Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Five Words; Part Three

Part Three:

I dropped my bag and unzipped my coat. I was determined to remain calm even in the face of such rage from Philip. Actually I had never seen him so angry. He was dressed in dark jeans and a black jumper; clearly he had not rushed home from work, but his face was dark and drawn, finally I understood the expression ‘face like thunder’. Something was going on for him to be home from work so early; I didn't know what and didn't dare ask, I could hardly dare breathe. I was also curious to know how he knew where I had been. Someone must have seen us but I couldn’t imagine who. I could see that Philip was getting impatient for me to respond, but I waited until I had hung my bag and coat up and taken off my boots before I replied.

"I went to see Robin" I responded flatly turning to face my husband as I did so. I was aware that such honesty could very well end my marriage as Philip had real insecure issues where Robin was concerned, but I wasn’t able to lie, and didn’t even want to. I had never outright lied to my husband and I didn’t want to start then, over Robin. The things that Robin had told me about Phil keeping secrets from me made me realise even clearer how much of an issue Robin had been between us, more than I had ever imagined. Phil must have thought that I was using this time to think up a good lie because he started to shout at me before his brain registered my truthful answer. The effect left his mouth flapping open and closed and a deafening, undefined noise poured out from within him. It was the second time that day that I had left a man speechless. This didn't make me feel good. I thought that his first question would have been 'why'? I had given some thought to that myself and felt that I might be able to explain my reasons to him but that wasn't what he wanted to know at all.

"Did you fuck him?" He screamed at me. His normally handsome face was contorted with rage and his normally straight roman nose suddenly looked very red and bulbous. My husband actually looked scary to me, I almost felt like I was facing a stranger. I was so shocked at what he had asked that it took me a second longer than normal to register what he had said but when I did my own anger flared.

"Are you fucking crazy?" I screamed back, all composure gone, "I am a married woman" I yelled, "YOUR WIFE!"

I was devastated when again I realised that my husband was not expecting this answer. He was standing in the doorway, still stuttering and rambling, clearly unable to think or speak straight. I regained some composure and as calmly as possible said "You thought that I was going to say that we were in public didn't you? You" a sob betrayed me and escaped at that point "were going to shove the fact that he and I never let that get in the way before in my fucking face. Weren't you?" I stood before him with anger to match his, I waited for an answer but the bowed head and red face told me all that I need to know. "You disgust me" I seethed finding the moral high ground when in fact I had none, and I stormed up the stairs towards our bedroom on legs which felt like jelly. I gripped the stair rail for support and it hit me that the cool smooth wood was about all the support that I had right then.

I made it about halfway up the stairs before Philip flew up them and literally jumped in front of me. He rested both of his hands on my shoulders so that he was facing me square on and stopped me in my tracks, "Wait Cass!" he pleaded breathlessly, "We really need to talk". The desperation in his voice annoyed me, mostly because I didn’t understand it.

"About what Phillip?" I stormed "about the fact that my husband thinks that I would run off and fuck another man in, in, where Phil; in the toilets of the fucking shopping centre?"I was screaming at him again and I hated myself for it. We had never behaved like that with each other in all the years that we had been married. Anger was literally making me shake. I realised that I should have been feeling remorse not rage, but felt powerless to react how I should have. I felt so out of control. I didn't know what was happening to me, anger flooded out of every pore washing away the guilt that I had been feeling. I felt such grief and so aggrieved at the same time. Nothing made sense to me in that moment.

Even though I was not exactly thinking clearly at that time I was still able to notice that Philip's normally olive skin looked drained of colour now that the angry red had faded. His once jet back hair was peppered with even more grey than I remembered, and his chocolate brown eyes were void of the happy sparkle which they normally carried. He looked like a man on the edge and I hated myself for that. "No" he replied with calmness that I knew he wasn't feeling "we need to talk about the fact that today, you, my wife" I didn't like how he emphasised those words, "ran out of our home, and went to see, the love of your life without telling me!” His voice broke at that point and he sunk down to sit on the step. Even though his head was bowed once again I could see that he was fighting back tears. My husband looked broken.

Guilt consumed me as I took those words in, "You are the love of my life" I stated as I knelt on the step beneath him and cupped his face in my hands, "you are the man I love. It was you that I married. You fathered my children Philip. It is you that I love". For some reason I was gently shaking his head as I reminded him of those facts, as if I was trying to shake the sense back in to him.

Philip looked up at me sadly. I could see him taking in my clothing, makeup and hair. For the first time in many years, I couldn’t tell what he was thinking; I could not work out what he was going to say next. "Why then Cass? Explain this to me" he waved his hand in the air and seemed to be indicating that he wanted me to explain my outfit to him; of course I knew that he wanted a whole lot more of an explanation from me. I found myself staring at the deep blue carpet on the stairs. I found myself rubbing it with my hand, feeling the coarse material felt safe and comforting, but on the other hand showed me that this wasn’t just a very unfortunate dream.

I don't know quite why but then I burst in to tears. Great big shuddering sobs wracked my body. Huge tears streamed down my face and the noise that escaped from within me was painful even to my own ears. My poor bewildered husband dropped his anger against me and took me in his strong arms and gently soothed me. The fact that my husband would do such a loving thing for me made me feel even worse so it took a while before I was able to pull myself together. Once I was a slightly calmer Philip picked me up and practically carried me in to our large, cool, kitchen. He sat me at our huge oak table and went over to the kettle and flicked it on. Without asking he made us both huge mugs of sweet tea and sat down in the chair nearest to me. He had remained silent the whole time. He was clearly allowing me time to calm down, but had not dropped his question, he was waiting for his explanation, but I didn’t know where to begin.

“I” that was as far I got before I shook my head in bewilderment and tried again: “You remember how Robin and I broke up right?” I searched Phil’s face for understanding, despite the fact that he nodded I knew that the chances were that he would never understand what I was feeling. “Well you know that he just walked out and I never saw him again!” Again my husband nodded as his face darkened with temper once more. “Well” I continued uncertainly “Sasha posted a message on Facebook saying where Robin was working” I shook my head and shrugged. I wanted to plead with him to understand but feared that he never would, “so I thought that that was it. That was my chance”

Phil did not allow me to finish before he jumped in and yelled “your chance for what? What did you want from him?” That was a good question, what had I want wanted?

“That is the odd thing” I informed him, “you see, in my head, even though all of this time had passed, I thought that I still had unresolved issues with him” I could see him bristle when I said this but continued anyway “It was just the way things ended so abruptly, that was all. So in a way I still felt that it had never been resolved” I looked at Phil and silently prayed that he understood how I had felt. The solemn expression on his face didn’t give me much hope.

“So you were looking for closure” Philip snarled unkindly. It wasn’t a question I felt, it was an acknowledgement of the wound I had just inflicted upon him.

“Well” I scoffed “that’s just it, right there!” Philip looked at me half angry and half in bewilderment, but I continued anyway. “In my mind there was all of this unfinished business, all of these unanswered questions and things that needed to be said, and then I got there, and realised that actually there was nothing that we needed to say. That I had long since had ‘closure’ but just hadn’t realised it”. I didn’t entirely blame him but I could see that Phil wasn’t really believing me or understanding what I was saying but I carried on again. “So I was leaving thinking that I had in fact had a lucky escape. You know, not having to put myself through the embarrassment of seeing him, and then there he was standing right in front of me”. I half laughed, knowing that this risked making my husband angry again, “when he asked me for coffee” I nearly told him how Robin practically dragged me to the coffee shop, but manage to stop myself. It sounded so childish, “well I really didn’t have much choice”.

Luckily Philip was too intent on dealing with his own issues and so pressed on, “You needed to get so bloody over dressed to go and ask him a few questions? Is that what you are saying?" His words were angry but his tone was so sad. I could feel my tears welling up again, which was useless and annoying at the same time. Slowly I sipped my tea before answering. "Why are you so bloody obsessed by what I am wearing?” He didn’t answer. “Wouldn't you? If you were going to visit someone from your past, wouldn’t you put on your nice clothes? Wouldn't you want to look your best and allow them to see that you had done well for yourself?" I felt a little fire in my belly and demanded "well Phil, what would you have done in my shoes?"

Big mistake!

"I wouldn't have gone" my husband screamed, "I wouldn't feel the need to run off sneakily to visit an ex of mine!" He slammed his fist down on the table causing me and our teas to jump. "You see Cassie" I hated how he emphasised my name, "I, know that I am happily married. I, know that I have no unfinished business. I, have no unanswered questions". When did my husband develop that smug expression I wondered wanting to slap it off of his face. He had pointed at his chest every time he had said ‘I’ but now he folded his arms across his chest in a way that looked like he was trying to hug himself, so apparently he wasn’t feeling as smug as he looked.

"Well lucky, lucky you" I seethed "I am so happy that you are so at peace with your past. But don't make out that you are so secure with our marriage because we both know that's bullshit!" I wielded those words as though they were weapons, sadly they cut me as deeply as they did Philip.

