Just a quick note for my readers to say I've not abandoned or forgotten about this. I've been ill for the past two weeks which has been so grrr, finally feeling much better. I've got the rest of the story planned out although it's not written up yet. It'll be shorter than I originally planned (there's not a huge amount left actually!) but I hope you'll like it nonetheless. Anyhoo, just wanted to keep you up to date
Hi readers, sorry this took sooo long. Lots of RL stuff got in the way so thank goodness for Easter because I've finally had the time to work on some updates! Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy the following.
Six weeks later.
Lorelei stepped outside of her doctor’s surgery and stared straight up at the sky.
She could not remember ever feeling as lost as she did now. Her relationship with Sam was the worst it had ever been, with the days she suffered vastly outweighing the days she didn’t, and she had no one she could turn to. She had become estranged from her family and friends and felt completely alone. Most days she felt like she was drowning in a huge, black lake whilst Sam watched from the sidelines, the only person who had any control over whether she did or not. Her head would start slipping under and just when she thought she would never see the surface again, Sam would drag her back up, but only long enough for her to catch her breath before he would release his grip and she would fall straight back.
Somehow she managed to will her feet to move and slowly began walking home.
Pregnant. The word echoed around in her head. The news had come as a total shock, so surprising that Lorelei didn’t believe it at first until the nurse showed her the results of the test and she had no choice but to accept it. She had always thought she would have children but not yet, and not with someone like him. It was inevitable that overwhelming panic would hit her at some point, but at that moment she just felt numb. She didn’t know whether to tell Sam; he was a very unpredictable man whose moods would change as quickly and easily as switching on a light, and didn’t want to risk catching him at the wrong time.
As she got closer to home she could hear the waves crashing onto the beach, and saw a small group of people preparing to take a small sailing boat out. It took all her might not to run over and beg them to take her with them. The sun broke out from behind a cloud causing the ocean to sparkle, looking so inviting. She often wished she could leave this town and never come back; it only held unhappy memories for her.
As she approached the house she was too distracted by her own thoughts to notice an unfamiliar car parked outside. After fumbling around in her pocket for a few seconds she located her key and let herself in. Standing alone in her quiet living room she finally allowed herself to feel. Stumbling towards the sofa her body started to shake and tears built up in her eyes. She curled up onto it wishing that it would swallow her.
A noise from above made her freeze; she hadn’t realised that Sam was home. She quickly dried her eyes and listened out, wondering why he hadn’t heard her come in. She pulled herself up and quickly stole a glance at her reflection in the mirror, checking for signs that she’d been crying. She splashed some cold water on her face, dried it off and then went upstairs.
Lorelei felt like she’d been punched in the chest: there in front of her was her husband in bed with another woman.
There are more updates to come today, just got to do pictures.
“Where is it? Where is it?” Grace murmured to herself as she rummaged through the bookcase in her living room searching for a DVD.
After a couple of minutes she moved her attention to a chest on the floor and began searching through that instead, but when that turned up nothing she said, “Gah!” And collapsed into an armchair. When she had been unable to find it in its usual location she knew the only other place it could be, despite desperately wishing that it weren’t there. If it wasn’t for the fact that she had agreed to lend it out then she would have been happy to just leave it where it was. Not because she didn’t want to see him, but because it was easier. She looked at the clock on the microwave, wondering whether he would be home from work yet. 18:05. Should be home by now. She picked up her phone and, with her heart pounding, called Elliott. The prospect of having contact with him for the first time since they broke up caused flutters in her chest, but she didn’t know if that was nerves or excitement. The phone rang for a long time, and just when she thought it was going to go to his voicemail, he answered.
“Hi.” He said, sounding surprised.
“Hi.” She said back. She wanted to sound cool and together but any chance of that happening was squashed by her nervousness, and what she needed to say came tumbling out as though by the process of opening her mouth the words just fell into existence. “I think I left a DVD at your place, is it ok if I come and collect it?”
There was a pause before he spoke. “Sure. I’ll be home for the rest of the day.” She thought she had detected disappointment in his voice, but she wasn’t sure.
She told Elliott she would be round shortly and hung up. As she looked around for her bag she found herself debating over whether it would be a bad thing if she had a small drink to quell the sense of uneasiness before setting off. The thought, however, was fleeting and she soon realised that wasn’t a good way to tackle her problem. She found her bag lying on the floor half hidden under a table and picked it up, quickly checking that everything was still inside it. She took a few deep breaths and left the house.
A few minutes later she raised a slightly trembling hand and rang his doorbell. She wrapped her arms around her and looked down at the ground, tapping her foot, not due to impatience but apprehension. The door was gently pulled open and Elliott stood there. At that moment Grace wanted nothing more than to forget everything and throw her arms around him... but she knew that would only lead to pain further down the line. As she looked at him he smiled faintly, the expression on his face unreadable and he stepped aside as he gestured her in.
“I found the DVD.” He said as he closed the door and started walking towards the dining room. “I’ll just go grab it.”
She could tell that he was tense, and he wasn’t the only one. She felt awkward, not knowing what to say or how to behave, not knowing how Elliott felt about her. If he was upset about the break up then he wasn’t showing it, but was that just a front?
