The Boyfriend

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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.

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Fade In

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After two weeks of not having heard from VP I’m finally starting to move on. No more waking up and glancing at my phone expectantly. I go whole days without looking at his profile or re-reading old messages. OK there might be the odd cry on the Northern line, and for ten consecutive evenings I do absolutely nothing with myself, and the irony of baking an elaborate cake on the day which happens to be his birthday isn’t entirely lost on me. But by day fourteen, I’m getting back on track. I even go on a date and resist the urge to compare it to the incomparable. That, I tell myself, was another life. A fantasy. And anyway, he’s gone. I have to get over it.

 

Monday morning. My flatmate is back from holiday and the creak of the bathroom floor wakes me. I put out my arm, a beam of sunlight catching the dial of my watch. Half an hour before I have to get up.

 

This was one of the things which, in the course of the past week, had gone back to normal. The Nytol I’d purchased circa Second Date was now gathering dust on the bedside table. In fact, things had gone to the other extreme: bed by ten and multiple snoozed alarms. An extra half hour of sleep would be enjoyed, luxuriated in.

 

I roll over and that’s when I see it, the small pulsating light. I run through a short mental list of people it might be, and an even shorter list of people it won’t, and swipe the screen.

(TO BE CONTINUED

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Shoot Me

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‘What’s the occasion this time?’CC Image courtesy of avye on Flickr

‘Err….’ I scrunch up my face.  ‘How many people do you get coming in saying they’ve just been dumped?’

‘Aaw,’ she says with professional concern.

‘Not dumped,’ I put in quickly, ‘not in so many words…’

Make that no words.

Scissors at the ready, she meets my eye in the glass.  ‘No but – you want to feel good about yourself.’

I can tell she’s used that line before.

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I want to feel good about myself.’

 

She looks up from what she’s doing.  ‘Are you up to anything tonight?’

‘I… I don’t know.  I’m supposed to be having dinner with someone but I’m err waiting to hear if it’s gonna happen.’  I laugh.  ‘I’m so bad at this dating stuff!’

She gives me a sympathetic look. ‘Why don’t you just text him saying ‘are we still on for tonight?”

‘I thought about doing that,’ I say, taking out my phone, ‘but… whenever I’ve done that in the past it’s never panned out well.  I mean, whenever I’ve… not forced it, I’ve never forced it, but whenever I’ve – y’know…’

‘Taken the initiative?’

‘Yeah, it’s always turned out badly, and I end up thinking, if I’d only heeded the signs early on I’d have saved myself a lot of heartache.  So I figured, this time, I might as well leave it, because, well, he’s clearly not that interested.’

 

Exactly a month ago I’d found myself in the same predicament with VP.  At 1.30 in the afternoon, I’d cracked and texted him.  This time, with Redhead, I leave it.  By half 6, I’ve mentally re-allocated my evening.  I feel sad, but not crazed in the way I was when VP left me hanging.  I don’t think it’s because I’ve learnt from what happened.  No: it’s because it’s not VP.

 

7pm, I emerge from the tube.  Once home, I’ll write a shopping list.  It’s still early enough on a Saturday not to look like a total loser, wandering round Sainsbury’s with a basket for one.  I check my phone, more out of habit than anything else.  And there it is, a message from Redhead, asking if I have any ideas for dinner.  I don’t know what to feel.  Fed-up?  Frustrated?  Glad?  Sad?  Pissed off?

 

Part of me wants to greet him with a reprimand.  Before he’s had a chance to sit down I want to tell him he can’t do this.  I can’t do this!  I need plans and certainty and… plans.  I need plans!  Shoot me!

 

I bet Tristan would plan, which is a pointless thought.  And anyway he probably wouldn’t.

 

I’m too tired and generally fed up to put much effort into choosing a restaurant.  There’s a part of me which can’t be bothered to go.  But I will, for the simple reason that I find him really attractive.  Now shoot me.

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Fuck-A-Duck

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‘Oh fuck-a-duck.’  I start to laugh.  ‘That’s fast looking like my only option!’

 

It began with a fairly typical exchange off the back of an email I wrote to my mother, with the slightly melodramatic subject line ‘Suicide Watch’.

‘Did you see it?’ I say.

‘N-o.’

I laugh.  She joins in.

‘I mean – really!’ I say.  ‘What – what does it take?!  Of all the subject lines!’

Eventually the laughter subsides.  I can picture my mother, sitting at the kitchen table, opening the email on the iPad she bought because she thought it was pretty.

‘O-K,’ she says, ‘I’ve read it.’

‘Yeah so… my question was… should I – no – am I entitled to any kind of… confirmation-?’

‘No.’

‘No.’  But my echo is more of a question.

‘Listen to me,’ she says. ‘You do not contact him.’

‘No.  No, I know.’  I laugh.  ‘Flatmate must be going soft in his dotage, cos he said different.’

‘What did he say?’

I start to tell her.  She cuts in. ‘You do nothing.  OK?’

‘Yep.  Incidentally, Redhead seems to have also forgotten I exist.  Oh fuck-a-duck.’  I start to laugh.  ‘That’s fast looking like my only option!  I’ve gotta say, my love life really is a fail!’

My mother doesn’t respond immediately.  I find the silence oddly soothing.

‘And,’ I go on, ‘I don’t think I did anything so very wrong with this last one!’

‘No, but… well, it does sound like you tend to go for guys who have got it all: funny, charming, good-looking. And… well, they’ve got jobs….’

Which makes me smile.  There’s no denying it’s part of the attraction.

‘… so what can you expect?

‘Yeah but – I think that’s just the way I paint them.  I mean, I don’t think they have got it all…’

‘Well, I don’t know, but from what you say…’

‘Hmm maybe, but I can’t help the fact they’re the guys I like!  I mean, I don’t want to spend time with guys who aren’t those things!  So, what, I’m going to be single forever?!’

‘You’re probably going to have to accept that for quite a lot of the time you’re going to be on your own.’

‘Hmm.’

I look up at the building which houses my office.  In there is Tristan, the only guy I really like who hasn’t blotted his copybook of late.  He has got it all, including a girlfriend, but that doesn’t alter the fact he’s a kind of standard.  Like Max, he has the ability to light up a room.  When he walks in, people relax and smile.  The effect is almost magical.

I climb the steps leading up to the entrance. ‘Yeah, well, I don’t think I’m gonna compromise.’

This muggle wants magic.

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Catherine

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‘I can’t ask him!’CC Image courtesy of Jason Hargrove on Flickr

‘But I can,’ Catherine says.

I laugh.  ‘Yes.’

 

‘Ready.’

I’ve donned a red silk sundress.  It’s a statement piece.  The statement?  I don’t care that you have a girlfriend and flirted with me over dinner, because I am FABULOUS.  Catherine probably realizes this – she knows me better than anyone – but she doesn’t let on and I’m grateful.

‘Let’s go then.’

 

‘He’s got a ponytail,’ I say, as we approach the station.

Catherine laughs.  ‘Really?!’

‘Yeah, but otherwise… he hasn’t really changed.  In fact,’ I frown, ‘he’s exactly the same.’

 

And he’s exactly the same as he was the other night.  At university, I’d been a bit jealous of Catherine’s friendship with him.  I tell her as much on the walk back to the flat.

‘I had no idea!’

‘Yeah….  Thank you for finding out about the girlfriend by the way.  So… that casts Thursday in a slightly different light.’

‘Yes.’

She doesn’t pursue the subject, and again I’m grateful.

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