Breaking Away - Creative Non Fiction
THE DAY OF
Waking up to your alarm, I feel positive. You had crept closer to me in the night and I wake up with your arms around me. Instantly I feel better – I get to spend a whole day with you. For only the second time in the entire two months I’ve been here, I get to have you all to myself. No clubs or societies demanding your assistance to drive them places; no volunteering projects taking you away for the evening; no friends in crisis you feel the need to console. For a whole two days, I have you to myself. I get a chance to make up for the disaster that had been the Conwy food festival.
You’re still offhand with me, as if distracted. You seem resigned when I suggest we play Halo, but I don’t mind. You’ve been like this the entire time I’ve been here, but I’m confident spending some quality time together will make you feel better. For a good few hours we play, attempting to get more achievements. My gamer score is still well below yours, but I don’t mind – I’ll get there. You don’t seem as invested as you normally do. I have that constant knot of worry bubbling below the surface, but I ignore it because if I’m positive, it’ll rub off on you and you’ll be back to yourself again. I long to see you smile and look at me like you used to. The thought warms me.
As we finish the level, you remember that you’d put your shirts on to wash. You turn off the console and get the iron ready. Disappointed, I smile, and mention dinner. You mumble your usual spiel about not caring and the fact you’re not hungry – but that’s okay, I tell myself – because ‘it’s just James’. I take out a notebook to doodle in before I mention the fireworks show. I’m so excited – I love the fireworks. I always think about last year when we went to see them in Bangor together. You held my gloved hand and smiled as you watched my awed face, breath frosting in the air. It was magic – made even better by the fact I was with you. You don’t seem excited – which is okay, because I know you’ll enjoy them once we’re there.
After food and a shower, we get ready to leave. I wrap up warm, putting two pairs of socks on because I can remember how cold my toes were last time. We leave in your car. Despite that knot in my stomach I grin, feeling like a child again. I mention the fact I’d have liked to have gotten sparklers – a twinge in my gut as I remember you said you’d used them with Helen. I can picture it now: you, her and supposedly her friend laughing in the night air, twizzling the sparklers as Helen tries to capture the exposure on camera. A pang as I remember you had preferred to stay doing that with her rather than come home to me and play with sparklers here. You mumble that it doesn’t matter. You complain about the traffic on the way to Llandudno, say we should have left earlier and that we won’t get a space. I say we’ll be fine, and that it’ll be worth it. I know you’ll enjoy it once we’re there.
We park, and I hold your hand. Your grip is loose – I squeeze but you don’t squeeze back. I assumed you don’t like the bulky material of my glove in the way. Just in time, we make it to the sea front. People mill around us, little families and groups of friends line the length of the promenade as the fireworks begin. Oh, were they beautiful. I grip your hand in both of mine as we watch, angling myself towards you so I can lean my head on your shoulder. You don’t move. I wait for you to lean your head on mine like you did last year, but you don’t move. After a few moments you shake your hand free, complaining of the cold. I cling to your arm instead, captivated by the colours painting the sky. All too soon it’s over – we turn to leave and make our way back to the car, commenting on our favourite fireworks from the display. Today has been a good day. I’m confident things will be better tomorrow.
When we get home, I want to watch a film. I suggest one you’ve mentioned before, but you refuse. I suggest two or three more, but again you refuse. That knot is back. After a while you concede to one we’ve already watched… I had wanted to watch something new. After it finishes, I ask to go see the new James Bond film in the cinema tomorrow if I pay for your ticket. You refuse, in a more forceful manner than necessary. The knot constricts and I have to leave the room for a moment. I text Angharad to explain my fears that I’m more of an inconvenience to you and that you don’t want me here – you’d rather stay out at Helen’s until half three in the morning than come home to see me. You hide what you text to people, especially Helen. You haven’t once shown me you appreciated me being here.