Philip leapt back as if I had punched him, which was probably how he felt! I purposely didn't continue. I picked up my tea and sipped from the cup again. I flinched as a drop of the spilt tea fell on to my lap. Stupidly this tiny event was all it took to tip me over the edge and set my tears off again. Phil was frozen. I could see that he was calculating how to handle the situation. He wasn't sure what Robin had told me. I could have just been reacting to the fact that he had thought that I was still in love with Robin. If he said too much then he might drop himself 'in it'. I wondered if he trusted me, or in our marriage enough to speak up. He didn't. That fact is a sadness that I suspect I will carry with me for a long time.

"Why do you say that" he hedged. I could have let him stew but I was very aware that I was the one in the wrong. "I hate that you don't trust in my love for you" I smiled sadly at my husband. "I went today to finally get closure. But like I have already said, as soon as I actually thought about it I realised that all of my wounds, and let's face it, Robin left me very wounded" I saw my husband recoil at Robin's name but continued anyway, "had already healed. Time had passed and everything was right in my world" I made sure I caught his eye before adding "You Phil had made everything right. Given me a wonderful life and I do know that. I have always known that" I added to be sure not to cause any more conflict "but I just hadn't realised that there was nothing more that needed to be said between Robin and me. Only because of the abrupt way that things had ended". I could see that Phil was going to jump in but I beat him too it, and repeated again "Thinking about the way that my relationship with Robin ended always made me think there was unfinished business, don’t forget that he just walked out and I never saw him again. It hung over my head for a long time because of that, but now I understand that there is nothing that we need to say. I did realise that the time to say things had gone. Do you get that?" I allowed my husband to nod but before he could open his mouth I threw some further information in to the ring "but today I learnt that you, YOU Philip, are the one with unresolved issues and unfinished business and I hadn't seen that coming at all". My final words sat between us like a wall of ice. I sat silently praying that it would thaw and that one day, my husband and I would once again be OK.

Phil could not or would not catch my eye. He seemed to be lost very deeply in thought. I continued to sip at my almost finished tea. Philip hasn't touched his I noticed. I almost didn’t catch what my husband said when he started to speak as he spoke so quietly. "When we first got together I couldn't believe that I had got so lucky, I felt like a lottery winner" he whispered sadly. "I likened how I felt a bit like a man holding a million pounds in hundred pound notes! You know, trying to cling on to them" he laughed at the vision he has painted in his mind. I didn't join in with my husband’s laughter; it didn’t feel very funny to me. I felt sick with nerves at what was coming next. “When you agreed to marry me” he was directing his words to the table, “I thought that I would be able to relax and be happy, you know once we were married. But our happiness just made me feel like I had even more to lose, especially once you told me that you were pregnant with Millie” he looked up at me at that point “I had so much to lose and he had the power to destroy my life”. I felt so sick hearing those words leave my husband’s mouth I could not stop myself from leaping in “No he didn’t!” I insisted, “You are crazy Phil if you think I would do that!” I was literally reeling from those words, horrified that Phil would think that of me, of our marriage.

“You were obsessed by him” Philip stated flatly, “I don’t think you have ever once looked at me the way you used to look at him” when his eyes met mine I could see the tears filling them and it made me cry too.

“You are right” I started “about the first part at least. I was so obsessed with Robin. I couldn’t think or breathe straight! I was a young girl Phil, too young to understand anything other than the fact that I wanted him. And when I was old enough to realise how bad we were together” I wiped my tears away roughly with my hand not caring about the fact that I was spreading my makeup all over my face. “Well, by then I felt like I would lose too much face if I left him”. Phil was staring at the table again and I could see that his battle not to cry wasn’t going too well, I put my hand on his arm to comfort him but he just shrugged me off. Still I persevered, “But while I was obsessed beyond words about him, it was never anything like the love I feel for you. You mean everything to me, you and our children are my life and no one could destroy that” I declared, meaning every word, “Nothing and no one can destroy what we have. If you had of told me about what happened on your stag night, I would have still walked down the aisle, beyond doubt”.

It was as though he couldn’t take in what I was saying at all because when he spoke again all Philip could say was, “I loved you all the way from bloody nursery through until this day Cassie. It was only ever you, but I wasn’t even on your radar” he shook his head sadly to himself as he continued “you thought that he was the captain of the football team, but he wasn’t that was me, he only got asked to represent the school for the swimming competition because I had a wedding to go to. In every way at school he was second best” at that point Phil turned to face me square on, “apart from with you”.

And there we had it. The words were finally out. My husband thought that he was second best in my eyes and always had and that was the real issue. I felt sick.

“You are right about one thing” I told him, “when we were kids you weren’t really on my radar, but that isn’t as bad as you think. You were just always there, in every class in every lesson, constant. Philip Greenwood” I laughed, “when you came to see me after, well, after everything that was one of the happiest days of my life even to date. The joy of seeing your comforting face, feeling like there was something consistent in the world. Safe”.

“Jeeze thanks” he hissed sarcastically. I ignored him and continued “That was the first day that I actually ‘saw’ you Phil. The first time I really thought about how much I had missed you since we left school. Sure it wasn’t some huge fireworks display but that was the day that I started to fall in love with you. I saw you that day and every day after. You may not have been on my radar back then but you are my whole wide world now”. He didn’t answer or respond to me at all. “I would never leave you” I told my husband, “I love you and I would never walk away from our life together, the love that we built is the type that sticks”.

Again a silence fell between us. I waited a while but I could see that Phil was lost in thought. Still I interrupted him because I needed to know, “Phil who told you that I was with Robin today?” I watched him finally take a sip of his now cold tea and wince. Once he put the cup back down I stood up, removed it and walked over to the kettle. I flicked the switch and then took the cups to the sink and washed them. The whole time I waited for an answer but Philip remained silent. Once they were made I carefully carried our teas back to the table and noticed that I was still shaking. The stress was just too much. Once I was seated again he spoke “Were you going to tell me where you had been today Cassie?”I was hoping that my husband wouldn’t ask me that and was more than a little irritated that he wouldn’t answer my question. But there was no point in lying.

“I didn’t plan to” I answered honestly “in the end it just turned in to a bit of a non event so I didn’t really see the point. Mind you” I mused “I often think I won’t tell you silly things, like about Carol and her flipping car, you know? Then I just end up telling you anyway. So I don’t know” I trailed off after realising that I was rambling.

“A non event?” Philip asked “that isn’t how he described it”.

“What?” The voice that left my mouth didn’t sound like my own; it was a horrible shrill sound. I suddenly felt like I had a mouth full of mud, “What do you mean?” My mind was blank, seriously I couldn’t think. I was staring at Philip open mouthed. Of all of the answers I thought he would give me that was the last one I expected. He told me to wait and got up and left the kitchen. I don’t think I breathed the whole time he was out of the room. I heard that he had walked in to his office, I heard the printer start up, but I didn’t know what was going on and was frozen on the hard wooden chair. When Philip came back he just simply handed me a sheet of paper. He stood in front of me with his arms crossed and waited for me to read it. When I first looked at it my mind was so jumbled that I couldn’t actually read what was on the paper. I managed to read it on the fourth attempt:


Forgive me for making you cry again today, it was never my intention. I am glad for you that Phil has made you happy all of these years but you cannot blame me for wishing that it was me that you married, and that I was the father of your beautiful children.

I am always here if ever you want to talk to me, I know that there are things that we still need to say to one another.

Don’t worry Phil, you won again. You always do.


“You read my emails?” I faltered confused. Phil just pointed to the top of the page showing beyond any doubt that the email had been sent to him. I had almost forgotten what an evil and cruel bastard Robin could be. I just sat there reading and re-reading the stupid 8 line, 90 word email but I couldn’t quite take it in. “How does he know your email address?” I blurted.

“I don’t bloody know” Philip stormed, “ask him?” I ignored that ridiculous suggestion and asked if he had replied. The look of derision I received suggested not. “He is a nasty bastard” I concluded, “I walked away from him leaving no doubt that there was nothing left to say so he decided to cause some trouble between us. What a Prat”. I screwed that paper up and threw it on to the table in disgust. Philip continued to stand before me making me feel edgy, “you aren’t going to let him win are you” I asked, “you won’t let him cause issues between us will you?”

“He has always caused ‘issues’ between us” Philip laughed, “Jesus I can’t remember a time when that bloody man wasn’t an issue between us”!

“Well, let this be the end of him causing issues for us” I asserted “let this be the end of it”.

“Will it though?” Phil asked reasonably, “Is that the last time you will ever feel the need to see him?” I assured him that it would be and that I was not seeking anything from Robin. I hoped that in time Phil would be able to put this behind him and that he would understand that my love for him was never in doubt.

Suddenly I realised the time, “Oh my Goodness, it is six o clock Phil. My Mum will be going mental if one of us doesn’t show up soon”. I leapt to my feet in a hurry, but Phil just stopped me in my tracks, “Don’t worry Cass” he reassured, “your Mum is keeping them for the night. She will drop them off at school in the morning”. It crossed my mind that Philip must have been expecting something awful to happen when I got home, but I was too worn out to get in to it. I sat back down heavily on to the chair. I was relieved that no ‘brave face’ would be needed for the kids’ sake, but of course there was a downside now that Phil and I were feeling so awkward with each other. Phil was still standing where he had been and I felt very disadvantaged on the chair. So I stood too, “I am just going to freshen up and then I had better get back to my report” I took in the look on his face, clearly he had something on his mind but I just assured him that there would be time to talk later and walked out of the room. This time I made it to the top of the stairs and in to our room.

