Number 92 – All That I Have
Their relationship was messed up. She didn't need anyone to point it out. She was all too aware of the flaws that had buried themselves in them both since the first time he had taken her in his arms and kissed her.
It had been the result of an odd night; she'd found out that the guy she kind of, almost had a thing with was now kind of, almost going out with another girl. He had seen the girl he liked in the corner of the club with another guy's arms wrapped around her waist, whispering in her ear.
They'd known each other for a couple of weeks, and spotting the girl she had placed a hand on his arm, whispering one welcome word in his ear. "Cigarette?"
The mixture of alcohol and their individual discoveries had led them both outside, her leading, pushing through the crowd as she stepped coldly and confidently towards the large double doors.
The music was still blaring out here, and she turned to him, forcing herself to smile. Cheer-up duty, she called it. Her friends said she was an expert. Male or female, she had a knack of knowing the right thing to do when someone she cared for was upset.
She was only around for the summer, had not known him for long, yet still wanted to make him smile. So she pulled him over to a far corner of the spacious smoking area and shook her hips. He didn't make a sound, kept his mouth in a straight line, but she saw a flicker in his eyes.
She lifted her hands above her head and did a turn.
When she dropped her hands the corners of his mouth were turned ever so slightly up.
"It's OK to smile through a broken heart." She reached out and laid a hand on his cheek. "Things look different in the daylight."
"Where's the cigarette you promised?"
She dropped her hand, feeling slightly disappointed at his businesslike tone. Fishing in her bag, she took out the royal blue box and flicked it open, revealing the contents inside. He reached out, took one, and in silence they smoked.
Then they saw them.
They let out simultaneous groans as her guy staggered out, gripping the hands of an unknown girl, pulling her into the air and taking her in the opposite direction. Just behind him, out came his girl, wrapped in the arms of the tall, muscular guy. The guy and the girl, the objects of their hate, (for they had stolen what had been rightfully theirs) were so opposite to the pair standing in the shadowed corner.
She had platinum blond hair; his was a deep, rich red. She was petite yet slim; his arms made it look like he could crush a whale.
They looked at each other through a fog of sadness, the thoughts clouding both their minds as they sighed. He slipped his hand into hers and pulled her close, whispering in her ear.
"She's a typical beauty; you're gorgeous."
She felt herself blush, but returned the compliment. "He looks arrogant, and up himself. I prefer you."
They cast glances at their respective objects of affection, and wanting to make them feel what was tearing them up inside, they kissed.
It wasn't a bad kiss; it was fiery and passionate, their bodies automatically pressed against each other. His arm at the small of her back, forcing her hips to tilt slightly foreword.
Then, at the end of the night they parted. No number exchanged, no suggestion to meet up again or contact each other. Just the remains of their taste on each other's mouths.
Perhaps it was because they knew they would see each other again. Or maybe they did not want to start something and fail, end up broken hearted, bruised and jaded as had happened so many times before.
It may have been because at the back of both their minds, they contained a hope that the person who had hurt them that day would throw themselves at their feet, say they were jealous when they saw them outside the club, and apologise for their own behaviour.
Three weeks later and neither could kid themselves any longer.
As she walked into the pub to meet old friends, she marvelled at how huge the circle she now wondered in was. Partners and new friends, people she was hastily introduced to as she made her way to the bar. It had been how she had met him, really. A friend's partner's friend.
She saw another object of affection push through the crowd, coming to a stop beside her. He whispered her name, followed it up with a hey. She could not hide the grin that spread across her face as he directly addressed her. An old high school crush, who she realised as she stood there, despite having gone to University and having met many other guys, she still had slight feelings for.
They chatted, exchanged pleasantries and caught up as they got their drinks and made their way to a table. She pouted her lips around the straw, her eyes wondering for a brief second to see him enter. Neither greeted each other, and she returned her full attention to her old crush.
She was returning from the bar when she spotted him chatting to a cute blonde. Her hand automatically gripped slightly tighter on her drink. She'd been making so much progress, was so close to something happening.
She felt a light touch on her arm
"They seem to be hitting it off."
She turned to him, and both saw their own sorrow reflected in each other's eyes.
"You like her?" She didn't really need to ask it, and he didn't reply. They moved away from each other without another word, to other friends, and tried to ignore the new couple sitting together at the far end of the bar area.
It happened again that night; they ended it together. He kissed her beside the taxi, but no words of departure were muttered to each other.
