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.  

 

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My Best Friend

I read the note and my heart sank to the pit of my stomach.

***

Noah and I had been running together since we were in high school. We were now in our early twenties and he was my best friend. I had always got along with boys better than girls. They were less bitchy and had better banter and I just preferred their company. Girls would bitch about me and call me a slut but I had never slept with anyone and I had never even been in a relationship. Noah was my best friend, he had been there for me through everything and he was especially supportive when my Dad passed away earlier this year. He was amazing and I would be lost without him.

It was 6:20 on a Sunday morning and I called up Noah to make sure he was awake for our daily run. He answered, on the first ring, as always. Every day we ended up talking on the phone until we reached the meeting point to start our run which was a broken lamppost on the corner of our street. As I waited, I warmed myself up by jogging on the spot and doing a couple of stretches until I saw Noah jogging towards me wearing a florescent pink sweat band on his head with matching ones on his wrists. Oh, and matching socks. I stopped what I was doing and stared at him with a look on my face which quite clearly said ‘Go home and get changed or I’m running alone.’ Noah looked at me and burst out laughing, I can only assume it was because he knew exactly what my face was telling him as he swiftly took off the sweat bands. He left the socks but I think I could get past that. We began to run our usual route and Noah kept telling me about some argument he’d got into with his girlfriend the night before. They argued so much it was abnormal but if they loved each other I suppose it didn’t matter, I guess I was just sick of hearing about it when he could quite easily walk away.

My favourite part of the run was this small forest that had a little clearing with a bench and we always sat there for a drink and ended up talking for what felt like hours. I don’t know what it was about Noah but we always got carried away with conversation and it was comforting. The conversations varied, one day we would talk about how amazing it would be if animals wore hats and then the next day we could talk about our political views. It was just that kind of friendship and I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Today’s conversation was about how we would react if it started raining rabbits. The outcome was that I would take as many as I could and keep them all whereas Noah said he would take as many as he could and make them into pies. And on that note, we got up and finished our run. When we got back to the lamppost, we completed our special handshake which we’d been improving and perfecting for over 10 years and gave each other a hug and wandered our separate ways.

I had a shower and got ready to go into town for some lunch with two of my friends; Matilda and Bethany, Tilly and Beth for short. I had known them both since primary school and it had always been us 3 but Tilly and Beth were closest and I was the tag along although, they still included me in most activities which was great. I decided to walk into town rather than get the bus because really, anything was better than public transport. I took my time because I knew they would both be late. It was a lovely autumn day, the air was warm but I felt a mild breeze against my skin every now and then, leaves crunched under my feet as I walked along the pavement. I studied the trees around me and the leaves were slowly dancing along with the wind preparing for winter. I found trees strange. They were the opposite of people. Imagine the leaves are what keep the trees warm, without leaves, the trees are bare and in winter, the leaves disappear whereas in winter, people wrap up and if jumpers were leaves, we wouldn’t be bare and cold. It sounds silly I know but I thought about it all the time at this time of year.

I arrived in town and to my surprise; Tilly and Beth were stood outside the café with huge smiles on their faces. I gave them each a hug and we strolled inside and chose the brown leather sofas near the open fire, none of us ever had to ask each other where we should sit, we always made our way to the sofas because that was our designated area every time we went here.

“So, I take it you’ve been on your run with lover boy this morning? Tilly said, raising her eyebrows.
“Lover boy? Leave it out, you know he has a girlfriend” I said shrugging my shoulders.

The thing is, my friends knew me so well that they felt comfortable telling me at least once a day that they knew I was in love with Noah and my answer every time was ‘He has a girlfriend.’ Which I suppose didn’t make it sound like I was denying the fact that I was in love with him but I wasn’t, well, I didn’t think I was but Tilly and Beth did and they were never going to believe otherwise no matter how much I tried to persuade them that they were wrong. The girls and I talked and laughed all afternoon and it was so good to spend time with them, it always was.

I got home and slumped myself onto my bed. I had in the morning so I needed to get some sleep but all I could think about was Noah ever since Tilly mentioned him in the café, I decided to give him a call to see if he wanted to come over and watch a film, it rang a couple of times which was extraordinary because he always picked up instantly. I heard a knock on my door so I left my phone on my bed and went to answer it. Noah was stood on my doorstep with tears streaming down his cheeks.

“She’s had enough. She’s left me.” He said under his breath.

I let him inside and make him a cup of tea.

