HOLDING ON TO HOPE

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 05

 
 

When she descended a while later, Will was missing. Then she heard the unmistakable sound of hissing and spitting and realised he was outside cooking the steaks.

Deanna opened the fly door and stepped out onto the verandah. The sun was setting down below the treetops, its red beams lighting up the sky, gently beckoning the stars to come out. The time, the moment was perfect, or would have been if it wasn’t for the tension that hovered in the cooling air.

Will’s back was rigid as he tended the barbecue. Deanna didn’t know whether to face him head on or turn and hide away. In the end she knew it wasn’t going to solve anything. One way or another, they were destined to have the upcoming dreaded discussion. If not now then later. It might as well be now.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Will’s low, melancholy voice, "I’m sorry." Deanna’s eyes fell to the hesitant outstretched hand, even though he hadn’t turned. His silent plea and pain tugged at her heart and Deanna knew she couldn’t ignore him anymore than she could ignore the consequences.

Taking a few tentative steps down to his position, she nervously slipped her hand into his and with a united sigh, they were drawn closer than they had ever been before, not only in spirit, but in body too.

As they stood and watched the steaks sizzle something happened between them. They both felt the change, both welcomed it. It was dream-time; a magical time of just him and her, the moonlight, the memories, the moment. Everything and everyone was forgotten, just for a little while.

Dinner was eaten in comfortable silence on the verandah with only the sound of crickets and chickadee’s. A lone owl hooted in the distance reminding them just how alone they truly were.

The meal dragged on, extended by wine they both savoured with relish. It had been a long time since there had been such a time as special as this; Two friends united after eons apart, simply just enjoying the time for what it was; theirs.

~*~

But eventually, the magical time began to drift away. With an inner sigh, Deanna pushed herself to a seated position, intent on rising and leaving the growing unease that was beginning to surround them both like a fog. Little by little as the comforting ambience began to dwindle, so the anxiety began to rise.

It was coming, and they both knew it; recognised the moment was about to be shattered with memories long buried but never forgotten. Past hurts that had no right to be dredged up to refresh that pain.

Will captured her small hand as she made to push herself up from the couch’s edge. His silent plea of Stay. was the first time he’d sent to her. First time he’d let his guard down enough for her to see the agony, old and new, to radiate through.

It made Deanna gasp with its intensity, and it was then that she truly realised that whereas she had been able to move on; live again. Will had not. The counselor in her kicked in even though the woman in her wanted to shy away and not listen or see the man before her crumble, and she knew he would, he had to. Will had waited five years to do this. Five whole years carrying around enough pain to destroy any other man. But Deanna had known what had kept Will sane.

Her.

Sliding back into the couch’s softness, Deanna was surprised when Will entwined his fingers with hers, looked into her eyes and asked her, "Why are you marrying Antony?"

It was a long moment as Deanna looked into Will’s eyes as she tried to understand his reason for asking about Antony and not their lost baby. But whilst she searched his eyes, her mind was searching his soul and only came up with genuine concern and a need to comprehend her desire to marry another man.

Her trepidation was fleeting, and with strength in her words, Deanna answered him honestly, "Antony has almost everything I want...everything I need."

Every word slipped past Will’s senses as he picked up on the only word that meant anything to him. the only word that told him in an instant everything he wanted to know; Almost.

Almost.

Will didn’t need her to explain her reason for saying the unusual word, he knew why; he was the reason. He was the reason why she was giving her heart, her body and her love to another man.

But that man could never own her soul, for it belonged to him. It always had and always would, and without that, everything else was meaningless. Her marriage to Antony would always be a sham, an empty void that only existed because she was alive. Whereas her soul would live for eternity, within her, and within him, safe and secure.

Before he could respond to her revelation, Deanna beat him to it, "I know what you’re thinking Will, and I admit, I’m flattered that I mean that much to you, but I’m afraid it's going to take more than the safe-keeping of my soul to kick start any relationship with you."

Will held his breath as he posed the next question, even though it was one that didn't need asking, not really, but he had to anyway, "Do you think you could love me again?"

He was startled by her bitter laughter and words, "Oh, Will, I never stopped loving you. But our lives...our problems, our different goals keep us apart. What I want is not what you want. What I want means living here, permanently, with a home, and a family. To be committed to each other and not any project that keeps us apart. When things go wrong, I want to be supported, and loved...and held when I’m sad. I want the whole package, Will, and you are not the one that can give it to me."

Sadness hung in the air like a massive rain cloud getting ready to pour forth. Her words spun around and around in Will’s mind, but he couldn’t look at her, his eyes settled momentarily on each and every thing but her within the vast room. Each object had a memory, and every memory had her slotted into it, somehow. And it was with those thoughts when he slowly, and miserably answered her, "You’re wrong, Deanna, about everything."

The silence that followed ticked by, second by second as though a huge grandfather clock had placed itself between the battling couple and just simply waited, ticking, like a time-bomb waiting to explode.

It happened barely a moment later when Will flew from the comfy sofa, his anger sparked as quickly as a match being struck against a flint, his torment not only etched his face, but his words too as he rounded on her, hovering over her still seated form as she stared up into his contorted face with something akin to terror, "You’re wrong, Deanna, I have changed and I do want those things, more than ever; more than you’ll ever know."

As quickly as his fury erupted it simmered again, and as quickly as he’d flown from his seat, he’d sat back down again, this time on the edge of the plush seat facing her. Rougher than he’d intended, Will took her cold, trembling fingers within his, forcing her to face him headlong. Forcing her to see the blatant terror, begging, anger, and God help him, the desire that raged throughout his entire being.

But Deanna didn’t need to see them, they all slammed through her senses, making her catch her breath with their impact, painting a very dynamic image that begged to be ignored or denied.

No matter how much Deanna wanted what he was offering, even if it was her every dream come true; A home, the chance of a new family, peace, contentment and best of all, Will to give it all to her, Deanna was torn in two. Images of times long past, of Will belonging to noone or nowhere but the stars. Of a baby, wanted by her but not by him, buried alone and waiting for her to join the tiny being one day. Of Will abandoning her in her hour of need; a time when they have should have been there for each other. Too much pain, and too many bad memories surrounded them both now. Deanna just could not see how they could get past them all.

And then there was Antony.

It was Deanna’s turn to stand and pace the floor before Will as she attempted to gather her peppered thoughts. The highly charged moment needed diffusing before it escalated into something more than they could both handle right now. Time to talk about them would maybe come later, right now, Deanna wanted to get the thing that she had been absconded for into the open and over and done with, no matter how and what it did to them both.

Physically calming herself inside and out somehow, Deanna steadied her shaking body and voice enough to speak to the waiting man that still sat expectantly before her, "You wanted to know about the baby, Will?"

The clock began to tick again until much to Deanna’s surprise, Will stood and began to stride away from her, his words filling the empty space that lengthened out between them, "No, I can’t talk about that right now, I’m not ready for it, I’m sorry."

Deanna stood staring at the closed door for a long time before moving her taut body away from not only the image of him walking away from her, but of the image she remembered from so long ago.

Will had abandoned her once more.

 
     
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