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July 26th 2012  |  2  |  Category: Fiction , Romantic Love  |  Author: Eleanor  |  948 views

I’m not sure when it all stopped. You know, the magic, the chemistry, the fireworks. The cute morning texts and the hundreds of texts that followed throughout the day, taking me away from the drag of work and the overly rude clients. I could fucking slap them sometimes.

“If you’re actually able to keep some clients this time round, you might get employee of the month!”

Piss off you patronizing cock.

Those texts melted away my frustration, you see. And then in the evening when I got home, I got to listen to her soothing voice down the phone whilst she was on her half-an-hour break at the pub. Technology was the greatest barrier and prevention from getting slapped after one of my classic innuendos. Ha! She knew I was only joking. I could hear it in her laugh after calling me unladylike names. I loved getting her into trouble with her boss if we were on the phone for too long.
Then if I were up to it, which I normally was at the beginning, I’d pay her a visit whilst she was on a shift and buy her a drink. I’d try to get a mate’s rates discount and she’d tell me I was a tight bugger and to get out of her pub in the style of Peggy Mitchell.
Great sense of humour. Gorgeous figure. Smart too.
Dad always said to look out for the smart ones.

“There’s a reason why they’re a needle in a haystack,” he’d say. “They’ll prick you ‘till you bleed if you treat them the same way you did with the hay, fondling more than one straw.”
That was Dad’s way of saying don’t cheat… or at least not on smart girls. Either way, he should know – Mum left a few years back when she found out how big his haystack was. Now she owns her own business, living in a massive house whilst he lives in a box room with a corridor, selling dodgy shit on market stools. Holidays with Mum and her boyfriend were always the best – no offence to Dad and his prostitutes. I’ll always remember the day Sweet Lips and Sugar Tits took me out for ice-cream. I never saw him as a role model anyway. My mates kinda were – which takes us to the beginning of the story.
Teachers called us the ‘troublesome two’ or ‘duet’ since we always talked over each other. Everyone thought we were girlfriend and boyfriend because we were a girl and a boy (and still are since neither of us had a sex change). But we’d go, “Eeewww!!!” in response.
Growing up, she never minded that I became part of a tight group of lads. She’d said something about how secondary school would change us. I never knew what she meant until we got there. And since she was a tomboy in her trainers with no makeup, none of the girly girls wanted to be seen with her. So she’d sometimes hang out with us, which I didn’t mind about because she was my best mate. But the others weren’t so keen. They’d call her a lesbian and take the mick out of her boobs, which I hadn’t even noticed were there. I’d have a go at them but they were like monkeys in a zoo trying to gain a banana for every joke.

“They’re just messing about,” I reassured her on the way to PE, one of the few lessons we had together and loved.

I’m ashamed to say she was much better at PE than me. OK sometimes I let her win ‘cause she’s a girl. What – I’m chivalrous!
Anyway, she was like, “Things aren’t the way they used to be.”

So I suggested we go to the cinema and see something with loads of gore and action. I kept it quiet from the others in case they made a song and dance about it – which they did when someone had seen us there and spreaded it around.
“At least no one thinks I’m a lesbian anymore,” she said the next day at lunch time.
“There’s nothing wrong with –”
“I know there isn’t!”
“Lesbians are great.”
“You need to cut down on the internet addiction.”
“Never -!”
“All I meant was at least people don’t think I’m something that I’m not.”
I never cared what Lucy was, as long as she was Lucy.

Time went by and the boat of mine and Lucy’s friendship was still sailing. The lads finally got used to the fact that there was a female amongst the pack and were constantly asking her for relationship advice.

She had a few boyfriends (not all in one go of course) – the muscley rugby player type. And I had a few girlfriends – ranging from girly girls to just plain dumb. We learnt from each other’s experiences. Basically, some were dicks and others were nice flings. Short and sweet. Lucy even got a new wardrobe and put makeup on – not that she ever needed it. But at least she didn’t look like a mannequin with a clown face.
Man, I can’t even remember most nights, we were so wasted. The good times seemed to roll like a never-ending avalanche, until Lucy decided to spend her gap year with her family back in China.

“When are you coming back?” puppy dog eyes switched on.
“A couple of weeks before uni,” she mocked my moany voice.
I drove her to the airport and watched her leave.
Cue violins.

Lucy had set up a blind date for me just before she left. Her name was Sophia from her basketball team. I’d seen her in one of her matches before so the date wasn’t exactly blinded. She’s fit. Maybe also a little violent with opponents. But Lucy said she had the gentlest soul and that she was my type. And Lucy knows me better than anyone.
She was right – although Sophia was a fire-breathing get-out-my-way-or-I’ll-eat-you woman on the court, she carried herself as graciously as a swan everywhere else.
Dates always seemed to go well for me so I wasn’t nervous. Except for that time I got up too quickly to go to the gents and the whole table fell on a girl’s lap, food and drink and everything. The table was way too light to be in a blooming restaurant! I swore to myself from then on to always pull out before I go – chairs I mean. I started off by complimenting Sophia’s dress. I know how long girls take to get ready so I thought I’d appreciate her effort. Lucy must be a super being the way she manages to get ready before me. I remember when one of my exes took so long to get ready for a football match (yes, a football match – hardly a night out on the raz), I went without her. She was gone by the time I got back from the pub. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Anywho, the date was going really well until… nah I’m only kidding – it went so well that all the stuff I’d normally think about (ie. should I walk her home? Will she invite me in or will I just get a kiss? Or will I get a kiss at all?) didn’t matter because we seemed to just click and all that palaver. I found myself actually listening to her instead of just looking at her.

