Dark Places

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Chapter 20

Mike held his head in his hands in despair. He was trying not to let his dark thoughts return and start to cloud his mind once again but at this moment in time he was finding it very hard to keep his emotions at bay. He thought that he had found some happiness after all the misery of which he had suffered but now he was alone once again. His relationship with Claire had been the best blessing that he could have wished for in his new life, which was something which he wanted so much and most of all, the biggest thing he wanted was to be loved and cared for again, that was not much to ask for was it? The experiences and memories he had shared with Elaine, he could not replace but he deserved a new woman in his life and happiness; that was not much to ask for in life. At the end of the day, happiness was all he strived for; this was the changed Mike Fear. He knew he would never win Elaine back so imagined that Claire was his second chance at the happiness he was striving for.

However, more heartache was placed into Mike’s life. His relationship with Claire was now history and it greatly upset him. He would not have minded if they had agreed to be parted on mutual terms but it had all been Claire in this situation. He knew that it was better to find out now rather than later down the line if things were not as perfect between them as he had imagined, but that was still no compensation for the hurt he was facing.

Mike was taking in some fresh air just half an hour ago, whilst sitting on one of the benches outside the hospital. He was not in the happiest of places at the moment but he felt better in body and mind and Claire had helped make his happy thoughts continue, so imagine his horror when he saw what he had.

It was cold outside but Mike was enjoying the fresh air after being in the stuffy and sometimes airless hospital ward most of the morning. Now Mike was as cold inside as he was out and he asked himself the question, ’why me?’

Mike had noticed Claire walking up the path to the hospital entrance but he had to double-take to see for certain that it was in fact her and what he had thought he had seen. Claire was not walking up the path alone. She was holding the hand of another man, laughing and playing the fool with him but it is what happened next that Mike could not handle. He caught Claire kissing the mystery man. It was not just a peck on the cheek; instead it was a proper full on kiss, one of those that spoke of passion, longing and forever needing. She had told him she loved him and that she imagined a life with him but were these words proving to be all lies? After, what Mike had just witnessed, he did feel cheated and lied to. Claire would have to be confronted about what he had witnessed but that thought scared him. Mike had never been in this situation before so was unsure how to handle it. Claire had hurt him to the core and he at least needed answers. It would not be a pretty confrontation but Mike knew it was a road he would have to take to face the truth.

It all happened on Christmas Eve too so what a great Christmas Mike was going to have. He was in hospital, the woman he had spent many Christmas’ with was now about to spend her first Christmas with another man and the second bite of the cherry in Claire was about to end too so what a great and happy Christmas this was going to be but yet again Mike was determined he would not let circumstances drag him down.

It was a few hours later and Mike was having lunch in the café, which he was allowed to do as part of his rehabilitation. Claire was serving so Mike had when ordering made his conversation with Claire polite but inside he could not bear to look her in the face but they were to meet at five when she had finished her shift. He kept her on the pretence of him wanting to see her, as he missed her so much but deep down he was slowly working out how to say what he needed. He knew whatever he said, it had to be said and he knew their relationship was over when he witnessed the giggling and that kiss but Claire would have no idea that she had been seen.

It was now five and Claire greeted Mike with a cheery “hello gorgeous” and a kiss on the lips but this made Mike’s blood boil and Claire sensed something was wrong but did not know what so commented with “what is wrong?”

This denial really fuelled Mike’s anger. “What is wrong? You ask me what is wrong? Tell me this who was the guy and why were you all over him?”

Claire’s heart slumped to her stomach, she had expected this may happen between her and Mike. She had tried to tell Paul to calm it but she had realised how much she need him and confessed all to Mike.

“I did not know that you saw that. Oh I have been so stupid, he is my partner, Paul, we have had so many problems that we were having a break away from each other but he came back to see me earlier. I tried to tell him to calm things a little but we realised that we still loved and needed each other and what you saw would have been us recommencing where we left off. I am so sorry to have deceived you like that”.

“So that makes it all right to lead me on then does it? I was ready to give my heart to you and you do this to me. You are sorry that you deceived me you say? You deceived me into thinking we could have a future together but all the time you were thinking of your partner so how am I meant to feel about that?”

