These are my storys of love and loss. Some were written many years ago others more recent. I hope you enjoy them.
"My mum once tried to kill herself, they said it was an accident but I was there and I saw."
It was just an ordinary day, dad was at work, my older brother and sister were at school and me and my little brother Craig were playing in the garden. Well actually we had been running in and out of the house dragging out different toys, basically driving mum up the wall all morning, then suddenly she snapped.
"Out! Out! And stay out, don't come back in for at least an hour."
When mum chucked you out you knew not to come back for a while, not that at the age of five I had any means of telling the time other than the sun moving across the sky and my tummy rumbling. It didn't register on me at the time but I heard the click of the lock as the door shut.
The door we had just been ushered out of was at the side of the house and in the shade so we went into the back garden to play. We didn't mind at first, I'd helped mum pull the slide out of the shed earlier, she hadn't wanted too, house work and stuff to do, but we had the slide and various toys we had taken outside so we played happily for a time.
It was Craig that wanted in first, he needed the toilet. The slide was positioned so that from the top you could see the side of the house and the door, I remember watching him from this lofty perch run up to the door and try to push it. When it didn't open I just assumed he hadn't turned the handle properly. He was a year and a half younger than me and didn't know how to do some stuff yet, so being the big sister I slide down and went to help.
"Mum said we weren't to come in."
"I want to wee."
The wooden door knob looked huge in his little chubby hands.
"Mums going to shout at you." I said batting them away so I could turn the handle for him.
"I want to wee." Craig pleaded again whilst doing the wee dance.
I didn't care; I was trying to get the knob to turn and the door to open, and not understanding why it wouldn't. I was doing it right I was sure but just in case I tried turning it the other way and pushing hard but it didn't budge.
Giving up I turned to my brother "Do you just want to wee?"
"Yeah." He whined.
"Then wee against the wall."
Problem solved we went back to playing, unfortunately by this time my own bladder was beginning to fill up.
The afternoon sunshine was quite warm so it wasn't long before I became thirsty as well, but in fear of being told off for 'bothering her!' I waited for as long as I could before attempting to get back in for a drink. However when I finally plucked up enough courage to approached the side door I noticed that the sun slanted across the wall by the lintel and when I looked it was hanging low over the roof tops behind, indicating that some time had passed. Nervously I tried the doorknob for sure this time that it would open, but once again it didn't move.
"Mum." I yelled. "Mum let me in."
Craig heard me calling and came to stand at my side, he was covered in shiny brown dust from the sand pit and his clothes were crumpled from playing on the floor. I probably didn't look any better and from the pressure in my bladder I was likely to add wet knickers to the mix any time soon.
"Mum I need to pee and were thirsty." I yelled playing on her sympathy's.
"Mum, Mum let us in" Craig cried out while banging his grubby fists on the door.
I began knocking too and calling out over and over again "Mum let us in." I expected any moment for her to yank open the door and scream at us to stop. I was prepared for the angry face and the telling off so long as we could get in.
My hand started to hurt from knocking so hard and I began to wonder if she was punishing us for being naughty earlier, if she was, it was a horrible punishment and we were sorry beyond doubt by now, so why didn't she let us in. Craig's hands must have hurt too because he began kicking the bottom of the door, I also noticed that he was crying. If I didn’t understand what was going on he certainly didn't.
I suddenly wondered why no one had heard us screaming and come to investigate what was wrong. So I went into the front garden, down the front path and peered over the gate out into the street, it was empty. We lived in a semi detached house at the end of a cul-de-sac, it was a very middle class area where the men went out to work, the kids went to school and the mums did housework all day. The garden was surrounded by hedges and high fences; I could only just about see over the garden gate if I tiptoed.
I thought about knocking on the front door like a grown up, however when I looked at it over my shoulder it made me feel very small. It had two steps leading up to it and I wasn't very good with steps besides it was bigger and more solid than the side door and I only had tiny hands. Afraid of leaving my brother for very long on his own I abandoned the idea and ran back around the house to begin franticly knocking on the side door again.
By this time I was in tears too and becoming very frightened, why wouldn't mum open the door and why was it locked, she had never locked us out before. Something was very wrong; I could feel it in my tummy, a cold jumble knot that made it hard to breathe.
We must have knocked for ages because eventually the sun moved to shine down the side of the house and I could hear kid’s voices in the street indicating it was home time. Exhausted and scared I stopped knocking and stood back from the door, I knew my brother and sister would be home very soon and mum would have to open the door to let them in.
"What's wrong love?"
It was my dad's voice; I turned my head just in time to see him come round the side of the house. He was home early and looked flustered but my dad was home so everything would be ok now wouldn't it.
"Mum won't let us in." I told him, pulling my brother back from the door.
He didn't try the handle, he just swapped his flask to the other hand, fumbled in his jacket pocket for a bunch of keys, slid the right one into the lock, turned it and pushed the door open.
The evening sunlight streamed in through the open door and illuminated the kitchen beyond. I could see Mum was sitting in a chair beside the cooker, with her head and arms resting on top of it, she looked like she was asleep. For some reason after spending so long trying to get in my feet now wouldn't budge from the spot likewise Craig's seemed to be glued as well. It was from this vantage point that I watched my dad fiddle with the cooker then pick mum up and place her on the floor. The sound of my brother and sister returning home from school briefly drew my attention away from the scene, they were smiling and cheerful until they saw what was going on.