After ranting my insecurities, I put my phone in my pocket and walk back into the room. You mute the TV. The knot whips around my stomach. You want to talk. About us. You say that you still feel the same. It takes me a while to soak in your meaning. But we’d had such a good day! It was only the second time you’d spent any quality time with me! How can you decide after two days that you still don’t feel as happy with me? I start to cry. You say that if you still feel the same even after a really good day, you don’t think there’s much point. I can’t stop crying. I start hyperventilating. I feel sick. You say you’re sorry, that you don’t mean to hurt me, but you want me to leave. You say you think it’s for the best. But you haven’t spent any time with me! You’ve been off gallivanting with people you don’t know, driving them to Edinburgh and Anglesey when you could have spent time with me! You were with Helen, a girl you’ve known five minutes, when you COULD HAVE SPENT TIME WITH ME!
You used to say I was the best thing that ever happened to you. How can you just throw me away so casually? You get frustrated at my tears; say you can carry on if I want but that you’ll be unhappy. How can you be unhappy when you used to tell me you were lucky to have me? That you wanted to build a life with me? I can’t stop crying. Two and a half years. After all that time, and you want to get rid of me. I feel so sick. I can’t accept this. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe this is happening. Because despite what you’re saying, your arms are around me. You hold me close, whisper you’re sorry and gently rub my back. My heart aches when I realise that this is the most affection you’ve given me in the entire time I’ve been here. Everything about your body language screams the opposite of your words. But you can’t see this – you say you want me to go but you’re not acting like it.
Deep down I know the reason – you like to think you still fit in with the university crowd. You’re still trying to dig your claws in to a life that no longer belongs to you, and now I’m in your way – especially because I’ve spoken the truth on the matter and you’re in denial of the obvious. I am in your way to get to Helen. But you won’t admit it. You give flimsy excuses of ‘I’m the problem, not you’ and ‘something just doesn’t feel right’. We both know what the real issue is here. You haven’t wanted me here from the beginning. I had been here two weeks when you came out with this crap – two weeks. You can’t make a decision based on two weeks. Since then you had made me miserable – the constant threat of your rejection hanging over me like a guillotine. Every step was on eggshells – what would I do next to convince you to get rid of me? It would slowly get better, then you would gash open the wound.
Every reaction to me screamed boredom – you wouldn’t even touch me unless I touched you first, and even then it was obvious you didn’t enjoy it. Enjoy me. You treated me like I was this disgusting, repellent thing that you allowed to touch you only when you couldn’t be bothered to say no. A lot of the time you would turn me down. I was afraid to try to touch you in case I got rejected. Especially at the end. You always came up with an excuse. Just like your excuse for getting rid of me, they were always flimsy too.
Not once did you say you were glad I’d moved in. Not once. After two and a half years together I had not expected you to be so heartless. You say you felt like this before; why bother asking me to move in? We had such a nice summer; I had no idea where this came from. You hoped it would get better with me there – but you were never there! You put people you didn’t know – people like Helen – before me! You clearly didn’t want me there, but don’t have the balls to admit it. I keep saying I don’t understand. You still can’t give me a damned reason.
It’s now half one the morning. I still can’t stop crying. You persuade me to get ready for bed. You tentatively mention sleeping arrangements. I say I can sleep on the sofa, but you refuse. Then you say that you suppose I should get used to sleeping on my own, but I cry even more and without a word you let me sleep in your bed. I still feel sick. Overwhelmed, I make it to the bathroom and sit by the toilet bowl until I wretch, but nothing comes up. You wander in and pull me back to bed. You wrap your arms around me and pull me close – another contradiction. I last another half an hour before I’m back in the bathroom wretching. Again you pull me back to bed.
I fall into an uneasy sleep where a nightmare tangles my brain. You desert me even in my dreamscape, showing more contempt than you had in person. Upset, I wake. A glance at the clock shows it’s 6am – I’ve only slept for 3 hours. Still feeling sick, I realise I can’t do this. I run into the living room and pull my blanket around me, curling up on the sofa we had chosen together. Kept company by my tears, I manage to drift into another fitful sleep, the slow morning light painting the backs of my eyelids.
