October 31st, 1989

October 31st, 1989

Excelsior Hotel, Heathrow Airport

There’s a ridiculously rowdy room party next door, which probably means not much sleep for moi. While I was fumbling with the keycard, trying to get it to open the door, three giggling girls stumbled out of the lift and made their way down the corridor, to the room next door. I’m guessing, from their matching French maid costumes, it’s a Halloween party. Either that or somebody is fulfilling a fantasy!

On my way here, I stopped at the girls’ flat, where, surprisingly, they were all home. Kimberly initially appeared melancholy and it seems obvious to me now that the poor girl suffers from some sort of depression. She’s not quite on the level mum is because Kimberly still manages to function and hold down a job; something mum wouldn’t be able to do in her present state. I guess there are different levels. I just wish mum’s wasn’t so severe.

As usual, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the subject of our love lives (or in my case; the lack thereof.) Lorna said if she ever meets Ben, the first thing she’ll do is, “Kick him in the goolies.” I told her I don’t think that would solve anything but she said the whole point of it would be to give her the satisfaction of knowing she’d hurt him.

Kimberly commented, “I think Karen should get back together with Jon.”

“Och no, no,” Meryl purred in her soft, Scottish lilt. “Karen needs to stick with David. Not only is he gorgeous but I love his American accent.”

“What Karen needs,” Lorna said, “Is a wild trip fling.”

“That won’t solve anything,” Kimberly chimed in. “It would only create more problems. If Karen goes back with Jon, she’ll avoid anything like that.”

“No way,” Meryl said. “You should never go back with an old boyfriend. Especially when you can have a new one who lives in LA.”

“Eh, I’m still here,” I laughed.

“I really like Jon,” Kimberly said, fitting her tiny frame between Meryl and I on the couch.

“What is it about Jon that you like so much?” I asked.

“He’s just like you.”

I gave her a questioning look. “How so?”

“He’s always happy.”

 

October 30th, 1989

October 30th, 1989

At home

Started the week off right by ringing in fit for work, so once again I’m on standby. I was really hoping crewing would have a trip for me so I wouldn’t have to hang around here but with any luck, I’ll get called out soon.

 

 

October 29th, 1989

October 29th, 1989

At home

It was the smell of bacon, wafting up the stairs this morning that got me out of bed. Even although it’s been years since I last ate meat, there’s something about that smell that makes me salivate.

“Hiya dad,” I said, grabbing a slice of toast from the toast rack. I noticed he had the table set for three.

“Morning, hen.”

“That smells amazing,” I said, slathering the toast with butter.

“Aye, I hope you’re hungry.”

“Can’t you tell,” I said, waving the toast.

“Go and see if mum wants to come down and eat something.” He said it in such a matter of fact way that I made for the door before I stopped and looked at him.

“Did you hear me?” he asked.

“Yes, sorry, yes I did. I’ll go and see how, eh, what mum wants to do.”

Going up the stairs, I knew there was no way mum would get out of bed, let alone join us at the table for breakfast but I knew from dad’s tone and the way he’d set the table that he was longing for some semblance of normalcy as much, if not more, than I was.

I knocked gently on mum and dad’s bedroom door, before slowly opening it.

“Mum? Are you awake?”

Mum was facing the wall but from her breathing I was pretty sure she wasn’t asleep so

I climbed onto the bed.

“Mum,” I said, gently placing my hand on her shoulder. “Dad’s cooking up a storm down there, do you think you can get up for a little while?”

No response.

“I can give you a hand getting up, if you want. It’s a really nice day, probably chilly but the sky is clear blue.”

I got off the bed and opened the window blind.

“See? Lovely blue sky just what you like.”

I sat on the edge of the bed and reached around to pat mum’s shoulder. “Ok, mum. I’ll make sure dad saves some of that lovely bacon and I’ll make you a bacon sandwich. Would you like that?”

Nothing.

By the time I got back to the kitchen, I felt at least a stone heavier.

October 28th, 1989

October 28th, 1989

At home

Ben rang first thing and asked if we could meet so we could talk. He said he’d come over but there was no way mum, or dad for that matter, would want him here, so I arranged to meet him.

Walking across the street to the shops, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrancy of the Autumn colours, almost at their peak. I felt nervous and excited at the prospect of seeing Ben and when I spotted him standing by the phone box, my heart did a little flutter but it was his smile that just about finished me off.

“Hey you,” he said, quietly.

“Hi,” I breathed.

“Spectacular day.”

