Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Scary Wives of Windsor

Continuation of King Leer

I fan my face with the invitation when I leave the shop.  What on earth do I do?  Do I go and risk making a complete fool of myself?  I mean, people are bound to ask who on earth I am, and what on earth am I doing there.  
    And how exactly would I respond?  "Yes, I'm Ella.  I'm the girl the birthday boy barely knows.  Yes, that's right, I'm the sales adviser at Delilah Dales.  You know, the girl he was besotted with, who then stomped on his heart.  No, I can't get you half off on Winter coats.  We only go up to size 14 anyway,"
    Holding my handbag like a sack,  I make my way back to the flat where Jo is nowhere to be seen.  I look around the place for the rest of the housemates until I finally spot a note that says, 'Gone to Purple Mustard.  Come join us after work, and for goodness sake, learn to look at your phone. xxx'

I shouldn't go to Anthony's party.  I have no reason to go.  After all, if you think about it, I really don't know him at all.  My mind flickers back to the day at work and I think of Anthony's friend who handed me the invitation.  John or something.  Jeff?  Jean?
    Just read the name on the invitation, you trollop!  My mind finally comes to the rescue, and there, next to Anthony's name lies Jens.  Jens?  I would have never got that.  
    But despite all my protests, the truth is I really do want to go.  I really really want to see Anthony so that I can speak to him properly.  I need to ask him what he was trying to tell me last time.
    With a real reluctance, I send Clara a text asking if she'd like to come along tonight.  Before I get a chance to blink, I get my 'yes' reply.  Not that she sounds eager or anything.

I've decided to wear the new raspberry dress I bought today at work, and I think I look really lovely, if I do say so myself.  I've even curled my hair and pinned it up for a real glamour twist - something which I've never really mastered before.
    It's only when I reach the grand steps of the hotel where Clara is impatiently waiting for me, that I realise I should have tried harder.
    "You're wearing the same dress you wear to work?"  she sneers as she scans my outfit up and down.
    "I only bought this today.  I haven't worn it to work yet!"  I defend and wonder why I even asked her to come in the first place.
    "Come on, let's get inside," she orders.  "I've been needing the loo for ages,"
    Oh, lovely!

Once inside, I'm absolutely in awe.  This party is straight out of a fairy tale.  Beautiful and elegant, I immediately want to hide, too embarrassed of the way I look.  I should have tried harder.  Much much harder.  I feel like a teenager wearing her mother's clothing.  Someone like me doesn't belong in a place like this with immaculate girls and their stary eyes. 
    "God, I can't get pissed in here, can I?"  Clara looks around disapproving of the scene in front of her.  "Those girls over there are probably on the phone trying to get their daddies to kick us out,"
    "Tone down the toilet talk and I'm sure you'll fit right in,"
    "Oi!" she scowls at me.  "I have loads of class, you know,"  to which I raise an eyebrow and that's enough for Clara to go on another rant.  She's talking about how  it's not all about Jaeger Bombs and that champagne is one of her favourite drinks, and that she has at least two (fake) Gucci dresses, and how her father could potentially be a famous rock star. 
    That last bit did grab my attention, but I quickly dismissed it when the story started to unravel.  I don't think this famous rock star has ever worked at the pub where her mum used to go drinking. 

As I look around me I cannot see Anthony anywhere and I'm starting to get very impatient.  I knew it was pointless even coming here.  It's a room full of strangers; strangers that I have no intention of ever becoming friends with.
    Those girls that Clara pointed out earlier are making their way towards me, and I'm looking around desperate to find my escape route. 
    "We're Chloe's friends," the Queen Bee states as she places one skinny arm on her hip.  Her loose curls are flicking to and fro as she does her very best attempt at pouting and looking moody.  It's not working that well.  I don't feel that threatened.
    "Well, she seems very nice," I say and try to head for the door. 
    "Who invited you?"  another minion pipes up from the back. 
    I want to say that Anthony invited me to really annoy them, but unfortunately I'm not that kind of girl.  "Jens," I quickly reply and attempt the escape.  But to no avail.  One of the quieter girls has stepped out from behind the Queen Bee to block my way.
    "Chloe has told us all about you.  You need to keep away from Anthony,"  I'm faced with the pout again.  It resembles an orange camel trying to chew.
    "Anthony and I are just friends.  Believe me, if I wanted him, I could have him,"  I say without thinking and not sure whether I want to smile or shout at the bitch within me.
    The Queen Bee is left with nothing else to say, and like a group of snobbish kittens, the girls walk back to the corner of the room with their tail between their legs, looking for their next victim.
    Shaking my head at what I've just said, I make a run for the door, but Jens stands in my way.
    "You can't leave yet," he says without even looking at me, and with one quick swoop, my arm is intertwined with his and he's led me to the dance floor - the complete opposite to what I wanted.  I have no time to think, so just stand there speechless in his arms dancing slowly to the love song.
    "Umm, what are you doing?"  I ask once I've mustered the few remaining brain cells.
    "Just keep quiet and look like you're enjoying my company,"
    "You want to make Anthony jealous, don't you?"  he asks looking down at me like I'm stupid.
    "No!"  I snap, and before I can say anything else, he's already pushed me to the other side of the room in full view of the Mean Girls. 
    "Look, Anthony is miserable with Chloe, but he's lost his head at the moment.  You see those girls over there?" I glance over at the direction of the mean girls, to which the Queen Bee gives us her most mesmerising smile.  "Anthony and I call them the Scary Wives of Windsor.  They hate one another, but for some reason, are completely inseparable.  It's really weird.  And scary," he does a mock shiver and I can't help but smile.  "There's a bunch of them that grew up and went to school in Windsor.  They're simple creatures.  Marry rich, ruin your husband's life, get divorced, move on to the next victim.  The problem is that once they set their sights on you, heaven help you,"
    "What do you mean?"  I ask, a little freaked out.
    "Chloe is incredibly malicious.  You see that woman over there?"  I follow the direction of his gaze to a short, blonde woman, most likely in her fifties, dressed like she's in her twenties.  She's in the midst of three men and her laugh is louder than the music.  "That's Chloe's mother.  That's the kind of woman all these girls become.  The ultimate goal is to marry rich and gain social status.  Chloe's been chasing Anthony for a good few years,"
    "I thought this stuff only happened in Gossip Girl?"
    "Nope, very much happens.  Anyway, he was dodging her very well until you came along,"
    "What?  How is this my fault?"  I look at him alarmed.
    "You turned him down, and in his depressed state, he gave in to Chloe,"
    "Well, never mind.  I don't really see how I can help.  If he's stupid enough to fall for her, he should face the consequences," and I make yet another attempt to leave the party.  But Jens holds on to my arm.
    "If you tell him you like him, he'd leave Chloe in an instant,"
    "I don't want him to leave Chloe," I say, appalled that he would suggest I play these games.
    "Ella, he really likes you.  He'd do anything for you," and right then, as if his ears are burning, I see Anthony staring straight at us, a miserable scowl on his face.  I look over at Jens to ask why Anthony seems so angry.
    "He thinks we're together," he replies.  "See, it's already working,"
    I glance away from Anthony and try to find Clara.  I spot her plum dress swaying as she dances like this is a nightclub.  Oh great, this is just what I need.  Her long, tanned legs are now wrapped around an elderly gentleman and there's a Snake Bite in her hand.  Where on earth did she get that from?
    "Ella, come join us," she yells my way and I immediately shake my head.  She yells out "Yeehaaa!" and starts to get even more ferocious with her dancing.  The old man seems to like it.
    The Scary Wives of Windsor are smirking and making their way towards me once again. 
    "Chloe will be here soon so you better leave," the Queen Bee informs.
    "Really?"  I say, sipping from my champagne glass and glancing quickly at Anthony.  "In that case, I'm not going anywhere,"

