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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Romance – Part four


2010
03.29

Entry by Michael Frearson

I sat down in my chair and let him keep hold of my hand.
“Okay,” I said.  “I don’t have time for this.”
“Time for what?”
“I’m hungover.”  My head was throbbing.  I just wanted to go back to bed.  “Just leave me alone.  I’ll catch up with you this afternoon.”
He let go of my hand and folded his arms across his chest.  “What?”
“I’m late.  I feel like shit.  I’ve got work to do.”  I spun my chair round and switched the computer on.  “Where’s your desk?”
“I don’t think I have one.  Ethan said you had to show me round.”
“Yeah.  Well come back to me after lunch, when I’ve had time to get some coffee in me.”
“What am I going to do ’til then?”  He screwed his face up into an annoying defensive frown.  Surely he should have grown out of that by now.
“Go and chat up the receptionist.”  I stood up and grabbed the mug off my desk, then pushed past Karl and went through the door into the kitchen area.  I felt him watching me leave.
The kettle boiled violently at my side as I leant over the sink and took some deep breaths, trying to stop my head from spinning.  He’d had the sense not to follow me in.
The coffee was bitter, strong but watery at the same time.  No matter how sweet you make it, instant coffee can never taste of anything but piss.  My stomach wouldn’t settle.  I ran the cold water from the tap and then filled up a pint glass.  I drank half of it in one go, then filled it up again, and took both vessels back out into the office.
Karl was nowhere to be seen.  I sat down at my desk and began to log in.  A head poked over the cubicle wall.
“Who’s the mystery man?”
“Julie – why don’t you ask him yourself?”  I kept my eyes on the screen and opened up my Outlook.  Julie disappeared.  I looked out of my cubicle to see which way she was going, but she was already gone.
Twenty unread messages.  As I looked at the list, another one popped up.

from                                         subject
Ethan Morris                         Wednesday’s Copy

I closed my eyes and hoped it was a bad dream.

My stomach was grumbling by eleven, and come midday I was feeling completely hollow.  A walk down the road to the sandwich shop would clear my head a bit and fill my stomach too.  I switched off my computer and opened the drawer to get my handbag out.  When I straightened up again Karl was stood outside my cubicle.
“Hi.”
“Hi.”
I stood there and let him stare at me.  I refused to let it bother me; all I wanted was something hot and filling in my stomach to keep me upright and stop my insides from churning.
“I’m going out for lunch,” I said.
“Good,” he said.  “I was just about to invite you out with me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know the area very well.  I’d really like some advice about where to get a good sandwich from.”
“Karl –”  I looked around at the other cubicles, conscious of our proximity to so many ears.    “Okay,” I said, “let’s go.”
I walked out of the office with Karl in tow, and didn’t look back until I was out on the street.  He was right behind me.
“This way,” I said, and crossed the road quickly.

We sat in The Clock Café, finally drinking a proper coffee, waiting for our sandwich meals.  He hadn’t said much, and I’d said even less – just concentrating on breathing and nursing my head.  Then the waitress came and delivered our food with a smile; she checked him out – I saw it – and then left without another word.  She didn’t give me a second glance.  When she was gone he raised his head and spoke.
“Look, I’m sorry I pissed you off this morning.  I didn’t realize you were in such a bad mood…”
“Yeah, well I’m sorry if I was a bit shitty.  I woke up feeling like death this morning, and it’s been all downhill since then.  It just wasn’t the right day to run into you.”
“No, I guess not.”  He took a bite of his sandwich.  “So what were you doing last night?”
“What do you think I was doing?” I said, frowning at him.
He winced and said, “Ordering a donner and shish mix…urrghhh.”
I let him smile at his own joke, since he’d gone to the trouble of making it.  “So you don’t remember, then?”
“Remember what?”
“We celebrated my birthday on five separate occasions, but that’s not enough for you to remember it.”  I took a big bite of my tuna sandwich – so big that I had trouble chewing.  I automatically raised my hand to my mouth.
Karl smiled and reached into his pocket.  “Of course I didn’t forget.”  I watched him pull out a small parcel and lay it on the table.  “Happy birthday,” he said, and I looked at it, sitting there on the table between us.  When I looked up again I noticed how smug he’d become.
“What is it?”
“Open it and see.”
I began to feel suspicious.  I picked up the parcel and turned it over in my hands, looking for a point of entry.  He sat back in his chair as if settling down for an evening’s entertainment.  I looked over at him as I tore the paper away.  Underneath was a small, neat box.
“I hope this isn’t cufflinks,” I said.
“No,” he said quietly, then leaned over and opened the box to me.
I looked hard at it, there on the table, and I took a breath and tried to find something to say.  Karl had begun to tap his foot on the floor.  There was only one sentence revolving in my mind, and I didn’t know where else to start.
“What the fuck is that?” I said.