He reappeared, the shiny black case in his hand and held it out to her. She took it, careful to avoid touching his hand and put it in her bag.
“Thanks.” She said. An uncomfortable silence followed. “So.” Grace said, breaking it. “I’m going to go. Thanks for this.” She headed over towards the door.
“You were wrong.” Elliott suddenly said.
Grace slowly turned towards him, confused. “What?”
“You... you were wrong about... what you said about her.”
She just stared at him.
“You were implying that I have some sort of... unsavoury... feelings for Lorelei, but you were wrong. All she ever was was a friend who was going through a tough time and needed someone in her life who isn’t mentally unstable.”
Grace swallowed. “Oh was I now? Because from where I was standing it really seemed like I was right.”
“You think that because I haven’t called you. Look, I didn’t not call you because of that; I didn’t call you because I didn’t think you wanted me to. I’m sorry if it seemed like I don’t care, because I do.”
Her heart started pounding again. It sounded so much like what she had wanted him to say, but it didn’t make her happy. Instead she just felt like it was too much too late.
“That’s the problem though Elliott. You’re just so... you never take charge. I can see that this thing with Lorelei winds you up but you never tell her how you really feel; you just let her walk all over you. And whether you thought I wanted to hear from you or not you should have done it anyway if you really cared as much as you claim you do.”
He stepped forwards and took her hand, his touch sent electricity shooting through her body.
“I just... I’m really sorry. I’ve not spoken to her in weeks – it was a mutual decision. You were right about that part; I should have told her sooner that my life couldn’t just sit on standby any time she came running.” He stepped even closer. Grace’s heart rate got even faster and she felt as though there was nothing else in the world; as though a fog had devoured everything leaving the two of them alone in its mist. She was aware of how close their bodies were. He reached out and took her hand in his.
A harsh buzzing broke the couple out of their reverie as though someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over them, and they both stared towards the source of the noise. When Grace realised what it was she snatched her hand away.
“What the hell was I thinking?” She said with spite in her voice. “I really did just come here to collect the DVD but at the same time I also had a faint glimmer of hope that we would actually get a chance to talk, which we did, but then we get interrupted by her-“ She gestured towards Lorelei’s shape which was distorted through the glass window, “and now I realise that whilst you probably believed that what you said was true, things won’t stay this way. Nothing will really change, will it?”
Elliott simply stood there, his gaze shifting from Grace to the door, his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish.
“’Bye Elliott.” Grace turned round and wrenched open the door, not looking at Lorelei as she hurried past.
I really, really love the pictures in your story! Both the pic quality and the writing make the characters feel incredibly real. I also like how you've tied all the different characters and their separate storylines together, it's working well. Will definitely keep a read of this one.
Elliott rushed towards the door but he knew any attempt at calling Grace back was going to fail. He stood and watched her sadly until she turned the corner at the end of the road and, without turning around, said to Lorelei, “What are you doing here?”
“I caught Sam...” She didn’t finish her sentence, but Elliott knew what the rest of it should be. He slowly turned round and looked at her. She looked much worse than last time he’d seen her; he could almost see the pain radiating from her.
“And what do you want me to do about it?” He replied.
He felt a small pang of guilt when his words caused Lorelei to wince slightly, but he couldn’t help himself; he’d had enough.
“I didn’t know where else to go.”
“So you decided to pick here, even though last time we spoke you told me I was wrong when I said he’d been having an affair?” He folded his arms across his chest.
“Look I came here for help, not for you to stand there and say ‘I told you so’. I thought we were friends?” He could see the pleading in her eyes, the pleading that he had seen so many times before and that he had fallen for so many times before.
“Yeah so did I, but I thought friendships are supposed to be a two-way thing yet all you ever do is use me as a place to cool off when things get rough with Sam.”
“Elliott, please.” She whispered as tears glistened in her eyes, threatening to fall. “This is... worse than anything.”
He sighed. If this had been any other row then he might have told her to leave, that he couldn’t help her. But this was different. He gestured her inside and she flashed him a grateful smile as she walked through the door.
“Thanks, I really appreciate it.”
“So, you caught him with her?” He forced himself to ask. She nodded.
“Together, in our bed...” Her voice trailed off as she sat on sofa and put her head in her hands. “I don’t know what to do.” She whispered.
“Well you already know my feelings on the situation.” He said coolly as he sat down next to her. “And I am willing to be a large amount of money that most other people would agree with me.”
“I’m... I’m starting to think that... perhaps I should have listened to you sooner.” She said quietly.
Elliott felt like he’d been slapped around the head.
“Wait, what?! Are you saying that you finally agree with me about him?” He asked disbelievingly.
“I don’t know. I mean... I love him. I know you think I’m crazy, but I can’t help it. I just don’t think that this is something I can forgive.”
“But the shouting and the controlling and the putting you down; that you can forgive?” Elliott asked.
She looked at him quizzically.
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at?” She asked.
“I just find it odd that you’re willing to forget all the other horrible things that he’s done, but not this.”
“There’s a history with him that you don’t know about.”