Claire could only weep but Mike was having none of it. “Cry all you like but they are only crocodile tears because you were found out. It is going to be hard for me to forget you when you are around so often in the café and I will be civil to you but I will never forget how much you have hurt me and how much you shattered my hopes”.

There were no more words between Mike and Claire before they parted. Mike sat and watched Claire walk away. He had allowed himself to fall in love with her and was slightly angry at himself for doing that so quickly but he could not be blamed for being taken in and used. He had so thought that something would happen and he would be able to do something about his feelings with Elaine but now he was alone again. He just hoped that Elaine would understand how he was feeling.

Mike decided to text Elaine and asked if she could visit him in that evenings visiting hours. He waited for her reply, then it came and he excitedly read it and she said she would be there. He smiled. He wanted to talk to his darling Elaine and smooth things from the past over.

Mike returned to his ward and was greeted by the Sister with a “hello Mr Fear, could we have a word?”

“Of course Sister” replied Mike before being shown to her office in the ward. When he had sat down the sister began “Mr Fear, sorry you said for me to call you Mike. Mike, I have good news for you the doctors say that they are pleased with your progress and that you can leave the hospital and return home in a matter of a couple of days”.

“Thank you” beamed Mike. This was the best news he could have received, as it would mean he could live his life the regular way, like he once had.

Everything was happening at once as Mike was walking back to his bed when he saw Elaine and yet again his heart skipped a beat. There was no denying to him-self that he still loved her very much and always would.

“Hi Elaine”, greeted Mike “Lovely to see you again”.

“Hi Mike. How are you?”

“I am mixed”, replied Mike. I am on cloud nine. I have just been informed by the Sister that I can leave here in a matter of a couple of days. I say that I am on cloud nine about that news but I say I am mixed because I caught Claire cheating on me so we are no longer in a relationship”.

“I am pleased to hear that you can go home again soon but sorry to hear that things between you and Claire have broken up”.

“I know I am gutted as it has only happened this evening but the truth is Claire was deceiving me. I was sat outside on the bench when I saw her walking up the path but she was holding the hand of another man, laughing and playing the fool, which I think I could have handled, if I had not seen what happened next. She started kissing the mystery man, not just a peck on the cheek; but a full on proper kiss. Naturally I confronted her about it and she told me that the mystery man was in fact her partner and that they had so many problems that they were having a break away from each other but he came back and they realised that they still needed each other so they decided to recommence where they left off and the kiss was that rekindling”.

Elaine took in everything Mike had said and could only say “Oh Mike I am so sorry. You both seemed so perfect too”.

Mike smiled “that is what I thought too but I am not going to let what has happened put me back into my dark place”.

Elaine smiled her understanding before Mike spoke again “breaking up with Claire has made me realise yet again that there is only one woman for me and that is you Elaine”.

Mike did not let Elaine say any more and he did not care where he was when he leaned in to kiss her. He just needed her back in his life so much.

Elaine resisted Mike and said “you know that is not appropriate behaviour”.

Mike was shocked “what do you mean that is not appropriate behaviour?”

“You may have just split from Claire but I am Steve’s fiancée and we are now divorced. I have some news that I will have to tell you. I know you still care for me Mike. Whatever has passed we still shared our lives for twenty-five years but that has changed. I have only told Steve but I had better let you know too that I am a month pregnant”.

Mike’s face dropped. His Elaine was now not only engaged to Steve but carrying his baby. What had he done? He had lost her forever love and from the news that Elaine had just departed to him he was never going to get her back.

“I know you are shocked Mike but believe me both Steve and myself are shocked too but we are both happy with the situation so that is why trying to kiss me is not appropriate behaviour. I am sorry Mike but things have moved on for me. I will still love you until my dying days but anything that happened in the past; has to stay in the past”.

Mike was obviously upset by this. Elaine said her goodbyes and left him feeling alone in the hospital ward. He climbed into his bed, pulled the sheets over him and wept. He had lost his one love forever and did not want to think of tomorrow and celebrating Christmas because what was Christmas without being with a loved one?

Would everything that had happened to Mike today lead him down the dark path again?

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