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.

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.  

 

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.

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.

Change

As I sat in the sun, embracing the rays as they gently kissed the surface of my skin, I longingly stared at the sky, it was so blue, a beautiful shade of blue with not a cloud in sight. I laid back in an old deck chair of ours whilst my music flooded my ears, right through me making me feel like nothing or nobody was around, I knew they were though and I knew it was probably best if I acknowledged them but I felt so relaxed and lost in the moment that I quite frankly wasn’t bothered if anyone considered me rude or antisocial. I felt happy, genuinely happy and the existence of other people wasn’t going to get me down, not today. Not ever again.

I wasn’t the best at dealing with social situations, in fact, I was the worst. I would panic at the smallest of things for example if my mum left me at a till in the supermarket to get some milk when it was nearly our turn to pay or if I had to order food in a restaurant. My hands would clam up, I would shake my legs, my voice would keep crackling and sweat would drip from my forehead. I was indescribably pathetic so at each and every moment that I felt relaxed and happy, I had to take advantage of it and make the very most of it.

I had been an awkward person for as long as I could remember, my siblings were forever making fun of me for it but I just didn’t let it bother me. It wasn’t until high school where it got really bad, I couldn’t put my hand up in class because I feared of answering questions wrong, I refused to eat school dinners to avoid conversation with dinner ladies who are usually friendly, I was just an embarrassment, when people began to notice this, they didn’t even pause for a second, I got called so many names such as a ‘pathetic bitch’ that’s the one that stuck with me the longest and made me realise I had to change my ways. After so many people called me names and talked about me behind my back, it was difficult to make friends and I became even more awkward. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I couldn’t stand still if someone was talking to me, I would mumble and it made me feel like an imbecile. For a few years I just coped with it but I just remember one day as I was trying to get to sleep, I was feeling something strange, it wasn’t sadness though, it felt worse than that. I let my mind wonder about that until I eventually drifted off but I decided to ask my mum about it the next day. I remember the exact look she gave me and the exact words that left her mouth… ‘You are lonely sweetheart’ as soon as she said that, I couldn’t stop thinking and I just knew I had to get out there and make a friend. And it could have been anyone.

I remember it so clearly because it is one of the most significant days of my life, my mum had asked me to go to the supermarket for a few groceries, I was nervous but I felt a rush of determination, determination to change and to be confident.  I was walking down the road and there was a boy sat on a bench, he looked a similar age to me and straight away I could see that something was wrong with him, he had a strange look on his face, as if something bad had happened seconds ago. I panicked but my instinct was to talk to him, console him. I wiped my clammy hands down my legs and slowly approached the bench where the boy was sitting. I sat down next to him and stared at his face, remembering this moment makes me feel so embarrassed, it was like I had never seen a human before, I just stared at him, observing everything about him, I didn’t even know whether he had noticed me but still, I continued to stare.

“Can I help you?” He asked rather quietly.

I recall thinking ‘oh Christ’, I had no idea what to reply and it felt like hours that I sat there thinking about what to say but eventually the words crawled out of my mouth with an embarrassing little stutter.

“Hi, I’m Emily, you look upset”

Had I said the right thing? Did I sound like a fool? Oh my god he was going to stand up and walk away and my confidence was going to go back to zero. I just stared at him, I am laughing thinking about this, I must have looked so silly. I thought I had gone above my standards by talking to someone highly attractive when I have issues talking to any old person. But he was gorgeous, anyone would think so. I felt so stupid because he was now staring at me, no words leaving his mouth. It was an awkward situation but it didn’t feel awkward and that confused me. After a good 5 minutes he finally replied to me.

“Hi Emily, I’m Dan, and nope that’s just my face”

The way he said that made me smile, and I let out a little giggle. He smiled back at me and I could feel my cheeks turning pink, I was blushing like a little bitch. He asked me to walk with him, I completely forgot about what I was initially out for and followed him, we walked for hours but neither of us really saying a word. He led me up to a giant hill and he sat down, so I did the same. He then began to talk, he talked, and talked, and talked. I was amazed, happy, relieved all at once, only god knows what my facial expression must have been when he finished speaking. He was exactly like me, literally the male version of me and I knew in that moment that we would get along perfectly.

Dan and I met almost every day that week, and the week after that and every other week until now, in fact, he’s sat right beside me as I write this, reminiscing how we met and how perfectly we clicked is making us both smile like idiots. I had finally met someone who understood how I had felt all of those years because he had been through the same and we wanted to help each other so very badly and we knew that we could. We shared a whole summer together, going to restaurants and ordering food, it took a while but we did it, we ran errands for our parents and visited museums and art galleries and by the end of summer we felt like normal people. We hadn’t made any other friends but it didn’t feel like we needed to, we had each other and we knew if it came to a time where we had to interact with other people, there would be no problem. He really is the most amazing friend I have ever had.

I never really knew whether Dan had feelings for me, I knew I was always attracted to him but never really expected anything from it because we were friends. But one day, we decided to visit this fancy restaurant, we were going a little bit out of our comfort zone but still, we would be fine. We sat down and were having a laugh, talking about our days and as we were waiting to order our food, Dan stood up in front of a full restaurant and denied his love for me. It was such an amazing moment because it was a giant step for him to talk publicly like that and especially to admit something as big as love. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, it was the single most adorable thing anyone had ever done for me, ever. And ever will do. I will never forget it, it was so lovely and heartfelt and I have never felt so special. He’s cringing whilst we reminisce this but he knows it’s in my top five memories that we’ve shared.

He was perfect, my family loved him, I loved him and he had made me a better person, I was no longer a caterpillar waiting to leave its cocoon, I was a butterfly ready to explore the world and meet amazing people and so was Dan, we both applied for university and we attend the same one, we have been together almost 6 years now, time really flies when you meet the perfect person. We have an amazing group of friends who know all about us both and we’ve been told so many times how confident, loud and easy to get along with we are. You would never expect that we struggled to order food in a restaurant before we met each other.

Dan and I’s story proves that once you meet the right person, your life can change for the best and you will become a different person, everyone is so proud of me and I am proud of myself. I would never survive in the world if I was still as awkward as I was in high school, I can only tolerate certain people and when I feel happy, I really take it in because I know I truly deserve it, everyone deserves to be happy, you just have to fight for it but I promise you it is more than worth it.