“I want to hear more about him.” Dr Jackson said.
“Urgh. Really?” I grimaced.
“You say you were with him for around a month?”
This must have been the first therapy session for a while where I rolled my eyes, but that was more to do with him than it was the actual therapy itself.
“Yeah. He cheated on me. I threw things. The usual.”
“What about the actual relationship
itself? What made it bad?”
“He was just… nasty.” I sighed. “He called me poo-eyes.”
I could see she wanted to laugh, so when I started giggling, she took that as her queue to join in, letting out a little chuckle, covering her mouth.
I wanted to start out with something a little humorous before I delved into just how horrible he was.
“Why?” She asked after her brief spout of laughter.
“He didn’t like the colour of them. Once said that he thought they were lifeless. I have… a scar on my leg, and I hate it. The first time he saw it he laughed, and called it ugly.” I could see her face dropping as I continued. “He always had something bad to say. He was always poking fun at my insecurities, y’know? He tried to stop me from talking to a few of my friends who he didn’t like, and when I didn’t stop he told me I needed to be careful. That he could do better than me, and he would leave if I wasn’t fully committed to him and our relationship.”
“And you didn’t leave him?”
“I… No. I guess it’s one of those things. It’s easier to look back and realise it was toxic, but at the time… I dunno. It felt normal. It felt right. But… I don’t think I’ve ever been with someone who was nice. They’ve all been fucking pricks.”
She made a few notes in silence, and to be honest, it was only just fully dawning on me that I’d spent a good percentage of my life around people who pulled me down, people who had driven down my confidence, and I’d been none the wiser because it was all I’d known.
When I’d moved to the city, everything in my life improved. I was away from my family, I was making friends with people I truly cared about, and who truly cared about me, but by that point the damage had already been done.
I was lucky, to be around people who were wonderful influences on me and my life, and I had to wonder what silent effects it had been having on me. I had to wonder how badly I truly felt whilst I was at university.
“And then he cheated on you?” She asked, once she was done writing.
“How did you find out?”
“Oh, he told me. He was very casual about it. It was very much, what do you want to have for tea? And also, I slept with someone else. Pizza maybe? Bastard.”
“You must find it difficult,” She sighed. “To accept… affection.”
I scrunched my nose, looking down to my fingers, fiddling with my clothing. We’d discussed this kind of thing before, but every single time it hurt to hear it. I hated that I’d wound up feeling that way towards myself, and I hated that I was only realising it after months of therapy. Without therapy, which I had been so reluctant to go to in the first place, I would still be lost within my self-loathing and totally unaware of it.
“I guess so… Yeah.”
“I’ve been trying to think of a way we can change that.” She placed her book down.
“Maybe. I already feel like you’ve made a lot of progress, and that’s good.” She smiled. “I think it’s also good that you now spend time with people who have positive influences on you. It all must be doing you a world of good, even if the rewards aren’t instant, or even fully noticeable.”
“I was just thinking that.”
“And I believe there’s quite a simple way that you can add to that. A way you can elevate it.”
“I hope you don’t want me to look in the mirror every morning and say three things I like about myself. I hate that kind of bullshit.” I snickered.
When I’d first started the sessions, my sarcastic comments were always met with more notes, silent stares across the table, and basically Dr Jackson despising every second of it as much as I was.
Now, I could make snarky comments like that, and she knew me enough to appreciate that that was just what I was like. That was my humour. That’s how I worked.
“That would work for some people,” She let out a stammered laugh. “But I know it wouldn’t work for you.”
“Mahatma Gandhi once said, be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“I’ve heard that one!” I grinned proudly.
“I think it’s a good one to live by. I believe that if you start being affectionate with the people you love, if you start being more vocal about how much they mean to you, how grateful you are for them, and everything in between, it gives out a positive energy. Does that make sense?”
“I guess so.” I shrugged, maybe still a little puzzled.
“Be the change you wish to see. I want you to make it your goal that no one you know ever has to feel as lonely as you did. No one has to feel as low as you did. Spread the kind of love that you should have been given your whole life.”
