This is not a sad and lonely story; it's almost bittersweet, just like life. Everyone knows the stories of the guy and his best friend. You know the ones where they

only realise they like each other more than friends when one or both of them get into a serious relationship. So they mysteriously and unknowingly fall for each

other, and unfortunately and fortunately I just happened to be the one who got screwed over in this one. I was unintentionally the other woman.


I look back on life and like to think I have achieved everything I had always wanted and did everything right. And those few mistakes put me on the right path.

When I first met him, he turned my world upside down, he changed my life. Although I must admit that the jury is still out on the 'better or worse' part. So we

started like any other couple, got to know each other, and then became more. I got on with all his friends, especially his best friend – which as most girls' know is

absolutely essential to the relationship. I envied the bond their friendship had reached...


I was on my way to becoming an accomplished writer and well he was on the fast track to becoming a well known architect. We were going two years strong; had

an amazing apartment in Manhattan – I seriously thought life couldn't get much better than this. Our life was going great; I mean we had our complications, but as

you can see we got through it. So life was good; he and his best friend Lydia both worked at the same company and I think it made him happy knowing he wasn't

going to lose touch with her; actually there were talks of them going into business for themselves. Fast forward six months...


We were engaged! I was ecstatic – he designed my ring and there are no other words for it other than absolutely beautiful. Business was going well for him and

me – I made it to The Times and got some great reviews. It seemed life was giving us both what we wanted. The decision to have a long engagement was reached

because we both didn't want to rush the process...


So this was the most significant moment in my life. I look back on this particular day and question everything we had together. It surely wasn't always like this; but

when I look back further into the past, I realise it was. I was just too happy to notice it. So you're wondering what I'm talking about here – quite simply, I had an

epiphany into the relationship that I thought would last. It happened while I was having lunch with the two of them. They talked shop while I was ignored. I

realised that if this were a movie I'd be the blurred out figure in the background while the camera has a close up of the 'two lovers'. You may think I had self esteem

issues and was jealous of their bond – but you'd be wrong. For the first time in two and a half years I saw I wasn't meant to be a part of the big picture in his life –

she was. And as I sat there and waited for them to stop talking about work, I just felt sicker and sicker. As the waiter arrived, I watched as he ordered for both

himself and her and dismiss the waiter. Yep you guessed it, I was majorly dissed. Not even recognised by my fiancé. That's when I decided to leave. You may think

this cliché but neither one noticed that I got up, put on my jacket and walked out.

And as I walked home, I had the female reaction – you know the tears and weeping, the partial sobs – the entire enchilada. Some pretty weird looks were thrown

my way, but when you just realise the life you were living and the life you could have had, you'd be down in the dumps too. Once I got home, I try all the stupid

female stuff; trying to rationalise the behaviour and whatnot; but then that's when it hits me – it's not my fault, just the realisation that I wasn't for him was the

hardest to take in. I like to think that I was smart enough to see it now before we inevitably became a part of a divorce statistic.

So this next part will sound harsh but I did what any level-headed, clear-minded woman would do: ERASE herself from a life that was never meant to be hers in the

first place. I systematically started from the bathroom to the bedroom, to the lounge etcetera. When I rang my parents door bell with my first of many loads of stuff;

the look on their faces went from shock, to stupefied, and lastly to anguish (obviously because their daughter was 'dumped'). I still remember the first thing I said

to mum "...Mum could you look up real estate listings? And could you ask dad to drive the truck over and help me pack? That'd be great."


Well once I set my mind to something, I was pleased to see that I had removed as much as possible from the apartment of myself. I put the last load of washing on

that I would ever do here – the sheets were mine – I put his green ones back on: the ones he had when I first met him, the ones we kept just in case we got into

dire straits. And yes, I took all the photos and the fish – mainly because I didn't want the first one to be put in a box just to be forgotten about and well Louie

would have ended up flushed down the toilet because he'd have died. Sitting at the table, I noticed that I had unconsciously been turning the ring that was

promising us to start a united life together with love. I watch myself turn this ring, noticing that its being turned toward the end of my finger. Then all of a sudden it

was off. I blankly stare down at the bare hand now thinking that the last time I took it off, Nick went ballistic "...because no matter what, it stays on. It shows my

love for you and that you're taken."

As the phone rang I knew Nick was going out to dinner with Lydia and they'd also have a few drinks.

"Hello?" Was that my voice? It sounded dead – not an ounce of feeling; the feeling of numbness, of nothing – I couldn't feel anymore.

"Hey babe, where'd you get to? One minute we were talking, then the next you were gone. Just wanted to tell you I won't be home for dinner. We decided we'd

eat out, maybe get some drinks after that. You can come if you like?"

"Oh ok. I think I'll pass, not feeling too well."

"Okay, well hopefully I won't be home too late. Don't wait up! Love you."

"Yeah ok bye." I hung up. All I could think of was that I made it through the call. So what if my hands were shaking and I had goose bumps.

Sometimes I just look back on that moment just there and think for someone so smart, you sure are a dumbass. And why didn't I see it before? I mean this was

always happening even before we even became closer. He'd leave at the drop of a hat for her. I guess that stupid cliché saying about 'love being blind' is true –

well more fool me. Glancing at my bag, I did take something of his, a sweater I always favoured. A simple grey one that he won for most imaginative and future

based building design.

