It was dark and rainy, she can hear the wind blowing, something eerily welcoming about it, a familiar sound, she presumes.
She wasn't a fan of the dark, not really.
She looked over to the other side of the bed, registering its emptiness as a bang comes from another room. Groaning, she gets up, the cold hitting her like a freight train. For a September night, it was unseasonably cold.
More like what she'd expect in October or November. Not as they were just coming out summer.
It wasn't quite cold enough to be mistaken for the winter months.
She wonders what Peter's broken, a noise that loud, she wonders how it didn't wake up the whole house, she seemed to be the only one who heard it. Whatever it is, he'll need help clearing it up, she sighs.
She doesn't bother turning the light on as she makes her way to the kitchen, the glow getting brighter as she moves closer to the room, shaking her head, yawning.
'Peter, what are-' she stops dead in her tracks, breath hitched as the head turned around.
He's not Peter, he's a face she hasn't thought about in a long time.
That's what's she's been telling herself, trying to convince herself.
She tells herself that she doesn't think about him anymore, but that's a lie. One she's happy to tell herself.
She loves Peter, he is her soulmate.
But you can have more than one.
She knew if she told someone this, that they'd think she'd gone made.
Except, she had already.
But it wasn't him she saw, it was Hayley, Aidan and Rana.
Three people who had a profound affect on her life.
She feels her heart stop, falling to the sofa as he stares back at her, the wind being taken out of her, she wants to cry, but first she had to focus on breathing. Because if she didn't, she wondered if she'd stop breathing.
It takes her a while to look up, but he's still there.
The figure doesn't say anything, as she takes in his shape, as he smiles at her.
He's not changed, not grown older. Maybe it's the wrong time, but the memorial poem plays in her mind.
'Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn.'
Age certainly has gotten to her, not as much as some people, but she knows that she has aged. He can probably see the difference, how she'd gotten older. She'd certainly not got wiser; she knew that much. Her life was still a train-wreck.
One disaster after another.
She knows she's lucky to be alive, that she should be thankful that she's done okay, her life has been fine.
Fines a nothing word, but she's had good times and bad. She's had the highest of highs, but she's been at the lowest of the lows.
Something she can't explain. But, as she stares into his eyes, she can feel him just knowing. Knowing what's happened in her life.
It's inexplicable, but it's there. She wants him closer, but he doesn't move and she's not strong enough. Something about him is different, but she can't lay her finger on it.
When she looks back on the pictures, the memories seared into her eyes. The good, the bad and the ugly.
She sometimes wondered if all of this had been imagined, her glorifying her and Liam's relationship, if you can call it that. Painting over the cracks that ran deeper than she remembered.
Selective amnesia, where the sufferer loses certain parts of their memory. Choosing to remember the good bits.
But it wasn't like that, no one else could understand.
It was more than a sordid affair, she loved him, and he loved her.
He could be a pain in the arse, a pain that she didn't need. Winding her up, tit-for-tat.
But the feelings, they were true. They were so crippling she had to run away, when Tony confessed, she couldn't deal with them there, running away was the simplest answer.
But it didn't help.
It just feels like a lifetime ago, yet it also feels like it was yesterday, watching him standing there.
All the things that have happened since that night.
She can feel that sadness she felt that night, the one she had buried and suppressed, the one she'd tried so hard to forget about.
Sometimes she'll go somewhere, and she'll think of him. A place he liked or an off the cuff comment he would make.
Then the pain would be back, except it would be worse. It would be so great that it crippled her, only for a moment though. Then she'd be able to slip the mask back on, hopefully quick enough to stop anyone from realising how broken it made her feel.
The crushing feeling in her chest.
She's surprised her can recognise her; she'd changed since he was gone.
She so desperately wants to tell him everything, about what she's been through, how much she misses him.
But the words are stuck in her throat.
They just won't come out.
So, unlike her.
He's stayed the same, except he's not talking. Then again, nor is she.