The sight that met me in our bedroom stunned me. On my pretty white rocking chair was the biggest most gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Red and white roses, which were my wedding flowers, were hugged by huge white lilies and orchids, which were the flowers that Phil had bought me after the births of our children. The chair was surrounded by gift bags but I ignored them and walked in to the room just staring at the stunning bouquet. I gently felt the cool, soft petals and then noticed the card tucked in amongst the flower heads. I carefully picked it out. On the card was written a single word: Loving. I held that tiny card to my chest and sobbed for a time. After the day we had been through it felt good to know that my husband knew that I was a loving person because that meant that he must know that I would never hurt him.

Next I picked up a gift bag. Inside was a beautiful pale green silk scarf. Again there was a card inside the bag. It read: Funny. I smiled just at the sight of the word. Phil always told me that no one could make him laugh like I could.

In the next smaller gift bag there laid a pretty gold bracelet. It was nestled on another little card that simply read: feisty. I liked that word.

I picked up a large box after that which I correctly guessed held a pair of boots. They were black knee-high boots, with six inch heels and were laced all the way up. The card, like the boots read: Sexy. Oh my goodness they were; very sexy.

The next bag I picked up held some very sexy, lace and silk underwear, the colours were predictably red and black, Phil’s favourite. It included stockings and suspenders. This card said: Bootylicious. This made me laugh and then cry. I couldn’t believe that while I had been off seeing Robin, my wonderful husband had been working so hard on such a wonderful surprise for me. I felt so, so unworthy. No wonder he hadn’t wanted me to make it in to the room earlier. I had nearly ruined the surprise. I had nearly ruined everything.

I was so blinded by my tears of shame that I almost fell over a sixth unexpected bag. I opened it carefully. The first thing I saw was a card. On it read: Mother. I pulled the gift out. It was a sumptuous black cashmere jumper. As I shook it out to admire it a small box fell on to the floor. I picked it up gingerly. My mind was blank. I opened the box and first saw another small card inside. On it was written: no five words are enough to describe you. I lifted the card out of the box and gasped at the sight of a stunning band of gold and diamonds. I had never, ever seen a more beautiful eternity ring. I held it and looked at it for some time before something caught my eye. I looked more closely and inside saw that the word; Wife had been engraved inside. I staggered towards our bed and lay down sobbing as I held the ring to my chest. I had never doubted that I had married the right man. I had always been grateful for the lovely life my husband had given to me and our children, but I felt so, so sad that Philip hadn’t known that 100%. I had never used sex to heal an argument or prove a point before in my relationship with my husband, but at that moment I decided that if there was a time when it was needed, then this was the time.

At once I knew what I had to do. I took a shower as quickly as I could; blow-dried my hair and applied a full face of makeup. Then I put on the underwear that my husband had bought me and laced up the sexiest boots I had ever laid eyes on. I made sure to wear my stunning new ring; I vowed never to take it off of my finger and then feeling suddenly shy I threw my cream silk dressing gown over the top before tottering down the stairs and to my husband’s office. I opened the door slightly, enough to get my head and shoulder in to the room without the rest of me being seen. I could see that Phil had attempted to do some work but was staring at the computer unseeing.

He actually jumped when I blurted; Caring.

“Sorry? What?” Phil asked bemused.

“Caring” I stated again, “it’s a word that I use to describe you Phil. You are very, very caring. Oh! Also you are constant too”.

“Oh thanks” he responded politely as he ‘cottoned on’ clearly he was underwhelmed.

“Also, clever” I added, “you are so, so smart” I emphasised, “I always tell everyone that that’s why you married me, because you are so smart”. I grinned and shrugged.

“You have a point” he grinned as he conceded my point, “I was very clever to marry you, even though you are very hard work”. I let that one slide as I had serious making up to do.

“Also, strong” I added “in both the physical and emotional senses” I added for emphasis, “you make me feel very safe”. I could see that he liked that one. I wasn’t sure what he would make of my next word, “friend” I stated, “I love that we are such good friends and of course we go back a long way and share so much history with each other. We are very lucky like that”.

“We really are Cass, I agree” Philip smiled. That gave me all of the encouragement I needed.

“Father, of course” I added, “our children are very lucky because they have a wonderful father. Each time I saw you hold one of our newborn babies in your arms for the first time it made me fall in love with you a little bit more” I informed my husband. Better late than never I mused but still wished I had told him this information years’ before.


“Pardon” Philip asked clearly getting more interested. He turned his chair round so that he was facing me very clearly and I realised that he was anticipating something, and this time he wouldn’t be disappointed. Slowly I walked through the doorway feeling confident as I continued “you are a very skilled lover Philip Greenwood”. Just as I dropped my dressing gown I stated, “Philip Greenwood, my husband”. It took a satisfying amount of time for my husband to be able to take his eyes off of my body and meet my eyes, but within seconds I had straddled him and was kissing him hard on the mouth.

The End.

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Five Words, Part Two


“Wow! Um, Robin” I faltered; I wanted to run but was rooted to the spot unsure of what to do. The effect left me hopping from foot to foot like a mad woman or someone desperate to pee, which was not the look I was hoping for the first time that he saw me. At least my surprise at seeing him would have looked genuine I thought later.

“What are you doing here?” he asked happily, before scoffing “not stalking me I hope?” He actually looked really happy to see me; his eyes were gleaming with what could only have been described as genuine joy. I honestly didn’t expect that he would be so pleased to see me. I don’t really know what I was expecting but that definitely wasn’t it. I really hadn’t given any of this enough thought, the evidence to that was simply the fact that I was there in the first place. I didn’t even bother to find out which designer clothes store he was managing, I just ran to the shopping centre like a mad woman without a single logical thought! My only thoughts seemed to have centred around looking as good as possible.

It must have looked like I was being electrocuted, which was exactly how I felt. My body was ram rod straight and I must have looked in pain! His hand was still on my arm and the electricity that was pulsing from him to me felt as though it was causing my arm to burn, I swear that I could smell burning leather! The whole time we were stood there I had to fight the urge to run.

“Um, you know, um, shopping” I mumbled wincing as I did so. Robin pointedly looked at my hands to make sure that I knew, that he had noted that they were empty. He was the king of deceit after all so who was I kidding? Now if it weren’t for the guilt I wouldn’t have said anything, or if I at least had my wits about me I wouldn’t have said a single thing. But I was guilty, wit’s and brain were off duty and so before I could clamp my mouth shut I was off twittering on about items being out of stock, things being delivered and returning clothes that were the wrong sizes. I could see him looking more and more doubtful which caused my face to flush and my mouth to ramble on and on and on! Nobody shoots me but Robin does put out me out of my misery. He released my arm which caused me to sigh with relief and then used the pause to offer to buy me a coffee.

“Don’t you have to work?” I practically pleaded giving too much away in the process “aren’t you expected?”

Robin turned to face me square on. His dark liquid eyes looked so deeply in to mine that my stomach lurched with nerves, and every inch of my body reacted as though it were faced with danger. “At this exact moment in time there is nothing more important to me than having coffee with you” he stated flatly before taking me by the hand and leading me back in to the centre.

How ironic I thought to myself, I had never been his priority the whole time we were together. My legs were following him obediently but he was marching along so fast that I was struggling to keep up with him. He seemed totally unaware that we were attracting a little bit of mild attention, I on the other hand had been acutely aware of the glances. All I could do was pray that no one I knew spotted us. He pushed me on to the escalator in front of him with the obligatory ‘Ladies first’ forgetting of course that it was him who told me that women are idiots if they believe that men do this to be gentlemanly, he told me that actually men do this so that they can check out a woman’s arse, so knowing that in fact he was standing behind me on the escalator eyeing up my bottom caused me even more anxiety, like I needed more reasons to be nervous!

Once we were both standing on the first floor Robin once again took my hand and led the way. He led me straight into a thankfully quiet coffee shop, found a nice table right in the corner and pulled out a chair for me with mock flourish. Again, I couldn’t believe how happy he was. He was smiling broadly allowing me to see that his lovely teeth were as perfect as they had been when we first met, his eyes were still sparkling and the annoyance that I had seen etched on his face while he was on the phone had been washed away instantly. His phone by the way had been ringing, and ringing on the short walk to that coffee shop. He didn’t acknowledge this fact to me, just simply pulled the expensive smart phone out of his pocket, turned it off and put it away. His eyes never left mine while he completed this action. I think that he wanted to signal to me that I absolutely had his full attention; the trouble was that he had forgotten that for many, many years I was on the other end of that situation. Endless times I would have been desperately trying to call him over and over again to have him persistently ignore my calls before finally he would turn his phone off altogether. It used to frustrate me beyond words back then; especially the day that my Father died and I really, really needed Robin. So Instantly I felt very, very sorry for his caller. It also forced me think of Philip, which caused a flurry of guilt to stir in the pit of my stomach. I had never had to deal with this rubbish from my husband. My Phil always answered the phone to me, and if he were about to enter a meeting or some event that would mean that he wouldn’t be available he always had the decency to warn me in advance so that I knew why he was able to be reached. I made sure to do the same thing back too. Mutual respect- that’s what our whole marriage was based on and I suddenly felt very glad about that. I didn’t miss the game playing one tiny bit.