So I suppose I should look on the Brightside, at 25 years at least I can say 'Yes, I experienced what a lot of people could only wish for' – however I will leave out

the part about me being the wrong girl.


Quarter till one, I was officially not going to bother giving him a face to face talk about this. I was over it 5 hours ago, but I figured the least I could do was tell him

straight and to his face. I put my ring on the centre of the table, grabbed my keys and put them beside my ring. Grabbing my bag, I pick up the fish bowl. As I begin

to turn, the distinctive sounds of the door unlocking jolted me back. Ok so I just stood there stunned, I was so fucking scared. I look at the man who is currently

mumbling at his keys being stuck in the door, I finally realise that this man unintentionally broke my heart and all he could say was "get out you bastard".

Since I was previously sitting in the dark, he doesn't even notice me. I watch him walk unhurriedly down the hall, swinging his keys. My stomach feels in turmoil; I

feel like shit. You get those relationships where some women don't mind that they're second best, they're just happy they have someone who eventually notices

them. Well not me, not anymore at least. I should be the first, the only, and the one. But I'm not, not in his eyes. I watch him walk to the kitchen, as he reaches for

the light – he blinks in surprise when he sees me standing there.

"Hey babe. I thought I said not to wait up..." He came up to me, wrapped his arms around me and kissed me slowly and deeply – dragging it out as long as

possible. As we came out of the embrace, I put my head on his shoulder with one thought running in my head 'this is it'. I breathed deeply memorizing his scent and

everything about him before I let him go. I pull away and look into his eyes; those beautifully dark enigmatic eyes of his. I watch them fill with his love for me and

watch as he smiles that sleepy slow smile that bring out his dimples.

"...But I have to say I am glad you did." That's when he glances down at me. I have the fish in one arm and my bag on the other.

"What's going on? Where are you going at this time of night?" He gestures to my bag. He hasn't noticed the small cracks in the apartment. Those cracks that were

filled with stuff both of us had bought to make it a home; those small things that I removed from here so he wouldn't have a reminder of me, and of us. I breathed

deeply and just looked at my man, now free.

"I'm saying goodbye." I said it slowly and steadily as I measured my breathing. I watch him look up from reaching for a glass.

"What?" Then he really looks at me; I think for the first time in months. "I- I don't understand. I mean we're getting -" I cut him off.

"Shh. You will understand." My eyes are filling with tears. I can't stop them, but I can try to stop them from falling. "It's not you, and it's not me. It's us. I didn't see

it at first because I was so happy and content and in love with you. Although it took me a lunch date for me to realise it's not meant to be for us. I know you don't

see it now, but you will in time; trust me. You're not stupid – you know what I am talking about, and about whom. I know ultimately I shouldn't blame either Lydia

or you or myself for that matter – as it's no one's fault. But I can't help but resent both of you for this. Today at lunch I saw it; saw it in the look, the smile and the

contented persona you both had. These feelings that were almost tangible surrounded our table – I felt like I was suffocating. I sat right beside you yet somehow

still not close enough for you to notice me. And I can't – no I won't be second choice." I breathed deeply and finally looked at him.

"Are you for real? You actually think that Lydia and I feel something for each other? Beyond our friendship? That's ridiculous, it is just a friendship, and that's all." I

saw him glance at the table and watched as his jaw hardened. "I want to know why your ring has left your finger – it stays on, no matter how many fights we get

in to."

"I'm not fighting with you, can't you see that? I won't repeat myself. Look, if you both had just a friendship, do you think that you would have easily have forgotten

that I was in the same room, let alone seated right next to you? This was my eye opener Nick. I am doing us both a favour by ending this now before we really get

in too deep. Trust me there will be a lot less heartache in the end."

"Like I told you, we were talking shop, and don't give me this less heartache sh--" Cutting him off...

"Talking shop for 12 hours? You guys are partners in every sense of the word except for sexually and I imagine once I am gone that'll change too. What can't you

say in the 8 hours of a work day that you have to not only decide to go out for drinks after work and discuss it some more? Or what about when you get a day off

and not only do you talk shop, you seem to extend the work day to 12 hours instead? You know I have always taken an interest in what you do but you have to

address the issue of your relationship with Lydia; and the same goes for Lydia. I am just removing myself from the equation; remarkably late but still early enough

that I won't get crushed in the end."

"This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life by walking away when I could have you. But I've come to realise that I'd never have all of you, would I? I

won't live with that. So I'm saying goodbye. You were the greatest thing that happened to me, but you don't want me the way you're supposed to. Deep down I'm

your second best, the other woman to your first choice. I've called your parents about the wedding, you can tell your friends or better yet, tell Lydia right away and

all of New York will know by morning." As I got to the door and turned for one last look, he grabbed me.

"Don't leave me. You're my everything, this is silly." He whispered in my ear. I ran my fingers through his hair for the last time. Preparing myself for the last thing I

would say to him for some time.

"I wish more than anything that that was true, that I am just being silly, but I know in my gut I am right." My tears started to fall, pulling back I said, "I took your

sweater, I'm sorry but I had to have something. Don't bother calling my cell or my parents. I won't answer and I won't be there." As I turned to go and opened the

door I heard him mutter "you were wrong. You were it for me too." And maybe somewhere in me thought it true – that somewhere that needed the comfort but it

got crushed when I looked back at that one look and the lipstick I saw on his shirt. It wasn't Lydia's; it was mine, just the other woman's.


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xo ash