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I'm Not Letting Go

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That night, we’re lying in bed together. I’m lying on my back with him on his side facing me to my left. He's propped up on his right arm, his left hand spread wide over my tummy. He's smiling.

“I can't believe it,” He says. “Twins.”

“It's a big surprise,” I reply.

Huge,” He replies. “You ready to have two kids?”

I shake my head. “But I know that no one is, & I just have to take it a day at a time.”

He smiles. “Good to hear you’ve changed your tune.”

I smile. “Helps when I have my knight in shining blue armour at my side.”

He smirks, leaning in & kissing me.

“Do you mind if we keep this to ourselves?” He asks, resting his forehead on mine. “I want it to be just ours. A little secret, a little bit of hope that only we know of.”

“How long for? They're going to find out when I give birth.”

He laughs. “I don't mean for the whole pregnancy,” he says. “Just for a month or two.”


He kisses me again.


The next morning, I wake to find myself alone in our bed. I bolt up- where is he? Was the crash real & this is all a dream I created to hide away from the truth? Is he really dead & I’m in denial?

And then the door opens & I flop back down in relief as I see him enter wearing just his boxers & with a tray of food. He places the tray down near the base of his side of our bed & crawls onto the bed. He leans over to hover above me.

“Morning,” he says, leaning down to kiss me.

“Mmmm morning,” I reply after our kiss.

“Sorry I wasn't here when you woke. I wanted to make us breakfast & then wake you up.”

“Awwww, you're so cute.”

He kisses me again. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He leans back, shifting to grab the tray. I sit up, adjusting my pillows so I can lean back on them. He adjusts himself so he's sitting so close our arms brush. The breakfast looks delicious.


Mark leaves for work after breakfast, & I prep for my afternoon shift at Harold's. At 12:30pm, I collect my handbag & leave, knowing I need to leave so I have time to walk all the way there. I lock the front door behind me, & make my way down the steps & driveway. I diagonally cross the road from our driveway towards Mum’s, the way I always head off to work if I’ve slept at Mark’s- though I should start referring to it as my usual route. I’m just reaching Mum's driveway when it happens.


I immediately drop to my knees, heart pounding. I need to find cover. So I rise to my feet, keeping low as I cross to the fence beside Mum's driveway. She's already at work, so her car is gone. I press my back against the fence, still staying low. I then check myself over for any injuries.

“No, no, no, no!” I say, discovering my upper right arm is bleeding.

I drop to my knees as I cry, covering my face with my hands. Mark had offered to drive me in early, but I had refused. I now regret that choice.

“Paige,” A familiar voice says.

I look up. Standing near me, with a small gun aimed at me is… Dimato.

“I want the last thing you see to be my face,” He says.

I stand up, & back away towards Mum's house. “Stay away from me.”

“Sorry, Paige, I can't do that.”

I back up, all the way to the house. He pins me to the wall, pressing the gun to my head.


But no one comes. I clamp my eyes shut, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of him being the last thing I see. I think about Mark & our babies.

“Paige?” Nate says.

“Nate! Help!”

“Paige, open your eyes.”

I slowly do. Nate is standing where Dimato was, hands on my arms & looking worried.

“Nate… He… He was here.”

He frowns. “Who was?”


“No he wasn't.”

“He was!” I reply. I frantically look around, but there's no one else here. “He was here! He was right here! And he was going to kill me. He… He had a gun to… To my head, & he was… He was…”

“Paige, listen to me. You need to calm down, okay? Take a few deep breaths.”

I take a deep breath in- it's shaky when I inhale and exhale. That happens for the next few, & then my breathing returns to normal.

“Hey, look at me,” Nate says.

I do.

“Dimato wasn't here.”

“But he was,” I reply. “I saw him.”

He shakes his head. “I saw it all, Paige. I was checking the letterbox. You were crossing the road, but you didn't see me.”

“There was a gunshot.”

“It was a car backfiring at the corner of the street,” he says. “I watched you, saw how freaked out you got. And then you were acting weird- backing towards the house, talking to someone who wasn't there. So I came over to see how you are.”

“So… So… He wasn't here?” I ask, tears blurring my vision.

He shakes his head. “Come on,” he says, guiding me off the wall & up the driveway. “I'm taking you back to mine so you can calm down.”


It's just before my lunch break, & I’m talking on the desk phone to someone who called in to make a complaint when Lauren walks in, looking really worried. I smile at her & point to a seat so she can sit while she waits. She sits down & I finish my call.

“We’ll look into it, & get back to you,” I say into the phone. “Goodbye.”

I hang up, handing the report to another officer, before I cross to Lauren. She stands as I approach.

