This Man Confessed (Page 162)

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‘Jesse, open your eyes!’ I yell. ‘Don’t you dare leave me! I’ll be crazy mad if you leave me!’

‘I can’t…’ His body jerks as his eyes close.

‘Jesse!’

He opens again and his arm tries in vain to lift, but he gives up, letting it flop back down to the floor. I can’t stand the sound of him struggling to breathe, so I grab his phone and dial my mobile, hearing Angel start from a few feet away. I rock him, unable to control my sobbing. Every time my phone stops, I dial again, repeating over and over and over, the sound of his track dulling down the sound of his raspy wheezes. He’s staring blankly up at me. There’s nothing in his eyes. I search for anything, but there’s nothing.

‘Unbreakable.’ he murmurs, his eyes getting heavy until he loses the battle to keep them open.

‘Jesse, please. Open your eyes,’ I desperately try to part them. ‘OPEN!’ I scream the word at him, but I’m pleading to nothing.

I’m losing him.

And I know this because my own heart in slowing, too.

Chapter 33

I haven’t looked into those eyes for two weeks. It’s been the longest two weeks of my life. Any notions of desolation or misery that have come before this point in my life have been trampled all over by the feelings crippling me right now. I’m lost. I’m helpless. I’m missing the most important part of me. My only comfort has come from seeing his peaceful face and feeling his warm skin.

Four days ago, the doctor removed his breathing apparatus. I can see him better now, all bearded and pasty, but he refuses to wake up, even though he surprised them by breathing on his own, albeit shallow and strained. The blade sliced clean through his side, puncturing his stomach, and his lung collapsed during surgery, complicating matters. He has two perfect mars on his perfect torso now, the new one a neat slice, rather than the jagged mess that she made of him the last time. I’ve watched it be re-dressed daily and watched them drain the build-up of blood and nastiness from behind the wound. I’m used to it already, the imperfection a horrid reminder of the worse day of my life, but now another part of him to love.

I’ve not once left his bedside. I’ve showered in seconds when my mum physically put me in there, but each time I’ve made her swear to scream if he stirs. He hasn’t. I’ve been told each day by the same doctor and surgeon that it’s a waiting game. He’s strong and he’s healthy, so he has the best chance, but I can’t see an improvement since they left him to breathe on his own.

Not one hour passes without me begging him to wake up. Not a minute passes without me kissing him somewhere, hoping the feel of my lips on his skin will spark something. It hasn’t. Each day, my heart slows more, my eyes become sorer and my tummy is growing larger. Each time I take a split second to look down at myself, I’m reminded that my babies may never meet their father, and that is an injustice far too cruel to accept.

‘Wake up.’ I demand quietly, my tears beginning to roll again. ‘You stubborn man!’ I hear the door open and turn to see my mum through my hazy vision. ‘Why won’t he wake up, Mum?’

She’s at my side in a second, working around my refusal to move so she can hug me. ‘He’s healing, darling. He needs to heal.’

‘It’s been too long. I need him to wake up. I miss him.’ My shoulders start to shake and my head collapses onto the bed in hopelessness.

‘Oh, Ava.’ My mum is despairing, feeling helpless and useless, but I can’t make anyone else feel better when I’m in desolation myself. ‘Ava, darling, you need to eat.’ she says softly, encouraging me to lift from the bed. ‘Come on now.’

‘I’m not hungry.’ I insist defiantly.

‘I’m making a list of your disobediences, and I’ll be telling Jesse about each and every one of them when he comes round.’ she threatens, her own voice quivering as she presents me with a light boxed salad.

I know I’ll get nowhere refusing this, but the silly notion that eating will please him is the only reason I open the box with one hand and start picking at the cherry tomatoes.

‘Beatrice and Henry have just arrived, darling.’ Mum’s voice is wary, but I’m past the contempt I feel for Jesse’s parents. I have no room for any feelings, except grief. ‘Can they come in?’

I selfishly want to refuse. I want him all to myself, but I couldn’t prevent the papers from splashing the news of a stabbing all over London. News travels fast, even across Europe. They arrived two days after Jesse was admitted, his mum and sister emotional wrecks and his dad just silently looking on. I could detect the regret in his blank face, which is scarily similar to Jesse’s. I heard all of the explanations, but they didn’t really sink in. In the endless, quiet time I’ve had, just sitting here with nothing to do but cry and think, I’ve drawn my own conclusion. My conclusion is simple: Jesse’s own guilt for many tragic things that have happened in his life has pushed his parents away. They may have been a contributing factor, with their pushy ways and demands for his cooperation, but with common sense and knowing my challenging man and now everything else, too, I know his own stubbornness was what essentially caused this rift. By distancing himself from everyone who reminded him of his loses, he thought it would ease the guilt—the guilt he should never have felt in the first place. He didn’t give himself the chance to be surrounded by the people who love him and who could have helped him. He waited for me to do that. And that may have been too late because now he’s lying lifeless and nonresponsive and even though it kills me to think of my life without him in it—a life I might be facing now—I would prefer for him to be alive and well and not know him.

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