Daniel let out a frustrated sigh and threw a pen across his bedroom floor. He reached up a hand and rubbed his aching neck when suddenly he heard raised voices.
He sighed, thinking it was his neighbours having yet another row but after a few seconds he realised that the argument was coming from inside his house. He launched himself out of the chair, crossed his bedroom in two strides and yanked open the door. The man who always started a burning feeling of loathing inside Daniel had just left his mother’s bedroom: Sam Marlow. Last time Sam had set foot inside the building he had been forcibly removed two minutes later. Daniel didn’t think it was possible to detest this man any more than he already did. Sam stopped in his tracks for a split second when he noticed Daniel glaring at him and glared back before he quickly walked across the landing and down the stairs.
Daniel waited until he heard the front door slam and then pushed open his mother’s bedroom door and entered the room. As soon as he stepped inside he knew exactly what had been going on; his eyes drifted from the unmade bed to the sight of her pulling on a dressing gown, her back to him. She didn’t notice he was there until she turned around, her blue eyes full with moisture, her face streaked with salty tears.
“Oh, Danny.” She said with a thick voice, and sniffed. “If you give me five minutes I’ll put the dinner on.” Daniel said nothing, he just glared at her, not sure who he was angrier at right now; her or Sam.
“How do you fancy pork chops?” Artemis asked, smiling in a feeble attempt to distract him from the current situation. He wondered why she even bothered to put on this charade anymore. After twenty years of seeing her sabotage every good chance she got she must have known he would see right through it.
“Don’t look at me at like that Daniel.” She said, her voice wavering, threatening to break.
“Like what?” He uttered from between clenched teeth.
“You know what like.” She replied.
“How do you want me to look at you?!” He yelled. “With a look of glowing admiration?! Congratulations, yet again you’ve been only too willing to sleep with the man who left you for another woman who he’s now married to; a man you know is only using you because you give him exactly what he wants, and who you argue with every time you see! Bravo mum, what a fantastic example you are setting.”
He hadn’t meant to explode like that, but he didn’t regret it. He was sick of watching his mother give herself up to a man who only wanted anything to do with her when his wife wasn’t in the mood. He was sick of cleaning up the messes that Artemis left behind her with every failed relationship. He was sick of having to be the parent to the woman who gave birth to him at sixteen. Artemis rushed towards Daniel and grabbed him by the arm.
“Don’t you ever speak to me like that! I might make mistakes but I’m still your mother, and you should respect that!”
“Respect?!” He spat, letting out a single, cold laugh and pulling his arm free from her grasp. Artemis reached up a hand to slap him round the face but he dodged her attack and hurried out across the hallway and back into his bedroom. Reaching under his bed he found the battered, brown suitcase that he never kept too far from reach, opened it and started throwing things in. In his fury he wasn’t even sure what he was packing; he didn’t really care so long as he had the basics. He heard a floorboard creak near the doorway and knew it was her coming to apologise, but he wasn’t interested. All he wanted to do was get out of this tiny, cramped flat and away from her.
“Daniel.” Artemis said. “I’m so sorry... don’t go. Please?“ If this was the first, or even second time she had pleaded with him not to leave then perhaps his reaction might have been different. Perhaps he might have been able to turn round, and say sorry and that he was always there for her no matter what. But they’d been through this situation countless times before. Each time she promised that things were going to change. She was going to get a better job and get them out of the estate and sort her life out; cut Sam off for good. But it never happened. Things would change for a week, maybe two if he was lucky, but eventually Artemis would slip back into her old ways and bad habits. This life was crushing him, and there was nothing he could do for her by staying. The only option was to leave and hope that it shocked her enough into changing for good.
“No.” He replied, his back still to her as he gathered up his belongings and crammed them into the suitcase. Hearing Artemis crying quietly behind him he spun round. “Don’t bother trying to pull that one on me; I’ve seen it before, remember?“ He reached up a hand and rubbed his tired eyes. “I can’t do this anymore mum. You don’t seem to realise, or care, that your actions don’t just affect you.”
“If this is about Sam... when you love someone-“ She started, but Daniel interrupted her.
“Don’t even attempt to justify what you two have going, you sound like you should be on Jeremy Kyle. And don’t patronise me, I’m not a kid anymore. You can’t just cook dinner and expect that everything will be fine between us.” The more she tried to delay his departure the more angry he got. “Don’t you realise what I’ve sacrificed for you?! How many great opportunities I’ve had to give up?” He yelled, slamming the suitcase closed.
“You know I’ve had a really hard time-“ Artemis started to say.
“The only reason you’ve had a hard time is because you are your own worst enemy. I’ve tried to help you, I’ve always been here, but I can’t anymore... I just can’t.” He took a deep breath. “If you ever sort yourself out then get in touch.”
He walked past her sobbing in the doorway, descended the staircase and walked out the front door, hoping that he wasn’t making a huge mistake.
Well, that's the first part. Please let me know what you think
Grace lay in bed feeling completely and wholly relaxed somewhere between sleep and consciousness, so she jumped slightly when she felt Elliott’s hand on hers. He took her hand in his and kissed it gently.
Silence reigned for a mere moment before the shrill sound that she heard far too often rung through the air, causing Elliott to leap towards the bedside table scrabbling for the phone, and waking Grace fully. That sound, she knew, only could mean one thing. Grace had been seeing Elliott regularly for a little over three months now, and she could count on one hand the number of occasions that they’d spent together when his phone had not rung. For most people, this might not be too much of an issue, however when the reason for the call was that the woman Elliott really loved had yet again had an argument with her husband, this caused a problem for Grace.
She pulled herself out of bed with a sigh and headed into the bathroom to take a shower. As the weak stream of slightly too hot water trickled over her body she thought about how the situation couldn’t continue as it was. She wished that there could be a second option in this, but she knew deep in her heart that there was only the one.