She suddenly groaned quietly.
“Are you ok?” He asked.
“Yeah, I just feel a little sick. Maybe it’s the shock. Could I have a glass of water?” She asked.
Elliott made his way into the kitchen and grabbed a glass. As he stood waiting for it to fill he wondered if he was being too hard on her. Yes, the way she treated him was not ok but in this case she was right; it was worse than anything Sam had done before.
He looked down when he felt a chill through his hand and realised that the glass was overflowing. Quickly he turned off the tap and headed back into the living room, grabbing some ice cubes from the freezer on the way past. He passed Lorelei the glass and she took a few sips.
“I didn’t think you would ever want to see me again.” She eventually said. Elliott sat next to her but said nothing. “I’m sorry I doubted you. But... surely you’ve been in a position where you love someone so much that you’re blind to their faults?”
“I guess.” He uttered. She gently placed the glass on the coffee table in front of her and turned to him.
“It’s just... I feel sorry for him.”
“Are you joking?!” He almost shouted.
“Wait.” She interrupted. “Please just... let me explain. His dad was a horrible man; alcoholic and violent. He used to beat Sam’s mum and him too sometimes. That kind of upbringing is bound to make people angry and aggressive. I think he just needs someone to make him happy.”
Elliott reached up and rubbed his face with his hands.
“Oh please don’t tell me you are trying to justify what he does.” He said, shaking his head.
“I’m not trying to justify it. I’m just saying that it’s not as black and white as you think.”
“But it is Lorelei.” He was on his feet now having lost his patience.
“And you are trying to justify it. It’s like you’re saying that the guy has no freewill! So because his dad was that way it means that Sam had no other option but to grow up exactly the same?! That’s complete rubbish. If he was a decent person then he would have learnt from his past and taken the steps to make sure he didn’t turn out the same.” He walked across the room away from where she was sat. “You know, it’s a really good thing you two don’t have kids if that’s why he’s the way he is.”
Before he had even finished that last sentence he heard sobs coming from her direction. He span around, confused for a moment before realisation dawned. “Oh God. Please don’t tell me you are having his baby?” He asked.
She nodded. “I only found out today.” She managed to gasp out between sobs. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t have a child with him! The only person who’s a bigger mess than him is me.”
Elliott looked at his friend and felt overwhelming pity for her; despite his suspicions he hadn’t realised how bad things had gotten. He grabbed a box of tissues and sat beside her once more. Putting an arm around her shoulders he hugged her close to him.
“Why don’t you stay here tonight? We can talk this all through and I’ll help you with whatever you need.”
Lorelei looked up at him through bloodshot eyes.
“Thank you.” She whispered and shot him a weak smile. She grabbed a tissue and dabbed her eyes with it. “It’s been so long since anyone’s been so nice to me.”
He could see her eyes roaming his face but was completely unprepared for what came next. Without warning she reached her face up towards his and kissed him.
A million thoughts flashed through his mind. She’s your friend who needs help but she shouldn’t be doing this so why aren’t you pulling away Grace wasn’t right was she Lorelei is married married to a psychopath. It took him a few seconds before he could think clearly enough to pull away.
“What are you doing?” He spluttered. As soon as the words left his lips she quickly sat back and slapped a hand over her mouth.
“I’m so sorry.” She gasped and leapt up as though the sofa had suddenly been set alight. “I’ve got to go.”
For the second time that night Elliott watched someone he cared about hurry out of his house and away.
Daniel sat at the table slowly munching his way through a bowl of cereal. He’d been sat there so long it was soggy and he was stirring it round with his spoon wondering whether to give up on it when Naomi walked in.
“Happy birthday!” She exclaimed as she placed an envelope in front of him and put her arms around his shoulders in a quick hug.
“Thanks.” He replied with a smile.
“So, are you looking forward to going out tonight?” She asked, taking the seat opposite him whilst he nodded.
“Yeah, should be a laugh.” He took another mouthful of his cereal.
“Have you got any plans for the rest of the day?”
“Yeah.” He mumbled, and swallowed his food before carrying on. “I’m going to have lunch with my grandparents, spend some time with them. Hence the attire.” He gestured towards the shirt and trousers he was wearing.
“Are you seeing your mum?” She tentatively asked. Daniel didn’t talk about his family life to many people; it was something that he preferred to keep quiet because, as much as he tried not to, every time he spoke about it, it brought back horrible memories.
“No.” He said quickly, and stood, picking up his bowl and emptying it into the bin.
“Dan.” Naomi said in a tone of voice that he knew he wouldn’t be able to escape from. “You’ve got to tell me: what’s the deal with you and your mum?”
He stood silently with his back to her.
“I’m not trying to pry, really I’m not, but it’s your 21st birthday. I can’t imagine not seeing my parents on mine, no matter what kind of disagreement we were having.”
“It’s... complicated. Unless you’ve been in a similar situation you won’t understand.”
“My mum was addicted to painkillers. Believe me, I understand bad family situations.”
Daniel hung his head. Today was already going to be unpleasant, why not make it that little bit more so? He slunk back towards the table and slouched back down into his chair. Taking a big breath he began to talk.
