Hannah and Adrian had been married for fifteen years, and they had been through more than their fair share of rocky patches. They had both had affairs; they had also had heartbreak due to Hannah having a miscarriage, and then both her parents died in a car crash just a month later. Adrian had hoped that if he was there for Hannah that she would heal in time, but something wasn’t quite the same after that. She wouldn’t communicate with him when she was struggling with her mental health, and she didn’t seem to want to try for another baby. Adrian didn’t want to push her, he just hoped that she would bring it up when she was ready. It was hard for Hannah though, and she distanced herself from Adrian. Love was there, but she didn’t know how to handle it anymore. Adrian had faith that the wounds would heal and that they would be stronger together than they would be apart. He had a plan to take Hannah away on a luxurious holiday to the Bahamas. Hannah had always wanted to go there, and he thought a change of scenery might do them both some good and it may have done, but that day never came.
On Monday morning, Adrian awoke to a note from Hannah on his bedside table:
I’m sorry, I love you but I can’t go on like this. I’m a coward, I should just leave you but then what would I do? In some ways I never will but you deserve happiness. Please forget about me. By the time you read this the river Mersey will be the resting place for my body but not my soul, that stays with you.
It was Nine Fifty Six according to the alarm clock, and Adrian jumped out of bed faster than he ever had before. He got changed even faster. His T-shirt was on backwards, and inside out but he didn’t even notice nor would he have cared if he had. He was out the door less than two minutes later; he got into his car and drove towards the river whilst driving like a madman. If the police had stopped him he wondered if they would let him off because of the circumstances, and then would they be of help or would they slow down his efforts? He decided that the best outcome would probably be for the police to not be on his tail, and he was lucky in that respect, but he was unlucky in all the others. The river Mersey, like so many other rivers, stretches for miles and Adrian didn’t know at which point she was planning to jump in or if she already had. The letter she had written didn’t give details on location, and he didn’t know how much of a head-start she had had. It didn’t look good; it wasn’t.
Adrian never found his wife, and her body was never discovered. The police had put an extensive search in place. There were days and weeks of investigating her possible whereabouts and the river was dredged. They had organised a search party more than once with plenty of the local residents helping, but there was no body to find. It was assumed that the current had dragged her body away, there were other less likely scenarios such as her body being devoured by creatures in the river or her body simply being ripped apart by the current, but it made no difference to Adrian. His wife was gone and his life no longer had meaning.
The funeral was the final straw; he did not want to say goodbye. How could you say goodbye to the one person in all the world who you lived for, who you promised to spend your entire life with? That was when it hit him. If he died now, then he would have spent his entire life with Hannah, more or less anyway, and then the promise he made wouldn’t be broken at all. He was thinking illogically though, and he knew it, but he also knew that a life without his wife would be hard, so hard that the mere thought of it reduced him to tears. His heart was broken, and if he had picked up all the pieces it never would have fit back together, Hannah was gone, she was the missing piece.
Four days later, Adrian’s lifeless body was found in his and Hannah’s marital home. He had overdosed on antidepressants. They had been Hannah’s which she had been prescribed after one of the loss of her parents, but he knew they would get the job done. He had debated over whether to follow Hannah’s lead and jump into the river, but he decided that in that situation there would be a chance that he would change his mind, and so the overdose made more sense to him.
Adrian watched on as the paramedics carried away his body. At first he was confused, but it soon became apparent that he was a ghost. He wasn’t what you might expect a ghost to be like though, firstly; he wasn’t a slightly transparent version of his living self, no. He didn’t look like anything at all, he just was. When he looked down, he could see his hands, his feet, his legs that were covered by the jeans he was still wearing, but it wasn’t real. He was seeing what he wanted to see. He knew that he could see himself, but that nobody living ever would. He didn’t know how he knew that, he just did.
The first thing Adrian noticed in his new form was that he was completely alone. He thought Hannah would be with him. He considered the option that she may have passed on to heaven if such a place was real, and he hoped that hell wasn’t an option. He also considered the option that her spirit might reside in another location such as the river, but he couldn’t move from the house, another fact that he knew, but wasn’t sure how he knew. Adrian was a stubborn man, though and tried it, anyway.
The experience was unusual; he had expected failure, but he hadn’t expected it the way it happened. He assumed that when he tried to grip the doorknob that his hand would go through it like you might see in a movie, that was not the case at all. At first it occurred to him that he wasn’t sure how to move at all. There was a lot more thought involved than there had been when he was living, but once he thought about it he felt his legs twitch and then after a few attempts he was moving, albeit slowly, but he accepted that. When he approached the front door of his house and was about to reach for the handle, he felt a strange sensation, like a jolt of electricity passed through him, and suddenly he was back where he had started, he was stood in the spot where his body once lay. He tried again, and again, and again, but it was no use, there was no way for him to leave.
Adrian spent the following weeks and months thinking about Hannah. Where was she? Could she see him? Would she be able to join him? Could he join her? Could he pass on to another plain, if she had indeed done so? He surmised that if he was to pass on, he would need help. He supposed his house would be for sale now that he and his wife were both dead. It would only be a matter of time until somebody moved in. There was no guarantee, of course, but it made him feel better to pretend he was certain of it. One way or another, he would see his beautiful wife again. He had to. She had been all he had lived for and even in death she was still all he thought about.
The months turned to years, and although Adrian had no concept of time, he was sure it had been a long time. A family had moved into his house, The Crawford family. The parents, Todd and Elaine seemed like nice people, and their teenage son, Graham seemed like a handful. He hated his name; he hated his life, the house, his parents, you name it; he told them he hated it. Adrian had tried to communicate with them, but it turned out that he didn’t actually have a voice. He was able to talk to himself internally, but externally there was nothing. He was stuck where he was. His only hope was Hannah finding him. It was a false hope, but it was all that he had left.
Far away from The house in England where Adrian lived, and died, there is a country called Australia, which I am sure you have heard of. In the beautiful city of Sydney there lives over five million people, one of which is James Kelly who Iives with his beautiful wife, Patricia. James knows that his wife was born in England, but he does not know that her real name is Hannah, he doesn’t know that she faked her death, and that legally she is married to another man back in England. A man that she doesn’t even know is dead. She will probably never find out what became of Adrian, and she will never tell James the truth of why she left England behind. Hannah is happier as Patricia than she ever was as herself, she is content with James even though she still isn’t a mother; she feels happy in herself. She rarely even thinks about Adrian, but when she does, she is sure that he is fine; he has to be; she tells herself. Adrian is not fine, nor will he ever be until his beautiful wife comes home, and so he waits, and with every passing day he feels more and more melancholy and when the tears come, he feels them roll down his cheek but they don’t really exist. Nor does the reality he has created for himself, a reality in which one day his wife will come home at last.