She's lost in him, soaking in every moment. He's just standing there; she can't see what he dropped. It doesn't matter, because he's here. He's there for her.
It doesn't matter.
Nothing else matters but staring into one another's eyes.
The silence is both beautiful and deafening at the same time. She wants to break it, but she's worried that if she does, he'll disappear.
So, she edges closer to him, daring to shut her eyes, laboured breathing.
'Leebugs?' She whispers, taking a deep breath. 'Is that you?' The figure just nods, raising a finger to his mouth, telling her not to speak, to be quiet, as if he didn't want to wake anyone else up.
She complies, watching him as he gently moves around the room, reminding her of when he injured himself, the way he'd hop-a-long.
She can't describe it, she just wants to bring him close, but she's scared.
She knows he's not real, but in this moment, it doesn't matter.
Everything can be forgotten.
It's just them.
The suddenly a ringing in her ears, as she looks around bewildered, worried he was going. She wasn't ready to lose him again, not just yet. So, she clings on, willing herself to stay like this.
Liam, he doesn't go. He just sits their watching her, as she recognises the song.
A song he wouldn't know.
It's been a long time, but then again, that's what the song is about, as the tune softly plays around her.
'But by chance you're here alone.' She picks up, not knowing what to say. She wants him to wrap his arms around her and tell her it will be okay.
He is here alone, just the pair of them.
Simplicity. No unwanted opinions, just them, as she takes a deep breath, trying to muster up the strength to stand up.
Everything will be okay.
But it won't be, nothing will ever be okay. It can't be okay because he's not there.
She, unwittingly, was the cause of his death.
Liam junior grew up without a dad because of her.
Her life had fallen apart, and she needed him. She needed him so much.
She couldn't explain it.
Her love for Peter was strong, but it was different.
Liam was different to anyone she'd loved.
She didn't love Peter any less to Liam, maybe even more? They had longer together.
Liam was Liam. She tries to muffle the sob, as he looks on, keeping his distance. She's not sure if it's deliberate or not.
As if she were a bad omen.
Something that he should be wary about.
'My God this reminds me, of when we were young.' The melancholy tune carries on, reminding her that time hadn't stopped as she focused on Liam.
He did remind her of when they were young, the history that they had.
He knew her when she had nothing, when she was a disgrace.
She'd moved up in the world and managed to fall from grace. Ruining their factory, the one they'd ran together, for a while at least.
Then it dawns on her, they aren't in her dad's pub, they're in her flat.
Her old flat.
Except, it's not tainted with memories of Frank.
Just Liam, the same cheeky grin as he had plastered on his face, but silent.
She's aware that she's changed, her body has changed. She's changed. Except he doesn't seem to mind, no wisecrack jokes, just silence between them.
'I love you.' She whispers, as he communicates it back to her, but not speaking.
The words don't need to be said, but she just knows.
'Let me photograph you in this light, in case it is the last time that we might be exactly as we were.' She tries to steady her breath, worried her heart is going to fall out of her chest. She can't trust herself. All she wants is him.
The way they made love.
It wasn't a shag, it was deeper.
She'd never felt it until she was with him. She'd felt it since, with Peter.
But it wasn't the same.
She wonders if this is it, this is the last time she'll see him.
She can barely look at pictures, some days. The pictures in the pub, the ones Michelle had.
Even little Liam, sometimes.
It's just too much, twelve years on.
Yet, in this moment, the love is there. The desire, the passion, it's suddenly reignited.
Except, she can't do anything.
The pain is there, too. The raw pain, like a knife in the heart. She wonders if she'll bleed out, if he gets any closer.
The grief she felt that she didn't deserve to feel. How she didn't think it was her place to grieve, feeling guilty when she thought of him.
When she thought of him on her wedding days.
Not just to Tony, to Peter, to Nick.
He'd always be there; she'd wondered what he'd think.
He always made sure she knew how he felt about her relationships.