“My mum found out she was pregnant with me a few days after her 16th birthday. Her boyfriend – my dad – broke up with her when he found out and she never heard from him again, not even to ask about me. Even though the guy is scum and this was over 20 years ago, she’s never gotten over it and I don’t think she ever will.” He paused preparing himself to say the one thing he had never said to anyone. “I know that my mum blames me for him leaving; she thinks it’s my fault. If I’d never been conceived then there’s a chance they would still be together.”
“Dan.” Naomi whispered. “I’m sure that’s not true, how could anyone think that about their own son? I mean... it doesn’t even make sense, if it’s anyone’s fault then it’s theirs. By the sounds of things the guy isn’t very nice and would have left her sooner or later, regardless of whether she had you or not.”
“I know it’s true. I’ve known from the first time she let her guard down. I can see the resentment on her face when she looks at me and her reluctance to be a mother only proves it even more. Most of the time she wishes she never had me, and the only reasons she wants me around are selfish ones. She’s an extremely self-destructive person and she doesn’t care that the terrible decisions she makes affect me too. There’s only so much I could take and I’ve had enough. If she wants to get in contact then she can, but I’m not going first. It’s up to her now.”
Naomi reached across the table and took his hand. She didn’t speak, just looked at him in that caring way that she did so often with her sparkling, brown eyes. He felt a warmth spread through him, instantly lifting his spirits.
“Look, I don’t talk about this with many people so I’d really appreciate it if you kept this to yourself.”
“Yeah sure.” She replied. Suddenly a shrill ringing rang through air. It took Daniel a moment to realise what it was.
“Oh that’s my phone.” He announced and got up. He felt shock jolt through his body as he saw who was calling. “Someone’s ears must be burning.” He murmured.
The last few weeks had been difficult but amazing. The wonderful feeling of being able to leave the house without feeling overwhelming panic was so liberating for Brigitte, and she knew it was all down to Grace. She still had bad days where she could barely even stand to drag herself out of bed, let alone go out, but she didn’t let them get her down anymore. She knew that they would pass and there was no point in worrying about them.
She stared out of Grace’s car window as they made the trip to the local hospital for a group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session – something she had never dreamed she would ever be able to do. Ultimately, she didn’t find the sessions had much of an effect but attended them because she got to meet other people who suffered in similar ways, and it put her at ease to see how common these problems were. The main way in which the sessions did aid her was that it made her feel less embarrassed of her condition. She knew what it was – agoraphobia – and knew that it was nothing to be ashamed of. With the help of a psychologist she had even been able to understand why it had happened to her, and combined with information she had gathered from the internet on coping strategies, she was finding the whole thing much easier to manage.
Lost in thought she hadn’t noticed that Grace had pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine.
“Hey, you in there?” Grace asked. Brigitte was grateful for her sister’s enthusiasm and perseverance. Without it she would still be sat indoors watching daytime TV. She shuddered slightly at the thought of more days filled with daytime television, like Jeremy Kyle, and almost leapt out of the car.
As they walked through the hospital corridors Grace said, “I’ve got some studying that I need to which I should have done last night, however the prospect of going out was just too tempting. I figure I’ll go study in the canteen whilst you’re at your session, then when you’re finished come and find me and we can go. Ok?”
Brigitte nodded and grabbed a few books that were threatening to fall from Grace’s arms. At that moment she couldn’t help but feel slightly selfish: Grace had lots of work to do but instead of being able to go and concentrate on it she had to drive Brigitte to appointments. She mulled this over for a moment before speaking.
“I know that this is probably a while off, but I think I should start driving again. I mean, what’s the point of having a license if I’m not going to use it? Plus it’s not fair to expect you to chauffeur me around.”
“I don’t mind doing it Brig, in fact I’m happy to help in any way I can, but if it’s something you want to get back into then I think that’s great.”
“I’m just fed up of feeling like your child or something.” She said with a shrug.
“Nah... you’re more like an elderly parent.” Grace joked and flashed her sister a grin.
“Go ahead; put me in a home if I’m such a burden!” Brigitte feigned hurt and threw a hand to her forehead dramatically. Grace laughed and gently swatted her with a book.
“If it weren’t already true I would have thought you’d actually gone insane!”
At the end of the session Brigitte glanced around the room. Most of the people had already left, and were quick to do so, but a few had hung around to chat. Brigitte had always been a bit shy and didn’t make friends as easily as other people. She had been coming to these sessions for five weeks and although the group talked and shared experiences with each other, she hadn’t ever spoken to any of them outside of this room. She went to pick up her bag when she noticed that it was stuck under the leg of the chair next to her. She tapped the chair’s occupier on the shoulder and he turned around with a smile.
“Um... my bag is caught on your chair.” She said quietly.
“Oh, sorry!” He exclaimed and moved back, freeing her. “I seem to do that every week. Maybe my unconscious mind is trying to tell me something.”
“Like what?” She asked.
“I’m not sure.... maybe it’s trying to get me to talk to people. You know, face your fear and all that?”
“Oh yeah, I know that.” She pulled herself to a standing position and the man mirrored her.
