Confessions (teaser short story)
Meet Kat Evans, the protagonist of my next planned novel Confessions, in this teaser short story.
* * * * *
The few moments just after we finish making love are always perfect.
Sunlight streams through the window, bathing the room in a gentle golden light. I rest my head on Sam’s chest and close my eyes. I hear his heart slow to a normal rhythm; feel his breath, warm on my temple. His strong arms hold me close and, for those few precious moments, it feels like he’s really mine.
I feel him trying to move, trying to pull away; immediately the sharp, painful pang of reality hits me. I feel like I’m flailing around in an ocean, struggling to stay afloat. I let him go, because it would hurt more to hold on, to appear that needy.
Sam gets out of bed and dresses. I let my head drop to the pillow and watch shadows ripple over his toned abdomen until he finishes buttoning his shirt. I don’t have the energy to move or the motivation. The longer I linger, the more seconds I have with Sam Ayers, the man I have loved for five years. Every second counts. I don’t know when I will see him again.
“Do you really have to go?” I hate the sulkiness in my voice. I’m supposed to be cool, calm, unaffected. I’m supposed to be in control. Should be in control. I’m not the one with everything to lose.
But it’s Sam who’s the calm one. “I have a meeting at one, and I’m late.”
I try to level the playing-field. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
He finishes doing his tie, then sits on the bed and takes my hand. “Why not?”
I run my free hand over the top of his and tap his wedding ring. “That’s why.”
Sam sighs. “Kat… I’m leaving her.” I pull my hands back, curl in to a protective ball. I’ve heard this story, this bullshit, too many times.
“I just need a little more time,” he continues. “To sort everything out.”
Now I am drowning.
Tears prick my eyes. I roll over, away from him. I don’t want him to see I’m hurt. I come face-to-face with a framed photograph of him and her, his wife Gabriella, on their wedding day.
I dated Sam on and off for four years. Being with him was like an addiction. When I was with him, I felt normal; when I wasn’t with him, I felt like a piece of me was missing. I was always craving my next hit, stumbling through life, always waiting for Sam to come back and make me feel like me again. We never broke up properly. We’ve always been drawn to each other, like ships to wreck. We bring out the worst in each other and yet, it feels as though we can’t survive without each other.
He went to Spain for six months for work and when he came back, he was with Gabriella. A whirlwind romance he called it. They met in Barcelona, immediately became an item, were soon engaged, then married and I thought it was all over between me and Sam.
Three months after I read about his wedding in the paper (and burnt the article in the fireplace for emotional cleansing), I ran in to him in a club, we got talking and… well, you can guess the rest of the story.
I realise that I’m fixated on Gabriella’s big, gleaming white smile. Why her? Why not me? What has she got that I haven’t got, apart from fake teeth?
Sam’s smile drives a dagger in to my heart. I have never seen Sam smile like that in real life. He’s not a man who likes to show emotion and, somehow, she managed to get that smile out of him. That crazy, deliriously happy grin. I rack my brain for a memory, a life-saving image that would lift me from the ocean floor. In all of those four years we were dating, did I ever make Sam that happy?
“Kat.” His hand lands on my shoulder. “Kat.” His voice has gone brittle; he’s panicking, or annoyed.
I roll back over. “Tell me why.”
He sighs again and shoots me a hopeless, exasperated look. “It was the wrong time for us. I wasn’t ready to settle down back then. Neither were you.”
I sit up. “And now’s the right time?”
“As soon as I get everything sorted out, we can be together. Properly.” His eyes are pleading with me to accept this. “I’m really late.”
“Okay.” It’s not. How could it be? But I don’t know what else to say, and if we part on an argument, I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.
He sighs, relieved. “Okay.” He bends down and kisses me. “I’ll see you soon. Gabriella’s out for lunch. She won’t be back until later. Help yourself to food. You know where everything is.”
Yes, I do, I think, with a little bit of guilt.
He leaves and I linger in bed for a while, until I start to sweat under the duvet, then I get up and get dressed.
I wonder what it would be like to be married to Sam, to live in this beautiful house. I open the wardrobe and check out Gabriella’s clothes, just out of curiosity. It’s all Dior, Prada, Victoria Beckham.
I borrow some of her perfume. I do this every time. Only a tiny bit and never from the same bottle, in case she notices. I dab Chanel on my wrists, then hold them up to my nose, inhaling the fresh, floral scent.