Ten minutes later she stepped out of the shower, and stood dripping on the bathroom floor for a moment whilst she listened out for voices. When all she heard was silence she grabbed a towel, wrapped it round her and went back into the bedroom, preparing herself for what she was soon to say. When she entered the room she saw that Elliott was stood half-dressed in the middle of the floor. This came as no surprise to Grace. This was often what happened after he received a call from her. Silently whilst deep in contemplation Grace began dressing waiting for Elliott to make his excuses before hurrying her out of his house. He seemed to have gauged that her silence was a reaction to the phone call.
“I’m sorry Grace, you know I am. It’s just... you know what her husband’s like.” He said, pulling a t-shirt on.
“Yeah, I know.” She quietly replied, sitting down on the edge of the bed and dressing.
“She doesn’t have anyone else to turn to. Most of her friends don’t bother with her anymore, I can’t do the same.” He sounded almost as though he was pleading.
“I know you won’t.” She said, and paused before continuing. “But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Elliott turned towards her with a frown on his face.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Oh come off it Elliott.” Grace said, standing up to look him in the face. “I’m not stupid, and I’m not blind. I’ve known from day one how you feel about her; I thought it was something you would get over once you had someone in your life, but... you haven’t. You’re still in love with her and I can’t stay with someone who loves another woman more than he loves me.” She grabbed her bag from the floor and slinging it over her shoulder she turned to Elliott. “I’m sorry, but I can’t stay with you knowing that you’d drop me in a second if you ever got a chance with her.”
“Grace... I – “ He started to say, but she was already halfway out the door, and didn’t stay to listen to the rest of the sentence.
Brigitte stood looking out of her bedroom window; she could see most of the main square from there.
It was a warm, spring morning; the first nice day of the year and already children were out in the park playing games and riding their bikes, young couples and groups of friends were soaking up the sun. Brigitte felt a pang of jealousy. It was so easy for them to be out there, they wouldn’t even give it a second thought. What was so scary about it? It was just a patch of grass that lay across the road from her. The most threatening thing out there was the possibility that a bee might fly past, or a child’s football might be accidentally kicked in your direction. So why couldn’t she go out? She could sit in her garden, and she quite often did sit out there with a glass of wine and a book. The park was just like that, only it was out the front of the house... except Brigitte knew she was kidding herself. She wasn’t a normal person; she couldn’t just nip to the shops for a pint of milk or a loaf of bread. She couldn’t go to the cinema to see the new blockbuster film. She couldn’t go and sit out in the park with her book because every time she tried that awful feeling would come crashing over her in waves and would totally and utterly consume her. She had tried going out but she would get that feeling every single time, no matter how many times she went out, no matter where she went out, and in the end it was just easier for her not to go out at all. So here she was. Two years, three months since she had last left the confines of her house. Two years and four months since the attack that had rendered her housebound.
Grace left Elliott’s and started walking down the street towards her car. When she reached it she unlocked the door, got in and threw her bag in the direction of the passenger seat. As she sat down she started wondering if she had made the right decision.
The constant phone calls had to stop, that was a definite. But did she have to be so final about it? Ok, so she had never sat down and spoken to him properly about it, but she was pretty sure that she had made her feelings about the situation perfectly clear. But... even if she had talked to him about it would things have changed? She was not very confident that they would have, but that didn’t stop the niggling doubt. She looked up and saw Elliott get into his car and drive off without noticing her. She rummaged around in her bag searching for her phone, and when she found it she called her sister.
“Hey Brig, you up for a visit?” She asked when her sister answered the phone.
“Be there in a few minutes.” She hung up, threw her phone down, started the engine and began the drive to her sister’s.
Brigitte lived in the family home. It was a spacious, three-bedroom house situated on top of a hill and consequently you could see the entire town centre from there. When their mother had died three years ago they had both inherited it, however Grace had her own house that she loved and so Brigitte had bought Grace’s half and Grace had stayed where she was. Their mother’s death had been hard on them both but it had been especially difficult for Brigitte, who had been closest to her out of the two sisters. When they found out she was ill and wasn’t going to get better, Brigitte had given up her job to care for her. Grace often suspected that Brigitte wouldn’t have become agoraphobic if the mugging had had happened before their mother fell ill. She wouldn’t have normally let something like that bother her, but the situation with their mother had left her fragile.
Grace pulled up outside the house and knocked on the door. She had driven the whole way there with the window down and when she saw her reflection she grimaced slightly and smoothed her hair out. Her sister answered the door and pulled it open to let Grace in.
“So what brings you here this early on a Saturday?” Brigitte asked, heading into the kitchen. “Normally you’re not out of bed before eleven.”
“Man troubles.” Grace replied seating herself at the table.
“And so you came here because I’m such an expert?” Brigitte said sarcastically.
“So are you.”
“I think the rational part of my mind is starting to fall apart and I need you to tell me I’ve done the right thing.”
Brigitte handed her sister a mug of tea, and sat down on the chair next to her. “What’s going on?” She asked.
“I ended things with Elliott today.” Grace replied, and took a sip from her mug.
“Is this because of the Lorelei situation?”
Grace nodded, and stared out of the window.
“It just got too complicated. I was willing to accept the fact that he had this one-sided relationship with her. I didn’t necessarily agree with the way she takes advantage of him but... whatever, that’s up to him, but she was always in the way. She would call him three, four times a week needing to be picked up from somewhere, or taken home, or wanting Elliott to drive around with her so she could look out for her husband’s car because she didn’t know where he was. Elliott would never say no to her. We could be in the middle of dinner or in bed and if she called he would go running. It just got too much.”
“Well dumping him is pretty rational. You can’t stay in a relationship like that, it’s not fair. How long would this go on for? Would he still be like this five, ten years down the line? You did do the right thing.” Brigitte said, but by looking at her sister she could tell that Grace didn’t think the same.
“You don’t agree?” Brigitte asked.
“I don’t know.” Grace replied rubbing her face with her hands. “I mean, yes, logically it was the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I feel great about it. I’m having to persuade myself that it was right.”
Brigitte picked up the empty mugs and put them in sink, then sat down in the chair opposite her sister. “Well, you were seeing each other for what? Three? Four months? You’re bound to have some attachment towards him.”