Sunday 2 September 2012

The Bunny Boiler - Chapter 11

You know when you're young listening to music about heartbreak, or watching movies about a girl crying over a cheating boyfriend and singing All By Myself?  And you know how you never truly understand it properly until something like that happens to you?  Well, welcome to my very first break-up.  Except I'm doing none of the above. 
    I tried taking Sofia's advise to watch Bridget Jones' Diary, but it didn't really help. Colin Firth reminded me of Jamie with his curly, dark hair so I switched off at the first sight of the reindeer jumper.  I even tried eating ice cream and cookie dough like they do in American films, but managed to get a brain freeze within the first 30 seconds so promptly gave up on that too.
    My entire morning was spent listening to Christina Aguilera's You Lost Me, hugging my pillow and refusing to do anything.  It only changed because Mikey barged through the front door, past my mum and literally dragged me out of bed. 
    “Put some clothes on now!” he demands.  “Why have you been ignoring my texts?” 
    I look up at his angry face through my teary, blurred vision and almost kick him to leave me alone.  But even lying on the floor with him tugging at my leg is still too much energy.  All I want to do is go to sleep and forget about everything.
    “Why are you ignoring texts?” he demands again. 
    I hear my mum knock gently on the door, checking if everything is OK.  She then loses her temper and shouts, “Turn that music off!  That thing’s been playing on loop for three hours!" and she’s gone again.  Bye Mum!  Don't mind your broken daughter!
    Mikey makes a swift move for the iPod and takes it off the dock.  Christina’s voice is cut off.  A small yelp escapes me as I think of how different things now sound without that as my background track. 
    “You’re being pathetic.  Get up and put some clothes on.  And your top is too big for you.  I can see your boobs,”  I look down to be greeted by them also.  I’m relieved Mikey is gay. 
    “So what?” 
    “So why haven’t you been replying to texts?  We’ve all been worried,” 
    I adjust my top, rub my eyes and stand up.  Wow.  Haven’t done that in a while. 
    “You also skipped college yesterday,” 
    I slump my shoulders wondering why he’s being so insensitive about it.  Doesn’t he know the world of pain I’m in?  I walk around the room as if testing my legs out for the first time.  I resemble Bambi on ice, but with bushier hair. 
    “I don’t want to look at my phone,” I admit weakly.  “I don’t want to see if Jamie has contacted me, and at the same time I don’t want to see that he hasn’t,” I look up at Mikey who has gained some understanding in his eyes, “D…did you see him yesterday?” 
    “No.  But I saw Kate.  She looked very happy,” 
    “Well, of course she did.  She got what she wanted,” 
    “You cannot let this get to you.  Be the bigger person.  Rise above it and let him see what he lost.  But you can’t do that with pyjamas, unbrushed hair and what I can only imagine is several days’ worth of morning breath,” 
    “I suppose,”  He’s right.  He’s always right, dammit. 
I’m dressed pretty quickly, but I refuse to brush my hair.  Eventually Mikey realises it is a losing battle when I wrestle the Tangle Teezer out of his hands and throw it at the other side of the room.  We have now ventured into town in the hope of getting my mind off my failed relationship.  My mum has given me her credit card out of pity and all I’m thinking is how much of a shame it is that she chooses to do so now.  On the day where my mind will be on everything apart from spending.      
    “Let’s buy you some new make-up.  You like make-up,” and I’m quickly rushed into Debenhams faced with the Benefit counter. 
    “I don’t want make-up,” I grunt.
    Mikey analyses my face. “No, but you need it,” 
We're now in Starbucks after what I can only describe as an uneventful shopping session.  I honestly don't know why Mikey thought this would help.  I've been walking around like a zombie in my back to front jumper and my tangled hair. 
    Mikey plonks the cappuccino in front of me and in a surly tone asks, "So what exactly is the problem?"
    What?  How can he even ask that?
    I don't reply.  Only throw him a stern look which makes him spill his tea.  That was pretty cool, actually.  I wonder if I have special powers.  Maybe I can make Kate disappear.
    "Jamie is stupid.  Like, really stupid.  Anyone with half a brain can see that Kate is a psycho.  Why would you want to be with someone that stupid?"
    I mope into my cappuccino as I say, "Because I love him.  And because he smells great," and just like that I want to start crying all over again while listening to Christina Aguilera.  I get flashbacks of our time together, smiling, happy and get an overwhelming feeling of anger.  How did this happen?  How did my boyfriend lose faith in me?  What have I done wrong?
    "Am I chaotic?"
    "Well, what makes me chaotic?  What do I do that gives that impression?"  I look at him like a child asking their parent a difficult question.
    "It's hard to describe.  You just...are,"
    I sit back in my chair and look out of the window.  I don't mean to be so dramatic.  It just happens. 
    "I'm sure you'll grow out of it,"  Mikey announces and I scowl at him.
    "So I'm not even chaotic in a cute way?"
    "What?  Why are you asking?"
    I take in a deep breath before speaking. "Well, that's how Jamie described me.  He said I get myself into these crazy situations and that I wouldn't be happy without them.  He said all his friends warned him about me,"
    "OK, firstly, don't listen to what his crew of morons say.  They're just jealous.  Have you not seen the way they stare at you?  And secondly, yes, you get yourself into crazy situations, and sometimes it really does feel like it follows you around more than the average person.  Much more, in fact.  But, there's nothing wrong with it," he gives me a sympathetic smile and slurps his tea.  That's as much affection as I'm ever going to get out of him.
    "Am I chaotic in the same way Kate is chaotic?"
    "Definitely not!  Kate is a massive hurricane that creeps up and ruins your life.  You're a gentle landslide, occasionally displacing the odd mountain bear here or there,"
    "Are you the mountain bear?"
    "Yes, I bloody am, Ella.  And it really can be a nightmare with you sometimes.  All this mountain bear wants to do is sleep in his cave, but no, he's never allowed.  He has to go spy on people and buy boats," 
    I can't help but burst out laughing, which is great because I haven't done so in a while. 
    We pause and stare out of the window watching the world go about its day.
    "I'm sure Jamie will come round.  And if he doesn't, well, why would you want to be with someone as fickle as that anyway?" Mikey consoles.
    I nod because I know he's absolutely right.  But it still doesn't mean the pain is any less severe than a few minutes ago.
    "I just want him to see what she's really like.  It hurts that he doesn't believe me,"
    "I know.  He will eventually.  I don't know how she's managed it but she's blinded him and he can't see.  He doesn't have the Bunny Boiler Richter Scale technology that we have,"
    I smile.
    "Things will get better.  You just need to stay out of their way so that Jamie sees you're not out to cause trouble, but that the trouble has been Kate all along.  Just be patient,"
    "I don't think patience is my thing,"  I stare out of the window as my brain starts to plot something.
    "Ella?  What are you thinking?"
    I smile mischievously as I sip my cappuccino.  "Hang on tightly, little bear.  There's a landslide coming," 
    To which Mikey practically has a heart attack.