"Your mums had an accident."
I remember hearing my dad say, then something about the gas and her banging her head. It hadn't made sense to me at the time, and it was only recently when thinking back to the day and the event that I realised why.
I didn't see the ambulance come and take her away, I don't even remember going to the toilet but I guess I must have. The next thing I do remember clearly is sitting in my neighbours kitchen at a round Formica table being fussed over by two middle aged spinsters. They were cooking us something to eat and my sister being the eldest was helping them, my two brothers sat either side of me not talking.
"Do you like peas love?" I remember one of them asking me.
"Yes." I relied very slowly,
"Were doing fish fingers and peas." The other one said. "Is that ok?"
"We all like peas." My sister answered in her best polite voice. "And mum cooks us fish fingers all the time."
"That's nice dear, do want mash?"
I remember eating the food and thinking it tasted different, 'not like mum use to make' you would say.
Mum was in hospital for along time, dad had to take time of work to look after us, we got new toys at the market and sweets at the shop. We didn't go to the hospital but dad bought mum flowers for when she came home and we got a new cooker, an electric one.
They said she had slipped banged her head, they said it was an accident but I saw her in the chair, if she had fallen why was she in the chair. They lied she hadn't fallen. It wasn't an accident, she tried to kill herself. My brother and sister didn't see her in the chair because dad had already moved her and Craig was too young to remember what he saw. Even Mum always referred to the incident as an accident but I was there and I saw.
"Did you take the pills by accident?"
"No, I knew what I was doing."
"Did you want to kill yourself?"
"No I just wanted someone to listen to me."
It wasn't much of a job but the part time hours meant she could go to evening class at the local college. Every day at half past eight she would catch the number ten bus at the end of the street, get off in Whitby Rd turn the corner walk the short distance down St Marys past the boys school then turn into Donald St. There on the corner was the solicitors' where she worked from nine o'clock to three o'clock; five days a week come rain or shine. At three o'clock she did the trip in reverse but with one slight difference, as she passed the lamppost opposite the school she would look up at the third floor window. If she was lucky he would be there, Mr Wareing, the maths teacher.
She knew only his surname and only knew that much because she had overheard the boys shout it out so many times. He always wore the same brown tweed jacket, the kind with leather patches on the elbows and more often than not a checked shirt. He would stand with his back to the window as he instructed the boys in the rudiments of algebra and other mathematical stuff. If the window was open and the breeze sufficient it would ruffle his thick slightly shaggy brown hair, occasionally she would catch him pushing it away from his face.
Today the window was wide open as the weather had been unpredictably hot, and she could see him clearly, more importantly she could hear him.
"Sampson we will stay here all night if we have too but you will finish your work before you go home is that clear." He yelled.
It wasn't the first time she had heard him shout at this particular boy and she imagined him to be some scruffy urchin, sitting at the back of the classroom flicking things off the end of his ruler. The imagery made her smile as she looked up at the window. Today though for the first time in nine months she had been watching him, he turned, looked out of the window and down at her.
She froze as his eyes locked on hers, she expected him to shout at her, to tell her to get lost or something, so when his face changed from a frown to a smile she couldn't quite believe he was smiling at her. A quick check of the empty street proved that he must be, it was a wonderful smile too, and his eyes, 'I bet there brown' she instantly though, just like his suit.
Then another thought went through her head, 'what must he be thinking'. Breaking off eye contact she forced her feet to move and made it to the end of the street and round the corner before she dared even think about looking up again. All the way home on the bus she chastised herself for running off and not looking back, she should have at least looked back to see if he was watching her or not.
It was several days before she dared look up at the window again, Friday seemed like a safe day due to the weather changing back to dull and grey, meaning he wouldn't have the window open. Sure enough when she stole a glance it was closed, however he wasn't standing in his usual position, he was looking out of the window, watching, waiting for…..for her, as she came into view he raised his hand and waved. Oh my god, Mandy gasped then realised she was waving back, her own body had betrayed her and she was returning his wave.
Friday night was her Journalism class but she couldn't concentrate, she kept thinking about the wave, was he just being polite, or did it mean he liked her. By the time she had daydreamed her way around the supermarket on Saturday, and upset several other customers by bumping into them and placing her shopping in there trolley by mistake, she had come to the conclusion that he couldn't possibly 'fancy' her and that he was just being polite and probably actually thought she was some lunatic stalker.
Monday was wet and miserable, her coat and hair were still damp from the morning soaking, so as she walked down St Marys, the only thought on her mind was the queue that would be at the bus stop forcing her to stand in the rain until the bus came. She certainly didn't see the young boy come out of St Marys Large wooden front door or hear his feet splash in the puddles as he crossed the street to her, in fact she nearly walked right into him.
"Sir said to give you this." The boy said holding out a bright red umbrella.
"Oh." Was all she could muster in response as she took the umbrella from his dripping hand. But no sooner had she done so than the boy disappeared again.
She tried to look up at the window but the rain lashing down prevented her from seeing anything, so unfolding the umbrella she held it over her head and tried again. There peering out of the third floor window were several tiny grinning faces and the smiling eyes of Mr Wareing, her heart skipped, 'he does like me'.
