It’s a secret between us and the woods

“Animals aren’t the only things that hide in the woods…

Rosie and James, both stuck in a loveless marriage trying to find an escape… As their marriages begin to break, they find themselves drawn towards the woods.

A dark romance set in the woods, will they escape? Will their secret be discovered?”

My husband Charlie and I had been married for just over a year and I was miserable. I never really saw myself marrying him but at the time, it felt like the right thing to do. Oh how wrong I was! He was lazy, rude and he didn’t have a clue how to control his anger. I felt constantly trapped. Home was not a pleasant place to be anymore. Therefore I often found myself wandering into the woods during the day to pick flowers and feel free once again.

***

When people speak about domestic abuse, almost 100% of the time people automatically assume it’s the male abusing the female. That is not the case and it certainly is not my case. My wife had been hitting me for our whole marriage and my God, I wish I could escape her. I had never done anything to upset her and I never wanted to. I loved her but I was so unhappy, we barely see each other as she is a barmaid in town and I’m a lumberjack and stay in the woods for the best part of the day. The woods was the only place I felt like I was happy and carefree.

***

I remember it so well, it was a Wednesday afternoon in spring 2010 and my husband Charlie and I had been cuddling in bed one morning. Well, when I say cuddling, I actually mean I was lying there whilst Charlie grabbed my body and snuggled his head into my neck. I wasn’t enjoying it because to be brutally honest, I no longer loved him. I sighed and perched myself up on my pillow and tried to read my book. It was a book on how to make the perfect bouquet of flowers. I loved flowers. Tulips, daisies, daffodils, pansies… All of them. They were so colourful and beautiful and when I looked at them, I felt calm. A vivid memory of mine is when I was a little girl walking in the countryside with my parents, we came across a field full of poppies and I remember being mesmerised by how beautiful they were and from that moment, I knew I would love flowers and everything about them. I was a proud owner of a florist in the village and picking the flowers was one of my favourite pass times. The best place for it was the woods on the outskirts of town, there were multiple ‘hotspots’ where I picked them but the daffodil spot was my favourite and that’s because it was the first place I spotted James…

***

If you asked me what the best day of my life was and I began to tell you, you would be shocked. Because the best day of my life started with my ‘loving’ wife gracing me with a throbbing black eye. Romantic, I know. I hadn’t washed the dishes in the time she had asked me to so that was my punishment. You’re probably thinking how bad my days must be if that was the best day of my life but don’t worry, that was just the beginning of it. This day was the best because I headed out to work early as there was a tall tree that needed chopping in the woods outside of town, even though I had a giant black eye, I was still rearing to go because work was my only escape… That soon changed. I headed over to the tree which my boss had told me about and looked up at the tree, wondering how on Earth they thought this wasn’t a two-man job. I sighed and began my work. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone crouched down in the daffodils, in all honesty it scared me because I had never seen anyone in the woods, not even dog walkers. I looked over and she caught my eye and wow, am I glad she did. She was stunning.

***

I wandered to the daffodil spot and crouched down, singing a song I had heard on the radio this morning whilst Charlie got ready for work. I finally felt relaxed and happy. The woods was amazing, I could actually be myself and feel comfortable being myself without pretending, pretending I was happy and pretending I loved a man when I didn’t. I was minding my own business when I saw a man looking over at me from behind a tree. I laughed to myself because it looked like this man was trying to hide behind the tree despite him being twice the size of it. He looked puzzled, deep in thought… But the more I stared at him, the more attractive he was to me. He was your typical tall, dark and handsome fella. Thick, brunette hair which swooped across his face, tanned skin, nicely built figure and not to be stereotypical but you could tell he as a lumberjack because he had a chainsaw behind him and funnily enough, he was wearing a plead shirt. I felt giggly. I hadn’t felt like that in a long, long time. I wanted to see his smile. I wanted to look into his eyes. He looked… Interesting.

***

I decided to walk over, I mean, what was the worst thing that could happen? She looked innocent enough. Long, wispy brunette hair, small and delicate figure. I wondered what colour her eyes were and I wondered whether she was one of those girls that seemed pretty but her teeth ruined it all, I kind of hoped she wasn’t because she looked beautiful to me. I wonder what her voice sounded, I bet it was soft, the kind of voice that gives you goosebumps when they whisper in your ear. I was driving myself a bit crazy thinking about all of this, I assumed she was looking at me thinking I was an odd bod so I just did it, I walked over.

