Accidental Cupid

“How do you get content with loneliness?” She asked, nobody in particular.

Vera is unfortunate in love. Unfortunate seems to be an understatement for the shambles that is her love-life. It always started off perfectly – meet a nice guy, talk to him for a bit, go on a date and then kiss was the catalyst. Once she gets kissed, she never gets a call back, no good morning text, nothing. Then she saw the relationship updates the following morning – So-and-so is now in a relationship. The first time it happened, she put it down to a one time thing. The second time – merely a coincidence. But the thirty-sixth time it happened? Something wasn’t right.

And it’s up to Vera to discover what.

With great power comes …a lot of mistakes and lots of awkward encounters.

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1. i: anagnorisis.

[anagnorsis - by aristotle's definition, anagnorsis often refers to the point of discovery and/or recognition]

 

It started at her first house party. Vera was full of excitement, bursting at the seams as she modelled in front of the mirror in her new dress. The dress hugged at her curves, the horizontal lines running down the dress created a silhouette that she wasn’t sure she could pull off outside the dress. Her afro curls sat on the top of her head, wishing to be untouched by that dreadful comb. She sighed in resignation – maybe, she’d just leave it like that. Her caramel complexion gave off an ethereal glow that she could only assume was the lighting of her room.

The familiar ringtone of her iPhone fills her ears, and she throws her pillows on the floor in a bid to find it. It’s coming from somewhere on the bed, she just knew it. The muffled sound came from directly in front of her, and she could see the outline of the phone under her duvet.

“Yello?” She said, breathlessly.

“Mate, you sound like you’ve been running a mile.”

Vera smiled, despite the subtly tied insult. “See, my love for you makes me breathless.”

Her friend groaned audibly on the phone, making the grin on Vera’s face increase in size. “We need to find you a boyfriend, quick, so I never have to hear the romantic shit that comes out of your mouth.”

“So appreciative, Gemma.”

Gemma ignored her friend’s comment. “Mitchell’s going to be there, just so you know.”

Vera’s heart nearly fell over as she felt the smile grow on her face. She tried to stop it, she really did, but she couldn’t.

“Vera, you there girl?”

Vera realised that she hadn’t answered at all as she was pre-occupied by her imaginary arms wrapped around an imaginary Mitchell, as he whispered sweet nothings into her ear.

“Yeah, I was…distracted.”

Her friend’s cackle filled her ears and managed to fill her room once she placed her on loudspeaker, well away from her ears. Vera carefully placed her discarded pillows back on her bed and sat down, while she decided which shoes to wear. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but it was back then. High heels would possibly be too much – like she cared too much about other people’s opinions, and that wasn’t the impression she wanted. But, trainers wouldn’t suit her dress. She eventually settled for the black platform boots, with the tiniest heels, with the guidance of her best friend.

“Gah-dayum.” Vera heard a whistle just before she was about to leave.

She turned around to see her older sister leaning on the bannister. The bags under her eyes gave her untold stories of her sister’s sporadic sleeping pattern. Vera knew that the tablets in the bathroom shelf wasn’t just multivitamins but Vera didn’t want to question her sister.

Shut up.” Vera could feel her cheeks becoming hotter and she was grateful for the dark skin she’d been given. Seeing Vera blush would have created endless torment from her sister, if she had lighter skin.

“Who you gon’ see?” Eliza batted her eyelashes.

Vera was jealous. How was it fair that her sister inherited her mother’s eyelashes and she was stuck with her dad’s short ones? Vaseline and mascara can only do so much.

“It’s just a party.” Vera said through gritted teeth, wanting now, more than ever, to leave her sister’s knowing gaze.

Eliza raised a single eyebrow. “Mm? And nobody special might be there?”

Vera couldn’t lie to her sister, yet she didn’t want her sister having the satisfaction of seeing her squirm before her gaze.  Instead, Vera grabbed her coat off the hook and hurriedly opened the door. “I gotta go, Gems gonna be mad if I’m late. Bye!”

“You better come back before 2am or I’m telling Mum!” Was all she could hear from the inside of her house before it slammed shut.

*

Vera was sure she wasn’t drunk. The world was a bit topsy-turvy, but she was sure that she wasn’t drunk. She giggled at daft jokes, but she was sure she wasn’t drunk. She certainly wasn’t like Melissa, whose retches could even be heard from the back-garden and Vera was sure that she was beyond drunk. Wrecked, even.

On a scale of one to a five, I’m a 2.5 on the absolutely wrecked scale, she thought to herself as she guffawed loudly at someone’s joke.

“VERA!”

She barely heard the voice over the pounding music, but a tap on her shoulder brought her out of the surrounding conversations. A girl next to her with frizzy hair pointed in the direction of the door leading to the conservatory.

“I think she’s tryna’ get your attention?” Her words were slurred but Vera managed to make sense of it.

Vera squinted her eyes until she saw her best friend standing in the doorway, waving with a beer bottle with her hand. Vera waved enthusiastically back, until she saw that Gemma was dragging the guy she had the biggest crush on towards her.

 Mitchell looked even better when she was drunk. His dark skin had a blue tinge under the blue lanterns, and she almost wanted to use her fingers to poke his dimples whenever he smiled. There was something so warm about his dark brown eyes, that she immediately felt so at home in his presence.

“Vera, I low-key thought that Gemma was lying when she said you were here!” Mitchell grinned.

Vera laughed, and she hoped that her laugh didn’t sound too crazed or nervous. “Yeah, I almost wasn’t gonna come until she forced me.”

“Well, I’m glad you came.”

