London Falling

By: Audrey Carlan

Prologue





Life is not fair. The moment one believes in total bliss, it gets shredded by circumstance and unforeseen accidents. This cannot be my life. It just can’t. Shit like this does not happen to good people. Not to someone like James, a man who represents everything good and right in the world.

The words filling the room can’t be real. Even as the doctor repeats his prognosis it’s muffled, strained, said through a long, dark tunnel. The space around me turns fuzzy, its edges softening like a wall of cotton. I don’t know which way is up or down. Tears stream down my face like rain drops in a race to see which can fall the fastest. The severity of what the doctor said hits me. Hard.

“What do you mean less than twenty four hours to live?” The words leave me in a drawn out screech.

“Honey, calm down. We knew this was a possibility. My liver…it’s just too far gone and without a donor …”

“Take mine!” I scream at the doctor. A long time ago I watched a television program that said a healthy donor can donate three-fourths of their liver and still live. I hold on to that piece of trivia like a talisman.

“London, you’re not a match. We’ve been through this.” James’s tone is calm, collected. I don’t know how he is holding it together but the cracks in my armor have grown into giant gaping holes. That monster within, the raging scared, psychotic wife is about to break free--until his cool hand grasps mine. “Look at me, I want the last thing I see to be your beautiful face.”

I shake my head repeatedly. If he can’t look at me, he can’t leave me. It’s a ridiculous theory but it’s all I’ve got.

I hear the doctor give his condolences to James and promise that if a liver becomes available from a donor match that he’s first on the list.

Shivers of grief rip through every nerve ending as I lean over to pray. It’s probably a cardinal sin to wish someone else would die but I’m not capable of caring.

God, if you’ll just use your mercy and find my husband a liver, I’ll be the best human you’ve ever made. Please. Please don’t let him die. I’ll do anything. Anything at all. Be nice to my mother? Done. Volunteer? Consider it my next full-time job. Please, oh God, please bring us a liver. You can do that, right? I know you can. You save people unworthy all the time! Please, please just save James. Take me. Spare him.

“Just take me,” slips across my lips. My eyes are closed tight, fingers clasped in prayer.

A tiny, feather light caress runs across my cheek. “My love, never you. You’re meant to do great things. You have to do them now. Not just for you, but for me, too.” His voice cracks and a tear slips down his face.

Seeing the love of my life cry, the strongest man I’ve ever known, breaks me. Visibly, I shake. The shock of the situation is setting in and a deep chill rips across my skin. Bone-chilling cold.

“Come here.” James pulls back the blanket, inviting me in to what will likely be the last bed we share. A hospital bed.

Crawling in, I settle next to his warmth. “How can I ever be without you?” Thoughts of the life we planned, the children we’ll never have, the things we never had the chance to do together pour through my mind like sands through an hourglass. Regret swirls around us, thick and heavy.

“It will be like before, when we were just friends.” He laughs and I snuggle in deeper.

It will never be like before and nothing will ever be the same again. Internally I know this, but choose not to share it with him. He’s dying. The only man I will ever love is dying. He has less than twenty four hours.

Oh God, Jesus, please! Please.

“One day my love, you will realize that this was meant to be. We don’t get to decide. It’s all decided for us.” Fate and James. Forever the believer in one’s destiny. “I was just your act one, Sweetie Pie. Someday, you will find love again.”

“Never.” That five letter word seems to pound through my body like a heartbeat. A proclamation. It’s as if my heart and brain made a pact, then signed a contract sealing the deal. James will always be the end all, be all.

“Oh Sweetie, don’t say that. I’ll never rest in peace knowing you’re torturing yourself. Promise me. Promise me, when the time is right, you will accept it and not run?”

“How can you ask me this? You’re leaving me!” Huge sobs soak his hospital gown as I cry a river.

“Not by choice, London. You know that. If I could, I’d grow old and gray with you just like I promised you on our wedding day four years ago.” The image conjures a new bout of Hell. Him in a crisp tuxedo; me in the biggest, most poufy princess wedding dress the world had ever seen. The best day of my life. “I will always love you, London. And one day, years down the road, when I’m just a memory, you will be loved.”

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