In Love We Trust

Caught in the midst of an emotional and an unexpected break up, a move from home and a start of a new life, Jack Beckett is a rather lost soul. The love of his high school years, Lisa Linton, admitted to him that she's been cheating on him over the past few months. Now, in a new life, she's left Jack for him, away from her ex and away from the home they shared.

Determined to move on but apprehensive of the realities, Jack and his newly found friends decide, purely for a laugh of course, to attend a speed dating event. The perfect opportunity for him to prove to himself and to Lisa that he's moving on, just like she has. However, wrapped in his angst, Jack Beckett decides to go along as a completely new character, he changes his accent, his hair, his clothes, his back story and even his name. Jack Becektt, for one night, becomes Gordon Bennett, a figment of his imagination that would have been an interesting experiment if he had not met and fallen in love with a girl who would return his feelings, Isabella Fazarri.

In love but forced to live a lie, Jack battles over telling her the truth behind the mask, over whether she loves him or Gordon, and whether in love, we can ever, trust.

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2. Chapter One

The morning arrived with the routine chorus of white noise that was and always would be, London traffic. A new day, and Jack had to leave any thoughts of Lisa for a pressing world that demanded so very much from him. Unimpressively tumbling sideways out of bed, his duvet came down with him – apparently reluctant to let go. Jack admired his The Godfather poster on the white wall opposite. Returning the look of melancholy from his pile of worn clothes that congregated by his desk with a hard worn glare, he set about folding them, a repetitive and somewhat therapeutic process that allowed his mind to wonder, without care, to the other day. 

 

Jack recollected the mysterious girl he had met but forty hours previous, the one who took notice of his ‘I’m lost’ face and helped him get to where he was going. Probably nothing more than a friendly gesture from a girl headed in the same direction, but to Jack it meant a lot in a way he could not yet fully comprehend. They had parted knowing only each other’s names and thus the likelihood of them ever meeting again was dramatically insufficient. Emma was stunningly beautiful, her whole persona radiated with an almost summoning awe, she was intelligent, she was quick witted, kind and had a nice woollen hat. Jack did not want to know her. Girls like Emma were not for him. On the outset, then sure, she appeared to be everything he could want and if Jack were to host a reality TV show designed to get him a girlfriend, Emma would surely make it to at least the second round. No, for Jack the most important thing was finding someone who really understood him and understood his chameleon mind. Not that he was interested in actively seeking someone.

 

Since taking leave of the nest, breakfast started with Jack texting his friend next door, Scott. It almost always regarded the making of toast. Sometimes Scott would text Jack before Jack would text Scott, either way it almost always involved toast. A rewarding treat given the contemplation, deliberation and final toast providing decision they had made a previous week. Block A had been lacking in a toaster, now it only missed a microwave. 

 

It was little things like breakfast with Scott that perked him up. The knowledge that someone out there wanted to interact with him, someone out there wanted to give him, the emotion duck, some burnt bread and jam. It was difficult for him to hide from anyone in Block A how he was feeling, nobody but Scott was aware of the entire story that had recently unfolded, and therefore they must have been convinced that he was continually like this, always had been and always will be, a grump. There was a relative accuracy behind such assumptions, yet despite his slumped shoulders and nervous eyes, Jack could be fun. Recent events had forced him backward, made him cold, had smothered him into silence.

 

Jack slide down the banister and soldiered forward to the kitchen. Grinning at him behind sleepy blue eyes eyes, his next-door neighbour shut the door of the fridge and dropped into their recent contraption, two slices of bread. Raising an eyebrow to acknowledge surprise for the lack of crumbs involved, he tugged on the lever. Scott the scot; it was a cruel joke for the proud parents of their Edinburgh newborn. 

 

“Alright?” He asked in the sort of way that would warrant no other response than:

“Yeah, you?” Said Jack,

“Yeah, I’m alright, ta,”

“Cool...that’s great,” said Jack, overcooking it.

Mornings aside, Jack had known Scott as nothing other than extraordinarily talkative. Typically it was mundane chatter about his dogs, his family, about an entire hamper basket of irrelevant nonsense that Jack nodded along to in the way he expected the dogs back in Edinburgh did. From an honest, working class background, Scott’s family life seemed idyllic and he was forever retelling stories of their ‘Working class economies.’ Jack’s favourite example was his Mother applying PVA to old newspaper sheets, the aim to ultimately form wastepaper bins and then, of course, selling them on to everybody in the street.

“Sleep well?”

“Yeah actually, not bad given the noise they all made last night,” he tried to make eye contact with Scott, but found him to bee focused on their breakfast, “How about you?”

“Aye, I slept like a log,” said Scott, “How’s the, you know, how’s the whole thing?” Awkward. Using it as somewhere to perch Jack bounded upon the work surface,

“It’s alright, I’m just keeping busy,” “I never know if I should ask,” admitted Scott, providing a complimentary frown.

“I appreciate that you do,”

“Aye, sure, but you know, just give me a shout if you ever want to talk, I’m always a-boot,”

“I might,” Jack smiled, a response that had made everything uncomfortable.