My eyes rest on my reflection; tired eyes, messy hair, my old leather jacket and faded jeans. I would never fit in to a house like this, maybe that’s why me and Sam can’t be together.
I make myself a coffee in the kitchen. They have a really expensive coffee machine. It makes the best cappucino in the world. Froths the milk until it looks like bubblebath. I imagine sipping one of these every morning before work. I wonder if Sam eats breakfast with his wife. I wonder if they discuss the news or stock market, or whatever it is rich people talk about at seven in the morning.
Suddenly I am overcome with jealousy. I feel heat creeping along my skin, making it tingle. I have the urge to chuck the coffee machine through the glass french doors.
Throughout our affair I have clung to the thought that I would really hate to be the wife. The one who’s lost her man and doesn’t even know it. But I’m starting to feel like I’m the loser. She gets to eat with Sam every morning, sleep beside him every night and see him at the weekends. I get whatever scraps of time Sam has left.
I sit down at the table with my coffee, pull an owl cushion out from behind my back and chuck it across the kitchen. I find myself thinking about Sam’s wife. What’s she like? What does she do in her spare time? Who is this woman who managed to get the biggest commitment-phobe in the city to marry her in less than a year?
I’ve never thought about Gabriella, or how she might be affected by the affair. I’ve only thought about Sam, and mostly myself. In a way, she doesn’t seem like a real person, just a character in a terrible play - “The Wife”. I’ve only met her once, very briefly, on a night out and she was with Sam, who was intent on keeping us apart. I’ve managed to stave off guilt through jealousy. It seems like the woman has everything, including the man I love, but what do I really know about Gabriella, other than she wears designer clothes and presumably likes owls?
She likes modern art. The house is filled with silly little sculptures and paint-splattered canvasses. That’s not Sam. He said the Tate Modern was where art went to die.
She’s volunteered at a school in Ethiopia. There’s a photo of her surrounded by grinning kids.
My girlfriends say she must be a bitch. This is partly how I’ve been justifying my actions. He wouldn’t be cheating on her if she wasn’t a bitch.
Thing is, she doesn’t look like a bitch, and even if she was, is doing bad things to bad people really any less reprehensible than doing bad things to good people?
The front door slams and I freeze. The click of heeled shoes spells out seconds to doom.
I look around the kitchen. I could make it out the patio door, round the side and out to my car.
“Sam? Are you home?”
I bolt for the door and twist the key. The stupid lock is stiff. I’m making too much noise.
I look behind me. There she is, tall and glamorous, and gaping like a fish. I finally get the door open and run.
I hear her shoes slapping on the patio; she’s chasing me.
“I knew you were sleeping with my husband! I can’t believe you.”
She sounds like she’s crying and I keep on running. There’s nothing else I can do. I don’t have an explanation.
“Stop! I want to talk to you.”
I press the button on my key, hear the car unlock, then a shriek. Gabriella is face-down on the pavement. She raises her head and her nose is all bloody. She waves her hand in front of it, as if she can’t believe it. Her eyes are bulging with shock.
“Oh gosh!” I run to her side and help her up. She’s shaking so badly that she can’t even stand without leaning on me. “I’ll take you to hospital.” It’s the least I can do.
Gabriella is fast-tracked through A&E. Nobody else there had a shirt soaked with blood. I stand outside the door with a vile vending machine coffee while she’s in with the doctor and try to get hold of Sam. He’s not answering my calls, as usual.
I always thought that I would be the one who would end up getting hurt in this horrible mess. I was wrong.
I see Sam running across the car-park, and I stand there with my mouth open. What on Earth could I say?
“Where is she?” he asks me, before he has even recovered his breath.
“She’s in with the doctor. Her nose is broken, but she’s okay.”
Sam is silent for a moment. He runs a hand through his hair. “Does she know?”
His face changes; falls, sags, deflates, and I realise that he was never going to leave her.
My vision blurs as tears fill my eyes. I look down at the ground. “It’s over. I don’t want to see you anymore.”
Sam strides right past me without a word, and I’m so shocked that I feel my hands shake.
For the past three months I have been dreading this moment, the moment I would finally, definitely lose him forever. But instead of feeling crushed and collapsing in to a flood of tears, I was thinking about the five long years I have been incurably in love with Sam and, for the first time, I found myself wondering... why?
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Georgie Bull is a freelance writer and published author living in Worcester, England.
Author: Georgie Bull
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