I nodded, firm, calm, collected.
She was right. Again, she was absolutely spot on, and she’d figured out a way help me, that would also suit me, what I was like as a person. She’d managed to work me out, and she was working with me, and I appreciated that so, so much.
March the 11th featured an uneventful Saturday afternoon, for the percentage anyway. I was sprawled across my sofa, a bag of crisps balanced on my bloated belly, and Titanic on the tele.
I’d invited Mo to join me, because I was almost sure he’d told me he wasn’t working, but when I’d told him I was watching Titanic, he’d blurted out that he was working.
I didn’t believe him for a second.
Especially when I heard some footsteps crashing about above my head.
“What kind of idiot doesn’t like Titanic?” I mumbled to myself.
Still baffled by the mere concept, I stuck my middle finger up to the ceiling and carried on enjoying the film in peace, but that didn’t last long.
My heart jumped when my phone started buzzing loudly atop my coffee table. It also meant that I’d have to move to answer it, which made me groan and sulk as I moved the bag of crisps and sat upright, stretching a little before I reached out for my phone.
I grinned when I saw that it was Harry calling.
“Hey!” I chirped when I answered.
“Hi!” He was just as chirpy. “You alright?”
“I’m good. Watching Titanic.”
“Surprise, surprise.” I could almost see him rolling his eyes. “Anyway, I come to you with a plan.”
“Oooh, a plan. Okay. Go.”
I hadn’t actually seen him since our meal the weekend before, but we’d been texting back and forth a lot. We weren’t even really talking about anything important, or noteworthy, but there’d been times where he’d had me howling. It felt good just to be talking with him again. It kind of reminded me of where we were before the fake dating, when we were just spending time together, getting to know each other.
It was nice.
“So, every now and then, our boss at work just tells us to close the bar. It literally happens like, once or twice a year, and he just says, alright, you’re not working tonight. So then me and the boys are welcome to spend the night drinking there. We raid the bar, totally free, and we’re allowed to bring a few people. It’s kinda like a lock-in for staff members, and a few friends. You in?”
“I’m invited?” I squealed.
“Yeah, of course.”
Although I understood the reasons behind it, I was still silently bitter that they only hired males at the bar where he worked. It sounded bloody ideal. I knew they worked ridiculously long hours, and they all worked hard, and they probably had to deal with a lot of idiots, but the perks of the job and the pay and everything else seemed wonderful.
I was jealous.
“That sounds amazing.” I sighed. “But, I was planning on drinking with the guys from work tonight. I’m sorry.”
“They can come!”
“Really? But that’s four of us.”
“It’s fine. Bring them along. I’d like to meet them anyway.”
“Okay, great. Good. Thanks, Curls.”
“So what’s happening on the Titanic right now?”
I settled back into my spot, throwing my legs back up and balancing my head on the two cushions I’d propped up so I could watch the film effortlessly.
“Well don’t spoil it for me!” He cried.
“Are you saying you haven’t seen Titanic?”
“Well, you have to come round and watch it. I have it on DVD twice. You have to watch it. It’s great.”
“Why do you have it twice?” He chuckled.
“I just do. Also, can I ask… Did you genuinely not know the ending to Titanic?”
“No, I knew.” He laughed. “I just didn’t know you’d be so offended by the fact I haven’t seen it.”
“Of course I would be offended by that, Harry. It’s my favourite.”
He kept laughing down the line, the sound pushing through the speakers and swelling my chest.
We were doing incredibly well at this whole friendship thing, because even though a percentage of our time together had been based around falsities, we were incredibly natural around one another. We’d quickly ignored the mistakes of our past and started something new, and it was working wonderfully.
“I’m sorry. I promise I’ll watch it with you.” He chuckled.
“Good. I’m looking forward to tonight.”
“Me too. It’s always one of the best nights. V after D.”
“V after D?” I whimpered.
“Yeah. Vocatus after Dark.”
“Oh my god. No. No. The go to thing there is vagina after dick.”
“What?” He cried down the phone. “No it’s not! That’s just you and your dirty mind.”
