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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1. Not Romantic Love.

The waitress wanders over aimlessly placing the coffees in front of both me and Liz, not bothering to make sure whether she’d got it right and wanders back to the counter. Liz grabs both mugs and swaps them rolling her eyes and letting out a small laugh.

“Caramel Latte, Miss?” She mocks as she slides mine in front of me.

“Divine.” I say just as mockingly, and watch as she laughs. I let out a chuckle and take a sip of my latte. I watch as the waitress sighs about the place, looking like she’d rather disappear off the face of the earth than work for another minute here. Her boring brown hair is tied up into a bun, and matches her dull, worn out face. It seems like she rolled out of bed this morning determined not to make an effort. But there’s a hint of sadness to her expression as she wanders from table to table, behind the counters and back out carrying plates. She must only be in her twenties, but the lack of make-up and effort to drag a brush through her hair ages her extensively.

“So Katie,” Liz starts, blowing on her mocha and bringing my attention back to the conversation at hand. “Are you settling in well with Mr Alex?” There’s a mocking tone to her voice that I don’t quite appreciate.

“No, I want to move out.” I say bluntly. Maybe a little bit sharp to the tongue.

She laughs as if I’m joking and then reads my face, dropping hers and frowning at me.

“Why?” She asks with an expression of horror on her face. “You and Alex are like soul mates, what’s going on?”

“I don’t think I love him anymore.” I bite my lip anxiously and watch as her face freezes in the same position.

“Wow.” She drinks from her mug and looks away before saying, “So what are you going to do?”

There’s a bustle in the café as a bunch of teenage girls prance through the door laughing and chattering loudly, oblivious to the calmness they’re so rudely interrupting. I watch as one of the girls, tall blonde and leggy, walks over and sits herself down at the table behind Liz. The rest follow like sheep and sit around her, still talking about hair extensions and ‘what Jamie said to Lucy’. Or maybe it’s just me and my thoughts they’re interrupting. What am I going to do?

“Leave?” I shrug after a second’s thought. There’s not much else is there?

“But you’ve just moved in?” She laughs.

I don’t answer. I go through every reason in my head why I shouldn’t be with him and there really isn’t any. Except that I don’t love him.

A memory suddenly springs to mind; last February Alex bought me a bouquet of roses for Valentine’s Day. He took one out of the bunch, put it into his mouth like a soppy old romantic, and turned up on my doorstep. Then he went down onto one knee and proposed. And I really didn’t feel anything. Out of every emotion I could feel at the moment my boyfriend from high school who I’d dated for four years straight, the one and only person I ever made love to and shared everything with proposed to me on the most romantic day of the year, I was embarrassed.

“I don’t know how I feel about him.” I say finally. “I think he was my shoulder to cry on when Ben left, and because we were such good friends then, it’s lasted this long. I don’t think love was ever involved. Not romantic love anyway.”

“For you, maybe.” She sighs. “What about Alex, Kate? He’ll be devastated if you leave!”

“So you think I should just stay with him and be unhappy forever? Because there’ll never be a convenient time to up and leave him, will there?”

“But why now? I just want you to be happy, Kate. But if you’ve been unhappy for so long then why didn’t I know about it?” She half-smiles, sighing, and takes a drink of her mocha. “If you being happy that means leaving Alex, then you can move in with me.” She smiles and continues to watch the people walking by the window as I stare long and hard at the blonde at the table behind Liz. She’s flipping her hair and laughing loudly as one of the other girls is goofing around doing some sort of expression. I envy the laughter. Not because I’m not happy, I just haven’t had any reason to have a good old belly laugh at something totally insignificant. The last time I did was so long ago I find it hard to remember.

After we’ve finished our coffees, we head out into the town centre and walk around, looking in shops and not buying anything at all. 

She asks about Alex a lot, and how the anniversary went – which was catastrophic (I moved in, we argued for about an hour about where to go for our romantic anniversary dinner which never ended up happening, he demanded ‘make up sex’ that night while I was still pissed beyond words, and I told him to fuck himself and rolled over and went to sleep), so I avoid the conversation by picking up one of the dresses on the rack and exclaiming how extraordinarily expensive it is. We walk around some more, and she doesn’t bring him up again.

“So my mum’s having her fortieth next month, you should come.” She smiles as we sit down on a wooden bench outside of Debenhams.

“Yeah, that sounds like fun.” I smile back at her. Liz’s mum is the most glamorous forty year old I’ve ever seen in my life. She often gets mistaken for being Liz’s sister. Once someone even thought she was younger, much to Liz’s annoyance.

“Tommy might be there, and I couldn’t stand it if he were, Kate. So I need you, for moral support.” She winks and nudges her elbow into me.

Tommy was Liz’s boyfriend back when we were in our last year of school. I had Alex and she had Tommy, and we were all pretty happy with ourselves. We were the only proper couples in the whole school. 

But Tommy broke up with Liz last month, and I hate how heartbroken he made my best friend. She’s still totally broken by him and I can see it in her eyes whenever she mentions his name, despite her attempts to fool me, or her attempts to fool herself. I can’t look into her eyes and not know how she’s feeling. 

His excuses were something of an all too familiarity to my own. “I don’t love you anymore” “It’s not you it’s me” “I’m sorry but I can’t keep pretending”. I just haven’t grown the balls in time to save myself.

“Why will he be there?” I ask, sitting myself down beside her.

“Mum made friends with his dad, he started working in her office last month. Timing couldn’t have been worse, but she thinks I’m ok with it all.”

“But you’re not.” I read, and nudge her arm with my elbow, “I know you too well Elizabeth Adams, you’re still hurting which is understandable. Surely your mum could un-invite Tommy at least?”

She shakes her head and sighs, “I don’t want to make a fuss, I really don’t. I’d rather just dress up, be sexy, have fun, get drunk, flirt, make him jealous and deal with the hangover later.” She laughs shaking her head. I let out an empty laugh too, and put my hand on her arm.

“I’ll be there.”

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