He saw her most days from the second floor staff room window; she would walk passed the playground gates each morning just before nine o'clock. The first time he saw her he was watching for late pupils, the next time he was washing his cup out at the sink, after that he tried to be by the window each morning to watch her go passed.
Like clockwork she would appear, from the direction of Whitby Rd and disappear towards Donald St. She always wore a knee length black skirt and white blouse, on cold days she wore a mid-length brown trench coat but she never fastened the belt. Her hair was dark red and although it was quite long she always wore it tied back, he guessed the colour of her eyes to be green, and that she worked somewhere on Donald St.
He had thought about following her on more than one occasion but he was too chicken, what if she turned around, no he was happy just watching her. He had tried to see her returning in the evening rush but either she took a different route or she left later, so it had been a pleasant surprise to turn around and catch her looking up at him and smiling, hence he smiled back.
Taking note of the time the next day, he waited for her and preyed she would look up again; little did he know that she had been watching him each day or visa versa. However she just walked straight passed her eyes on the pavement and one hand holding tight to her handbag. Oh god he thought she must think I'm some crazy man, what can I do, perhaps this is best after all I don't know her from Adam, she's just some women who happens to walk this way to work.
The next day was the same, no glance, no smile; she even had the belt of her coat fastened tight. He had scared her, but how, with just a smile, more importantly how was he going to apologise if she wouldn't look up. He thought about waiting for her at the gate, but if his smile had scared her she would really freak if she saw him lurking, waiting for her.
Friday was cold, dark clouds roamed the sky all day and he almost didn't bother looking out of the window, what was the point she wouldn't look up any more. When he did eventually take a peek at the street below though he got a shock, she had paused beneath the lamp. 'Look up' he whispered conscious of the class room of boys behind him, 'look up'.
Almost as if she had heard him she slowly tilted her head up, and without thinking about it or the boys he raised his hand and waved. He hadn't really expected her to wave back; after all he was a complete stranger and probably looked like an absolute fool, for some reason though when she did his stomach did a funny flip.
He couldn't stop thinking about her all weekend, and found himself doodling love hearts in the margins of the workbooks he was supposed to be marking instead grades. It had been five years since his divorce and without the complication of children he had been free to return to a bachelor's life style, but instead he had thrown himself into the job at St Marys. His effort hadn't gone in vain though, he had made deputy head last year, but something was missing, could this mystery woman be that something or someone.
It rained heavy all day Monday, belaying the previous week's talk of an early summer. However the usual jokes about the pupils being chauffeur driven to the front door least they should get wet didn't sound quite so humorous after watching her trudge passed the staffroom drenched from her tiny dolly shoes to her bedraggled ponytail.
When it was obvious the rain wasn't going to abate by three o'clock he sent one of the first year boys from his class with a suitably appropriated umbrella down to the front door. The boy had followed his instructions to the tee, however curiosity as to what 'Sir' was up to had got the better of his young charges and they all gathered around him to watch the scene below. The boys emitted a small cheer as she looked up at them from the shelter of the umbrella, Mr Wareing was silent though, for some reason his heart was pounding so hard all he could do was smile.
To Sneak a bouquet of flowers passed his colleagues and into the school meant he had to arrive very early on Tuesday morning, getting the boy he had chosen down stairs and out on the street to wait for her had taken little more ingenuity though. However he managed it and the smile that emanated from her face upon being presented with them was well worth the effort.
By Wednesday she didn't know what to expect, from the flowers it was obvious that Mr Wareing had feelings for her, but weren't things going a little fast. She didn't know of course that he had been watching her for almost as long as she had been watching him. However when this time she was presented with envelope simply addressed 'Read me later' she swiftly shared a smile and wave with her admirer before hurrying off to catch her bus.
The envelope had contained a poem, entitled, To a Stranger, it was by Walt Whitman and the first line read, 'Passing stranger you do not know how longingly I look upon you.' Oh but she did know for she had looked longingly for many months now, not even daring to believe that he would ever look back let alone send her flowers and poetry.
By Thursday, he was consumed with thoughts and daydreams to the point of total distraction, not that his mathematically challenged pupils minded if Sir had forgotten the test he'd promised. Most of them were now more interested in the blossoming relationship between there Maths teacher and the mystery women to have concentrated on work anyway, and when the appointed hour came they watched just as fervently while Sampson took a single red rose across the street to her.
It was the ultimate symbol of love, a message from his heart, yet upon receiving the gift her heart felt heavy. This was all so crazy they didn’t even know each other's names, not really, they were just passing strangers, how could he love her. This time she was unable to look up, if she had he would have seen the tears streaming down her face; instead she quickened her pace and almost ran to the end of the street.
"No wait!" he called frantically leaning out of the window and shouting again in case she hadn't heard him, but she didn't stop. It had been too much too fast he had frightened her again, this was getting him nowhere, he wanted them to meet but it would have to be on her terms or she would just run again, with this thought in mind he put pen to paper once more.
Friday was bright and breezy, however her steps to work in the morning were not, and he feared she wouldn't accept the missive he had prepared.
When the young boy approached her with another envelope, she almost didn't accept it, but the pleading look in the boys eyes won her over, this time it said 'Read me now'
A collective sigh went out around the classroom as she took the envelope, now though they had to wait for her to read it.
