“Dear Alex (she had written) Sunday was so sad. It nearly broke my heart.
I don’t know how I walked away. I thought I was being strong.”
I look at the envelope, postmark London NW 2. I stare at the familiar looping script on the crisp white notepaper, and read on.
“I phoned you because I wanted very much to talk to you and find out your plans. I realise now that I shouldn’t have done. Just as I shouldn’t have sent the text or come to see you on Sunday. I thought it would help things, but I realise it was being very ,very selfish. All along I know I have been very, very selfish.”
I reach into the top cupboard and take down a bottle of Becks, holding the letter in my mouth as I open the beer and resume reading.
“I can only ask you to forgive me for the way I’ve behaved. I don’t deserve it. Believe me this really is all my fault. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to speak to me again. All along you have been so reasonable I can’t believe it. You really have been marvellous. A saint. This only made me feel worse, and behave more unreasonably myself. It is not your fault Alex. It isn’t. It’s me. I did it. I thought that by choosing Kevin I was doing the right thing for all sorts of reasons.”
I take a good slug from the beer. It tastes metallic in my mouth, but I can feel the familiar comfortable glow as it hits my empty stomach. I grab the bottle and with my free hand holding the letter now push open the door to the front room and walk in.
“The thing that really confuses me about all of this is that I don’t know what I want. The fact that I can’t make up my mind means I believe that something is wrong. I still don’t know what it is.”
I sit down in one of the chairs and take another swig of the beer.
“You were right when you said that you thought I had got myself in so deep I didn’t know what to do. Things happened so quickly that I lost control over events. Believe me I wanted to tell you so much, but I felt that there was so much else to sort out in our relationship that it would just be the final straw. I thought you would go mad, walk out. I misjudged you then and I know I did you a grave misservice; but can you understand that – thinking that way? I couldn’t tell you because I didn’t feel ready or prepared to lose you.”
I put my feet up on the table and light a cigarette. I take a deep pull on it and exhale the thick smoke through my nose and mouth.
“So many times I looked at you and thought ‘What am I doing? I can’t bear to lose you.’ I did think it might all blow over, but it didn’t. In a way it is because it was a less sure choice. I knew if we stayed together it would have top be 200% commitment and sureness. Compared with that Kevin was just a prospective relationship with all the usual sorts of reservations and uncertainties.Less demanding I suppose.”
Cigarette In hand, I pick a stray bit of tobacco from my tongue.
“He used to ask me what you had that he didn’t. I tried to explain how special it was, but I don’t think he realised. I know he’s never had a first love so I didn’t expect him to. You’ve still got a part of me that no-one will ever have.”
Smoke eddies from the tip of my cigarette.
“I did think that once I’d decided something I’d be happy. But I wasn’t and I’m not. I just feel lost and displaced. I suppose that this is a natural reaction when someone who has been there for so long suddenly isn’t.”
I take another long pull at the Becks and find myself snorting quietly
“I never expected Kevin to replace you though. I knew no-one else would. All the things I said on Sunday were true. I still love you very much. I miss you. Nothing is the same. Please forgive me Alex, I don’t trust myself any more, or anything I feel or decide. I am trying to do what’s for the best even if I’m wrong.
I will always love you.
I realise that it is starting to get dark, so I get up and turn the light on. I screw the letter up, take a last deep drag of my cigarette and stub it out on the ball of paper, I walk through to the kitchen, drain my Becks and throw everything into the bin.
Now the real question is do I have time for a soak in the bath before I go and pick up Juliette? We are going into town tonight to the cinema.
I think I can manage it.
© 2014 Andy Daly
(Another Story written for my Short Story Writing course)