Listen to Your… Chest (Part 1)

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A few years ago, over coffee, my friend Rachel told me about a junior doctor with whom she was doing her medical training. She praised him to the skies: he was funny, thoughtful, clever and very conscientious. There was talk of her introducing us but it never happened.

When he came up on my Tinder, I hesitated. Physically, he wasn’t my type. But I remembered Rachel’s eulogy.

He messaged me almost straightaway, and moments later I received a friend request on Facebook. I made a mental note not to swipe right on the back of one good review.

The next day, he texted to say he’d had a dream about me. I was at work at the time and remember weighing up tackling my to-do list and replying to his message. I knew which had the greater chance of being interesting.

‘What happened?’ I sent back.

‘Really???!!!’

Again, I hesitated. ‘Yeah.’

That evening, a colleague stopped by my desk and asked about the old love life. I mentioned that things had turned a bit… risqué with the latest Tinder prospect. We swapped notes on the only surgeons we knew – all a bit full on – and he went on his way.

But I was bored. Work was getting crazy and my social life was about to be dealt a deathblow. When the surgeon called during one of his night shifts, one thing led to another.

‘What are you wearing?’ he said.

‘Pyjamas.’

‘Take them off.’

Sometimes we were interrupted and I’d listen, fascinated, as he barked instructions at an unsuspecting nurse over the phone, before hanging up and giving me orders of a different kind.

Occasionally we chatted about life stuff and it turned out Rachel was right: he was funny. Fabulously direct too – my British diffidence drove him insane – but I liked that. He rang me one lunchtime while en route to the airport…

‘I might be, it depends, I’m not sure, I might have to–.’

‘Look,’ he cut me off, ‘I’m not asking if you can be free to talk to me later, I’m asking if you want to be free to talk to me later. Do you want to be free to talk to me later? Answer… answer me like a non-English person.’

I laughed. ‘OK, yes.’

‘Yes you will or yes you want to be free to talk to me later?’

‘The latter – I want to be free to talk to you later.’

‘OK.’

We continued like this for a few weeks. Then it happened. He suggested meeting, the appointed day came and… it was like he’d dropped off the edge of the universe. I deleted his number, he got back in touch – on Valentine’s Day – and the same thing happened. The third time he went AWOL, I called time. His number went, so did the Facebook friendship, and after a few attempts he stopped calling.

I fell for a guy off Bumble, my colleague kissed me, life went on. And because of those two men, I was probably more susceptible than usual when, in early September, I found a couple of messages from Neuro (as I’d come to call him) in my ‘Message Requests’ folder on Facebook. We started chatting again. He pushed for a first meeting at his place; I resisted (this had always been a sticking point). He relented and we fixed on the following Saturday for drinks.

This time I blocked him. I installed an app called MrNumber – which blocks people you want to speak to as well as those you don’t, it’s genius – and put him out of my head. The app also helpfully told me when the blocked number had called.

I lifted the ban just before Christmas and discovered my expectations had changed. I didn’t care anymore about meeting. When he suggested it, I went along with the idea, but I wasn’t surprised when a plan failed to materialise. I was however astounded at his lack of sympathy when I came down with a vomiting bug. He went back on the block list and I concentrated on getting better.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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Baggage Reclaim

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wigan2Rush hour at Euston station: not my usual habitat. I’d attended a dance class the night before in Angel and, distracted by the attentions of my favourite partner, had left without my favourite cardigan. So I was on a mission to reclaim it.

He comes through the same entrance that I did. Seeing me he does an odd little pivot, diverting his course in my direction.

‘That was very… something,’ I say, laughing.

He smiles. We exchange greetings.

‘You’ve been getting around a lot lately!’ I say, immediately regretting my turn of phrase.

He’d messaged me in January, saying he owed me dinner and asking when I was around. I’d learnt he’d recently spent time in India, Scotland and the north of England. And when I’d seen him in the autumn, he’d been on the brink of leaving for Japan.

‘Yes,’ he says, ‘I’ve been to Wigan today.’

I laugh. ‘That’s not quite what I meant!’

He doesn’t say anything, only smiles.

‘But OK, how was Wigan?’

The train comes; as we board, he tells me about Wigan. I listen, half-smiling, to his wry, intelligent words.

After letting him know I was around in February – and resisting the urge to specify the 14th – I’d heard nothing further from the man.

The train pulls into the platform at Angel.

‘See you soon,’ I say, as the doors open.

‘See you soon.’

We both know what that means.

CC Image courtesy of notmydayjobphotography on Flickr

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Little things

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CC Image courtesy of Pensiero on FlickrIt was such a little thing

When you came and sat beside me

But I felt safe

And quiet

And like I didn’t have to speak

You didn’t speak

At first

Only smiled

A small, secretive smile

And stole a glance

 

Your question

When it came

Was simple and kind

My mind a mess with yes and no

And everything in between

You could have made me feel small

And low

 

At the end of the evening

I went out onto the balcony

And found you there

Two empty chairs

I took the one to my left

And saw your mouth twitch

CC Image courtesy of NCM3 on Flickr

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Killing Me Softly

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This Friday perhaps? CC Image courtesy of Ani-Bee on Flickr

I hesitate, about to hit send.  Something’s niggling.  Friday, Friday…  I let it go, the niggle, and the email, out into cyberspace.

*

Time Out?’

‘Thanks.’

Colleague chucks the magazine across the desk.  I open it to be confronted by a sea of red.

‘What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?’ I say.

Colleague makes a pained sound.

I laugh.  ‘Aside from slowly killing yourself?!’

She’s got a family birthday party.  It sounds like fun.

‘Oops.’

‘What?’

I pull a face.  ‘I’ve just realized – I suggested doing something on Friday to someone.  But it’s fine, he won’t get the wrong idea.’

I say a little prayer that Editor will overlook my suggestion, and plump instead for a night the following week.  When, over dinner, he will ask how the blog is going (code for ‘how is your barren, featureless desert of a love life?’), before remarking that it can’t be going all that well since I suggested we do this on Valentine’s Day.

CC Image courtesy of juggzy_malone on Flickr

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Valentine’s Day Post

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‘Did you get my card?’CC Image courtesy of paulinel1 on Flickr

I do a double take. Does he know what day it is? Of course he does; it’s his party. He’s spent the afternoon blitzing beetroot to make a dip in keeping with the colour theme. Which is red.

‘€˜Er card?’ I say.

‘Well – letter.’

Thank you letter. I only know two men who write thank you letters; and for three hundred and sixty-four days of the year, I’m thrilled to receive them.

‘Oh. No, not yet.’

‘That’s odd,’ he says.

I laugh. ‘€˜It had better not arrive today!’

He looks hurt and confused. I remove a fleck of beetroot from his hair. Perhaps he doesn’€™t know what day it is.

CC Image courtesy of cynicalview on Flickr

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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