A Mother’s Love

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I stop dead. ‘He’s not coming. The colleague – the one in the posts…’

My mother looks aghast. ‘Not Tobias?’

I can’t help smiling. One day I’ll accidentally call a colleague by their blog name.

‘No, the other one.’ I say his real name.

‘Aww.’

Fuck.

 

My brother is laying the table. ‘Are you going to eat with us?’

‘Don’t worry,’ I say, ‘I’ll eat later. I’m going to go… spaz out somewhere.’

 

My mother finds me in the sitting room, staring at the floor.

‘Do you want this candle?’ she says.

‘Oh… err it’s a new one. There’s not much point opening a new one for tonight. None of it matters anymore. I don’t mean that. I mean… it’s just – probably not worth it.’

‘OK.’

She’s about to go.

‘This isn’t about Tristan, by the way,’ I say quickly. ‘It wouldn’t matter who it was. It’s about numbers.’

‘I realise that.’

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I’ve read every credible-looking article I can find online about alcoholic blackouts, You Belong With Me is playing on a loop, and post three of 33 from the Tristan archive of my blog is before my eyes.

My phone flashes up with a message.

‘Hoy….’

Unconventional greeting.

‘… how goes the love search 1 month on?’

 

Recent events had put Tom right out of my mind, which was lucky. His profile hadn’t changed since we’d parted company, and I’d already announced to Beatrice that this meant he’d met someone. She didn’t contradict me.

 

In the last few weeks there’d been… nothing really. Except for Friday. But Friday was different. Friday was about love, yes, but other things too: sadness, disappointment, shock.

‘Whaaaaat?!!’ Perky says, when I tell her what happened. ‘That’s BIG.’

‘A non-event,’ is how my mother describes it.

Rachel only frowns. ‘Who’s Tristan?’

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My message to Tom goes through several drafts. My mother writes half of it.

‘This, I could send this?’

‘Much better,’ she sends back.

 

Tom is nice about it.

Let’s just go for friends then,’ he writes. ‘Go for a pint sometime.’

I stare at the words for a while. Somewhere in my addled brain, this doesn’t seem like an entirely daft idea.

‘Yeah,’ I reply, ‘I’d like that.’

No I wouldn’t.

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(Continued from Feelin’ Good)

‘What’s your thing?’ he says. ‘Dancing?’

Only in times of crisis.

‘I’d say… writing.’

‘Like, creative writing? Short stories?’

‘More like… memoir?’

‘Wow. I’ve never met someone our age who’s writing a memoir.’

‘Sorry, no, not memoir, that’s the wrong word. They’re more like… vignettes, of life, about things that have happened to me.’

With a heavy – make that total – bias towards scenes of a romantic nature.

‘How many words are you at?’

‘Oh it’s – it’s not that kind of format. I….’ I think of Todd’s words, take a deep breath and go for it. ‘So I write an anonymous blog.’

‘Why’s it anonymous?’

Yes why IS it anonymous? And why did I feel the need to mention this fact?

‘So I can write what I want.’

‘And, what kind of thing would you write about?’

‘Erm…’

‘Give me an example, of something you’ve written about.’

I think. A wedding, a ballmy four very attractive colleagues.

He goes on, ‘Might you for instance write about this?’

I barely hesitate. ‘Potentially.’

‘That’s all I wanted,’ he says, with a grin.

I laugh. I have no idea what he means.

He makes as if to unfold his jumper.

‘Are you going?’ I say, looking at it.

It occurs to me I might have just done something very very stupid. The sort of thing that would elicit a sigh and an eye roll and a ‘Well, what did you expect to happen?’ from my mother.

But I like this guy. I really like him. And by some perverse logic that makes me want to tell the truth.

He laughs. ‘No.’

 

Half an hour later, we’re outside Sainsbury’s.

‘I don’t know – if you want to do this again? Or you can tell me on WhatsApp,’ he adds quickly.

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘and you let me know too.’

I go to hug him. And there, in the afternoon light, on a busy South London pavement, we kiss.

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Perky looks thoughtful. ‘Remind me again what your type is?’

I glance over in the direction of her best friend’s boyfriend.

 

Two hours earlier…

I enter the room and immediately fall into conversation with a charming Frenchman. Ten minutes later, a girl I recognise appears at his elbow. We exchange festive greetings then, gesturing towards Charming Frenchman, I say:

‘Have you met?’

She smiles, not unkindly. ‘Yes, we’re together.’

I resist the urge to grab the nearest bag of Kettle Chips and walk away.

 

Three glasses of mulled wine later, I’m standing opposite Perky asking if there’s anyone – anyone – she could set me up with.

‘Remind me again what your type is?’ she says.

‘Umm… the thing is, if I describe my type, I’ll just be describing the last guy I dated.’

But one.

‘That’s fine. Obviously that’s your type.’

Yes, but as my beloved mother has pointed out on numerous occasions, it’s probably not very realistic.

‘Hmm OK,’ I say, ‘well, the most important thing is that they’re very clever. And funny – we need to have the same sense of humour.’

‘OK, what about height?’

‘Not that bothered.’

‘But you wouldn’t want someone shorter than you?’

‘I don’t really mind. The last few guys I’ve dated have been the same height as me and that’s been fine.’

‘OK but you’re quite tall.’

‘Yeah I guess.’ I think for a moment. ‘Also… I’ve got a weakness for scientists who are also interested in the arts. So, a polymath. Basically,’ I laugh, ‘I want Leonardo Da Vinci, but alive.’

And straight. And fractionally taller.

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