THE DAY AFTER
I only manage to sleep for another three hours. I stare at the ceiling, afraid to move in case this nightmare turns out to be real. You wander in, dressed, and sit down next to me. I am angrier this morning. I repeat my questions from last night. “Why? What have I done? I don’t understand!” In response you also get angry, trying to say I’d known about this for weeks. I start to cry – again. Whoever this person is before me, it’s not the man I love. We go through the same cycle as last night. I beg you to take it back, say you didn’t mean it. I beg you to say this is only temporary – a break. You begrudgingly tell me I can think of it like that if I want to, but I can tell you just want me gone. This realisation makes me sob more. You get angry with me for begging you to take it back, when I say there is no issue and it’s all in your head. I say it feels like you’re just giving up on me. “I am giving up.” You reply. You tell me that you can carry on for another six months if I want but that you’ll be very unhappy. You use that scathing tone you’ve suddenly adopted when you speak to me. I start to cry even more. How can it have gone so wrong so quickly? You’re trying to make me think I’m being selfish by wanting to actually try and make things better. You’re the one who’s just giving up after two and a half years together. After I’ve only moved in two months ago. You made your decision after two weeks to get rid of me, though you won’t admit it.
After a few moments of silence, you mention archery is on soon so we need to leave. I tell you I don’t want to go – the thought of going to the place we met and acting normal makes my skin crawl. I know that you’re just going to leave me standing on my own and I’m going to end up going for a walk to get away. Playing it out in my head fills me with dread. You say it will do me good. You get my stuff together as I change, but I can’t stop crying. The one man I thought I could trust – thought I could tell everything to – has rejected me. I’m going to be alone again. I’m going to go right back to that dark place I was in before I met you. I can feel its grip tightening on me even now.
As the tears fall you seem to come to your senses; going to archery with a sobbing ex-girlfriend isn’t going to work. You put our stuff away and say we don’t have to go. Relieved, I slither back under my blanket as the constant silent tears roll down my cheeks. You turn on the TV, and in a bout of guilt ask if I want you to take me to watch that new film I wanted to go see. Astounded, I don’t know what to say. Though because the finality of what’s happened between us in the last twenty four hours hasn’t hit me yet I nod yes. I’m not going to get to see it with anyone else, so I might as well make one last memory with you.
Before I had collapsed into bed last night I had texted Angharad and Mum to tell them what you had done. I was ashamed to admit it. The one person who had chosen me, built up my confidence and taught me that I deserved to be loved – had rejected me. I was ashamed to admit I had let myself believe those things were true when this confession of yours suggested otherwise. I felt empty – soulless. What hurt me the most was the realisation that this was the most concern you had shown me in the entire time I’d been here.
You wanted to do your food shopping for the week – as we were leaving Asda I noticed a missed call from Mum. Phoning her back, I was filled with a sudden child-like desperation to hear her voice. She picked up almost immediately.
“Leah? Are you okay? I phoned about your text, darling…” I start to sob. “Leah, I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do – you’re going to pack your stuff into Tilly, then you’re going to drive home tonight. Are you okay to drive? Do you want me to come and get you?”
I tell her I’ll be fine, but that I’ve got a doctor’s appointment tomorrow I need to go to.
“I know it’s hard now, but when you look back you’ll understand this is probably for the best…” Suddenly, I miss my Mum so much. I’d given up my time with my family for you, and this is how you repay me?
We go to watch the film. You insisted on buying the tickets and the popcorn. The opening scenes are based in Mexico on the Day of the Dead. We both laugh; one of the only films you like – The Book of Life – has its story based entirely around this day. My laughter soon fades – you don’t want to share things like that with me anymore. The film was disappointing. They focused too much on the action and violence, and not enough on the plot – you say you’d thought it would be like this. I don’t understand why you have brought me here and done this when you had so adamantly refused yesterday. I tell myself at least I got a free film out of it.
When we get back you start to make food. Shepherd’s pie – you had been saying the entire time I’d been here how much you wanted to try it, and I’d brought most of the stuff we’d need. While you prepare the food I start to throw my things into bin bags. It doesn’t seem fair – barely two months ago I’d packed my life into bin bags so I could start it anew with you. Now I’m being made to pick up the old one from where I’d left it. I keep glancing at the photo of us you have out on your bedside table. I always hated how I looked in that photo, but that didn’t matter because its presence meant that I was the first thing you saw when you woke up. Now my heart aches because I know that come tomorrow evening that bedside table is going to be clear, and you’re going to pack me away in a box. Just because you can’t be bothered to make it work. Just because I don’t fit your lifestyle. Every now and again you sheepishly appear, offering your help. But this is something I have to do on my own. If you helped me it would eerily be like that first week, when you helped me clear my university room at the end of my first year. When we were just starting out. I can’t be reminded of how much you had wanted to impress me and be involved with my life. I pack as much as I can, resigned to finishing the job tomorrow. My stomach clenches. Tomorrow I have to move out. Move back home. Once that has happened, it really will be final.
