Chapter Nine – The Morning After – Welcome to your Twenties

In my extremely drunken state, I had the weirdest dream in the world. Matt Bellamy was in it and he was helping me to plot the downfall of Avril Lavigne who had become bigger than God, much to the annoyance of the Gallagher brothers. It was like some kind of nightmare society where those who hated Miss Lavigne were locked underground and kept out of the major cities for fear of some kind of raucous real-rock riot. All the Lavigne fans were dressed identically – girls in black and white striped ties and guys in those olive green cut-off skate pants like robots or something. We kept setting off car bombs and things to piss off the government, headed by Sum 41 (*pause for terrified shiver down your spine*) and then we were trying to bring this huge plan together to assassinate her. I never realised how much I hated her before. It was a cool dream actually. Anyway, that wasn't really the point – when I woke up from the dream, I kind of had this revelation about my life. An epiphany if you like. Allow me to bore you with an explanation!

I was considering how weak I had been over the last few days; I mean, I always thought I would be able to cope with a rejection from Nick. I had been waiting for it for so long so it was a little disappointing to see how easily my strength just crumbled away. In some bizarre way, Nick leaving me made me appreciate what we had and I realise now that I should've been a bit more vocal about making an effort with our relationship rather than blaming him for everything. Of course, I also could've cut back on the whole cheating on him thing; I'm sure that would've shown him I was a little more interested than I appeared. But I think I had it sussed out that night I met Charlie; this whole teenage angst bullshit is just an excuse for me to be unhappy. I'm not a teenager anymore and no amount of fucking around is going to change that, it doesn't mean I have to grow up but it does mean that I have to start accepting some responsibility for my more questionable actions, Adam par example. Take this little experiment of mine, I wonder if I've actually learned anything at all or if I've just been pissing about in a last-ditch attempt to remain a teenager forever. I can feel all sense of teenage angst leaving my system; I'm almost twenty-five for God's sake. I should be celebrating that fact rather than bemoaning the fact that I miss my youth. There's that line in an Ataris song – "Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up" – my new mission is to prove to the world that a teenager wrote those words and they are all a load of bollocks.

The sound of the television distracts me from my random thoughts and drags me back to reality as I wonder who could be in my flat at this time of day – answers vary wildly with that one considering how many people own keys to this shabby place. I'm only wearing Nick's shirt and a pair of his old boxers but I don't really care right now, I get up and wander quietly into the living room. Nick is lying on my sofa watching 'Fairly Odd Parents' and looking as though he hadn't slept a wink but still hasn't got a care in the world, I look at him trying not to smile at the sight of him but it's far too difficult. I walk over and he automatically moves his legs so I can sit down next to him, I feel as if I've woken up in some weird alternative universe where none of the events of the last few days really happened.

"Nick," I say, he looks at me tiredly. "Not that I'm pleased to see you but, what are you doing here?" Nick grins and shakes his head, I know from the glint in his eye that this is going to be good. He switches off our favourite cartoon and turns to face me; this is going to be really good.

"You called me last night," he says, I frown wondering if I really did. "But you wouldn't say anything and then all of a sudden you started singing Time is Running Out," I start to laugh at the stupidity of my drunken alter-ego. "And I thought you were trying to tell me that you'd done something stupid,"

"What? Like taken an overdose or something?" I giggle uncontrollably; Nick is nodding with the same maniacal grin on his face. "Time is running out, I can't believe it, I'm such an idiot,"

"So I came rushing over and you were fast asleep, snoring like a pig," he smiles. I stop laughing and look up at him, really touched that he came over but the silence is just awkward. I need to say something, I need to kill the uncomfortable feeling between us and just get things back to normal as soon as normal. That was I can just forget my madness of the last few weeks.

"How've you been?" I ask cheerfully, Nick looks bemused. I don't think he was expecting me to be so blasé, maybe he was expecting histrionics or something. "I really wanted to call but I just couldn't do it. Well, not sober anyway," Nick puts his hand on my knee and squeezes gently; this is my sign to shut up because he wants to say something.

"Tara, I'm sorry I walked out on you the other day but I was so angry with you," he starts, I try to speak but he won't let me. "I was thinking about everything you said and it's true. We have been screwing around for ages now and I guess I always thought we could keep it the way it was in uni but I don't want to do that anymore," This is it, this is the moment he leaves me properly. Man, I am such an idiot thinking he came over because he cared about me. "I think that we should give it a try, a proper try. Y'know, no more cheating and running around on each other, just the two of us, right?" I am speechless, I am breathless, I am ecstatic. I throw my arms around his neck and drag him close, it's really weird how it never happens like it does in the movies but when the guy you want tells you that he kinda wants you too – nothing else matters and the movies can go to hell. I would prefer this to some overblown romantic gesture any day.

Don't get me wrong, this couldn't be less romantic if it tried. Picture if you will, a very tired guy who despite the dark eyes and pale skin manages to still radiate a quiet attractiveness sitting beside a girl whose hair is the wrong side of extremely greasy, last night's mascara staining her cheeks and last night's whisky on her breath dressed in a tatty shirt and boxer shorts in a tiny living room slash kitchen. Yeah, you'll never see that scene in any Hollywood rom-com blockbuster. Although, if you did I would want Meg Ryan, a là 'Addicted to Love', to play me. She was so cool in that film. Anyway, at this moment in time, I don't know how long Nick and I are going to last. I don't know if it will ever become serious enough for him to move in or for us to get engaged or anything like that but, I don't care. I've got what I wanted, for now.

"How has it taken you so damn long to realise?" I ask, still holding on tight. I don't want to let him go, I'm absolutely petrified that he'll just fall through my fingers and it will turn out to be yet another weirdo dream. He pushes me away and looks down at me, running his fingers though my hair – which I cringe at as I can't help but think it desperately needs to be washed. "Why couldn't you have said that ages ago?"

"Because I didn't know then," he says, frowning at me as if I have just asked the most ridiculous question ever. I sigh almost contently and lie down, resting my head against his chest. This is what I've missed the most these last few days, the simple things, the weird comfort activities that I had previously mocked. Good God, I'm becoming half of a couple. Man, that sucks.

"You do realise that it's a statistical impossibility for us to live happily ever after," I smile.

"Yeah, but who wants that happy ever after crap?" he grins; I snuggle in closer to his chest and ponder those words. I always figured I wanted that 'happy ever after' crap but realisation dawns that I hate women's magazines, those bloody chick-lit books and any romantic film with a happy ending. I mean, how depressing is the end of Gone with the Wind – the greatest romance ever written? Maybe I've always had a thing for reality but I just never realised it before… I've missed Nick's smell, it used to emanate from my flat and not it's back. There are so many things I've missed about him and I cannot believe how easily it's all come back together; it's just fallen into place. I smile contently to myself, who knew that life in your twenties could be just as crazed as it was in your teens?

"You'll never guess who I met last night,"