April 3rd, 1989
Spent several rapturous hours lounging with Ben this morning in pure, utter bliss, with just the two of us at his. Then mum rang to say British Airways were trying to get a hold of me so I rang crewing.
“Good news?” Ben asked after I hung up.
“I think so. I just got called out for a four day trip to Athens, but not until Wednesday.”
“So you’ll be away for most of the weekend?”
“No. In between the flights to and from Athens, I’ll be staying at Gatwick.”
“Where?” he asked.
Sidling up to him, I said, “In a hotel.”
“BA will put you up?” His smile was enough to melt me on the spot.
Holding his gaze, I nodded my head yes.
“You can’t stay there alone,” he said, running his hand slowly up my arm.
“Do you have any idea who might want to join me?”
“I might need some time to think about that,” he said, pressing his fingers into my shoulder and pulling me to him.
A not so short while later, I suggested we go and see “Scandal,” because I knew Ben would love it (and of course, he did.) Afterwards, we went to The Harvester and halfway through dinner Ben became distant.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“Yeah, fine,” he said, without looking up.
I was hoping he’d ask “why?” but regardless, I continued. “You’re awful quiet.”
He scratched his neck. “Am I?” he asked.
I nodded my head yes. “Is your food ok?”
“It’s not great.”
“Do you want to swap? This Fettuccine Alfredo is delicious.”
“I’m sure you had better in Italy,” I said, hoping to engage him but all he said was, “Of course I did.”
We ate in silence and if there’s anything I hate, it’s being in the same vicinity as someone I can’t get a response from. Inside, I was beginning to fester and by the time we left, everything felt horrible and awkward, like we didn’t even know each other.
When we got in the car I told Ben I would drop him off at his, hoping he’d say no and that he wanted me to go home with him but all he said was, “ok.” We drove to his without talking and when I pulled up outside his house, he gave me a peck on the cheek and said, “Come over later if you want.”
As he was getting out of the car, I reached my hand over and brushed my fingertips against his lower back. I waited while he unlocked the door and I expected him to turn and wave but instead, he went straight inside and closed the door.
I burst into tears before I even rounded the corner, then I couldn’t seem to stop crying. I didn’t want to come home with red eyes, so I drove around for a bit. When I finally came home, I went straight into the bathroom, ran the water and splashed some on my face. I looked in the mirror and tousled my hair around my face, then I took a deep breath in and out and mouthed, “you’re fine.”
I went into the living room expecting to find everyone but only Nana was there. She was sitting in the middle of the couch with her arms crossed and her head dropped to her chest. Over the sound of the tv I could hear her snoring lightly.
I was about to creep out of the living room and leave her in peace, when she said, “Oh, is that you Karen?”
“Hi Nana,” I said, turning round. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“I was just resting my eyes,” she said, then she yawned.
I thought I might laugh because mum has been known to snore her way through an entire tv show, after which dad will ask if she had “a nice wee snooze,” to which she’ll say, “I was just resting my eyes.”
“Where’s Ann and my mum and dad?”
“They went to Janice and Terry’s so Ann could see the lassies.”
“Oh, she’ll love that. Those girls have every toy known to man. I used to love babysitting them.”
As soon as I said it, I thought about Ben and the times he’d join me while I was babysitting. I thought I might cry again so I made for the door.
“Is that you in for the night?” Nana asked.
I turned round and instinctively glanced at the clock. I calculated that even if I spent an hour at home I could still be back at Ben’s by around nine, but something about the way Nana looked at me made me say, “Yep, that’s me in for the night.”
“Oh good,” she said. “Your mammy and I took a wee walk over to the bakers this afternoon and bought an apple pie and strawberry…”
“Aye,” she said, getting up from the couch.
“I know,” she smiled and squeezed my arm. “Well, if that’s you in for the night, come on into the kitchen. I’ll make you a wee cup of tea and you can tell me what happened, to make your eyes so puffy.”