“Have you got anything stronger?”
“Noah! It’s a Sunday night, you’re drinking tea or water.”
“Tea it is then…”

I sat next to him on my sofa and muted the TV. He explained that Sarah, who was his evil yet stunning girlfriend had come home late that evening and he didn’t understand what she possibly could want to do on a Sunday afternoon other than spend it watching rubbish tv with him so he asked her about it and she acted strange and he knew she was hiding something. He told me that he heard a car screech outside and Sarah ran up the stairs, all her bags packed.

“She didn’t even look at me, she didn’t even say anything. She grabbed all the bags and jumped into the car, I didn’t even see who it was.”

I never realised how much Sarah meant to Noah but now it was clear to me. All I wanted to do was give him a hug, so I did and he cried into me, almost falling asleep on my shoulder. It felt so nice. Oh god. Maybe I was in love with him. Or maybe it was just this moment; I hadn’t ever felt this before. I ignored it. He was my best friend and he was in need, so I soothed him.

“You know you’re welcome to stay here tonight if you don’t feel like going back to yours. ” I said, trying to sound comforting.

He nodded his head which I assumed he meant he wanted to.

“I’ll grab you a duvet and some pillows”
“Thank you Lucy.”

And that was that. He fell asleep on the sofa and I stayed wide awake in my bed for a good couple of hours. I was pleasantly drifting off until I heard my door creak open with Noah stood in his boxers by the door. He walked slowly towards me and sat next to me in my bed. I looked into his eyes, they looked sad. I saw his face slowly moving towards mine. My eyes widened. I panicked. What was happening? What do I do? He kissed me.

I placed my hands on his face and kissed him back, I knew I wanted to so I did. His lips felt so soft against mine, my eyes were closed and I didn’t feel like I had to open them, I just went along with it. My heart was beating so fast and I hoped he couldn’t hear it. I ran my fingers through his hair. He bit my lip. I lay on my back, he lay on top of me, holding my back tightly, my toes curled, my breaths became shorter, he kissed my neck over and over again and I was feeling emotions I’d never felt before, it was amazing. This felt so right but so wrong but more right. I didn’t want it to stop and it didn’t for most of the night. We fell asleep in each other’s arms so late that we both slept in and missed our run.

I woke up to the screeching of my alarm clock, it read 8:30am. My mind was flurried from the thoughts of last night, I rolled onto my side and Noah was gone and placed where he would have been was a small piece of paper. I read the note and my heart sank to the pit of my stomach.

“Lucy,

Last night was perfect and I don’t regret it, not even slightly.
You’re beautiful, gentle and sweet and you’ve been my best friend for countless years but last night proved to me that I don’t just see you as my friend, I’ve fallen in love with you, by accident.

And the thought of you finding this out whilst I’m still around is enough for you to want to run away from me and I’m sorry but I just can’t handle that, therefore, I’m running away from you.

I am in love with you but we both know that’s wrong of me. You deserve better, someone else who is willing to take the time to learn to fully appreciate you.

Sarah came back for me and I feel like what I should do is go with her, away. Away from his place. Away from you. I suppose I do love her after all.

I’m sorry, maybe it is the best for you also.

Love always,

Noah

X.”

I threw the note on my bed, ran outside and kicked the almost broken lamppost until my foot began to ache as much as my heart. I collapsed to the ground and burst into tears. I was in love with Noah and he was in love with me but he couldn’t face it meaning I’d lost my best friend.

A New Love

A sudden rush of excitement,
Pierces through me like a thin thread,
I see his name on my phones screen,
I rush to answer it quickly,

Even the sound of his soft voice,
Put a silly smile on my face,
I could see my mum laugh at me,
And my cheeks begin to turn pink,

All of this was so new to me,
Boys and the stomach butterflies,
It was strange how happy I was,
But also how sad I was too,

I had let somebody in,
I had let my walls and guard down,
But I know he’ll treat me nicely,
So all I can do now is smile.

Her

I’ve never seen a girl so sweet,
I long for the day that we meet,
Her deep blue eyes make me stare,
And oh, the colour of her hair.

She reminds me of a princess,
I feel like I have to impress,
As cliché as I sound tonight,
I think it was love at first sight.

My eyes meet hers across the room,
I feel my heart go ‘boom, boom, boom’
It’s hard being a young boy in love,
When she is all I can think of.

