An Anti -Valentine’s Story

It’s Sunday morning and I’m feeling unusually positive. I exude an assuredness, like a boxer before a title fight who knows that things are going to work in his favor.

I send my girlfriend a text suggesting that she calls over at around 6:30 this evening. Yup, my girlfriend. Not a girl I’m seeing or that girl I’m dating: proper girlfriend. The plan is simple -dinner, wine and a movie.

In 2016 Sunday’s were often bleak, lonesome affairs; just me and a dreary monologue in my head. But count down from 10, turn the page, add a lady and Voila! Everything is better in the New Year!

First though: things need to get done. I tidy my room. Stray coins go back in the jar, opened books are shut and slotted back onto the bookcase, small mounds of clothes are placed in the laundry basket, the floor is swept, the shelves are wiped . When I’m done the room appears to be waiting.

Then I begin working on my next blog post. I read what I’ve written so far and it does nothing for me.  Maybe I’m just groggy after last night’s beers. I try to force something but I can’t stop looking at my phone as if it has the answers. Eventually, I turn my phone off and toss it on the bed behind me. I press on for about forty-five minutes or so and then I stop.

I get up and turn my phone back on and wait for a reply to come chiming through. It doesn’t arrive.

No matter. Keep moving.

I go for a walk. I cross the bridge to Getxo and turn right. After about thirty minutes I feel last night’s cigarettes taxing my lungs and last night’s beers swilling in my stomach.  I pass some car showrooms and come to an urban no-man’s land of huge dormant industrial complexes and slate grey sky. I try to avoid looking at my phone but it’s like a loose tooth I can’t help tonguing. There’s still no reply. I let out a sigh and turn back. The clouds begin to unburden themselves.

I feel the grimness trying to slip inside me. I pick up the pace in an attempt to keep ahead of the negative thoughts.

I’m tired by the time I get back to the apartment. I sit down and count the positives: I’ve tidied my room, I’ve done a bit of writing,I’ve taken a healthy walk and there is no reason to believe my girlfriend isn’t coming over. It’s still going to be a good day.

I get back up. I put my phone on the table and set about preparing a lasagna. I heat the pans and chop onions, mushrooms and garlic. I stop every now and then to check my phone. It’s nearly five o’clock and still no word. I carry on. The mince is nicely browned.

Ding, Ding. I wipe my hands, take a breath and pick up my phone. Three messages.

I’m feeling worse than yesterday.

I’m not going to come to your apartment today

I hope you had A PERFECT WEEKEND

It’s like a punch in the stomach. I remain calm and respond quickly.

No problem. Is everything alright? Anyway You’re doing the right thing by staying in and getting some rest.

It’s a nice, measured text. I’m a nice guy; That’s what all the girls tell me when they’re dumping me.

I get back to cooking, but all attention to detail is gone: I just want a plate of something. I go through the motions while my mind paces. What did she mean by A PERFECT WEEKEND? Am I just being paranoid or does her message carry an undercurrent of bitterness? Have I done something wrong? Why hasn’t she responded yet? These questions chip away at me over the coming hours.

I eat a lopsided lasagna. I wash my clothes.

Eventually, as I get ready for bed, I get a message. But it’s only Dee.

Researchers reckon that tomorrow is the most depressing day of the year.

Ha! I turn off the light and lay down on the bed, feeling defeated.


Something Similar? A Bit of Romance

Something Different? What is she like?


A Break-up

The kiss first appeared a few days after the second date. I was out with the lads in Dublin city and was pleasantly surprised to see a text from Kate.

1017pm Hiya. Hope you are having a good time with the boys!

Touched that a pretty girl had thought of me I bashed out a quick response, making sure Shane couldn’t see because texting a girl back straight away was a sin in his books (the ABC of Attraction, The Game, Why you are not getting laid). I didn’t see the harm.

1019pm Great Yeah. How are you getting on?

1021pm Over in Jills having a few glasses of wine. Girly night in. You going out out?

1045pm Looks like it. Lads wanna hit Coppers.

1103pm Oh there will be lots of nice girls there…

Coppers. Common perception has it that all you have to do is pay an entrance fee, buy a drink and wait at the bar for some randy single to present her-self to you. Don’t be deceived – it’s not a strip club and the only thing guaranteed in Coppers is hearing Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and having beer spilt on your shirt. I’m just saying.

