Chapter Twenty Four

Running out of time

It was not a matter of days, it was a whole month; four weeks without a girlfriend and without a mistress. At work, Anna hardly spoke to me. I felt like crap, but at the same time I felt relieved. I was enjoying myself and my privacy, until I acknowledged there were two people waiting for an answer. The first week passed and I was recovering from the chaotic encounters. I missed Malin and I missed Sara, but I realized how selfish I had been. I was about to lose not just one of them, but both at the same time.

I even thought they were going to approach me and send me some message, asking to see me, but that never happened. The second week passed by and I was getting a strange anxiety that reflected on the way I shook when the telephone rang, or when someone knocked on my door. I did my usual chores , just waiting to see if I had a new email or to see someone showing up at my door. I was so clueless about everything else that I went to work on a Saturday. As expected, it was closed.

The third week without them was awful, and this was when the real fear kicked in. It was when I realized how much I missed them and to what end did I miss them. Malin, sweet, strange but warm Malin was an amazing girl. I couldn't break her heart by choosing anyone else, but I had to, because I would anyway let her down in the long run. I missed the chats and her playful ways of calling my attention. I missed having a companion at tea time. I missed her as a friend, as a beautiful, smart, sweet... friend. I thought of Malin all the third week and the more I thought about her, the more I knew I had to do the right thing.

The fourth week the doubts were crumbling down and I was gaining strength to admit that Sara was and had always been not the only availabe option, but the only option I was always prone to choose. I missed Sara with such painful passion, I could barely sleep at night just remembering our time together, old times and recent times. And when I talk about passion, I don't mean the fire under the sheets, I mean the feeling of dying when I couldn't have her right there, right then. Years had passed since the first time I saw her, since the first time we kissed, and Zoe was still as in love with that girl if not more.

I woke up right when a month had gone by and yawned the insecurities away. I was planning on taking it slowly, preparing some speech, even going shopping for the appropriate outfit in which I would tell Malin that she was an amazing person, dynamic beyond belief, clearly, but that I was sadly, not the one she needed. Maybe I would buy a grey shirt, it seemed a neutral option, very formal. I was building the speech in my head, remembering quotes from illuminated people in my life. "Whoever you need, needs you" as my sister Tara had once said. I mused about how I was going to tell Malin all these things when a phone call startled me. "Could it be her? Have I summoned the devil?" I wondered. I went to pick up the phone on my tip toes. I looked at the number calling me. It didn't ring a bell in my head at first, but I knew there was some familiar sense to it.

"Hej, Zoe" I answered.

"When the fuck were you thinking of popping out of your hole and drag your sorry arse to talk to her?" an angry male voice inquired. I jumped on my spot, scared of this maniac, but then I joined the dots and everything made sense.

"Hey Fred, nice talking to you again, it's been a while" I said sarcastically.

"You have no time left" he said, "or, have you chosen the other girl now?"

I sighed, taking my time to relax and explain, but I didn't know yet that I was actually, running out of time. Fred hadn't addressed the full point straight out.

"I have chosen the one I want. You don't need to know further information" I said.

"It better be my sister becau-"

"Fred, Fred" I cut him off, "Don't push me. I know what I'm doing and I'm going to make a move when I'm ready to make a move. I love your sister and I will indeed-"

"Listen to me, you idiot" he cut me off aggressively, "Sara is arriving to Stockholm's Central Station in fifteen minutes, according to the train schedule. In half an hour she will be stepping into a room with two business people inside. She will turn down their offer to work in Stockholm. The deadline is today at thirty passed one. Once she turns them down, she's turning you down and there's no turning back. She's coming back to Göteborg today at three o'clock"

"What?" I said, airless. The color dropped from my face, my jaw hung numbly.

"If you're going to make any decision, make it within the next minute, or say goodbye to Sara"

I looked at the clock on my wall. It was thirteen minutes to one. I was not going to make it on time to the Central Station. One way or the other, I had to try. I needed a taxi, even if it sucked my monthly salary off me. Swedish cabs are serious business.

"I have to go" I said.

"GO, GET HER!" he screamed.

I hung up. I threw a black sweater on and dashed out of my flat. I tried calling Sara, but her mobile was off and kept referring me to the voicemail and this was a moment for absolutely not dropping a message. Out in the street I gazed sideways looking for some taxi, and suddenly became aware that this was not London and I had to have a number to call a taxi.

"SHITE!!!" I screamed. Two teenagers passing by gave me the weirdest looks. The screeching wheels of a car drew my attention and the teeangers were no longer of my concern.


"Malin, Malin, Malin" I muttered. She got out of the car and patiently, with a peaceful face, she began talking.

"I've thought a lot about-"

"Get in the car!" I said. "And open the door for me as well. Now, now now!"

"What is going on, Zoe?" She said, lifting her hands.

"I'll explain on the way. We need to get to the Central Station" I said.

We jumped in the car again and I grew anxious the second. I looked at the time in Malin's dashboard, it was eleven minutes to one. I fastened my seat belt. She didn't ask anything else and started the car again.

"Central Station then..." she said, "Elaborate now for me"

"Malin, first of all, I'm sorry babe. I'm so, so, so sorry" I said, turning to see her.

