Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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65. Sixty five

I'm meeting my friends at a coffee cafe one afternoon and I didn't really want to go but it does feel good to get out of the house and see them. We're just talking normally when out of nowhere they all give each other a look, this little smile on their faces. 

"What?" I ask. 

"You haven't quite been yourself lately." Jaclyn sits forward. 

"So I've been told." I say.

"Exactly, you're coming out with little comments like that." she says. "And that's fine! You know, you've moved away from your new home, you're back where you started, you broke up with who you thought was the love of your life-"

"Jaclyn." Nicole shoots her a look. "You're not helping."

"What? It's true!" 

"Guys, no offence but get to the point." I say. 

"I know a guy." Kylie grins at me. "He's called Freddie.  in my History at uni and I think you'd really like him. I mean he's not all tall, blonde and perfect like Harry, but he is tall and he's pretty good looking."

I frown. "I think I see where you're going with this and I don't like it."

"Okay, we aren't saying fall in love with this guy so hard he proposes on your next birthday or whatever-"

"Jaclyn!" Kylie and Nicole exclaim and she sighs. 

"What? It's just what happened!" she says defensively and then looks back at me. "Look, we're not saying have anything serious with this guy. Just meet him, see what happens. We've all got dates bowling tomorrow night, one of our dates is friends with Kylie's history guy, you go with him."

"That's the worst idea I've ever heard." I shake my head. "No way."

"You're doing it." Kylie says. "He's going either way so it's up to you whether you want to leave this guy stranded or not."

I groan. "Whatever."

It's weird the next night getting ready. I'm getting ready and trying to look nice because I know I'm going on a date, but I just have no interest in it whatsoever. No offence to this guy, but I'm in love with Harry. But I also know that it's over with him but I still feel bad even going on this date anyway, like I'm cheating or something. I don't know, it's all very confusing. I try and put on a happy face when we get to the bowling place though. I don't want to make it too awkward for this Freddie guy. All of my friends go to their respective dates and say hello and Freddie comes over to me, smiling. 

"Hey, Alice right?" he says. "I'm Freddie."

"Yeah, nice to meet you." I smile back. I can see what Kylie means, he's the kind of boy I would have been obsessed with when we were in school, all tall and skinny but in a good way with his messy brown hair. I have to admit, this is better than I was expecting. But then I feel all bad. It just feels wrong to like anybody but Harry, I feel like I'm being unfair to him. 

It's an alright night. It's nice to see my friends have fun with their dates, it's nice to be around my friends, and Freddie's nice, very friendly and chatty but at the same time, I'm still not really in the mood to be here and there's this guilt at the back of my mind about Harry.

But about half way through the night, I get a text from Tom:

Harry's on a date with Leigha?? Did you know about this?

My heart drops. I reply:

No. What do you mean?

He sends back:

Dan just told me that Harry told him he was going on a date with Leigha and I just saw them at this restaurant. I'm sorry, maybe I shouldn't have told you I just thought you should know.

I reply:

No I'm glad you told me, thank you. 

"Everything okay?" Freddie asks me and I smile at him. It's the first time I've felt like my smile's been convincing in a long time. Actually, it's the first time in a long time it's been actually real. It's not necessarily a smile because I'm happy. I'm angry about Harry and Leigha and I know that somewhere I feel really betrayed and upset, but right now I just feel kind of vindicated, free in a way.

I've been here feeling bad about being on a date when Harry's going on a date with Leigha, who is not only my good friend, but also someone who I was always insecure about him loving even when we were together, which obviously turned out to be true. I deserve to have a nice time with this guy who I've been denying I find cute when I really do and I deserve to try and move on. 

"Everything's fine." I tell him. "Sorry, I was being rude."

"Oh no, it's fine." he smiles and gets up. "Okay, it's my go, wish me luck."

"Good luck." I grin at him and when I look to my right, Jaclyn's giving me a knowing smile. 

"Not to say I told you so." she says and I laugh. 

"Shut up."

"See, you're cheerier already!" she says.

I am. I feel like I should be really sad but I'm not feeling like that at the moment. I'm actually feeling pretty happy. I'm free to do whatever I want and I feel like I just got given the opportunity to move on from Harry and Leigha too, even though I didn't know she was a problem. I just know I don't want to even bother with people like that so I'm just going to forget about them and take advantage of the fact that I finally feel like myself again.

After the quadruple date (which was kind of an odd thing to do when I think about it) is over, I'm walking out with Freddie and I have this warm feeling. It's just nice to be here and feel a little bit of freedom. 

"So, there's this Halloween thing at the woods on Halloween." he laughs at himself then. "Obviously on Halloween. But it's this scare walk thing, it's probably going to be fun. We should all go."

"Yeah, I'm up for that." I say and then Jaclyn's honking her car horn. "Okay, I guess I should go then."

Freddie chuckles. "Okay. Do you mind if I get your number? We can sort something out for Halloween."

I give him my number and he gives me is and as me and my friends drive away, we're all talking like we did when we were fifteen, all excited about our dates and telling each other things our dates said or pointing out things we might have missed about each other's dates and I feel like I'm breathing out a sigh of relief. 

-

The next morning, I wake up to a couple of messages from Harry:

Had so much fun with you tonight. I love you xxx
Wrong person sorry

Is he kidding? Like I'd actually fall for that. I have to say, seeing that upset me a little. He told her he loved her. But I have to shake it off and try and stay in this good mood. I consider replying and telling him I don't care, or sending some passive aggressive comment like have fun? or 'accidentally' sending him a message back. But I decide to just let it go for now. I won't lie, I want him to know about my date and I want him to know about Freddie, but I'm not going to be as obvious as he was. I don't want to use Freddie, I do actually like him however much I can like him so far, but it wouldn't hurt to make Harry a little jealous along the way.

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