Did He?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 24, 2016

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Submitted: October 24, 2016

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Did He?

 

Ian and Stella, Stella and Ian. Their names had been linked together by their friends, their families, for so long or so it seemed. They might not have been together for much more than a year but it was such an intense relationship it seemed impossible to picture either of them without the other.

 

But now there is no Ian and Stella. Stella is dead, buried for four weeks now, and Ian has withdrawn into an isolated shell. If only he did not feel like he was the cause, that he had murdered his one and only soulmate. Nobody could tell him, nobody could offer reassurance. But whether it was an accident or suicide Ian knew that the responsibility for it rested on his shoulders.

 

And it was such a stupid row! So many arguments just get out of control; one word misread leads to more and more angry words being exchanged, more and more pain being caused. Ian and Stella didn’t row; they didn’t shout at each other, didn’t engage in the practice of insulting each other, and they never set out to put each other down. Perhaps that was partly why things just got so out of hand.

 

Ian’s parents had invited them to an anniversary gathering. They were to arrive on the Friday and leave on the Sunday; his younger brother would be there, and his older sister. It just happened to coincide with a trip to the theatre that Stella had been looking forward to for several months, a trivial matter, so she claimed. It was strangely enough Stella that insisted they go to his parents, and Ian that had been adamant that they stick to their plans.

 

Did he really let such an insignificant thing bring about Stella’s death? No matter how he looked at it, Ian could only see the answer as being ‘Yes’. They argued it backwards and forwards, their voices rising, their postures becoming evermore aggressive. Little things that had been buried came to the surface. The words they found themselves flinging at each other had nothing to do with the weekend away, they were just weapons to inflict pain.

 

Ian had seen what was happening, had gone to grab Stella, wanting to hold her in his arms, to let things calm down. But Stella had not seen that at all. She had seen Ian lunging towards her and her past experience had told her that what was about to happen involved severe physical pain. She had gone through that enough in the past and would not let it happen again. Stella had opened the door and had ran down the cliff path towards their parked cars. She never reached them.

 

When her body was recovered from the rocks, beaten, twisted, almost unrecognisable, it was impossible to tell if the plunge had been deliberate or the result of her tripping, falling, not realising quite how near to the edge she was in the darkness. Eventually Stella’s death was declared to have been accidental, one of those tragedies that can randomly strike anyone at any time. Only Ian knew differently, only he realised just how upset she had been. And that knowledge was slowly killing him.

 

Why was he still shutting himself up in the very same house that she had fled from? Why had he turned away from any and all sympathy? They wouldn’t understand, couldn’t understand, the tormented guilt he now lived with. His phone was turned off, any visitors had long since stopped calling. No doubt he had lost his job; he didn’t know, but as he had just stopped going in without so much as a mumbled excuse, that was most likely.

 

And Ian did not care. All he wanted was to drink and to sleep. He barely ate enough to keep himself alive, and what he ate did not matter. It was all cardboard to him. In the last month he had lost so much weight his clothes were now too big, just hanging off his ever-diminishing frame.

 

Another drink should end another day of misery and torment. Another drink should see him pass out into a black dreamless void of......nothing. And that, Ian felt, was the best he could now hope for.

 

He gulped the whiskey straight from the bottle, could barely see straight enough to screw the cap back on before unconsciousness saw that his head hit the sofa, and that Ian did not sit up again that night.

 

* * * * *

 

Stella entered the room silently. She could no longer make a sound even if she tried. She shimmered. If Ian had opened his eyes he might have seen something; a disturbance of light, or of shadow perhaps. But his eyes remained completely closed. He was totally oblivious of her presence in the room.

 

Every night, Stella visited him. She just could not stay away, even though the sight of him destroying himself slowly was agonizing to her. She would kneel on the floor, next to the sofa, she would reach out her fingers to stroke his sleeping face. It had taken practice to get it right; her fingers having no substance, they initially disappeared under his skin. That was not what she wanted; just a light gentle stroking motion to try to bring some comfort from the torment Ian was clearly in.

 

Stella would stay for hours, just talking, whispering in her soft ghostly voice. There were no insults now, no condemning, no blame. She was besieged by guilt as well. She should never have got involved in a dispute between Ian and his parents; she knew that their relationship was complex, that she still had a lot to learn of its past. She could so easily have backed down – after all, it was her own plans that Ian had been supporting.

 

Stella looked at Ian, the person in front of her not the one she had known and loved. She was as guilty for his destruction as he had been for hers. More so, really. Her plunge had been accidental but his destruction was self-caused, deliberate. Ian knew full well that he was bringing about his own death. Stella knew that it was her absence that now was making his life intolerable, unbearable. If she could just make him aware of her nightly visits, maybe, just maybe, that would help. But she had tried. And she had failed.

 

Stella would wait for Ian. No matter how many nights it took she would be there. She would sit and wait for the time when they would be reunited. It would not be long now, she could feel it. And no matter how much guilt and how much blame they felt, they would be Ian and Stella, Stella and Ian, again.



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