Like Lovers Do

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‘… and I remain not in love.’CC Image courtesy of furibond on Flickr

This is the bad news. But we’re only 15 minutes into a 45-minute conversation. I’m not feeling great, obviously, and he’s sounding increasingly uncertain to the point that he wants to tell me – he does tell me that he’s confused in his own feelings. He really likes me, and tells me so several times. He thinks I’m witty and beautiful. If I can’t do what we’re doing could I find a way to being friends at some point? But no, he says in answer to his own question, you’ve said no to friends.

The idea of being friends with someone I fancy as much as I do VP makes me shudder. I can barely refrain from kissing him when we are together and it’s OK for me to do so; the idea of making polite chit-chat over herbal tea doesn’t bear thinking about. No, this has to be a clean break, for now anyway. Perhaps, I find myself thinking, when I’m happily married to Tristan with three children, and the back catalogue of Country Life in the downstairs loo (joke), I would be able to see VP. But even I know that’s a terrible idea. We were never friends. I love the way he kisses me, the way he invades my personal space, how he says ‘tell me’ when I begin a story, at once fierce and gentle. The things I love about him are what lovers do, not friends.

So I say no to friends. And no when he asks if we could speak again soon.

‘Do you think at some point in the future when you’ve got five kids and you’re incredibly wealthy… and successful… and happy, we might be able to have a peppermint tea together?’

What is it with him and herbal tea?! He doesn’t even like tea! And neither do I.

‘That’s a lot of hypotheticals,’ I say, again thinking of Tristan. ‘I don’t know… maybe….’

This is when I start thinking about how to shut down the conversation without resorting to When Harry Met Sally sound bites. And I’m assuming from his mutterings that he’s doing the same thing. There’s a pause, then he says in a different tone of voice, firm and decisive.

‘I’m moving back to London.’

I half-laugh. ‘What?’

‘Early next year.’

He tells me about the new job and his plans for the intervening months. I let him speak, prompting with the occasional question. I don’t know why he’s telling me, or what to feel.


A short while later and again I’m casting about for suitable parting words.

‘We’ll see…’ I begin. The sentence peters out.

‘Yes, see you.’

He must have misheard, must have thought I said ‘I’ll see you’. I want to put him right, I want honesty and truth to carry through right to the end. But I stop myself. Perhaps this way is better, a white lie.

CC Image courtesy of robin_why on Flickr

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This is silly

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CC Image courtesy of Urban Sea Star on FlickrI bought that scarf


Because it reminded me of you.

Yes I did.

And the scent
Orange blossom
When the bottle ran dry
I bought another
Because you said ‘Very much’
To my question
Do you like it?

What else?

I told you that I moved,
But not that it would be easier to love you in a double room.
That that is why I moved.

The job – taking the job was prudence
But also I fancy I thought you would like me better in it
Or that I would like me better in it
And so,
So would you

Like the scarf.

CC Image courtesy of Romana Correale on Flickr


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‘I’ve never had a double bed before!’ I say, eye 1

Rachel looks momentarily dumbstruck. ‘Well that’s why you’re still single, luv.’

‘No, because its never got to the point where it’s been an issue with someone… in London,’ I add.

Whereas in Oxford I had them hanging from the rafters. Not.

‘And,’ I frown, ‘why does it explain why I’m still single?’

I’m worried now.

‘If you can’t invite guys back to yours… that’s why you’re still single.’

‘Yeah, but having someone back to yours does not a relationship make,’ I say, my tone serious.

‘So spake the prophet,’ she says, adopting a prayer pose. We laugh.

‘And anyway, I’ll have you know, having a single bed doesn’t stop you inviting people back to yours! It just means you end up with a few more bruises!’

We laugh. Rachel starts to choke.

‘Please don’t die on me,’ I say, patting her on the back, ‘cos if you do I’ll have to tell people what I said to make you choke! And then I’ll sound like a whore!’

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CC Image courtesy of Dr Snafu on FlickrI always thought I’d be the first one to know when I was going out with someone. So it comes as something of a surprise when, Friday morning, I get a text from Rachel.

‘Anna!! Are you going out with someone??’

‘Am I?’ I send back. ‘This is exciting! Who is it?’

I’m expecting her to say she’s read the latest post and extrapolated that VP and I are now an item.  I’m not expecting her to say that a mutual friend has been told by someone’s ex-girlfriend (my alleged boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend no less) that he and I are now an item.  It’s a long, complicated story, but the bottom line is…

‘No, not seeing anyone, not seriously anyway.’

I haven’t replied to Redhead‘s last message.  I have however spent the last forty-eight hours composing a piece of thesis-worthy literary criticism to send to VP.  I might not end up with the guy, but he’s doing wonders for my little grey cells.

CC Image courtesy of elena-lu on Flickr

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(Continued from Fade In)CC Image courtesy of Lorenzoclick on Flickr

‘I think you should reply.’

Lucy’s the first to say this.  Beatrice, probably because she’d seen first hand the state I was in when I was replying to his messages, had been unequivocal in her advice.  My mother, ditto.  So I’m a bit thrown.

‘Oh… really?’

‘Yeah, why not?’

Because the guy put me on Nytol and I don’t want to go there again.  Because for two weeks I’ve been miserable bordering on depressed.  Because, this way, I’ve regained a little bit of ground.  I’ve won.

As if reading my mind, she goes on, ‘I don’t think there are any winners and losers in this scenario….’


‘… only losers.’

I laugh. ‘Thanks Lucy.’

Her fiancé pipes up, ‘You have to ask yourself Anna, if you don’t reply, will you always regret it?  Will you always wonder what might’ve been?’


Beatrice calls the next day, and in passing I mention that I’m thinking of replying to VP.  We agree it’s fine, if I think I can handle it. I’ve just had some good news at work so I think I can handle anything.

‘It’ll be fine,’ I say.

There’s no way it will be fine, but at least this way, I’ll regret nothing.  Right?

CC Image courtesy of duncan on Flickr

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