‘Hey’ I said, my voice sounded so much deeper than it was but man, I sounded attractive just then. What a great impression, I thought.

There was a pause. It began to get awkward. I panicked.

‘Why are you in the woods singing to yourself? An absolutely cracking song – just for the record’ I asked her.’

‘Oh… Hi, I wondered whether you were going to come over, you’ve been eyeing me up for the past…’ she looked at her watch, her wrists were tiny. ‘…hmmm, 7 and a half minutes’ she said.

I was right, her voice was soft and soothing. She seemed funny as well, I didn’t think there was any harm in continuing the conversation with her.

I laughed at her

***

He had a black eye. I wondered why but I felt uncomfortable asking so I just assumed that a branch from a tree fell on his face or something ridiculous like that.

‘What’s your name then?’ I asked him, putting on my best smile.

‘James’ He replied.

‘What happened to your eye?’ OH GOD, WORD VOMIT. Why did I just ask him that?! He’s going to hate me, I’m an idiot.

‘My wife hits me.’

He said it with extreme confidence that it almost shocked me. It was almost like he wanted me to know but I don’t know why he would want to tell a woman he met, literally 4 and a half minutes ago something as personal as that. I felt bad for imagining him getting knocked out by a tree now. I apologised to him and said he didn’t have to speak about it but it turns out, he wanted the complete opposite. He crouched down in the daffodils with me and we spoke for hours, he told me everything about his repulsive marriage and I told him everything about my one-way marriage. It was like we had been put together in this forest to discuss how shit marriage was.

We laughed, we cried and time passed so quickly as James and I spoke about our lives. I know it sounds crazy but when people talk about love at first sight, I’m starting to believe there is such thing. And in case you were wondering, his eyes were a hazel brown – dreamy and easy to get lost in… you know, the best kind of eyes a man can have! And his smile was perfect, he had an impressive set of pearly whites that any reality TV star would envy.

***

Her name was Rosie. She was a florist and she hated her husband. Yep, hours had passed and I knew it all. She was… She was something else. I felt my heart beat faster when we spoke, we really made a connection in the woods, and it was the best thing that happened to me in a while anyway. Her eyes were an emerald green and you know when the sun shines through the trees in a wood and it’s the most beautiful thing ever, well her eyes did that too. It was extremely difficult to focus on anything else when her eyes were that incredible. Her teeth were just fine too, she had a couple of crooked ones on her bottom row but it was adorable. We had been sat in the daffodils speaking for hours and I felt happy. Happier than I ever have before, even happier than my wedding day. Whoever said that was the happiest day of your life was a liar because sitting in the daffodils with a woman I had just met was the happiest day of mine. We made a pact to meet in the woods every day at 3pm by the daffodils. I wanted to kiss her but I hadn’t even kissed my own wife in weeks. Screw it, I thought and I kissed her.

***

He kissed me. It actually felt normal and it felt like both of us wanted it. The kiss was perfect, when I explain it, you will get jealous. He put his arms around my waist and pulled me closer, I thought he was going to hug me as a thank you for letting him pour his heart out but no, his head moved closer to mine and my heart began to beat out of my chest. I felt nervous but excited. As his body got closer to mine, I felt his heart beating out of his chest and together, we were making music. He touched my face gently and looked into my eyes. My tummy fluttered and my cheeks went pink. I felt my lips begin to quiver as his got closer to mine. The moment arrived and our lips touched. We were kissing. It was warm and soft and romantic. In that moment, I swear I felt more alive than I had in my whole marriage with Charlie. To my disappointment, the kiss ended. I felt like I could kiss him for the rest of the evening but obviously, that would be excessive. I would see him tomorrow though so I didn’t feel too sad.

***

I arrived home and my wife wasn’t in so I went straight to sleep before she came back. I already wanted tomorrow to arrive.

The next day my eye was looking less black but more blue. I suppose that was an improvement but still, it wasn’t attractive. My wife still wasn’t home but I didn’t even care anymore, I had met someone better. It was a Saturday today so I didn’t actually have work but I left a note for her anyway.

‘At work – James’ I wrote. You’d think it would be a loving note but no, I didn’t even put a kiss. Why would I when we don’t even kiss in the flesh? I headed out to the woods to see my new love interest and I felt like a teenager sneaking around. I liked it.

