She had always tried to fix the broken ones but in the end they’d always broken her a little instead.
They met at a mutual friend’s boat party. All the girls had noticed him except for the laughing, carefree girl who had jumped off the bow of the boat with a beer in hand. Her lack of attention had fascinated him and he was drawn to her like a moth to a flame. He went straight for her as she grabbed another drink from the esky and introduced himself with a cocky pick-up line. Once he was on her radar she saw he had a bad boy vibe and a hint of sadness to him, which she quickly discovered she couldn’t resist.
He was the stereotypical Aussie footballer type; athletic, light brown hair, blue eyes and tattoos. He was private school educated, raised with money and had that slight sense of entitlement one sees in a person when everything is handed to them on a silver platter. He worked in the family business with his father who cheated on his mother most of his life. To him it was natural behaviour and he emerged emotionally stunted.
She was raised with laughter and two loving parents but not a lot of money. She moved out of home at seventeen and worked two jobs to put herself through university. She refused to get any Government assistance. If she wanted something she worked for it. Nothing in her life came for free. When it came to men she was an optimist, always wore her heart on her sleeve and always thought things would work out in the end.
They started sleeping together the night of the boat party with neither of them interested in a ‘relationship’. She had an indefinite trip organised long before they met so there was always an expiration date on whatever they were from day one. It was the first time in a while she wasn’t looking for something serious so her emotional walls were up. Despite their different personalities, social backgrounds and the warnings from various people, the arrangement suited them both.
Within weeks she was acquainted with his friends and family and when they were out he insisted on paying for everything. To everyone who knew of their arrangement they were carefree friends. At night however, behind closed doors, he slowly revealed to her his soul. She was surprised by his words and trust as it made her question the casualness of the situation. At the same time she was unsure of their status, she felt like she was a positive influence on him.
One night he picked her up from her bar job and took her back to his house. She hadn’t been feeling well all day so he offered her some pain relief. Whatever he gave her was strong, prompting her to ask what it was. He revealed he had spent some time in hospital for a bone eating tumour in his skull and the medicine was from that time. It had affected his blossoming football career and she could tell he didn’t divulge that information to many people. She was touched he had opened up to her about something so significant to him.
Later that night, unable to sleep from the humidity and feeling ill from the strong medicine, she lay awake next to him thinking he was sound asleep. She moved and he nervously asked if she was awake.
“Yes” she replied
“I love you” he whispered. Was she hallucinating? She wasn’t sure. An awkward amount of time passed before she spoke.
“Can you say what you said again to me?” He was silent. She rolled over, placed her chin on his bare chest and looked at him. “I’m not sure if I heard what you said correctly, you need to say it again”.
He spoke again repeating the same words which left her speechless. Because she had kept her guard up she hadn’t allowed herself to have feelings for him.
She didn’t know what to say so she kissed him and he kissed her back. After a while he realised it was a distraction and stopped to go use the bathroom. For twenty solid minutes there was silence. No flush of a toilet. No running of a tap. Nothing. He had gone in there to escape. When he finally returned he ignored her, got into bed, rolled on his side so his back was facing her and went to sleep.
The next morning he was brushing his teeth and walked out of the ensuite to find her sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked at him still confused and unsure if it had all been a dream.
“You said something to me last night and I don’t know if it was real or not” she said.
“Was it something good?” he responded
“I think so”
“Then it probably wasn’t a dream” he said before walking back into the bathroom. That was the last time it was mentioned. From that point on he pretended like it had never happened and she was too embarrassed to raise it again.
It took her a long time to pin point the very moment he went cold on her. Later she realised that the night he said those few words, the night she said nothing back, that was it. That was the moment. He had opened up to her and without realising it she had hurt him. When she had hurt him, he began to withdraw like a tortoise in its shell. To make things worse, the moment he began to build his walls, she saw it as the moment to finally let hers down.
For the next few months she battled with him to show his emotions again. She felt he ignored her unless he was drunk or it was late at night; usually both. He also liked to flaunt other women in front of her. After all they weren’t exclusive.
Every time she was on the verge of giving up he would somehow reel her back in with words or an act of kindness. Sometimes it was a display of jealousy or a drunken deep-and-meaningful conversation. He’d show the old him and her hope would go on. She would always ask him how he felt and about their situation to which he would always respond with “this is what you wanted”. She was a fool.
Any sane woman would have walked away but she felt too invested. She saw moments of greatness in him and held on tight to them when he was cruel to her. She thought he was punishing her and eventually it would end. It wouldn’t, because she couldn’t fix something that was unfixable.