It wasn't sealed and the single sheet of folded paper slide from the envelope with ease. She was almost afraid to read it, she hoped it wasn't another poem but even more she didn't want it to be a love letter.
Taking a deep breath he pushed open the cafe's door, and held it as he scanned the interior. It was quite busy and the evening sunlight cast long shadows across the Formica tables but she was there in the corner, waiting. Letting his breath out slowly he Manoeuvred between the tables and chairs inching his way closer to her. She looked petrified; nevertheless she had waited for him, just as he had asked in the letter.
Her heart was pounding so loud she couldn't hear the conversations going on around her and she paid no heed to the hustle of the waitress and customers, her eyes were fixed upon his from the moment he opened the door to the moment he slide into the seat opposite her. The pounding stopped and the cacophony noise came rushing back though the second he spoke.
"Hi my name is Mike."
It felt good to wake up knowing that she would be meeting him again today, it was still early and the sun was just raising above the bridge she would cross to meet him later on that morning. Turning over she pressed the pillow down so she could see her phone on the night stand. If he was true to form he would text her very soon, it would probably say 'Good morning usual time usual place x'. Which was currently outside Tesco at the local retail park, it had been the pub across the river but as she had pointed out you could see the car park from her bedroom window. Anyway the pub wasn't open in the morning and the weather had turned colder, it was now January after all, why hadn't they met in the summer. Oh that's right she didn't even know it was possible for her to get a fella back then let alone one who could make her feel wonderful just by smiling at her.
She had John to thank for that, a guy she had met at her high school reunion; the guy who had promised to come back and make passionate love to her then stood her up. She had told this guy she loved him and she had, except dumping him hadn't hurt a fraction of the pain she felt every time she thought about loosing the guy she was going to meet this morning. The guy who made her happy just by turning up let alone making love to her, the guy she would gladly spend hours driving around with watching him work just for the chance to sneak a kiss and a cuddle between jobs. The guy she had met on the dating website her friend had recommended in an attempt to forget about John.
Beside her a body moved and grunted she hoped 'It' would stay asleep for once but 'It' didn't just then the phone vibrated. Grabbing it she fumbled the keypad but she had seen his name flash on the incoming message line so knew when she clicked on the in box icon she would find his missive. It wasn't good news he was going to be late, only half an hour but she didn't want to spend a moment longer at home than she possibly had to. Rising quickly she got up to use the bathroom before 'It' got in there and made a stink.
Taking the phone with her, she read his text again just in case she had read it wrong the first time then sent one back 'Good Morning :) X '. She had showered the night before so only needed a quick wash but 'It' was banging on the door before she had finished. Back in the bedroom she looked at her weighing scales, three stone she had lost, it had taken a long time but it felt good to buy nice clothes again but more than that it felt great to want to wear them for someone who would appreciate them.
Red Lace knickers, red bra and lace top holdups, she smiled remembering the time he had asked her to meet him in holdups and no knickers. 'It' comes back in while she is getting dressed and looks at her clothes disapprovingly, as far as 'It' knows she is going to meet her friend Rebecca for coffee so why does she need to dress so nice. Why shouldn't she dress nice regardless of who she's going to meet or where she was going, she had even started wearing her nice clothes to do the shopping at the market, nice being sexy. Dress like a woman and don't be sad, that's what her guy tells her and that is the mantra she is trying to live by now.
Dressing slowly so that 'It' had shuffled away down stairs by the time she was finished she goes to the book shelf where a collection of little perfume bottles stand. Most of them are samples of semi-cheap smelly stuff that the kids had bought her for Christmas and birthdays but in the middle of them all was a new one. This one cost a few bob more than the others put together and had been a present from ... well lets call him Mike. 'It' hadn't even noticed the bottle and wouldn't have a clue about its value, sentimental or price. She didn't care that it was expensive she only cared that because it was the feminine version of the one Mike wore when she inhaled its exquisite floral aroma it reminded her of his warm smile, his strong arms and his sensual kisses.
'It' had not even filled the kettle by the time she got down stairs; 'It' was online checking his eBay sales. Filling it up and getting the good coffee she had bought herself out the cupboard she makes a cup then hides it again, thinking to herself that if 'It' wants a sausage butty then 'It' would have to make his own because she was off out. It was way too early to go and meet Mike, even Tesco was still closed but she didn't want to hang around too long or 'It' would start talking to her about customers that hadn't paid or missing parcels and she wasn't in the mood. 'It' might even run out of ink or need the printer heads cleaning, if she had shown him once she had shown him a thousand times how to do it, god only knows what he was going to do when she left him.
Getting out the house without having to give 'It' a kiss was near impossible, she had said she didn't want to kiss him again until 'It' did something about his bad breath; however 'It' was insistent that she got at least a peck on the lips before leaving. A ritual she would not miss in the hard long months ahead of her. She felt a spring in her step as she walked down the street in her shiny new knee high boots Mike had given her 'Birthday' money to buy. Turning onto the bridge she felt a light hearted almost giddiness tiptoe into her heart. The wind whipped at her skirt as she crossed the summit flashing the tops of her holdups beneath the school girl pleats for all the morning drivers to see. She noticed some of them glance her way and decide to forgo any attempt to control the wayward fabric, let them look only Mike got to touch.