“If you said V after D to anyone, they would jump to vagina after dick. I’m telling you.”
“They would not!”
“Except, in that case, it should be D after V.”
“Except after C.”
“Fuck off.” I laughed. “You’re such an idiot.”
There was a small knock on my door, and at first I thought it would have been Mo, but then I knew that Mo would have just let himself in.
I lowered my brows as I jumped to my feet.
“I can’t believe your automatic thought was vagina after dick.” He huffed over the phone. “You’ve let me down.”
“Just know, I will not be calling this evening V after D. It just sounds rude. Is there a certain time I need to be there? Or should I just-”
I’d swung my front door open, and the sight of who was ahead of me had brought my sentence to abrupt halt.
I stood breathlessly staring at my sister.
“Ren? You there? You okay?” Harry quizzed.
“I’ll call you back.” I hung up quickly.
She looked just as uncomfortable as I felt, stood just outside my doorway, completely silent.
I could feel an intense anger crawling across my skin, and that was before I’d spotted the small gift she had held under her left arm.
I felt sick.
“If that’s a fucking present for me, forget it. I don’t want it.”
I left the door open, welcoming her into my home without actually being welcoming, and stormed back through to my kitchen. I didn’t want her to be there. I didn’t want to have to repeat the words I’d yelled at her last month because I knew they wouldn’t have gone in the first time. I didn’t want her pathetic pity gift and I didn’t want her intruding on my boring day. I liked my day being boring.
“I’m sorry I forgot.” She followed me swiftly inside, slamming the door. “I’ve just been so busy.”
I flicked the kettle on, in dire need of a brew to get me through what was bound to be a difficult conversation, and I leant against the counter, arms folded, scowling at her.
“What about mum and dad? Were they too busy too? You’d think mum would remember the date she pushed an entire human out of herself.”
“Florence, why are you being so crude?” She cringed.
“It’s a valid point! You managed to get an excuse out of them, too? Because I still haven’t heard a thing from them.”
“I spoke with mum, and I think she just doesn’t know how to approach it. She feels terrible. Please,” She held the present out to me. “Take it.”
“I don’t want it.”
“But I bought it for you!”
“When? Fucking yesterday? On your way here? That means nothing to me, Matty. Absolutely nothing.”
It sometimes feels like bullshit, when people say it’s the gesture rather than the gift, but in that moment, I knew it was the gesture that really meant something. A gift from her, no matter what it was, only meant something if there was some thought and love behind it, and there was zero.
“Fine.” She practically threw it down on the counter. “Look, I know I’ll never be able to apologise enough, but that’s not the only reason I’m here. I really need to talk to you.”
“About what?” I huffed.
“About what you said to me on the phone.”
“Oh, so you did listen? I thought I might have to repeat myself.”
“Florence, you told me I needed to fix this! So if you could just drop the attitude for five minutes and let me try, I’d be really grateful.”
I bit my tongue, feeling the heat of my sadness pushing from my stomach and shooting right up to my throat. I looked down to the floor, unable to face her, suddenly with very little to say.
“Fine.” I swallowed.
“Why wouldn’t mum let you dance?”
I scrunched my nose, not wanting to have this conversation again.
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other.
“She said something along the lines of… I’d make a fool out of myself. That I didn’t have the coordination for it.”
“Which is true.”
“Matty, I know it’s true!” I barked. “But it’s not really the point, is it? I wanted to dance, and it shouldn’t have mattered how fucking bad I would have been, she should have given me the chance! I should have been able to try and fail. It was an option for you, so why wasn’t it an option for me?”
“Maybe… Maybe she just wanted to save you the embarrassment.”
“MATTY, CAN YOU FUCKING HEAR YOURSELF? Stop trying to justify it!” I screamed. “I think the only reason you’re struggling to realise how shitty that is, is because that was just that start. I think me pointing this out to you opens your fucking mind up to how unfairly I’ve been treated.”
I could almost see it happening. I could almost see her regular memories twisting and reshaping as she saw things she hadn’t done before. She saw me waddling about in her dance shoes whilst our mother sniggered. She heard my mother praising her whilst telling me I needed to buck my ideas up. She remembered my mother helping her when she really needed it, and being disappointed in me when I really needed some support.