I noticed that Robin had seated me with my back to the room and himself facing outwards just as he always had. It was like he was worried that he might miss something amazing if he couldn’t see the whole room, although of course he wanted the full attention of the person he was seated with. How funny that some habits don’t change, even after so many years had passed. Having said that I hoped that I had changed a lot. I didn’t say anything to him about this, not that I could have got a word in edgeways as he was chattering away like an over excited school boy. “What can I get you? Do you still like coffee? Latte was always your thing I think” yes and still is darn it, he continues “would you like food? They have nice cakes, or perhaps a sandwich or a cookie, you used to like toast in the morning, would you like me to see if they will make you some?” he smiled at me kindly before pointing out that I am a lucky woman who clearly doesn’t have to watch what I eat. Men are too naive to realise that very slender women are that way exactly because they watch what they eat-every damn day! Not that I could really be classed as being very slender after having two children. Anyway I declined the invitation to eat as if I could have swallowed anything dry right then, and asked for a white filter coffee. Robin literally bounced to the counter leaving me sitting alone, staring in to the corner of the coffee shop feeling more than slightly bewildered. I just couldn’t understand why he was quite so pleased to see me, he didn’t look nervous which was how I was feeling, he didn’t seem the slightest bit worried that perhaps I might be holding a grudge after the awful break up we had been through. He definitely didn’t seem angry. I was starting to feel like I had missed something. I know that we hadn’t seen each other in 14 years and of course so much water had passed under the bridge, but we also hadn’t suddenly become best friends either. It felt really odd. I felt wrong footed and again like I really shouldn’t have come. I found it odd that in so many ways he was so familiar, he even smelled the same, but in other ways he was a stranger. For starters I had never seen the Robin that I had known behave so enthusiastically about anything, ever.

He came back and plonked my coffee down in front of me, and a cup of what looked like herbal tea down where he was planning to sit. He had been a PG tips drinker when we had been together, but then he disappeared back to the counter and came back with a slice of chocolate cake, and a slice of cheesecake, both of which I had adored when I was younger, neither of which I would have touched with a bargepole since I realised that they had so many calories in them, “just in case you changed your mind” he laughed happily, “you always did that”. I met his laugh with a smile but honestly I was too nervous and baffled to join in the joke. Once he was seated I asked him how he was, he assured me that he was fine and asked me how I was doing, we made awkward small talk for a while and then he suddenly blurted “You’ll never guess who I bumped in to last month”.

“Sasha” I answered before my brain could warn my mouth to hush.

“Ahh, that’s interesting” he commented as he nodded slyly “she turns up and then suddenly you do!” His smug attitude was out in force once again “and she told me that you two no longer speak”.

“We don’t” I confirmed slightly dishonestly “I just guessed because, after all who else would you mention to me?” I added what I hoped was a nonchalant shrug, but I wasn’t too confident that he was convinced. If he could see that I was lying to him, then I was beyond grateful that he didn’t say so.

My discomfort was increasing; I felt overheated in my clothes but didn’t want to remove my jacket. I was feeling vulnerable and once again was wishing that I could leave. A long silence was sitting between us when thankfully the waitress appeared with two toasted cheese and ham sandwiches, "We used to eat toasted cheese and ham sandwiches all the time when we lived in that bedsit" Robin enthused.
"Yes, especially when you used to gamble the rent money away" I scoffed a little unkindly.

"Hey!" He defended, "you didn't mind when I used to win. Do you remember when I won a grand and took you to Paris for the weekend?" Actually I had forgotten. Robin reminisced about the places we went and things we saw, but actually I didn't remember it that way at all. Sure we passed a few attractions, ate in a few restaurants but mostly we just stayed in our cheap, grotty little B&B and had wild sex. The people running the place treated me with no respect as they thought that I was just Robin's paid whore and I was a little sad that we didn't get the chance to do and see more, it was the first time that I had left the country and my lasting memory is of the bright red bedspread. Robin looked at me blankly when I told him as much, "we had a great weekend" he asserted softly, "I was there Cassie, I saw how happy you were". Did we? I wondered, I really can’t remember it all that well.
I took a sip of my drab filter coffee once I couldn’t put it off any longer (I had been stirring it since he sat down), it was bitter despite the sugar and I silently wished that I could sink in to a comforting Latte instead. I sighed with disappointment and then realised that here we were, sitting across the table from one another in silence. It was crazy, I couldn’t remember a time ever when Robin and I had nothing to say to each other, even when we had spent every minute of every day together we had always had so much to talk about. Tentatively I asked Robin how he had been keeping and what he was doing with his life. Of course he knew me very well and so cut through the bullshit; "you want to know if I am married and have kids basically?" he scoffed. I felt myself blush and simply nodded whilst adding "amongst other things yes!"

"I got married last year Cass," he looked me dead in the eye while informing me "I have been married for four months” before emphasising “this is my first marriage. She is a good woman. Too good for me naturally,” he added nonchalantly. This news left me frozen. I was willing myself to say something positive, or even to say anything, but failed. I mulled this fact over. He was married, and not to me. He had only just got married after all these years, what did that mean? Did it mean anything with his track record? Robin broke me out of my thoughts by adding "But you dear Cassie ran off and got married to my best friend two minutes after we split! I assume that you are still together as I have never heard different" I nodded silently as he leaned in and added nastily "not that I am surprised by him getting his claws in to you. He always had a thing for you". The bitterness in his voice hit me hard and left me feeling confused, after all we had long since split when Phil and I got together. I also felt floored because while I felt no shame for marrying Philip I didn't know how Robin knew and I felt embarrassed to ask because I wasn't sure what I was going to hear. I hedged my bets by 'rubbishing' the claim that Philip had always been after me, "that is utter nonsense. Philip and I hardly even spoke through school and you both fell out before we even sat our exams!" I scoffed "so I hardly ran off with your 'best friend'”. I could see that Robin was really thinking about this. It was a good minute before the slow, soft laughter fell from his lips. “He hasn’t told you?” it was a question, not a statement of fact. My baffled silence prompted him to go on. “You have been married for how long? 12 or 13 years and he never told you that the day you and I were meant to meet at school, you know, our first date?” I nodded slowly but was having to concentrate on what he was saying because I suddenly felt very sick, “do you remember that I was late to meet you?” again I nodded. He was late by an hour, I was crying and just about to leave when he finally showed up. “Well” Robin continued “the reason for my lateness was because your future husband” he spat those last few words and the bitterness left my blood running cold “decided to arrive at my house when I was leaving and begged me not to go. Not to meet you!”He checked my reaction before adding, “He tried to sell me the merits of Sasha and I DOUBLE DATING with you pair!” Robin was laughing by this time which made me want to punch him! Philip is my husband after all so I didn’t like Robin taking the piss out of him. I didn’t know what to do with this news, I felt so sad to think that I never even realised that Philip liked me back then. I had been so consumed by Robin that I was blind to everything and everyone else. “It was Philip who told Sasha about us, the pious bastard” Robin spat. His bitterness continued to stun me. Robin used my stunned silence as an opportunity to take a drink of his tea, but his eyes never left me for a second.

“I am not sure about any of that, but Philip is a lovely man, a good man. I would never put him down as ‘pious’ but I can see why him spoiling it for you being able to ‘play’ Sasha and I could have pissed you off”!

“That was never my intention and you know it. You know that I chose you!” He practically throws the tea cup he had been drinking from down with frustration.
“Actually” I remind him “Sasha told me that you begged her to take you back and that you only settled for me because I was ‘putting out’”.

“That is such bullshit” he laughed, “firstly I was having sex with her for weeks before she made me say that I would be her boyfriend. Secondly there was never a choice between you too. I stayed my distance because Phil had his eyes on you and I wanted to stay in his good books!” he shook his head and said “as soon as I realised that you didn’t even fucking see him I made my move! No fucking choices, no messing, I just would have told her myself if he hadn’t have beaten me too it”. I have heard him tell me this many, many times in the first year that we were together, but despite what I allowed Robin to think, this was the first time that I actually felt that I might have believed him. Of course it changed nothing. Nothing was different but I hated feeling so wrong footed.

“Anyway” Robin continues despite my interruption “he got his own back the night that I, BEGGED, HIM, NOT, TO, MARRY, YOU!”

“What?” I demanded. My head was spinning by this time and I truly had never felt so sick in my whole life. Given that my heart was pounding so hard in my ears I needed to double check that I hadn’t misheard. “What did you just say?” I asserted again.
“Oh! My fucking God!” Robins rage is plain for all to see now. The few people in the coffee shop turned to look and I was looking over my shoulder nervously desperate not to make a scene. Once he had breathed and calmed down slightly he continued “what kind of shitty marriage do you have with him? He never told you about that did he?”
“Told me what?” I pleaded confused. I was on the brink of crying in anticipation of what I was going to hear.