We eat food and you offer to play one last level of Halo out of guilt. I agree, and for the next hour we play side by side. I can’t believe this is the last time I will ever play this with you. I say as much, and you feel guilty and ask me not to say it like that. Though it’s true. We finish and get ready for bed. You say you’d prefer me to sleep in an actual bed, and I agree to sleep in yours for one last time. After all, one more night won’t hurt. Climbing into bed, I gaze into your eyes for one last time. Tears filling mine, I turn out the light. You let me sleep lying on your chest. Though instead of sleep, I talk about our relationship and my favourite things that have happened. One after one I name several occasions which meant so much to me.
The first time I came to Bangor to stay with you; I’d gotten there earlier than you had so was sat waiting for you on a grassy bank in the warm summer sun. You came towards me with a bouquet of flowers, and I nearly burst out crying with happiness.
My last birthday; you drove all the way down from Yorkshire late on Christmas night to see me. We stayed up late chatting and then you woke me the next morning. You spent the day with my family and I, then came out to town with my friends in the evening. I got the right amount of drunk – just tipsy enough that I kept giggling at how lucky I was but not too drunk that I couldn’t walk or made myself sick.
When you asked me out; I was home for the summer, so you came down to see me on the bus. You met me after work, then we went to Abbie’s house where my friends met you. We all went to the pub – we kept creeping closer and closer as the night went on. Back at Abbie’s, I ended up sat on your lap as we watched a film. Abbie let us have her bed. You kissed me – I had never been kissed before so I didn’t know what I was doing – you guided me so that I got better. Then you asked me to be your girlfriend and I said yes. That whole week I took you across Pembrokeshire, doing things that we both enjoyed. At a meal with my Auntie Chris and Uncle Pete we had our first picture taken together.
The first time you came out with me; you left archery early with Amelia and I, we went back to Zoe’s flat and got changed. I wore a figure-hugging black dress – you said you liked it and tried to catch me on my own. The two girls ‘rescued’ me and we all sat in the kitchen. We went to meet Hannah’s boyfriend, Gabe, in his flat. I remember being close to you, and as I got drunker trying to run away from everyone outside. You caught me and held on to me. When my asthma kicked off because of my run, you legged it back to Zoe’s flat to get my inhaler so I could breathe.
Of course, the holiday; our adventure with the car and trying to get to Lands End. Spending time with your family, you telling me we’d get to go on holiday ourselves next year – just the two of us. The beautiful green belt you bought me with stars embellished in the leather. You telling me you really cared about me and didn’t want me feeling neglected.
All these beautiful memories in my mind, glittering in their own constellations. How could I forget the time last year when I had glandular fever and you looked after me at yours? You had made me feel so safe.
The fact that we have spoken every day since we first met. Remembering this, my smile drops – I’m not going to get to talk to you. You’re the first person I talk to in the morning and the last person I talk to at night. You get anxious if I’m out late and don’t tell you when I get home safely. I’m not going to have any of that any more.
I ask you what your favourite memories were, thinking that I can at least remember those, knowing that they meant a lot to you. You say they all blur into one. That you just feel numb. My heart sinks – you can’t even name one? When I press you for more, you half-heartedly mention the trip to Cardiff where you drove for another society and we ended up watching a film together. At this I start to doubt any feelings you supposedly had for me. I have so many beautiful memories, but all you can remember is a day spent driving strangers around?
During my reminiscing, my crying has stopped. Thinking about the good times, with me still in your arms, comforts me. I resign myself to trying to help your mental state instead. I beg you to think not just about us, but about your life. I want you to think about what you want to do with the rest of your life. Think about what else is making you unhappy and change it. That life isn’t always about money – if you’re unhappy with your job, change it. Retrain as a teacher. I ask what you think would make you happy. You talk about your uni activities. You say you don’t want to join different clubs because you connect better with the uni students. You tell me you want to do this for the next five years at least. My stomach drops – you were happy for me to stay in a dead end job for the next five years? I ignore it – it doesn’t matter now. I plead with you to talk to someone about it. That I am always here if you need me. You tell me you’ll let me know what happens.
