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My debut...

by samlord 

Posted: 19 August 2003
Word Count: 3526
Summary: betrayal, love, loss... (not necessaryily in that order)

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He wouldn’t look me in the eye, no matter what I said he couldn’t look at me.
‘Was it worth it?’
He cringed, and laughed a sort of ridiculous laugh ’Please Kath, how can you ask such a…’
I slapped him hard across his left cheek before he could finish the sentence. He winced and put his hand up to his cheek. I couldn’t help feel bad for hitting him, I couldn’t help but love him. I hit him again harder. My hand met his tears as they rolled down his cheek.
How could you, what was going through your head? You especially, after every thing?’

We had met when I was still a student at Guildhall, working part-time for peanuts in a pretension little bar in Soho, full of second hand sofas and over sized candles. He was drunk at the bar when I started my shift and he was still there when I finished five hours later. I took him home. We made it back to my shared house and managed to get up the five floors of narrow stairs to my small but cosy room in the attic and fell onto the bed. As I began to kiss him, he began to cry. Not silent tears but huge, heavy, heaving sobs that attacked his whole body. I sat for a few moments not knowing what to do, and then I did the only thing I could. I held him as he cried and cried. I woke at 4am as it was getting light outside, the sky a pale grey. I looked down at him still lying on my lap, knowing that I wanted to wake up with this man for the rest of my life. I didn’t even know his name.

The next time I woke up the sky was blue and I could hear the bustle of early morning traffic. He was sitting on the end of my bed, with his back to me, his head in his hands. I got up and sat beside him, he told me his story before I spoke a word, as if he had to explain, or maybe he just needed to tell some one. The day before he discovered his wife of two years, two wonderful beautiful years, was expecting their first baby. He would normally have got up with her and gone to work in the Surveyors Company he part-owed but it was his day off. He woke late and after showering he shaved. The razor was blunt and sore on his skin and he threw it away, in the bin he found a pregnancy test, along with the box and instructions, it was positive.

He immediately called his father and told him the news and hurriedly dressed. He went to the florists and bought an over priced and lavish bouquet of pink, pink was her favourite colour, flowers and headed to town where she worked, booking a table in Lorenzo’s, the restaurant he had proposed in, on the way. He entered her office and saw her at the fax machine, drumming her fingers against the desk. He walked over, kissed her neck and reached his arm around her waist, touching her stomach.
‘David you rascal, not here please,’ She turned round. ‘Andrew’
He didn’t understand at first, he watched her face, her expression of horror turn to a nervous sort of tight smile that he didn’t recognise as hers and watched her eyes dart around the office. He turned around and followed her gaze to the desk where a man he vaguely
recognised was seated. The brass nameplate read David Willard. Things began to speed up and slow down at the same time, he thought he was going to throw up or fall over but instead he turned back to her, she was looking at him now. She began to talk in hushed tones, there were tears in her eyes but her couldn’t hear the words. He turned and walked slowly out of the office, he dropped the flowers on the reception desk and walked out the revolving doors. He was walking towards his car when it hit him, the test, she was pregnant and she hadn’t told him, of course she would have told him. He yelled and screamed and banged his fists against his car and slide down the side of it. She was having a baby, not his baby. Not trusting himself to drive he walked away from the car and after hours of wandering aimlessly, found a little bar, full of second hand sofas and over sized candles and ordered a drink.

He apologised for crying, he got up to leave and I almost let him. He got to the bottom of the stairs, apologised again and opened the front door before I kissed him, hard and urgently, closing the door with his back, pushing him against it. That was two and a half years ago and we had not slept apart a night since.

He divorced his wife; he refused to see her and had only spoken to her twice since the day at her office. He had collected his things one afternoon a few days after it had happened, when she was at the office, she had left him a note. He had brought it home, showed me and then ripped it into small pieces. It had said ‘Andrew, I didn’t mean for it to happen, it just did. Graham has left you lots of messages, he sounds worried, call him’
Graham was his father. He made the call and had to listen to his father trying to hide that he was crying when he told him what had happened.