I got to witness her memories readjusting and adapting to match my own, and it was clear she had no idea how to handle it. Because it wasn’t her fault, but the fact she’d been so blind to it felt like a contribution to me. She’d ignored it, turned and looked the other way, and that hurt too. I felt like my sister should have been my support system, and she never had been.
“Have you… ever spoken with mum? About it?” She eventually gasped, unsure what else to say.
“I… No.” I felt defeated even saying that. “I tried… once, but… I caved. Couldn’t do it.”
“I’m sorry, Florence. I just… I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about it before.”
“I know you haven’t.”
“Do you… want me to maybe say something?” She tried.
“No.” I shook my head, quick to answer. “It needs to come from me. I… I don’t know when I’ll have the guts to do it, but I will. One day, I will. It needs to come from me. It has to.”
I couldn’t blame her, when she found herself struggling to find the right words again. She was just starting to wrap her head around something that had been happening for years.
She was clearly a little baffled.
But I had been baffled too. It may have been brand new to her, but it was still relatively new to me, too.
“I never really understood why she was so harsh on you when you dropped out of university.” She sighed. “And… there were a million times I wanted to drop out. Even spoke about it with her a few times.”
“Really?” My eyes went wide. “What did she say?”
“Well she wasn’t happy, but… I know she will have supported me. I could tell.”
I expected nothing less, really.
Another spell of silence cast itself upon us, both of us with our heads down, lumps in our throats, and the realisation that even though the conversation had calmed, the crater in our family had never been larger.
“I don’t think you need therapy, Florence.”
Those words, for some reason, made me smile. But it wasn’t because I felt happy, or because I agreed with her. I was smiling because she was wrong. I was smiling because for once, I was aware that I knew more than my perfect sister did.
“I think I do.” I whispered, a raw honesty in my voice.
The muscles in Harry’s arms were flexed and tight as he rocked the cocktail shaker, drowning the silver appliance with his giant hands. He was smirking to himself as I sat on the barstool and watched him work, propping up my chin and ignoring the bustle of our group of friends who were all introducing themselves behind me as Harry prepared the first round of drinks.
“Only you could make that interaction with your sister a funny one.” He chuckled after my tale.
“I’m doing it to save my sanity. It was actually extremely draining.”
“You okay?” He turned to face me.
“I’m fine.” I shrugged. “It’s a good thing, really, in the long run. It just feels shit now.”
“You need this drink.”
“I do. I’m ready for it!”
He had around fifteen cocktail glasses all lined up, and once he’d done preparing the mix, he loosened the lid and began to pour out the liquid, smoothly moving so it poured from one glass to the next, and even though it looked like he was putting in no effort whatsoever, each glass held exactly the same amount.
I watched him fill the glasses, completely entranced.
“Your friends were looking at me all weird.” He commented.
“Your friends.” He nodded towards them, filling the final glass.
“Oh. Yeah, it’s because of the whole… Well… they think you’re my ex-boyfriend. So, they think we’re getting back together.”
“Oh yeah. That makes sense.” He stumped. “Shit, I’ve just realised my friends will think the same thing!”
“See, this is another reason we originally agreed to cut ties!” I squealed. “Because of all the weird complications.”
“Genuinely, did we think any of this through? At any point?” He sniggered.
“No. We just dove straight in. Seriously idiotic.”
“It was.” He agreed, still smiling to himself. “I wonder what it’ll take for me to regret it.”
I smiled to myself, liking that Harry was making it clear that even though we’d stumbled across a million bumps in the road, and our emotions had been torn and tattered and tested, that he still didn’t regret what had happened between us. He was still happy we’d been insane enough to go through with that ridiculous scheme.
I wanted to fire some form of witticism at him, but I couldn’t. My cheeks were burning up for some reason, and I think he saw it, and decided to add fuel to the fire that was already scorching my skin.
“You look amazing tonight, Florence Daisy Valentine.” He smiled, placing his drinks on a giant silver tray.