I’d love to hold her all night long,
Sing to her, a lullaby song.
She’s so perfect in every way,
If only I could tell her hey?

The Love Notes

I was in my last year of high school and I was your typical teenage girl, complained about every little thing in the world, not that anyone cared. I didn’t have a great social life, I enjoyed my own company a little bit too much and it was getting slightly embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, a good group of them but we were all the same when we were on our own, we’d sit in our bedrooms blogging, listening to music or watching TV series… one of the three anyway so we never really got out much and most of my friends were in relationships so yeah, you could say I was happy for them or you could say I wanted to kill them because I was sick of being lonely and bored, there’s only so much ben and jerry’s and chocolate in the world, you know.

It was the first day of school after the summer holidays and everyone in my class had travelled all over the world but not me, I had been to Wales with my parents to stay in my grandparents’ caravan and I can tell you now, I can’t describe that as a holiday more of a trip to what I could imagine Hell being like. I enjoyed listening to everyone else’s holiday anecdotes though, mainly because it was a topic of conversation in class that wouldn’t matter if I was falling asleep or thinking about what I would have for tea that night. The first day back was always relatively relaxed though so I wasn’t really bothered about the fact that I had only slept for 2 hours the night before, everyone else looked just as dead as me, I think as the years go on in your education, you begin to make less and less of an effort to look presentable and I personally, was absolutely fine with this because I only spent about 5 minutes getting ready that morning, I don’t think I even brushed my hair.

I met with my friends at lunch but as per usual, they were comparing sex stories from the summer and I for one, wanted nothing to do with this conversation due to the fact that 1. It made me want to eat my own sick over and over again and 2. It wasn’t interesting to me in the slightest and I would never understand why they were all so bothered about each other. They all assumed I was jealous because I always went all funny when they spoke about their relationships, ok so maybe I was a bit jealous but it was more the fact that I was lonely and it is difficult having no other friends who are single. I feel so horrible saying this but I did feel a dash of happiness within me when they came to me for advice about arguments, the thought of at least one of the couples breaking up excited me, I just wanted at least one of my friends back.

The day was going so slowly and I was already excited to get back in bed and watch TV series all night long, I had tonnes of coursework that I should probably get on with first but every year I treated the first week of school as a warm up, I mean come on, the 7am wake ups are hard enough, let alone going into a building where you can’t walk past one person and sigh at how much you dislike them, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but I did hate most people in my school. I headed towards my locker to collect my things to go home, as I got to it I noticed a piece of paper peeping through the crack, my first assumption was that it was just my timetable slipping out but once I had opened my locker and taken the piece of paper out, I realised it was not my timetable but in fact, a small note. ‘Dear Rosie,’ I read.

‘I don’t really know how to approach this but I have been thinking about you all over the summer, I saw your smile and heard your laugh and fell in love with you in a heartbeat, you’re beautiful and I would love to get to know you more – Me’

As I read it, I kind of laughed inside my head like for starters, who can fall in love with someone they have never spoken to? Is that possible? I didn’t know and secondly, they signed it with ‘me’ really? How clichéd yet frustrating because now I wanted to know who it was from but then I thought, what if they did know me, what if it was a close friend, they knew my name… It could be anyone.

When I arrived home I didn’t do anything with the letter, I honestly didn’t think anything of it, it was most likely a practical joke that my friends were playing on me so I thought I’d give them the satisfaction and tell them nothing about it, even if I did tell them, it was inevitable that one of them would pipe up with ‘awwww I remember when my boyfriend did that for me’ and I would have to punch them in the face so… it was best left a secret between me and ‘me’.

The next day at school, I went to my locker to put my books in for the afternoon and again, there was a small piece of paper slipping out of my locker. I sighed and shook my head but read it.

‘Dear Rosie, your eyes are honestly incredible and I love what you’re doing with your hair now, it really suits you. I would really like to take you out some time soon, anywhere you want, it’s your choice, you deserve the very best and I would like to be the one to give you that. –Me’

As I read this one, I could feel my eyes widening and all I was thinking in my head was ‘what on earth…’ because this note was kind of creepy, it made me feel like the person writing them was watching me but I ignored this one too and continued with my day. I spent the lunch break with my friends and they weren’t acting different in any way which confused me because when they had played pranks before, they find it practically impossible to keep a straight face around their victim so this made me question whether it was them or not.

