She stood in the kitchen, towering over an abandoned sink filled with crusted dishes that emanated the pungent smells of a another chore unfinished. There was a slight breeze fluttering through a crack in the window frame before her. The cool air gently weaved across her face, causing her hair to cascade against her shoulders. She had never noticed that crack before, but it glared at her now with the malicious intent of pulling her back to the moment. Pulling her back to the task at hand and away from her fading heart. Pulling her away from all of the longing and regret.

But, her fragile hands kept trembling as she stared out of the window.

Her tired mind continued to reel against reality to summon fragments of a broken past.

The police had called her to the station that morning. There was newfound security footage from the old abandoned boat dock. Why would anyone have a camera there? She wondered as her fingernails had viciously dug into her tightly crossed arms as they pulled up the recording.

That was the night Leon left, and was not taken. The night he chose to leave her of his own free will. She had believed he just didn’t react in time, that he was careless and paid the ultimate price. His mother had been adamant, after all. She was so firm on the subject that she pushed Sacha to fight for the life insurance money “she was owed.”

Sacha never wanted the money.

She never wanted a goddamn dime. She wanted answers, sure. Who wouldn’t? Who doesn’t search for answers when it comes to love?

Through Sacha’s agreement to file a claim and Leon’s mother pressing her to find closure through cash, the investigation had begun.

The insurance company had done their research. Eventually, they washed their hands of her. They had found the evidence they needed to deny her in the face of tragedy. The fucking camera that sat alone, pointing at just the perfect angle to see what no one else had seen.

Leon’s suicide.

The police had called her in to the station out of their own perceived kindness, but, she wished she had said no to going down there. The amended death certificate should have been enough of an answer for what she had been seeking. The phone call from the day before where she spoke with a man named Paul from the insurance company had told her enough to know she shouldn’t bother looking further. That she should nod her head and move on.

“Sorry, ma’am. Your claim has been denied and we have sent a letter to accompany this phone call. After looking into this matter, we cannot fulfill the accidental death claim. We give our condole-“

She had hung up then. Her choking sobs overpowering her.

She never wanted the money.

She shouldn’t have looked. She knew better.

She had ignored her own intuition. She had followed the advice of a puffy-eyed mother-in-law and then a complete stranger who donned a badge and spoke in an emotionless voice.

And she had desperately searched the small screen as they hit play. The overcrowded, dingy police room suffocating her senseless.

There was Leon’s car; crashing into the glassy surface of the silent lake. They all watched as his car slowly sank, the ripples settling and the water bubbling around the vehicle. At one point, a lanky officer clicked hastily to fast-forward the video since this was a slow process. The car took an hour to submerge itself completely. An excruciating hour of Leon never breaking free. An hour of no struggling. An hour of him alone with his thoughts of her… His thoughts of them.

An hour to change his mind.

The broken side rail and skid marks discovered the next morning had been the only indicator to passers-by that anything had taken place in the night. The police were called and his car was pulled from the lake the next afternoon after an abrupt search of the waters. They had been the only pieces of evidence until now. But, now they all knew. Everyone knew.

An hour.

Sacha didn’t understand and she knew she never would.

They were going to be a family, a tight knit circle of overflowing love and unconditional support. They were trying… They had been trying to have a baby. A tiny soul to guide through this life, they had been trying. They still could be.

They had been trying.

How could he leave her? How could he abandon their future? After all of the doctors appointments? After all of the days spent decorating the spare room? And the afternoons they shared window shopping for the perfect first plush to dangle before their newborn?

Unless, that was just it. He couldn’t think of any other way to tell her he was done.

It was all her fault, and she knew it.

She was infertile.

That word drug through her heart like a razor-blade and her breathing became a struggle as her lungs tightened.

He left this world because he just couldn’t do it anymore. But, he couldn’t simply tell her that. For all of the things Leon was, he wasn’t a cruel man. At least he had spared her a note, because she was sure anything he would have written would haunt her forever.

Sacha suddenly noticed her tears splashing into the bowl just below her. A bowl that had sat in her sink for days, maybe even weeks. She watched the tiny ripples settle together into a small reflective lake. She could see her eyes staring back at her from the tiny pool of water. Boundless sorrow straining above dark circles.

She stared into the murky water, and for a moment, Leon’s eyes appeared in the place of her own. The pupils of his once crisp blue eyes slowly dilated… Transforming into a cold, unfeeling, antarctic stare.

They bore into her.

How could you!?” She screamed as she slammed her fist into the sink. Pain suddenly flashing through her fingers and traveling up into her slender shoulder.

There was a sharp sound of glass shattering, and it echoed throughout the empty house.

Droplets of crimson blood now filled the cracked bowl. It spilled through the new break and mixed with the water as it rushed down the sink.

Sacha was breathing heavily, her heart pounding in her ears. And she grasped at the fresh wound between her forefinger and thumb. The gash curved upward onto the back of her hand, throbbing painfully.

She stared at the blood, blinking down at the bowl she had angrily smashed.

The crack glared back at her, it called her back to reality.

She turned away, gripping her torn hand. She began the short walk to the bathroom down the hall.

Leon stood in her place. He couldn’t look away from the rushing blood that was slowly dissipating from view down the drain.

He just couldn’t bare to follow her.

He looked over to the beaten guitar resting against the coat rack.

He would never get another hour.

Part III

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