“I left it too long. I’ve known for weeks that I needed to end it but I kept putting it off and putting it off, thinking that he’d come to his senses soon. I shouldn’t have put it off because now I have strong feelings for him and it’s harder to let go.” Grace sighed and rested her head in her hand. “I wonder if I’ll hear from him.”
Brigitte gave her a comforting smile and patted her hand gently. “If you don’t then it’s his loss.”
“Yeah.” Grace murmured, not entirely believing that was true. “So how have you been lately?” She said, changing the subject.
“Up and down. Some days I feel great yet other’s I can’t even get out of bed.”
“Have you spoken to the doctor recently?”
Brigitte laughed. “They don’t do anything. The choices they give me are different meds or counselling. When someone hasn’t left their house in two years they need more than that.” Brigitte sighed and looked at her lap. Grace felt angry. Her sister had a serious problem and the health service wasn’t offering the support she needed.
“Ok, seeing as they are a big pile of wang me and you need to do something about it.”
“Like what?” Brigitte asked, looking up. Grace thought about it for a second.
“Desensitisation.” She replied. Brigitte just looked at her blankly and Grace realised she had to elaborate. “By repeatedly exposing someone to a stimulus they find frightening the person gradually becomes more accustomed to it and it becomes less fearful. I think that if we do that using small steps then we can have you walking to the park in a few months.” She reached across and placed her hand over Brigitte’s. “But only if you’re ready. I really believe you can do this but you have to share that belief.”
Brigitte took a deep breath and smiled.
“Let’s give it a try.” She said.
Thank you so much for your comments KyleTheArtist and Mrs.Kuma updated sooner than I had planned because it turns out I'm not needed to work tomorrow! Woohoo!
Lorelei stood at the end of her road shivering: she was dressed only in a thin vest-top, shorts and flip-flops. Had she known that she was going to get into another argument with her husband then she would have dressed more appropriately for the weather. It was a warm day for sure, but not warm enough for hotpants. She hugged her arms round her body willing Elliott to be quick, and not just because she was cold. Quite often after their rows Sam would go out in his car looking for her, and as she wasn’t very far from the house she wanted to make sure she was gone before he came round this way. She heard a car driving up the road and quickly wiped the tears off her face before turning her head in its direction, praying it wasn’t her husband.
She sighed with relief as she recognised the car as Elliott’s and a weak smile broke out on her face as he pulled up beside her and the passenger door swung open.
“Taxi for Marlow?” He joked, as she climbed into the car.
“Thanks again Elliott, I really appreciate it.” She said as they pulled away and drove off down the road.
“No worries. You know I’m always here if you need me.” He replied. Lorelei glanced sideways at him noticing that he seemed different today.
“So what happened this time?” He asked, his eyes held straight ahead as he turned left off Main Street onto Clarendon Road.
“He didn’t come home last night. He told me yesterday that he was going over to Rob’s house to watch the football at six. He left just before then and only got home an hour ago. When I asked him where he’d been he said he’d stayed at Rob’s because they’d had a few drinks and he thought he was over the limit.” She paused and glanced at Elliott again searching his face for some sort of reaction, but it never came. “I don’t believe him though. I asked him why he didn’t call me to let me know that he wouldn’t be home, and I told him that he should have rung me and I would have picked him up but he just shouted at me that if he’d wanted me to pick up him up then he would have called.” Still Elliott said nothing. Normally by now he would have insulted Sam a few times, and told her she should leave him for good at least once, but so far he had barely said a word.
“Are you ok?” Lorelei asked. “You’re really quiet.”
“Yeah, it’s just... well, Grace broke things off.” He replied, his gaze still firmly set on the road.
“Oh, um, I’m sorry.” Lorelei muttered, although she didn’t mean it; she felt relieved but wasn’t entirely sure why.
“Thanks.” He replied, and turned to face her for the first time since she’d got in the car.
“Why are you wearing that?!” He asked suddenly, gesturing towards the outfit she had on. “It’s not very appropriate for the weather. I mean, it’s warm, but it ain’t that warm.”
“Oh, I, uh... it was the first thing I put on when I got up this morning. I didn’t think I’d be leaving the house in it...”
Once they arrived at Elliott’s he disappeared into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Lorelei paced his living room thinking about the situation between them.
She knew Elliott had feelings for her; there was no way he would still be around if he didn’t, but Lorelei had no intention of doing anything about it – she was married – so why was she so pleased that he was now single again? Was it just because she relied on him? Before she had a chance to ponder over it too much he emerged from the kitchen holding two steaming mugs of tea, and was placing them on the coffee table when his doorbell rang. Wondering who it was, Elliott walked over and pulled it open. With a loud bang the door flew back on its hinges and Elliott was instantly thrown backwards.
Lorelei jumped up, knocking over her drink as her husband came storming towards her, his face filled with anger.
“Home. NOW!” He barked, grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her towards the door.
“Hey, get your hands off her!” Elliott yelled and stood in front of the door attempting to block their exit, but Sam forced him aside and strode out with Lorelei in tow.
I love this story I can't wait for more it's really amazing
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy
Elliott watched Sam walk towards his car dragging his wife along behind him shouting at her the entire way, wondering why Lorelei had ever gotten involved with that Neanderthal in the first place.
When she had first announced she was dating him, everyone she knew had told her it was a bad idea. He was notorious for treating women badly: cheating on them, controlling them, and he was constantly being hauled up to the police station for crimes that they knew he had committed but had no evidence to charge him with. But despite his many, many faults Lorelei always turned a blind eye, and eventually as Sam’s controlling ways took over her life her friends started to have less and less to do with her. Elliott remembered the first time she had called him up in tears. She’d been out shopping for an outfit to wear on her and Sam’s date that night – a date which was to consist of going to Sam’s local pub so he could watch the football – and when she’d shown him what she had bought he had told her it was too revealing, had grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the clothes to ribbons. They’d been seeing each other for six weeks. After that the desperate phone calls started and had increased the longer the couple had been together. When Lorelei told him that she and Sam were getting married he had tried every method of persuasion he knew to try and get her to break it off, but when it came to Sam, Lorelei couldn’t think straight.