Saturday 28 July 2012

The Zoo Date

    "I don't want to watch the penguins!"
    "I'm sorry, what?"
    "I just don't, OK?"
No!  Not OK!  What sort of human being doesn't want to watch penguins?
    "Don't you like them?"
    "They're alright," he shrugs casually and turns away from me. 
    Behind me I can hear a sea of people clapping as they watch some amazing penguin display.  I immediately feel like a child cast away from a birthday party. 
    "Why don't you want to see them?"
    "I just don't want to,"
    But why???
    He starts to walk away and I stand there frozen in motion watching him in annoyance.  Another round of claps echoes through from the penguin enclosure.
    I know I sound ridiculous, but this entire day has been a nightmare.  I haven't seen anything!  Not a single animal.  Not a single insect.  Not a single bird.  Well, apart from those fluffy chickens that seem to run around by the cafes.
    Just walking.
    Lots and lots of walking.
    It hasn't even been the interesting kind with funny stories and romantic embraces.  It has been dull and boring.  Actually, no.  Wrong words to use.  Dull and boring should be describing someone who says things you have no interest in.  Steve says nothing.
    "The butterflies?" I ask hopefully.  "There's always one eating a banana,"
    Thank you.  No, thank you!  Whatever happened to manners?
    Imagine if I introduced this guy to my family!  My mum would think I've lost my mind.  I'm a talker.  I need to meet my conversational equal.  This man is clearly the opposite of me.  The anti-Ella, if you will.
    I follow on two steps behind him as he walks around pointlessly.  I attempt to ask him something else, but it seems futile.  I'm only going to get a brief  'no' in return and carry on walking.
    I dig out my phone from my handbag to quickly glace at the time.  It's three in the afternoon.  Four whole hours gone - just like that.  I could have done so much in those four hours. 
    He seems so glum, as if something terribly bad has happened but he isn't willing to share.  I have an overwhelmed urge to pry, but I refrain.  It's none of my business, after all.  After this dreadful day is done I'm hoping to never see him again. 
    I don't remember him being like this at the party last week.  When my friend, Lisa, introduced us he seemed perfectly lively.  And now, he's an empty shell.  He greeted me at the tube with a casual 'hi' and has made no conversation since.
      I have to do it.  I have to pry.  I have to ask.
     "Is something wrong?"  I run a couple of steps so I'm side by side.
     "Not really," he says - the same sombre tone he's adopted for the day. 
     "Surely there's something.  You've been like this all day," I smile at him, trying my hardest to make him feel alright to open up. 
    "Look, you're very nice and all that, but let's face it, not my type.  So, let's just get this day out of they way and move on with our lives!" He moves away from me again and marches ahead.  I'm left there standing like a moron, unsure of what to say. 
    "You asked for my number.  You called me, remember?"  I run after him, not wanting to walk away without having the last word.  "If you knew immediately I wasn't your type, why even bother?" but he pretends not to listen to me.  I can see he's trying to figure out the exit among the mazes of paths, but is failing miserably.
    I mean, what the heck is wrong with men???  So temperamental and unsure of what they actually want.  Once minute you think they're in love with you, the next you have no idea what went wrong. 
   I follow him a bit further down another (wrong) path as he furiously tries to get away, but I'm persistent.  It's my best and worst trait.
    "Am I not allowed an explanation?" I ask after him.  We've found ourselves near the monkeys.  Their loud screechings and mating calls surround us as Steve and I stare each other out.  He's finally managed to turn around, probably having figured out that I'm his only saving grace if he wants to get out of here. 
    He takes in a couple of deep breaths before starting, "Look," he pauses again and turns to face the monkeys.  One of them hissses at him and I almost feel like Steve will hiss back.  "I'm just a bit overwhelmed with stuff, that's all,"
    "But if you didn't want to be here, why bother?"
    He shrugs his shoulders and turns away again.  That's it.  That's all the explanation I get. 
    The monkeys have all gathered around our corner, clinging on to the cage tightly as they watch our tragic date.  I feel like I'm the one in a zoo, not them. 
    "The exit is that way," I tell Steve and watch on as he moves away briskly. 

Sunday 1 July 2012

Lexi - The Panic

  (Continuation of Lexi - The Decision)

OK, just relax, Lexi.  You're having a slight panic attack but there's nothing to worry about.  Just breathe deeply, calm yourself and ring the buzzer.  Just think of it as a fancy door bell...a talking fancy door bell. 
    My hands scramble inside the bag for the address just to make sure I have the right flat number.  Flat 33.  Now, you knew that!  Why did you have to get in such a flipping panic over it?  Stop being such a dweeb and press the buzzer. 

If I could remove one thing from my personality, it would be my nervousness.  I worry over the slightest of things.  Like that time I went to see some baby animals with my niece at the local farm and kept thinking a billy goat was staring at me.  It might not seem like such a big deal, but I was so convinced by it that I told Natalia (my niece) that we had to run away really fast or the goat would get us.  She's five now, and my sister still says she refuses to eat feta cheese.
    "Cup of tea?"
    "Oh, no thank you," I smile as Eve disappears into the kitchen and let out a huge sigh of relief.  Now, this isn't so bad, I tell myself.  I've managed to knock on the door, get the lift, and say hello.  And guess what, I did spontaneously combust in the process.
    I catch a glimpse of myself in the majestic mirror to my right and almost jump in shock.  I must get used to the fact that I'm now blonde.
    I wonder what John would say about it.  Oh no!  What if he doesn't like it?  What if blondes just aren't for him and he dumps me on the spot, and here I am looking like a muppet having made such a big move for him. 
    That would be an utter disaster!  Living in London, miles away from my friends and family, and now I've been dumped!
    Okay - you're getting too ahead of yourself, Lexi.  Stop with all this panicking.  It's doing no good at all.  And let's face it.  Who doesn't like blondes?
    "So, how'd you  like the house?"  Eve's voice calls out from the kitchen as I hear a few pots and pans clinking together. 
    "Umm, it's really lovely," I respond taking a good look at my surrounding.
    To be honest, I didn't take in a single detail when she was doing the tour.  Now that I'm concentraiting, this place really is lovely.  The ceilings are much higher than my Winchester flat and the furniture is incredibly modern, but Eve is quite clearly a homey girl.  All chrome shelves are filled with mis-matched picture frames, half read books in a random order stacked on top of each other, and cushions.  Lots of clashing cushions.  Everywhere.  I don't think I've owned a cushion in my life.
    Eve enters the living room once more, slumping on the sofa with force.  Feet immediately up on the coffee table.
    "I might knock a hole through that wall,"
    "I'm sorry, what?"
    "Well, the kitchen is so small.  I'm just wondering it would be so much easier to make this place more open plan.  Especially now there are two people here," she sips at her tea and stares straight ahead at the said wall, tilts her head to one side and ponders, "Yes, it would be an immense improvement,"
    "Are you allowed?" I carefully ask. 
    "Oh, of course.  My parents have set foot in here once, and even then I'm pretty sure they were glued to their Blackberries.  They'll be fine," she then turns to me with a wide smile.  Her mouth is rather big, and her green eyes are looking at me with some form of hunger.  I almost move away.  All the way to Winchester.  Maybe Mand was right.  Maybe she is a psycho.
    "So," she begins, crossing her legs on the sofa,  "Tell me everything about your boyfriend,"
    This must be what a girly chat is like.  I once attempted that at university but became convinced one of my flatmates was coming on to me.  I'm 98% sure that's not the case here.
    "He's lovely," I say like a shy teenager.  "We've known each other for so long.  He was my first love but it just never worked out back when we were in school.  About a month ago we bumped into each other again.  He'd moved back to Winchester after working in London, and walked into the restaurant I work at.  Worked at.  Well, we both knew it was worth another try,"
    "Aww!  It sounds so sweet.  You never forget your first love,"
    "That's what I hear," and I belive it's true.  I'd never fully got John out of my head.  Yes, I'd had relationships with other guys, but there was always this part of me - this niggling feeling at the back of my head that always wondered what he was doing.  Why it never worked out.  If I would ever see him again. 
    "Where's he taking you tonight?"
    I pause and think,  "I'm not sure.  We only agreed on dinner, not location," and then start to get another panic as I think about how I'm going to find my way around London. 
    "Where does he live?"
    "That's not far.  If you need help getting there, just let me know.  I've become a complete geek with London now,"
    Wow, she's so nice.  I instantly feel calmer.
    Eve's attention goes back to the wall.  "I might ring around tomorrow and see if anyone can come and knock it down before the weekend," and with that she has left the room.