“Why are you trying to flatter me? What do you want?”
“Nothing!” He snarled a laugh. “Just being nice.”
I lowered my eyes slightly, thinking about what Dr Jackson had told me to do, about making the people in my life feel worthy and loved.
Something that needed pointing out to me, something I needed to be guided into doing, was something that just came completely naturally to Harry, without even a second thought, or a second motive.
“Spreading niceness. That’s your thing, isn’t it?”
“I-I dunno.” He shrugged. “I didn’t realise I had a thing.”
“Your thing is being just… the nicest person.” I put it into practice, that method we’d spoken of. “And I want you to know that I’m very glad we’re friends. Because anyone would be lucky to have you in their lives, and I now realise I was lucky. Stupid and lucky.”
He stopped his movements for a few moments, watching me with his features somewhat dropped. I figured he was a little thrown by my honesty, and everything I had just said to him.
But after two months of shutting him out, it was time to open myself up. Not just to him, but to everyone. But Harry was there, and I felt like maybe he deserved a little bit of extra attention.
Maybe I owed him that.
“Well… I feel the same way about you.” He eventually gasped
We were both just grinning at each other across bar, and it was quickly dawning on us the reality of our situation. Not just that we were being friends, and not just that I was obviously making a conscious effort to better myself, but it was something else.
It was the reality in general. This wasn’t fake. They weren’t words being thrown about in the hope of impressing our parents, or letting people think we were a couple.
We were being real, and maybe this was one the first times where the lines between our real feelings and our fake ones weren’t blurred.
“So tell me,” Zayn leaned in a little closer. “How many people here know about you and Harry?”
“They all know we exist.” I quipped, the alcohol I’d consumed audible in my tone. “Everyone knows about the existence of both of us. Amazing, right?”
“I’m sure you weren’t this sarcastic the first time I met you.” He scowled.
“You probably just blocked it out.”
“Probably.” He let out a low chuckle. “But you know what I mean! How many people know about the whole… fake… thing?”
I was many, many drinks down, as was everyone else. The earlier part of the evening had mostly been spent with us all in fits of laughter, everyone talking and bonding as a group. But as the sun started to rise outside, people had kind of drifted apart, conversations had toned down and the rounds were getting smaller.
The night was slowly ending.
I looked over Zayn’s shoulder, seeing Harry and Sasha sat laughing away over something or other. The two of them had formed a quick bond, and it was nice, the two of us joining our groups of friends together and everything working so well.
“Just you.” I said, turning to face him again.
“Just me?” He placed his hand on his chest. “Shit. I love that. I almost feel like I’m part of a cult or something!”
“That’s… a little dramatic, but I see where you’re coming from.”
I’d figured Zayn was an extremely forward person when we first met him on the train. He hadn’t shied away from talking to us, questioning us, holding my gaze when I’d caught his eye. Sitting with him then and spending my evening with him confirmed it. He was sat close to me, leaning his body my way, talking so lowly it was like there was no one else in the entire world. He had that same charm that the rest of the staff had; it was no wonder they’d taken him on. He was a little extravagant, extremely charming and weirdly confident.
“Can I ask you something else?”
“I feel like even if I say no, you’re going to ask me anyway.” I smirked.
“Are there any… real feelings there between you two?”
“Huh?” I gasped.
“Did you fuck?”
“What?” I squealed, hitting his arm. “No, we did not! We’re just friends.”
He held up his hand, his little finger extended as he nudged even closer to me, a sceptical look raising one brow and doubt running through his eyes.
“You gotta pinky-promise me, because I don’t believe you.”
“Are you calling me untrustworthy?”
“No, but I’m just doubting your honesty on the matter.”
“We’re just friends.” I reiterated.
“Then why did you stop talking and then start talking again? I need to know everything. If I’m gunna do this fake dating thing with someone, I need to know the real repercussions.”
“How many times can I advise you against it?”
“How long do I need to hold up my pinky before you promise?” His other brow raised to join the first. “You like him.”