Elliott walked back inside the house and pushed his front door closed. There was no point going after them, he’d learnt that lesson a long time ago. He’d go out there and Sam would threaten to hit him and then she would tell him to go back inside, that she was fine. She must know that it wasn’t right for him to treat her like that, so why wouldn’t she leave him? Elliott picked up the mug Lorelei had knocked over and slowly climbed the stairs to get a cloth to clean up the light brown liquid that had pooled on the floor. When he reached his bedroom he glanced over and saw the towel lying on his bed exactly where Grace had left it earlier that morning before telling him she wasn’t going to be second best. Maybe he had been a little unfair to her, but Lorelei had been his friend for almost fifteen years; Grace couldn’t just expect him to stop seeing her. But that wasn’t the problem was it Elliott? He found himself thinking. The problem was that you never put Grace first even when there was nothing wrong with Lorelei. Elliott suddenly felt angry with himself. He snatched the towel up from the bed and hurled it into the bathroom, then turned round and flopped onto his bed.
Just then, his phone rang. He didn’t bother looking at the screen; he figured it was Lorelei calling to apologise.
“Yep?” He answered wearily.
“Elliott, hey it’s Daniel.”
Elliott was surprised to hear that it wasn’t Lorelei.
“Oh. Hi mate, how are you?”
“Er that’s sort of the reason that I’m calling. I need to ask a favour.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“I was wondering if I’d be able to stay with you for a couple of days? I’ve, er... I’ve moved out.”
“Moved out?!” Elliott remarked. “Bloody hell, didn’t think I’d ever see the day you’d leave home.”
“Yeah well, that wasn’t for want of trying.”
“Of course you can stay, so long as you’re alright with the sofa.”
“Anything.” Daniel replied, sounding relieved. “I’d be happy with the floor so long as I’ve got a roof over my head. Are you home now?” He asked.
“Yeah.” Elliott replied, standing up and looking around his empty flat. He had lived alone for eight years and had never got lonely, but felt glad at the prospect of having a houseguest for a few days, even if just to distract himself from his own life. The two chatted for a couple more minutes with Daniel saying he’d be round in half an hour, and so when they finished their conversation Elliott got up and started searching his flat for the spare bedding he knew he had somewhere. What a day. Elliott thought to himself.
He was clearing up the last few bits of rubbish that had gotten accidentally flung across the room, when his doorbell buzzed for the second time that day. Wearily he plodded across the floor, pulled open the door and stood aside to let his friend in.
“You travel light.” Elliott said when he noticed Daniel’s small bag.
“Yeah, it was kind of a spontaneous departure.” He replied, setting it down on the floor.
“So what happened?” Elliott asked, leading Daniel into the lounge and grabbing them both a beer before sitting down.
“I just couldn’t take it there anymore.” He replied, shaking his head.
“She’s been sleeping with her married, ex-boyfriend who is a total bastard - I had to physically throw him out of our flat once because he was getting too aggressive. I was home doing work today and I heard them rowing; I didn’t even know he was there. I found him leaving, her half-naked and crying trying to pretend like nothing was wrong. It was just the last straw. I know she’s my mum, and I know I should be there for her no matter what, but when it’s been your whole life of looking after the one person who’s supposed to be looking after you... I figured she’s never going to sort herself out whilst I’m there because she depends on me too much.”
Elliott didn’t say anything - he couldn’t think of any words that could possibly ease the situation - so he just nodded, suddenly feeling glad he didn’t have Daniel’s life.
PiscinaDeShiva and KyleTheArtist - thank you so much comments like yours really help keep me motivated.
Teensy bit of swearing and violence in this one folks.
“Sam, stop, you’re hurting me! Please let go!” Lorelei pleaded with her husband, feebly trying to release her hand from his vice-like grip. But he ignored her, instead choosing to push her into his car, get in and drive off. They sat in uncomfortable silence the whole journey back with Lorelei too scared to say anything for fear of what he might do.
Once they reached their house he pulled into their driveway, turned off the engine and snarled, “Get out of the car.”
Doing as he said she pulled her trembling body out of the car and followed him through their front door, the whole time under his stony glare. Once inside that was when the argument truly began. Sam was always very careful as to where he caused a scene in public.
“What the hell were you doing with him?!” He shouted.
“You think you can go running around with other guys dressed like that?! Did you forget that you’re MY wife?”
“I... I’m sorry, I was upset-“ She began, but before she could get out the whole sentence Sam had grabbed her round the throat and pushed her up against the wall.
Her head hit the plasterboard with a loud crack and she cried out in pain.
“I don’t give a shit what you were feeling!” He spat, his face just inches from hers, contorted with rage. “You will NOT leave the house unless you’re properly dressed and you are NOT to see that little moron again! You are my wife and you’ll do what I tell you to, understand?!” Lorelei nodded with tears in her eyes. “I’m going out and don’t you even dare think about leaving. I’ll know if you even put one foot outside the house and if you do you will be really, really sorry.” She nodded again and with that Sam strode out of the house, slamming the front door so hard that she felt the house shake. Lorelei slumped down onto the floor and huddled against the wall, shaking. She stayed like that for almost an hour before she could gather enough strength in her limbs to move. She reached her hand around to the back of her head and felt a painful lump. Suddenly the magnitude of what had happened hit her and thick tears began to run down her face.
Why did she have to go and meet Elliott? She knew Sam wouldn’t like it, and she knew she would have been better off staying in. She knew it was always best to give Sam what he wanted. She knew that if she didn’t then she would pay for it, as she had done so many times before. But Elliott was the only one who had stayed a friend, who hadn’t lost interest after the weeks of no contact. She needed him and she would do what was necessary to keep him in her life.
Ugh, Elliott just needs to get over her and go back with Grace
Amazing job, I look foward to reading this story everytime I see an update!