***

Thankfully, Charlie was out with his mates all day on a pub crawl so it would be easy for me to sneak off into the woods to see James. I couldn’t wait, all I could think about was that kiss with him. I pretended to sleep early last night so Charlie wouldn’t try anything. I knew he would be devastated if he discovered what I was doing but the heart wants what the heart wants and it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t feel the same way anymore. This marriage needed to be over but I just didn’t have the courage to end it, not yet anyway. I went to our meeting spot and James was sat there with a rug and a picnic basket. I smiled at him and ran over, concentrating extremely hard not to trip over because that’s the exact kind of thing that would happ… Aaaand I trip over a branch millimetres away from him. He didn’t even laugh, he looked genuinely concerned and jumped up and ran over to me. He asked me if I was okay, I laughed and told him not to worry. He helped me over to the rug and we sat down. Today we didn’t even speak about our significant others. We spoke about family, friends, work, holidays… Everything but my husband and his wife. It was perfect, I felt full of adrenaline because I knew it was wrong but it didn’t FEEL wrong. I had a lovely day and yet again, we promised to meet the day after.

Months passed and James and I were still meeting every day in the woods at 3pm and neither of our partners suspected a thing. It felt so different and romantic. We never called or text, we literally just met in the woods every day and that was it, we were both always there and always enjoyed ourselves.

***

After a year, Rosie and I had made love countless times and it was now more than a bit of fun. We had fallen in love. Luckily for me, my wife had left me for someone at work and I was now happily divorced. Unfortunately, Charlie was still madly in love with Rosie and there was nothing we could do about it. She was perfect after all. I wanted to be with her. I wanted to be able to treat her to fancy meals, I wanted to take her to the cinema, go on bike rides and walks and just be with her, out of the woods. The woods knew our secret but nobody else could. Rosie was a local business woman, it would get around so quickly.

***

Winter had arrived and Charlie was going on his monthly pub crawl. He had been acting strange with me that morning but I didn’t think anything of it, I put my coat on after he had left and I walked to the woods. James had made a small fire and I explained Charlies’ behaviour that morning.

‘Do you think he knows?’ James asked.

‘I doubt it, I don’t know how he would.’ I answered.

We cuddled by the fire and spoke about life. It started to get dark and I didn’t want to leave him today, I wanted to lie here forever despite the fact my toes were turning to ice. Suddenly there was a rustle behind us and I panicked. James heard it too. We both jumped up and looked around. I heard someone sniff.

‘I knew it’ a mumbled voice said.

I turned around. It was Charlie.

‘Charlie!’ I gasped. ‘What are you doing here oh god how drunk are you?’

I walked over to him and grabbed his arms. His eyes were red and he stank of cider and cigarettes.

‘I’M HERE BECAUSE YOU GO TO THE WOODS EVERY DAY AND IT’S WINTER NOW AND THERE’S NO F***ING FLOWERS IN WINTER DARLING’ he was shouting now and it was scary. James stood in front of me in order to protect me from my own drunken husband.

Charlie fell to the floor and began to cry. I wish I felt bad but I just didn’t. I apologised to him nonetheless because I was doing such a horrible thing to him and he genuinely loved me to death. He hobbled up off the ground and pulled a pen knife out of his gilet pocket. I screamed.

‘Charlie, put that down. I beg of you, put it down. Don’t be stupid, please, I’m begging you.’ He started to walk slowly towards James, in a threatening manor but I wasn’t worried, James was twice his size and could lift Charlie up with his hand. Charlie ran towards James with the pen knife and stabbed him with it in the chest. I cried.

***

I knew enough about this guy to know he was manipulative and nasty. He was weak and drunk and attempting to threaten me. Rosie and I had been in love long enough for me to do anything for her, I was willing to do anything. I didn’t care about the consequences, she meant so much to me now. Charlie stabbed me in the chest so I kicked him in the crotch and he fell to the ground. I wouldn’t be threatened by this man and I wouldn’t be afraid of him any longer, I kicked him and kicked him and I just didn’t care. Rosie stood there in the snow with tears streaming down her blushed cheeks. She was whispering to herself.

‘I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.’ She was saying.

‘I’m so sorry Rosie, my anger took over me. I’m so sorry.’ I held her in my arms.

‘I don’t care anymore James, I don’t care. I need you.’ She was crying hysterically into my arms as she looked at Charlie on the ground, the snow around his head turning to a deep red colour.

He was too intoxicated to fight back, he was too weak. He had threatened me, knowing he wouldn’t be able to fight back and it was over for him. I had killed my muses’ husband.

