Earlier (non-published/unedited) manuscript excerpts

 The Original Ending

 The Numbing Dawn

As Bea stood looking at the nothingness around her, she refused to cry, willing her feet forward up the woodland path. With each forced step, she grew colder. The new dawn had become smothered with grey clouds. The world had finally become the colour of her mood, overcast, and full of shadows. She pulled the collar of her coat up around her neck. Her hands trembled, but not with the cold, with fear, fear of the nothingness growing within. The starvation of him began to fill her once happy place, and her inner light became dimmed with the dark reality of loss. I will not cry…

The wind blew against her face and felt as if it were trying to strip her of all the strength she had fought so hard to keep. Bea’s imprisoned tears began escaping as she approached a wider path leading out of the woods. The fresh wetness of the tears on her cheeks exposed to the world her inner wounds. I won’t break… Every step took her further from him, from them. 

She caught sight of a couple strolling hand in hand and quickly averted her eyes, but her heart refused to ease the yearning that seeing them caused. Don’t let me break…not now, not yet. Not for everyone to see.  Bea’s pace quickened, and her eyes lowered to avoid the possibility of seeing another couple in love. She heard a noise, a muffled sob, but then realised it came from her. The tears were freely streaming down her face, and as swiftly as she wiped them away, they returned. 

Give me the strength to make it to the gate, then I 'll be free of the emptiness here. 

The reality, the depth of her loss, hit her the closer she came to the iron gate of the woods. Her legs still felt weak, and a sickness fluttered around in her stomach causing her to retch. Bea hastily ran to the gate, her hands grasped tightly around the cold iron bars. She took a deep breath to steady herself, the nausea passed. Resting against the gate, she dared to take one last look back at the woods, only briefly closing her eyes to escape the memory of his face. His eyes, blue engaging pools pledging love, but then the memory exposing the lie appeared, the one which had kept them apart. Remembering his admission caused her to sob out loud. 

Bea opened her eyes and saw the loving couple now heading towards her. She turned and sped out of the gate before they could approach. Just one word, a query as to her well-being would cause all remaining strength to fade. 

The street outside Coldfall was quiet, but  Bea knew her eyes would be glazed from crying, so lowered her head, avoiding any possible future eye contact with passers-by. She finally reached the main road, and hailed a passing black taxi. 

 ‘You okay, luv?’ The driver enquired, obviously noticing her quiet distress.

‘Yes, thank you.’ Bea lowered her eyes, again.

‘Where to?’ He smiled.

‘Streatham please.’ 

‘Aww luv, I don’t normally cross the river,’ he replied.

The desperation in Bea’s eyes must have been enough to make him quickly surrender, ‘Okay, this once, cause it's early. Let’s get you home. Jump in.’

A massive relief swept over her, and she climbed in. 'Thank you. Streatham Vale.'

Once the driver turned around and started to drive off, Bea permitted more tears to fall . Just picturing having to walk any further in this state, had worried her. Would she have made it? She needed to cry, to scream, to release in private the roaring anguish inside. Just a while longer, she consoled herself staring out of the window. Small droplets of rain tripled down the misted glass. She wondered if some the droplets were actually rain at all, perhaps they were her own tears watery reflection. Every time one rolled down her cheek, she would try to artfully disguise wiping it away so the driver wouldn't notice. 

The traffic was horrendous, but it didn’t matter, she was on her way home – that’s all she tried to focus on - a safe place. The driver mumbled every now and then breaking her stare from the window, which she quickly resumed on realising that he wasn't speaking to her. As the journey progressed over Chelsea Bridge, Bea felt a strange sort of calm begin to embrace her. Maybe it was the thought of sanctuary nearby. The inner storm had been suppressed and the numbing was her protective safety guard, and she welcomed it. The cascading tears became those of remorse for her inner light dying, shrinking from what would otherwise be an unbearable pain. She had begun her morning with an acceptance of the unknown, a type of inner growth that only pain can bring, and hopefully, in time, would make her strong again. She needed to bank any remaining strength for a new life, but right now, staying numb was an acceptable existence, at least until her inner light could find a way to shine again.

The taxi dropped her off in front of the shop. Bea was drenched from heavy falling rain by the time she reached the door. She paused, readying herself for the emptiness inside and then cautiously entered. The echo of her footsteps on the wooden parquet floor announced to the emptiness that she was alone. She stood at the bottom of the stairs taking a deep breath before climbing.  

Her little flat felt cold, totally void of life...No love resides here anymore, she blankly assessed before perching down on a corner of the sofa. Tears steadily trickled down her face as she sat waiting for the meltdown to arrive, but nothing came. 

Am I numb enough? Is it done? No more starvation of him? and just as she thought she’d conquered the agonising loss, she crumbled letting out a sobbing wail. When the last tear dried, the memory of her uncles words before passing played over in her mind, 'every unknown is a beginning''. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and whispered into the emptiness around her...This isn't the end.