“It really is.”

“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked.

“Uh-huh.”

We headed in the direction of the bike path, an all too familiar place for us. At the spot where we almost kissed for the first time on a wintery night, many years ago, I felt tears spring to my eyes. Fortunately, Ben was forging ahead and didn’t notice. The more we walked, the easier it was to talk and by the time we reached the city centre we were actually laughing over goodness knows what.

“Are you hungry?”

I smirked. “When am I not hungry?”

“Common bond,” he said, laughing.

After gorging on Italian food, Ben asked if I was ready to go home. Knowing dad was with mum, I didn’t feel the need to rush home so I said, “Not really. How about you?”

He shrugged and said, “Dead Poet Society’s playing at The Point.”

“Is that the film with Robin Williams?”

He nodded, yes.

“I figured with this being a Saturday, you’d have plans for tonight.” I was referring to Mandy but I didn’t want to bring her name into the conversation.

“Nope,” he said. “I’m game if you are.”

In three seconds, I went from wanting to say, “Ok, let’s go,” to “No way,” to “I’d love to.”

The thought of a miserable night in with mum and dad (mostly dad, mum is still in bed) prompted me to say, “Sure, let’s go and see it.”

The film was excellent and afterwards we had a quick drink at the bar. When we stepped outside, the air felt crisp and much nippier than earlier but we instinctively started walking home.

The conversation flowed and half an hour later, as we neared my house, Ben blurted, “Maybe we can be friends after all.”

I felt myself smiling, inside and out.

And despised myself for it.

 

October 25th, 1989

October 25th, 1989

At home

For the second day in a row, I woke up crying from a horrible dream I had about Ben. In this one, we were in New York, on the observation deck of the Empire State building.

It was nighttime and the city lights twinkled below us, while the cabs created a stream of steady yellow, still evident from such height.

While I was taking pictures, I felt a hand on my back, pushing me. I lost my footing and started falling but my descent was in slow motion. In the dream my hair was really long and as I fell, strands of it covered my face. I pushed the hair off my face and looked up at Ben, still secure in his spot and I opened my mouth, but my scream was silent. Ben started laughing wildly and that’s the point where I woke up and heard the phone ringing.

Because I was crying, I made no attempt to get up and answer the phone, but after a minute or so, it rang again so I dashed downstairs.

“Hello?”

“Hullo hen,” said the lovely, soft voice.

“Nana,” I said, sounding like a child. “I’m so glad it’s you.”

“I was just phoning to see how your mammy is.”

“I hate to say it but I think she’s getting worse.”

“Has she been getting out of bed?” Nana asked.

“No, not since I came back and dad said not while I was away either.”

“Och”, Nana sighed. “Maybe I should come down? If I catch the train in the morning I’ll be there tomorrow night.” She paused. “Do you think I should?”

“To be honest, Nana. I don’t know if it would make any difference. You know what my mum’s like when she gets like this.”

“Aye, sadly I do. As do you and your daddy.”

“It’s awful.”

“I know it is, hen. Do you think your mammy’s bad enough that she might have to eh, maybe have to go into hospital?”

“Oh Nana, I can’t bear to see my mum going through that again.”

“It’s no what I want to see happening either but if the treatment helps…”

I cut her off. “It doesn’t help,” I shouted. “And it’s barbaric.”

I listened to Nana sigh.

“I’m sorry for losing my temper, Nana, I just feel really upset about pretty much everything at the moment.”

“What else is upsetting you, hen?”

Something in the kind tone of Nana’s voice made me start to cry again. “Ugh! I wish I wasn’t such a baby,” I said, wiping my eyes.

“You’re no a baby, you’re a young lassie wi a big heart.”

“A big, broken heart,” I sobbed.

“Och, don’t tell me that Ben is playing up again? Is he?”

I sniffed. “How did you guess?”

“What does your daddy have to say about this?”

“Which part?” I asked.

“What’s your daddy saying about Ben upsetting you? I’m sure he must be absolutely raging.”

“To be honest Nana, I haven’t told my dad, or my mum for that matter, about anything that’s going on. Mum’s already in a bad way and my poor dad is up to high doh trying to take care of her.”

“Aye, well I can understand that. Listen, it’s lashing here and the weatherman just said it’s no going to let up until the morra, so that’ll keep me in for the day. Why don’t you go and make yerself a wee cup of tea and maybe a wee bit of buttery toast that you like and then phone me back?”

“You make it sound too nice for me not to,” I said, with a smile.