Her relationship with Paul, right from the off.
He made his opinion perfectly clear to her, maybe she should have listened to him with Tony. Listened to his reservations, instead of trying to forget Paul.
She should have left him before, never have gone on that stag/hen do.
She shouldn't have gone near him, in the first place.
Then, he'd be alive.
It would have killed her to see him with Maria, but he'd be there.
She'd thought she'd heard him, in her delusional state, when she went back to her old estate. Except the thought didn't stick, she knew he was dead.
'Why are you here?' She dares to ask, as he shrugs.
She wants to hit him, she wants a proper answer, but he's giving nothing away.
'And part of me keeps holding on, just in case it hasn't gone.' She feels crippled as she tunes into the words, because it hasn't gone.
Times supposed to make you "heal" but it's wrong.
She's learnt to live with it, move on with her life. But she'd not right, she's tainted by him.
Their love was so wrong.
Yet, it was so right.
The first kiss, the slap. Everything that transpired, it was wrong.
On paper, it was wrong. But, when it materialised, it was so right.
She missed him.
'Leebugs' she dares to use his nickname, finally gathering her surroundings, deciding she was sick of the silence, 'why are you here?' He just shrugs, shoving his hands in his pocket.
It looks like he's about to move closer, but he doesn't. She can't help but feel cheated. She wants him to cuddle her, tell her it's going to be okay.
That the last twelve years have been a dream, she's been in a coma or something.
She'd been the one that had been hit that night.
Silence befalls them, yet again, just staring into one another's eyes.
'And your not here, to get me through it all.' She wonders when the music changed, as if the music is changing with her thoughts.
He hasn't been there, not when she really needs him.
She wanted Peter to support her, like Liam had with Maria, when baby Paul died. She'd wanted him to love and comfort her.
But he didn't.
Maybe it was karma, she'd been the other woman.
But it was different.
Her and Liam. Even her and Peter, it was different to Peter and Tina.
She lets out another wail, a gut-wrenching wail. So loud, Liam is taken aback. She can see he wants to come nearer, but he can't. If she moves forward, he steps back.
'Please Leebug, please help me.' She whispers, begging him. 'I miss you. I miss you so much.' He goes to open her mouth, but his voice is different.
Another song starts playing, drowning out the voice shouting her name, a song she has only heard a handful of times, the movie still too raw to watch. She'd seen an old version, but not the remake.
'So when I'm all choked up, but I can't find the words.'
Poignant, she thinks as it starts to drown her out.
'Carla.' The voice calls, drowning out the song, watching Liam mouth her name. He's not the one speaking, but it looks like he is.
As if he's a puppet.
She's suddenly overcome with a fatigue, a crippling tiredness and all she wants to-do is sleep. Her head hurts and she wants to sleep.
'Am I dying?' She questions, everything locking into place. 'Is this it? Is this the end?' She suddenly panics that this is the end, that Liam has come for her, not that she believes in that. But she didn't know what happened when you die. 'Is this it.'
'When the sun goes down and the band won't play. I'll always remember us this way.'
'C'mon Carla' another voice calls, as Liam goes to open his mouth, again, as she shakes her head. The voice, it's confusing her. For a moment she see's the flicker of a younger Liam, a much younger Liam. Before she got with Paul, back when everything was different.
Before the turn of the millennium.
'Liam, don't leave me.' She screams, shaking as she watches him go, her rooted to the spot. A young Liam walking out the door. She tries to run, but its too much, the voice in her head all competing, it's scaring her.
'Oh, I'm so mad I'm getting old, it makes me reckless.'
'But now the day bleeds into nightfall.'
'Every time we say goodbye, baby it hurts.'
'Carla.' Another voice shouts, as she closes her eyes, only for a moment. When she opens them again, Liam is gone, the music's gone. It's just shouting, it's making her head hurt even more than the music, the voices unfamiliar. 'C'mon Carla, stay with us.'