“Gotta’ be going after quarter to,”

“Oh right. That is early.”

 

He could not have asked for a nicer neighbour. Scott was pleasant, for a nineteen-year-old, testosterone filled male he was unusually kind-hearted and refreshingly honest with people. A good egg from an underprivileged chicken; him and Jack had just not really ‘clicked’ yet. Out of the fourteen thousand undergraduates at the university, there would be at least one like him, but finding him or her was like looking for a four-leafed clover in a haystack comprised of clovers, a cloverstack. Jack had been told societies would bring likeminded people together, he had only attended a couple and this had been far from the case. Stubbornness and a casual resentment of authority had made him an atheist, and to his dismay the Atheist Society had turned out to be the place of gathering for third year physics freaks, complete with jokes about Cern and the molecular structures of Diet lemonade. Jack didn’t understand.

 

A lecture on ‘How to succeed at a history degree’ awaited him, sixty minutes of his life that he would gain near to nothing from. Despite it being the fourth week of the first semester, everything was still painfully patronising. He had even had a lecture on how to take out a library book, then a practical - to which he failed. Over the summer before his first semester, university had been preached to him for being the place one discovers who they are, properly grows up. To Jack it felt nothing more but a big boarding school, he was eager to get on with things.

 

It was a cold start. Birds migrated for a reason and the H17 bus was not heading south, it was heading very slightly north. If it weren’t for the cold that bit at him, Jack was feeling surprisingly optimistic that particular morning. Every bus journey involved the possibility of meeting someone, male or female, nice or not, it didn’t mater, meeting people was something Jack enjoyed doing, it was exciting. If only for a slender fraction of his time, he saw it as an opportunity to become anyone but himself, to become anyone but the one person he was starting to resent. Society persists that ordinary people like Jack behave as themselves, but he tried out different things, he tried standing differently, pretending to like rugby and partaking in an appreciation of reality TV, a sociological game of which he regularly lost (often due to lack of knowledge on reality TV) but endeavoured to continue at. Being an early morning, the bus stop was swarming with students, an orgy of undergraduates all trying to get into one cherry red double-decker bus. Jack didn’t understand why half of them didn’t walk; then again, he didn’t understand why he didn’t walk. “Fuck’s sake,” he cursed, “Why aren’t I walking?”

 

After a scene that could be compared to how many imagined the crowds on the Titanic to act when the last lifeboat was made available, Jack was standing on the bus. Standing on a bus was definitely dangerous. Perhaps he had missed the lesson at school where they had taught pupils how to stand inside a fast moving vehicle without flying about like an overexcited kitten. Maybe they had never had that lesson, maybe everybody but Jack could just cope, to him it was a test of endurance and an examination of physical attributes manifesting into physical prejudice. It was plain for all but the blind to see that he was royally inept at standing. He clung with a clammy hand to the overhead rail until the university’s contemporary, retro buildings came into view. They contrasted with the sixties office towers opposite them in such a way that one side of the street was twenty-first century and the other was mid twentieth, they mirrored one another like some strange fault in time, it amused him. Jack was headed for building 58, a regimented concrete structure made vaguely human only by the occasional steel framed window. And, of course, they were already all there, the pack of hyenas that were his course mates, his colleagues. Sadly, his erratic social compass had lead him, in the first few days of lectures, to the oddities of the first year history students.

 

There was a Spanish girl who spoke very good English but didn’t understand when Jack said things like: ‘Blimey, that sounds difficult, fancy a mint?’ There was Matt, Jack’s greatest disappointment to date. Matt had seemed, and was indeed, very friendly. Matt seemed to have a great sense of humour, just the sort of guy Jack could grow to admire. Matt was positively neo-Nazi. Their discussion of each other’s politics had rather stonewalled everything. There was Jamie, his deep voice, his over exuberant confidence and t-shirts with funny logos on them, he wasn’t Jack’s friend; just someone who would talk to anyone and anything that shared the space he devoured. There were others along the way, Tulip who had a ridiculous name and a ridiculous nose and Charlie whose one foremost personality feature was that he was a well-spoken eurosceptic.

 

Ultimately, Jack was looking for his old friends. The ones from school that were now having the time of their lives, maybe it was that they had been forced to grow up with one another for seven years, maybe that’s why they had all got along so well or maybe, and this was certainly Jack’s preferred explanation, his former school had been some accident in the universe. An accident that had allowed for every person Jack ever bonded with to exist in the same educational institute. Naturally, he wondered if such pessimism would linger if Lisa had not done what she did. Likely, he’d still be feeling unhappy about life, though he would not feel so bitterly alone. It was only in the past couple of years that being single, being unloved, had been a foreign concept. Otherwise, for all his adolescence he had been without a girlfriend, and he had coped to the point of it not bothering him in the slightest. Only now, only after winning and losing at life, did it seem almost like a disease he had somehow contracted.

 

Lectures, even the ridiculous ones, provided a welcome relief from his messy personal life. Despite quite a broad disillusionment with his course, he was able to take refuge in his work, hide behind his books and his notes whilst the mortar attack of emotions reigned overhead. The library was Jack’s shelter and his work his escape tunnel; one he hoped he would have a welcome light at the end. He was but a refugee from a hostile conscience.

