the morning

The day Josie meets Alfie she knows she probably shouldn't kiss him. But life is full of terrible mistakes and words that shouldn't be said, and maybe the relationship that follows is terrible too.

Or maybe it isn't.

(a short story set to the album 'the morning' by lewis watson--sometimes the end isn't always the end. sometimes maybe the end is just another beginning.)

*lyrics at beginning belong to lewis watson

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2. holding on

 

I'm holding on so tight it hurts, but I can't let you go

.

It doesn’t stay simple for long.

As September drags into October and November, I have no idea where I stand with you. We’re not together. But, then again, we’re not not together. I spend more time in your bed than I do my own and that was fine, back when it was simple, when we explained everything away with tequila shots and sticky nightclub floors. But it’s not always the fault of tequila. Sometimes it’s 3am and I’ve got a deadline and you poke your head around my door—all you have to do is raise an eyebrow and I’m kissing you, pushing you back onto my bed like a natural reflex. Sometimes it’s the fault of us.

It doesn’t help that sometimes I don’t even like you. Maybe it’s because of your upbringing, all those years locked up in a boarding school and the presents your dad gave you to make up for leaving you there. And the friends from said boarding school—well, they’re dicks. And you’re not like them, not really, but you try to be like them which I think is probably worse. They hear my accent and that I’m here on a bursary and laugh about it. And you laugh with them.

What am I even doing with you?

There’s this boy on my course. He’s smart, with a scruffy haircut (like yours) and blue eyes (like yours) but he’s from Leeds and reads feminist novels and supports the Labour party. He asks me out for a drink one night. I consider it—he’s much more my type than you are—but I find the word no coming out my mouth before my brain has the time to form a coherent thought.

As I walk home that evening, every footstep I make is saying you should have said yes. I shouldn’t be holding on to you. I should get out, while I still can, because you clearly don’t think that much of me. I hate to think of what you’ve said about me to your so-called friends to fit in with them, and to be fair, I’ve not exactly been complementary of you. I mean—who genuinely has a set of croquet mallets in the corner of their bedroom and buys focaccia on a student budget?

(I say budget. I’m not sure you know what the word budget means.)

I plan to confront you on it. I wait in the hallway outside your bedroom door, counting the cracks in the plasterwork that our landlord failed to tell us about. When I hear you leaping up the stairs two steps at a time I stand and we catch eyes for the first time today.

“What the fuck are we doing?”

You frown. You’re good at frowning. It’s the kind of frown that makes me want to forgive you for all the things you haven’t done to me yet. “What do you mean?”

I roll my eyes. The temperature has lowered a couple of degrees, somehow, but that’s maybe because the radiator up here is fucked. Or maybe it isn’t. “Look—am I some sort of joke to you?”

The look that crosses your face is something I’ve never seen before, not on you. Your trainers scuff across the carpet as you make your way closer to me. Close enough to raise suspicion if one of our housemates happens to walk by, because even they don’t know about whatever we have. Your eyes soften and their blue reminds me of the pull the moon has on the tides, the Tenerife Sea. “Why—uh… Why would you think that?”

It’s obvious, it’s fucking obvious. I just shake my head.

“Maybe we should stop doing this.”

“But I… I don’t want to.” You turn almost shy, miles away from the cocky boy trying to impress me with your muscles all those weeks ago. “I like you, Josie, I really like you. I’m just astronomically shit at, uh, serious…”

The words trail off and eventually we’re eclipsed in silence, other than the juddering boiler in the airing cupboard opposite us. My hand reaches up to cup your cheek and its rough and sharp with stubble (the day after we first kissed my own were hazed in red) but your lips were always softer than the other boys I’d been with. I should walk away. It should be the easy way out.

But if it is the easy way out, leaving you behind, why is every atom of my being screaming otherwise? A phoenix thrashes in my gut and there’s a forest fire raging through my skeleton and I should turn away, right now, before they possess me.

“I won’t hide away from us. As long as you don’t either.”

It’s not what I expect you to say. Perhaps it’s the shock of it that forces me to kiss you. Even though I promised that I wouldn’t, not again.

(That night ends in your bed, and the alarm clock on your bedside table ticks on.)

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