Dark Places

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Chapter 18

It was now Christmas Eve and Elaine was looking forward to spending her first Christmas with Steve. She loved this time of the year. She was not so keen on the run up to Christmas and how it seemed to get earlier every year. She certainly did not enjoy busy shops as last minute present buying took place. What she loved about Christmas the most was spending it with love ones. She still could not take in that her loved one was now Steve, and not Mike but and as each day passed, if it was possible she seemed to fall more and more in love with him.

Elaine was snapped out of her thoughts when the doorbell rang. That would be Charlotte. This was the day that they were going to see Mike in hospital.

Once they were in the car Charlotte asked Elaine if she was sure that this was what she wanted to do. She was a little anxious that things might not be good between Elaine and Mike and that it would ruin the happy Christmas that her best friend was looking forward to but Elaine reassured Charlotte that she needed to see Mike.

They soon arrived at the hospital and as soon as they entered the ward, Elaine and Charlotte immediately spotted Mike. He was out of bed sitting by the window reading the paper and Elaine could not help but think that this was the happiest she had seen Mike in a long time.

“I am going to go to the café and leave you two to be alone for a while”, said Charlotte so Elaine walked over to Mike.

“Hello, Mike” greeted Elaine.

Mike closed his newspaper and put it on the floor before saying “Oh Elaine, what a lovely surprise. How are you?”

“I am good thanks and I must say that I see you are much better”.

“Please take a seat. I cannot have you standing all through this visit and thank you so much I feel much better. How are things with you and Steve?”

Well that was not a question Elaine had expected Mike to ask so what could Elaine say to that than the truth?

“Things are good thank you”.

“I have to say something. Do not worry it is nothing bad. I think we have shared enough bad blood between us and I do not want that to carry on. I will always love and miss you but my truth is I have a new lady in my life. You are right I have to move on, like you have and this did all come out of the blue”.

Elaine could see that he was really happy departing his news and she was certainly surprised that he had a new flame in his life, especially since he had little opportunity to leave the hospital grounds.

“Tell me more”, Elaine really was genuinely interested to hear more about the new lady that had brought the sparkle back in Mike’s gorgeous sparkling eyes and though she still liked that sparkle, she did not feel quite as attracted to them, as she would once have been.

“Well her name is Claire and I met her, here in the hospital. I have been able to walk around more and so I went for a tea in the café here and I started to talk to the lady behind the counter and well we hit it off and we both said we wanted to give being in a relationship a try. I should not be telling you this but I so want to make love to her but being in here that is not possible”.

“I really am pleased for you”.

“Thank you. I want us to always be friends with each other, if you would allow that. No strings attached. I know it will be hard after all the special years we shared with each other but I hope we can remain friends”.

“It is good that Claire has made you happy and I have to admit that was not something I expected to hear but I am genuinely happy for you. You are right you cannot sweep the years we shared together under the carpet and I know we are divorced now but if you respect me, then I am willing to be friends. With that I want you to know that whenever you feel depressed again that you can always talk to me”.

“Thank you, Elaine. I appreciate that. It has taken me a long time to admit that the only person I have been hurting of late was myself and my therapy treatments has helped me to write down the positive things in my life and also of course the negatives but with these I was shown how to cope with them and that helped me so much because it made me certain that I have to move on. I will never forget you or stop loving you though Elaine”.

Elaine would never forget or stop loving Mike but a lot of water had gone under the bridge since he raped her and it sounded like they both were in new relationships and had better prospects ahead.

“I really appreciate how kind you are being to me. I know I hurt you; that is something I will never stop regretting and that made me lose you but I still want you as a friend. I do not know if I can ask you this but would you be comfortable with a hug?”

Elaine leant forward and put her arms around Mike. There were so many improvements in Mike. He had put on more weight and was more like the stature that he had been when they parted. Of course she had already noticed those sparkling blue eyes again but he also had the Mike smell again. She was comfortable being close to him again but she also knew that she did not have the feelings for Mike that she had.

Elaine and Mike parted and Mike said “thank you so much for that. The hug will leave me sad because I have missed being in your arms but it will teach me what I had and what I lost”.

Hearing those words made Elaine sad but Mike had Claire and she had Steve now.

Charlotte had remained in the café waiting for Elaine. She decided that Elaine seeing Mike needed to be something that they did in private. She got chatting to the lady behind the counter whilst she waited for Elaine, not realising that the woman she was talking with was Claire and Mike’s new girlfriend.

Elaine and Mike parted. “I will see you again sometime soon. I say this genuinely but I am pleased with the change in the Mike that I see before me and may Claire make you as happy as I am with Steve.

Mike still could not take the thoughts that Elaine was sharing her life with someone else but so too was he now.

“Thank you, Elaine. It has been good seeing you again”.

Elaine walked out of the ward. What did she think of the meeting with Mike? She still had a soft spot for him and always would, which is why she had agreed to help him through his depression but both had new partners now. Elaine had to admit that it was nice to see Mike again and especially as he seemed so happy again.

Elaine entered the café and met back up with Charlotte. She got herself another tea and some cake and prepared herself for the questions from Charlotte.

“How did it go then?”

“Everything was fine. He looks so much better now, more in control of his life and Mike has a new girlfriend”.

Charlotte was needless to say a little shocked by what Elaine had just said. “Mike has a new girlfriend did you say?”

“You heard right and she is in this room”. That statement confused Charlotte for a moment before the penny dropped. There was only Elaine and herself as paying customers and a lady behind the counter.

“Oh my word”, exclaimed Charlotte “and how do you feel about that?”

“We both agreed that we had moved on, had new loves in our lives but we agreed that despite everything that went on we will still be friends and that I will be there for him, like we said when we were discussing this visit”.

Though Elaine was now devoted to Steve, her visit to Mike had stirred up past memories and they were not the memories of the rape but before that, a long time before that when they were a trouble free couple. She was a good liar in that she had told everyone that she was over Mike but the truth was she was not and every time she visited him she had the kind of thoughts about him that she should be forgetting. The truth was she still loved Mike and always would but she now had Steve in her life and Claire was in Mike’s life that nothing should or would happen but she no longer knew if this was true. What she did know was that lives would be shattered and was Mike that precious to her to let that happen?

Charlotte dropped Elaine outside her home before they said their goodbyes. Elaine walked up the path to her front door but then started to feel a bit strange. She had her key in one hand and the other on her wall, waiting for the moment to pass. She had only had tea and cake so she was not sure where this feeling had suddenly come from but at least she was in fresh air and would feel better in a short while. However, she did not feel better and was soon sick. She hated being sick in public and more so on her own doorstep. The thing that was worse for her than having just thrown up was the feeling that she knew why she had just thrown up, despite the denial in her mind that she did know why she had felt sick but she could not be could she?

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