My phone beeped, and with wet fingers, I reached for it. I still believed that Cora would call me and tell me she needed me at work. But it was only a text. And it wasn’t from my boss.
“I am sorry Sweetie. I made a mistake. You know we fit. What we have is unique.”
“Leave me alone, Sam. Don’t get in touch. Delete my number.” I wasn’t ready for his games. He called, but I pushed him away.
“Please? I really need to hear a friendly voice. I am not well.” I was tempted to give in. I wanted him to be okay. But I stayed strong. I muted my phone, put it away, and let my body sink into the tub until my head was under water.
Things got clearer that way. What I had with Sam had been toxic all along. I knew now that I was healthier without him. All he had wanted was the pull of power. I wasn’t even sure if he had ever loved me. And I wondered if the feelings I had had were love or dependency. After all, Sam had made sure that I didn’t have a social life. He had wanted me all to himself. That way, it had been easier to manipulate me into doing what he wanted. I swore to myself that this would never happen again. Never again.
Days went by, and I felt better with each passing one. I made lists of things I liked about myself, about positive thoughts and wishes I had. I started to find a little love for myself inside myself. For the first time in years, I saw who I was. And I knew who I wanted to be. I only wanted to be me.
Finally, one late Thursday afternoon, I decided that it was time to face Matt. I had survived Sam, had licked my wounds, and kicked him out of my system. Now it was time to find out about Matt. I hadn’t listened to his voice messages, and that was exactly what I texted him.
“I haven’t listened to your voice messages, but if you are available, we could meet and talk. Or just talk. (Or write)” I hit send and made myself a cup of tea.”
“I don’t know. You stormed off, and I didn’t hear anything from you in ten days. I was worried.” Matt seemed angry. I hated that I couldn’t see him or hear his voice. It was hard to tell how he was feeling only by reading his words.
“I am sorry. I needed time. I ran into Sam,” I admitted, worrying my lower lip.
“So you are back with him. Is that what you wanted to tell me???”
“No. He is out of the picture. For good.” My phone stayed silent. Matt didn’t text back. I had lost him for good too.
I was thirty-five years old, lived my own life on my own, I had a good job and a nice home. I didn’t need a man to complicate my life. (I was able to do that on my own.) Maybe I was not meant to have a family. Maybe I was not meant to have a large group of friends. It would have been nice though. As I did so often, I settled down on the couch and started watching TV. I looked around my living room and felt proud of myself. I liked my home. Content, I took a sip of my tea. I kept an eye on my phone in case Matt would send a text, but I had no expectations anymore.
I couldn’t find a reason not to be content. Or was this happiness. I had done all I could. I had struggled to be who other’s wanted me to be all my life. These last years, I had been who Sam had told me to be. I had been without him for months and still, I let him rule my life. I stretched out on my couch with a sigh. And I smiled. Because with or without a man at my side, I was worthy of love. I was lovable. And I loved myself.
The TV became boring, and I found a playlist on my phone that invited me to dance. I didn’t get myself a drink of alcohol, and I didn’t smoke. That evening, music became my drug. Until there was a sharp knock on my door. I had a déjà-vu of Matt standing there. Our date on the bus. The rain. The lovemaking at his place. And Sam. I was a little disappointed to see that it was just my neighbour standing in the hallway. Not that I was expecting a grand romantic gesture. This was life. Not a movie. I made a mental note to watch less TV and smiled.
“I had some of your mail in my box. I’m Maddie from across the hall.” The young woman extended my letters to me, and I thanked her politely. “You’re new here? If you want, the girls from around here are going out once a month. Join us. It will be fun.” Maddie touched my shoulder and smiled. She was beautiful. A potential friend. And turned to leave.
“I’ll think about it. Thanks. I’m… I’m Shelly, by the way.” I sounded lame. As if I was trying to flirt. I smiled again.
“I know.” She smiled and left with a wave of her slender fingers.
I was pouring steaming water in a fresh mug of tea when there was another knock at the door. I expected Maddie to have forgotten to give me a letter. This time, it was a dripping wet Matt standing there with a raised hand and a bowed head.
“Matt?” At this point, I was ready to believe in hallucinations. “What are you doing here?” I was guarding the door like a doorman. Doorwoman. Whatever.
“I am dripping down on the carpet. You?” I laughed out loud and waved him in.
I had Matt standing in my living room. Dripping wet. With a sly smile on his face. I helped him out of his jacket on put it on a hanger. Then, button by button, I opened his dress shirt. It was soaking wet too. The only part of it that wasn’t wet was where it was stuck in his pants. He wanted to say something, but I put my finger on his lips and shook my head. Matt kissed my finger but took my hands off him, holding my wrists.
“We need to talk.” That never sounded good. Internally I groaned.
