Please be reminded; any names of people portrayed in this series are altered to protect their identities.
I awoke to my friend lightly tapping my shoulder. As I opened my eyes, crusty with last night’s mascara, I sat up and held my head in my hands. Wonderful. My first hangover.
“What time is it?” I asked her. She told me it was two in the afternoon and that we’d all slept in longer than intended. Instinctively, I turned my gaze to the empty couch where Thomas had been. Before I could ask, she told me he’d left for work hours before anyone was even awake. I nodded, but felt a tinge of disappointment.
She tossed me a can of ginger ale from the fridge as I held it up to my head. I struggled to recall what had happened the previous night.
“Well, you were doing great until that tequila sunk in. Then you and I decided to go dancing outside in the snow and you kind of fell into…well, everything. The tree, the table, the fence, the fireplace, the barbecue, which is where you wound up with that battlescar there,” she explained as she motioned to my arm. I lowered the can to see what she meant and sure enough, there was a cut straight down the side of my forearm. I felt no pain, but it sure looked awful.
“Geez; I can’t believe I got that out of control…” I murmured. I took my first sip of the ginger ale and crinkled my nose at the taste. “Why do I taste vomit?”
“Well, that’s kinda how you wound up on the loveseat. The rest of us were pretty much gone, but Thomas was still basically sober. You started to get sick and he looked after you for the rest of the time,” she explained with a laugh. I buried my face in my hands.
“So you mean to tell me I danced around, fell into everything and essentially passed out in a pool of my own vomit and had Thomas drag my drunken arse into the loveseat?” I asked. My friend nodded, “yep.”
I sighed in shame. Well, I’m never gonna be able to show my face around him again. My friend offered me a ride home and I decided to accept; I was in no condition to take the bus at this point.
“Before we go, could you do me a favour and get me his number? I need to apologize for yesterday; it’s only fair. I owe him baked goods,” I stated as I removed the blankets from over my shoulders. My friend looked at me with amusement and said, “you don’t bake.”
I downed the rest of my ginger ale. “Well, it’s time I learned, don’t you think?”
I sent Thomas a quick text apologizing for my behaviour the previous evening and thanked him for being such a good sport about the ordeal; he responded respectfully and I left it at that, returning to nursing what had to be the worst hangover in the history of hangovers.
A few weeks later, Aaron and I had further lost our fire. I found myself going through the motions as I began to wish for him to just say or do something awful so I wouldn’t feel so terrible about how I felt towards him. To make it worse, I often found myself wondering how Thomas was doing.
One afternoon, my mother and I were watching television with lunch when I heard a car door shut from outside the house. I glanced out the window to see one of my friends from the party making his way up the walkway. I was pleasantly surprised and started to rise to go grab the door when I saw Thomas appear around the corner, following him over. In a panic, I scrambled to the stairs.
“Where are you going? You’ve got company,” my mother stated, confused at my sudden outburst. As I fled into my room, I shouted my reply, “don’t let them in! I’m not pretty yet!”
I quickly changed just as I heard the knocking at the door and came downstairs to meet them. We’d spent the day watching anime and relaxing together at my friend’s house. I found myself rather nervous around Thomas, wishing the butterflies would cease. Whenever he looked at me, I would find it difficult to take my eyes away from his. Dammit. Why did they have to be blue?
Weeks later, my friends and I had decided to see another movie, and end it on a ‘fort night.’ We planned to make a blanket fort in their house, eat snacks, watch movies, and basically have an old-fashioned sleepover. That morning, I baked a batch of double-chocolate cupcakes for everyone, but mainly for Thomas. I suppose I’m nothing if not a woman of my word.
After we had finished the movie, my friends purposely filled their truck with junk so I’d have to go with Thomas. The drive from the theatre was a fair ways away, and my friends knew very well that he had often been on my mind. Worse yet, they understood my numbness to Aaron. While the drive was somewhat awkward, we filled the silence with small-talk and idle banter, but I remember feeling that sitting beside him in the passenger seat of his car just felt right somehow.
We held the fort-night as we’d planned, finished off the cupcakes, and as the night came to a close, all four of us had fallen asleep side-by-side in our separate blankets. Thomas was right beside me and I recall having the happiest sleep I’d had in months. All too soon, dawn had come and I had to return home. However, after having spent that time with Thomas, I had started to realize the feelings I was developing for him were unlike anything I had felt in any relationship I’d been in.
It felt as though I were in second grade again. I found myself believing in the possibility of love again, and whenever I thought of him, nothing else mattered. Somehow, though I trusted no one else, I felt I could place my trust in him. I felt I could give him the benefit of the doubt. I felt that one day I could even give him my heart if he would have me.
I knew what I needed to do. I felt as though I had finally found the person each failed relationship was leading me to. Something inside me said that I was born for him. I decided it was time to break it off with Aaron.
I met Aaron at his house and sat him down to talk, but as I continued my lead-up to the difficult part of the conversation, he pulled me into his arms, pleading that I don’t continue. Knowing his pain was nearly unbearable, I teared up as I finished my thought. I had told him we needed to end it and that I wasn’t the person he was meant to be with, but he broke in front of me. I had never seen him so distressed and afraid. I had never seen someone wish so badly for me to stay.
I broke down and took back what I’d said, terrified that if I left then and there that he would do something drastic in his pain. I returned home, kicking myself for giving in as I’d done. I sighed and put the idea out of my mind; my friends, Thomas and I were going on a day trip to the mountains the next day, so at least I had that to look forward to.
When I met my friends the next morning, one of them asked me how my conversation with Aaron went. I sighed and told her what had happened, ashamed to admit that I’d let myself crack. The day continued as we walked the townsite, I noticed Thomas seemed a bit more gruff than I was used to seeing him. I pulled my friend aside and asked her if he was alright when she’d told me, “I think he was planning on asking you out today, but since you’re still with Aaron, I think he’s a bit disappointed.”
Mentally, I kicked myself for messing up what could have been the perfect setting for the beginning of a relationship. I decided to enjoy the day, regardless. We all had lunch on the patio, tossed the football around, enjoyed the sunlight, and delicious food before heading back as the sun set over the mountains. From our friends’ home, Thomas dropped me off at my house and I resigned myself to my decision to end things with Aaron once and for all.
That night, I asked Aaron to walk with me. Forcing my blood to go cold, I told him cracking was my mistake and that staying in the relationship would only make things worse. He was still broken, but I made my way home before he could try to talk me out of it. My decision was made, and the sooner I had it done, the sooner we could leave it behind us. I knew Thomas was the next page in my story, and every bone in my body told me the chapters ahead would not be easy; but they would have one thing the previous chapters lacked.
A love I was willing to live for.
To be continued…