He was gone and now he's back.
I sat back on my bed, heart hammering. So that's what I was. A friend. You weren't my friend, Art. You were my lover. My first lover, my only lover. Friends make you laugh and support you and stop you feeling alone. They don't make you go to bed night after night curled up in misery. You're not my friend.
About the Author
Kate Cann lives in England with her husband, daughter, son and dog. She worked as an editor for many years before writing several books, including Ready?, Sex, and Go!, which were bestsellers in the UK.
Read an Excerpt
Everyone thought I coped brilliantly after Art dumped me. And I did'I functioned really well. A soggy, grief-stricken month or two and then, when I found he'd disappeared off to the other side of the world and there was no chance of just bumping into him somewhere, I felt a line had been drawn, and I got on with my life. I threw myself into my work. I walked, talked, went out, ate food. Even laughed, occasionally, although inside my head it sounded like an echo.
My friends approved of the way I'd come through it. We were all very hot on girl strength in our group, and mooning around after some git who'd let you down was seen as a definite weakness. And Mum was actually proud of me. It was like I'd been blooded on my first hunt, and survived with honor.
“No, she's fine,” I overheard her telling some cronies at one of their gatherings around our kitchen table. “She's revising, she's seeing her friends'frankly, I think she's all the stronger for it.”
“No one new on the scene yet then?” someone put in.
“Good God, no. Last thing Colette wants is another male in her life, with A levels so close.
No'it's all back to how it was before now.”
“Well, not quite, Justine,” someone else piped up. “I mean'how can it be. You know.”
“I know WHAT, Angela?”
“Um. I mean'they'I mean they were pretty involved, weren't they?”
“You mean they had a sexual relationship,” said Mum, heavily. “Yes, they did. But things are different nowadays, Angela. Girls don't get so . . . SILLY about things. Not like we did. They take things in their stride.”
“Oh, come on Justine, human nature doesn't change, humannature--”
“Angela'really. Colette's fine. She's put it all down to experience, and moved on.”
There was a long pause, broken only by the pouring out of more wine. I shuffled off upstairs.
So there you are, Art, I thought. Mum Has Spoken. You're not the great love of my life, you're just experience, OK? You're a learning curve, that's all. So get out of my head, you bastard. Get out of my soul. Leave me alone.
But he wouldn't. He kept coming back. Especially when I lay down in the dark to sleep. I remembered the weight of him, the way his skin felt, the smell of his hair, the taste of him, and I hurt with loneliness, with wanting him.
I'd lie there at night and fantasize endlessly about why he'd gone. I knew'I knew'some of the reason was what had been growing between us. I knew he'd been scared by it. We'd come through some really fierce times together, and you can't do that without a strong link being forged. We'd opened up to each other in ways we'd never opened up to anyone before. He was the first, the only guy I'd ever slept with. And the sex had been . . . I didn't want to think about how amazing it had been. How it had transformed everything, all the time we spent together, like some kind of secret, like wonderful music.
So I'd lie there and picture him sitting alone on a deserted beach, or alone in a crowded bar, gazing tearfully at the sunset, or into his glass, until suddenly with a great heart-tearing burst of emotion he realized it was me he wanted after all, me for ever and always. And then he'd leap to his feet and get the next plane back and come to find me, not stopping for anything . . . sometimes I had him practically swimming from New Zealand to get to me . . . and then, and then . . .
And then finally, I'd drift off to sleep. Only that didn't help, because of the dreams I had. Jesus, the dreams. We'd be following each other, circling each other, prowling around each other, at a party, or in the woods, or anywhere, and I'd see his face so clearly, and all I wanted was to touch him, get hold of him. And then I did get hold of him and we'd make love, fantastically, wonderfully, and I'd wake up wanting to howl with loss.
It made me really sick at myself, the way I couldn't just throw him off. I started to think there was something wrong with me. I mean'just how long does anyone need to get over a relationship? Even their first real relationship. Six months had to be enough. I was doing what you're supposed to do. I was getting out, getting on'taking exercise and not taking drugs, only drinking when I really felt I had to. It just wasn't fair. I was making an effort, honestly I was, but it wasn't working.
And the thing is, I couldn't even talk to anyone about it, not anymore. I'd had my allowable grieving period. To suddenly try to tell people that'hey, I'm not actually over him at all, I'm only alive when I'm reliving how we used to be together'nobody would have wanted to hear. It would be too scary to listen to. You're not supposed to feel things that long, let them chew you up that badly.
The way I see it is this. Some old lady's husband dies. Everyone's very sympathetic at first, very supportive, handing across hankies, ready with the arm around the shoulders. And then the sympathy gets less, and people start expecting you to pull yourself together a bit more. And you have to, or you cross some kind of thin line between what's OK and what's not OK. One side of the line you're just grieving very bad, the other side you're a total loony, lost in misery. You keep his photo on the shelf, nicely dusted, maybe even a vase of flowers next to it'that's nice.Love Trilogy #3: Go!. Copyright © by Kate Cann. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.