I'm not sure John believes I've actually moved to London.  I half expect him to not turn up at the restaurant as his texts back to me seem to be mocking ones, as if I'm kidding about meeting up in London.
    Nevertheless, I'm almost at the restaurant.  I've googled, binged and yahooed the venue (you know, just to make sure).  Overall, pretty straight forward. 
    Eve let me borrow her Oyster card, and as of tomorrow, I shall have my own.  I probably sound mad - like someone who has never heard of London, but the truth is, I've just never been adventurous.  For me, it's always been about home comforts, who you know and what you know.
    I see John getting out of a taxi in a dark suit.  "Babe!" he calls out and embraces me tightly, "What are you doing?  Have you gone crazy?"
    OK.  I'm getting a little tired of people saying that. 
    "I give you a week," he escorts me into the restaurant.
    "A week for what?"
    "Until you give up and go back to Winch,"
    "I'm not going to give up," I insist.  "I've moved here for good,"
    He lets out a short laugh.  Wow!  He really doesn't believe in me, does he?  I want to stop this conversation before I start getting upset?
    "So...," I begin, "What do you think of the hair"
    He turns to look at me just after catching the waiter's attention.  With deep eyes he looks at my hair, then ruffles his.  "Is it a bit lighter?"
    A bit???
    "It's about 7 shades lighter," I say, quickly losing my optimism.  Damn it!  I knew he wouldn't like it.
    "You've always been blonde," he retorts.  The waiter leads us to a candlet lit table for two by the window.
    "John, my hair is brown,"
    "Are you sure?"
    "Certain,"  I want to go home.  I really just want to go home.
    "But in the sunshine...your hair is blonde in sunlight...that's all I mean," he tries to recover. 
    "So how was work?" I ask, wanting to move on from another conversation. 
    "Same old shit.  Just a different town this time,"
    I smile politely and peruse the menu, but really don't feel like eating.  Another panic feeling creeps up within me which I'm finding harder and harder to repress. 
    This really was a mistake, wasn't it.  I mean, who the hell am I kidding?  This sort of thing isn't for me.  I need routine and right now I've been thrown completely off course. 
    "What did they say when you left work?" he asks, not raising his head from the menu.
    "I don't think they were too bothered.  Apart from Mand, of course,"
    John snorts with laughter and closes his menu, "Ah, the lesbian,"
    "She's not a lesbian!"
    "Lex, she's mean, manless and mad.  The triple M, meaning she's a lesbian.  Plus she follows you around everywhere and speaks to you like you're her wife," he laughs again and calls back the waiter. 
    I watch him as he scrunches his face when the waiter tells him he'll be with us in a moment.  Even doing that he seems God-like.  Immaculate and groomed to perfection, John is as handsome as they come.  His dark brown hair is styled and swept in all different directions, but somehow it looks amazing.  With deep, brown eyes he glances at me, smiles, and throws them in the direction of the wondering waiter.  He then swears loudly when the waiter sees to another table.  Normally I'd be appalled, especially since John's potty mouth has grasped the attention of a few people, but I really don't care.  I could watch him forever.
    "How many times have you heard from her today?"
    "From Mand?  Umm...only one or two,"  The correct answer is actually closer to fifteen.  She's been wanting to know exactly where I am and what I'm doing, and why haven't I called her?  I haven't responded to them all because it would only lead to more.
    "I don't believe that for a second.  I remember how she used to be with you back in school.  No one was allowed to get near you.  Fuck knows how I managed it,"
    "She's a motherly person, John.  She's like that with all her friends," which could be true.  If she had other friends.
    Wow!  This really wasn't the way I imagined this dinner to go.  In my head I had an ideal, romantic picture of John and me holding hands across a candlelit dinner table.  He'd be extatic that I moved up here to be with him, he'd love my new hair, and most importantly he'd say he loved me.  But no.  We're sitting here talking about how my best friend in a lesbian. 

It's almost eleven when I eventually get back to the flat.  The apartment is in darkness so Eve has clearly gone to bed.  As quietly as I can muster, I make my way to my new bedroom, move a few unpacked boxes out of the way, and land on the bed with force. 
    And then I remember it's my first day at the new job in the morning and I'm not prepared at all.  Another wave of panic rises up again and I try my best to forget about it.  But I can't.  I just lie there on the bed too nervous to sleep, too tired to get up.

Saturday 7 April 2012

If You're The Only One Who Knows The Truth, You'll Wish You Didn't

(Continuation of If You Want A Promotion, Don't Play Pokemon)

The weekend is almost over and I could not be more overjoyed about it.  I don't think I've ever worked this hard since I joined the company.  It's actually going to be very strange going back to the office and resuming every day tasks that don't last until twenty-one minutes past nine in the evening.  Or to not be treated to parties and lavish dinners every single night, for that matter.
    Today Hannah and I have managed to convince Luke to join us down at the beach before we head back to London, but all he's done since he got here is fiddle about with his Blackberry.  At least he made the effort though.  Everyone else rushed off home as soon as they were allowed.
    Hannah's acting like a playful child.  She's splashed me with water twice and has threatened to throw me in several times.  Her clothes are completely soaked from when she attempted to run away from an on-coming wave and slipped, but it still doesn't seem to dampen her spirits (pardon the pun).  If I didn't know better, I'd say she was high.
    "Where are you going?"  I shout after her as she starts running towards the deep orange horizon.
    "I might swim home," she shouts back, knee deep in Bournemouth sea. 
    "Well, you're going the wrong way, unless you've moved to France!"
    But she isn't listening.  I watch on as I see her attempt to dance along with the waves, do a few jumps, then swim.
    What on earth is she doing?  Hannah's the sort of girl who refuses to go outside in the lightest of rain without an umbrella because she doesn't want to ruin her slick, trademark black bob.  Why is she voluntarily throwing herself in the English Channel?
    It crosses my mind that perhaps this has something to do with her affair, which since Friday I've been trying to block from my memory.  She's been on edge the entire weekend and now it's as if she's finally been set free.  Something's changed.  Something which to her is obviously good, but I have the worst feeling that for Luke it means something truly bad.
    "What the fuck is she doing out there?"  Luke starts stomping towards me, one hand above his eyes blocking the blazing sun.  Like a protector, he grabs one of the beach towels and stands as close to the water as he can holding it out.  "Han, come back!" he shouts before turning to me and saying, "Seriously, what the fuck is she doing out there?"
    Well, how should I know?  I've been standing here wondering the same thing!
    "Hannah!" he bellowes, shaking the towel like the matador to a bull,  "Get out of the fucking water!"
    "Less of the swearing please," I say to him when I notice a disapproving mother glare at us.  "Sorry," I mouthe to her, but she's clearly not in the forgiving mood.  With one quick sweep, she's collected all her belongings and set up camp further down the beach.
    "HANNAH!"  Luke yells again, knowing full well it's of no use.  "Can you please come out?"
    But she isn't listening.  This reminds me a lot like that scene in Bridget Jones' Diary: The Edge of Reason where Bridget has accidentally eaten magic mushrooms and is cluelessly in the sea. 
    "Do you think she's taken magic mushrooms?"  I ask Luke.
    He quickly turns around to look at me, eyebrows furrowed and questioning.  "What?"
    "Like in Bridget Jones' Diary where Bridget is pretty much doing the same thing,"
    Luke's expression isn't telling me anything.  He's just looking at me quizzically.
    "You know, when she's gone to Thailand?"
    Still nothing.
    "When Daniel is there too and he finds her?  And then she gets arrested and has to go to a Thai prison and they all sing Like A Virgin?"
    His look is now completely blank.
    "And she's wearing that purple-"
    "Ella, stop.  I've never seen the bloody thing!"
    Well, you could have stopped me before!
    I look over at Hannah who finally looks to be returning, a smile from ear to ear.
    "What the fuck is wrong with you?" Luke says, wrapping a towel around her as her teeth start to chatter.
    "I'm enjoying the seaside," she replies like his question was utterly idiotic.
    "Fully dressed?"
    But she doesn't even respond to him.  Longingly, she's watching the sea again.  I almost attempt to hold her back so she doesn't run in, but then I remember she's completely drenched in dirty sea water, and I'm wearing a Marni top. 
    With my index finger I try to push her away from the sea and towards the car.  "I think we should head home now," to which Luke nods his head.