She was an hour early and there was another half an hour before Tesco opened so pressing play on her mp3 she walked slowly while listening to Adele sing love songs. She had bought her new coat from the store in a sale the week before Christmas and everyone agreed its smart military style made her look posh. Actually anything that wasn't covered in sci-fi and rock band patches looked posh on her, she'd promised Mike not to embellish it with anything not even a charity pin. Glancing inside the warm store and nodding good morning to the manager as he passed her she walked around the building to where a grit storage bin stood in the corner out of the rain. Pulling a tissue out of her pocket she wiped it off then perched her bum on the edge, from this vantage point she had a good view of the car park entrance. In fact if she kept watch she would be able to see Mikes white van come around the corner down the slip road into the car park then pull into one of the empty bays away from the store front.
They had found each other by chance; she had only been on the dating website a week and had had no real luck. There was the guy who said he was a truck driver and was looking for a someone he could take for rides in his cab, and the sales manager who very often passed her town on his visits north, both of whom were married and just looking for some extra curricular activity but then so was she. Neither of them seemed to be in a hurry to meet up though and mostly she just sent them texts messages. Then there was Danny, he had set a firm time and date, McDonalds 10 o'clock Friday morning. That had been Tuesday after four days of sending texts and chatting on the phone but come Wednesday morning he had stopped answering her texts her messages went unopened and her voice mail pleas for him to talk to her unreturned. Thursday she sent him one last text 'don't bother coming I won't be there'.
So Friday upset and down hearted she prepared to deactivate her account, one last trawl through the 'Meet Me' section maybe Mr. Right was out there somewhere still. Now the rules of the site are you have to have a head shot of yourself but as she clicked 'no' to the faces on the screen in front of her she saw a red motorbike pop up. It was a nice bike and it made her pause, she liked motor bikes her favourite fantasy was to be rescued from the bad guys by a hero on a motor bike, maybe... Clicking on his profile she read his bio, interests and suggestion for a first date, it was refreshing honest, he was in a 'sexless marriage' and looking for somebody to fulfil his needs. There was no stupid guff about the gym or being a good cook just a few words about what a good kisser he was and how he wanted to meet someone special for a long term relationship. He sounded perfect, just what she was looking for but what did he look like? She could just ask him to send a picture in a private message but that was too corny instead she sent three words 'I can't decide?'
Within minutes he had sent a message back 'can't decide what?' smiling she responded 'whether I like the bike more than you.' Moments later he sent her a photo and she decided right then and there. A conversation followed and once again she found herself spending hour's texting too and fro. He explained how he had been on the site for a year and had only had a couple of women message him neither of whom wanted to meet him and she told him about Danny and how he had stood her up. Mike instantly promised he would never do that to her he promised he was a genuine guy; so a date was fixed. Friday again but this time she was prepared, they would meet in his home town of Manchester then if he didn't turn up she could go to plan 'B' and do some shopping that way the day wouldn't be wasted.
Then Thursday she got a text that read 'see you at 11am in the Cafe North wear a skirt and hold ups'. She hadn't worn a skirt for a very long time and she didn't even have a pair of tights let alone holdups. It was the very same Tesco store she was sat outside of that came to her rescue, one black knee length skirt and a pair of lace top hold ups. She had used some of her meagre shopping money but with her low cut strappy top she looked …well very sexy. However as she got on the bus to Manchester the next morning she wondered if he would turn up and whether he would like her once he saw her for real. He had said it would all be in the kiss, she had only kissed two men in her life, a boy she went to a Christmas party with, and the guy she had lived with for twenty two years and had four children by. Neither of whom she considered as good kissers so how on earth was she going to impress this guy with a kiss.
It took her an hour and a half to get to Manchester however he text her all the way, sending little stories and jokes to keep her calm and to let her know he was on his way too. As the bus pulled into the station she lost the phone signal, dam too many tall buildings. But she knew where the cafe was she had Googled it for hours to memorise the short walk from the bus depot to its glass door, it looked so swanky. Opening it and walking in she was overwhelmed with how posh it looked from the inside, she didn't do coffee shops; with 'It' it had always been the pub and with the kids it was MacDonald's. Glancing around and spotting the toilets she was about to go and hide in them when I man with the most amazing smile waved at her from the other side of the cafe.
Oh my god he was even more handsome in real life, grinning uncontrollably from ear to ear she walked across the room. He stood, then as she got close enough he raised his arms and drew her into a huge hug. He smelt amazing, he felt amazing then he pulled back turned his head and planet a big kiss on her lips. She trembled from head to toe but her mouth, which was on auto pilot returned the embrace. At the end of kiss he said 'You pass.' And that was the start of the fifth best day of her life, the other four being the births of her children.
The day had gone like this, coffee which she took barely a few sips from as her hands spent most of the time entangled around his shoulders or unbuttoning his shirt. Then they walked arm in arm around the streets talking about likes and dislikes pausing on corners to kiss while the traffic stopped to let them cross. At some point it was decided they needed a room somewhere they could carry on there conversation in private. So he took her back to the hotel he had picked out just in case, his plan 'B' you might say. Unfortunately he had forgotten his driving licence and they wouldn't let him pay for the room in cash without identification. They would have to book online using his credit card, what if the wife saw it she asked, don't worry he said ill get to it first pay it then say I lost it.
