April 4th, 1989

April 4th, 1989

At Ben’s

I’m in the guest room at Ben’s after what I’ll say has been an interesting evening.

I was in the kitchen this morning, enjoying tea and toast with Nana, when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey babe,” Ben said, sounding chirpy. “I was just wondering what you’re up to today.”

Interesting, I thought. No mention of me not going over last night.

“I’m taking Ann to the pictures She wants to see Baron Munchausen.”

“I’d love to see that.”

“Course you would, Uma Thurman’s in it, plus you’re a bigger kid than Ann is. Needless to say, you’re welcome to come with us.”

The way he said, “I thought you’d never ask,” made me laugh.

“I can pick you up at…”

“No, I’ll walk over to yours.”

“Ok.”

“Can you talk?” he asked.

“What, now?”

“Yeah.”

I looked through the glass wall into the kitchen, where Nana was sitting at the table, looking preoccupied with the newspaper spread before her. Mum was upstairs and Ann was in the garden, playing with Tini.

“I can, but only for a minute.”

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” he said.

“Ok.”

“Ok what?”

“I don’t know,” I mumbled.

“Sounds like you can’t talk.”

“I can.” I said, “but I don’t know what to say.”

“Fair enough. We can talk later after we’ve been to the pictures. Yeah?”

“Sure,” I sighed.

“I’d still like to drive you to Gatwick tomorrow morning.”

“I’d like that too.”

“Good. I really love you, babe.”

“I love you too.”

The movie was elaborate and awful and of course Ann loved it. She looked so cute sitting in between us, with the oversized popcorn and coke Ben insisted on buying her. When the movie was over, we drove to mine. Ann excitedly began telling mum and Nana about the movie and I excused myself and went upstairs to pack the last of my things for tomorrow’s trip.

I knew once I went downstairs, it would be time to say bye to Nana and Ann because they’ll be gone by the time I get back. I hate saying goodbye but I can usually hold it together and keep a smile on my face.

Ben took my suitcase out to the car and I went into the kitchen. I said bye to Ann first and told her I’ll see her again soon. Nana looked much sadder than I’ve ever seen her and I even saw her wipe away a tear. I bent down to her and gave her a huge squeeze. Then I kissed her cheek.

“Once I get some time off Nana, I’ll come up to Scotland and stay with you for a few days, ok?”

“I’ll look forward to that hen but I know you’re busy with your job.”

Just then, Ben came into the kitchen. “We can drive up to Scotland sometime,” he offered, putting his arm around my shoulder.

“See, Nana? I already have a driver.”

I kissed Ben. “I’m holding you to that.”

Ate dinner here with Ben’s parents’ then we went up to his room, where he soon became distant again.

“You said earlier that we could talk tonight.”

“What do you want to talk about?” he asked.

“I don’t know but this feels weird and I don’t like it.”

“It feels strange being home again,” he stated.

“How come?” I asked.

“It’s hard to go from one place and thing to another.”

“Are you not happy to be home?” I asked.

“In some ways yeah, in others no.”

“I hope I’m included in the yeah part,” I said, standing up. He didn’t respond. “Am I?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, without looking at me.

I stood in front of him while he sat on the bed. “You don’t sound very convincing.”

“Why are you so angry?” he asked.

“I feel like you’re running hot and cold. One minute we’re completely wrapped up in each other, which feels amazing. But the next you act like you don’t even like me.”

He stood up in front of me. “Me, me, me,” he said into my face.

I took a step back. “That’s unfair. And just so you know, you’re the only person who ever makes me feel like this.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Conflicted? Annoyed? Upset?”

“There are things I want to tell you.”

“Such as?” I asked.

“All kinds of things that have happened in the time I’ve been away.”

“Just this time or last time too?”

“All of it,” he said.

“I don’t want to know.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“I think it’s time for a fresh start.”

“Because there’s stuff you don’t want to tell me?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Florida, for instance.”

“We were split up when I was in Florida.”

“Ah, so you did sleep with someone,” he said, sitting on his bed again.

“I did not.”

“You’re a terrible liar.”

I sat on the bed beside him. “I’m not lying. The fact is we were split up at that time, so what I did and what I didn’t do doesn’t matter. Just like it doesn’t matter what you did during that time in Italy. But we’re back together now and I think we should start with a clean slate.”

We fell back onto his bed and lay side by side but didn’t touch or speak for a long time. Of course the silence eventually got the better of me and I scooted up onto my elbow.

“You know what I feel like doing?” I asked, looking down at him.

“What?” he asked.

“I feel like getting stoned.”

He bolted upright. “What? You’ve never done that.”

“Nor have I ever had any desire to. But right now, feeling like this, it’s exactly what I want to do.”

 

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