If this two hour car journey has taught me anything is that I am not the maternal type.  And that Luke is. 
    He ordered me to sit in the back with Hannah to make sure she keeps the blanket around her, and all I did was read Glamour magazine.  He then kept turning around every couple of minutes to ask if she's gone to sleep yet, but again all I did was read Glamour magazine straight after a faint, "Yeah, I think so,"  Luke seems to think Hannah has heat stroke.  I, on the other hand, think it's just a plain old stroke.
    Now Hannah has actually gone to sleep so I ask Luke to turn the radio up.  Well, I actually mean on.  Luke is in one of his pensive thoughts mood and isn't being very chatty, so I need some form of entertainment before I'm dropped off home. 
   "Are you OK?" I ask him.
    He only sighs.
    He sighs again before responding, "She's been acting differently all weekend," he's about to say something else but stops.
    I slump back in my seat and look out of the window feeling a sharp pang of guilt as I think back to that scene from the balcony.  It's not my place to say anything.  But it's probably not my place to keep it hidden either. 
    "Has she said anything to you?" his head tilts slightly towards the back seat as if awaiting an answer urgently. 
    "Nope," I say, which technically isn't a lie.  Hannah hasn't mentioned anything to me at all.  My knowledge was attained purely accidentally. 
    I turn my head towards her as she lies there sleeping soundly, head tucked against the top of the seatbelt.  She looks peaceful and happy and I almost get the urge to wake her up and demand that she comes clean about the affair. 
    "How has she been acting differently?" I ask, purely selfish, wanting to know more details.
    The car takes a sharp left before he answers, and I move back to my seat adjusting my hair.  Second thing I've learnt on this journey is that Luke is a terrible driver.
    "She's constantly on the move.  Constantly busy.  I find it difficult to spend any time with her at all," he stops at a zebra crossing and lets two boys with a football cross.  "I don't feel like I have a girlfriend anymore.  I mean, what's the fucking point?" and the car accelerates with force down the road.
    "It could just be work,"
    "Perhaps," but the way he says it makes me think he doesn't believe it is.  "But I think there's more to it than that.  You know what Hannah's like.  She's loud and outgoing, and never hides how she feels.  But all she's been doing of late is hiding.  It's like she's-"
    I'm listening to Luke intently, waiting for him to say the word "affair", but Hannah moves in her sleep and he stops. 
    "I'm probably just being paranoid," he finally finishes.
    "Yes, I'm sure it's nothing.  She just needs a nice warm shower and a good night's sleep.  She'll be back to normal tomorrow,"
    "Oh, before I forget," he says, his voice suddenly uplifted.  "The guys at the top have given us all tomorrow off for all the hard work this weekend,"
    "And you're only just telling me this?  Luke, I could have arranged all sorts of things!"
    He laughs.  "I'm sure you can still buy your tickets for London Zoo, don't worry,"
    "London Zoo?"  I protest, but now that I think about it, it's not a bad idea. 
    "A day out shopping then?"
    What?  I'm actually offended now.  He seems to think I'm some childish shopaholic.  For all he knows I could be out doing charity work, or visiting museums.  Or planting rainforests.
    "Well, if I'd known I had tomorrow off sooner I might have planned something.  Something incredibly interesting,"
    Our eyes meet as I glance at the rear view mirror and notice he has a full blown smile.  "Relax," he says.  "I'm only teasing.  I know what you do in your spare time.  I've read your CV, remember?"
    Fuck!  What did I put under interests in my CV?  Undoubtedly all lies I'd imagine.
    "And if you fail to make any plans, there's always Pokemon,"
    We pull up outside Hannah's flat and I'm surprised I haven't been dropped off first.
    "Aren't you staying with her?" I ask, a bit beweildered. 
    He turns to look at me with a hurt smile, then at Hannah, "No.  She doesn't like it when I stay over unplanned.  With the way things are at the moment, I really don't want to be making things worse," he opens his door and walks round to open Hannah's.
    I gently shake her arm and she awakens as if from a deep hibernation.  "Han, we're home," I say.
    She rubs her eyes and looks around, a stranger to her surroundings.  "I'm too tired," she mumbles before closing her eyes again. 
    I look at Luke who's watching over her like a concerned doctor. 
    "I'll stay with her tonight," I tell him, trying to reassure that at least someone's with her.
    "Really?" he says, brightening slightly.
    "Yes, just to make sure she doesn't run off to be near water again.  We don't want her diving in the Thames,"
    "Ok, thanks,"
    "Not a problem.  Get the bags inside, will you," I joke, but am now wondering whether I've over-stepped the mark. 
    "Yes, Sir!" he mocks.
    I turn to Hannah and attempt to wake her again.  "We're home," I say.  "Han, we need to get you inside,"
    She looks straight at me, rustles about, then closes her eyes again.  "Can't I just sleep here?  I'm far too tired,"
    "No, you need to get inside.  Come on,"
    She moves around again, scrunching her face in annoyance, "I don't see why I can't sleep here,"
    "Because we're in Luke's car.  We need to get you into bed,"  Now losing my patience, I'm seconds away from shoving her out of the car.  Yup, I'm definitely not the maternal type. 
    After some more fidgeting, she emerges still in a sleepy daze.  I'm not enjoying the fact that I have to hold her up though.
    Luke is at the top of the steps by the front door, fumbling around with Hannah's keys.
    "You OK?"
    "Yes" he replies impatinetly just before the door is opened.
    "Hannah, you need to get up the stairs, OK?"
    "Yes.  OK, Rog," she responds, and I pray to God that Luke hasn't heard.