Room sorted they spent two hours making love, or did they he said 'please don't fall in love with me' three times each time she replied 'I wont' but by the third time it was too late. How could she not fall in love with this man he was everything she could have wanted, articulate, kind, considerate, generous, he made her laugh he made her smile he made her feel like a women. Nary had a single negative word come out of his mouth not even when she cried because she was scared. He didn't seem to care that she wasn't a size ten or that she was inexperienced or that her shoes were ugly and her make up a mess.
She lay in his arms as he told her stories about himself, stories that made her laugh out loud. She tried to think of funny things to tell him about but hearing tales of the amazing adventures he’d had with his family and friends just reminded her how lonely she was and she fell silent. He noticed and asked what was wrong, talk to me he said, but how could she tell him she was so unhappy and these few hours, these precious few hours in his arms only sufficed to make her heart hurt even more. For that was the real reason she had gone fishing to try and find someone to mend her broken and battered heart.
When he said he wanted to see her again she thought he was just humouring her, she had just been a bit of fun after all. That's what he said we can meet have some fun keep it to ourselves maybe go for a night out occasionally. They still hadn't been for that night out and the way things were going they probably never would. True to form though he had met up with her again, in fact they met every week. Each Friday he would drive to Preston pick her up in his white van and they would go for a drive out to the country, park and make out just like teenagers in the movies. Under his guidance she had started buying and wearing the nice clothes she now wore. She became more confident with herself and she began making plans to leave 'It', to start a new life on her own, a life where she could be with a guy who would love her as much as she loved him.
Then one week just before Christmas Mike dropped a bomb shell on her, he’d been offered a full time job, at first she was so happy for him, no more working in the rain or driving from town to town risking his life on busy roads. Then he said it, if I accept the job I won’t be able to see you anymore I won’t have the time. Time had always been a factor, so often he had said I wish you lived closer. She wanted to scream don't take the job please, please for me don't take the job, I need you, I love you. But she didn't she bit her tongue and tried to be happy for him. The last time they had met he had indicated that he probably would take the job; the thought had hung over her all through the holidays, the thought that today could be the last time she would ever see him.
Her hand was already trembling when the phone vibrated; she read the words in his text with both sorrow and elation in her heart, 10 mins, he was nearly here. She surveyed the traffic lights for his van, a white Citroen with thingy-me-bobs on the roof for his ladders and a big padlock on the back to keep stuff safe. She knew the number plate began with an 'N' but that was as much as she remembered. Dam her nose was cold and dribbling, by the time she had found a tissue, made sure all the snot was gone and looked up again he was driving down the slip road and guiding the van into a parking spot, she'd missed him at the lights. Sliding off the box carefully and gathering up her handbag she walked slowly over to the van knowing full well he would be watching her in the side mirror.
She tugged the door open and looked up, he was smiling at her; it had been that enigmatic grin that had made her decided upon him rather than the bike. His face creased when he smiled almost hiding his gorgeous chocolate brown eyes he said he didn't like it but she found it adorable. She Climbed in with as much grace as she could; remembering the time her shoe had fallen off, that couldn't happen now she had her boots. Once inside and the door pulled shut she slide over to his side and into his arms. It had been four weeks since they had last met, four weeks without being able to see him, hold him, breath in his scent. She didn't want to let him go, she didn't want to move from that very spot ever again, tears began to form in her eyes as oblivious he pulled back and kissed her, god she had missed his kisses more than anything else. I missed you she breathed as he broke the kiss, I missed you too, he said but she knew he didn't mean it with as much conviction as he said it, why couldn't he love her.
Where to he asked, normally she hadn't a clue but this time she did, Lancaster, there is a coffee shop I want to take you to, ok he said turning to fasten his seat belt. She brushed the tears away quickly then clipped hers shut and moved closer to him but not so close that her knee obstructed the gear leaver, secretly though she liked it when his hand brushed her knee as he changed gears. She also liked to sit with her hand resting on his leg, this way she could hold onto him for the whole journey. It wouldn't take them long to get to Lancaster she new the drive off by heart she had even memorised the turning for on the way back that would take them to their secret parking spot.
They had found it one day while trying to get back to the motorway and took a wrong turn, she had been sitting by his side waiting for him to get mad because they were lost but he didn't, he never got mad. That was something else she liked about him, he never lost his temper not even when other car drivers cut him up or when the van nearly broke down or when she lost her earring and they had to search the van for it or when ...he just didn't loose his temper. The place was actually an entrance to a field near the motorway but it was big enough to drive the van down and had trees and bushes all around blocking anyone’s view of the cab. She hoped there would be time after the coffee to go there again just on the off chance it would be the last time.
As they walked to the coffee shop she slipped her arm into his, when they walked like this it felt as if they were a real couple. It felt like they were girlfriend and boyfriend and it made her heart sing with joy, she didn't tell him this of course he would think she was daft. At the shop she showed him all the different types of cupcake they had, some had funny names like the ugly cake and the Barbie cake, he chose a coffee cake which was also her favourite then he ordered two cappuccinos and they sat down side by side on the bench under the window. He told her some more about his Christmas holidays the fun he’d had with the kids and the parties he’d had been too, if only she had such tales to tell him but her Christmas had been the usual mess and the new year just a new set of problems to over come.