“Good. Phone me back and we’ll put our heads together and hopefully, between the two us,” I laughed in response to her chuckle, “We’ll come up with something that’ll make life a wee bit easier.”

Thank you, Nana xxx

 

October 24th, 1989

October 24th, 1989

At home

I feel like I’m in a nightmare.

I know I still love him.

I feel heartbroken.

I know I must be crazy for even considering talking to him ever again.

I feel like it’s impossible to turn off how I feel about him.

I know that nothing will ever be the same between us.

I feel even sadder than I did back in June.

But the thing I know the most is that I can’t imagine my life without him in it.

Somewhere.

 

October 23rd, 1989

October 23rd, 1989
At home

Travelling on public transport with luggage is a nightmare; consequently, I didn’t get home tonight until after seven.

Mum and dad had previously planned on being in Scotland this past weekend to visit Nana, but obviously those plans changed. With mum in bed, the atmosphere in the house felt awful and within an hour of being home, I could no longer stand it.

I broke down and rang Ben, asking if I could go over and talk to him. Decided to walk instead of drive, if only so I could clear my head and think about what I wanted to say to him.

Susan answered the door and I could tell from her expression that something was off. Ben’s sister Jill and her fiancé were in the living room and we made small talk while I waited for Ben. Instead of him coming downstairs, he called me up to his room. He closed the door, leaned against it and said, “I have something to tell you.”

After he dropped me off at Heathrow, he turned around and drove up North to see Mandy. They spent a couple of days together, during which time they decided to get back together. There was much more said than that but I can’t write about it.

Didn’t he just tell me a few days ago that I was the one he wanted to be with forever? The one he wanted to marry and have kids with someday? The one he loves? Shocking doesn’t cover it. I really didn’t know how to respond with words, so I ran downstairs. Seeing the look of pity on Susan and Jill’s faces felt mortifying.

While I was putting on my boots, Susan and Jill came into the hall and mumbled a few words but I was too upset to speak. I don’t know how Susan ended up with a son like him. I really don’t.

I wasted no time heading out the front door but before I did, I heard Ben’s dad yelling. “Ben! Get down here. Now.” I scurried along the path and a minute later, I heard Ben calling my name. I made no attempt to stop but he eventually caught up with me.

The tears were coming fast and furious and I could barely speak. I actually don’t know what I said, but whatever it was, it made Ben turn and go home.

By the time I got home, I was drenched and I knew if dad saw me in such a state, he’d have a fit, so I crept, quietly into the house. My car keys weren’t on the hook by the door so I went into the kitchen to see if I’d left them there.

I spotted them in the middle of the breakfast bar and reached over to grab them.
“What are you doing?” dad asked, making me jump.
“Oh, sorry dad, I didn’t see you there. I eh, I’m just going for a drive.”
A look of fury spread across dad’s face. He opened his mouth but no words came out.
“I’ll be right back,” I sputtered.
“You’re no going out like that in this weather,” he said in a tone I daren’t question.
I dropped the keys back on the counter and came up to my room.

I really want to go in and talk to mum but I don’t want her to see me like this.

October 22nd, 1989

October 22nd, 1989

Night flight from MBJ – LGW, as a passenger

Presently sitting in Club World, on our way home to London. Hoping to finish “Eden Close,” by Anita Shreve, if Frankie ever stops talking. It’s interesting being on “the other side,” observing the crew in the way passengers probably see us when we’re working.

“Gosh, isn’t this a treat,” Frankie gushed when we took our seats; me in the window, Frankie on the aisle.

“It’s not too shabby.”

“And to think we’re getting paid for this.”

“I know, next time I complain about the trolley dolly life, be sure to smack me.”

Frankie laughed and gestured for me to, “come closer.” She whispered. “Do you think we’ll be allowed to have a drink?”

“I don’t see why not, it’s not like we’re in uniform, although technically I suppose we’re still working?”

“Let’s go with the first thing you said,” she grinned.

I hope at some point, I get another trip to MBJ, purely because all we got to see was the beach. I can’t imagine booking a holiday to sit around on the beach for an entire week. Don’t get me wrong, I love swimming in the warm water, reading and collecting shells, but the idea of sunbathing and lounging for more than a day or so, I find hugely unappealing.

“Do you think Ben might be waiting for you at Gatwick?”

“No, I don’t think so at all. He didn’t offer to pick me up so I’ll be going home on the train.”

“Maybe he’ll surprise you,” she said, in her ever hopeful tone.

I doubt it.