Sunday 11 March 2012


    "Can I ask you a question?"
    "And promise me you'll tell me the honest answer?"
    He hesitates before he answers again, "...OK," he finally manages and wraps his arm around me as we walk along the footpath of the rippling Thames.
    "I know you've said no to this question before, so I don't really know why I'm asking,"
    "But that night last September when you left early with Lisa, did you sleep with her?"
    And the question's out there and I can never get it back.  The next minute before any sound comes out of his mouth is the longest minute I've ever experienced.  I stand there, my eyes glued as I watch his face change, and it tells me more than words ever could.  A faint "yes" emerges from his lips.
    My entire body goes numb as his grip on me tightens and pulls me closer, but all I want to do is get away.
    He laughs nervously and tries again to hold on.  "Come here," he attempts and fails, his hand grazing against my back as I walk away.  But his touch doesn't feel right anymore.  It's not the same.  It was claimed by another for a few minutes before me and it was probably never meant to be mine in the first place.
    "Can we at least talk about this?"
    I wouldn't know what to say.
    "Ella, please can we talk about this?"
    "You should have told me," I raise my voice, looking ahead trying desperately to show that I'm not hurt by it, because all  I want to do is go home and cry.  But I have no right to cry.
    This happened before me.
    And yet it doesn't matter how many times I tell myself this, I can't shift the tight knot that's formed itself in the pit of my stomach taunting me and telling me, "I told you so!"
    "I'm sorry.  Are you OK?"
    Turn your head, look at him, smile slightly and nod.  Just pretend like you don't care.
    "I'll be fine in a minute," I lie and then wonder whether I'm over-reacting with this whole thing.  Should I even be getting angry?  Do I even have a right to get angry?
    I hear his footsteps fall heavily as he strides towards me trying once again to envelop his arms around me.  "I was really drunk!  Like, really drunk!" he keeps repeating, "For a minute it just seemed like a good idea!"     I don't hear his words because my brain has turned into my own enemy and is teasing me with unwanted questions.  Does he love her?  Would he rather be with her right now?  Am I second choice? 
    My whole judgement's blurred and my head is rushing through memories, aimlessly analysing every word he's ever said, every minute of our time together.  But memories which I thought were the making of us are now tainted and tarnished with news I should have known a long time ago.  My entire world has shifted when only a few minutes ago everything was perfect.
    "I work with her every single day!" I blurt out.  "I see her every day!  You didn't think it would be fair for me to know that you slept with someone I'm friends with?"  I look away again shaking my head.  "It's weird, Nick.  It's really weird!"
    "Maybe," he shrugs his shoulders.
    "Maybe?  There's no maybe about it!  You don't think it's weird that there's a girl in the office who knows something your girlfriend doesn't?  What would you have done if she'd told me?" he looks to the floor.  "It's horrible that you would even put me in that situation,"
    "It was before you.  I was so different then.  I didn't even think I had a chance with you!"
    I sit down on the edge of the river bank and try to calm down, because getting in an argument won't help anything.  I start to play with a lonely daffodil in its early bloom and get reminded of all my teenage dreams of love and how none of this ever crossed my mind.
    Surely it's meant to be simple?
    Surely you meet someone and that's it, right?
    Why are there always other people involved?  Why can't your Prince Charming ever be your Prince Charming?
    "You should have still told me.  I asked you so many times if something had happened and you always said no!  It would have taken a minute back when we were just friends to tell the truth," I say, suddenly irritated and annoyed and not wanting to stop the argument after all.
    He's about to speak but I don't let him.  "I spent a good 50 minutes talking to my best friend about you and telling her how amazing our relationship is, and how being friends for so long is a good thing because I know everything about you.  There'd be no nasty surprises along the way.  I said that you'd never lie to me," I stop for breath, eyes filling up with salty tears, "and I hate that I had you all wrong,"  I push the daffodil away like an unwanted toy and stare out at the river needing desperately to stop crying.
    "I didn't tell you the truth because I was scared of losing you.  If you knew, nothing would have ever happened between us,"
    "Of course it would!"  I shout.  "I can't blame you for having a one night stand two months before you and me!  But I can blame you for not telling me," I feel tired and exhausted.  As if I have too much to say but my point isn't being made and he's not listening to it.  "Nick, it's not like you slept with someone who I don't know and who you'll never see again.  You slept with someone who we both see and speak to every single day!  You should have told me!"
     I need to take a breather.  Just a minute to sit down and be silent.
    And to stop fucking crying! 
    I hear him take a deep breath before he says, "I love you.  For me, nothing's changed,"
    I want to yell.
    I want to punch him in the face and remind him that he's the one with the revelation, not me.  But all I do is stare out onto the great Thames and cry even more.
    "For me everything's changed," I manage through spells of tears.  "When you meet someone you gradually build a picture of them.  Of your relationship.  One by one I've been making the puzzle pieces fit and thinking I had all of them, but you've thrown another one at me and I don't know where it goes.  My entire image is wrong.  I don't know how to make this fit,"
    "So just throw that piece away," he sits down next to me and kisses my cheek, "It shouldn't go anywhere.  It's not part of anything.  It's insignificant!"
    I feel like I should be pushing him away... but I don't want him to go anywhere.
    "I should have told you, and I really am sorry.  But nothing's different to a few minutes ago.  We're still exactly the same," he pulls me closer, resting his head on my shoulder before leaning in for another kiss.
    For a minute everything's back to normal as we sit there together.  That knot in my stomach unties itself and things feel fine.  Back to normal.  Safe.
    But the minute gets replaced by the next and I'm back to square one again, thinking thoughts I never thought I'd have in my head.  I can't stop picturing the two of them together and it kills me, absolutely kills me that someone else I know knows my boyfriend in a way only I should.  I want to tell him that if it were the other way around, there is no way he'd be fine.  But he would never understand.  Not really.  Not unless it actually happens to him.
    I think about breaking it off completely.  I've been telling myself that it'll take time to get used to this new information.  That eventually I'll be fine with it.
    But why should I?
    Why should I have to?  Why get used to something you don't particularly want to get used to?  Wouldn't I rather have a boyfriend who hasn't slept with someone I work with?  Can't I just get another boyfriend?
    It's at that moment that I get an image of me at about 40 years of age sitting in a bar on my own with 'The Man That Got Away' playing in the background, twirling my unwanted wedding ring given to me by a guy I never loved, sipping on a G n'T and wishing I could turn back the minutes and come back to this spot right here.  It's this which makes me realise why I haven't run away yet.
    I wipe away the last tear from my cheek and turn to look at him.  His blue eyes blaze into me in anticipation of what I'm going to say, but he speaks first,
    "She was a mistake,"
    I don't respond.
    "I just wanted to forget about it.  The two of us wanted to pretend like it never happened,"
    'The two of us' - that really hits me hard.  Like they're together.  Like they're part of something together.  I want to say, "Well, she was your mistake, you're mine!"and get up and walk away.
    But I don't because I know I wouldn't mean it and because I really don't want to leave. 
    "I know this happened back in September, but you have to understand that because I've only found out, it feels to me like it's happening right now," I tell him.  "And this may sound crazy but I keep thinking about every single time you've brought her up in conversation saying how she's annoying you, and I keep asking myself whether you mentioned her because she actually was annoying you, or because you were thinking about her,"
    He laughs at that.
    I want to hit him.
    "Ella, if I ever talk about her, it will always be because she's annoying me,"
    We sit in silence again, minutes flying by like pages off calendars and I know that soon things will get better again.  In a minute I'll get past this.  In a minute it'll be forgotten.  In a minute it'll be something we laugh about. 
    "Please tell me we're OK," he looks intently at me, his left arm embracing me tightly.
    I force a faint smile and kiss him on the lips.  No, things aren't fine - I want to say.  But they will be.
    Any minute now.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Lexi - The Decision

