In Development

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CC Image courtesy of "Stròlic Furlàn" - Davide Gabino on FlickrI’ve made so many bad decisions in the last 48 hours.

The first was telling Tom I didn’t think men and women could be friends. Which he took as a green light to kiss me.

The second was telling him not to get an Uber.

The third was swiping right on my one good job contact.

 

‘Did I mention I keep seeing my TV contact on Bumble and want to swipe right but think it would be a mistake?’

‘Anna, this is the third time you’ve mentioned it,’ Beatrice sends back. ‘We have agreed twice that it would be a mistake…’

 

Chris and I match and, a couple of days later, I meet a girlfriend for lunch. His name comes up in conversation.

‘I love Chris,’ she says. ‘He’s such a sweet guy.’

‘Yeah,’ I say, smiling. ‘I really liked him.’

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The Worst of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Juska Wendland on FlickrA couple of years ago, just after the car crash that was my 26th birthday party, my brother gave me some good advice.

Don’t invite someone you’re dating to a party because it will make it all about them.

When I drew up the guest list for my housewarming, Tom‘s name was conspicuously absent. Obviously. I’d said I didn’t just want something casual and he’d suggested ‘being friends’.

Colleagues featured heavily on the list. Then the usual round-up of friends, my brother, and men I’ve always had a vague crush on but nothing has ever happened with.

It was safe. The latter wouldn’t come; the former would treat it like after-work drinks.

Then Friday happened.

‘Can I invite Tom?’

Beatrice says no. I play the Friday card. Tom is the least of my worries.

I don’t see Tom everyday and feel a jolt in the pit of my stomach. I don’t don my headphones to drown out his voice when he comes over to talk to Ryan. I don’t look up mid-meeting, see him walk past, meet his eye, struck by the sadness of his expression, and spend all afternoon wondering what it means.

Tom doesn’t pass my desk on his way out…

‘Bye,’ I say, with a wave.

… and acknowledge my farewell but keep walking.

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The Best of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Ibliskov - Flucтuaт Nεc Mεяgiтuя on FlickrI’d been looking forward to the party. Tristan would be there, and Tobias. We’d demolish the canapé supply and drink too much cheap white wine. Tobias would make a passing remark about clothing, sparking a fit of anxiety from Tristan about his branded jumper, and I’d reassure him it was fine. Twice.

 

We’d cross the road to the neighbouring pub. Tristan would order doubles in place of my usual single. We’d bump into someone I went on a couple of dates with once and Tristan would ask, ‘What’s the deal with that guy?’ Twice.

 

I’d say or do something daft.

‘You’re really great,’ he’d say, laughing and clinking glasses.

 

We’d hug and I’d say:

‘I’ll miss you when you go to New York!’

And he’d tell me to come visit.

 

Out on the pavement, we hug again.

‘I always want people to be more like you,’ I say, ‘cos that makes them a better person.’

‘You’re really great,’ he says again.
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Later, in the casino, over champagne, we lose money and laugh about it.

 

Later still, in the crowded bar, he kisses me. Light, tender and unexpected.

‘Tristan…?’

I meet his eye. He looks happy and drunk and takes my hand, tight, beneath the table. We rest our heads together.
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CC Image courtesy of Indigo Skies Photography on FlickrI look up to see Tristan approaching.

‘Are you busy?’ he says.

I think of my post-holiday to-do list: twelve tasks and counting.

‘Err why?’

‘Could you witness the signing of a contract – if you’re not too busy?’

I glance in the direction of my boss.

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘that’s fine.’

I start to rise.

‘I’ll come and get you when my sister’s here,’ he says, ‘in about five minutes.’

‘Your sister? OK.’

 

I turn back to my computer screen. He could have asked any number of people: Tobias, Ryan, Harriet who sits opposite him…. I glance again at my boss, before bending to root around in my bag for a tube of lip gloss. Lucky I put on make-up this morning. It wouldn’t do to look sleep-deprived when meeting my future sis– oh for fuck’s sake. Frowning, I focus on the screen.

The minutes slip by.

I’ll say something really daft probably, offend her. ‘Hi!’ and a smile. That’s safe. I can’t say ‘I’ve heard so much about you’, because I haven’t really. I must remember not to say her name.

It’s definitely been more than five minutes.

I mutter words under my breath, looking for the best phrase for an email. This is good. I should be working when she sees me for the first time.

More like ten.

He rounds the corner. ‘Don’t worry,’ he says, ‘it’s fine. Harriet witnessed it.’

‘Oh, OK.’

He walks away.

I really need to get over this.

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Joking Aside

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(Continued from Size Matters)

Tristan‘s section is deserted except for him. I double back, lunch in hand, and take the swivel chair next to his. We talk about the singular form of ravioli (my lunch), his recent illness (particularly common in women over 40 apparently), sky-diving as a potential cure.

‘How have you been?’ he says.

‘Good. Been dancing a bit more these last few weeks. Yeah, things have been good.’

‘Any dates?’

‘A few… but I think it’s nearly at an end.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t think we want the same thing.’

In a ‘sourcing free condoms on my lunch break because he’s not interested in being exclusive‘ kind of a way.

‘We’re not on the same page,’ I add.

‘Is he a slow reader?’ Tristan says. ‘Did you meet at your book club?’

I laugh. Tom would never make a joke like that, which makes me feel slightly better about the whole thing.

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