Catherine Micqu

Find a Little Love in me 81-100

81
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.


82
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.


83
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.


84
“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.”
*Ding*
“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.


85
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.


86
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.


87
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.


88
“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.


89
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.


90
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.


91
“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.


92
“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.”


93
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.


94
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.


95
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.


96
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.”


97
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.


98
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.


99
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.


100
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.

Find a Little Love in me 61-80

61

I splayed out on my couch in my most sensual pose and waited for my knight in shining armour.
“Hello?” he knocked on the door, and I heard his footsteps on the hardwood floor. I closed my eyes and puckered my lips. He chuckled.
“Shelly?” And I realised this wasn’t Sam. Sam never called me Shelly. He called me Sweetie. Always. He had done that from the beginning. Trying to unfold my inebriated body from my couch, I landed flat on the floor. Ouch. Strong hands grabbed me under my armpits and tried pulling me up. But getting my feet under my body was a challenge. We wrestled to gain control, and both slipped. A male body was on top of me.


62

Through blurry eyes, I recognised a familiar face that I couldn’t quite place. He scrambled off me, and I blew my hair out of my face.
“You alright?” He reached out his hand, and I grabbed it. With a groan, we both landed on the couch.
“Have we met?” I slurred.
“Not face to face, no.”
“Fuck. No way. You are Matt. How did you get here?” I pushed his shoulder and giggled.
“I thought we should meet and I came over. Hi, I am Matt.”
“You should’ve called.”
“And ruin the surprise? No way. You would have told me not to come.”
“I am dreadful.” I tried to hide my head in shame. I didn’t even want to imagine how I looked.


63

I must have passed out because I woke up in my bed with a very fuzzy mouth.
“Sleeping beauty,” I frowned and wiped the drool out of the corner of my mouth, trying to find out where that voice was coming from. My hair was clogging my sight, and I was noisily swallowing past the cotton in my mouth. And then it hit me.
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” I sat up too quickly and felt dizzy at once.
“Good morning to you too,” Matt chuckled with his gravelly morning voice.
“I’m Shelly. Nice to meet you,” I stuck out one hand and covered my face with the other.
“You said that. Last night. A couple of times. I’m Matt. Still Matt.” He took my hand and laughed out loud.


64

“I need to go to work,” I realised and panicked. I jumped out of bed, horrified to feel that I was only wearing a shirt.
“Relax, it’s Sunday.” Matt was still grinning. His chest was bare.
“Right. Right.” I groaned and flopped back on the mattress. “Usually I am not such a mess. I simply overdid it last night. I am really sorry.”
“No worries, Shelly. Tell you what, I’ll raid your fridge for some breakfast and you go and take a shower.”
“I am disgusting, I’m sorry.”
“Stop apologising. You are amazing. And stunning.” I snorted, but Matt kissed my temple and left the bedroom. I stared at his naked back.


65

I looked at myself in the mirror and blushed with embarrassment. My eyes were puffy, my hair was sticking in every direction, and I was practically naked. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and released it again. At least I hadn’t slept with Matt. I took a quick shower; I didn’t want to let him alone in my home for too long. Dressed in a tank top and loose pants, I joined Matt in the kitchen.
“Nice hat,” he pointed at the turban on my head with a smirk. I scrambled to get it off and took the mug Matt was holding out to me.
“I didn’t know how you’d take your coffee…”
“Black is okay.” Matt fit right into my kitchen. In my life too?


66

Matt still wasn’t wearing a shirt, and his jeans hugged his ass. He was soft around the middle, but an attractive man nonetheless. I kept staring and storing every inch of him away until he cleared his throat.
“I swear I am not a psycho!” I took a sip of my coffee. It was delicious. “And saying that doesn’t make me any less creepy. Urgh…!” Matt chuckled again.
“I like you a lot, Shelly. So… any plans for the day?” I hadn’t thought that far ahead. And why was he so relaxed while I was freaking out?
“Let’s take the bus.”
“The bus?” I wondered out loud. “To where?”
“To wherever it leads.” Matt shrugged, and I was sold.


67

I gave Matt one of Sam’s old shirts. Yes, I had moved three of Sam’s shirt with me. But now I was glad I had done that because Matt’s shirt wasn’t ready to be worn. After having cleaned my kitchen together, we left my apartment. I turned to look at Matt while we were walking down the street. He didn’t notice.
“So… what happened last night?” He didn’t look at me when he asked his question. I shrugged
“I wish I had something great to say, but honestly, I just got carried away and forgot to stop drinking on time.”
“Good, I like your honesty. I would hate to know that this was a regular situation?”
“No. It’s not. I am not an alcoholic.” I felt offended, at the same time, I felt also cared for.


