This Wretched Heart

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'Unaware that I'm tearing you asunder, oh there is thunder in our hearts'

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush


The black was back and they both knew it. The house was a mess, Lara’s hair was limp and unwashed and they hadn’t had a proper conversation since he had died. She had taken time off work to grieve and spent the day in bed or lying listlessly in front of the TV.

‘ You should go for a run’ He had suggested remembering all the times she told him how the endorphins helped her escape the dark. She had looked at him as if he were a cold blooded killer.

‘ Yes because that wouldn’t remind me of Sam at all ’. He knew he should have felt insensitive but no matter what he said or didn’t say, her anger was like a whip on a spring board ready to lash out at the slightest touch. She refused to go anywhere and she barely touched her food. His once beautiful wife was wasting away right before his eyes. He understood she was grieving, he too had lost a friend but her loss was weighing down the scales and she was so far below him, he could barely see her anymore. She was constantly sick from all the lack of food but she flat out refused to be brought to the doctor.‘ I’m fine Peter please just understand I am grieving for fuck’s sake’. She snapped for the hundredth time when he tried to convince her to eat. He worried constantly what he would find when he returned from work.

‘ I don’t know how you’re dealing with this at all’ Joe had patted his back sympathetically. ‘ Jesus what a fucking awful situation. I mean who would have thunk it ?’

His Catholic upbringing kept rearing up on its judgemental hindlegs.

‘ What did you think would happen ? You would all live happily ever after as one big happy family?’ It sneered at him. ‘ You knew it wouldn’t work, you knew all along’.

The end had never looked like this however. He had his wife all to himself now, his fragile and vacant shell. The funeral had passed without drama. She had asked him not to go and he had been grateful. She would have been sitting with Sam’s parents and he couldn’t face feeling like a third wheel. She had skipped going back to their house because she knew it would have been awkward. The Sam she had known had been all hers and she hadn’t met any of his friends.

‘ Was Jane there?’ He had asked her later.

‘ She was at the back, I saw her as we walked the coffin out’. She closed her eyes as she always did with painful memories.

‘ I didn’t want to talk to her’.

He knew it would have been awkward between them given the history but he wished more than ever that Lara had someone else other than him to confide in. She was still not speaking to her father.

As the weeks passed he broached the subject of her returning to work, it had been nearly a month. ‘ Will they not wonder why you’re off so long?’

‘ I can’t Peter. I’m sorry I just can’t yet. I can’t face it’. Her voice had gotten hysterical and he hadn’t pursued it any further. She had told them that a good friend of hers had died and she was now getting sick pay. The doctor knew her history so he had given the cert with no big objection. The lies about Sam had to continue with everyone. His own sister had visited with the his now much better mother. Lara had spent the afternoon locked up in their bedroom.

‘ Was it a very close friend?’ His mother had been very concerned.

‘ Yes he was.'

‘ Oh’. She didn’t say anymore but he knew the ‘he’ had thrown her. She was from the generation that didn’t truly believe that men and women could be ‘just friends’. He was beginning to think the same. He had read somewhere that they had proven this was the case and that it was more likely that the men couldn’t keep it platonic. He had never really gotten the chance to find this out for himself. Lara had been right all along and now look where they had ended up. Both their lives completely on pause. He was sad that Sam was gone but the sense of all consuming loss was not his to feel. He would have been getting back to normal at this stage but there was little chance of that happening with his wife being in the awful state she was in. He was exhausted both mentally and physically. He was cooking all day in the Bistro and then trying to do the same at home with the little housework he could manage. Looking around the mess he could see what Lara had meant when she asked him to do a little more around the house. Now that she was on hiatus it was all becoming impossible.

‘ I’m going back to bed’ He had managed to convince her to come down to the kitchen for a little soup.

‘ Ok Lara Bell, can I do anything for you ?’ he didn’t know what she would ask of him but he felt he needed to be needed.

‘ No... thanks, I’m just so tired.'She smiled ever so slightly and trudged back up to their room. Then he heard it again and his stomach dropped. The music that she had been playing every night for the last month. He didn’t know its significance but he understood it had meant something to her and Sam. He had heard her sobbing from downstairs every time she played it but this time his own muffled any sound.


‘ And wherever you’ve gone and wherever you may go. It don’t seem fair you seemed to like it here’ Lightyears by Pearl Jam

The car hadn’t been in the drive and she felt relieved. She didn’t want company now, she needed to do this alone. Peter had been so understanding the night before. She knew she should have been more grateful but she didn’t have the energy to feel anything but darkness. The sunlight beamed through from the kitchen as she let herself into Sam’s house, ignoring the black that filled her from the inside.