***

I couldn’t believe it. We had just committed a crime. A local florist and lumberjack brutally attack drunk man in woods. I could see the headline now. We both panicked after a moment of pure relief. He was an innocent man, he was my husband, he deserved to know the truth, he did not deserve to die but he got both. I would live with the guilt for the rest of my life. I tried so hard to convince myself that it was his own fault. He thought he could beat James up but he was too drunk, I told myself this over and over again simply praying one day it would seem a good enough excuse but nothing would ever make up for what happened in the woods on this cold winters’ night.

James and I dragged Charlies’ cold, deceased body to the other side of the woods whilst the tears in my eyes were turning to ice as they rolled down my cheek. We found a spot in the woods where nobody would ever go and we dug a hole, a hole so deep that a parent would be proud of their kid if they’d dug it on a beach. I wish I could be proud of this hole but I wasn’t, I wasn’t proud of anything in this moment of time. James slid the body into the hole and he filled it with snow and dirt and patted the ground like nothing had ever been there. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. Much harder than it would have been to tell Charlie I was having an affair but there was nothing I could do about it now. I had to stay at home away from James for a few weeks to talk to policemen about where I had last seen him, his friends had told the police which pub they were at last and luckily, it was in a different town so nobody knew about Charlie venturing out besides James, I and the woods.

***

Weeks passed without seeing Rosie but the minute we were reunited it was as if nothing had happened, we agreed to keep our love in the woods for a few months for Rosie to grieve over her lost husband with family and friends and we knew if we left it long enough it wouldn’t look as dodgy.

We continued our 3pm ritual for another year. Charlies’ body still had not been found but Rosies’ family and friends had accepted that he would most likely be dead. And we finally felt comfortable going out for real dates, it was perfect. We were finally both in a happy relationship and nothing was stopping that.

We prayed every day that the woods wouldn’t leak our secret through the beautiful gaps where the sun shone through on those glorious spring days where I met my Rosie.

The Wrong Idea

26th June 2013 – One day until the wedding

She couldn’t believe in one day she’d be married. It had felt like she’d been waiting her whole life. Jessica read back on her wedding notes which were all crammed into a bulky, red journal. She smiled to herself and sighed. The journal was overflowing. There were photos of various wedding dresses from tight to wispy, from glistening white to ivory and cream. Jessica stood up with the journal in her arms and danced around the kitchen laughing to herself. She sat down on her bed and continued to flick through the masterpiece she had been creating since she was a little girl.

Claire, who had been friends with Jessica since they were teenagers was always a little concerned about Jessica’s’ obsession with weddings and marriage and often told her to calm down but now that the wedding was only a single day away, Claire allowed Jessica to let her over-excitement loose. The only thing keeping Claire quiet was the fact she knew the truth.

“It’s going to be the best day of my life” Jessica thought to herself as she lay down holding the journal to her chest. She thought about the beautiful dresses her bridesmaids would wear, she had decided on duck egg blue and gold with white roses and sparkling table decorations. James, the lucky man would be wearing a stunning white tuxedo with a duck egg blue tie, his teeth would be perfectly white as he smiles at her down the aisle and his hair perfectly groomed for their special day. Jessica felt herself warming up and getting excited so she took a couple of deep breaths and opened her journal up, she flicked through it over and over again until eventually she drifted off into a deep sleep.

***

A few days before the wedding

Claire had arrived at Jessica’s house and let herself in and wandered up to her bedroom to talk about transport for the big day. She opened the door and Jessica was snoring her head off and her journal laid face down under her bed. Claire had never been allowed to look inside the journal because she had never met James and Jessica always said ‘I want it to be a surprise when you see how gorgeous he is at the wedding!’ all Claire knew was that they met in a bar one night and hit it off and he engaged after the second date because they both believed it was love at first. Claire wanted to meet James but respected her friends’ decision and understood that love does happen in strange ways sometimes. Claire couldn’t control herself, she had to look in that journal whilst Jessica was fast asleep. She slowly tip-toed over to the floor where the book was peacefully sat and bent down and picked it up… She felt like she had picked up a secret recipe that nobody in the world knew about. She took a deep breath and opened the first page. It all looked like a standard wedding planner until she reached the last few pages… At the back of the journal were hundreds of photos of James. Some were photos he had taken of himself and others were of him and a big scribble next to him. There was also a brunette lock of hair stuck to the page with red love hearts drawn all around it. Claire thought it was so strange to have that in the back of a wedding organiser so she turned the page and couldn’t help but gasp. Stuck in the back of the journal was a letter from court which read.