I clasped my hand around his, forcing his little finger down to join the others, giggling and shaking my head at him, tittering to myself as he waited for an explanation, and the scepticism on his face was increasing with every move I made.
“It went beyond the fake thing very quickly.” I said. “But it’s not like that. I think very highly of Harry, but how could I not?”
“He is a great lad.”
“And youuuuu like him.” Zayn sniggered.
I glanced over his shoulder and my eyes caught within Harry’s, and I noticed the way he was observing, shooting an almost jealous glare across the room towards us. I really hadn’t been expecting it, to be honest. He was obviously still a little attached to that ridiculous idea that me and Zayn were going to do the whole fake relationship thing, there was no other explanation for it.
I hiccupped, trying to ignore the fact that my head was spinning, trying to ignore that Harry was still watching the two of us. I was suddenly even more aware of our close proximity.
“You alright?” Zayn quizzed me.
“Bit drunk.” I sighed. “Think I’m gunna head home.”
“There’s a taxi company a few doors down.” He nodded. “They work with us so we can get home safe at the end of our shifts. Go to them and say it’s V after D, and they’ll give you a free lift home.”
“What was your go-to thought when you first heard V after D?” I asked quickly.
“Vagina after Dick.”
“Thank you!” I cried. “I knew it wasn’t just me.”
I tried to get up to my feet, falling back down for a split second before I successfully lifted myself the second time, noticing that Harry still had his eyes fixed on me as I moved.
“I’m going home!” I called to everyone, saving me from doing the rounds. “You’re all very wonderful people. Thank you for a lovely evening. You’re all very nice and I like it.”
I just sounded like I was being one of those drunk people who got all lovey-dovey after one too many, but I was just trying to execute my new thing of spreading happiness, and I think I was better at it when I was drunk. It was extremely genuine. Not that it wouldn’t have been when I was sober, but there’s something about drunken love that seems so honest, so sweet.
They all chimed their goodbyes at the same time, loud and rowdy and drunk as hell.
I began to make my journey outdoors, and Harry’s head followed me like an owl until he twisted on the sofa.
I stopped briefly, snapping my body down so I could lean close to his ear.
“Thank you for tonight.” I whispered. “I’ve really loved it. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He whispered back, turning his head so his lips lingered close with mine. “There’s a taxi company just round-”
“Zayn told me.” I smiled softly. “I’ll use them.”
“Right.” He nodded, turning to face away from me again.
I should have kept my mouth shut, really, but with an array of cocktails swimming gleefully through my stomach, I couldn’t quite bite my tongue.
“Are you jealous?” I whispered, being extra quiet.
“Of who? Zayn?” He snorted. “Fuck no. Definitely not.”
“I’m not going to do the fake thing with him!” I cried, as softly as I could. “You have to believe me.”
“I do believe you.” He turned back once more. “But he still wants to do it with you, and it’s… It’s annoying. It pisses me off.”
“Doesn’t matter what I say, does it?” I huffed. “Goodnight, Curls.”
I shot upright again, waving to everyone before I made my way out the front door, the cold air raising my skin as I began marching down the street, seething through my clenched teeth as an automatic reaction to the mornings bitter breeze.
I couldn’t wait to get home, to wrap myself up tight and wake up with a pounding headache. I was ready for it.
I whipped around as soon as I heard Harry’s voice, watching as he did a little jog to catch up with me, and it was hard to feel any negativity towards the freezing cold wind when it played with his hair in the way it was doing then. It fluttered across his face, wrapped around his skin, eclipsing his features and enhancing his beauty all at the same time.
“I’ll share a taxi with you.” He said once he’d caught up.
“You’re in the complete opposite direction.” I told him, even though I knew he was very well aware.
“I just wanna make sure you get home safe.”
I was about to argue, tell him that I was getting into a taxi with a company he knew and trusted, but I didn’t. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t about to fight him on it, because really, I wanted him there. Not because I felt unsafe, but simply because I wanted him to be with me.
“Okay.” I smiled.
Once he was at my side, we took off again, our shoulders bashing together as we strolled down the street, and I watched my feet as we went, very wary that I could trip up at any minute.