"For what?" she asked, paying a superhuman attention to the road, the street lights and me at the same time.

"I love you, but I can't be with you. I want to be with Sara" I said.

All my prepared speech of illuminated quotes, all the hand movements I was going to pull, and everything adorning the perfect break up scene had been ruined by the tight circumstances. I was wearing only black clothes and not even cute ones. I had no make up on my face, my hair was messy and my shoes were pink, late did I realize this. Apparently, I had spoiled her speech too, which taught me never to think too much of something important to say as long as you say it on time and without further ados. She grinned, looking at me out of the corner of her eye and nodded.

"That's alright. I knew it. I love you too, and I know we should part ways" she said, "I'm jealous of her though, I can't hide that from you"

"I know, I know... now listen to me" I said, "Sara is coming to Stockholm in ten minutes. She's going to go straight to some guy's office and she'll turn their offer to work in Stockholm down" I said.

"You mean you haven't told her you want to be with her? A whole month?" Malin frowned, squealing.

"I'm a dick and a pussy at the same time. Sometimes I don't know how I can live with myself, I know, but please help me out getting there on time to stop her" I said.

The ride was tense and electrifying. We acted as partners in crime and it felt strange to have her on my side in my quest to meet Sara, but I understood that this would be the beginning of new times. It dawned on me, Malin's presence in my life had helped me see who I was and who I wanted. I will be forever thankful for that.

I couldn't stop looking at my pink shoes on the way to the central station, but I guess people didn't mind it as much as I did. Malin pulled over, being five minutes after one. I hugged her tightly, kissed her cheek and she wished me good luck. I had one foot outside the car when she called my name.

"Thank you for everything darling, I will never forget you. Whatever happens next, good luck with Sara... don't let her hit you again though" she said in a serious manner. I smiled and nodded. I bolted into the building. A lot of girls in shorts and skirts walked slowly, showing off their flesh before the fall and winter came back again. I looked at the information on the board. I feared I had already missed Sara's train, but to my fortune, it was delayed five minutes. It was just arriving. I sprang right away in the gates direction. I pushed some guy and I didn't even say sorry, three four-year old girls decided to march right in front of me and I skillfully managed to skip them. I pushed the doors open without noticing someone else was pushing them my way.

"Sorry!" I yelled.

I ran to the right platform. The train had arrived. The first people were coming out. I looked at my mobile, no news from anyone. I breathed heavily. My legs couldn't stay still. I saw people come down with child sulkies, crutches, suitcases, backpacks. It was a heavy loaded train with people of all ages and styles. It was hard to identify Sara among them because I didn't know how she was dressed or what she would be carrying with her. After a couple of minutes, I moved to the next exit of the train, and there, I could only see a dim and opaque set of windows that didn't show people in the best of lightning. I recognized her frame. She had a black shirt on and the same black vintage jeans. It was just seconds before she saw me. My chest was still agitated, my breathing was not stable and it would not be for some minutes. Some people were giving me odd looks as they passed by, and for a moment I thought Sara was not going to acknowledge me, because she was very into her own thoughts to see outside her universe. She was the last person to come down from that wagon. When she put her feet on my ground level, she coolly threw her eyes at me, possibly, a real stranger. My heart started beating harder, angrier, desperate.

Acknowledged me, I thought.

Her unconcerned eyes began transforming. She loosened the grip on her backpack strap on her, dropped her hands on her sides and widened her eyes. She took a step forward, but stopped right there. We were there, maybe three and a half metres away and the space between us was killing me. What did I expect? To find her in the best of moods, smiling radiant after a month of not knowing anything? Possibly after having made her believe that I was not going to talk to her again, and that I had run away with Malin because she was cute and new? I had after all, played with Sara's head and heart and all the feelings she could have known, just by making her wait, let alone the hardships of being a player in a sick triangle.

She did not took a step forward, freezing on her place. Her face indicated not a sour scorn, but doubt and confusion. She grew paler, her lips were dry and her cheeks were hollow. She was thinner, and the circles under her eyes darkened. We were now alone, not a person many metres around, the silence devoured me, pushing me to think the worst.

She hates me. She doesn't want me. She has moved on. She doesn't care anymore. She is determined to leave me. She's never talking to me again. I suck.

I stood with my ugly pink shoes, placing them side by side. I went stiff and on the verge of breaking apart. She looked down, like someone who doesn't have many options on the table, and that sadly, has to take the one she likes the least. Her face was contorted by difficult thoughts and every emotion showed in the weakness of her lips to even be able to pronounce a letter. She lifted her eyes and stared at me, tired and worn out. I narrowed the gap one short step and froze again. I was shaking, my palms were cold, my heart was aching. A cold poison ran down my spine, making me shiver, a poison made of a light uncertainty.

By the look in her face, I knew something: I had lost her. I was too late, not in seeing her come down the train, but in reacting properly when I had the chance. I was just late, and her cold expressionless face confirmed it. I died a little.

Ain't I the worst updater in the world? I deserve some spit in my eye, I know. Work killed me over and over again, but I'm determined to finish this tale really soon. Thanks for the love, reviews and messages. We send you a lot of kisses and hugs!