 

Dear Miss Jessica Carter,

This letter is to inform you that Mr James Harrison and Mrs Elise Harrison are taking you to court for harassment. They feel as though you are stalking them and it is affecting their home life and their relationship. A court hearing will be held on June 27th 2013. Until then, I advise you not to be within the same area as Mr and Mrs Harrison as a possible sentence may be given.

Regards.

Claire dropped the letter on the floor and stood there in silence. She had a sudden moment of realisation. That’s why she had never met James, that is why the journal was so private and that is why Jessica was so obsessive. She had been stalking a married couple and potentially causing harm. Claire put the journal back where it came from and went home, she understood that Jessica was ill and that she would be going to the court hearing with her dressed in a bridesmaid dress. The thought of it made her heart skip ten times faster but Jessica was her best friend and she had to do what she wanted to keep her happy.

***

June 27th 2013 – The day of ‘the wedding’

Jessica stood up straight and stared at herself in the mirror. “I look beautiful” she said to herself out loud and began to giggle. Claire sat on the bed trying her best to put on a smile for Jessica. Claire knew today wasn’t going to end well but she tried her best to pretend like she was going to a wedding. Jessica started to fiddle with Claire’s hair and told her she looked stunning. A car beeped its horn outside and the two girls headed out of the door as if it was going to be a great day for all. Claire watched her best friend’s facial expressions the whole journey and she could see right through her fake smile. Jessica suddenly jumped up and shouted ‘WE’RE HERE! We’re at the church!’ Claire looked out of the car window and no surprise to her, they were parked outside court.

Jessica skipped up to the big wooden door in her beautiful, white, slimming dress. Her hair looked incredible, her make-up had been done to perfection and the smile she was braving looked so real that you would think it truly was her wedding day. Claire stood back for a second and took in everything that was about to happen, she took a deep breath and followed Jessica up the stairs and through the door dressed in an amazing duck egg blue dress holding a small bunch of white roses.

The two girls headed to the front of the court room and everyone looked at them in what can only be described as embarrassment. They reached the front and sat down with who Claire assumed was Jessica’s lawyer. Claire looked across the table and saw James and his wife, they both looked exhausted and drained. She then glimpsed at Jessica who still had a giant grin on her face, she was staring at James and her eyes were glowing. It looked like she genuinely did love this man but it certainly wasn’t the same for him.

Hours passed and Jessica’s mascara was now smudged all over her face as she had cried throughout the whole hearing. As Claire listened to James and Elise tell the situation to the judge she wondered what had happened to her precious best friend. She had changed from a little girl ballet dancing with her in a hall to a crazy lady who had stalked an innocent couple and committed horrible acts such as trespassing and violence.  Claire wanted to leave, but as she was about to stand up, the judge announced that Jessica was sentenced to five years in jail for the seriousness of what she had done and the physical and emotional damage she has done to the couple.

Jessica let out a harrowing wail and Claire sat there in silence. James and Elise sighed with relief and two big built men dragged Claire’s best friend away. She stared as Jessica was taken down some stairs as she screamed and ripped her dress ‘IT WILL ALWAYS BE ME JAMES AND YOU KNOW IT WILL!’ Jessica screamed up the staircase. The whole room dissolved into a loud muttering mess and Claire sat there looking into blank space as a single tear slowly rolled down her cheek.

Transformation

Her cheeks used to turn rosy in the coldness,
But now her cheekbones are defined and bare,
Why did this happen to her? It’s not fair
Destroyed by a man because of his boldness,
Watching her transform broke everyone’s heart,
I’d do anything to break them apart.

 

I miss seeing that lovely little laugh,
It pains me that he always makes her frown,
There’s scars and bruises under her dressing gown,
Her marks were noticed by the local shop staff,
He beat her and beat her until she cried,
She couldn’t leave but I know she had tried.

 

He wore her smile like he was proud of himself,
For hurting such a beautiful woman,
She needs to despise him. I know I can.
She used to be happy and so care-free,
He stole my best friend and made her so weak,
A tear slowly rolled down my stinging right cheek.

 

Her eyes were so full of sparkle and life,
Look at them now; they are dull, dark and sad,
I know she’s missing the life she once had,
She shouldn’t have let him make her his wife,
It is so crazy what people do for love,
Their love is a love I hate to think of.

Why do Changing Room mirrors make me feel body conscious?

