It's make or break

Leyton's crash had an unexpected effect...

Published by: Fiona Ford and Jane Cohen
Published on: 16 August 2012

Okay, so we were creatures of habit. Me and my bloke Leyton, 42, always holidayed on the Greek island of Zakynthos with our daughter Elle-Marie, eight.
‘It's perfect,' I'd tell my mates.
‘Sun, sand, sea and sex,' they'd tease. ‘We get you!'
But the reality was very different. Greece certainly had the first three... but the sex?
There wasn't time for that any more. But me and Leyton had been together nine years, so it was hardly surprising the novelty had worn off.
‘The only sauce we get on holiday is the stuff on our kebabs,' I said, forcing a smile.
If I was being honest, the spark had long since disappeared. We argued over silly things - like who was taking out the rubbish.
Even on holiday, we'd end up bickering over the price of things.
I felt we had reached the brink - it seemed we had no future together. So this year I'd hoped that going away might change all that.
‘Remember how beautiful it is?' I said to Leyton, showing him the brochure one night.
‘All I remember is that you can get a decent kebab,' he grinned.
I rolled my eyes. Leyton didn't have a romantic bone in his body.
Sadly, after all the hopes I'd had, this year was turning out to be the worst of all. Most nights we'd sat in silence as we ate, only talking to Ellie, or playing with her. It was so awkward.
Now, as we sat outside our hotel with a glass of ouzo and
a Greek salad, I felt a tinge of sadness. We were flying home the day after next, and we hadn't managed to fix things between us.
Could we really carry on as we were? When we'd first met, things had been amazing. We'd stay up chatting and drinking wine until the early hours. Now, I struggled to know what to say to him.
‘This holiday's flown by,' I smiled, desperately trying to make conversation.
‘Yes, but we've still got tomorrow,' Leyton replied. ‘Quad biking!' That cheered me up. We both loved quad bikes - it was the one thing we did where we didn't snap at each other.
So the next day, as Elle-Marie played in the hotel's kids' club, me and Leyton, along with some other couples, hired some bikes. Before long, we'd sped off, our helmets glistening
in the sun.
After a few hours of bombing around the mountain roads and quaint villages, we stopped for food.
‘This is the closest we've been all week,' Leyton joked.
‘That's because you always ruin things by opening your gob,' I replied.
But my words had stung - I could see I'd gone too far.
Brushing me aside, he clambered back on his quad bike.
Just then, Sarah, 32, one of
the group, asked if she could get a lift with Leyton, as the bike she was on with her boyfriend was too small.
‘Hop on,' Leyton smiled.
With a heavy heart, we headed back. I was at the front of our convoy, while Leyton and Sarah were behind.
As the wind whipped at my hair,
I kept thinking about how I'd put my foot in it. Maybe we really weren't right for each other after all. Perhaps this was our make or break holiday - and we needed to split up?
Lost in my own world, by the time we reached the bottom of the hill, I realised Leyton and Sarah weren't following.
Pulling over, I was startled by an ear-piercing scream behind me.
As we looked back up the road, Sarah came staggering into view around the corner. She was crying and dripping with blood as she hobbled towards us.
‘Leyton's fallen off,' she sobbed hysterically. ‘Help me!'
My stomach dropped.
I don't know where I found the strength, but I rushed back up the mountain as fast as I could. The road was so narrow,
I couldn't see him at first. But nothing could've prepared me for what I saw. His upturned bike was on top of him
by the edge of a cliff - and a 250ft drop.
‘Leyton!' I screamed.
Like a woman possessed, I ran over and tried to move the bike. But it was too heavy.
‘It'll be okay,' I murmured, adrenalin pumping through my veins. Diving into my bag for my mobile, my heart flipped when
I saw there was no signal.
‘Help!' I screamed, as the others ran over. Together, we managed to shift the bike, but Leyton was on his back, covered in blood. He was so still, so lifeless...
‘Wake up,' I wept, bending to brush the hair from his face.
Suddenly, his eyes flickered open and he gasped for breath.
I grasped his hand tightly.
‘We've been so silly,' he croaked. ‘All the daft arguments...'
‘Don't worry about that now,' I sobbed. The thought of losing him scared me more than anything.
But Leyton carried on:‘I love you. Marry me?' he asked.
‘Don't be soft,' I spluttered. ‘You've got head injuries!'
He didn't know what he was thinking, surely?
But luck was on our side - just then, two passing paramedics stopped to see what had happened. They wasted no time in helping Leyton and, soon, he'd been rushed to hospital.
There, doctors found he'd broken 20 bones, including
a shoulder, collarbone and four ribs. Investigators believed the brakes and steering on Leyton's bike had failed. ‘He's lucky the bike didn't go over the cliff,' one said. I shuddered at the thought.
‘Oh, Leyton,' I sobbed, as I sat by his bedside. ‘Don't leave me.'
As I watched him, I thought back to when we'd met through friends. Every weekend was a whirlwind of clubbing, drinking and plenty of long, lazy lay-ins.
‘We don't have to sleep,' Leyton would grin, a glint in his eye. We couldn't keep our hands off each other. When Elle-Marie was born, our priorities had changed. But maybe too much...
‘We'll get us back, I promise,' I whispered. I assumed that he would have forgotten all about the spur-of-the-moment proposal. But that didn't matter. Leyton surviving was all I cared about.
Then, a week later, when he was finally more with it, he beckoned me towards him.
I leant forwards and he whispered: ‘I meant it when I asked you to marry me. I thought I was going to die, and realised in that moment - you're my world.'
I bit my lip.‘It made me see how much I love you, too,' I cried.
I wasn't letting him slip through my fingers now.
‘Of course I'll marry you,' I smiled softly, tears trickling down my cheeks.
Now, we're home, and Leyton's on the mend - although he's been in and out of hospital. I can't believe it took Leyton nearly killing himself to realise that we belong together. But we got there in the end.
‘We were in a rut,' I admitted.
‘I know,' he agreed.
So we started going for Italian meals, talking again. ‘I missed you,' Leyton would say, holding my hand across the table.
‘I missed you, too,' I told him. ‘But we're here to stay!'
We're marrying next year, with Elle-Marie as our bridesmaid.
As for the honeymoon - well, wherever we end up, there'll be sun, sea, sand and plenty of you-know-what! We've got
a lot of making up to do...

Joanne McGlynn, 29, Cardiff