I texted Kate in the taxi home. I was alone with beer on my shirt.

345am Other girls..pfft. I only have eyes for you

I woke early the next morning with a sense of nagging unease. I checked my sent items and cringed when I saw my message with its soppy sentiment and telling time delay. I lay in the bed ruing another girl gone. Then my phone burped. I ceased upon it with a haste that belied my weariness. It was Kate.

906am Aww. That’s so sweet X

Another date was arranged and soon we were meeting once, twice, maybe three times a week. By her side I felt proud, delighted and a little uneasy. Men stared at her as she walked down the street. She was petite, slim, with ample breasts and, as a friend put it, an ass that could cause car crashes. In between dates were texts loaded with lols and kisses.

Summer came about and Kate went off on a long arranged 5 week holiday with her old college crew, leaving me behind in Ireland. All going well I was going to join her for a weekend in late summer. In the meantime I was determined to keep communication positive. We texted nearly every day and talked once a week. Soon I felt comfortable enough to book my flights. Three days after, the texts dried up. I began to worry about her. All I wanted was reassurance that she was alive and having a terrible time without me. Then I received this text;

525pm Hi there! Sorry for late reply – Wild time here with old college gang. Hope you’re doing okay. Sun splitting the rocks here. Chat soon : )

Hi there? Chat soon?  🙂 ? There was a lot about that message I didn’t like, chiefly, she dropped the x, a long standing staple of our messages. It was a comfort, a reassurance, a little warmth. The absence of that character was the opposite of all those nice things, especially when I recalled that half of her college gang were male and no doubt ogling at her in her bikini. There was something up and not just their pricks. And what exactly did she mean by a ‘wild time’?

A few days later this came…

623pm One of the lads, James and I going to break away from the gang to visit a little fishing village for a few days. Enjoy the donkey derby

What I should have done is cancelled my flight, texted; ‘Here –You can go and jump,’  rounded up the gang for a session in Coppers, kissed a stranger and never spoke to her again. Kate, I mean, not the girl in Coppers. Instead, I persisted with a crazed need to be extremely positive about everything.

640pm The Donkey Derby was the best one ever. Enjoy the fishing village X

801pm Hi Kate. Listening to Pulp here. Remember that gig? Best ever X

741pm Nice photo on facebook. Is James d muscly guy you have your arms around? Been doing a bit of working out myself. You probably won’t recognise me when I get out there.X

This pride sapping approach continued until a week before the holidays. Eventually I broke and began to raise my concerns;

800am Are you sure you don’t mind me coming out?

830pm Yes. You need to stop asking me that. Of course I want you out here

840pm Why have you dropped the kiss?

1100pm Sorry I hadn’t noticed. Nite

1115pm Nite X

1125pm Oops x

She wasn’t even in the city the night I arrived. She texted some excuses that I really wanted to believe. Our meeting was underwhelming, awkward and orchestrated by Kate so that it took place in full view of the male cohort of her crew. I had hoped we would get a room together in a hotel but no, we were in a dorm room in a hostel. I was polite and made a good impression with her college crew. I was also relieved to hear James had a girlfriend back home and the few days in the fishing village never happened. I tried to cling to every positive but was only feeding denial.

When I think back I don’t recall the beautiful plazas, churches or sandy beaches. I think of strained silences, half-hearted intimacy and waiting for the chop. I held my tongue.

As the sun rose on my last morning the myriad streets belonged to the street cleaners and sombre old folk answering the church bell’s call. She walked me towards the bus depot.

‘Did you enjoy your weekend?’

‘Why do you ask?’

‘It’s just, at times, you didn’t seem to.’

‘And why do you think that is?’

‘Okay. I know you really wanted the luxury of a hotel but the hostel wasn’t so bad hey?’

‘That’s not the point.’

‘Well. What is it then?’

I let her have it.

She needed that to happen so she could feel okay about dumping me. My rant was cut short when we had to locate the correct bus bay. As the engine rattled to life she told me we should break up because rhubarb, mushroom and some other bollocks. I sighed and shrugged. We hugged.  I staggered onto the bus which ferried me to the airport. Onwards and upwards I suppose.