmer than I thought she would be.
That put my guard up. She stroked my hair and I could see the tears she was trying to pretend weren't there. "What's going on?" My voice was low. "Sweetheart, Scott is dead." My Mum said, her eyes not keeping steady with mine. "You're joking right, he's not really…"
But I knew it. I knew it when the paramedics wouldn't talk to me. I just didn't want to believe it. The first thing I did was turn around and throw up. My Mother gasped and pressed the button for the Nurse. The Nurse put a cold flannel on my forehead and sent in a janitor to clean up. I asked my Mum to leave. I needed to process the information by myself.
Even with the janitor there, I let myself cry loudly, sniffling and coughing. At one point I thought I would throw up again. After a few hours I was out of tears. I stared at the hospital ceiling, not caring to eat or sleep or move. That didn't change for a long time. They let me go the next day, and my Mum wheeled me to the car. She didn't want to leave me alone. But I just wanted to be alone.
A week after I got home there was a funeral for Scott. I could walk almost normally then, only needing crutches. I opened my closet for a black dress. I would move for this occasion. But it would be only this occasion. I flipped through my clothes, and suddenly hit plastic. My Mum must have put my dress away. I wiped the hot tears off of my cheeks and kept flipping.
There was one black dress. It had capped sleeves and was down to the knee. I recognized it instantly. It was the dress I had worn to my first date with Scott. I sighed shakily and put it on. I put my hair into a bun and hobbled out to the living room. My Mum was waiting for me, already dressed. Maybe I did want her there.
The funeral wasn't huge, but there were a few people I didn't know. They were probably Scott's friends that I would have met later on. Scott's Mum emerged from the crowd. Mr. and Mrs. Milne lived out in the countryside and I had only met them once before. Her mascara running down her cheeks, Mrs. Milne squeezed onto me, sobbing violently on my shoulder. I shuddered as my dress got soaked.
She let go and held my face in her hands. "You made him very happy, so thank you." She managed, smearing the mascara across her face as she wiped at he r tears. The day after the funeral, my Mum left. She would've stayed longer, but she had to get back to work. I spent another week sitting on my sofa, retreating back to not moving. I didn't know what to do. The T.V was boring, and I sure wasn't up to socializing. So I ended up sitting and drinking tea, my thoughts in static.
Every day, at least one person showed up. It was either my friends checking that I was still alive, or an acquaintance, bringing pies and dinners, like I had lost the ability to cook. It was sweet of them, but all I felt was that all the food in the world wouldn't comfort me. I wanted to say to them, "Oh good, now I can get fat while I grieve." But instead I smiled and thanked them. As much as I wanted to be alone all the time, solitary confinement probably wouldn't have helped either; luckily, I didn't get the chance to test it out. On the Friday after the funeral there was a knock at the door.
It was a little early to be checked on, so I supposed it was another card giver or a cook. I glanced at my bedroom mirror. Yeah, I looked terrible. There were purple bags under my eyes, and my hair was a mess. I pulled it back into a ponytail and brushed the toast crumbs off my pajamas. The person at the door was not who expected. It was Olly.
He looked at me with his sad eyes, and I broke down all over again. It's funny how you don't know what you need until it presents itself to you. Well in that moment I needed Olly. While everyone else was crying with me, he was grounded. He was strong and he didn't know Scott, so he could listen to me without getting too overwhelmed. I didn't know how he knew. And looking back, I should have asked. But I assumed it was covered on the news.
I embraced him whole-heartedly, burying my face in his neck. His cologne smelled nice. I didn't let go first. Without a word, I led him inside. I realized that my flat was a disaster zone. I sat down on the sofa and he followed suit. "How are you doing?" He asked. I crossed my legs under me. "I'm not sure how I'm meant to be doing." I replied. Olly nodded and got up to make me tea. I didn't object.
Olly stayed with me for the weekend, sleeping on the sofa, listening to me blubber on, and even cleaning and cooking. I started feeling better, at least a little bit. He made me laugh a few times, and by the last time, I didn't feel bad for laughing. I started to reason a bit more. What would Scott have wanted? He would have wanted me to laugh, and to keep living. He would've wanted me to be happy. I supposed it was about time I got my life back on track; If not for me, then for Scott.
Olly and I exchanged numbers. I was glad we could be friends again, even if it happened on the worst terms. I cleaned up my flat, and myself. I called my clients to tell them classes were resuming as of tomorrow. That night I went out to the Café. I missed my friends. I just wanted to talk them like we used to, without their sappy faces and their back rubs. I had also taken on Scott's friends. I wondered if they would still be there.
They were all sitting at the usual table, even Scott's friends, and they were chatting. "Hi guys." I said as I walked up to the table. Everyone turned around in unison. "Laura!" Jess smiled and stood up. The others followed suit. "What are you doing out?" Maria asked after giving me a hug. "I'm just trying to pick myself back up." I said truthfully. They opened up a spot for me and avoided anything to do with Scott.
That nagging in the back of my head faded. Scott will never, ever leave my mind fully. I am reminded of him every day. It only takes the smell of his cologne, or seeing his favourite T.V show. Those are just a few examples. But it is good to remember, if you are remembering with fondness, not with anguish. It took me months to think about Scott and not cry. But I did accomplish it.
A month after Olly had left, I was preparing for a guitar lesson when I heard the newspaper hit the cement floor outside the flat. I stopped tuning my guitar and picked up the newspaper. It was eight o'clock. I still had a half hour until Rebecca arrived. I took my tea and the paper to the kitchen table and opened it up. I wasn't interested in the news so much as the comics. Wait a minute, the Times? Didn't Olly say he worked there? I thought with a slight smile. Maybe he had an article in it.
I flipped back to the front page. My mouth gaped open. 'Inside the Basingstoke Murder: Laura Garcia, Scott Milne's Fiancées story.' Page 23- I flipped there as quickly as I could. How in the world did they get MY story? I didn't talk to any reporters! Story by Oliver Adams. A picture of his smug little face was beside it. My breathing was getting faster as I read through the story. Three pages! How did he get that much information from what I gave him? And a picture of me and Scott to boot!
My eyes flashed over to the shelf in the living room, where the exact same picture was sitting. Now I was livid. There was a knock at the door. Rebecca let herself in. She carried her purple guitar on her back. "Hi Miss Laura, my Mum sent cupcakes over." Rebecca said as she set them down on my counter. Rebecca was nine and very pretty. She had rosy cheeks and curly blonde hair. She was also a sweetheart. "Tell you Mum thank you." I smiled and got up.
I only had two clients that day. They were back to back, so distracted as I was, I would get through them. After Rebecca and Leo had left, I turned my anger switch back on. I picked up my phone and called Olly. He didn't pick up, so I left a message. "Olly, I hope you're still feeling as brave as you must have been to print that story." I snapped and threw my phone into my bag. I slammed my car door and started to drive.
Olly called three times on my way to London, likely to make excuses. I didn't care. In that moment of feeling betrayed and bitter and even a little vengeful, I thought in could just kill Olly.