The one great thing that came of it all was that it made it easier for her to leave when the time came. One night as they were walking through a car park with friends the subject of her trip came up. He said something about when she was back and when she told him she didn’t know if she’d even be coming back the look he gave her was forever burned into her memory. She saw then and there the realisation that crossed his face. He finally understood she wasn’t going on a holiday, she was moving countries.
On her last night in Australia she spent it with him. He even offered to take her to the airport. Towards the end he became kinder but at times was still distant, like he was phasing her out. Despite all that had happened she completely understood why. When she left she thought things had ended on good terms and they would at the very least remain friends. As she boarded her flight she sent one final text to him. It was her goodbye.
– SIX MONTHS LATER –
She was curled in a ball on the bed in her dank London basement flat. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying and the bed sheets were soaked in patches from where her tears had fallen. She had received an email earlier that morning which had devastated her. Though thousands of kilometres away, part of her was still in love with him. When he had reached out to him he had told her to move on and to forget they had ever happened. Despite being on a different continent on the other side of the world he had managed to once again hurt her.
He was in a relationship with a ‘friend’ of hers. She had found out thanks to photos of the two being posted on social media and not from the friends who knew of its beginning merely weeks after her leaving. She felt betrayed by many people despite them telling her it was withheld to spare her feelings. He had stated time and again he didn’t want a relationship but it turned out it he just didn’t want one with her. She felt like damaged goods.
When she found out she emailed them both to ask what was going on. He couldn’t have been nastier and her so-called friend declared “I have no loyalty to you”. Well that was that then she thought.
It was already going to be a long day before she had received the news. She worked as a bartender in Broadgate near Liverpool Street Station. There was an exhibition of expensive cars outside her bar that day which she knew would draw people in for lunch. Her clientele were mainly bankers and half of them were truly wankers; funny how they rhymed. She wasn’t in the mood for their shit.
In the middle of a busy lunch service she dropped an unopened bottle of red wine which shattered at her feet. A cut in her hand began to bleed from where the bottle sliced her and matched the shade of her now soaked socks. Her day was going from bad to worse and she was on a double shift. She still had to work the night shift which turned out to be equally as busy as the day.
Three guys had come in early in the evening and tried to lift her mood throughout the night. The first was obviously keen on her, the second was too good looking to be real and last seemed a little crazy. The one keen on her was a music executive for an international label. He was nice and attentive but she just wasn’t interested or attracted. The good looking guy was a personal trainer and the slightly crazy one worked high up for an airlines company. They were all English and friends from school, and all determined for her to have a good night.
When she finally knocked off the trio asked her to join them for a drink. It had been a long day and she needed one, so she agreed. They invited her to get a taxi with them to Shoreditch, the hipster, happening suburb of east London. Usually she didn’t accept or share rides with strangers, let alone three men, but this time she didn’t care; she needed the distraction. They ended up at a seedy nightclub which was open until 3am. All of her drinks were bought for her but she kept a close eye on them to make sure they weren’t being ‘roofied’.
The music executive kept making unwanted moves on her on the dance floor so she ran away to the bar. She was in line when the personal trainer popped up next to her. They began chatting and she discovered the slab of muscle was also heartbroken. The next thing she knew he was kissing her and she was allowing him to. When they came up for air she saw the music executive was watching them before storming off. She grabbed the personal trainer’s hand and led him out of the club.
In the cab on the way to her flat they established it was just sex. It was what they both needed despite being emotionally attached to other people. She went into stealth ‘Seth Cohen’ mode to sneak him in. Unfortunately for her, not only were her two Scottish housemates wide awake at that hour ever for the first time ever, they also had all their male friends over. The personal trainer received an absolute grilling.
When she got him to her bedroom he was so drunk he couldn’t get it up. They tried countless things before he pretended to fall asleep. No way in hell are you staying here mate. She knew he was faking sleeping because he lived on the other side of London. After ‘waking him’ she eventually convinced him to leave, booked him a taxi and walked him outside. It was eerily quiet.
I don’t know where I am” he said. A three legged albino fox ran past.
“You’ll be ok” she said turning away to go back inside. “We all will be”.
The next morning she pulled out her laptop searching for a much needed holiday and to get away from everything. She couldn’t go immediately, but at least by booking something then and there she could have something to look forward to. She clicked confirm and it was official.
She was going to Berlin.