I felt Harvey begin to stir next to me, his arms untangling themselves from my body in the most polite way. I heard his feet softly hit the hardwood floor like he was trying not to wake me. He was up for work earlier than usual, but I was just glad he’d gotten some sleep. The last few weeks had been good for him. And us. I blinked my eyes, the soft light from outside filtering in through the white linen curtains and creeping closer to the bed. Harvey’s silhouette passed by the window and pulled on a white tee shirt. I closed my eyes and rolled back over, deciding that I fully deserved those extra forty minutes or so. Before I could drift off again, I felt his presence by me. The bed dipped as he carefully sat on the edge of the mattress. The welcoming warmth of his hand settled on my shoulder before moving down my arm and then back up to my face, tracing little patterns on my cheek. I brought my hand up to his and intertwined our fingers, kissing his knuckles delicately. My gaze danced to his rose tattoo, beautifully designed like it was made to be a part of him all along. I felt quite the same.
“I’ve got to do something before work today,” he began, rubbing his thumb against my cheek. “I’ll see you then. I may be a little late, but don’t worry about me.”
I nodded, still a little groggy. I felt his fingers brush a piece of hair out of my face before he bent down and left a soft kiss on my forehead. He lingered there for longer than usual, his familiar smell of vanilla and cigarettes enveloping me.
“You go back to sleep. I love you, Maeve,” he whispered.
“I love you too.”
Just like that, Harvey disappeared down the hallway and the sound of his footsteps grew muffled by the space between us. I heard the front door shut as sleep drew me in again. I gave in only to be woken by my alarm a few minutes later. I pushed myself out of bed, bare feet shuffling onto the cold bathroom tile to brush my teeth and do all of the regular morning things. After a cup of coffee with a splash of cream and sugar, I threw on a white button up and high waisted corduroy pants before walking out to my car. It was strange to not have him on the usual drive to work. It’s happened before where one of us was sick or had to leave earlier for one reason or another, but this morning it was somehow different. I didn’t want to get used to it.
I arrived at work right on time and greeted everyone as usual, setting my things down at my desk. I looked over to Harvey’s chair, just like it was when we left yesterday evening. Little copies of people he loved smiled from picture frames on his desk and his pens were organized in their usual disarray. I turned my attention back to my own space and opened my computer on my desk. Something felt wrong. It’d felt wrong all morning. I don’t know what it was, but there was a dark feeling pulling at my stomach, almost making me nauseous. I don’t know why, everything was as it should be. He said he’d be in late anyway. He said not to worry. I closed my eyes and began to take a deep breath just like I’d always done when I was stressed out. When I inhaled, I could have sworn his scent filled the room. My eyes shot open, expecting to see him there, but he wasn’t. It was a coincidence. I was just smelling the scent from his ashtray on his desk. I quickly shot Harvey a text, hoping a response would make me feel better.
on your way back yet?
I wasn’t usually like this. I worried, sure. Harvey would probably say I worry more than anyone he knew, but this was different. My gut was telling me something was off. Was I going crazy? I knew he was digging a little too hard into things he shouldn’t have been digging in, but he’d stopped a few weeks ago. He told me he had stopped. I took another deep breath, reassuring myself he’d text me back or walk through the doors soon.
I worked for an hour and a half, pushing that uneasy feeling away until I couldn’t anymore. The dark, nauseating feeling found it’s way from my stomach to my chest making my lungs feel tight and restricted no matter how many deep breaths I took. I couldn’t write anything anymore. I rose from my desk, walking as calmly as I could do my boss’s office. My knuckles tapped urgently on the glass outside of his office.
“Come in,” he called.
I quickly stepped into his office, pulling the door shut behind me.
“What’s got you looking so-” he began.
“Have you heard from Harvey, sir? Have you sent him off on an assignment or anything?”
His eyebrows crinkled together under his shiny bald head, telling me he didn’t know anymore than I did. That pressing feeling moved to my throat, making it harder to breathe than normal. Don’t panic, Maeve. Everything is fine. There was no reason to be freaking out like this yet.
“I thought you would know where he was,” he said, looking up at the clock, “He’s almost two hours late now. That’s not like him.”
Something about him reassuring my worries didn’t make me feel any better at all. At least he didn’t think I was over reacting. I cleared my throat, trying to ignore the tears trying to well up in my eyes.
“I haven’t heard from him since early this morning,” I choked.
“Don’t worry, Maeve. I’m sure he’s fine, but go ahead and take the afternoon off to look for him. He could have very well gone off to chase some story.”
“Let me know if you find him,” he gave me a sympathetic smile before I waved and found myself running to the car.
Home. I’m sure he was home. He may have gotten overwhelmed and needed a day off. Or his car broke down. Or he dropped his phone in a toilet again and he went to get it fixed before coming into work. I’d pull up in the driveway and he’d be sitting on the front porch with a cigarette in one hand and that pretentious Bukowski novel in the other, just waiting for me to get home to tell me what a mess he’d gotten himself into. Or I’d park the car and see him through the window, dancing to our song on the record player by himself. He’d see me walk in and be angry that I didn’t join him sooner, pulling me in close to finish the song with him.
Home. The familiar house that normally radiated an indescribable warmth matched by only Harvey Davis himself sat in front of me...
It was different. The white siding of the house seemed more grey. I walked up the steps, the wood softly groaning underneath my feet. As I approached the door, I could tell that it wasn’t completely closed. My breath hitched in my chest. I knew I locked it this morning. That feeling in my stomach came back again, this time stronger. I felt like I was going to throw up right then. I reached for my phone in my back pocket and dialed 911 just in case we had a break in and someone was still there, but to be honest that was the least of my concerns. I didn’t press the green call button yet because I wasn’t quite ready to accept the fact that I might have to. I held my phone securely in one hand and pushed the door open with the other. I didn’t notice how bad my hands were shaking until now. I stepped into the hall, glancing around the kitchen and living room before finally making my way to our bedroom. I carefully pushed the door open, my finger still hovering over the bright green circle on my phone.
“Harvey?” I called.
The second I saw him, time stopped completely. Just like the first time I saw him. The first time we kissed. The first time he said he loved me. The world spun around me, but in a different way. Before, it was a gentle spin like someone picking you up in their arms and twirling you. This was a sickening spin. It laughed at me. It made me dizzy. This was vertigo. Balance losing, vomit inducing vertigo. That feeling of dread found it’s way to me, squeezing as hard as it could. I gasped for air, choking on a scream that came from deep within my body. I fell on the floor, clenching my chest because I was scared my heart was going to literally fall out. Not too far away from him was a rose and a shattered vase that had been sitting on our windowsill before. Someone else had to have been here. They could still be here, but honestly I didn’t care. Crawling over to him, I pressed the call button on my phone.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
I don’t even remember what I said. I remember saying our address over and over again because I couldn’t say my fears out loud. He looked cold, like the house. That warm exterior was gone and in it’s place was someone I couldn’t be sure was my boyfriend. A trickle of blood traced from his nose, across his pink lips and down his chin. I noticed something dripping on his forehead just to realize it was my tears. They fell onto his cheeks, delicately dropping onto the floor. It was only when the paramedics got there that I realized I had been screaming since I’d gotten off the phone. They began to tear me away from him and I only screamed louder, my throat feeling like it was being torn to shreds from the inside out.
“It’s going to be okay,” I whispered, but I didn’t even know who I was saying it to.