Romance – Part three


2010
03.29

Entry by J P Shaw (13 Feb 07)

“I entered my boss’s office. The coppery taste of my own blood rested against my tongue. I had bitten my lip, hard, as I stepped up behind the man who remained seated with his back to me in the chair.
“You look awful!” My boss said. If I’d had an anvil, I gladly would have dropped it on his head for the announcement. I should have pinched my cheeks harder on the ride in this morning. But at least I had on matching shoes, now.
“I want to introduce you to a new member of our staff.” My boss pointed to the man sitting with his back to me. It was the moment I had been dreading from the minute I’d peeked through the office window, seeing him sitting in the chair, comfortable and relaxed.
“Hello, Quinn.”
My stomach lurched hearing him speak my name. I wanted to throw up. I would have, too, if there had been anything in my stomach other than a mixture of large quantities of alcohol resting peacefully at the bottomless pit of my mid section, still sleeping off my birthday celebration. I did not want to wake a sleeping giant. So, I bit my lip again to keep control. Besides, how embarrassing would that be? Hello Karl-and then spewing chunks. Nice.
“You two know each other?” Ethan turned to me.
Ethan Morris, my boss, and of course also attached to the list below Jennifer Aniston, and above Grace from Will and Grace, younger than me. A good guy, Ethan looked pleased.
“Quinn and I go back. Don’t we?” Karl said, his eyes focusing upon my face that didn’t need any pinching now. And again I felt like kicking myself for not putting my make-up on properly before leaving this morning. I was certain I was three shades crimson, and perhaps a little violet, too.
It was always that way, thinking back, between Karl and I. No matter where we were, I’d catch him, just staring at me. Karl always had an intent look upon his face as though he were dissecting a small animal caught in a vice. But then-he’d smile. He’d smile, and my entire body would liquefy immediately. Put us together, and I could whip up a margurita in seconds with the way my body reacted toward him. I’d be the hit of every party.
Together.
We’d already been-together. And flashes of the past came reeling back to me. Karl and I in Paris, bungee jumping in Rome, skiing in Vancouver, skinny dipping in Mexico, and making love all night long beneath-.
“Quinn?” Ethan called my name. I wasn’t sure how many times he’d said it before I actually registered he was talking to me. Embarrassment flooded my face. “It’s good you two know each other. That makes this easier. .”
Makes what easier? My eyes rounded with each syllable Ethan danced around me. And then he said, “You two are going to be working together on the new column. I’d like you take Karl around. Show him how you work, and spend some time catching up with one another. And since you already know each other. This is going to be great! I want first copy on my desk by Wednesday.”
I stood motionless. My legs floated beneath me like puffy white clouds twirling a waltz in the air. I scanned around the room, hoping Ashton Kutcher would jump from behind Ethan’s desk to tell me I was being punked.
Who was I kidding? I was not a celebrity, in any sense of the word. I had to face reality. This was my life. I was a reporter. I had a column to do. My boss had just introduced to me my writing partner, who happened to be a man I’d shared a bed with for nearly five years.
It was a relatively simple concept to adjust to, and yet somehow my brain felt like Tweedy Bird swallowed by Sylvester behind Granny’s back.
This couldn’t be happening.
I stormed out of the room, quick on the heels of my white-laced Reebok’s, headed straight for my desk. I passed Jules along the way. I could tell by the look on her face she wanted to know why I was reeling with anger, needing to know every gory detail to what just transpired in our boss’s office. Well-I wasn’t going to say anything. Not to anyone.
And then it hit me. I couldn’t work with Karl. We had a history. We’d lived together for crying-out-loud! Wasn’t it unethical or something?
I had no idea what I was going to do. I could storm back into Ethan’s office and spill my beans about my sordid past with Ethan’s new acquisition. No, I thought. That would be worse than standing in the room, before, listening to Ethan tell me the news, and seeing Karl again.
“So-.” The deep voice said from behind me. I was gripping my chair, which was a good thing, because I was ready to claw the roof. Just hearing the slow, sexy tone, caused the temperature of my body to go up faster than an Oak tree caught in an unfortunate summer blaze.
“So, what?” I replied, turning to face him. Karl leaned against the side of my cubicle. It was then I noticed how much older he looked. Not in a bad way, mind you, not even close. He looked more-mature.
Dressed casual, blue jeans and a black cashmere sweater, which did everything to outline his perfect physic, and nothing to squelch the fire I was feeling just looking at him. Silvery strands dusted his charcoal locks slightly. I liked it. It made him look more refined, and sexy. If that were even possible, which judging from the way my foot began to tap nervously. It was.
“Look-Quinn. I know this isn’t easy. .”
I stifled the laughter that bubbled up from my throat, once again biting my tongue, hard. Easy! He had no idea. Easy was when you had to wash your car for the afternoon in the sun. Not an entire parking lot, which is what I’d have to wash the moment I got home, to cleanse myself. Just being this close to him after all this time made me feel grungy with memories from our past. How it ended, and how ugly things had gotten between us.
“We can’t work together,” I said with straightforwardness.
“Why not?”
Karl was amused. The corners of his eyes always turned up whenever he watched me struggle with my words, as I was doing right this very second. He was enjoying this-the bastard!
“Mmmm, let me think,” I said. “Uhh, could it be because I hate you!” I told him. The next sound I heard was laughter. Not my own either. His.
Karl chuckled from deep in his throat, low and husky. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with him, let alone finish this conversation if he kept doing that.
“You don’t hate me, Quinn.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact-I do!”
“No you don’t.”
“I do,” I repeated with frustration.
“No-you-don’t.” Karl paused, his smile deepening. A hint of rebellion twinkled his baby blues, and reaching down, he grabbed me by the hand. “And I’m going to prove it to you.”

