“I’m home, darling” Anne hugs Ashton from his back. “Happy Anniversary Ash. The past 36 hours were killing me. I miss you so much it hurts. Glad that I don’t have to go to work tomorrow”. She plants a kiss on his neck. As much as Ashton is still annoyed by the incident, seeing Anne somehow cleared the air a little bit. He doesn’t want to dismay Anne so he fakes a smile.
“Please tell me you’re hungry because one, I’m starving and two, I cooked your favourite chicken pot pie that you’ve been craving for since the last 36 hours.” “On the scale of 1 to 10, I’m at 11 of how hungry I am. Let’s fill the monster in my tummy now”, Anne takes Ashton’s hand whilst her other hand takes the cigarette he is smoking and throws it.
“OH MY GOD! Are you sure you haven’t seen Jamie Oliver sneaking into our apartment? Cause this Chicken Pot Pie is the best I’ve ever had in my entire life!”, Anne mumbles with her eyes closed. “Wow that’s a huge compliment baby, thank you. So, are you ready for your gift?” Ash asks halfheartedly. “Of course I am. Is it normal that I’m sweating out of nerve haha”, Anne places the cutlery down. Across her, Ashton is holding a beautifully wrapped box with a red bow. Anne takes his gift and eagerly opens it. Inside, there is a stethoscope with both Ashton and Anne’s names carved in cursive writing. She is overwhelmed by the present, tears rain from her sparkly eyes. “You even have our names carved there! I swear this is the best gift ever. Thank you so much Ash!” Ashton glad to see the look on Anne’s face. He is flattered by her priceless reaction. “The reason I put our name together is to remind you that I’m always by your side every time you use it.” Ash takes a sip of wine. “I love you forever Ashton Flack. You know, I wouldn’t mind if you hurt my feelings because it would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you”. Anne kisses the back of Ashton’s right hand.
The analogue clock on their wall shows quarter past nine in the morning. “Ash, honey, wake up. I’ve made breakfast for you.” Anne places the tray containing a stack of pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice on the night stand. Ashton groans and stretches his arms. He takes the cigarette box in the drawer and lights it up, his favourite dish for breakfast. “You have a therapy at eleven, you should get ready now darling”, Anne shouts from the dressing table. Ashton ignores her entirely. Antiretroviral Therapy is the treatment that
Ashton started receiving from the day he was diagnosed with HIV. The treatment helps to maintain a low level of the virus inside him. He is required to consume a combination of HIV medicines every day. These HIV medicines could extend his life, promote a healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
“No. I’m not going anywhere.” Ashton walks towards the glass windows showing the magnificent view of the city. “Oh come on. You know that this treatment is important for you. Stop acting like a three years old, will you? You should get going now.” Anne takes Ashton’s towel and hands it to him, in hope the dark clouds above him flew away. “Have you ever thought of what’s the purpose of me having to go for that treatment if we both know well and aware that one day I’m still gonna die. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, who knew? So please, love, let me enjoy the remnants of my life peacefully.”
Ashton is getting annoyed by Anne’s nag. Little that he knows that Anne is bubbling with wrath. Ashton’s cheek is now red from her powerful slap. “How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t die? At least not for now.” Anne starts crying. “You promised that you will always be my side, supporting me. If you’re not around, who will Ash? Who?” Ashton faces Anne and sarcastically reply, “Leo. You got him, am I right? He’d be there for you.” “Leo, Leo frickin Leo. Why do you have to bring up his name every time we fight? This thing we’re dealing with, is between you and me. He has got nothing to do with this.” Anne is speaking with her fierce tone now. “I can’t believe that you think I’m so naïve. You think I didn’t know what both of you did behind my back?! You guys must’ve done something when I’m far away in Ethiopia, right? I know Leo has feelings for you, Anne. He never said that to me, but I’m sure. Because he’s my friend.” Ashton punches the glass window leaving an echo inside the room.
“What rubbish! If we really had done something when you were at Ethiopia, I will not propose you after you got back. I don’t care about him, I just want you Ashton.” Anne wraps her arms around Ashton’s waist. He let himself free from her. “Remember our anniversary day? I went to the hospital to fetch you. And do you know what I saw? I saw both of you, alone, happily laughing to God-knows-what topic and then you kissed him.”
“So you saw both of us? You know what really happen at that time? He congratulates us for our anniversary, that’s it! I can simply file a divorce when I found out that you have HIV, but I chose to stay. I don’t care about what other people say, I’m willing to risk my life to be with you, because I love you Ashton, I love you so much. I know you love your cigarette more than you will ever love me. I know that you can live without me, but not without your cigarette, but I can’t live without you Ash, you’re my everything.” Anne is tasting saltwater from her own eyes. “You know what, I had enough, Ashton. I’m tired of this bullshits!” Anne turns away, slams the door and leaves the house. She is heading to her brother’s house.