I fall asleep, then wake an hour before your alarm. You had moved away from me in the night, but realising this will be the last hour I am ever likely to spend in bed with you I wrap my arms around you. Your alarm goes off; you wake up.
I get up too, wanting to spend every last minute with you that I can. I sit next to you as you eat your breakfast, and wait as you shave and brush your teeth. You come back, and knowing this is the last time I will ever see your face chokes me up. I tell you that I love you, and that I will always love you as I hug you so tightly. You get ready to go but we can’t stop hugging. Then as you walk towards the door I swear I see a tear in your eye. I run to the bedroom to watch you get into your car. You turn to look at me and wave. You start the car, and I run through to the living room to watch you leave. You look up at me and wave for one last time. Then you’re gone.
I sit on the sofa and cry for a while. I can’t believe that after a wonderful two and a half years, it’s all over. I’m going to be on my own again. No one is going to ask how I am. You’re not going to worry if I don’t get home okay. You’re not going to ask me about my day, or how I’m feeling. It isn’t until you text me half an hour later, your usual kiss missing, that the truth begins to sink in. This is really happening. I start to gather the rest of my stuff before taking my old uniform back to the care worker office. I waste time until my doctor’s appointment before driving to Bangor – I still can’t stop crying. The nurse takes a look at my thumb – it’s all healed nicely now. I text you to tell you what happened, and my heart twists when I realise that you’re more interested in whether my thumb has healed than you are about my emotions.
I make it back to the flat and start to pack my stuff into my car. In between doing so I can’t stop texting you, telling you I can’t believe that you’re making me do this. You text a lame ‘I’m sorry’. I hate that – you’re not sorry at all. If you were sorry, you wouldn’t be making me do this. You clearly don’t care about me. I bump into your neighbour, Terrie – she asks where I’m going. I start crying when I explain that I’m leaving. She can’t believe it - she says that we had looked so happy when she saw us last. She says you were really excited for me to move in with you. I explain what you’d said to me the previous two evenings. She looks disgusted with you. She repeats my very own question: Why on earth would you ask me to move in if you’d felt like this before hand? She hugs me and says that she’s so sorry, to let her know when I get home. I tell her you’d said that if you feel better I can come back. She scoffs, tells me that if you do decide that, you should be made to beg. She offers to help me pack, but I decline.
I finish packing my car. I send you a message, asking if you really want me to go. You send me a message saying ‘I think it’s best for now’. Bullshit. This is just an excuse to get rid of me. Heartbroken, I lock the front door and climb into my car. I take one last look before I drive home.
The weather was horrendous. Rain came down sheets – I could barely see the road. With the water that covered the roads and the high winds, it was hands down one of the most terrifying drives of my life. Add to that the fact I kept crying, and it was a truly wonderful experience. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. You want time to get better? How is getting rid of me – when you say you’re not happy with anything else either – going to help you to feel better? You clearly don’t trust me. I say so when I stop for a break, and you say it’s not true. It clearly is though; how is going to no contact with me going to make you feel better? You don’t seem to realise this and won’t listen to anything I say. Where has the man I loved gone? I have no idea who you are. It’s like the man I knew ceased to exist from the moment I moved in. I carry on driving until I get home – I see Mum through the window and burst into tears. I leave my stuff in the car and run inside. Immediately the dogs run towards me – in the first 30 seconds that I walked through that door, they were more excited to see me than you ever were in the entire two months I lived with you. Mum comes into the living room and pulls me into a hug and tells me how much she missed me. Tom puts my food out ready on the side – sausage, egg and chips. I sit with Mum and tell her what happened. She tells me that it’s hard to see now, but this will all work out for the best.