‘ It’s a house !’ She had laughed a few months ago after he had described his home yet again as a ‘Granny Flat’.

‘ You must think I’m pathetic still living so close to home’. She didn’t think anything he did was pathetic but she had wondered why he hadn’t moved far afield. She had come to see that it had been the least pathetic reason. He was an only child and didn’t want to upset his parents just for the sake of it. He drove them, here there and everywhere and they were content having their only son a stone’s throw away. Again the guilt that she had somehow put a stop to their closeness washed over her. Closing the door behind her she caught sight of one of his many pairs of converse in the hallway. She stopped dead, the air refusing to leave her lungs. They looked like he might have just stepped out of them moments ago. She fought the urge to run again and passed on through to his bedroom. She went over to his bed and pulled the rumpled covers over her head, breathing the last essences of the man she had made love to only yesterday. Her whole body convulsed in grief as sobs poured out of her. Why had this happened? Was she being punished for wanting it all ? Would this have happened if she had said no to him when he asked her to go running ? She had always wondered whether life was preordained and had always hoped that it was. If it was then nothing she could have done would have saved her mother or Sam. They would have died regardless of her decisions because that was their time. She remembered people saying that to her at her mother's funeral

‘ It was her time to go’ It had made her so angry she had wanted to slap them in the face. Instead she had dug her nails into her arms so hard she had bled. Later those same words would comfort her and now they had become a prayer. Please God let it have been his time. Don’t let it be her fault. She lay for hours as she had done in her bathroom, thinking, remembering, crying. Eventually she forced herself over to his desk in the corner of the room. He had never written when she was there nor had he shown her anything he had done.

‘ I can’t Lara, not until I’m happy with it’ Something had told her she might never have read it then. Now she felt bad because she would be reading his unfinished work and she hoped that somewhere he wasn’t trying to stop her. She opened his laptop and turned it on. She had anticipated hours of decoding to access it but she was surprised that he hadn’t any lock set-up. She cringed as she thought of all the stupid passwords she had over the years, she would have died it Sam knew some of them. She was puzzled at how careless he had been with his most precious work. She looked at the various folders on his desktop. She saw a folder labelled ‘book’ amidst all the folders. At least he was matter of fact. She tried to open it but this time a password was required. She smiled slightly. She felt a little conceited but typed her own name in first with no luck. She tried and tried with all the variations, his date of birth, friends, anything she could think of but couldn’t open it. She would have to ask one of his friends maybe someone he had worked with in IT.

‘ Eh who are you ?’ She imagined them asking and sighed. She would be the strange unknown girl sitting by his parents at the funeral.

‘ I didn’t know Sam had a girlfriend?’ She could hear the whispering already.

‘ I hear she’s married’. Someone else would oblige.

‘ I loved him and he loved me, that’s all you fucking need to know’ She would want to scream down the church the arched ceilings bouncing her voice back around.

Maybe she wouldn’t go, maybe she would stay here and say goodbye her own way. Then shesaw Margaret’s sad eyes looming in front of her and she knew that would have to go. She was about to shut down the laptop when something caught her eye in the bottom corner of the screen. It was a folder labelled Lara. No password required she opened it and found a link which brought her to a Youtube video.Her hands trembled as she pressed play and tiny butterflies flitted about her neck. The music began and she recognised it immediately as ‘Lara’s theme from Doctor Zhivago’. A black screen appeared with the words

'To my Lara:

Here’s to first glances ( those that count) and to all those that follow…

Yours eternally Yuri (AKA Sam).'

The tears she thought had dried up, flowed freely as she saw all the clips from her favorite films of the first glances between two people. She was lost then to A Room with a view, The Time Traveler's wife, Love Story,Take this Waltz so many films so many glances flashed before her eyes swept into her soul by the music. She laughed and she cried and was still at last as the final images of Lara and Yuri throughout their love story unfolded before her. A sense of peace floated down then like a silk cloth and settled on her shoulders. She suddenly felt nothing but grateful that Sam had been part of her life, grateful that he had entered it and grateful that she might have been on his mind in the moments before he left it. The chasm she had always waited for had brought her this unbearable sadness but if she hadn’t jumped in she would still be looking in. She knew there would be darkness to come. The funeral, her relationship with Peter it would all take its toll but she also knew she would eventually come out of it she had done it before and she would do it again. She wasn’t sure what she would lose this time. She hoped Peter would stay by her. Although it had been difficult to share his wife with another man , the great test would lie in sharing her with grief.

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