 

Lecturers and seminar leaders were an equally diverse and bizarre mix as the peers he had met on his course. An Indian man who spent more time retelling stories of his daughter’s ‘mischief’ during her adolescence than lecturing on research methods, anecdotes that were so loosely connected to his PowerPoint slides that it was laughable, and people did laugh. There was a man who spoke in a whisper and had a left eye a different colour to his right, a sort of David Bowie thing going on, Jack wasn’t sure if it was deliberate or not. Further strangeness found itself in a woman from Peru who in her previous lecture thought she had spirits in her head, the speakers in the theatre had a delay between her speaking and the sound being broadcast, nobody told her it was the speakers playing up and not her mentality. Lectures beat seminars. During seminars people had to actually participate in discussions, he had to listen to folks with opinions emit those opinions with as little articulation as a particularly docile ape. All the while under the guidance and tuition of PhD students who threw marker pens and coloured card at people, ordering them to make name cards like it was infant school.

 

Jack was reading history because it was academic; a comment that would sound less like snobbery when one came to understand the very real issues Jack had with manual tasks. He was clumsy. During his time at school he had ruined two sewing machines, soldered his hand to a forever-ringing alarm clock and had slide tackled his own PE teacher during a football game. Jack was a certain hazard to those around him and as the bus journey proved, he was uncoordinated, could swing a golf club though, that was a plus. He often played with his father and a friend, Liam, paying a modest ten pounds each for an eleven hole course only a couple of miles down from where they lived. It had become part of his Saturday routine.

 

Ultimately, Jack had taken history because it was what he was good at, from the age of seven he was singled out for having an unnatural fascination with the ancients. He had once spent, aged seven and three quarters, three weeks on a timetable of the Roman Empire whilst everybody else had finished there’s after four and a half days days. Jack wanted to make his flawless; he wasn’t a perfectionist but enjoyed chronology in comparison to basic fractions, his teacher encouraging him to the point where Jack fell severely behind in mathematical ability and had to hive private tutoring throughout his GCSEs.

 

The specific theatre he found himself in that day was one Jack preferred, the lighting dimmed, there was legroom, and the red chairs were made comfortable by the designer’s choice to include red armrests. Melissa, the Spanish girl, had seated herself alongside him.

“Have you started the essay for this module?” Jack asked her, an invigorating, uplifting and stirring conversation starter. Meaningful conversation with her was often a challenge; somewhat trying as she was probably a lovely person.

“Oh, no, I should do this, have you done this?”

“I have not done this.” Silence. Great.

 

After Jack had learnt to fail at a history degree from not listening on how to succeed at a history degree, a man of petite stature who, if it had not been for his intensely yellow t-shirt, would otherwise have been swallowed by the field of students, nervously approached him. Outstretching a miniscule right arm he passed Jack a promotional flyer, he had seen them all around campus and was already accustomed to its vulgarity.

 

Still, from a forgotten part of his brain, he felt an instinctive tug and skimming his eyes over its contents, changing direction to avoid a collision with some imposing fourteen and fifteen year olds, he sussed that it was written by the student union. To those without taste, the union had on offer ‘This month’ tasteless and unbeatable ‘All-night raves.’ To accompany such words the designers of the flyer had decided two men simultaneously being attacked by strobe lights would propel people like Jack into the nearest nightclub. Slightly classier events included a poker night, which tempted Jack before he remembered he did not know how to play, and a speed dating convention, which tempted Jack before he remembered that Scott had suggested they go to this particular event only the other week and Jack, on account of having a girlfriend, had turned him down. He uprooted his phone from his pocket and scrolled through the messages for over the eight days past.

 

‘Know you probably wont be up for it and I get why, but theres this speed dating thing next week if you fancied it haha?’

 

Despite an unusual impulsive desire to, in light of recent events, follow this through, Jack felt decidedly uncomfortable. He could not be confident that it was a good idea for him to start ‘looking’ for girls straight after an emotional breakup and the little he knew about speed dating hardly sold the idea to him, if it had not of been for the flyer in his hand the idea of going would likely have not occurred to him.

 

Speed dating belonged to children. The notion that in a handful of minutes one could find someone they are supposed to love and cherish seemed impossible, he had personally always known a lengthy getting to know one another phase under the umbrella term of ‘friendship’ before anything had ever fully materialised. Yet, abandoning logic for childish instincts, gazing down at the words ‘Speed Dating For Students’, he rested on the notion it was wise to keep the door open and so, propping open said door, texted Scott:

 

‘About that dating thing you mentioned, given everything that’s happened since, it might be an idea, if you’re still up for it?’

 

Jack could only hope that Scott would be, because with every step he took and every second that passed, he felt himself falling into the idea. It was stupid, the sort of royal stupidity that reeked of idiocy. But it would be a move that would send a clear and undisputable message to Lisa Linton and, just as significantly, to himself. Jack Beckett was ready to move on with his life and, after weeks of hurt, move away from her.

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