She tells me about her first husband. They had met at university and been married soon after. He had decided to go into the ministry – Beysey helped him into a college in Cambridge, and Mum saw him on the weekends. She decided after five years of marriage, she had to make a proper go of things. She gave up her business at home and moved to Cambridge with him. But when she was there, he was foul to her – similar to how you treated me, but worse. She tried to bring him to marriage counselling, but they sided with him, telling Mum she didn’t know what she was talking about because she came from a moral background. Then at a friend’s dinner party, he announced to the whole table that he no longer loved her. Horrified, I can’t think of what to say.
I tell her how you were never home. You stayed over at Helen’s until 3 in the morning every Tuesday and Thursday rather than come home to me – then mocked me for being concerned about you. I tell her that you only spent two days’ worth of quality time with me – one of which included the day you left me. I tell her that it felt like you didn’t even want me there anymore. I talk about you constantly volunteering to drive people you didn’t even know to places like Birmingham and Edinburgh rather than spend your free time with me. I tell her that I had only been there two weeks when you came out with this crap, then made me feel miserable the entire time I was there.
I tell her about the Conwy food festival. You had suggested we go after having a nice time last year, and I had been so looking forward to it. But when we wake up the weather was horrible. You were in a foul mood instantly. We ran there in the rain but you made it clear you didn’t want to be there. We sat down for the demonstrations, and you got your phone out. You had been so cagey about your phone recently so I was immediately suspicious. You had been so obvious about putting your hand over the screen so I wouldn’t see what you were saying (Mum immediately says what I’d been thinking whenever you did this – there was obviously something going on), so now I was trying to see what you were typing whenever I could. The funny thing is, if you hadn’t been so obvious about trying to hide what you were saying, I probably wouldn’t have been bothered by it. You claim this was because you might be talking about confidential information, but who am I to them? Who am I going to tell? This doesn’t seem to occur to you. As your phone buzzes, I look over your shoulder to see ‘Won’t your girlfriend be gone by then?’ My heart plummets. Of course I assume that’s about me! It’s a completely natural thing to assume! I drop your hand and sit up properly in my seat. If you’ve spoken to all your SVB friends about me, there’s clearly no point in me bothering to convince you to keep me. You can tell I’ve seen it and that I’m upset. But you don’t make any move to explain about it, or tell me it wasn’t about me. I disappear to Bangor to see my friends and with alcohol in my system send you a text: ‘I saw your friend’s message. That’s why I was upset.’ You text back, angry. When I get back you refuse to talk about it. You’re furious that I didn’t mention it and assumed what was meant. I’m upset that you try and turn it around and imply it’s my fault, when you were the one who was hiding your phone. I tell Mum as such, and she looks angry.
“They’re very good at that.”
I rant about everything – you telling me on Saturday that I should get used to sleeping on my own; how emotionally manipulative you could be – for example the Conwy food festival. She listens to me rant and tells me she’s been waiting for this to happen. Apparently my Uncle Pete mentioned that he didn’t like the way you spoke to me on my birthday. She tells me that you came across as really nice, but the more I told her about you the more she thought you were strange. Thinking about it, I can’t remember the last time you did something nice for me – to show me that you were glad to have me there and that you loved me.
Weirdly, after talking to Mum, I feel better. I start to remember the little things you did that I wasn’t comfortable with. The fact you never told me you loved me; You never touched me unless I touched you first; The fact I was never allowed to watch a programme if you didn’t like it – I had to record it to watch when you weren’t in; You watching programmes like that with Helen rather than come home to spend time with me; That time we’d tried to get you drunk and you’d been sick so I’d tried to soothe you, then you told me I was being condescending. I start to feel angrier still.
Mum tells me that she’ll pay for a courier to take the rest of my stuff back from yours. She says to cut off all contact with you. That Helen is welcome to you. It still hasn’t sunk in yet that you want me to be out of your life for good. But the more I think about it, the more I think about how unhappy I’ve been over the past two months. It was always about you – you never thought about how your behaviour would affect me. You never thought about me. Even when I mentioned the fact I wanted to see you as well as Helen. Despite you saying you wanted me to tell you if I felt neglected, when I screamed it out loud your response was to leave me.