“I’m Ben.” He said, extending his hand.
“Brigitte.” She shook it.
“You heading out?”
“To the canteen.” She replied, and they made their way out of the room.
“So, how long have you been coming to these sessions?” He asked.
“Only a few weeks. You?”
“Coming up to five months now. To tell you the truth the exercises and all that stuff I don’t really find very helpful, but I’m agoraphobic and it helps to force myself to be around people you know? Like, putting myself in situations I would normally avoid.”
“Wow it’s like you read my mind. I’m exactly the same. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with that many people.”
“It’s hard at first but it does start getting easier. Some days are worse than others... but you probably know that.”
“It’s nice to speak to someone who understands. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my sister has been completely fantastic and is so understanding but unless you’ve experienced it then you just don’t get it.”
He nodded in agreement and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So, are you busy now?”
“My sister’s waiting for me.” She replied.
“Ah too bad. Well if you ever want to talk about this stuff just say so and maybe we can go get a drink or something.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks.”
“It was nice to meet you Brigitte.” He said and walked towards the exit.
She watched after him with a smile before going off to meet Grace.
Wow thanks, SchiZohybrid I'm so glad you're enjoying it.
I am hoping to get a few more parts up today - only five left - but my game seems to hate me and keeps crashing (which is why I've not changed Brigitte's clothes since the last chapter she was in) so it all depends on how frustrated I get over the next few minutes!
And for those of you who have never seen Jeremy Kyle, it's one of those tacky talk shows, where people come on national TV and air their dirty laundry. Hilarious but painful.
Daniel stood outside the cafe where he had agreed to meet his mother.
He winced as a motorbike loudly roared past and instantly regretted the last two beers he had drunk the night before. There were some parts of the previous night’s excursion that he didn’t regret however, and he smiled in memory of them. He would have loved to have stayed and reminisced for longer but he other things to do. Taking a deep breath he grabbed the handle of one of the doors and pulled it open. As he stepped inside he took a quick glance around and felt no surprise when he realised that she was nowhere to be seen. Checking his watch he saw that he was a few minutes early, so he sat down on a big, comfortable armchair and waited. He had been extremely reluctant to meet Artemis. After his conversation with Naomi on his birthday he hadn’t exactly been having warm and fuzzy feelings towards his mother, but she had been insistent and so he caved and agreed. He couldn’t deny that he was curious – she hadn’t explained her reasons on the phone – and this curiosity was definitely a major factor in his decision to see her.
It was mid-morning and the bright sun that streamed through the windows hurt his eyes. The town was in the midst of an unseasonable heat wave and the air was thick with humidity. He closed his eyes, shielding them from the rays, and tried to concentrate on staying awake. The main doors creaked open and Daniel opened an eye to see who had just entered, closing it again when he didn’t recognise the person. One thing that had surprised him about this arrangement was that Artemis had wanted to meet so early. Usually she didn’t surface until around midday. He pried his tired eyes open and checked his watch again, pulling a face when he realised that she was ten minutes late. He started wondering if she was even going to show up. Perhaps the positivity she had felt yesterday had diminished overnight and she had now decided that she couldn’t be bothered with him again.
He waited another five minutes and when she still hadn’t arrived he felt annoyance starting to build. If she’s not coming then the least she could do would be to let me know. He tapped his foot impatiently and began debating whether to give her another few minutes or to leave. Just then she walked through the door. He raised his eyebrows at her appearance; but not for a bad reason. She actually looked, well, nice. He was so used to seeing her slob around the house in tatty old jogging bottoms that the outfit she was wearing today made her almost unrecognisable. He saw her look around nervously and when she saw him she smiled.
“Danny.” She said, gingerly taking the chair opposite him. “I’m so sorry I’m late, I just got given some... bad news.”
“Care to share it?” He asked.
“Firstly I need you to understand that I’ve really been making an effort to change. I know I’ve said this before-“ She added when Daniel flashed her a sceptical glance. “But I promise, I really do mean it this time. I’ve even started seeing a counsellor.”
“But... I slipped. I’d broken things off with Sam, hadn’t seen him since that... that day. But the day before your birthday I was in town and I bumped into him. Somehow one thing led to another and... his wife caught us together.”
Daniel’s throat tightened and he felt uneasy.
“That’s not the worst part though.” Artemis paused before breaking the news that made Daniel feel like his heart had leapt through his chest. “She tried to kill herself.”
He couldn’t speak. He just stared at her, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.
“She what?!” He exclaimed eventually.
“It’s horrible and I feel so awful-“
“When did this happen?” He asked, interrupting her.
“Yesterday. Sam found her and –“
Daniel jumped to his feet, pulling out his phone. “Is she... alive?” He asked.
Artemis nodded. “Yes, thank goodness – what are you doing?”
“Sam’s wife – who has a name by the way – is a good friend of Elliott’s. He needs to know about this.”
The room in which Lorelei lay was bright. Bright white furniture. Bright yellow walls. Bright fluorescent lights. She rolled over and closed her eyes, but quickly opened them again when her mind took over. She really didn’t think she could handle that yet. Her memory of the last few hours was hazy to say the least, but there were certain parts that were so deeply etched in she didn’t think she would ever forget them.