Coffee and cake arrived and they paused to discuss its merits, she picked at hers while watching him tuck into his. She had sadness in her heart that was once again making her eyes prick with tears, and the more she tried to hide it the more it pushed to be free. She went quiet and he noticed, what’s wrong? He asked. How could she tell him, how could she tell him even the thought of loosing him made her cry into her pillow at night, how could she tell him these past four weeks not being able to see him were almost unbearable. How could she tell him that she was in love with him when he felt no more for her than he did for his neighbour? He guessed. This is about the job isn't it?
She gripped the coffee cup staring at the froth not wanting to look at him because she knew she would burst into tears if she did. I'm sorry I'm going to take the job ....
It's like you're screaming, and no one can hear
You almost feel ashamed
That someone could be that important
That without them, you feel like nothing
No one will ever understand how much it hurts
You feel hopeless; like nothing can save you
And when it's over, and it's gone
You almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back
So that you could have the good
...But I still want to see you.
................But she hadn't died on the way to the airport; she'd survived the afternoon traffic, she'd also remembered her passport and to take the nail scissors out of her purse. Then after spending four hours getting through check-in she'd lived through another lip-chewing ninety minutes waiting for an airplane. Now she was willing her numb feet to take wobbly steps towards the boarding gate. "Deep breaths." She told herself; breathing so hard she began to feel dizzy.
The voice came from nowhere; causing Ursula to turn sharply and stumble into a broad well-tailored shoulder.
"I'm sorry did I startle you?"
A strong hand caught Ursula and she looked up into two dark brown eyes, that 'fitted' perfectly on the olive skinned, chisel jawed, Roman-esc face before her. He was a 'one size fits all' Adonis and she was starring mouth open and dumb struck.
"Are you ok?"
"What ...oh yes. Thank you." Ursula found herself stammering as she took a step back. It was then that she noticed he was at least a foot taller than her and had a shook of tousled black hair that did nothing to distract from his appearance. He also carried a holdall slung over one shoulder and a crushed boarding card.
"Are you on this flight?" She asked, glad to be back in control of her verbal faculty's.
"Yes for my sins I am." Tall dark and handsome spoke in a New York accent, laced with just enough Italian to betray his background.
The boarding queue idled forward and together they moved to follow it. 'For my sins' he'd said, now what sins could those be Ursula mused, forgetting her own concerns for a moment as she glanced back over her shoulder. "You asked if I was nervous, and yet you sound less than happy to be flying yourself."
"I was only twelve the first time I flew anywhere and it was an adventure, but twenty years of disaster movies and terrorist attacks have created a more precarious edge to the whole 'look ma I can fly experience'."
"My sentiments exactly." Ursula said, turning and smiling. Here was someone she could relate too. "My best friend was killed in a plane crash and I've never flown since."
"What...Oh yes, today. Well this wasn't exactly planned."
"Touche! I was awoken this morning by a phone call from my fiance telling me to get my butt in gear and join her in Milan if I wanted a job."
"You're flying all the way to Milan for a job!"
"Well an interview actually, that's the other reason I'm so nervous."
"That's nothing I'm on my way to find out if my husband is cheating on me." Suddenly Ursula found herself at the front of the line with the 'don't worry' check-in girl smiling at her and all the fears she had bottled up came rushing back.
"Still nervous?" the girl asked. "You know this airline hasn't lost a plane in over thirty years."
'Lost'! it wasn't getting lost that worried Ursula, but she smiled and nodded anyway. No need to take her insecurities out on the airline staff, no she'd save them for Lola.
As Ursula began the short walk to the planes door Adonis fell into step beside her and asked. "What makes you think he's cheating on you?"
"Just the usual little things that over time didn't add up, but mostly because he lied about his assistant joining him in Italy this week."
"Ah! I take it this assistant isn't of the dragon variety."
"Anything but, she's got perfectly tanned legs, flawless skin, boobs that don't need major support and the kind of red hair they write songs about."
"Sounds like my Lola." Mr New York chuckled.
"Lola!" Ursula repeated, a coincidence it had to be.
"Sure, like in the song." New York added. "Sometimes to tease her I hum the tune."
Ursula's legs turned to jelly; David kept humming that song, another coincidence? Yet it didn't 'fit' why would Lola invite her fiance on a dirty weekend with her lover. Unless tall dark and handsome was lying about the job. She needed more information but they’d reached the planes door.
"Where are you seated?" She asked casually.
Brown eyes scanned his ticket, "Economy, row fifteen. It was all I could get at the last minute."
Dam she was in row twelve; she'd have to be direct with her questions. "What's the job you're going after?"
"Photographer for one of the big fashion houses. Lola's friends with the boss, so it's in the bag really."
"Oh, which house?" Don't let him say David's.
"I'm not sure, the thing is my fiance works for one of their rivals, so this is all on the QT."
"Wont that present a conflict of interest when you get the job?"
"Not really because if I do get it Lola will be coming to work for me."
Bells and alarms started ringing in Ursula's head. Lola wasn't after her husband, Lola was after his designs, Lola was a fashion spy. Ursula's terror of flying mutated into anger as she imagined the manipulative Lola charming fashion secrets out of her David over candlelit suppers. All at once her concerns of how she would cope without David turned into plans on how she would stop Lola and fears for her marriage became schemes to help her husband.