“I saw Philip on his stag night” Robin informed me “I fucking congratulated him and bought him a drink” he shook his head and smiled wryly “I was so bloody happy for him, until I asked him the name of the lucky fucking woman!” He looked at me square on before telling me that they fought that night over me. “Didn’t you see the state of him?” he asks. I hadn’t. I was away that weekend having my hen do in a health spa. “He broke my fucking nose!” Robin laughed dryly as he pointed to a new bump in his nose, well apparently not that new. “I fucking bet he didn’t tell you” Robin hisses, “he probably was shitting himself that if you found out the wedding would be off and you would be back with me. Back where you belong”. His words were not lost on me but I was frozen with shock. Why wouldn’t Philip have told me? Did he really think that I would have left him? Robin took my silence as his opportunity to get his own questions answered “How did he do it Cass? How did he snare you?”

The brutal nature of his question snapped me back to reality. It was me who was the wounded party. Robin cheated on me, broke my heart, he walked out and left me! So why was he sitting there like I had hurt him! It was as if time had performed some kind of role reversal that no one had told me about. Or, he was still playing me. Probably the latter I decided.

“Philip came to see me after you had left me. I was broken Robin” I make sure that I have his full attention before I continue “You cheated on me over and over again. I thought that I was worthless by the time you were done with me” he tried to interrupt me but I didn’t allow him to “you walked out on me! You just left me!”
“You were LEAVING” Robin shouted back at me “you told me that we were over! You were leaving. You were done” I saw him try to calm himself but the rage still gleamed in his eyes, gone was his joy at seeing me “What would you have had me do? Sit and fucking wait for you forever?”

“I waited” I screamed back with such force that it hurt my throat “I stayed in that horrible little bedsit and waited for you for a whole week” I shook my head “I had to see that stupid blond tart day in and day out. I thought at least you would come back for your things! I waited for a whole week. Where did you go?”

It wasn’t entirely lost on me that Robin chose not to answer my question. “Don’t think I didn’t hear all about your little Robin bonfire” I blushed as he continued “yes I heard that you did a whole little dance of glee to be shot of me”.

“Did ‘number three’ call and give you all of the gory details?” I hiss not waiting for an answer “what did you expect. You left and I never heard from you again!” My emotions betrayed me at this point and a few tears escaped before I could stop them. I was stunned that even though all of the years had passed, even though we had both moved on and grown so much, the pain was all still so fresh and raw as though it had only just happened.

“I did come back” his words stunned me and dried my tears. “Every night I managed to get totally pissed and would walk up and down the street” he shook his head sadly “I was so fucked up, in real fucking pain” he laughed wryly before adding “the noise came out as a fucking howl” He laughs bitterly “I was walking down the street pissed out of my face howling like a mad man!” he was half laughing and half crying at that point.

It all felt too much to me. I knew that what he was saying was true because I could remember hearing someone howling in the street late at night after Robin left. It terrified me as I was all alone in that bedsit. I found myself wishing that I had have had the courage to look and see who it was. Then... Well, then what? Would I have taken him back? Probably I would have done then, I didn’t know better. I found myself thinking about Philip. I knew better now right?

“I spent years, years getting over you” Robin continued “I tried to search for what we had. To find it again” I just read that as he slept with every woman that he could lay his hands on. “It doesn’t exist” he informed me “what we had was a one off”.
This statement ignited my anger again “But yet when you had me, when you had this bloody so called ‘fabulous’ relationship, you abused it, and me” I raised my hand in warning when he tried to interrupt “you cheated on me left right and fucking centre. You used to steal our money and gamble it away, and you used to get pissed and hit me!”

“Oh and you never laid a hand on me?” he scoffed.

“Oh I know I gave as ‘good’ as I got back” I acknowledged “but that just says it all. Our relationship was just a heap of shit basically”. I took a sip of my now cold as well as bitter coffee and shuddered. What was I doing? I was sitting in this stupid coffee shop, boiling because I felt too shy to take my jacket off and reveal how overdressed I was, I was drinking a coffee that tasted foul, and sitting there opening old wounds with a man who I should not have been with. What had made me think that this was a good idea?

Robin leant forward in his chair and hissed “See Cass. You only ever remember the bad times. That was always the problem with you. We had a great relationship most of the time, but we were young” he shrugged as he continued “sure I wasn’t faithful all of the time and that was shitty of me. Sure we used to fight” he added this with a smile like as if it was funny “we were wild, impulsive” he paused before adding “passionate!” He leant back in his chair and smiled broadly “Do you remember when we went to Kevin McFarland’s Birthday party?” he asked happily.

“Yes” my heart skipped a beat in horror as I realised that this conversation wasn’t going to end well.

Robin clearly wasn’t aware of my frozen face; he was remembering something that he clearly thought was a good memory. “Do you remember that we snuck off and had sex on the pool table in the basement?” he asks laughing.

At that point I flew forward in my chair and knocked my coffee over in the process. I ignored the cold liquid dripping to the floor as I snarled “At Kevin’s 22nd Birthday YOU went missing” his face dropped as he realised his mistake. “I searched everywhere for you, and finally gave up and went home. YOU” I stab that word “came home two days later. I had no bloody idea where you had been and who you were with and YOU wouldn’t tell me as ‘I wasn’t your bloody Mother’ and ‘wasn’t allowed to question you’” I was on my feet at that point “but now I finally know that yet again you were off fucking someone behind my bloody back!” I shouted the last sentence no longer caring that we were making a scene, just like the bad old days. Then I realised that I could not be here. I could not do this. I made a grab for my bag but Robin beat me too it, “Don’t leave Cassie” he pleaded clinging to my bag as though his life depended on it, “don’t walk away again”.

“Why Robin” I rounded on him “what do you think will happen from here?”
He doesn’t answer me. He is frozen on the spot with his mouth flapping while his brain is clearly searching for something to say. I save him the trouble. “We are both married” I emphasise “to good people. I won’t leave my husband. I won’t do that to our children”. I notice a flicker on Robin’s face as this news sunk in. Clearly he didn’t know everything then.

“Please Cassie” he pleaded, but his words had no follow up, which summed him up nicely.

I turned to walk away but then suddenly a thought hit me and I stopped. I hated myself when I saw a look of hope cross his face, “Robin? What five words would you use to describe me?”

He thought for a few seconds and it crossed my mind that he might tell me that he wouldn’t do it, but then he started to speak:

“Stubborn” he started with a small laugh, “wild” he continued confidently “honestly I have never known someone so ‘up for it’ as you!” I felt cold on hearing that. “Sexy” he added looking me up and down, before continuing with ‘hard headed”. I was standing there thinking, ‘isn’t that the same as stubborn’? None of these words felt like a compliment, even ‘sexy’ sounded smutty coming from his lips. His last word for me was ‘outspoken’.

I thanked him, and yet again tried to take my bag so that I could make the move to leave when he made the fatal mistake of calling me back and asking me what words I would use to describe him.

That was easy.

I turned to face him and then just told him straight:

Dishonest was my first word, and I followed it up with several examples of time when I knew he had lied to me. Like when he said that he had paid the rent only to really have spent it all on a ‘lad’s night out’. I had to borrow the money from my boss and work extra hours to make it up, well that happened loads of times.

Unfaithful needed no explanation.

Cowardly: He had been caught cheating and walked out of my life and didn’t even have the guts to knock on the door to collect his things. That was only one example of his ‘gutlessness’ I could have given several more.

Immoral: I added, but that time he spat back with a word of his own. He called me ‘sanctimonious’, but I ignored him and gave him my final word, which was ‘Mistake’. I informed him that he had been the biggest and worst mistake of my life, and coming there that day had been my second. With that I snatched my bag and practically ran out of the coffee shop and back down the escalator.

I was so grateful to sit on the train on my way home and sip my warm Latte. I sent my Mum a text asking her to collect the children and keep them for dinner, she surprised me by agreeing immediately which was very unlike my Mum. Since my Dad died my Mother had developed a very active social life and was a little reluctant to be seen as my or anyone’s free Childminder, so she always gave me a hard time when I asked her to pick the children up at short notice. I didn’t mind, I understood her wish to be treated fairly, but was very relieved not to have to beg that day.

My conversations with Robin swirled around in my head, those from the past and present. The truth was that I really didn’t know what to think or to believe. I had been left with far more questions than answers proving once again, as if more proof were needed, that I should never have gone to see him. I had achieved nothing. I thought about that, and perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I had achieved something because actually I think that there was a little bit of me, that even though I have moved on and am blissfully happy, did feel the need for a little bit of closure. There had always been the sense of us having unfinished business and perhaps now that could seal it. I knew once and for all that everything that needed to be said had been. Actually, I had realised that nothing further had ever needed to be said, and perhaps that was the point.