We didn’t have sex for a long time. We would sit and he would talk and I would listen. He would tell me the last thing he wanted was a relationship. Nothing could ever happen between us. He loved his wife, and it wasn’t a case of them getting back together, that could never happen now but he wasn’t ready to love again, not yet. I would nod and agree and tell him I would wait until he was ready, until he could love me and that I would not let him go, ever.

Eventually he began to hold me as we slept and I would catch him watching me as I dressed or put on my make up. Then one night six months after we had first met, he gave me a card in a little purple envelope, I opened it and read the message, Thank you, in his messy scrawl, was all it said. I hugged him tightly and he pulled my face to his with his hands and began to kiss me softly, then harder and faster, we made love for the first time and before I fell asleep he whispered in my ear
‘I really really love you’.

We moved into our own flat six weeks later. We would sit up night after night and learn all there was to know about one another, what we were like as kids, what we liked to eat, what kind of books we read. We would tell stories and laugh and cry, I told him how I had nearly lost my mother the year before when she suffered kidney failure. He told me how he met his wife, when they married, how they had planned to have children. We were both huge fans of Van Morrison and The James Taylor Quartet and both loved Colin Bateman novels. We both loved Indian food and hated Jamie Oliver. He loved marmite and I hated it. It was Perfect, up until now.

I was working in a software company. I had taken the day off work and had gone to see my parents, my mother was poorly. I had planned to stay the night but couldn’t bear the thought of being apart from Andrew, it was past midnight and I had just got back, tired and weary after the long drive. He was sitting in the front room, the lights were off.
‘Andrew you scared me, I thought you would be in bed?’
He looked up at me, not meeting my eye and his face was streaked with tears, I sat by his side and stroked his hair but he pulled away. I asked him what was wrong.
‘I slept with Kate. I’m sorry’
I stood up, stepped away from him and held onto the door for support. ‘You… you what?’
He began ‘ I slept with, I didn’t…
‘Its okay, I heard what you said’, my mind was reeling, I could hear my voice was calm and measured but I wasn’t sure how I had managed to get the words out. What was he telling me, what do I do now?
I didn’t speak and neither did he for a long while, I went and sat on the stairs in the hallway. This wasn’t happening surely. He hadn’t seen Kate, she had slept with some one else, she had had some one else’s baby, he had heard she was living with this guy in their old house. She had betrayed him. Thoughts were fighting for space in my head and I wasn’t sure what to do or what to feel? Surely I should be angry but I just felt empty, confused, like a game was being played and no one had told me the rules which wasn’t fair, none of this was fair. I got up and went to the bathroom, splashing water on my face and then laughed weakly at myself for acting like I was in the movies. I went back into the living room and sat beside him.
‘Was it worth it?’
He cringed, and laughed a sort of ridiculous laugh ’Please Kath, how can you ask such a…’
I slapped him hard across his left cheek before he could finish the sentence. He winced and put his hand up to his cheek. I couldn’t help feel bad for hitting him, I couldn’t help but love him. I hit him again harder. My hand met his tears as they rolled down his cheek.
How could you do this to me, what was going through your head? You especially, after every thing?’

He explained that he had gone for a quick drink with a colleague after work and as he was leaving he spotted Kate across the bar eating with a friend of hers he recognised from his old past of dinner parties and barbecues. She saw him too but he left without speaking to her. He had driven home and parked outside and let himself in. Before he had taken his coat off, the doorbell went. He opened the door to see Kate standing there. She explained she needed to speak to him, needed to explain. He at first told her he had nothing to say, asked her to go, but she was persistent and he had eventually let her in.

She said she hadn’t meant to hurt him, she had fallen in love with David, he was a good man. She would have told him, she really would. He had listened to every thing she said, she had even shown him pictures of her son Daniel, after David’s father, she had said. He told her that the thing that had hurt him most, the thing that galled him so terribly was that the day at the office he saw in her eyes that she wasn’t even sorry. She wasn’t sorry for hurting him, for betraying him, for taking away his life. And then some how they anger had turned into some thing else and they had somehow became closer, without moving, touching one another and they had sex, in this room, on this floor, it had been just over an hour since she had left. And he
was sorrier than I would ever know.