The continued the dance throughout the summer; meeting up at huge group gatherings, seeing someone they liked (it soon became apparent that for each this was only three or four different people) with someone else. They found comfort in each other, sharing their jealously and knowing that no matter what, they would be kissed tonight. It never went further.
Until her last night. When she ran into the first guy she had slept with (only the summer previous) and spoke to him, chatted, caught up on the past. They were getting along well, until a pretty girl who looked suspiciously like her (short black hair, striking blue eyes) approached and with embarrassment, he introduced the two.
Taking him aside, she whispered "I'm happy for you."
"Yes." And she truly meant it.
They hugged, kissed each other's cheeks, and separated. She was glad she had seen him, it had made her realise that she couldn't waste each time she was home on jealously.
Added on top of this, was the realisation that it was no longer just negative feelings of anger and annoyance and desperation that kept her returning to ihim./i. She was actually starting to care. It was more than wanting to make him smile, she wanted to make him happy.
With that thought in mind, she took out her mobile and scrolled down to his name. A strange thumping rhythm began in her heart – she had never phoned him before. She ignored her instincts, which were screaming at her to hang up. Instead she braced herself, and felt prepared when he finally answered.
He greeted her by saying her name, following it up with "look, I can't really talk right now..."
Being able to think of only one reason why he would say that, she felt a fist grip her heart and squeeze very tightly. "That's OK." She replied, thinking of following it up with 'ring me when you can'. Instead, he interrupted her thought process with his own words.
"I'll phone you back in a minute, yeah?"
Then, he hung up and she was left standing in the street, holding her mobile phone and staring at it with just a hint of confusion.
She knew that tone of voice, understood that she had been brushed off. She no longer knew what to do; should she wait out here? There was no signal in the club. When he phoned, should she admit she had feelings for him? It may ruin whatever kind of relationship they had. Should she ask who was at the flat? She did not have the right. They were not a couple (though they'd both had to defend the non-couple status to their friends) and after all, she did not want to seem possessive and jealous.
Her phone buzzed in her hand, and she flicked it open.
"Hey, sorry about that."
Whoever had been there...things had not worked out. It was odd how she could tell instantly, despite his attempt to disguise it, through his voice alone that he was upset.
It was cheer up duty time for her.
"No worries. Was just going to see if you were coming out."
"No...no not tonight."
She paused, struggling to find the words, the guts to ask. "Do you..." She chewed her lip. God, she was nervous. "Do you want me to come over?"
She knew where he lived; she'd walked with a large group of them to a mutual friend's house, which was near to his. They both knew what it could mean, they would be alone at his place.
"If you want to."
So she said goodbye to her friends, with no explanation of where she was going. She took off, walking the twenty minutes to his house, butterflies fluttering in her stomach every inch of the way.
She got there with no drama, and he opened the door, greeted her and ushered her inside.
As she slipped off her jacket, she glanced at him, standing there and watching her with large, sad eyes.
"It's OK to smile through a broken heart."
They were both aware of the minutes that were ticking by, the thought of her leaving weighing heavily in their minds. As she slowly draped the jacket over the back of the sofa, he came up behind her, turning her around and planting his lips on her mouth.
They did not exchange words of feelings, thoughts and she did not get to say what she wanted.
The morning after she woke with his arm wrapped protectively around her waist, holding her close, his breath hot on the back of her neck. She slipped out of his grasp and glanced at the clock, biting down on her bottom lip to hold back the tears. She leant into him, placed a kiss on his forehead.
"Don't wait for me." She whispered, knowing that he would not hear her in his deep reaches of sleep. "It won't do you any good."
Quickly she left, pulling the hood of her jacket up over her head as she walked to the train station. At home she went through the mechanics of leaving, packed a few last things, piled them into the car and slipped inside.
The journey was long, her goodbyes to her parents short, her greetings to her friends full of joy. But she hastily retreated to her room and began to unpack, losing herself in the routine.
There was a knock on the door, and in stepped one of the girls she was living with, two cups of tea in her hands. She placed one on the table, staring at her friend with curious eyes.
"You know, a friend once gave me a great piece of advice." She broke the silence, reaching out and putting a hand on her friend's face. "It's OK to smile through a broken heart."
Through her tears she smiled, unable to now stop them rolling out onto her face. She nodded slowly, running a hand through her short hair. "I know." She assured her. "I'll be fine. It was nothing."