"I think this is your row?" Mr America called bringing her back down to earth.
"So it is." Ursula put her bag in the overhead compartment then took her seat. "I hope you get the job." She said sweetly, no need to give the game away yet. Then she proffered her hand expecting Mr Big to shake it but instead he raised it to his lips and kissed it softly. The invisible sparks that flew off shocked Ursula, causing her to pull away sharply and gasp.
A brown eye winked. "If your husband is cheating tell him I said he's a fool and if your still nervous try one of the stewardess sleeping pills, my Lola swears by them."
"Thanks I might." And with a tip of his head Mr perfect stranger was gone.
Ursula tried to relax by fastening her seat belt and adjusting it so that it 'fit' snugly across her lap. Then she watched as the air steward gave a safety demonstration, sometime into the rehearsed speech she noticed four little words along the bottom edge of the life preserver, 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL'. Ursula looked around the cabin, Miss Bean Pole opposite, who probably hadn’t eaten anything remotely fattening since she stopped suckling on her mother teat, was struggling to get her seat belt tight enough to fit across her lap, while at the other side of the plane, Mr 'who ate all the pies' was straining the webbing of his belt across two enormous thighs and she realised that sometimes when it really counted 'one size did fit all'.
Leaning back in her seat Ursula decided the first thing she was going to do when she got to Milan was buy a real 'made to measure' Italian leather 'Belt'.
(The rest of this story is up to you, Have fun)
Daughter: I want to know everything, where you met, your first date, your first kiss.
Mother: Everything could take a while.
Daughter: We have time.
Daughter: Start with how you met.
(Mother takes a deep breath)
Mother: It was one of those perfect summer days; you know the kind, not too hot, a slight breeze. I was totally bored, but my Mother, your Gran didn't want me hanging around the house so I was given a bag of bread pieces and sent off to feed the local ducks.
Daughter: Daisy wood?
Mother: Yes Daisy wood. You know that tree stump which stretches across the river.
Daughter: Has it been there that long?
Mother: Longer, it fell down when your Gran was your age.
Daughter: Gran was never my age.
Mother: Well I was sixteen.
Daughter: What happened did you meet by the river?
Mother: More like in the river. I had walked out on the tree stump to feed a group of ducklings, the stump was dry but I must have leaned over too far because my feet slipped and I fell head first into the water. I tried to scream but my mouth was full of water, I though I was going to drown.
Daughter: Oh Mother you can't drown in that puddle.
(The Daughter giggles)
Mother: It was deeper back then; anyway that was when he rescued me. He scooped me up in his strong arms and carried me to the bank.
Daughter: So he was a hunk then.
Mother: Brown eyes, sandy brown hair and a smile that could melt snow never mind a Daughter's heart.
Daughter: Sounds like a hunk.
Mother: Actually he was six foot, skinny as a rake and feet the size of elephants, but he just picked me up and placed me down on the daisies like it was no effort at all.
Daughter: Then what happened.
Mother: He laughed, he laughed and I jumped up and ran away.
Daughter: Did he follow you?
Daughter: So when did he ask you out?
Mother: The next day when I went back to the river and found him feeding the ducks.
Daughter: Do you remember exactly what he said?
Mother: Yes, he said, "If I promise not to laugh will you go out with me".
Daughter: What did you say? Where did he take you?
Mother: I said yes and he took me to the cinema to see Jurassic Park
Daughter: That's not very romantic.
Mother: No I loved it. He reminded me a little bit of Jeff Goldblum.
Daughter: Did you kiss?
Mother: Not that night, although at one point I thought he was going to. He leaned in close and tilted his head, but then at the last moment he pulled away.
Daughter: Perhaps he was shy.
Mother: Maybe, more likely the popcorn I had stuck in my teeth put him off.
Daughter: So when did he kiss you?
Mother: hmmm, about two weeks later, we went on a picnic, only after a fortnight of sunshine it chose that day to suddenly rain. I remember running with him for the cover of the trees, I shivered and he put his arms around me.
(Daughter wolf whistles) (Mother slaps her friendly on the hand)
Mother: He was the perfect gentleman; I was the one who initiated the kiss.
(The Daughter gasps)
Mother: I was sixteen! And anyway he didn’t mind, I think he was secretly glad. After that we met up everyday until the end of summer.
Daughter: Did you love him?
Mother: Very much and he loved me.
Daughter: Then why did he leave?
Mother: The summer holidays ended and he had to go back home to Ireland.
Daughter: Didn't you write, call him, email.
Mother: We didn't have the internet back then, and anyway I didn't even know his name never mind his phone number or address.
Daughter: How come, why didn't you tell each other your names?
Mother: Names didn't seem important and I didn't know I was pregnant with you until after he was gone.
Daughter: But he came back, he came looking for you.
Mother: Every summer, but your Gran and I had moved by the spring so I didn't know. If we hadn't moved back here and if I hadn't gone to feed the ducks last week I don't think we would ever have seen each other again.
Daughter: Its time.
Mother: Yes, its time for you to meet your father.
(The Daughter jumps of the bed)
Daughter: I'll get the bread.
Just incase you have any comments