“What's wrong, Lauren?”

“Uh… Nate rang me,” She replies. “He was unable to get hold of you, so… He rang me instead.”

I frown. “What? Why?”

She hesitates. “It's about Paige.”

I’m shocked and worried. “What? Oh my god, is she okay?”

She nods. “Sort of. At least now she is,” she replies. “She had a… Uh… I guess you can call it a panic attack. Outside my home. He said she freaked out over a car backfiring, thought it was a gun.”

“But she's okay?”

“He went over to her, to see if she was okay. He said she was screaming, believing Dimato-”

She stops when I turn away, heading back to the reception desk.

“I’m going on lunch early,” I tell the other officer.

He nods & I head for the door, guiding Lauren out ahead of me.


I’m sitting at Karl & Susan's dining table, trying hard to steady my shaking hand so I can drink the glass of water Nate got me. He's watching from the kitchen behind me, I think.

I hear footsteps approaching the front door, followed by the noise of the security door opening as I set the glass down on the table. I turn to look just as Mark & Lauren enter. He nods at Nate as he crosses to me. He drops to his knees at my left side, placing his left hand on my knee & right hand on my back. I look at my lap, before tilting left & fall against his chest. He wraps both his arm around me.

After a few minutes, he kisses my forehead & then pulls back just enough to make me look at him.

“I want to go talk to Nate for a few minutes, okay?” He asks. “I promise I’ll be back.”

I nod slowly. He kisses my cheek & then gets to his feet. I focus on my glass of water as he walks off.


“Hey Nate,” I say, approaching him & Lauren in the kitchen.

“Hey,” Nate replies.

“Thank you for helping her.”

“No worries. I wasn't going to leave her out there in that state.”

I nod. “Thank you anyway.”

He nods.

“How is she?” Lauren asks.

“Shaken,” I reply. “But I think she'll be okay.”

“I don't know about that,” Nate replies.

Lauren & I look at him, confused.

“I don't want to jump to conclusions, but…” Nate says. “She's showing signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

“What signs?”

“She's been having nightmares, right?”

I nod. “The first two weeks, yes. But they’ve died down.”

“Panic attacks like today, triggered by a noise that reminded her of a gun being fired, which led to her hallucinating Dimato.”

“She's also not been as bubbly as she usually is,” Lauren says. “I didn't want to alarm you by mentioning it, but I have noticed a few times at work, she seems to be… On auto pilot. Very… Flat.”

“That's another sign of PTSD,” Nate says. “And I assume she's been avoiding the news, maybe even social media?”

I sigh, running a hand over my face. “How could I be so stupid to have not seen this?”

“Don't blame yourself, Mark,” Lauren says, placing a hand on my shoulder & gently squeezing it in reassurance. “You’ve had a lot going on since it happened. Besides, we both know that Paige is good at hiding things from us when she really doesn't want us knowing.”

I nod. “And the fact that we're having-” I catch myself just in time. “We’re having a baby.”

"Surely the stress of this is impacting on the baby's health?" Lauren asks.

“Everything was fine at the check-up yesterday,” I reply. “But… I don't know much about PTSD, but… If we let this go on, the stress will take a toll. We need to get this under control before it puts our baby's life in danger.”

“Has she talked to anyone about it?” Nate asks.

“Uh… she was seeing a psychologist three weeks ago,” I reply. “But she said she hated it, & stopped after one, maybe two sessions.”

“She should really try it again,” He replies. “It’s going to help her. And I’m here to help where I can.”

I nod. “That would be greatly appreciated,” I reply. “I should call the hospital, see if we can get an appointment for this afternoon.”

“And I’ll call my staff, arrange a replacement for Paige & myself.”

I manage to secure an appointment in an hour’s time, & Lauren not only organises the shift covers, but also calls Brad to tell him everything.

“We should head off,” I reply, crossing back to Paige, who hasn’t moved from the chair.

I place my hand on her shoulder. She gets up & leans against me. I kiss the top of her head.

“Thanks again, Nate,” I say.

“Again, no worries.”

Lauren, Nate & I say bye. We head out, Paige staying close beside me.

“You should have told me,” I quietly say to her as we walk down the path.

“You’ve been so stressed out trying to catch them,” She quietly replies. “I didn’t want to add to it.”

We stop at the end of the path. I push her chin up so she looks at me. “I’m always here for you.”

“I’m sorry,” She replies. “I thought it would go away.”

“It’s okay,” I reply. “We’re going to take this on together. And it will.”

She steps closer, wrapping her arms around me as she rests her head on my chest. I wrap my arms around her, holding her close as I rest my head on hers.