Just before walking home, I went back to my locker to fetch my books and saw the note again and shivered, I got home and put the two together, it was definitely the same person writing them, I thought that I could look at everyone’s work in class to match the handwriting but it could be anyone, it could even be someone in a lower year, I had no idea so I just kept thinking and thinking about it. I received these love notes in my locker once a day for the full year of school, I received this note on our last day with a rose attached to it.

‘Dear Rosie, I will miss you dearly when you leave school, the way you used to flutter your eyelashes, the way your cheeks blushed a rosy pink when you answered a question wrong, the way your hair was always so neat and perfect and the way you used to giggle at things that only you would find funny. I believe you are the perfect girl for me but I’m afraid I will never be good enough for you so all I have left to say is good luck, this is the last of my letters but I can say, I will see you around but you will not see me. -Me’

5 years have passed since my last year of school, I have 4 A levels and a degree in History but I still have absolutely no idea who wrote me these notes every day for a year.

Opposites attract

Part I

As I sat at my old oak kitchen table in silence, I jolted as my kettle began to whistle piercingly. I would never be able to explain why it still made me jump I had owned it for years! Nevertheless, I continued making my hearty morning cup of tea… Every single morning and it was beginning to become rather tedious. I don’t know about you but having a handsome man sat beside me sipping coffee and reading the paper each morning appeals to me more than my current routine.

***

Surprise surprise, I was waking up with a headache from hell once again. Every morning was the same nowadays. Get home at ungodly hours of the night, wake up at midday with no recollection of the previous night and being incapable of walking in a straight line for a couple of hours. Oh yeah, also without a woman beside me… Too regularly. I’m a young man, I should be thinking about settling down with a beautiful woman who makes me happy. However, I’m still stuck in my teenage years getting drunk all night, every night.

***

I owned a little book shop on one of the backstreets in the centre of London. I had worked there since I was 14 but when my boss sadly passed away several years ago, she had written in her will that she wanted me to take the business into my hands. So here I am, 23 years of age with my very own book shop. But because we were hidden away, it was rare that we even got people popping in for a browse. However, we have many loyal customers who visit a few times a week and without them, my bookshop would really struggle.

***

I had worked in bars since I was a teenager, it was my speciality and I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else with my life. You could ask me just about any question about a certain alcoholic beverage and I guarantee, I will give you the correct answer. I loved drinking, everything about it made me happy but deep down, I knew I had a problem, out of all the staff in my bar, I certainly drank the most – no doubt about it.

***

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I had a blind date in the evening, I was incredibly nervous yet excited not having dated a bloke in at least 2 years. I needed to get back out there though, that was inevitable. I was tired of being lonely and felt like I deserved someone to love me and take care of me. I walked around a couple of my favourite clothes shops looking for the perfect outfit. I had forgotten what the feeling was like before a date but today it came back to me… The butterflies fluttering in your stomach, the out of sync heart beats and the sheer determination of wanting to look attractive. Feeling like this again was lovely and made me question myself as to why I was so anxious to get back out there.

***

I buttoned up my shirt looking into the mirror as I did so… The bar where I worked was the same every night, nothing remotely exciting ever happened which probably explains why I was always so drunk. I sat down and ate my ready-made microwave meal and I couldn’t help but wish there was someone here to talk to and to put me in a slightly better mood before I headed out to work a long, tiring shift. But I was used to being alone now, it only bothered me sometimes, I could deal with it though, I had mates who completely changed once they had a girl to call their own and I didn’t want to become one of them.

***

I was ready to leave the house, feeling strong and confident despite not having a clue what this guy was like or even what he looked like! We were meeting at a small bar, not too far from my bookshop. I decided I would keep him waiting a few minutes so I didn’t look too keen but it didn’t matter anyway. I arrived and he wasn’t there yet, almost 10 minutes later than the time we had originally arranged. I sighed and plonked myself onto one of the stools beside the bar and ordered myself a cranberry and vodka. I was prepared to wait a little bit longer for him.

***

Attractive women came into the bar all the time but I had never seen anyone like her, she literally took my breath away at first glance. I had never felt like this about anyone who had been in here before, she was beautiful. I hadn’t poured a drink for myself yet tonight but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I just had to look at her and thinking about speaking to her gave me the same rush that I got when I was drinking. I served her a drink whilst deciding how to start a conversation with her. Without a drink, I was shy and nervous around women but I knew she would be different.