So I am going on holiday to Tenerife this week and I knew I couldn’t be lounging by the swimming pool in my jumpers and leggings so I decided to go shopping for some more appropriate clothes! For the record, I ended up spending more money than I am comfortable to admit but I am happy with my purchases and can’t wait to wear everything in the sun!

But one thing I had to do was try on some bikinis… We didn’t go on holiday last year and I used to struggle with my weight and I was slim however since I started college and have had to deal with a few difficult situations, I have noticed that I’ve put on a bit of weight since I went on holiday last so when I had to buy some bikinis I knew I was going to want to curl up in a ball and cry.

I chose a couple to try on and wandered into the changing rooms and I noticed something bizarre…  Changing room mirrors make me appear so much larger than I thought I was? I didn’t understand why my body looked so horrible in a bikini when it fit well. I am already quite body conscious, what teenage girl isn’t?! But these mirrors made me look horrendous! I was shopping with my sister and she agreed with me that the mirrors in there made her feel bad about herself so I knew it wasn’t just me! I bought the bikinis and when I tried them on again at home I felt so much more comfortable with my body but now I’m panicking because is my room lying to me?! Are changing room mirrors how other people see me? Because if so, I will be wearing my onesie for the duration of my holiday!

I did a quick google search and most people were saying it was the lighting in the changing rooms that made you look bad. The one that I was in made my skin a very grey colour and made my thighs look so wobbly. I have quite a curvy figure but I wouldn’t consider myself overweight but trying bikinis on in these changing rooms ruined my day! Why do they have such horrible lighting in there if they want people to purchase from the shop? People are not going to buy clothes that a mirror made them feel uncomfortable in! When I researched, I found out that a lot of mirrors bought in for changing rooms are made of cheap glass and a lot of it is stretched which can make you look wider than you are. Some even make you look taller and slimmer, I suppose it all depends on how much the establishment are willing to splash out! I doubt they bear in their mind that teenage girls will be looking in them wanting to cry themselves to sleep and try to motivate themselves to exercise all day!

The moral of the story is, do NOT take notice of the mirrors in changing rooms. They are the enemy and make you look 10 times worse! You are all beautiful and you should all feel comfortable with your figure. I will definitely be flaunting my new bikinis in clothes in Tenerife and I hope none of you have let these mirrors affect your confidence!

Happy holidays!! X

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Cuts and Bruises

I had never been one of those girls who believed in soul mates, true love and all that soppy nonsense and I was never really bothered about marriage or finding ‘The One.’  That was until a couple of years ago when the most bizarre thing happened to me… I mean, you watch all of these romantic comedies and you read all of these romance novels and you just assume that you will find your perfect match through fate or when you least expect it however for me, I don’t believe it was fate and was I expecting this? Not in the slightest.

It all started in my last year of University, I was in a close-knit group of friends and the majority of them were in relationships, it never really bothered me despite the fact I wanted to vomit in their faces a lot of the time because they were so cringe worthy but if they were happy, I was happy I guess. They were always nagging at me, asking me why I wasn’t interested in finding a boyfriend and they never said it but you could tell they thought I was lonely and I honestly didn’t feel like I was so my reaction was always a grunt or my classic eye roll which made them well aware that I just wanted them to be quiet.

My hauntingly loud alarm was going off at such a painful hour in the morning but I had to be awake and I had to make myself go for a run otherwise I was going to look like a sack of potatoes during the summer. I woke up to rub my eyes and noticed a giant cut on my index finger which looked like it had been bleeding for quite some time. I touched it but it stung like crazy so I got up and ran it under cold water. My mind was boggled as I tried to work out how on Earth I could have managed to cut my finger so badly in my sleep. I had never been a sleepwalker so it was truly beyond me how this cut had appeared on my finger. I put a plaster over it and continued with my day, not really thinking anything of it. A couple of weeks passed and I was washing up in my flats kitchen when a sudden pain stabbed the back of my leg, I flinched and looked down to see blood coming through my white jeans. I panicked and shouted for help, realising my efforts were pointless as I was the only person around. I ran to my bathroom, pulled my jeans off to find a giant gash in the back of my leg, I didn’t even think about the mysterious cut on my finger at first because I was in so much shock. How could this possibly have happened when all I was doing was washing up my dishes?! I sat down to watch TV and tried not to think about what had just happened.