I go to bed and tell my friends what’s happened. Abbie immediately phones me and we’re on the phone for an hour and a half. I tell her that you only ever told me you loved me twice. The first of which you admitted in an argument afterwards you only said – and I quote – to ‘shut me up’. The second was only a few weeks ago when I was upset at you saying you ‘felt your heart wasn’t in us’. Abbie is livid. I tell her about me mentioning I don’t like my glasses because I don’t think they suit me and that you agreed. I tell her about when we first started going out and you said you like me how I am – the size I am – you say I’ve lost weight since starting university and don’t want me to go back to how I was before. Really those alarm bells should have told me what to do – I’ve never been self-conscious about my weight because I’ve always been a healthy, average size 12, but your selfish comments made me think I should be. Abbie told me that I was such a happy, bubbly person and that you seemed such the opposite, she wondered if you would ever have made me happy in the long term.
All of these things flood back to me – how can I have brushed over these? The ‘I love you’ thing had actually really, really hurt me – no one had ever shown me attention before so that had really meant a lot to me, but you always turned it into a joke. Despite the fact I thought we would spend the rest of our lives together, I always had that niggling doubt in the back of my mind because of the fact you wouldn’t tell me you loved me.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced you never actually loved me at all. You refused to tell me things – I can understand the thinking behind the ‘confidential information’, but this is me! You once said I was the best thing that ever happened to you, but you wouldn’t talk to me about things your friends were going through – despite the fact that I always told you everything. You supposedly trusted me, so why didn’t you act like it? I deserved someone like Tom, who would tell my Mum everything. I deserve someone who will shout their love for me from the rooftops; someone who wants to show me off and treat me like a queen. I deserved all of that, and what you had to offer wasn’t good enough. I know I watch too many romantic films and read too many romantic books, but I do deserve all of that! I know it’s not sunshine and roses all the time, but I’m meant to have someone who tells me they love me.
Clearly that person will never be you. Obviously there were good times – really good times - but looking back at all the little things that bothered me, I decided Mum’s right. You are never going to see me again.
I dreamt you chased me. I dreamt you caught me and said you didn’t mean it and that you want another go. The fog of the dream holds me in place as I wake to realise that’s all it was: just a dream.
I haven’t told my Grandparents I’m home. I drive into town and buy baguettes for lunch – the ritual almost convinces me I never left. Grandma and Beysey are so happy to see me. Everyone I’ve spoken to so far is so glad to have me home. Every single one of them has been happier to see me than you were the entire time I was there. I tell them everything. Grandma is shocked. She tells me that no man will ever treat me like that again while she is alive. She tells me to fetch her bible and reads me a passage about love: I Corinthians XIII. ‘…If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves…’ As I listen, I know it’s true. Even now you are selfish. Grandma tells me Mum is right, that I am much better off back here, where I belong.
Angharad comes over later on. I tell her everything that happened and everything that springs to mind. She tells me that I was there for her, so now it’s her time to be there for me. That night when I go to sleep I glance at my phone. Today was the first day in the last two and a half years that we have not spoken. I restrain myself and put my phone away. I will not be desperate. I will not let you think that I am here, sat waiting to hear from you. I will not become pathetic. I do not need you. I have my friends and family.
My university friends invite me up for the weekend. Jackie asks me to come with her on Thursday to pick Abbie up from the station in Cardiff. All these people showing me concern. At least I know I can pick my friends well.
Thursday, Jackie picks me up. I tell her what happened and she tells me she always thought I was too nice for you. She is also horrified when I tell her most of the things I’ve been remembering, especially when I tell her how you’ve treated me over the past two months. Jackie agrees with what Abbie had told me at the start of the week – she said you were such a depressing person. She says I have to think of whether I’d have been happy like that for the rest of my life. Thinking about it, you were so miserable when I lived with you. When you were miserable it rubbed off on me and made me feel worse. I would try to be positive but you would just shoot me down. It was like if you couldn’t be happy, I wasn’t allowed to be either. Thinking about how dejected I was living with you after you came out with this crap, I knew the answer was ‘no’. I mention you hiding your phone, and explain about the ‘confidential information’. Jackie scoffs – she tells me that’s a load of bollocks because you wouldn’t be allowed to message each other about confidential information. That you could be arrested for it. It makes me wonder what you didn’t want me to know.