Gladness filled my whole body as I walked up my gravel drive and saw that Philip’s shining silver car was there already. I really wanted to see my husband. I wanted him to hold me, to kiss me and to make the world feel good again. I had hated the feelings that had risen within me since I had confronted my past. I wanted my husband’s love to wash it away again.

The smile was wiped off of my face as soon as I made it through the door and saw Philip in the hall staring at me with a face like thunder. He was visibly shaking with what I could sense a mile away was rage. “Where the fuck have you been” he growled causing my stomach to lurch with horror.


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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Five Words. Part One:


As I walked through the shopping centre my heart pounded in my chest with expectation and fear. Even though the shopping centre was brand new and this was my first visit I was walking around aimlessly with unseeing eyes. The only thing that I had genuinely looked at since I had arrived twenty minutes earlier had been my own reflection in every mirror and window I had walked past. I keep checking and rechecking my appearance. Apart from the look of panic on my face I looked pretty good I thought. I was wearing a pair of tight black trousers that showed off my bottom and long slim legs to perfection, a bright blue top that nipped in at the waist and thanks to the frilled front hid my slight ‘Mummy tummy’ quite nicely. I also wore high heeled black ankle boots which are just plain sexy and a tiny leather jacket which is laughable to wear on what was a freezing cold, damp day in early January, but damn I looked good! I rarely wear my long, silky chestnut hair down as it is a nightmare to maintain, but right then it was brushed, straightened and hanging right down my back. My head might have looked fantastic on the outside but inside it was awash with too many thoughts, but none of them involved any of the goods on sale. I was not there to shop. I was there to, to, “Ruin your life you stupid cow!” my Mums voice screamed in my mind causing my heart to leap in my chest as though she were really there and really knew what I was up to. Actually, honestly I really didn’t know what the hell I was up to, well I mean I knew the reason why I really came, but I really, really don’t know why I responded the way I did, or what I hoped would happen as a result of my being there. Doubt crept in to my body and suddenly I felt like an absolute fool. I stopped walking when I saw a small seating area and gingerly lowered myself down on to one of the cold metal seats. I just wanted to catch my breath and take a minute to think before I dove in head first and ended up making a huge mistake, it was a shame that I hadn’t done this before I had left home but I hadn’t thought straight or even seen straight in almost 24 hours, I haven’t slept, or eaten or even breathed correctly since lunch time the day before and then I was suddenly fighting back tears that were both unwanted and illogical. I needed to think for a minute:

Just the morning before; I was peacefully sitting at my kitchen table working from home. I was in the middle of writing a very important report detailing the logistics as I understand them of our company ‘merging’ with another. Overtaking would be the more truthful description but the truth is sometimes ugly so we won’t go there. My manager gave me three days to work on the report from home, I then have to spend the day on Thursday working on it with him before we present our work to the board on Friday. The decision will take weeks or rather months and this is the first report of many that I will be writing on the subject as the whole merger is a big deal for the company and a very big deal for me personally, I have been heavily involved and will finally be getting a sizeable promotion if this goes well. When my eyes and head started to hurt I took a look at the time and realised that I had been working away for five hours straight without a break. In fact I hadn’t so much as made a drink or even glanced away from the screen the whole time. As it was lunch time by then anyway I got up make myself a coffee and a sandwich and sat down again at the kitchen table to eat. I found myself unable to think about anything other than the report so decided to have a little look on Facebook to distract myself for half an hour. I really don’t use it often but every now and again I have a little look to see what my family and old school friends are talking about. I flicked through a few messages but they were so old that I didn’t even bother to reply, I ‘liked’ my sisters’ photos of my nieces and nephews, and then started to read a few updates from an old school friend that I never really see any more. Sasha and I were inseparable all the way from nursery until about halfway through year 11. We swore that we would be best friends for life but we fell out towards the end of secondary school and even though we did both try to rebuild our friendship it was never the same again. So as soon as we both started at different colleges we immediately lost all contact. We found each other on Facebook about two years ago, but despite insisting that we should meet for coffee every time we message each other online, we haven’t seen each other since.
Anyway, I read through her posts a little mindlessly until I get to this one:

“I went to the new shopping centre in Stratford today and I bumped in to an old friend, Robin Banks! He is managing a designer clothes store there. What a small world!”

It might be a small world for her but on reading those few sentences my whole fucking world literally exploded!

Robin Banks. ROBIN BANKS! OMG! LOL! Scream! Fucking hell!!!! ROBIN BANKS!!!!

I tried to carry on working but it was almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything after that shock. All of the importance of the report seemed to slide away and an image of the last time I had seen Robin became the only thing that I could focus on. I even remembered what he was wearing that last night that we were together 14 years ago; he wore expensive dark blue jeans and a black cashmere v-neck jumper. On his feet were as ever the latest, most expensive trainers. I had bought him every item he was wearing, even down to the Calvin Klein boxer shorts and the black cotton socks on his feet! Memories of him burned in my mind. My whole body ached with the painful memories that he provoked and another part of me ached with lust for him, which is insane, I am a married woman!

I was so glad when it was finally time for me to collect the children from school and I was able to ‘put myself out of the misery’ of trying to work. I also relished the idea of getting some fresh air and hoped it would help to clear my mind a little. So I gratefully walked to the school and collected my lovely children, helped them with their homework, read both of them a story, cooked their dinners and bathed them before settling them down for bed, but the whole time I was functioning like a robot, all I could think about was Robin. It didn’t help that my husband, Philip had to take some clients out for a meal so wouldn’t be home until late, leaving me with far too much time to think.

Robin Banks started at our school at the start of year 10. He came in to the class dressed in the uniform but even though it was his first day his tie was already only three inches long, his feet were gleaming with the latest most expensive trainers (in black in a nod to the shoes only policy of the school), his brown hair was neat and spiked indicating that he looked messy in appearance by choice and not because he didn’t bother and basically he wore a ‘couldn’t give a fuck expression’ on his totally spot free, pretty boy face that made my heart beat like a drum. He totally ticked all of my ‘boys to fancy’ boxes as listed in just about every teen magazine I read! It was definitely love at first sight for me. I bet that if anyone had asked me that very second how many children Robin and I would have had I would have been able to list them in age order, tell them the gender of each child and bloody name all 11 of them on the spot. Without hesitation! Just merely ‘looking’ at him filled my mind and eyes with a mist making it impossible for me to think or even see straight. It didn’t clear again until my 21st Birthday!

So the teacher introduced him to the class, and yes the whole class couldn’t help but snigger at his name, even I laughed: well it was funny! He was told to sit at the table behind mine and I couldn’t help but turn round and start a conversation with him. But being 14 my conversation went along these lines: “Did they kick you out for like, robbing banks then, your old school?” (I know-such class)! Robin looked at me with his molten hot chocolate eyes and even though the expression on his face read annoyance, his eyes read ‘kiss me’ and oh my God I wanted to kiss that mouth right then and there!

“If I had a pound for every time some loser used that line” he yawned to prove his boredom.

“What?” I countered “You wouldn’t need to rob any more banks?” I was so happy when his sharp look back at me turned in to a laugh. His full pink mouth parted widely and the laugh was genuine and showed off his perfect white teeth. He had to give me that one; he had walked right in to it. I was also smugly self satisfied that no one had even used that line on him before. It had clearly caught him off guard. I flashed him a warm and genuine smile making sure to show off my own perfect pearly whites and happily turned back for the register. I was confident that I had made a pretty good first impression and that he would remember me.

I was pretty bemused however when he hardly spoke to me for the next few weeks. He made friends easily with the other boys as he was massively in to sport. He was bloody good too, at everything! He became a vital member of the football and basketball teams, and was also training to represent the school in both athletics and swimming by the half term. He was really bright academically too. The boys all got on great with him, nearly every girl fell in love with him and the teachers clearly thought that he was a statistical dream! Trust me he made our school look great! He was just too good to be true. Suddenly everyone knew him, all of the boys seemed to want to be him and sadly for me just about every girl in the school wanted to be ‘with’ him. It was madness!

For me that half term dragged past, slowly and painfully. I made sure that I was dressed to the nines every day (as far as school uniform rules and my strict parents would allow) and waited every day for Robin to talk to me again. When he didn’t make the first move I attempted to talk to him, he always answered me politely but always had to ‘head off’ for training or practice or stupid study session so I never got more than a minute of his time. I even tried out for the cheer leading team when someone dropped out just so that I could see him when he played basketball but sadly Sasha beat me to it. I was a little gutted that she accepted the place really as she knew how much it meant to me but what could I do? We broke up for half term on a Thursday that year as school was closed that Friday for teacher training day, or “teacher in the bloody pub day” as my Dad called it and I cannot tell you how happy I was when finally the bell sounded for the end of day and I was able to make my escape. It had been a rubbish day and I just wanted to go home, curl up in my bed and wait for the day to be over. I had argued with my Mum that morning as apparently she was sick of cleaning up after me all of the time. My mouth had responded before my brain could warn me that my Dad was standing behind me, so I got a slap off of him when I yelled back at my Mum that it was HER JOB to clean up after me, and it wasn’t like she actually WORKED! I always feel shame when I remember what a bitch I was to my Mum when I was growing up. That’s why I am so bloody nice to her now, pure guilt! My school day hadn’t been much better either. I had been in trouble for being late with my coursework for almost every subject and I had forgotten my PE kit and had been forced by the teacher to wear kit that was provided by the school. The shorts had been so small and tight I felt humiliated wearing them. I threatened the teacher that I was going to tell my Dad and sue him for sexual harassment and he gave me a lunchtime detention for being rude, so I hadn’t even been able to moon around the football field and freeze while I watched Robin show off his ball skills. The day had just been horrible. So I was very glad that school was out I would have time to catch up on all of my outstanding course work and even more so that I wouldn’t have to hear the word GCSE for ten whole days. That was about all I had to hope for as I had no plans and Sasha was going away with her family, mind you to be fair she had been so busy that half term that I had hardly seen her anyway. I didn’t mind much though; a week of slobbing around the house in my PJ’s and catching up on some coursework was exactly what I needed.

