“We haven’t seen her” was the usual, recurrent mantra of the day and my head was flooded with fear and drastic thoughts. My hands trembled as I worked out a note in chicken-scratch to the boss man, a quick and open-ended, “I will be back in tomorrow – emergency” not even knowing if this was the case. But when a routine goes incomplete for a day, things feel off-balance, things don’t feel so right anymore.
Cate and I had been dating for four years at that point and we had each other memorized down pat. Our worlds collided in the most beautiful of ways and we fused like some mesmerizing statue, like ‘The Kiss’ by Roden, two embraced lovers who lived for one another and breathed life into another’s lungs. And not only that, but Cate was beautiful inside and out – everything I had ever yearned for, and higher than my expectations.
Everybody said that our relationship was alluring and compelling but, most of all, we were addicted to each other like some drug. Cate held a stay-at-home freelancing job as a writer while I sat high in my fifteen-story office and managed a team of imbeciles who tried to sell their horrid ideas to others. I was a businessman and she was an artist, morphing characters from scratch and twisting them into amazing plots and story lines. I could sit for hours reading what she wrote, when I found the time after a long day. We grew so close that our schedules were like clockwork to one another – we woke up together in our apartment, I went to work, she went to work one hour later, and we chatted on break.
I always snuck my first text to her at 9:00 in the morning before our 12:00 phone call on break. She always answered right away to tell me the day’s assignment and rate it 1-10 on a scale of absolutely terrible to horrendously awesome.
The day I left early was the day she never texted me back at 9:00.
Now, most people would call this overreacting, but for me this was crucial. Cate wasn’t one to sleep in – she set her alarm for 7:00 so she could wake back up after our morning kiss and get straight to work, and she never missed a day. It was odd to not hear from her. I escaped my desk and went to the restrooms where I squatted down in a stall and rung her phone, then the house phone, and then left two messages simultaneously asking if everything was okay.
By 9:20 I was frantic, and leaving my office.
By 9:45, I was in my Porsche and heading through the gates to our apartment complex overlooking the ocean.
By 9:50, I was weeping over her cold, dead body in the bed we shared together. Her hands were folded perfectly overtop her beautiful, half-dressed body and she clutched a note with a death grip. Before I called for an ambulance, expecting the worst, I grabbed the note out of her hands and I read it frantically, weeping as I discovered the worst. I hid the note in my pocket.
After I got the inevitable news that my Cate was gone, there was nothing left for me to do before head home alone to the apartment we once shared as a working, more-than-functional couple and make some phone calls to family members. They said that it was suicide, and the façade I played lead on that I had no idea. The truth was, I had already seen inside her note that she had intended to take her life that morning. However, the ‘why’s’ were still unknown.
Stewart, my love for you
Has left me feeling kinda blue
I know that sounds very silly
But reasons left my heart scathed.
You gave me years of love and more
You were the one thing I adored
Go to the room where I got the pills
Look in the tub where we always bathed.
It was obvious, from the start, that my poetic, writer-of-a-future-wife had placed notes for me. This was something she regularly did – though this time her thoughts seemed rushed, scribbled, as if she were just waiting for the horrid deed that she committed and the havoc that she now released onto my life.
I got on with her little game and I rushed down the long hallway, which seemed to grow longer with every step, and much darker too. The lights blinked on in the bathroom in a flash and in a flurried panic, I rushed over to the medicine cabinet and burst it off its hinges. Nothing but pills, opened bottles; she had taken many. Oh, right, bath tub, bath tub, I thought as I slammed down the loose medicine cabinet door and ripped back the shower curtain in a rush.
There was the second note in plain sight, this time more rushed and scratchier.
My time is running out, I know what I must do
My apologies for everything only go out to you.
Nobody was ever there for me throughout the worst
You know exactly what made me hurt.
We bought the things together, expecting the best
Diapers, clothing, shoes, socks, all the rest.
Told our families a little early for my liking
I’m very sorry Stewart – we better start hiking.
The baby, my mind directly flew to like a bird taking off in raucous flight. Cate and I had endlessly tried to get pregnant. False positives came every few months with no baby in tow. It was the most defeating of all things in our relationship. Finally, after two years of trying and no answers, we had received a positive through blood work and a confirmed pregnancy from an ultrasound. And after two months, the pregnancy was gone and Cate was crying on the hardwood floor of our bedroom nightly, waiting for my comfort when I came home from endless work.
I furiously dug through the closet for our hiking equipment. It was one of our favorite past-times and the way I made it up to Cate when we sat down and talked about how I was at work all the time and I was so sorry I couldn’t have been there for her more in her desperate times of need. Inside her hiking shoes was another slice of paper, this one folded and wrinkled.
You know the things that make me TICk.
You know I hate arithmeTIC.
Now go up to the atTIC.
This was the point in which my heart sunk. Our apartment was on the top floor of all apartments and actually contained a pull-down rope attic, a small space for us to store multiple containers and things, if we wanted to. I had never personally put anything in our storage because I thought it was creepy, but obviously Cate had utilized the space and now my mind was running in circles because I had no clue whatsoever what could be up there.
My hands grasped the pull-down and became clammy as the seconds passed and I breathed deeply, considering my options. Open the attic, and find what Cate had obviously been so deeply upset about. Or leave it to the cops and tend to calling more of her family and planning arrangements for her service – just forget the whole thing and let the stress cease.
I grasped the pull-down even more tightly and I pulled until it let loose.
Dozens of pictures scattered all over the floor. Before I was able to react, they fell down like confetti all around my shoes and left me breathless. I squatted down and saw the tons of ultrasound pictures, one after the other, from various medical facilities that we hadn’t gone to together. I saw the pictures of Felicia and I together, the girl I had an affair with nearly two years ago. Pictures of us nestling in her bed together that she had taken and apparently sent to my now-deceased girlfriend when things didn’t work out and I had to let her go from the guilt.
And lastly, the final note on the floor, this one scribbled out the most.
You don’t deserve a fucking poem.
You’re a lying, stupid cheater who never deserved me, and will never have me again.
I hope the false hope I gave you tore you apart more than anything.
I sat down in the pictures, the many pictures of the abortions that Cate had to get back at me. And I cried.