After she left Elliott’s she hadn’t known what to do. It was dark and she was alone. She didn’t want to just aimlessly wonder the streets but she didn’t have any friends or family to go to. She knew that if she managed to find a quiet bar in which to sit that someone Sam knew would recognise her and tell him where she was; the town wasn’t big enough that this situation could be avoided. After an hour she decided there was nothing she could do but go home. It was the last place on earth she wanted to go but she had no other option. She remembered how much she was shaking as she tried to get her key in the lock and that she wished she hadn’t returned to that place. As soon as she had gotten the door open he had appeared, his eyes filled with cold, hard rage. The events which followed were painful – physically as well as emotionally – and she tried any method she could to push them away. She wasn’t ready to deal with that yet.
“Did you manage to get hold of your friend?” Artemis asked as Daniel took his seat once more. He noticed that she’d bought him a coffee in the time he’d been on the phone and his body jumped for joy at the promise of caffeine. He picked it up and took a sip, the bitter liquid burning his throat as it went down.
“Yeah. He’s going to go down to the hospital and see if they’ll let him see her.”
“I’m so, so sorry Danny, I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, the small rational part of me has always been screaming that I shouldn’t go anywhere near him, but I did. I just have no explanation for why I did those things.”
Daniel looked at his mother and immediately felt a pang of pity, although he thought he probably shouldn’t. He could see guilt written all over her face.
“If it’s any consolation I think that affair was just the icing on the cake for Lorelei. There have been troubles in their relationship from the start, and I would place good money on you not being the only woman he was seeing behind her back.”
“I just feel so terrible. I never really considered her before. I guess because I didn’t know her I could just pretend that she didn’t exist, and the fact that he left me for her just exacerbated that. But seeing the look on her face when she caught us was one of the most horrible things I’ve experienced. I never want to see Sam again and I will do everything in my power to make sure that I don’t.”
They were quiet for a moment as each sipped their coffee, unsure of what to say. They might never have been Gilmore-close but they had never felt this awkward around each other.
“So, why did you want to meet?” Daniel asked eventually.
“I thought it would be a good idea if we talked.” She replied. He nodded; he had guessed this much.
“About... what you said.” She looked at her lap. “I know I’ve made mistakes with you and I can’t change that, but I really want to try and make things better.”
“What brought this sudden change on?”
She took a deep breath and began speaking.
“When you moved out that hurt, and not just because you’d gone. It hurt because it was my fault. I’d made things so unbearable for you that you felt you couldn’t stay.” She paused and picked at the arm of the chair. “As I said, I’ve been seeing a counsellor and it’s really helped me understand a lot about myself. I won’t go into most of it but I know I’ve made some really terrible choices and a lot of that stems from your dad leaving. I was devastated when that happened and since then I’ve never wanted to let another man get close. I would always keep them at a distance, I could never trust them. Some of those feelings even transferred onto you... but I think you know that. I didn’t have another relationship until I met Sam. I’m not completely sure why I fell for him in the first place, but I think there were aspects of his personality which just reminded me of your dad and.... I don’t know, I guess I got sucked in. Then when he announced he didn’t want me anymore it just brought all of that back. I was weak and so when he called I would come running. My counsellor has been amazing. She’s really helped me sort things out and I’m finally starting to turn my life around. I’ve got a job as a secretary at an advertising firm and... I’ve sort of met someone, a guy in my office. Nothing has really happened yet, we’ve only been on one informal date, but I really think this could turn into something good and this is the main reason why I’m so determined to get Sam out of my life.”
Daniel didn’t know what to say. Although he had left with the intention that Artemis try and sort things out he hadn’t been all that optimistic that she would. He had expected that he would get a call from her in a mess and he would have to go back and clean it up. But it hadn’t happened. She really had changed. He still wasn’t sure that he would like the guy she was seeing – her previous track record wasn’t good – but at least this one actually had a job, unlike so many of the others.
“I’m... pleased for you, mum. Really. Although I have to say that at the age of 37 it’s about time.” She flashed him an apologetic grin.
“Would you... perhaps, consider moving back in?” The look on her face was hopeful but he got the feeling that she wasn’t really anticipating a positive reply to her question. He slowly shook his head.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. I’m glad you’re doing so well but I think it’s better if we stay living apart. That way we can see each other on good terms rather than seeing each other just because we’re both home. Plus, I’ve got a place to live now and I really like it there, it’s about time I moved out I think. Sorry.”
She nodded and looked down at the floor.
“I won’t lie and say that I’m not disappointed, but I understand.”
Could it really be a new start for them? Daniel hoped so.
Elliott stood outside the door that he had been directed to. The entire way to the hospital all he had been concerned about was making sure Lorelei was alright – as much as could be expected. But now he was here he felt nervous. He was used to seeing her looking upset, or scared, but he wasn’t sure how he would handle seeing her lying in a hospital bed just a few hours after nearly dying.