Romance – Part two


2010
03.29

Entry by Uhurina Swann (19/07/06)

My head swam and my stomach lurched as I made it to my feet. Sun blared through the sheers lighting the whole room and making my head feel like a split melon drying in it. I walked past the full-length mirror on the way to the loo my hair looked like someone had rolled it in fat greasy bangers. What did I do last night? I held my head to keep it from falling off my shoulders, as I watched puss walking down the hall shaking her back leg as she mewed at me. “Sorry puss” I muttered as I continued to the loo. I splashed cold water on my face making the mascara run even more.  “Lady I wish you would just bugger off.”  It was then I noticed the torn end of a photo stuck to the Lady’s paw. It had Karl’s head sticking out between her claws. I sat down hard on the chamber pot and pulled Lady into my lap. I pulled the photo off as flashes of last nights picture tearing tantrum came into my mind. I dropped Lady. Hangover forgotten I ran straight for the litter box. There they were: years of photos, torn, wet with cat piss, and half buried. Tears rolled down my cheeks. How could I have done this? They were all I had left. Lady mewed and rubbed against me, wanting breakfast, as I looked unseeing into the mess.

I started to remove the photos. One of us in Paris was not torn or pissed on; it was just dusty. The rest were unsalvageable. I wiped the dust from his face on my black skirt and placed it on my dresser. Opening draws I pulled the first thing I saw out, a thick aron sweater and gray wool slacks. I headed straight for the shower. I was feeling the hang over again. Hot water cleared my head and washed the birthday residue down the drain. I dressed and pulled my hair in to a wet knot on top of my head. I was still feeling foggy.

I ripped open the bag of cat food left it on the floor. I grabbed my bag, ran out the door stopping at the chemist on my way. I swallowed the pills with spit. They were sticking my throat and I wished I had bought a water too. The coach was late, now I could not possibly get there before nine. I sat on the coach and people stared at me. “What the bloody hell you looking at?”  The old woman was in just as good a mood as I. She said, “Well, deary your sweater is open and…” I never heard the rest of what she said. I start buttoning it up I forgot to put on a blouse and realizing this I noted my knickers as well. Everyone could see me blushing as I could feel the crimson run up to my face. Why didn’t anyone say anything? Not the chemist – no wonder his eyes were popping – nor the people at the coach stop who acted as if they had never seen boobs before in their lives. How is it that no one hit on me then, or the bobby did not arrest me for a common whore? I pulled a mirror out of my bag. I regretted not taking the time to put on my makeup as well. My eyes were red rimed and I looked shagged. I powered my face pinched my cheeks for color and added lipstick, eye paint, and mascara. I could feel them still looking at me. What else could be out of place?

I got off the coach and walked the last three blocks to the office. The lift took forever. I wanted to get into the toilet before I saw anyone I knew. I checked my face; not great but better. My sweater was buttoned straight, pants zipped. I check the back for a split. It was then I looked down my shoes were different not navy and black different. Really different. “I must be daft.” I said to myself. My right one was teal the shade of my sweater but the left was hot pink with an open toe. If I did not have so much work to do I would just leave. I did not cry; I had just fixed my face.  They were the same height I could not tell when walking. No wonder the bobbies left me alone. No self-respecting prostitute was about at this hour nor did they wear mismatched shoes. Thank God I have shoes in my desk.