I got up and picked up the overnight bag, already packed for the stay at my mothers, and went to the front door. He pleaded with me to stay, not to leave him, he needed me. I put down my bag.
‘You go Andrew, you did this, go back to your wife.’
He cried, he didn’t want his wife, he wanted me. He didn’t know why he had done it, or how it had happened, but he hadn’t done it because he wanted her back or because he didn’t love me, he did it to get back at her, to get him, that Bastard David, back. He wanted revenge, she had never even said sorry.

He left in the early hours of the morning and I went to bed, alone for the first time since we had met. Weeks past, he called persistently, I would accept his calls at work and then hang up. I would screen all the calls at home and he would leave long pleading messages on the machine, ringing back when he was cut off until I eventually unplugged it. He came and got his things. I sat in the kitchen as he packed his bags. He was staying at a hotel, his mobile would always be on, call him. I went to work as normal, to the gym on Tuesdays like I always did, I spent the weekends up with my parents and at night I would go to bed alone. I still hadn’t cried.

Andrew had been gone for just over a month and a half when I got a call at the office. The receptionist barked it was a personal call, and I prepared myself for Andrews’s voice. It wasn’t, it was my fathers.
‘Kath, you better come home, your mother is ill’.
‘What is it dad, What’s wrong? I could tell from his tone that it was serious this time.
‘Just come home when you can, eh love?’
‘Ok dad, on my way’

Right so pet, we’ll see you soon’ He always did that, spoke for both of them, like they were one.‘
I love her dad’ my tone was almost threatening, he knew what I meant, don’t let any thing happen to her. It was his job to make it okay.

I hung up, grabbed my bag and drove to my parent’s house - the house where I had grown up. I let myself in with my set of keys that still had my boy-band key ring attached and called out. My father’s voice came from upstairs. I ran up the stairs and down the hall to their bedroom. It was the smell that hit me first, it was a sweaty smell but stale with a sweet scent, the sort of sweat that comes from being sick.

I will forever associate that smell with the death of my mother. The room was dark, the curtains closed. My mother was in the bed and the sight of her made me want to fall to my knees. She appeared to have shrunk and looked like a doll in the double bed I had often climbed into as a child, in-between her and dad. I sat beside her and held her frail weak hand, she gave it the weakest squeeze and smiled at me.

I had sat with her for an hour or so and she had fallen asleep. Dad and I went downstairs and I made the tea as he told me how mum had become ill over the past few days. Due to her kidney failure she would dialyse 3 times a week but she had got a very bad cough and she had become very weak. I said I would call up the doctors and get them to come and see her immediately, maybe she had caught an infection, it had happened before. I put down his tea in front of him. He caught my hand and looked at me.
‘We’ve already been to the doctors. Its Cancer, love…Of the lungs’
I felt a huge surge of what I could only describe as anger. I sat on the chair and tried to take in what he had said. Cancer, how could it be. Not after her kidneys, after she had been through so much, that wasn’t fair. I looked up at my dad, he was staring at the salt and pepper pots on the table – with the big S and P on them. Mum had gone out and bought them the year Aunt Janice had covered her Christmas dinner in pepper and declared it ruined. He still had a hold of my hand and tears roll down his cheeks; I knelt down at his side and hugged him tightly. ‘I’ll take some time off work dad, I’ll come and stay, we’ll look after her together. We could get her a bed brought in, you know the one Mary got for Harry when he…’
He put up his hand and shook his head.
‘Stop it, love. It won’t be like when Harry died. They’ve given here 6-8 days Kath. 6 – 8 days, that’s all.

I began to cry, I cried for my mother, I cried for my father and I cried for Andrew, my father cried with me and held me in his arms and rocked me back and forth, soothing me and telling me it was going to be ok.

Mum died five days later. She would fall in and out of consciousness. We would sit with her, sleep with her, me beside her, dad in his leather chair, playing her old Dean Martin tapes over and over. Nurses came and went, they explained that Mum was dying of cancer but by stopping the Dialysis that her body depended on she would die instead of Kidney failure saving the long and painful death that came with cancer. At first I protested, surely if it meant extra time we should do every thing we could. Then I looked at my father and saw that it was hurting him so much but his love was so selfless that he would let her go now if it meant she wouldn’t have to suffer any more. He would make every thing okay for her.