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy
Aw shucks guys you've made me go all gushy! Thank you so much for your lovely comments Sorry I've not updated for a couple of days, I have been planning out the rest of the story and writing a few chapters inbetween the copious amounts of reading I have to do for uni! Should have a new part up in the next day or two.
Daniel pushed open the hospital’s glass doors and stepped out into the mid-morning sun.
He squinted in the bright light and turned towards his friends, Naomi and Olly. He was at university studying to be a doctor and worked a couple of days a week at the local hospital for experience. Naomi and Olly worked at the hospital too: Olly was as a porter and Naomi a healthcare assistant.
“You guys want to get some lunch?” Daniel asked.
“It’s 11:00am Dan.” Naomi said with a grin.
“Yeah, well when you’ve been awake since four, lunchtime is eleven.” He replied.
“Burgers on the beach?” Olly asked. The others nodded and headed off towards the seafront.
“What are you up to this afternoon?” Naomi asked. She was a quiet, friendly girl and one of the calmest people Daniel had ever met. He had no doubt that she would be a great nurse once she was qualified.
“House hunting and then I’ve got to go the library.” He replied as they all crossed the street opposite the school.
“What kind of place are you looking for?” Olly asked.
“Any kind. I’m staying with a friend at the moment, and whilst I really appreciate him letting me stay I can’t sleep on his sofa forever.”
“We have a spare room at our house.” Naomi said. “You can come and have a look at it if you like.”
Daniel turned to her. “Seriously? ‘Cause that would be really great.” She nodded. Daniel wanted to hug her. “I think you’ve saved me.” He said.
An hour later Daniel and Naomi said goodbye to Olly and set off for Naomi’s house.
“There are three of us there at the moment.” She explained. “Our housemate Claire has just moved out to go and work abroad for a year so if you decide you like it it’s available whenever you want to move in.”
Once they reached the house he followed her upstairs and across the landing. She opened the first door they came to and stood back to let him pass. He stepped inside and looked around.
“All of the rooms except one are singles; I hope you’re ok with the size.” She said, walking in behind him. He had no complaints about the size; it was bigger than his room at his mother’s. It was decorated in neutral colours and contained a single bed, a nightstand with a red lamp, a small desk and chair, a dresser and a bookcase.
“The rent is £250 a month.” Naomi continued. “That’s bills included. All you need to pay on top of that is for your food and phone.”
He looked over the room and then turned towards her.
“What do you think?” She asked. “I know it’s not much.”
“It’s great.” He said with a smile. “I’ll definitely take it. It'll take me a couple of days to get my stuff together but I should be able to move in next week.”
Naomi’s face lit up. “Brilliant!” She said with a grin.
“I’ll go ring the landlord now and get your name put on the lease.” She flounced out of the room and down the stairs. Daniel walked over and perched on the edge of the bed.
He was pleased at finding a room, even though he only knew one of his new housemates, but couldn’t help thinking about his mum. He wondered how she was doing, whether she had made any positive changes in her life. Now he’d found a permanent place to live he realised he was going to have to get the rest of his belongings from her house. The thought of going back there after the way he had left caused a knot to form in his stomach; he hadn’t wanted to admit to himself that he had felt guilty leaving the way he did but there was no escaping it now. As stupid as some of her decisions had been in the past he had always had a roof over his head, food on the table and clothes on his back. She had always made sure of that.
Over the next few days Grace had thrown herself into her studies and been thinking of ways to help Brigitte, all the while trying not to spend too much time thinking about Elliott. She was studying for her master’s degree and was sat around a table in the university library with a group of people from her course discussing an assignment they had been sat, but Grace wasn’t paying much attention.
She checked her phone and let out a quiet sigh when she saw that she had no messages or missed calls. Although she had tried not to get her hopes up that Elliott would call she hadn’t been able to suppress them entirely. It’s not been that long. She thought. Maybe he’s waiting for things to calm down. She turned her head and looked out of the window; the room looked out over the lobby and entrance to the library. It was early afternoon, busiest time of the day and people were sat writing notes surrounded by piles of papers, queuing to borrow or bring back books, and rushing towards the computer lab to print coursework. As she studied the crowds she saw a face she recognised.
“Guys, I’ll be back in just a sec.” She said, pushing herself out of her chair.
“We’re in the middle of something.” Exclaimed a girl named Rachel in an annoyed voice. She was very thin with pale blonde hair and was infamous within the group as being the girl with the extremely short temper.
“I won’t be long.”
Grace wasn’t in the mood for Rachel today and as she ducked out of the room she heard her say, “Oh for God’s sake.”
She walked over to where she had seen Daniel and tapped him on the arm.
“Hi.” She said.
“Oh hey, how’s it going?” He was sat at a table with his laptop in front of him and various bits of paper stacked neatly beside it.
“Alright, I guess. How are you?”
“By the sounds of it better than you. What’s up?”
She pulled up a chair and sat down.
“About a thousand things. I’m trying to juggle uni and work, which is tough enough, but then on top of that I’m also trying to help my sister get better. And Elliott and I broke up.”
“Yeah he told me.” Grace looked at him quizzically. She knew Elliott and Daniel were friends - that was how she’d met Elliott - but she also knew that Elliott wasn’t the kind of person to talk about relationships with his friends. “I moved out of my mum’s and needed a place to crash; he was kind enough to put me up. It’s a bit hard to avoid the subject when you’re living with someone.” He explained.
“Oh, so how come you moved out of home?”
Daniel looked uncomfortable at the question. She knew his family life was a bit of a sore subject and didn’t want to pry but she was surprised at the news.
“It was time.” He said, and Grace decided not pursue that line of questioning.
“So what did Elliott say?”
“Not much. Just that you’d dumped him.”
“Oh don’t say it like that!” Grace said whilst Daniel laughed. “That makes it sound so heartless!”
“He hasn’t really said anything.” He replied, but when he saw the look on Grace’s face he quickly added, “But that’s not to say he’s been quiet because he doesn’t care. I think he’s upset about it to be honest. Have you heard from him?”
Grace shook her head.
He leant back in his chair and began tapping a pencil against the table. “So why’d you do it? I thought it was all going well.”