It was the summer holidays and the girls and I were on our way to the airport for a week in Spain. I was excited because it was the first time in months that we had been together without any of the boys and it was going to be great getting away for a while. I was sat in-between Carla and Isabel in the backseat and we were chatting about a new lipstick that Carla had bought that morning when suddenly, my head jerked back and they both screamed. My head began to ache. Everything went fuzzy and I couldn’t hear a thing. I came back around quite quickly and once I did, all the girls were asking me if I was ok. I had no idea what had just happened but all I knew was that I had a giant bruise all around my right eye and I looked like I had just been beaten up by Mike Tyson. None of the girls understood and we were all so confused so I decided to tell them about the other mysterious injuries that had been happening over the past few months. They all told me I should see a doctor and I knew I had to talk to someone because it was as if someone had a voodoo doll of me and every time I did something or said something they didn’t agree with, I got a hit!

“It can wait until after Spain” I said. And they made sure I was alright and told me they would keep an eye on me. In all honesty I was just pissed off that I had an ugly black eye for the duration of my holiday. I wished that I had a bag of frozen peas to hold to my eye but I had to deal with the throbbing, be a grown up and get on the plane.

We arrived at the hotel quite early the next day and I just wanted to lay down in the dark for a while whilst the others went in the pool, I dragged my luggage through the lobby and bumped into quite a tall man who was looking extremely rough. His skin was pale, his lips looked like they needed a whole tub of Vaseline on them and strangest of all, he had an ugly black eye… An ugly right black eye. I apologised for bumping into him and he just nodded at me. I continued to walk past him, pulling my suitcase across the floor but as I walked away, I turned around to look at him again. He was wearing a white t-shirt with some bright orange swimming trunks. I looked down to see what shoes he was sporting but something grabbed my attention on his leg. He had a fairly big cut there and it looked identical to the mysterious one on mine which appeared when I was washing up. “I’m just tired” I laughed to myself and walked up to my hotel room.

***

I had been in Spain for 2 days and I had already managed to get myself punched in the eye for trying to protect my friend in a bar. It wasn’t going well and I wasn’t going to meet a pretty girl with a black eye which was swollen to the size of my face but there wasn’t much I could do about it. It was early morning on my 3rd day in this beautiful country and I decided to go for a swim in the sun to cool myself down. I dived in and began swimming lengths, as I almost reached my 10th length I noticed drops of blooding coming from me. I panicked and swam quickly to the edge to get out of the pool. Little cuts were appearing all over my legs and feet and tiny amounts of blood were coming out of them. I was baffled and went to the showers to try and stop the bleeding. I thought I may have cut myself on something in the pool but I couldn’t think of anything it could have been.

***

One of my favourite things about hotels had always been the complimentary shampoo, conditioner, soap and razor and I almost always used them. As I arrived at my room I decided to take a shower to freshen myself up. I grabbed the razor and stupidly started shaving my legs thinking it would just be like my Venus razor at home but no, not even slightly, it was a little piece of plastic with a couple of metal blades at the end and my legs were covered in drops of blood. Using that razor was a bad idea and it also made me reluctant to use the shampoo.

I had a power nap and made my way downstairs to grab some lunch with the girls. I was wearing my favourite Levi shorts with a bright floral top from Hollister and I felt so fresh and summery despite the fact I had little plasters all over my legs from where I had embarrassingly cut myself shaving. I came to the lift and waited for about 30 seconds and once it reached my floor I was surprised to see the man from the lobby in there too. We awkwardly stood there for 13 floors as the instrumental traditional lift music played in the background. I tried to catch another glimpse of the cut on his leg and as I did so, I noticed he had several plasters on his legs in the EXACT same places as mine. I stared at his legs with an expression of pure shock and confusion on my face and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Can I help you love?” He said. His voice was so deep and husky and I didn’t even know it was possible to find a voice attractive but it was. It really was. I stared at him, in silence. His eyes, oh his eyes. They were bright blue and I could feel myself staring into them like a complete idiot. I was really making a fool out of myself here, I had to say something.

“Ok. What the hell?” I shouted at him. Oh good one, shout at a stranger after staring at him for about a minute and a half. Smooth. He stopped the elevator and looked at me with his arms crossed. I panicked. I showed him the scar on my leg and the plasters on my legs and explained the weird cut on my finger and asked him whether he thought it was strange that we had the exact same black eye. His response? – “Ok. What the hell?!”