68

Matt’s hand slipped into mine naturally.
“Is this a date?” I asked, knowing full well how lame it sounded and how unimportant it was. Matt shrugged and pulled me into one of those tourist’s buses. We climbed the stairs and found a spot. The sun was shining down on us, there were some clouds, but they weren’t looking threatening. Talking with Matt was easy. We had many things in common. There weren’t any awkward silences, but lots of laughter and banter.
“What happened with your wife?” I breached more delicate territory.
“The usual. We fell out of love. She found someone else, made me feel like shit and as if it was my fault. Took Eddie, my house, my money, everything, and left.” I was sorry I had asked, and I apologised.


69

“Tell me about that other guy. Dan?”
“Sam. He broke up with me and gets in touch once in a while. Like, he expects me to drop everything to have phone sex with him? Stuff like that.” I admitted and began fidgeting with the straps of my bag.
“Do you do it? The phone thing?” I blushed, I guess that was answer enough. Matt chuckled.
“Really? How does that even work? I am a writer, inspire me,” he taunted me.
“I can’t. I mean, what do you want to know?” I would not talk dirty with Matt face to face. Not while we were on the bus.


70

A light drizzle made Matt and me move closer together.
“It’s just a shower, it will be over soon,” I claimed, and at that moment the drizzle turned into a downpour that soaked us to the bone. We hurried down the stairs to find shelter inside the bus, but it was too late, we were dripping.
“Let’s go have a coffee.” On the next stop, we got off the bus. I wanted to run, but Matt caught my hand and slowed me down until we came to a halt. The scene was absurd, yet utterly romantic. Like out of a movie. Matt’s hands were in my hair, my hands played with the hair at the nape of his neck. His lips came closer and closer until they touched mine.


71

An electrical surge went through me, and I moaned into Matt’s mouth. I felt his lips turn up into a smile. Instead of going for coffee, we headed back to Matt’s place. To change into dry clothes. That was the lie we both told ourselves. We knew what would happen once we were alone inside the confines of his home. And we didn’t waste time and wrestled each other out of the sticky wet fabrics that clung to our skin.
“You are stunning,” Matt told me in between kisses and while he was pulling my shirt over my head. My entire body reacted to him. His touch made me feel things Sam never made me feel. And he weaved a blanket of kisses across my naked body. When we were united at the core of our beings, I couldn’t believe the wave of emotions I was feeling. He was shaped perfectly for me. I came many times that night.


72

Lying in Matt’s arms, playing with his chest hair, I felt like home. I felt safe and understood. His fingers were running up and down my arm, and we didn’t talk. I was listening to his heartbeat instead. We had a moment in a perfect bubble. Until the door to Matt’s apartment flew open and a female voice called out his name. Our bubble burst.
“Shit,” he cursed disentangling himself from me in a hurry.
“Daddy!” The bedroom door flew open, and an excited kid came running in. I had barely enough time to cover myself. Behind the kid, a tall woman was shooting daggers at me. If looks could kill, I would have dropped dead.
“Wait outside, Tiger. I’ll be there in a minute.” Matt forced a smile into his voice.
“I’m sorry Shelly.”
“Yeah… no… it’s okay.” I didn’t bother to try and find my underwear. I just ran.


73

I felt humiliated. And I didn’t care if he had lied and the woman was his wife, or if she was his ex. The situation was embarrassing. And his poor son. Such a bubbly child. And he had found his dad naked in bed with another woman. Tears of anger streamed down my face as I made my way back home. I could have called a taxi, or taken the bus. But the crisp air after the rain felt good. People were looking at me sideways. I was a mess. Since I was not paying attention where I was going, I wasn’t all too surprised when I collided with someone else.
“Sweetie? Are you okay? What happened?” Sam. I sank into his arms and was reduced to a bawling mess.


74

“Breathe Sweetie,” Sam ordered. I looked up at him. My eyes were pleading for him to love me; to protect me. “I’ll take you home.”
“I moved,” I informed him between sobs. Sam pushed me in his car, and we drove off. To my surprise, he didn’t drive me home (I hadn’t provided him with my new address), and we didn’t drive to his place. He stopped at a hotel.
“Why here?”
“Neutral ground.” And it made sense.
While he checked us in, I waited in the lobby, watching him. I felt cold inside. My heart was racing, but there was no passionate fire inside of me. Not for him.


75

Sam ushered me to the elevators, and within minutes he opened the door to a luxurious suite.
I turned to him, speechless and out of breath. He had never done anything like this before.
“Sam,” I swooned.
“Let me take care of you, Sweetie. I will run you a bath.” It sounded amazing. I really needed a bath. I felt sticky, and Matt was still clinging to my skin.
“Thank you,” was all I could say to Sam. My Sam. He was back for me. I shrugged out of my jacket and put it over the back of a chair. I hugged myself tightly to keep the pieces of myself together. Then, I followed Sam to the bathroom.