Grace explained the situation with Lorelei whilst Daniel listened quietly.
“That girl’s never going to leave her husband.” He said eventually.
“Does he talk about her then?”
“Not a lot. You know what he’s like, never gives too much away. I’ve never actually met her, maybe she’s imaginary.” He joked.
Grace rolled her eyes. “Definitely not imaginary.” She said.
Sorry these two aren't that exciting, it does pick up a bit in the next few parts I promise! I am working on the pictures for those now (as it would be cruel for me to say they are exciting and then leave you hanging lol) so they should be up in a short while.
It was a Thursday evening and both Daniel and Elliott were sat at home. Daniel started tapping his pen on the desk causing Elliott to look up from the book he was reading, one eyebrow raised. Daniel dropped the pen and got up.
“We need to do something.” He announced.
Elliott looked at him sceptically. “What kind of something?”
“Go out somewhere. Not sit around in silence like an old married couple who secretly hate each other.”
“Hey there is nothing wrong with spending a night in.” Elliott said and went back to reading his book.
Daniel sighed before speaking again. “We are going out. I’m moving out in a couple of days and all you have done the last week is sat around moping. It’s pathetic. Hence the need for escaping into the real world.”
“Go where?” Elliott said, putting down his book and pulling himself into a sitting position. He wasn’t too enthusiastic about the prospect of leaving the house. It carried with it the possibility of bumping into people he wasn’t sure he was ready to see.
“Nowhere special, just the local pub or something.” Daniel pleaded. Elliott rolled his eyes. Maybe it would be good for him to break this monotonous cycle of waking up, going to work, coming home and going to bed.
“Ok then, let’s go.” He said.
Half an hour later they were sat in the White Horse pub with strong drinks on the table in front of them.
“So, I bumped into Grace the other day.” Daniel said after taking a swig from his glass.
This news caused Elliott’s stomach to leap into his chest. A million questions he wanted to ask whirred through his mind, but he settled on the least conspicuous one.
“Oh.” He replied. “How is she?”
“Busy.” Daniel hesitated. “I kind of got the feeling she was a bit pissed off that she hadn’t heard from you.”
“She dumped me! What am I supposed to do? Suddenly start bombarding her with text messages and phone calls begging her to take me back?”
He leant back in his chair and stared at his drink. The truth was he had been thinking of calling her but had no idea if she wanted to talk to him. And what would he even say?
“Dude, she dumped you because of how you are with Lorelei. I think she has taken your silence as confirmation that she was right.”
This sentence made his stomach drop right back down again. If that really was what she had been expecting then he had definitely blown it. A week and a half was far too long... wasn’t it? “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about this now. ‘S too depressing.” He mumbled.
“So, what’s the situation with Lorelei and her husband?” Daniel asked a moment later. “You’ve never really said much about them.”
This was a subject that Elliott wasn’t particularly too keen to venture down either. He scowled. “God I hate that man. They argue all the time. He says some really hurtful things to her. It usually goes like this: they have a row, he does something to upset her, she calls me, I go pick her up, she bitches about him for a while before calming down and going back home.”
“Don’t you get annoyed by it? I mean, it doesn’t sound like they get on at all. Why the hell are they still together?”
Elliott shrugged. “Beats me.”
“What’s the guy’s name?” Daniel asked, draining his glass and swirling the ice around in the bottom.
“Sam. Sam Marlow.”
A look of astonishment flashed onto Daniel’s face.
“Do you know him?” Elliott asked.
“Man. Yeah, yeah I know him. You’re not going to believe this.” He replied. Elliott frowned.
“He’s the guy my mum has been seeing.”
His stomach leapt back up. “What?!” He exclaimed.
“Angry looking guy? Bit of a 50s throwback?” Daniel asked.
Elliott rubbed his face with his hands and pulled them back through his hair. “That is just ... brilliant.” He said sarcastically.
“I can’t believe all this time-“ Daniel started to say, but was interrupted.
“How long has your mum been seeing him?” Elliott asked, sitting forwards in his chair, a look of urgency on his face.
“A while. It’s been really off-and-on. They were together a few years ago but then he left her for another woman - who I guess now must be Lorelei – but they reunited a few months back. Are you going to tell her?”
“Of course I’m going to tell her! Wouldn’t you?”
Daniel was quiet for a while. “If it was any other guy then I would confront him and tell him to come clean before I told her. But this is a bit of a, er special case.”
Elliott stood up and began rooting around in his pockets. “Where are you going?” Daniel asked him.
“To call Lorelei.” He said, managing to retrieve his phone.
“Yes! I can’t let this go on any longer than it has. She deserves to know.” He walked outside and dialled Lorelei’s number, hoping that this would finally put an end to the shambles she referred to as their marriage.
Aw thank you KeiraLou I enjoy yours too, I love the twists you've put into the characters' stories.
Lorelei lay on her sofa watching a fly-on-the wall reality show about an ex-glamour model and her new husband.
The couple were describing in great detail how they had gotten engaged, and as Lorelei watched she felt envious.
Not of their fame or their wealth – those were things that had never entirely concerned her – but of the fact that, despite the media circus that surrounded them, they really did seem to love each other.
Just then she heard the front door open and looked up to see her husband stumble into the living room. He had spent all night at the pub with friends and Lorelei didn’t have to look at him to know that he was drunk beyond belief: she could smell the booze the second he had stepped through the door. If he was angry when he was sober, he was even worse when drunk.
“Hi darling.” She said meekly in an attempt not to provoke him. Sam merely grunted and slumped down onto the sofa next to her, picked up the remote and switched over to the sports news channel. This reaction, whilst cold, was not unusual but it made her feel uneasy nonetheless.
“Go and get me a coffee.” He spoke without even looking at her. Many women would have told him to get lost, but Lorelei knew that kind of reaction was out of the question if she wanted to avoid another row. She got up and headed into the kitchen and turned on the coffee machine when she heard her mobile phone ring from the living room.