We were quiet for the entire journey, only letting out a small giggle at one point as Harry pulled at my arm, dragging me to the side so that I didn’t walk into a lamppost. Other than that, we were both quiet up until we walked into the taxi firm, the man behind the glass grinning wildly at Harry as soon as he saw him.
“My boy!” He greeted.
“Hey!” Harry chuckled happily. “I need two drop offs tonight, that okay?”
“Whatever you need, Harry. Whatever you need. He’s pulling round the front for you now.”
“Thanks. You’re the best.”
There was a drunken man asleep in the corner, but obviously Harry was a priority, because within seconds a car appeared outside for us, and Harry was bidding the cheery man farewell.
We scurried outside and hopped in as quickly as we could, and thankfully, once Harry had given my address, we were soon speeding down the road, my head lolling back and my eyes falling shut, my stomach performing little flips and churns every time the road altered its level.
We stayed quiet.
Nothing was said, not even when I felt Harry’s fingers toying with mine. My hand was laying in the centre of the car, and from nowhere he began to modify it, accommodating my fingers so he could slot his own between them, and I instinctively clasped back, holding his hand tightly, totally natural.
What felt weird was the fact it hardly computed, it wasn’t something that felt strange. Holding his hand in that moment made me feel like I should always be holding his hand, like I’d merely be searching for his touch if it wasn’t already there, soft against mine.
When we pulled up outside my building, I didn’t want to let go.
“I’m gunna walk her upstairs.” Harry spoke to our driver. “I’ll be five minutes, do you mind waiting?”
“Not at all, pal.”
I squeezed his hand before I let it go, opening the door and tactfully clambering out of the vehicle, only experiencing a slight stumble, and then we were on our way, pushing through the front door and then making our way upstairs.
I wasn’t entirely sure why our journey had been so silent. Usually myself and Harry just bounced off each other, making jokes and laughing and just talking about anything and everything. The silence wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was unfamiliar.
When we reached my floor, I knew I needed to break it.
“You didn’t need to do this.” I swallowed.
“Get me home. I can look after myself.”
“Ren, I’m aware you can look after yourself.” He shook his head. “But it doesn’t mean that the people who… care for you, don’t want to look after you. It’s nice to have support.”
I guess I’d never thought of it that way before. I’d always seen support and aid as co-dependence, rather than people actually wanting to be there for me.
The headache I’d been anticipating for the morning introduced itself early.
When we reached my door, I pressed my back against the wall just beside it, once again routing through my bag in the hope of finding my keys, praying I hadn’t lost them.
Harry watched me in silence for a few seconds, and then I noticed he was edging his way closer to me.
With my hand still buried in my bag I shot my head up, my eyes aligning with his momentarily. My throat was constricted, my eyes flitting down to his full lips. I felt sick.
“Ren, I need to tell you something.”
I took my eyes back to his, and they remained there, our gazes locked together, and our aura was intense, nauseating.
“Okay.” I hushed.
He looked nervous, like he was questioning whether he should really tell me what he was just about to, his mind racing and his heart pulsing wildly, but his eyes always with mine.
“I fucked some random girl.” He finally gasped. “I fucked some random girl and she meant nothing to me.”
My head fell back and hit the wall with a thud, and my heart ached.
That wasn’t what he wanted. He had never wanted it to be that way. He had waited 23 years to find someone special. He had been hoping for someone special to be in his life, and he’d lose his virginity to that person.
But it hadn’t worked that way, and that pained me.
Still staring at him, trying to be blind to the sadness that crafted the look on his face, I stuttered the only sentence I could articulate.
“I’m sorry it ended up being that way, Harry.”
“I… I know.” He finally dropped his head. “I just… I’m gunna go.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He brushed. “I am. I’m good.”
“And I’ll see you soon, right?”
“Of course you will.” He looked back to me. “Really soon. Promise.”
With a weak smile, he once again pushed his head forward, planting a delicate kiss to my forehead, and then he began his journey home, this time not turning to see me.
I was left feeling completely lost, and praying that Harry didn’t regret his first time in the same way I did, because it was a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.