    "Lexi, can you please repeat that because I think my hearing's going.  Did you say you're moving to London?"
    I tilt my head to lock my phone against my shoulder as I furiously dump more clothing into my suitcase.  There will come a use for bikinis.  Especially that frilly pink one I bought at the age of nineteen and have never worn.
    Amanda is still saying words on the other end, none of which I'm listening to.  All I'm concerned about is shifting the contents of this dingy, small bedroom and somehow getting it 64 miles north to London.  By tonight.  The moving van said they'll only accept a minimum of three boxes for such a journey, so I'm spreading all my possessions out and hoping they won't notice.  Especially since box number three now only contains that frilly, pink bikini.
    "Lexi, just stop what you're doing and think about this for a second.  You can't drop everything you have here and leave.  Let me finish my shift and I'll be straight over.  We can discuss this properly, OK?"  I can hear a few dishes clinking together in the background and a sudden pang of guilt rises up within me.  I'm skipping work right now for this.  "I mean, Lexi, where the hell are you going to go?"
    I throw the last bit of clothing to accompany the bikini and sit down on the bare mattress.  "Mand, I've been thinking about this since John first said he was moving back to Chelsea, and the only thing I can think of that makes sense is moving up there with him,"  my attention is caught by the familiar view outside the window and for a split second I wonder whether I'm actually making the right decision.  This sort of thing just isn't me.  I don't make spontaneous decisions.  I barely make decisions!
    "You've been with him for a month!" I hear her shout down my ear.
    "Well, it obviously sounds bad when you put it like that.  This isn't some stranger I barely know.  This is my first boyfriend.  The first guy I ever fell in love with and now he's back in my life and I don't want to let go of it again.  I don't want to be sitting in this same room in a few years time and regretting not getting off my arse and doing something about it,"
    I hear her let out a deep breath just before a door is opened and the bellowing voice of our boss echoes, "If that's Lexi on the phone tell her that if she doesn't show for her shift tomorrow, she's fired,"
    "You have permission to tell him I've quit, by the way,"
    Amanda adopts a motherly tone and begins again, "Look, what's the plan then?"
    "I've found a flat in Chiswick.  The pictures of it look amazing and the girl I'll be sharing with sounds really nice.  She said her parents bought it for her but it has an extra bedroom and she's getting bored of living on her own,"
    "She sounds like a psycho,"
    "She's not a psycho, Mand.  I think we're going to get along really well.  She did a degree in English Literature too just like me, and now she's a teacher,"
    "And how are you going to pay rent?  Chiswick isn't cheap,"
    "I've managed to get myself an Assistant Buyer job in Acton.  It seems to only be temporary for now as they needed someone urgently, but the woman on the phone said it will almost certainly lead to something permanent.  I think they want to see what I'm like before they commit,"
    I can practically hear Amanda's doubt but I don't let her dampen my spirits.  She's been like this since we were in secondary school.  Always trying to be the voice of reason.
    "I don't like the sound of this,"
    "I know you don't!"  I snap without realising.  "But I'm 24 and I'm only a waitress-"
    "Only a waitress?  What, so this job suddenly isn't good enough for you?  I'm only a waitress too, Lexi.  You don't see me being such a snob about it,"
    "That's not what I meant.  And I'm not a snob.  This just isn't where I thought I would be at 24.  I want a career, Mand,"
    "This is a career,"
    "No, this is your career.  You've always known that this is what you wanted to do.  I wish things were that straight forward with me.  I went to university and did nothing with my degree.  I've done nothing for the last three years and I hate it.  John walking into the restaurant a month ago was a wake-up call.  I'm tired of everything being so mundane,"  I pause for breath and hope that she hasn't taken any of this personally.
    "He broke your heart once.  I was there when he ditched you and walked away the first time round and he'll do it again!"  I think back to when I was 17 when John called me and said having a girlfriend was too much of a distraction.  Next thing I know he'd moved schools for the final year and I never saw him again.  Until now.  Suddenly that unfinished ending could finally have a completion.
    "I know full well that this could all go horribly wrong, but Mand, I'd really kick myself if I didn't go for it," I can hear she understands but doesn't really want to.  "So please be my friend and support me through this,"
    "Fine," she mouths unconvincingly.  "Let me know when you get there, OK?"
    "Yeah, I will,"
    And without a goodbye, the phone has clicked shut. 
    I look around at my messy, half empty room just in case there's anything vital I'm about to leave behind.  I do a double take when I notice my neon blue bedside lamp, but considering that nasty thing almost gives me a seizure every time it's flicked on, leaving it behind is probably best.  I can buy something nice once I'm settled.
    The moving van will be here in half an hour and my train ticket is booked.  I can't believe this is happening.  Who knew I was capable of making such massive, life changing decisions.  I mean, I've been buying the same porridge for years because I'm scared I won't like the taste of others, and here I am, finally taking a leap and buying that other porridge.  Or so to speak.
    I get up off the mattress and look longingly around the room.   I keep expecting a deep, nostalgic feel to kick in anytime now, but all I seem to be doing is smiling.  Proper smiling.  Teeth showing and everything.
    Wow!  I feel invincible, as if anything I want can be done.  I've dreamt of moving away for so long but have been too timid to even try.  And here I am, bags packed and about to hit the road, just like in the movies.
    My mind than grows ambitious as I think about what else I've always wanted to do but have never tried, and then as if a lightbulb hovering above my head pings in brightness illuminated by my thought process, I quickly run to my flatmates room.
    Half an hour later I pick up my phone and text John. - Let's meet in London for dinner tonight.  I'll call you as soon as I get there.  By the way, I'm now blonde -