Before I know it, we’re both sat down on the floor of the lift discussing our cuts and bruises and everything else. I knew the girls would be wondering where I had got to but this man intrigued me. He told me that he was a sous chef and that he had cut his finger a few weeks ago on a knife and it had bled a lot. He then explained that he played football on the weekends and a player on the opposite team had kicked him in the back of the leg with his blade boots on. I asked him how he got his black eye and it turns out he got punched for trying to break up a fight in a bar.

“So if my injuries have appeared on you, are your injuries appearing on me? What did you do to your legs this morning?”  He asked me with a curious yet handsome look in his eyes.

I blushed and felt my face turning a lovely shade of red. I stuttered and told him that I had used a cheap hotel razor. Despite this situation being undoubtedly unusual, he smiled and laughed at me. I didn’t know what to do, what to say or what to think. We spoke for what felt like hours, we had so much in common and the more we spoke, the more attracted to him I was. His name was Mitchell Jones and he was a sous chef in a fancy restaurant in London.

***

This situation was so mind blowing and I think it could only take a genius to work out what on earth was going on. But this girl was so beautiful even with a black and blue eye. Her name was Charlotte Carter and she was a History student at Bath University.  I decided that if my cuts were her cuts, the only way we could find out is if we saw each-other get injured. I didn’t want any serious pain because I didn’t want to hurt her so I told her to watch her forearm. I pursed my lips around my forearm and sucked, as if I was giving myself a hickey. Weird but I knew it left a bruise, it didn’t hurt and it was the only way we could find out after all.

***

I watched him give himself a love bite, kind of wishing his arm was my lips. He shot me a glare which I knew straight away meant he wanted me to keep watching my fore arm. And to my shock and horror, a red patch was gradually appearing in the exact spot of my arm that Mitchell was sucking on his. He stopped and stared at my arm, then stared at me, then stared at his arm.

“They’re exactly the f***king same.” He whispered.

This was so strange and I’d never seen anything like it, it wasn’t in any films I’d watched nor in any books I had read. We arranged to meet for dinner that evening after exchanging digits and hotel room numbers. I walked away from the lift, I couldn’t help but smile. Even though this was all very odd, I had butterflies in my stomach and I had never felt like this before. I had heard my friends speak of ‘butterflies’ but I never cared about experiencing them. But they were lovely and they made me feel all warm inside. I met with the girls and understandably, they were angry at me for being so late but once I had explained what had happened they all seemed so excited. I found it funny how they were more intrigued that I had met a boy I quite liked rather than our cuts and bruises appearing at the same time. Typical girls for you, we’re all hopeless romantics deep down.

Isabel helped me get ready for my date in my room and she helped calm my nerves. I had never been on a date before and especially in a situation like this, it was quite a big moment for me.

“You look great” She shouted out of the door as I was halfway down the hallway. I giggled and waited by the lift. The door pinged open and Mitchell was stood there with a beautiful bouquet of flowers which had blatantly been purchased in the hotel shop but it’s the thought that counts! We sat down for dinner and chatted all night long about everything, trying not to mention the cuts and bruises until towards the end of our date.  Mitchell announced that he had been to speak to someone about our situation but wouldn’t tell me who because he was ‘embarrassed.’ He went silent for a couple of seconds before telling me that they had basically said there was no other explanation than fate. I almost choked on my wine.

“Why are you laughing Charlotte?”
“I laugh in the face of fate! It doesn’t exist!” I said rather loudly. I could see him blushing and felt guilty for shouting that out in the middle of a restaurant. I apologised and we continued talking about what this mystery person had told Mitchell.

We got along like a house on fire and the more the night progressed, the more I was falling for him and believing that maybe fate does exist. Mitchell was looking at my eyes and I felt insecure mainly because of my black eye but I remembered he had one too so I decided that two could play at this game and began looking into his eyes. My heart was beating so fast and I really wanted to kiss this man right now. I couldn’t read the signs so I continued looking at him, smiling as I felt my heart beat almost too fast for my body. He leaned over the table, placed his warm hand on my face, pulled me closer and began to kiss me. I felt sparks fly, I felt the butterflies in my stomach crash into each-other and I felt fireworks coming out of my head. It felt so right and this was the moment when I realised fate does exist and there is a soul mate out there for everyone whether you believe it or not. One kiss can change your mind about anything. I wanted this man to be mine.

Months passed and Mitchell and I were so close, I had graduated from University and was living with him in London. We honestly were made for each other and I never thought I’d be saying that I was pleased to have cuts and bruises all over my body because it led me to the most amazing husband in the world and I wouldn’t want matching cuts with anyone else in the world.