***

I sipped on my drink and looked at the man who had served me, he looked a similar age to me, possibly a couple of years older. He kept glancing at me but I can’t describe the kind of look it was. The longer I looked at him, the clearer it was to me how attractive he was. Wow. Dark hair, light eyes and one of the loveliest smiles I had ever seen. Without even realising it, I was playing with my hair and fluttering my eyelashes like a teenage girl. I knew I was waiting for someone but oh my, was he handsome! I had drank a few more vodka cranberries by this point so what harm would it cause to flash him a little smile?

***

She was looking at me… I hope she didn’t think I was being creepy, I started talking to her and by this time, a whole hour had passed since her date was supposed to start yet she had stayed and chatted with me so I must have been doing something right, she asked me about myself and I didn’t have too much to say but I asked about her and found myself asking more and more because I was genuinely interested. She was an amazing person. Definitely compared to me… We were completely different people, opposites in fact. But you know what they say… Opposites attract.

***

He seemed like a real gentlemen from what I could gather. He managed to take my mind off the fact I had blatantly been stood up. I was having a good night mind… I kept finding things to talk to him about. He was fairly reserved whereas I was very outgoing and found it difficult to stop talking sometimes. I had always gone for boys who were similar to me, who shared my interests… but he was the complete opposite, and I was still attracted to him.

Hitchhiker

It was a rainy, gloomy winter’s night and Dave wanted to test out his new tyres on the sodden country roads, his older brother James decided to tag along as he was tired of his wife badgering him about pointless things.

As they raced down the roads, watching the puddles tidal wave over the windscreen, the two brothers embarrassingly sang their hearts out to ‘Take That – Greatest Hits’ feeling very content and enjoying the company of each other.

The rain was bouncing off the car very wildly now and the wind was howling through every infinitesimal space in the car, sounding like a ghostly creature hidden in the clouds.
“Wouldn’t like to be stuck out in this!” Said Dave followed by a nervous laugh.

Suddenly out of nowhere, like a deer in headlights stood a remarkably beautiful young girl. James yelled at Dave to stop the car, Dave panicked. The car swerved. The girl did not move a muscle. James opened the car door, the rain hitting his face quite powerfully as he shouted across the road.
“Get in love, you’re shivering like a dog after a bath!” Without even a small smile, she placed herself on the backseat of the car. Dave turned around to ask her where she wanted to go but he found himself mesmerised by her. She had the fairest hair. Wispy but wavy and it fell just below her waist. Her skin was so pale but completely flawless and looked soft as silk. But her eyes, her eyes were something else. So bright. So vivid. They shocked Dave with their splendour. After admiring her beauty for what felt like hours, Dave handed her his dry overcoat and managed to ask where she needed taking, although he could only manage to get the words out with a little stutter.

“It’s just the next road on the left.” She whispered with such a calm and soothing voice.
Once they had dropped her off and driven away, the men sat in silence before James announced that they had forgotten to take back the overcoat.
“It doesn’t matter.” Dave sighed, still mesmerised by how stunning she was but his brother begged to differ and persuaded Dave to go back for it in the morning.

The next day arrived and the weather completely contrasted with what it was like the previous night. The sun was shining and there was a mild breeze. The brothers began driving to the girls house listening to the radio, Dave parked up slowly and they both stepped out of the car in unison, an elderly woman opened the door of the house before the men could walk up the path. She was shaking a little and she looked puzzled. The men explained that they were here to collect a coat but the woman still looked baffled. Dave stepped forward and described the girl they had picked up. The elderly woman’s face began to slowly fade to a light grey colour. Both men were aware that she was trying to speak.
“She… she sounds a lot like my daughter, exactly the same in fact.”
Dave asked if they could get the coat from her but what the woman said next shocked the brothers.
“My daughter was killed, 15 years ago…”
James shook his head and tried walking back to the car but Dave grabbed his arm.
“I don’t believe you.” Dave said with a stern but worried voice.

She started to make her way across the road and signalled to the brothers to follow her. They reached a ghostly graveyard entrance and even in broad daylight it was unnerving. They walked through the rusty gate over to an old looking grave stone. There was a small photo frame laid on the grave showing a photo of a girl, it was very damaged but you could identify who it was. And it was her.

Both Dave and James stood still, speechless as their whole bodies rapidly started to get colder and colder. Thinking that nothing else could frighten them, they were soon proved wrong as neatly folded on the headstone was the overcoat that Dave had kindly handed the girl he thought was alive and well just the night before.