Stormy Seas

Ben and Katie.
Katie and Ben.
But then there was Alex.

Katie lives her life in mental turmoil after her best friend moves to the other side of the world. After living with an alternative, she suddenly realises that she can't continue lying to herself. But just on the very day she finishes with Alex, Ben turns up. And it's all down hill from there, but is love enough to conquer all?

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3. Yes, But Not Really?

“Right, done.” She says, putting down her box of eye shadows and peering at my eyes one last time, before letting me take a look in the mirror.

I gasp as I barely recognise the girl staring at me, her eyes are the first thing I notice, then the brilliant job Liz did on her hair, the loose curls falling over her shoulder and down her front.

“Wow, Liz. I look,” I pause, trying to think of a word.

“Beautiful?” Liz suggests, winking at me through the mirror. “I know, right. I’m awesome. Now get that black dress on.” She says pointing to the dress that’s laid out across the bed. I do as she says, being careful not to ruin my hair or make up as I do so. I slip into my red heels and Liz helps me to put on my long cream cardigan. It’s just as long as my dress, I notice as I take another look at myself in the long length mirror.

“Maybe it’s too much.” I say, biting my lip. “I’m going to break up with him, not trying to get him into bed.”

“No, trust me. You look stunning. What’s so bad about making an effort, anyway?”

She puts her hand on my shoulder reassuringly.

“Ready to go?”

***

I wave to Liz as I watch her drive away and make my way cautiously into a room full of people dressed to the nines, drinking champagne and laughing at each other’s jokes over the small tables.

I stare around the room, waiting.

After a few moments, I head over to the bar and take a seat on one of the barstools, ordering a vodka and coke, watching as the bartender does his job and paying him as he returns.

I can feel my heart pounding and my mouth feels dry with nerves, so I take a large drink from my half pint glass.

“Kate?” Alex stands behind me. I don’t turn straight away, giving myself a moment to hold my thoughts together. Eventually, I look at him and try for a smile which he returns awkwardly taking a seat on the barstool beside me.

“So what’s this about then? You’re moving out I take it, since all your shit is gone.” He doesn’t look at me, but he waves his arms aggressively and for a moment, I feel bad.

“I’m sorry Alex, I really am. But I can’t live with you, it’s not right.”

“What’s not right?” He asks, angrily. He’s looking at me now, and I don’t feel quite as bad anymore. Because all I see behind his eyes is hate. He hates me.

“Us! You’re a prick, Alex. You always have been. You treat me like shit unless you want something from me. You make snide remarks and taunt me constantly. You put me down when I need it the least, and to tell you the truth,” I pause, but it’s not for effect, it’s because I can’t say the words I’m thinking. They rise up in my throat and I urge them back down but he’s looking at me expectedly, with impatience in his eyes. So I whisper, “I don’t love you.”

We’re silent for a moment and the bartender comes over and asks Alex if he’d like a drink to which he replies awkwardly that he’s leaving. He isn’t angry anymore, I notice, as he looks at me with sad eyes. The bartender leaves us and Alex stands to his feet.

“There’s someone else, isn’t there?” He asks quietly. I don’t know what to say. No, there isn’t? Or yes, but not really?

I shake my head instead.

“So this is it?” he sighs.

“Yes.” I reply, watching as he breaks a little.

“Ok.” He looks down at his feet before turning and leaving. “Ok.” I hear him say again to himself as he walks through the door and out of my life.

I turn back to my drink and down it all, but then I hear the door re-open as it didn’t quite close. He didn’t leave. Instead, he’s stood by me again and I can’t look at his face as I cause it to crumple and break the way I’ve never seen anyone’s before.

“Why? Can you at least explain to me properly? Why is it you’re leaving? For ten years you loved me. I’m not someone who you’ve been with a month, ten years Kate! What does that even mean? You don’t love me, since when?!”

I watch as a tear falls from his eye and down his red cheeks, his eyes are bloodshot and he wipes it away angrily.

I open my mouth to speak and I can’t catch my breath to say anything. I daren’t look around the room, though I know people are watching.

“Alex, I don’t like doing this to you, this isn’t what I want.”

“Then what do you want? Because you’re killing me Kate.” He says in a calm voice, taking a seat next to me.

“I don’t want you to hurt, but I don’t want to be with you. You’ve been amazing Alex, and I’m sorry about what I said I just panicked and saw that as an easy way out and I shouldn’t have said any of it,” I pause and look down at my hands, my palms are sweating and the adrenaline in me is making me shake. “I just don’t feel the way you do. I don’t think I love you like I should love you and the guilt is driving me insane. The past year has been me trying to love you, I have tried, believe me. I’m so sorry.”

“If that’s true, then why did you agree to marry me?” He says, looking down at his hands.

I pause as I think of an answer. But the truth is, I don’t know.

“I don’t know,” I whisper, “I didn’t want to hurt you? I guess it wasn’t fair and you’re right to hate me for that.”

He shakes his head and holds his hands to his eyes, his knuckles turning white in frustration.

“I never thought this would happen,” he laughs as he brings his hands down and looks me in the eye, “I clearly never knew you the way I thought I did, huh.” He shakes his head again. Then he stares down at his hands again, thinking. Then he nods his head aggressively, “Goodbye Kate.” He says finally, standing to his feet and walking out.

I wait for a few minutes, checking my phone so as to look busy to the other people in the bar, and hoping to God that I hadn’t just caused a scene.

I consider texting Liz to come and pick me up, but I think I need some air first.

Standing up, I thank the bartender and then head towards the doors, leaving myself. 

“Katie?” I hear someone say as I start to push open the big glass door. I turn my head, still leaning on the door and my heart stops dead. 

Ben.

 

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