The sound of the electronic music caused her to stop what she was doing immediately. There weren’t many people who called her anymore and she knew that Sam would look at the phone to see who it was. She stayed silent for a few moments until the ringing stopped and she was satisfied that Sam hadn’t answered it, and then recommenced making his drink. Just as she was adding sugar she heard movement by the doorway and turned around. Sam was stood there with her phone clutched in his hand looking angry. She froze.
“I thought I told you that you weren’t having any more to do with Elliott.” He said.
“I-I’ve not had anything more to do with him.” She stuttered.
“Then why the hell is he ringing you?!” His voice was raised and he took a few steps forward.
“I-I-I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him since you told me not to.”
“Don’t lie to me!” He shouted and threw her phone against the wall with such force that it shattered into many pieces. She jumped back in alarm, too terrified to respond; one hand flying to her chest, the other gripping the counter with her fingers.
“He can’t ring you if you don’t have a phone, can he?” His words were slurred and he was sneering now. His pleasure at cutting her off from the one friend she had left only too clear. “Stupid, ugly bitch. Don’t know why anyone would want to ring you anyway, who the hell are you?” He stepped closer to her and she tried to move backwards but there was nowhere left to go. She was backed into a corner and couldn’t escape. “You’re nobody. A useless, worthless, pathetic little girl.”
He looked her up and down, his face filled with disgust. “You’re not sleeping in my room tonight.” He said, and with one last glance left the room and went upstairs.
Grace knocked on Brigitte’s front door, took a step back and folded her arms whilst she waited for her sister to answer it. She had been working with Brigitte every other day since she had agreed to try and get better, and so far was feeling very proud of her sister. It had taken copious amounts of effort, persuasion and mild sedatives but they had finally managed to get Brigitte to see the doctor, something she had been dubious about initially due to the lack of help she had received from them in the past. Grace had made the appointment and had charmed the receptionist into giving her the name of a doctor who would be sympathetic and understanding. This move had paid off and Brigitte was given a prescription for some anti-anxiety medication to help keep her calm whilst she was recovering, had referred her to a counsellor and suggested attending some small group sessions at the local hospital once she was able to leave the house. Currently, Brigitte was trying to get used to just the idea of going out: Grace would describe various situations that involved her being outside and Brigitte would try to keep her anxiety levels down; something she was doing well at. Grace did not doubt that it was difficult for Brigitte, but the fantastic way in which she was coping made Grace think that perhaps Brigitte thought she was worse than she really was.
Grace frowned and knocked again. It never took Brigitte this long to answer and it bothered her. Eventually she heard movement behind the door and it creaked open. Brigitte stood before her looking particularly tense.
“Are you ok?” She asked as she stepped inside and pushed the door shut behind her. The house was dark and gloomy, the only source of light coming from a single lamp that was lit in the living room.
“I’m not feeling up to this today.” She replied, her face sombre.
“You’re bound to have off days love.” Grace said sympathetically. “That’s why I suggested only try and work on it every other day, so you don’t overdo it.”
Brigitte put her hands on her hips and started pacing the room, taking big, deep breaths. “I don’t think I can do it.” She said.
Grace wasn’t surprised by this revelation. She knew her sister would have weak moments where she felt like she wasn’t strong enough. “Of course you can.” She said. “Look at how well you’ve been doing.”
“But it’s so hard to feel like this all the time. It’s exhausting and I don’t feel like it’s getting any easier.”
“You managed to leave the house and go to an appointment. Already that is a huge step.”
“I’m just so fed up of it.” Brigitte turned and faced her, and Grace saw that the green eyes which mirrored her own were filled with tears. “I couldn’t do it before, what made me think I could now?”
“Last time you tried it was too soon after the attack, you were still affected by that. This time is different.” She walked over and put an arm around her sister’s shoulders whilst she buried her face in her hands. “Think how good it will feel when it does start getting easier.”
“I can’t think that far ahead.”
“Look, I can’t force you; that won’t work. You have to want to get better, but I think you would be a fool to give up. Think what you would gain by persevering. Do you want to stay indoors for the rest of your life? Not being able to do the most basic things for yourself. Don’t you want to be able to visit mum’s grave.” She heard Brigitte take a deep, shaky breath. She felt a little guilty at bringing up the last point but told herself that it was valid. She knew it was something that saddened Brigitte so hoped it would push her to keep her motivation. “I don’t want to upset you sis, I just want you to try and stay positive, especially when you’re feeling like this.” Brigitte said nothing. “Is there anything I can do?” She asked. Brigitte shook her head. I really hope she sticks with this. Grace thought.
Thank you for the comments always really appreciated. Sorry this one is a bit depressing and lacking in action. Things will pick up soon I promise!
“Hi, this is Lorelei. I can’t come to the phone right now so please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
Elliott sighed exasperatedly and put the receiver down with a bit too much force; the clatter it made causing his colleague at the desk opposite to glance over, clearly wondering what was going on. Elliott flashed him a grin to assure him that things were fine and started biting his thumbnail.
He had been trying to call Lorelei for three days now. When he had tried to ring her from the pub the night he found out Sam was having an affair the phone had at least rung. For the last three days all he had been getting was her voicemail and it was worrying him. At first he thought that she was screening his calls, so he had tried withholding the number but when that didn’t make any difference he started to suspect something was wrong.
He glanced around his office wondering whether anyone would notice if he ducked out for a few minutes. Discretely slipping his wallet and mobile phone into his pocket he looked across to his boss’ desk. His boss’ name was Wendy, a red faced, toad like woman who abused the tiny amount of power she had. Her nasty habit of speaking to the people who worked below her as though they were naughty, young children infuriated those she was in charge of, but when it came to people who worked above her she would be nauseatingly charming. For reasons unknown to Elliott, Wendy had taken a great dislike to him – something she made extremely obvious – and he was keen to avoid her. On seeing that her desk was empty he stood up, hurried across the office and made his way outside. If she interrogated him on his return then he would think of an excuse but for the moment he had bigger concerns.