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Bunny Boiler - Chapter 10

There are certain situations I never imagined I would find myself in.  Stranded in the middle of the Thames with one of my best friends?  Yes, I almost certainly knew something like that would happen.  Tripping up when finally getting back on land and making a fool of myself?  Of course!  It would be weird if that didn't happen.
    But hearing my heart crack and crumble into a tiny million pieces as I watch the guy I love stand in front of me side by side with a girl who has made these last few months a living hell?  No.  I could never see this coming.  This, to me, is a foreign feeling.
    After all, I'm the girl whose essay answer back in Year 11 to 'How do you think Miss Havisham dealt with the heartbreak in Great Expectations?  How would you have reacted in this situation?' started with 'I'd kick his head in before he broke my heart!'
    I feel prickling tears try to break away from my eyes, but I refuse to let them, because despite the fact that I'd completely let my guard down around Jamie, there is no way I would do so when he's so close to Kate.
    "What brings you this way, Jamie?" Tia asks, crossing her arms and glancing once at Kate.  "You don't live near here,"
    "I was going to call you but Kate thinks it's best I do this in person," he turns to look at me.  "Can we talk?"
    Not particularly. 
    "I think I said everything I needed to say to you at the restaurant.  And plus, I have a really busy afternoon planned,"
    "Ella, I've found you in the middle of the Thames.  What exactly had you planned for the afternoon?"  I'm about to answer but he carries on.  "And why the hell have you got a boat?"
    "I've been planning on getting a boat for ages.  You know I have,"
    He puts his hands on his waist and turns away from me, shaking his head as he looks at the ground.  "The first I heard about this boat idea was a few days ago when you started going loopy at the restaurant!" he snaps, but must have noticed my startled expression because he immediately calms down and says, "Look, can we just walk along a bit and talk privately?  Please."
    My head screams no.  I know exactly what he's here to do.  We broke up at the restaurant but I suppose it never felt official enough.  And now he's here to make sure I know it's over, so that he feels no guilt when he starts seeing Kate again.  I know this.  I know this is exactly what he's going to say because sadly, I've been rehearsing this conversation since we parted ways.
    I start to walk ahead along the Thames footpath.  He tries to catch up with me, but I only speed up.
    "Ella, take this seriously!" he shouts.
    But I don't listen.
    I don't have to listen.
    He's the one who's not taking this seriously.  He's the one who's given up.  He's the one who refuses to see what Kate is doing.
    "Ella," he says, running a little to catch up with me.  When he finally does, he grabs my right arm and stops me in my tracks.  His eyebrows furrow as his eyes melt into sadness.  "I don't want this to end,"  he whispers.
    And I almost believe him.
    Until I catch a glimpse of Kate in the distance talking to Tia.
    I snatch my arm away from him.  "Why are you here with her?"
    "Oh Ella, there's no need to be jealous.  She's been a good friend since she heard about you and me.  She's not as bad as you think.  In fact, she told me she doesn't think you and I should break up,"
    "Jamie, how can you be this dumb?  She's playing a game.  Anyone can see that.  Have you completely forgotten about everything she did?"
    "I know," he begins, sweeping a hand through his hair as if he's exhausted.
    But I continue,  "How well did our first date go?  Remember the unexpected visitor we had?  What sane person has a tantrum in the middle of a restaurant?  Who cries loudly in front of everyone because their ex is having dinner with someone else?  Come on, Jamie!"
    "You can't blame her for that.  Her and I had just broken up and she still loved me.  We didn't have to flaunt this in her face,"
    "What?  We didn't flaunt anything.  In fact, we kept it a secret for ages so that we didn't upset her,"
    He doesn't respond.
    I take off my jacket.  The sun, mixed with the rage seems to have caused an inferno in me.  If I don't walk away, I will burn.  I start to move away from him, letting the cool wind fly against my skin.  I should keep walking.  I really should keep walking.
    But I don't.
    "You've forgotten about the baby incident,"
    He looks up confused. "The what?"
    "When Kate pretended to be pregnant with your child.  Remember when she told her parents and came to see you at your house?"  I look into his eyes, and for a split second I start to think he's back on my side.  But the second gets blown away with the wind and I'm left fighting on my own.
    "She phoned me later that evening and apologised about everything," he tells me quietly.
    "You talked to her?  You never told me this," I walk towards him, needing to know more information.
    "Am I supposed to tell you everything?" he retorts.
    "No," I say calmly, far too hurt at his response.  "But I thought you would have told me that,"
    And suddenly everything makes sense.  It now makes perfect sense why Kate never gave up on Jamie and why she persisted so much.  If they were having forgiving conversations every time she did something wrong, then no wonder she kept fighting back with more.
    "Why are you crying?" he asks.
    Crying?  I hadn't even noticed.  I wipe away the uncontrollable tears from my face, and try to regain myself.
    "Why are you crying?" Jamie asks again, as if the answer is such a mystery.
    "Because my boyfriend has been having private conversations with his psycho ex and I've had no idea about them," my attempt to control the tears has backfired, because as soon as I try to hold them back, a flood gate opens.  And I can't seem to stop.
    "Please, don't cry," he says, wrapping me up in his arms.  I let him, but then push him away with force.  The tears finally stop when I see him lying there on the dusty path, lifting himself up and brushing away the dirt from his jeans.  I didn't realise I had so much strength. 
    "You have no idea how difficult it's been for me!"  I shout.  "She has made it unbearable,"
    "Oh please!" he retaliates, "Don't tell you haven't loved every bit of it.  You wouldn't have been happy if there wasn't some drama involved!" he pauses, looks ahead into the water and then back at me.  "My friends warned me to stay away from you,"
    Whatever I said earlier about my heart breaking wasn't real, because that pain was nothing compared to this.
    "What's that supposed to mean?" I ask like a scolded child who just wants to go home.
    "You're a complete drama queen, Ella.  You create crazy situations for yourself.  You're too chaotic to handle sometimes,"
    "Name one crazy situation I've got myself into?" I stubbornly (and stupidly) ask.
    Jamie points to the river.  "Do I need to remind you that I've just rescued you from the middle of the Thames?"
    I look away, knowing too well I shouldn't have asked the question.
    "A week ago you chased a dog through the park trying to catch him and return him back to the owner,"
    "I was trying to be helpful,"
    "Ella.   The dog was running away from you!"
    I don't see how that matters.
    "And anyway," he pauses again and looks behind at Kate.  "I've been meaning to mention this for ages.  You can't keep throwing up the pregnancy thing because if I remember correctly didn't you and Mikey start the whole thing?"
    "What?  How?"
    "You turned up at her house pretending you were a nurse from the local clinic, and then told her family she had chlamydia!"
    "Gonorrhoea," I correct quietly.  "And anyway, that wasn't part of the plan.  Mikey and I got startled because her sister opened the front door.   It made more sense to pretend we were nurses than to lie down on the grass like we had been,"
    "See?  This is what I'm talking about!  Normal people don't hang around houses!"
    "And normal people don't pretend they're pregnant!"
    But despite it all, he still doesn't see.  I have no idea what's happened to make him revolt against me, but I know that I'm fighting a losing battle.  Kate has stuck her bunny boiler paws right into him and there's nothing I can do to reverse it.
    He lets out a sigh.  "Let's just go back to mine and forget about everything.  OK?"
    But I can't forget.  "Jamie, you've just been telling me how I'm crazy and chaotic and how your friends warned you about me.  You've had nothing nice to say, and yet all you've been doing is defending Kate.  You don't know!!!  You really don't know that she's a manipulative bitch who used and abused Giles to make you jealous!"
    He sneers at my words and quickly dismisses them.  "Kate came to me crying when Giles broke up with her.  So there's some news for you, Ella!"
    I could scream!  I could grab him, shake him furiously, smack him around the head a couple of times, and scream!
    "Giles didn't break up with her!  She broke up with him!  Mikey and I witnessed the whole thing.  You're never going to believe this but I saw the two of them when I was looking for a boat in Brighton.  Giles wanted to book a cruise for them, and she stomped on his heart by telling him she was only with him to make you jealous," I pause to look at Jamie's reaction, but so far, his face is blank.  "I don't know what sort of spell she's cast over you, but snap out of it,"  I cross my arms and turn around staring straight ahead at the river's southern route.  The breeze has calmed down, but the April sun still blazes.
    "I don't believe you.  Even if that is true, how do you expect me to believe that Kate would have blurted that out in front of you?"
    Damn!  I don't want to answer because I know exactly where this is leading.
    "She didn't know we were there," I quietly respond.
    "And why's that?" he moves closer, quizzing me.  I'm too shy to look up.
    "Because we were spying on them," and before I even get the chance to finish the sentence, Jamie's gone.  He's already started walking away with heavy strides along the path.  "Where are you going?" I yell after him, almost tripping trying to catch up.
    He abruptly turns around which makes me knock into him.  "You really have no idea how much I love you, Ella.  But you've really proved to be the crazy one here, not Kate,"
    He strides away again.
    I don't follow this time.  Just stay back staring with sorrowed eyes as I watch him take Kate by the hand and walk away.
    Nope.  Never saw this coming.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...