She’d suggested a proper nice Spanish restaurant, which was a good change from takeaways, my regular source of grub. She said it reminded her of her nan’s cooking. I asked if we could swap nans since mine never cooked for me because she hated me for being a lovechild.
“What did you do when you visited – starve?”
“Yeah, more or less.”

Her laugh was infectious and our conversations were so laidback I didn’t care if I looked like a slob eating in front of her. In fact, she was just as slobbish as me, just in a more discreet way. She said she worked in a pub and all I could think about were the free drinks.
So after weeks of road trips, clubbing, gigs, basketball matches, football matches, and spending hours saying goodbye on the phone (standard), we were ready to put a label on our relationship. I’d make video calls to Lucy at the weekends and we’d update each other on everything. She said her grandma was trying to set her up with some respectable Chinese dude but he was an arrogant prick and she preferred another local guy. I told her to follow her heart and she told me to stop being a sloppy git. Nice.

Sophia was amazing.
So where did it all go wrong? Well, to be honest, it never did go wrong, which makes me sound like a fool for even thinking about leaving her. But there was something else on my mind. Something that kept growing at the back of it and prodding at me whenever I thought I’d gotten rid of it. I wasn’t losing my mind by the way, but it felt like I had. It may sound crazy but I think I was using Sophia. As a substitute. To something I couldn’t have because of how weird it would be…

I seemed to find texting Lucy about our love lives more exciting than my actual love life. I didn’t know why. It was like fancying a long-distant relative – the confusion made me feel a bit sick. And the excitement was morphing into fear.

Sophia must’ve sensed it. Dad really was right about smart girls.

“Demetri?” she said suddenly, half way through a film at her place. “Are you seeing someone else?”

She surprised me though. She said it so calmly that it was as though she was just asking me for the time. And she only glanced at me once with a knowingly soft look. She was still leaning against me across the sofa. We were still playing with each other’s fingers.
“What?” was all I could say.
“You’re a fucking liar!” some woman on the screen whispered angrily – Sophia would never be so mean, yet I felt scorned.
Now I’m nervous.
“Rather you tell me now before it spirals into something…”
She’s right – must’ve been there and got the souvenir – but it wasn’t as serious as that. I held her hand firmly to stop myself fidgeting.
“Not that I know of…” I was trying to be funny to lighten the mood, even though she wasn’t trying to darken it.
At least I was telling the truth! She looked up at me and smiled. And I sound like a complete dickhead but I really wanted it to be Lucy that I was holding.

I just got up and did it. I woke up, grabbed my phone, debit card and passport, and drove to the airport. But first I stopped at Sophia’s.
“It’s OK,” she was standing in the doorway in her jogging gear. “It was pretty obvious.”
I frowned at her.
“You talked about her all the time – much more than your other mates.”
I did?

She smiled and kissed me on the check before putting her earphones in and setting off down the street. I watched her jog round a corner at the end and strangely found myself thinking there goes my dream girl… And she was. But maybe it wouldn’t have been right to leave her waiting whilst I was in limbo. I mean, I could’ve boarded a plane, come back and nothing would’ve changed, and I’d still have Sophia. But if I chicken out now… What I was about to do was risky. I called work and pulled a sickie.