I started to make my way off of school grounds and was just rummaging in my school bag for my lipstick when I found Sasha’s red jumper. She had left it at my house one weekend and wanted it back before she left on Saturday for her holiday. So I did a u-turn and headed for the school gym where I knew she had Cheerleading Practice. I was just pushing the door to the gym open when Robin came bounding up behind me in his basketball kit, causing my heart to leap and face to blush just by him being present. “Let me take that” he offered and pushed the heavy door open for me. He held it open very gentlemanly as I entered the hall and looked for Sasha. “Who are you looking for?” he asked with gentle amusement, clearly I wasn’t known for my sporting talent.

“Sasha. From our class” I added in case he didn’t know her yet, “I wanted to give her jumper back to her” I added waving the jumper in his face.

“She isn’t here yet” he replied with a familiarity that made my heart sink, “shall I take it and pass it along?” I wanted to say no, I really didn’t want to give them a reason to get talking. Sasha was a little too popular with the boys for my liking thanks to her good looks, long dark hair, tiny frame but annoyingly big boobs even at 14! But this thought made me feel stupid so I just handed the jumper to him and thanked him. Sasha was my best friend; she knew how much I liked Robin and would never betray me I decided, so clearly I had nothing to fear. As I turned to leave Robin put his hand on my arm, halting me without words. His mouth moved close to my ear and turned my stomach in to jelly as he murmured “Your arse looked so hot in those shorts. Are you free on Monday so that we can discuss why teeny tiny shorts look so good on you?” I honestly couldn’t speak; I couldn’t have uttered a single word for anything in the whole world so I just nodded. “Good. I will meet you outside of school at 10am.” More nodding from me and then he was gone leaving me to stagger off on spaghetti legs. Once I was safely outside school I screamed and danced with glee. I had a date with Robin! He called my arse sexy! That was when my love of bottom hugging clothing was born. It is still going strong to this day.

I tried over and over again to call Sasha. We didn’t have mobile phones then. Few kids did, Robin did obviously. Her Mum constantly told me she was out all of Thursday evening and Friday day. They left for their holiday on that Saturday morning so I never got the chance to tell her my wonderful news. I didn’t get the chance to get her advice on what I should wear. I missed her but was so excited that I managed to put it to the back of my mind for the most part. Monday eventually turned up and I met Robin who was an hour late. I was nearly crying by the time he turned up but all of the angst and annoyance vanished in an instant when he finally turned the corner. We hung out in the park, ate pizza, talked ten to the dozen and I really, really fell in love with him. We spent every day together that half term holiday. I sort of managed to catch up on coursework as Robin took some time away from me for his various sports activities, but I did see him every single day.

I lost my virginity to him on the Friday in a toilet in the park, but then he disappeared that weekend without warning leaving me terrified and humiliated. Again I tried and tried all day Saturday to call Sasha without success. I really, really needed to talk to my friend, but she was never ‘available’ when I called her house. My frustration levels were at boiling point on that Sunday morning between her and Robin just vanishing when I needed them both, but then Sasha finally knocked on my front door. She had clearly been crying and asked if we could go for a walk. I agreed without hesitation and quickly ran upstairs to throw some clothes on. I was dying to tell her my news, but of course I had to find out what was wrong with her and make sure that she was o.k. first. The long and short of it was that she had been with Robin for three bloody weeks and hadn’t told me! He then told her about us! According to Sasha he only ‘went’ with me to punish her for going on holiday as he reckoned that she was going to sleep around while she was away. I was reeling! I shouted at her and cried demanding that she explain why she hadn’t told me about them. She shouted and yelled that she just couldn’t tell me given that I was forever THROWING myself at him! She screamed that I lost my self respect when he walked in to our classroom and I screamed and yelled that she had lost her friend! She claimed that he had spent the whole of Saturday begging her for forgiveness and pleading with her to give him another chance. The 14 year old ‘me’ didn’t believe her but the adult ‘me’ knows this to be the truth. He had more luck with me; I took him back without any hard work required on his part. I couldn’t help myself. He turned up at my house half an hour after I got back from seeing Sasha, told me that he loved me and that he had never wanted Sasha and I just lapped it up without question and threw myself in to his arms. I really was totally, blindly in love with him. My only stipulation was that we ‘go public’. I didn’t want to make the same mistake that Sasha had made. So that Monday we were official. Sasha hated me but I didn’t care. I had Robin. Robin Banks had totally stolen my heart! Later that term Sasha and I tried to rebuild our friendship, but Robin was dead against me hanging around with her, so it never really worked out.

The adult ‘me’ was now lying in bed next to my sleeping husband remembering all of this. Thinking about how often Robin told me that I was sexy and that I had a sexy arse and even used to kiss it whenever he could! I looked at Phillip sleeping soundly next to me. Thanks to the alcohol he drank with his meal, which apparently went very well, he was in a very deep peaceful sleep. I acknowledged to myself what a good man, a great husband and an excellent father Phillip was. I didn’t doubt that he loved me, but I wondered what exactly it was that he thought of me. Before I could stop myself I was shaking Phillip awake. His crumpled sleepy face looked bewildered as he tried to comprehend what was going on. “What five words would you use to describe me” I demanded sitting up with expectation.

“What?” he asked genuinely confused and more than a little annoyed “what the hell are you going on about?”

“I want to know what five words you would use to describe me” I demanded unapologetically.

Philip groaned rolled over and placed a pillow over his head. As he did so I heard him grumble “Pain. In. The. Fucking. Arse! There, that’s five”. I hit his head through the pillow and scolded that, that wasn’t what I had in mind. “You genuinely expected me to make up FROM MY SLEEP and come up with five words, just, like, that!” he yelled still from under the pillow. I growled for him to forget it, and his snores reassured me that in fact he already had. Well, that little venture put me in a bad bloody mood I mused grouchily. I ended up getting up out of my bed and making my way down the stairs for coffee. I wrapped my dressing gown tightly around myself. The house was freezing! Before I even reached for the switch on the kettle I had already decided that I would be travelling to Stratford to find Robin in the morning. I don’t really know what I thought I would ‘get’ from going but my mind was made up before my brain had the chance to even think about the dangers. Once my coffee was made I emailed my manger telling him that I had urgent family issues to deal with and would be away from the report for a while the following day. I assured him that I would be up all night working on the report and that no matter what it took I would be ready for Thursday. Within minutes I have an email agreeing that he didn’t care when I worked my hours as long as they are worked! I knew that he would say that and as I have never failed to meet a deadline I also knew that he wouldn’t be too concerned despite the importance of the task I am working on. And so I worked away from around midnight until around 5am when I gave up and took a nap until I had to get the children up at 7am. Unlike the previous afternoon my work was sharp, focused and purposeful. I was a woman on a mission in more ways than one and I knew that the report would be fantastic. Fear, determination and reckless abandonment had set me on fire!

I got the children fed and out of the door even though it was actually Philip's turn to take them to school. We always took turns weekly to drop the children off, although most days it was me who picked them up again as he worked slightly longer hours than me each week. Philip is a banker, and no don’t read that as a smarmy wanker. Yes he is very good at his job, and makes a ton of money but he is a very good man. Generous and kind are definitely words that I would use to describe him. We generally work well as a unit and everything is run very efficiently. I was obviously a little quiet and distracted and Philip assumed that I was annoyed with him because he wouldn’t tell me the five words. He was half amused to think that this had upset me and also a little baffled about why that would have upset me. He was tip toeing around me all morning trying to gently mock me into a better mood but also slightly nervous about pissing me off more. I bet you that he checked the calendar to see if it was PMT causing this mood! I decided to let him stew; it seemed a better option than him knowing the real reason for my odd mood! He and I never talk about Robin, if his name even gets mentioned in passing my husband gets in to a foul mood. You would think that after almost 12 years of marriage he would have dealt with his issues of insecurity, but no, apparently not. Mind you I wasn’t in the position to judge any more. It seemed that neither of us had dealt with our issues where Robin was concerned! Phil did comment on my attire for the school run as he of course knew that I was meant to be working from home and obviously was more than a tad over dressed! The thing is that I could not bring myself to outright lie to him, but I huffily told him that there had been a change of plan and stomped out of the house to avoid having to offer further explanation.