He gripped the doorknob in his hand and took a deep breath before turning it and gently pushing the door open. As he peeked round the door he was almost slapped in the face by the brightness of the room. Almost every single item in there was white, except the walls. They were painted a shade of pale yellow. He wondered if there was any psychology behind it: put a suicidal person in a room painted a cheery colour and hope it improves their mood. Somehow he didn’t think that would work if it was their intention. His eyes glanced around and almost immediately his eyes locked with hers. A weak smile broke out on her face, but the look of appreciation was overwhelming. He suddenly realised just how alone she had been the last few years.
“Hi.” He said gently.
“How did you know I was here?” She asked without greeting him. He walked over to the bed and sat in the overstuffed armchair by the bed.
“Daniel called me. His... mum told him.”
Lorelei pursed her lips and nodded once.
“I think I broke every single speed limit driving here.” She said nothing and the pair sat in silence for a few moments. Elliott frantically tried to think of something appropriate to say but having never been in this position before he wasn’t sure what counted as ‘appropriate’. As his eyes scanned her face he could practically feel the pain radiating from her, but at the same time there was a faint feeling of resolve. He couldn’t help himself, he had to ask.
“What happened, Lor?”
“Years and years of emotional damage.” She said with a sigh. He waited.
“When I left yours there was nowhere else for me to go but home, as much as I didn’t want to go there. As soon as I stepped through the door I knew it was a bad move. He went for me.” She paused and he could see that she was choking back tears. Again, he waited. “Afterwards I was a wreck. It was like everything that had happened over the last few years was pressing onto me and the only way of freeing myself was to just end it all. Sam brought me here; I guess he has emotions other than rage after all.
“There was this nurse. As soon as she saw me once I’d come round she knew there was friction between Sam and me, and she managed to get him out of the room so she could talk to me. It all came out. She was amazing; I could talk to her without being judged.” Elliott opened his mouth to speak but Lorelei held up a hand to silence him. “Elliott, please understand that I am so grateful for all you’ve done but I’ve felt like I’ve had to hold back with you. Yes, I know that staying with someone who behaves like he does is stupid, but you don’t know it feels. It is so easy to say ‘just leave him’, but it’s far more difficult in practice. He had completely isolated me from everyone who had ever cared about me. I had no friends left, except you, and all my family were far away so it was easy to lie to them and tell them everything was alright. He made me feel like the most worthless person on the planet, like everything that he would do to me was all my fault. I honestly believed that I couldn’t leave.
“The nurse – Lauren – asked me what I wanted to do. She told me that if I wanted to then I could press charges against him. At that moment I just wanted him away from me so I said I did, and she called the police and they arrested him.”
“Well, that’s great... right?” His initial thought was that this was good news but when he saw the doubt on her face he wasn’t sure.
“I guess. It doesn’t really solve anything though, does it? To be perfectly honest I think I’ll drop the charges.”
“Why?!” He asked in surprise.
“Because for one thing it probably won’t even go anywhere; it’s my word against his, there’s no evidence to prove the things he’s done. And secondly because I just want to be rid of him as soon as possible, but if I pursue this then he’ll still be in my life until it’s over and who knows how long that will take?”
“But, you’re having his baby. That’s the biggest tie you could ever have to him.” As soon as the words left his lips her face changed, and at that moment he knew why. “Shit. I’m so sorry Lor. I should have made the connection, I... sorry I brought it up.”
“It’s ok... This might sound awful but... in a way I’m glad. I’m in no shape to bring a child up and most certainly not with him. It makes things easier.”
“If you’re going to drop the charges what are you going to do about living here, in this town? You’re bound to bump into him sometimes.”
“I know that. Which is why I’m moving.”
Elliott felt his heart sink into the pit of his stomach.
“I’m going back to live with my parents, they’re on their way down here to collect me now.”
She obviously saw the surprise and sadness that Elliott was feeling, and took his hand.
“I’ll really miss you, Elliott. You’re the only person I could count on through this whole horrible ordeal. I also wanted to say, I’m really sorry for... making a pass you. That was a stupid thing to do and wasn’t fair. I’d really just like to forget it.”
He waved a hand in which he hoped was a nonchalant manner and said,
“It’s forgotten. Do you need any help with packing your stuff? I am more than happy to go to the house and pick it up. Maybe break something valuable of his whilst I’m there?”
For the first time since he’d arrived Lorelei gave him a smile which reached her eyes.
“Nah, I’ve got it sorted. And I think my mum has snagged breaking duty. You’ll come and visit me up there, won’t you? It’s only two hours away.”
“Of course I will. I just can’t believe you’re moving.” He stopped talking and looked at his hands. “I think it’s for the best though. Hopefully it will give you the chance at a fresh start.”
“That’s what I’m hoping.”
Aw thank you guys I apologise for my lameness in updating this. There is only one part left which is all written, I just have to do the pictures which I would have done tonight but my game crashed AGAIN! I think the NH has had it tbh. I shall try and get them done tomorrow. Thanks for your comments
Grace sat and stared at her laptop screen. She had tried reading the chapters she needed to read but it was a subject she didn’t have much interest in, and as a consequence her concentration had waned and she had turned her efforts to people-watching instead.