Good the receptionist is on the phone. I made it to my cubical without seeing anyone else, kicked off my shoes and before I could get the others out of my drawer Julie came around the edge and said, “Late this morning are we?” I hate her.  She looks like she slept all night, hair perfect, and her shoes matched. I scowled at her and she was undaunted. “Better hurry the boss is looking for you.”

I put the shoes on and walked to his office, could the meeting have been moved up. I hope not. Through the window, I could see him talking to another man whose back was to me. He looked familiar. Oh bloody hell! It can’t be. I turned around as if someone else were speaking with me from another cubical, to give me time to think and pick my mouth up off the floor. Smile, I reminded myself as I turned around. More bees with honey. I knocked on the door, smile in place.

Romance – Part one


2010
03.29

Not only was it my birthday but it was my twenty-ninth, something I took great exception to considering it was neither my thirtieth, thus making it a big celebration faked through by women the world over, or anything closer to twenty. Twenty-nine is a birthday only its mother could love. The birthday looked forward to by no one except maybe one of your friends who’s at least six months younger than you, and therefore supposedly qualified to buy you a happy-birthday-you-sad-old-bag card, the first of many to come.
It was the birthday night out that tore me between wearing a cool Topshop outfit and an elegant Monsoon dress (they’re so timeless); between a pashmina and a bloody well warm coat, (I don’t care if it doesn’t match anything – it’s minus four out there); and slathering on anti-wrinkle cream under my No7 makeup. I’m a grumpy insecure teenager in a woman’s body (which I may add is also doing things I didn’t give it permission for), and it’s just. Not. Fair.
I’m younger than Gwyneth Paltrow for god’s sake. Sarah Jessica Parker, Grace in Will and Grace, that glamorous Scottish newsreader, Madonna and Jennifers Aniston and Lopez. Ok, I only scrape by on the last two but it’s still true. What on earth have I got to complain about? Plenty of women don’t do what they really want to do until they’re thirty and I bet they’re the ones who grow into their faces.
My mum always says that everyone has their ‘time’, whether it’s when they’re young or old. Some people are beautiful as children and grow up into wasp-chewers, similarly, those less blessed when they’re young will always have a period of years later on when they shine. I have decided mine will be my thirties.
As soon as the cream kicks in.
I went out with Julie, someone from work who only started a few weeks ago, who I like, obviously, and have an alarming amount in common with and all the usual stuff. But mainly the reason she came was that she was still in the early stages of trying to be friendly at work and everyone else was too married to go out on a Monday night.
It was ok, but extremely unwild. Monday’s a funny night to go out to my usual pubs and early-thirtyitis kicked in to prevent me trying something new when Julie suggested it. We got plastered, had a laugh and then, obviously got a bit maudlin, but on the whole it was ok if not momentous.
All right, since it’s only us here, it was awful and I never again want to have another birthday. At least not one without a large, well-planned party and possibly a celebrity or two who are dying to meet me. But only if.
The worst thing, the absolute dog-arse thing about my twenty-ninth birthday night out with Jules was that I ran into Karl, not in a cool basement bar as I’d planned in my head, but in the chip shop after coming out of Kucamara’s, while Jules dragged me to the front of the queue, boobs first. She knew instinctively that he’d walked in by the subtle way I grabbed her arm and said, (on reflection, pretty much shouted);
“Bloody hell. Bloody, bloody hell!”
My reaction was not unprecedented, nor was it unreciprocated.
“Shit,” said Karl, and walked out.
Thirty years on this planet, I thought later, walking home in the drizzle. Thirty years of experience and considerable knowledge and that’s what it comes down to in moments of extreme drunken stress. A man and woman who at some point shared the same sock draw, when ambushed, can only come up with a few syllables of expletives. Sad really, I thought.
“Bugger,” I said aloud proving my point majestically.
So, I got home and decided to go all the way. Find out exactly how sad I could be now I was the big three-o. Sad enough, apparently to line the cat litter with pictures of Karl, (go puss, go), smear half a pot of marmite on four slices of toast and fall asleep watching The Thing or The Wicker Man or some other late night weirdy on the telly. That’ll show him.
Yup.
I woke up, freezing because I had left the front door open, and had the most horrifying thought known to civilised woman. One banging hangover doth not a Saturday make.
In fact, I remembered with agony, I was smelling of vodka and covered in crumbs and marmite because it had been my birthday, and far from being a Saturday, that would make it…
“Tuesday,” I groaned weakly. “It’s only Tuesday.”


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