Maybe, it was her drunk state or it was her imagination but Mitchell held her gaze for a lot longer than usual. She put it down to her imagination, and turned back to her friend’s conversation. Out of the corner of her eye, she could feel his gaze on her whenever she laughed or someone said her name. Yet, every time she wanted catch his attention, he’d be engrossed in his own conversation.

“We’re going to the kitchen, you coming Vera?” Timothy asked her, standing up with the rest of his friends.

Vera shook her head. “Nah, I’ll stay here. I need the breeze anyway.”

“Suit yourself.”

She waved goodbye to them, and took a sip of her vodka and coke. It wasn’t particularly cold but the sudden breeze made the leaves above her rustle. Goosebumps appeared on her arms, and she tried desperately to rub them away but they were still there. Leaving her half-finished drink on the table, she stood up – clearly the alcohol no longer had an effect on her temperature.

“You goin’ inside?” A voice made her jump.

She turned around to see Mitchell chuckling at her reaction. She nodded, resisting her urge to cup his cheeks and hold his cheeks against hers.

“Come here. You’re cold.” When Vera furrowed her eyebrows, he pointed to her shivering hands.

She took a tentative step towards him and before she knew it, she was engulfed in a warm hug. She wasn’t sure if it was the heat from her cheeks spreading down to her whole entire body, or his hot breath on her cheeks. Once she was released from his grip, she started to take a step back instinctively.

They were friends. Crushes on friends did not end up well. She couldn’t-

His lips were on hers before she could do anything to stop it. She didn’t start it; she was sure of it. Or did she? Thoughts whirled around her mind when he stopped. She was sure that her mouth was slightly ajar in this moment.

“Vera-” He started to speak, his eyes searching for any reaction from the frozen Vera.

Before she could stop herself, she planted her lips on his again. She didn’t really know what she was doing but her lips seemed to move in sync with his. There were no fireworks but she could feel the butterflies building in her stomach while he brought her closer to his body. She leaned into his kiss one more time before separating herself.

 “I’m going to get a drink. You want one?” She said quickly, wanting an excuse to find her best friend.

He searched her eyes quickly, before nodding yes. He smiled, and those dimples she liked so much appeared, indented in his face. She wanted to skip away, but she kept her cool and headed inside. Even she couldn’t deny the tiny skip in her step.

*

The garden was emptier than it was before, so it wasn’t hard to spot Mitchell on the sofa, near the same spot that they had kissed. Her eyesight was a bit blurry, so she wandered forward.

“Hey, Mitchell-“

What she saw made her heart drop to the bottom of her soul. Mitchell was snogging Gemma. Gemma was snogging Mitchell. Mitchell was snogging Gemma in the same way he was kissing her ten minutes ago.

She dropped the glass onto the ground. The glass shards scattered and one piece jumped up and indented her leg. The pain in her leg was nothing compared to the pain she felt in her heart.

Gemma and Mitchell. Kissing. Smooching. Snogging. Her best friend.

Her best friend and the guy she liked.

“Oh my fuck. Vera! Wait!” She could hear her best friend’s shouts fade away as Vera made her way through the drunken maze of people.

The footsteps behind her started to fade once she made it outside of the house. Vera wiped away her tears with the back of her hand, leaving a dark streak on her hand. Her make-up was as messy as her mind, and she didn’t care one bit.

Gemma knew. She wanted to believe that it wasn’t Gemma, but she would know that strawberry blonde hair anywhere. Gemma knew, after all, it was Gemma’s intention to get them together at the party.

Vera’s mind started to swirl with questions. Or, was that Gemma’s true intention? Maybe, she wanted to get with Mitchell herself and maybe, all her attempts to get Vera and Mitchell together was just to get closer to Mitchell. Maybe, Gemma knew that Vera liking Mitchell was a lost cause so she decided to get in there herself. Maybe, all of this was a joke on her. Maybe, they had been secretly getting together-

The pain in her leg started to intensify once the alcohol started to worn off, and she could do nothing but limp on her bad leg.

She fumbled for her phone in her bomber jacket, and shakily tried to open it up. Ten missed calls and seventeen texts from Gemma, five missed calls from Mitchell and eight missed calls from her sister.

Her finger shakily landed on her sister’s name, accidentally managing to call her at…what was it? 2am in the morning.

“Eliza?”

There was a yawn at the other end of the line and a quick fumbling around before she got an answer. “Vera? What’s wrong? Have you been crying?”

She sniffled as her teeth chattered, “Can you come pick me up?” She peered across the road to look at the name of the street. “It’s Cumberlind Terrace”

“Stand somewhere light, I’ll come get you.”

It wasn’t long until she could hear her sister’s engine spluttering in the near distance. The alcohol completely left her system and all she was left with was her fresh wounds.

Eliza unbuckled her seatbelt and quickly made her way out of the car. She wrapped a blanket over her shivering sister and guided her to the front seat of the car. She started the car while Vera sobbed into the blanket, trying not to move her bleeding leg. She felt her sister’s hand moving in circular motions on her back, making her cry even more.

“VERA!” The familiar sound of her best friend’s voice made her heart race.

She didn’t want to see her, she didn’t want to speak to her, she wanted to get as far away from this place as possible.

“Eliza. Drive.”

Eliza didn’t need her to repeat the words, as she reversed out of the parking space. Gemma quickened her pace before breaking out into a full-blown sprint. Vera’s watery eyes glazed over when she had a look in the car’s side view mirror.

There Gemma was, with her crazed strawberry blonde hair, huffing and puffing after Eliza’s speeding car. After a few seconds, she had given up and collapsed to her knees in the middle of the road. Vera looked away again, not wanting to change her decision.

As the car was getting further and further away from the party, Vera caught a glimpse of Gemma holding hands with a particular dark hand.

Vera’s heart plummeted. Again.

 

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