So there I was, sitting in a huge shopping centre having a minor panic attack about what I was doing! I was dressed like a diva but behaving like the village idiot. I still didn’t really understand what it was that I was doing there. I still don’t know what I thought I was expecting to happen as a result of my being there, apart from pissing my husband off to the point of divorce. If Phil ever found out about this, well, let’s just say that it wouldn’t go too well for me and leave it at that. It was actually a wonder that I would even want to see Robin again after all of the rubbish he put me through. We were so, so bad for each other, always drunk or high when we were together, always fighting or fucking. There was never any middle ground with us. There was never any peace and everything was all on his terms. Yet, we were addicted to each other, me from the start of course, but it grew that way for him too. I used to hum a little rhyme when I was little. It went:

‘There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good she was very, very good
And when she was bad she was horrid”.

That was exactly what our relationship was like, the good times were too good and the bad times were just too bad, and it just all got to be too much. Somehow for Rob I was just never enough, he cheated on me endless times, but like I fool I took him back over and over again because in my eyes no one could ever match up to him. In the end he stopped even apologising for his awful behaviour. It just seemed to become accepted that he was a bastard and that I would put up with it. I think actually he was playing a game to see how much I would take before I ‘snapped’.

I actually ended our relationship on my 21st Birthday. That was the day that he finally found the straw that would break my back:

We were living in a really dingy bedsit at the time. Apart from our room everything was shared. The house was always filthy and stank because apart from me no one cleaned up after themselves, and the washing machine was broken so I spent a lot of my time in the laundrette. Robin refused to come and help me as apparently that was woman’s work. I actually hated living there but we didn’t have much money and our parents had thrown us out so we had nowhere else to go. Actually to be fair Robin’s parents threw him out after finding us having sex in their kitchen while drunk out of minds thanks to his Dads Vodka and high from smoking weed (thanks to his brother but we kept quiet about that part)! My parents obviously refused to let him move in to our house when I asked and also stated that they would kick me out if I ever let him cross the threshold, so I left. I was 19 years old at this time and naturally thought that I knew it all. I was convinced that Robin and I would spend the rest of our lives together and that my family would come to accept that in the end.

Money was really tight; we both had to leave college to find full time work so that we could afford to pay for the privilege to live in that flea pit. Robin worked in bars and his money just about paid the rent, if he didn’t drink/gamble it all away that was, my money from working in a cheap clothes shop just about covered food and a little fun. Living together was stressful though and we were fighting a lot. In supermarkets, bars, the house, the street, everywhere we went we either fought or made up! Having sex in random places was rather a theme for us, as was public toilets. Life was chaos. Still, it was my Birthday and it was Saturday night so I figured that Robin would have some type of surprise in store for me. I had been working all day but rushed home full of excitement for what he had planned. I entered the house and realised that it was dark, a little shard of excitement rose within me when I saw that our bedroom door was unlocked, meaning that he was home, in the dark. He must be planning a surprise party for me right? I did get a surprise though.


I pushed the door open and there was Robin in bed having sex with the apparently very energetic girl from room 3, she was bouncing around on top of him like he was a sodding pogo stick, AND joining them was her friend! That scene burns my eyes whenever I am forced to think about it. I just went mental! I dragged room 3 out of my bed by her ratty blonde hair, kicked her in the face and threw her out of the room NAKED. She was so shocked that she didn’t even have the chance to defend herself let alone fight back. Terry from room 5 had run out on to the landing at the sound of the latest drama to see what was going on and what a show he got! The friend ran past me completely naked and a very nude, still erect Robin was trying desperately to prise me off of room 3’s hair!

The most mental thing happened to me in that moment, well even more mental than what was already going on. It was as if I rose out of my own body and calmly I actually saw the scene beneath me as though I was only watching, not actually in it! The first thing I thought when I saw my wild, angry, screaming face was how thin and unhappy I had become. I looked at least 20 years older than my age, and this, this was how I was spending my long awaited 21st Birthday. I then looked at Robin. He looked just as old, and wild and angry, like as if he had the right! He wasn’t even good looking anymore, drugs and drink had killed the looks, he had dropped out of all of the sports that he had once excelled in, his skin was spotty and sallow, he was broke, and he was what I was fighting over! Then I looked at Terry, he was leaning over the banister laughing like this insane scene was the funniest show on T.V! Suddenly I realised what a pathetic freak show my life had become and I really didn’t want that any longer. Without warning I sort of whooshed back in to my body. I instantly dropped number 3, walked back in to my room slamming the door behind me and started to pack.

A very short time later Robin came back in to the room and silently started to dress. I could feel him watching what I was doing very closely. He sat on the edge of the bed and waited for me to say something. He was nervous for the first time since I had known him, he was sitting right on the edge of the bed as though he might have to run at any moment, his head was bowed and he sat staring intently at the thumbs that he was twiddling. Either he was trying to work out what to say or more than likely he was hoping that his silence would force me to speak. I just ignored him and carried on packing. “Wow you are actually pretty pissed off!” He ventured with what I took to be mock surprise. I jumped round to look at him and to be fair, he was visibly bemused! I really, really didn’t want to argue any more, to be that mad, crazy beast that I had become any more so I just stated that yes, I was pissed off, and further more would be pissing off-permanently! I also informed him that when I had expected a surprise for my 21st Birthday, this hadn’t been what I had in mind! He actually told me that it was entirely my fault because I hadn’t told him that it was my Birthday and had he of known that it was we would have been in the pub by now rather than be at home fighting! If I had have needed one; that would have signalled the final nail being hammered into the coffin for me. I sped up my packing tenfold!

“Are you really leaving?” he persisted.

“Yes Robin” I asserted looking him straight in the eye to be sure that he understood that I was definitely serious “I am leaving this shithole! I am leaving you! I am leaving this shitty, not fucking worth it, crap excuse for a fucking relationship RIGHT FUCKING NOW” I screamed the final half of that sentence and my spittle sprayed everywhere which revolted me despite my temper!! So much for a calm and serene exit!
“I’ll save you the fucking effort” he seethed tying up the laces to the trainers I had bought him weeks before for his 21st Birthday present! I had cooked him a meal, taken him to the pub and shagged his brains out that night, what a change for my celebrations! “I’ll fucking go instead”, and without any further comment he walked out. Just like that. He never even took anything with him, just walked out in the clothes he was wearing.

I didn’t really know what to do after that. The wind had literally been taken out of my sails. I dropped to the floor and cried. I was so grateful that finally it was over. Finally I was free, but there was a sense of panic at the same time. Was I really going to give up on him?

I actually left a week later. I went back to my Mother’s house and to be truthful she was totally lovely about it. Like I had been that night, Mum was so glad that finally it was over. Sadly my Dad died very shortly after I left home so he never saw it ‘come right’ again. My final crazy act was to light a bonfire in the front garden and to burn all of Robin’s possessions; including his ID, gifts he had bought me and the bedding he had betrayed me in! It felt great at the time. That was my last insane act though. Once Robin left my life I suddenly found me again! Happy go lucky, fun loving me! Sure I was older and wiser but it was wonderful to be me again. To be honest though, somewhere in the tiniest, darkest part of my mind there was a little feeling of unease. It really didn’t feel like we had actually finished our business so to speak. Sure the jumper had been knitted, but the final thread was still hanging loose and I was scared that a tiny little tug might just unravel the whole thing.

Back in the shopping centre these memories still held power over me. I was rooted to the cold, hard seat and my whole body, mind and soul felt as raw as though it had only just happened to me that very day. The pain hadn’t seemed to get easier even though this all happened more than 14 years ago. I have been happily married for almost 12 out of those 14 years, and I’m a mother to two beautiful children. So that lead me to wonder again, why am I here? Why am I crying in public yet again? But most of all why does this still affect me so much? I really wanted to show him how successful I had become without him, I wanted to shove it right in his face how great my life was and how I hadn’t missed him for a second, but suddenly that felt really stupid. At least I had finally come to my senses. Finally I recognised that my being there was a very bad idea. This place and more specifically Robin had no answers for me so I really, really need to just leave. Without giving myself the chance to change my mind back again I was on my feet and heading out the way that I came in. I was walking as fast as my high heeled feet could carry me. The door slid open and I marched out back in to the fresh air once again. I felt elated as I gasped in the cool, crisp air feeling like I made it home safe already! Disaster averted! Crisis avoided! And then, smack! There right in front of me, smoking a cigarette while talking in to a mobile phone was Robin! Within two seconds I noted that he looked, amazing. He was fresh, clean and dressed in the most divine grey Armani suit. He had aged very, very well and was the most handsome that he had ever been. He looked pretty pissed off though and was practically yelling down the phone that he was talking into.

Before he had the chance to spot me I basically made a dash for the train station but I am too late. “Wow! Now there’s a real blast from my past” Robin exclaimed as I tried to run past him. He hung up on whoever he was talking to without even saying goodbye and once again, his hand on my arm stopped me dead in my tracks.


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