“Let’s… let’s sit down,” Matt pulled me to the couch and sat me down. “You listen, and I speak.” I didn’t like the sound of that at all. It felt too much like Sam. I moved away from Matt and unconsciously, my entire posture changed to one of defence.
“Let me explain about what happened. Eva and me we are divorced, right? It was finalised four weeks ago. She has Eddie with her most of the time. She left a voicemail that she had an emergency at work. But I forgot to check my phone. Because I was with you.” His voice was soft and what he was saying made sense.
“Now you. What happened with Dan?”
“Sam. I ran out of yours and bumped into him. We checked in at a hotel, had a fight and I never talked to him again.” It was the shortest and least humiliating version of the story. “Listen, I am sorry that I was such a mess.”
“Shelly, we all come with baggage. And that’s okay. We aren’t twenty anymore,”
I snorted and reassured Matt that I didn’t miss my twenties.
“The thing is, Shelly, we both have a past. You with Dan. Sam, sorry. And me with Eva and Eddie. But having a past doesn’t mean that we have to live in it. There is a present, and there is a future.”
I laughed out loud. If he was about to say that he wanted a future with me, I had to stop him. It was too sappy.
“I’m sorry,” I said still laughing. It was hard to breathe. After a while, he laughed too.
“Sorry, I am a dork.” I nodded. “Yours, if you want me.” He spread his arms as if he had to sell himself.
“Look at us. We are the cliché of a romantic comedy, aren’t we? If this is the happy end, the end credits will start rolling any minute now.” I hated to be a cynic, but I didn’t find a reason to apply a filter to my thoughts.
Next thing I knew, we were a tangled mess of arms and legs. We were kissing as if our lives depended on it. There was that spark I had felt the first time too. The freedom of not feeling self-conscious and just going with the flow. Our bodies told us what to do next. I had never experienced such a wave of emotions before. Again I was aware of the cliché of everything I was feeling. It was as if I had seen too many movies lately. I didn’t have time to become distracted by my thoughts though, because Matt knew precisely how to get my attention.
“Holy hell… do that again,” I begged, and he laughed out loud.
I had my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. A smile was on my face and try as I might, I couldn’t not smile. I lazily drew patterns on Matt’s chest, enjoying the simplicity of the moment. Outside it was still raining. It was a pity, if the sky had been clear, we could have seen the stars and the full moon. And although this was the second time we lived this moment, I was not afraid that it would end in a disaster like it had done the first time. I sighed. This was good.
We must have fallen asleep entangled in each other’s arms because I woke up and felt too hot. I couldn’t remember having slept this peacefully in a while. I felt it before I heard it; Matt’s chuckle.
“I wondered how I could get you off me without being rude or waking you up.” He kissed my forehead. I just groaned. I wasn’t a morning person and couldn’t understand how anyone could be. Ungracefully I tried to get my hair out of my face and failed which made Matt chuckle again. “You are too cute, let me help you.”
Before I could decline his help, he pulled me on my back and pushed himself between my legs. I shrieked in surprise. Making love in the morning had never been on my priority list, but this right there was a sure way to boost my mood. Afterwards, we took a shower together. Like two teenagers, we couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves, and I absolutely hated the way I giggled like a schoolgirl around Matt.
“When do you need to be at work?” I asked while I got dressed. He came up behind me.
“That’s the best part of being a writer: I can work from everywhere.” I turned in his arms and agreed.
We spent the day on my couch. We listened to music, watched movies, and once in a while, we had sex. It felt perfect. Too good to be true. I was used to being miserable and to overthinking my emotions and my actions, but there was something about Matt that made me forget my insecurities. It had never been like this with Sam. Not even in the beginning.
“Hey, I am going to head out, buy us something to eat and get a change of clothes. Is it okay if I come back here later?”
“Yes. Sounds like a good plan.” Matt took his boots and his jacket, kissed me goodbye and closed the door behind him.
I sank against the door with a smile on my face. I couldn’t explain what was happening, but maybe not everything had a reason to happen. Not even two minutes had passed, and there was a knock on the door. My eyes scanned the living room and the open kitchen area. I couldn’t find anything Matt had forgotten. Maybe I just didn’t know where to look? I straightened my shirt and my hair with my hands. Again, I smiled.
“Did you forget something?” I said opening the door, beaming at Matt.
“I forgot you.” Matt pulled me into a passionate kiss.
Months went by, and we fell into a routine of sleepovers and work. We rarely fought and most things Matt said were uplifting. Sam had tried to get in touch, manipulating me into seeing him with a guilt trip. But he hadn’t understood that I had changed. I was not dependent on anyone anymore. I loved Matt. But I loved myself more. I had found the light in me. I had found a little love in me, and I chose to share it with a man I loved. I had found home.
The End… Thank you for you attention and hopefully this little romantic tale appealed to you.