I must have slipped into a nap because I am woken up with a start when I hear Emma punching the buzzer, waiting to be let in. My head still sore, I shuffle to the scratched-up front door and peer through the peephole.
To my surprise, Emma is on the porch with a man draped almost entirely in white.
“Why is Dr Ramore here??” I muse, my forehead creasing with confusion. “Did Emma ask him to come??”
Hastily plastering a smile onto my face, I swing the door open, greet the two of them as cheerily as I can manage and offer to take their coats.
In two minutes, my guests are seated around the glass dining table [that looks nothing like it did when I saw it last night] while I add heaped spoonfuls of cocoa powder to the scathing water.
“Here you are,” I awkwardly hand out cups of the steaming beverage and keep one on the table in front of me while I take a seat.
“This feels great against the cold of the morning,” Dr Ramore remarks, taking a measured sip. “Thank you, June.”
“Yeah, thanks Juno,” My sister adds, beaming at me.
I nod in response and everything is silent for a moment.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” I blurt out all of a sudden, “Why are you here, doctor??”
I catch Emma and Dr Ramore exchange a fleeting glance before the both of them fix their gaze onto me.
“June, there’s no easy way to say this so I’m going to just cut to the chase, okay??” Dr Ramore begins calmly, placing his glass onto a scruffy floral coaster.
“I guess so,” I agree unsurely, internally trying to work out what could be so important that Dr Ramore felt the need to abandon all his critical patients and come over to visit… Well, me.
“Juno, before Dr Ramore begins, I want to ask you something,” Emma interrupts suddenly. “Do you think that today is of any special significance??”
“Yes,” I shoot out before she even finishes her question. “I’ve been thinking along that line from the minute I woke but I can’t seem to put my finger on WHY,” I finish in a hurry and just about notice Emma flashing a slight but triumphant smile.
“Okay. Go on, Doctor,” She gestures for him to continue but I hurriedly interject.
“Why do I think that, do you know??” I persist. “It’s really bothering me that I can’t figure it out.”
“I’m getting there, June,” Dr Ramore patiently assures me.
Bobbing my head for him to continue, Dr Ramore inhales sharply and says, “You see June, a while ago, your fiancé Ashton was in an accident,” pause, “A fatal accident.”
Just like that, I can feel my heart melt away.
The hurt is so raw, I can’t even cry. No tears, just a pronounced throb that echoes through my body. The dull thuds keep in time with my heartbeat, which has slowed dangerously close to a full stop.
Despite the pain, somewhere deep down, I realise that I knew. I was aware that he was gone. I just wasn’t willing to admit it.
Dr Ramore is handing me a tissue but I wave it aside.
“Please, go on,” I beg him; “Why is my house so different and why do I feel that today is important and why the hell am I aching all over??” I gush, helplessly.
“June, Ashton doesn’t exist,” Dr Ramore bursts out and Emma stares at him with a glare that could kill.
“I know that, Doctor. You just told me he died. I understand that that means he doesn’t exist anymore,” I explain, surprised that saying it out loud doesn’t hurt very much.
“Actually, what I meant, June,” Dr Ramore carried on despite the death glares being shot at him from Emma, “Is that he never existed in the first place.”