Abbie reacts the same way when I tell her in depth what happened on Friday. My friends do the same on the weekend. They sit and listen, then get me drunk and distract me. They are all wonderful – each and every one of them. I check your Facebook page and see that you have finally changed your relationship status to ‘single’. That word finally cuts through my denial and I start to realise that it’s true. I’m never going to see you again.
On Monday, Adam and Zoe come with me to get the rest of my stuff. For the very last time, I drive to Colwyn Bay. I had been petrified you would be there, trying to make sure I wouldn’t do anything to your flat. Luckily you weren’t there – though the last part of my hope dies as I see your empty parking space. You didn’t consider me important enough. We take my stuff out, and I notice your iPad. The dark part of me takes over – I’m never going to see you again, so what does it matter if I look at the messages you sent to Helen? But when I open the TU go app it’s not your messages I see – it’s mine. My blood runs cold. Why were you looking at my phone messages? What the hell did you think I had to hide? This tells me I’m definitely making the right decision by cutting you out of my life. I’m reminded of when we first started going out – you’d leant your ex-girlfriend some money and she hadn’t yet paid you back. You knew her bank passwords and logged on to see what she was up to. I close the door, take the keys off my key ring and put them in your post box. When I get in the car I tell Adam and Zoe about what I just discovered. They both speak my mind: ‘That’s really creepy’, ‘What did he think you had to hide?’ When we get back they make me change all my passwords. That night they get me drunk and take me out, taking my mind off it. Before we started I sent one last text message: ‘Just got the rest of my stuff. Have a nice life :)’ Adam and Zoe dissuaded me from sending a sarcastic ‘I hope you and Helen will be very happy together.’ They think I may regret it. I am determined to be better than my Dad was with my Mum. I’m better than that.
The simple answer that you want to find is that you didn’t love me. You may have liked me as a person - though I’m finding that very hard to believe judging by your coldness towards me over the past three months – but you never loved me. If you love someone – and I mean really, really love someone – you want to show them off. You trust them so completely that you want to tell them everything; about your day, about your friends, about everything. You don’t hide things about your life, like the people you knew through SVB (I doubt I would have even got to know about Helen if she hadn’t had her crisis and you felt obliged to rescue her) or how you’re feeling. You don’t avoid them after you’ve asked them to move in with you. You want to tell everyone about them, about this amazing person you’ve found and can’t spend enough of your time with. You don’t get angry when that person says they want to spend more time with you because you’re so busy doing everything else they feel neglected. Really, you would put them first – put them before SVB and driving strangers around. You don’t talk about certain things with other people and refuse to even mention it to them – like the brief mentioning of counselling I suggested, and you refused to acknowledge it as an option because someone you knew had a bad experience, then refused to tell me anything more than that. Not even who this mysterious friend was. You would confide in the person you loved, not this random friend who they didn’t even know existed. If you love someone you are honest with them. You don’t say ‘that’s not what I do’ when they ask you to tell them more.
So there’s your answer. You were more attracted by the idea of me rather than the actual me. That’s why something didn’t feel right. You may not want to admit it, but you know it’s true. If you had loved me you wouldn’t have wanted to let me go. One of our archery friends has even told me that you seem completely unphased by this whole thing. It’s like I never existed to you. You haven’t shown one shred of true remorse other than a pale imitation that derived from guilt. I should know that’s how you would react if you loved me because I really did love you. I reacted this exact way around you. Though somewhere down the line you got bored of the idea of me. That’s why this has happened. The one thing I deserved was you to be honest with me and you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t admit that you wanted me out of your life. You couldn’t admit that I wasn’t good enough for you.
I really do hope you have a nice life (though of course I noticed the lack of mutual feeling), and that you get over whatever you think is wrong with you. I’m sorry to say that life will not include me. You don’t deserve me. You couldn’t be honest with me when it counted most. You clearly never loved me, or even cared about me in the slightest. I bet that you haven’t felt a smidgen of the loss I’ve felt for you – I bet you haven’t even thought about me once. Not like how I’ve been agonising over every detail, trying to figure out where I went wrong. But that doesn’t matter now. You are never coming back – this I promise you. This will be the last you ever hear from me. Goodbye, James – have a nice life.