The day of the funeral passed in a blur. I hugged people I didn’t know and got through the service by blocking every thing out but my breathing, gripping the bench in front of me. I tried to ignore the priest who was doing his best to talk about the warmest qualities and most endearing quirks of a women he had never even met. Afterwards I sat in the corner of our living room. I watched a little girl, dressed in a navy blue pinafore who was sobbing frantically. She was gripping her father’s leg, hiding behind it while her mother, knelt before her, tried to calm her down. I looked at my own father and realised that’s what I felt like. I wanted to scream and shout and stamp my feet and ask why my mother? Why her? And I looked over at my father who was doing the rounds, thanking people for coming. He was protecting me.

I spent that night with my father and the next day I drove home. I let myself in and fell against the wall in the hallway. I looked at the phone picked it up.
‘Andrew, I need you to come over’.
He arrived twenty minutes later and letting himself in he sat beside me in the hall. I told him what had happened, he held me and this time it was my turn to cry for some one I had lost. We stayed up all-night and talked endlessly about my mother, my father, how I would cope without her, how life would have to go on. He made me cups of tea that went cold and sandwiches that I couldn’t face eating. We feel asleep together on the sofa.

The next day I woke up, and looked at Andrew. I still felt hatred. I still felt anger. He should have been there for me, he should have been looking after me, he shouldn’t have slept with his ex wife six weeks ago and forced me to end it. He woke and asked me if I wanted him to stay. I told him yes, I couldn’t face being alone. The days past and every night he would ask me if I wanted him to go and every night I would say no, not yet, and I would go to bed while he made up a bed on the sofa.

One morning I got up and woke him.
‘Its time for you to go Andrew, I’ll be okay’
He got up and put his coat on slowly, picked up his keys and then turned around.
‘Please Kath, lets try…’

‘I can’t Andrew, you’ve ruined it. How can I trust you? You’ve hurt and betrayed me with the women who betrayed you. How does that make me feel? How can I ever love you again? He nodded and agreed and then said he would wait until I was ready, until I could love him and that he would not let me go, ever.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 14:24 on 19 August 2003  Report this post

Welcome Samlord,

This is so so sad, a story simply told yet with the ring of truth about it. How a thoughtless betrayal changes things for ever no matter how much love there is or how hard one tries to overcome it. This was quite a long piece, yet I found that the characters and the situation kept me reading easily to the end. A few typos, but you should find those easily. Thanks for posting this, I'll look forward to more.

Best, Nell.

stephanieE at 16:36 on 19 August 2003  Report this post
hello samlord, welcome to the ww site.

I thought that this was a poignant story, with some big truths in it - loss and betrayal are large subjects that deeply affect us - and I read it easily from start to finish.

I did feel that it seemed a little compressed - the weight of the story seemed to merit more words to adequately convey the changes in Kath's feelings as she learns to deal with the emotioanl brickbats that are thrown at her by life.
THere are some lovely touches (Auntie Janice's whoopsie with the Christmas pepper, for example) which make the story very real, and I felt that employing some more of these would help us get a fuller picture of your characters. Mind you, it's your story, and entirely up to you how you choose to take it forward.

A couple of typos: (weeks passed not past; They’ve given here 6-8 days) but these are easy to sort.

A heartfelt piece, thanks for posting.

DJ at 21:00 on 19 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Samlord -

Am kind of wishing I hadn't read this as it's made me cry! Ah well, that must mean it's well-written and has struck a chord or 2! Good stuff.


Ioannou at 22:07 on 19 August 2003  Report this post
The dialogue is really great. Real. Sad and more sad, but isn't life... Keep on going. Love, Maria.

samlord at 13:47 on 20 August 2003  Report this post

Thanks for all the comments - They're all really supportive and constructive = so far Ive only ever got a response from friends so its nice to see the story stands on its own.

Not all my writing is doom and gloom I promise. Ive slowly working my way through reading work by all of you who have commented and will give feedback and comments when I get a mo'.

Thanks again, SL x

serena at 20:29 on 20 August 2003  Report this post
What a wonderful slice of life . . . it was addictive to read. I'd love to read the happy stuff. I like the part about how they didn't like Jamie Oliver. I like Jamie Oliver. And sitting on the floor talking! The finer things in life. Loved your story.

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