I wasn’t exactly thinking straight. I forgot how far China is. It was going to take ages to get there and I wasn’t sure what time it would be over there when the plane arrived. Her grandparents might think I was a thief in the night and hit me over the head with something. I didn’t even know where her grandparents lived. Shit! So when I finally arrived (the bumpy landing of the plane making me wanna vomit), I called Lucy’s parents back in England. Did I have enough credit for a long distance call? I really hadn’t thought this through.
“Hello?” it was her dad.
“Hi, it’s Demetri –”
“Alright, mate?”
“Yeah err, do you know where Lucy’s grandparents live?”
“No, sorry… why?”
“I was… gonna send her a postcard – as a joke.”
“You two can’t stay away from each other for two seconds, eh? I’ll ask Nikita…”
Then it dawned on me – most of my relationship endings were a result of Lucy in some way or another. Either my head was somewhere else or I was spending too much time with her, which I kind of used to sort the trusting from the jealous. All the double dates I had with her, and then realising we had had a better time than our dates. It was all getting a bit too weird and maybe my plan was a little irrational. But I was in bloody China now and I couldn’t exactly hang up on her mum.
“Hi, Demetri. How’ve you been?”
I loved Lucy’s mum but she didn’t half like small talk.
“Missing Lucy already are we?” that question took me right back to childhood, whenever Lucy went on holiday.
She gave me an address, which I told a taxi driver after converting some cash. Lucy had taught me a bit of Chinese, like ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’ll have a beer please’. Maybe those sign language lessons might come in handy.
“No luggage?” he said in English.
“No, I was only popping out for milk and took a wrong turning.”
He blinked at me for a moment then laughed, “You’re funny.”
It took a while to get through the city and into the countryside. It was the crack of dawn here, a day ahead – you can’t say time travel doesn’t exist. The sun was rising over the hills, like the level of my anticipation.
I paid the driver and walked up to the house that he pointed out for me.
“Cheers, mate.”
He nodded at me and drove off.
I knocked on the door and waited.
“Shì ma?” I heard Lucy’s granddad on the other side.
“Erm, nǐ hǎo,” I said, though they could also speak English. “It’s Demetri – Lucy’s friend.”
He swung the door open and stood there in his pyjamas, staring at me.
I was so tempted to say ‘can she come out and play?’ but instead coughed and said, “Is she in?”
He continued to stare.
“Shì shuí?” Lucy’s grandma called.
“Demetri,” he replied, still looking intently at me.
I was beginning to feel even more uneasy.
She came over and looked at me in disbelief, “What are you doing here?”
“He wants to see Lucy,” her granddad said for me.
There was an awkward silence before they suddenly started bursting out with laughter. Lucy was right, they really were bonkers.
Then her grandma said something so unreal, I thought I was hallucinating, “She’s getting married, you fool.”
Lucy had gone back to England.
Her granddad told me her grandma had only said that horrible thing to shoo me away. Lucy would never marry – she hated the idea.
Still, she had gone back. To see me.
I was distraught yet I couldn’t stop smiling.
“Wipe that stupid grin off your face!” her grandma snapped while she was getting the sofa ready for me to sleep on. “Running off with an Englishman – just like her mother!”
I should’ve felt offended but I was too happy. Although she did scare me. I was obliged to sleep with one eye open.
I was able to sleep easily. I guess I hadn’t slept in around… twenty-four hours. Damn. I hadn’t eaten either come to think of it – I was thinking too much…
I dreamt of Lucy smiling right back at me. It was terrifying knowing she knew everything about me. Then I randomly dreamt of the time Mum and Dad took me to the zoo and a lama spat on my face.
I was woken up by Lucy’s grandma a couple of hours later. She made me some breakfast. I was tired but eager to get a move on.
“You will help catch fish,” she said with authority.
“But I need to get back home,” I said as politely as possible.
“No,” she said. “We let you stay. You will repay us by helping. Let us see if you are worthy enough to be with my grandchild.”
No pressure then.
Why hasn’t Lucy rung me yet? Should I text her? ‘We need 2 tlk. Stuck in china atm – nice place btw. Might b a while tho, need 2 go fishing x’. Sounds terrible. Oh and look, my phone’s run out of battery. Nice one.
“Can I use your phone?”
“Afterwards!” her granddad said sharply from upstairs, scaring the life out of me.
I sulkily followed them towards some fields by a river.

My heart was beating so fast I thought I might need medical assistance.
“You’re such a muppet!” she said on the other end of the payphone.
“Where are you?”
“At home.”
I paused before I spoke again, trying to remember what I practised, “Lucy?”
“Maybe I should be saying this in person, but I really want you to know… I think… wǒ ài nǐ.”
Silence. Shit, shit, shit. Did I even say it right?
“I love you, too.”
“What?” my voice went high-pitched like when it was breaking during my early teens. “I mean, wow.”
“When are you back, softie?”
“I’ll be round in a sec – I mean…” my head was swimming as I listened to her laughing. “Habit.”
“Hope my grandparents weren’t too hard on you.”
“Oh they loved me,” I said sarcastically, peering down at the wet patches on my t-shirt from when I nearly caught a big one.
I’d pleaded with them before they made me do some ploughing. They said my determination to be with Lucy was enough to let me go. Jokers.
“I should visit yours next,” she said.
“What, in Greece? The nan who never cooks? Go for it.”
She laughed again. I really wanted to see her laugh.
“Best be off. Got a plane to catch.”
“OK. Make sure you catch it.”
“What’re you doing for the rest of your gap year?”
She took a few seconds to reply, “Spending it with you.”
“Oh, great –”
“Only kidding. I’d love that.”
There was a moment of silence. But it was more peaceful than anything because we knew we were both smiling.
“See you soon,” she said.
“Yeah, see you soon.”


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2 Responses to Lucy

  1. Sam Cuch says:

    I must say first, I loved the story over all. But the first half was hard to get through. It took me a moment of tough thought to find out why. But, to be blunt and truthful, your character Demitri, is an ass. At least in the first half he is. I see that making him like that makes the soft sweetness comes out a lot better in the end. But I find that if the reader has no emotion value investied in the story through the main character, they will not continue to read. Their loss I guess, because It is a good story. Just a suggestion, Give him a bigger spark of his ending character in the beginning. Maybe it is there and I missed it, I don’t know. Thanks, keep it up and I’ll continue to read it.

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