A few of the customers sat eating meals were clearly patients; they were wearing the oh-so-flattering blue and white hospital gowns. The majority of diners, however, were visitors, here at the hospital to spend time with a loved one. The scene in front of Grace brought back unpleasant memories. Memories of when her mother, Kathleen, was here just three years ago. The diagnosis of cancer had come as a shock, but not as much of a shock as learning just how little time she had left. It had been a struggle to get her to the hospital. Her stubbornness was holding her back, but not as much as her fear. Grace recalled one night when she had come over to give Brigitte a break. She was downstairs watching an old movie with Kathleen when she suddenly turned to Grace and told her that she was scared. She knew that her insistence on staying at home was fruitless but she also knew that moving to the hospital meant the end was near and she wasn’t ready to go yet. Grace had vivid memories of sitting in this very room drinking watery coffee, just staring, unable to comprehend that she was never going to see or speak to her mother again...
The doors to the canteen opened and the person that walked through snapped Grace back to the present day, making her do a double-take. What was Elliott doing at the hospital?
She went to wave but stopped herself. It had been six weeks since she’d last seen him and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to speak to him. She wasn’t sure how she felt. She pondered it for a while, watching as he picked out a drink, but before she had the chance to make a decision it was made for her; as he turned around after paying, he saw her and stopped dead in his tracks. After a brief pause he gave her an awkward smile and headed over.
“Hi.” He said when he reached the table. “Didn’t expect to see anyone I knew here.”
“Ditto.” She replied and gestured for him to sit down. He tentatively took the seat across from her.
“So... everything ok?” She couldn’t deny being curious as to why he was here but she didn’t want to just come out and ask; that would be rude.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m just here visiting.” He replied cryptically. She probed further.
“Family or friend?”
He sighed and looked away, raising his arms and putting them behind his head.
“Look before I tell you why I’m here there’s a story behind it, and it will only make sense properly if I tell the story in order. Ok?” She was surprised by this statement and so nodded without saying a word. He leant forwards across the table, took a deep breath and began to talk.
“Remember that night you came over to get your DVD back?” Vividly. Grace wanted to say, but she held back and just nodded again.
“Well, when Lorelei turned up I was as surprised as you.” I wasn’t surprised at all. She thought, but again didn’t voice it.
“The last time I’d had any contact with her was a few weeks before when I’d tried to tell her that Sam was having an affair. She didn’t want to listen, we had an argument, she stormed off and we’d not spoken since. She’d come over because she’d had pretty concrete confirmation that I had been right.”
Elliott didn’t need to explicitly state what he meant by that last remark; she understood.
“We talked and she was finally sounding like she started to get it, you know? Finally understanding that it isn’t ok for him to treat her like he does. All of a sudden she makes a pass at me. When I told her it was... inappropriate, she got upset and ran off.” Wow, totally did not see that one coming. Grace was still convinced that Elliott’s feelings towards his ‘friend’ were not reciprocated, but she understood the things shock would do to a person. She could not judge someone in that position, she had been there once.
“I didn’t hear anything from her. Then Dan called me saying that she’d taken an overdose.”
Grace’s hand shot up to her mouth.
“Shit, Elliott. Is she... ok?”
“She’s alive, if that’s what you mean. But as for ok, I think it will be a while before she feels good again.”
He looked at her and she felt a faint flutter in her stomach. She wasn’t sure what it meant.
“So... she tried it on with you?” She asked, not sure what she was hoping for by bringing this point up.
“How did that make you feel?” She cringed at herself for asking this question. She sounded like a psychologist in a bad TV show.
He didn’t answer immediately, simply rubbed his face with a hand.
“Not how I thought it would.” He eventually admitted. “I still maintain that you weren’t fully accurate in your opinion of our relationship.” She knew that by ‘our’ he was referring to himself and Lorelei. “But at the same time I wasn’t fully accurate in my opinion of it either.”
“What do you mean?” She asked, feeling dense. Normally she was more on the ball than this, but the slight hangover which had been threatening to get worse all morning was starting to make good on its threat and was having a negative effect on her cognition.
“I mean... I didn’t see her as just a friend, like you said. But I didn’t see her in a romantic way either. I liked her more than just a friend but I knew that we’d never be together, like that. I don’t think I’m explaining this properly.” He muttered.
Taking a sip of his drink he stared up at the ceiling whilst he contemplated what he was going to say. “It’s like... like we were beyond the point at which that could ever happen. Does that make sense?”
Grace nodded again. She finally understood how she felt.
“I think... I think it’s the same with me and you.” She said.
He looked at her, a look on his face that she couldn’t quite read.
“I still like you Elliott, but too much has gone on for us to be together. It’s one of those situations where your feelings alone can’t make a relationship work.”
It was his turn to nod. Neither of them spoke for a while. They knew their romantic relationship was over, but there were the startings of a different relationship between them. And that was just fine with Grace.
*** The End ***
Well that's it, all finished! I hope you enjoyed it, and didn't think the ending was too brief. I did think about doing an epilogue chapter a year after the end but couldn't think of a way of making it not really cheesy so decided against it. If you've got any comments they are more than welcome
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