He had managed to leave the office without bumping into anyone who might question where he was going and when he got downstairs he hurried through the front door. He headed towards the spa where Lorelei worked as a receptionist, which luckily was only a short walk away, and once there he pushed open the doors and walked inside. The smell of massage oil lingered in the air and as he looked around he spotted a woman behind the desk he recognised, but it wasn’t who he was looking for.
He walked over to her and when she saw him she gave him a smile.
“Oh hi. Haven’t seen you for a while.” She leant over the counter as she spoke, her bright blonde hair skimming the desk.
“Alright Amy.” He said. “Is Lorelei working today?”
“Yeah she’s just nipped to the ladies. She won’t be a moment. Actually, before she comes back,” She got up and ushered him into the staff area behind her. “Is everything ok with her at the moment?” She spoke in a hushed voice. Elliott wasn’t entirely convinced that she was asking out of pure concern for a colleague. No. He thought, although he didn’t say it. “I’m the wrong person to ask.” He replied.
“The reason I ask,” She paused and looked through the door before continuing, clearly ignoring his last statement. “Is she hasn’t been herself lately. She’s really quiet and jumpy, and the other week she came in with all these marks on her neck. They looked like bruises. You don’t think-“ Elliott was pretty sure he knew what she was implying, and he had a horrible suspicion that she might be right but she didn’t get a chance to finish because at that moment Lorelei appeared.
As soon as he looked at her he could see exactly what Amy had been talking about; despite trying to hide it with makeup, her face was gaunt and there were big bags under her eyes, and although she hadn’t lost any weight she looked smaller somehow.
“Elliott.” She said sounding startled. “What are you doing here?” Amy slunk back out to the desk and began flipping through a magazine.
“I’ve been trying to call you for days but your phone’s been off.” He stated.
She crossed her arms and shifted her weight onto one leg. “Oh er... it broke. I’ve not had the chance to get a new one.”
“I’ve been worried.” He said.
She smiled and let out a laugh that was clearly supposed to sound carefree but it just sounded strained and false. “Oh don’t be silly, why would you be worried? I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.”
“Well I am.” She said defensively, her voice unnaturally high. Something was definitely wrong. “So is that all you wanted?”
“No. I need to talk to you about something.”
“What is it?”
As he looked at her he suddenly remembered where he was and realised that this was the most inappropriate time and place to break the news that not only was her husband abusive, he was also unfaithful and had been for some time. “Er, I can’t really... here’s not a good place... what time do you finish?”
“Ok.” He said. “Are you able to meet for lunch?”
“Elliott I don’t know.” She said, sounding very unsure. “Can’t you just tell me what it is now?”
He shook his head. “I’ve got to get back to work; I’m not even supposed to have left.”
She bit her lip. “Ok I can meet you, but not for long. I’ve got lots of stuff to do this afternoon.”
“Great. I’ll come by here for you at one then.”
The rest of the morning Elliott deliberated over what exactly he was going to say when he met Lorelei, and as the time drew nearer he began to get nervous. As is typical, the more he wanted time to crawl, the quicker it seemed to approach and when one o’clock rolled around he was no better prepared than he had been three days ago. As he walked to the salon he was half-expecting her not to be there, but when he arrived he saw her standing outside, waiting for him.
He walked over and greeted her and the two of them headed into the park, circling it for a place to sit. Elliott gestured towards an empty bench, and they sat down. She turned towards him, unsmiling.
“So what is this thing you needed to talk to me about?” She asked. Elliott ran a hand through his hair, wishing that he had thought about this more. Ever since he’d found out, his main concern was making sure Lorelei knew but not how she would find out.
He squirmed uncomfortably and managed to force himself to speak. “Well it’s... erm... it’s er... it’s about Sam.”
As soon as he said those words she rolled her eyes. “What is it?” She said exasperatedly.
Elliott paused, still stuck for words. Lorelei looked at him, clearly impatient, her eyes willing him to continue. “He’s having an affair.” At these words she recoiled as though something revolting had suddenly appeared in his place.
“What are you talking about?” She spat out, her face strangely contorted.
“He’s been sleeping with someone else.” He wasn’t sure how many alternative ways there was of saying this.
“Who told you this?” She demanded. Elliott could tell from the tone of her voice that she was going to take some convincing.
“The son of the other woman. He’s a friend of mine.”
“Sam isn’t having an affair, he wouldn’t do that.” She said defiantly.
“Yes he is.” He replied incredulously. “And yes he would do that to you.”
She sat back and folded her arms over her chest. “I don’t believe you. I think you’re making this up.”
“Why would I make this up?”
“You don’t like Sam, you never have.”
“Yes, with good reason. How many times over the course of your relationship with him have you called me up in tears because of something that he’s said or done?”
“Just because we argue doesn’t automatically mean he’s a bad person.” She looked away and pursed her lips, clearly disgruntled. Her inability to accept the reality of her so-called ‘marriage’ was the tip of the iceberg. He didn’t mind being a friend or a shoulder to cry on, but couldn’t sit and watch her stick her head in the sand when she should be taking action.
“For God’s sake Lorelei, what is it going to take for you to realise that you need to leave him?! He is horrible to you, not just occasionally when you’ve rowed, but all the time. And now he’s cheating on you and you point-blank refuse to accept it!” He knew he was shouting and that people were looking but he didn’t care.
She shook her head. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s easy for people on the outside to judge.”
“Oh I’m not judging.” He exclaimed. “It’s pretty clear to me and everyone else what’s going on, and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Where did you get those bruises?”
“What bruises?” She said, obviously trying to remain nonchalant but her hand flew to her neck giving herself away. Up until now any suspicion Elliott had that Sam was physically abusing Lorelei had been pure conjecture, but this was confirmation for him that his suspicions had been correct. It made his blood boil.
“I knew it. I bloody knew it. How long has he been hitting you for?”
This time it was her turn to get angry. “No Elliott you don’t know anything about me or about Sam. This isn’t about him anyway, this is about you. You just can’t handle that I’m with someone who isn’t you. Well it’s never going to happen so get over it!” She furiously stood up and stormed off.
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