I sit in a stiff wooden chair, my back protesting from sitting in the hard seat for so long but I merely ignore it as I stay unmoving in the empty dining room, in the empty house. Always empty. I stare out the large floor to ceiling window that overlooked the numerous hills outside. Out of the corner of my eye I notice my mother come to stand beside it. Ignoring her as well I look back out the window but I'm not really seeing anything, just thinking. I absentmindedly swirl the large glass of red wine in my right hand as my mother speaks up "You can't ignore me forever you know" she's staring at me, I can feel it. I barely look at her "I can try" I answer hollowly. "You can't continue like this darling" my dad walks in saying, placing a hand on my left shoulder. I feel nothing. I never do. "I'm fine" I shake my shoulder and my dad removes his hand. He bends down beside my ear "No you're not" he states. Abruptly I stand and scream at him "YES I AM!" I hurl the wine glass at the window and watch as the red runs everywhere, just like blood. The glass shatters into tiny little pieces, never again to be as it was. The sound echoes through the empty mansion. Still empty is all I think as I walk away.
"Hello" a voice sounds from downstairs, echoing. I wait what feels like a minute before I rise up from my king sized bed where I had been lying all day. I don’t bother trying to smooth the wrinkles out of my white button up shirt or my denim skinny jeans. My nude coloured Jimmy Choo’s click loudly against the floor as I walk, I never took them off, the pain they caused constantly reminding me I was indeed alive. I could feel my black hair slightly brush my shoulders as I walked, I hadn’t brushed it in weeks. I leave my room and walk down the twenty nine steps. Still an odd number I think as I reach the bottom. "Hello Grace" a familiar friend greets me "Hello Markus" my voice sounds empty. Why is everything empty? "Have you eaten today?" he asks politely but his eyes betray him, he's very worried... for me. "No" I whisper as my voice catches for reasons I can’t explain "Come on then, you need lunch" Markus smiles as he walks away. I look to one of the many clocks in the house and realise its one minute past one. "Oh" I mutter to myself as I walk off. I find that the kitchen is not occupied with Markus and looking around I see that he is sitting where I had been earlier, staring at the mess. "I forgot to clean it up" I shrug my shoulders, hoping he will accept my half ass statement of telling him not to worry about it. He looks from the mess to me, his eyes searching, making me shift uncomfortably. His chestnut brown hair was sticking up in every possible direction, untameable as always. His naturally bright green eyes were now darkened with what seemed as worry and sadness as he assessed me. I wished more than anything in that moment that he would give me one of his cheeky grins. Standing up and looking out the window he slips his hands into his jean pockets "It’s been three months Grace" he states softly but my mind can only focus on one thing, an odd number. "You can't stay here forever" Markus continues as he turns to face me "He is right dear" my mother says, appearing on my left "Go away" I mumbled to her "I'm not going anywhere Gracie" Markus replies, obviously not seeing my mother "I'm fine" I repeat for the second time that day "No you're not! You don't even drink Grace!" he yells at me, pointing at the spilt wine. He's right of course. I never used to drink. "You barely eat!" he yells again, walking towards me "And if you think you can just disappear then you better think again because there is a whole world outside that has not forgotten you!" he finishes, standing in front of me. He's right again, I think as I stare at him. I just stare and stare like I always do when I think. Why was he always right? The world would not forget me as easily as I wanted them to. I still turned on the television every now and then to watch the news and every time I was mentioned: 'Grace Darling, the well-known twenty six year old actress and author, known for her role in the iconic film 'I'll be waiting' and one of her bestselling fiction novels 'I saw you first' has not been seen for the last three months. Her relatives and friends assure authorities and her many fans that the actress; rated the most influential woman in the world for this year is just taking a break. This follows only six months after Ms Darling lost both her parents in a fatal car accident and only four months after the tragic death of her fiancée.’ And that's when I would turn the television off. It had been hard, really hard accepting my parent’s death but then, when Jack died not long after... I couldn't deal with it anymore. So, I ignored everything in my life and simply drove away. I drove out to the secluded three storey mansion my parents owned knowing that no one would follow, except Markus of course... my parents however were a surprise I soon learnt to ignore. Just like I learnt to ignore everything. I had never hated my life, I had loved it – I had been surrounded by people I loved and loved me back, I had millions of fans backing me up and I got to do things I had only dreamed of. Now all I felt was bitterness towards it. I was one of the richest people in the world – but I recently learned money can’t fix everything. Where was the money when my parents died? The money didn’t stop their car accident. Where was the money when Jack was killed? In the end, the fame meant nothing. I realise I'm still staring at Markus and I know that I can't stay here forever. I know that soon I'm going to have to leave. I mean, I was almost out of... well everything. But I couldn’t leave. Avoiding his gaze I look down to the timber floor boards "I can't leave Markus" I whisper, studying the scruff marks on the ground. "Look at me Gracie" he whispers and as much as I don't want to, I meet his gaze. "Why can't you leave?" he asks "Because... because, oh, I don't know, can't you see? I'll have to face it all and move on without..." I stop talking as I feel tears leaking from my eyes, I didn't even know what I was trying to say. Markus brings up his hands and cups my cheeks, but, as always I don't feel anything. I never do anymore. "Grace Audrey Darling, you are going to leave this house today. You are going to drive home today, your home to where there are friends and family waiting for you, worried sick about you. Ready to help you through all of this and I will be there with you every step of the way. Gracie, you can't stay here anymore." Markus states all this firmly but softly and all I can do is obey “Okay Markus” I agree so quietly that I wonder if he even heard me but the small sad smile that graces his face tells me he heard just fine. Dropping his hands he says “Now get your keys, it’s time this was left behind” I nod and walk away from him to where I had left my car and house keys on the kitchen bench three months ago. Three months. I don’t grab anything else, there is nothing here for me. Taking a deep breath I turn around and notice Markus must have already gone outside. I walk to the front door and step outside for the first time in weeks. I instantly wince and cover my eyes with my right hand. The sun is too bright and too hot, I had forgotten the power of it. The noises that one would normally find quiet are screaming at me, along with the vivid colour of everything. But the fresh air hits me the hardest, like a slap in the face but I take in as much as I can. What had I been doing to myself? Turning around I close and lock the door without so much as a thought. “I’m proud of you Grace” I turn to face Markus, standing next to me “If it wasn’t for you I would still be in that house… thank you Markus” I embrace him in the biggest hug I can muster and even though I still don’t feel anything I hug him tighter. “I’ll always be there for you Gracie” he whispers as he lets me go. “Always here” he taps my chest gently where my heart beats longingly. “Markus” I croak, my voice thick with unushered tears. “You know” he smiles gently before continuing “You never used to call Markus” he smiles again and it feels like my heart breaks for him all over again “I prefer it when you call me by my middle name, you know that” he whispers and I swallow. My throat is sore and raw, just like my emotions “I know Jack” a silent tear escapes when I say his name, it slides down my cheek to my chin where it drips onto my shirt. “There you go” his oh so familiar voice sings and it hurts me even more “It’s time to go now Gracie” Jack nods towards my midnight blue Audi R8 V10 behind me. But I don’t want to go, I never do. How many times had we gone through this? I wanted to stay. Stay with Jack. Yet, I knew I couldn’t because even if I did stay here, one day I would wake up and Jack would be gone and there would be no one left to make me leave. If I didn’t leave now then I never would. I take what seems like the hardest steps of my life to my car as I open the driver’s door, turning back around to look at Jack. “I love you” my voice cracks but I stare him straight in the eye. “I love you too Gracie, and one day you’ll meet someone else who loves you like I do” Jack smiles and I know what he’s trying to tell me. I don’t bother explaining to him how there won’t be because he was it for me. I don’t bother trying because I think, like me, he knows it too. “I’ll see you again” I say instead “No offense sweetheart but I hope I don’t see you for a long time” and despite it all, I lightly laugh. I finally step into the car and closing my door start the car. Placing my slightly shaking hands on the steering wheel I drive off, allowing myself only one last glance in the rear view mirror. Jack stands where I left him but with my parents now beside him and sighing sadly I look away before I start crying again. I reach the turn in the driveway and I know that once I drive through it I won’t be able to see the house anymore. Breaking my promise of not looking back a second time I glance in the mirror again only to see they have all disappeared.