76

Sam stepped closer to me. I inhaled deeply. I had missed him so much. I ran my hands through his hair and down his face. He was real. My saviour. Wordlessly, he began undressing me. There weren’t many clothes. Just a shirt and jeans.
“No underwear? Kinky.” He smiled his devious smile. Sam didn’t waste time. Already he was kissing my breasts and fondling my pussy. The cold and hollow feeling didn’t leave. I wanted to feel different. I tried to enjoy Sam’s hands touching me, but I didn’t. It was pretense. I had to feel ecstatic after having missed him for so long. Right? Why didn’t I?


77

I let Sam go through the motions.
“You were with another man,” he stopping kissing my body and pushed me away.
“We are not a couple,” I tried to say, but Sam looked at me with disgust.
“After everything, I did for you. You slut!” Sam yelled at me, and my tears just rolled down my cheeks silently. I didn’t want to cry.
“You broke me into pieces. You push and pull at me. You broke up with me. Not the other way around.” While yelling back at Sam, I got dressed for the third time that day.


78

“You love me. And you know it. You can’t leave,” Sam crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. “You are nothing without me.”
“Well, then I think I prefer to be nothing. Goodbye Sam. And thank you. Thank you for putting my feet back down on the ground.” I said it calmly, collected my bag and was on my way out.
“God knows, your feet must have been stuck in the air a lot these days.” He couldn’t let me go without a final shove. I didn’t slam the door. I didn’t yell or scream. I just walked out. In the lobby of the hotel, I realized what just happened. I called a taxi and drove home. To my sanctuary. Once inside I ran straight to the bathroom. All my emotions were vomited into the toilet bowl.


79

On Monday I went to work as a shadow of myself. Sam hadn’t gotten in touch, and I was grateful for that. Matt, on the other hand, had tried to call and left several voice messages. I didn’t feel brave enough to listen to them. At noon, my boss asked to talk to me.
“You didn’t have any days off this year so far. It’s time, Shelly. Take two weeks, sort whatever it is that is bugging you and come back with your usual smile. Please? You are scaring the parents.” Weakly, I tried to protest and said that I didn’t need a vacation, but I knew that Cora was right. I signed the papers for my leave and went to say goodbye to my colleagues. I was hugged that day. And they didn’t spare their pitiful looks when I left the building.


80

Left on my own devices for two weeks, I didn’t know what to do with myself and with my time. I fell into a lazy routine of sleeping, Netflix, and ordering takeout. Outside it was raining again. And I hadn’t changed my sheets. Even after a week, they still smelled like Matt. Determined, I got out of bed and began cleaning my mess. I even changed the bedsheets. After a day of physical activity, I already felt better. I went to the bathroom and ran myself a bath. A vision of Sam doing the same pulled at the edges of my thoughts. But I didn’t let it in. Sam was the past. Once and for all.


To be continued…

Find a Little Love in me 21-40

21

But was that love? In hindsight, it felt more like hate. How was I supposed to like myself when everyone I ever loved hated me? I was lost. My life was empty. My heart was too. The only thing I loved was my job. It wasn’t enough. I sighed. Taking my phone, I opened my social media apps. They all felt superficial. I didn’t belong anywhere. How had I let it get this far? Sam had ruled me and my life. Everything I had done in the last three years was for him. Nothing for me. And now I was lost.


22

There had to be something for me to do. There had to be a way for me to find myself. There had to be a way to understand who I was without Sam.
“Family emergency. My son had to have surgery. His appendix was removed.” Matt’s message took me by surprise. I hadn’t known that he had a family.
“Sorry to hear it. Who is with him now?” I dreaded the answer. And it came faster than liked.
“His mother is with him.” I didn’t want to feel betrayed, but I did. He had asked me on a date. Twice. But he had never mentioned a family.


23

My friendship with Matt was shallow. I wanted to ask if he was still married, but I didn’t dare. What was allowed and what wasn’t? I didn’t know. I was an intelligent woman, working in a social job, without any notable social skills. What I had for myself was contempt, and I didn’t want to go on like that anymore. I didn’t need a man in my life. I needed to understand who I was. I needed to find ways to love myself, to accept myself. And only if I were able to succeed in this, I would be ready to love again.


24

I started by treating myself to a couple of new clothes. Out with the old, in with the new. I disregarded every notification my phone sent although it was hard to ignore it and I made a conscious effort to think positive thoughts. Some days I hated my new self. Some days I remembered Sam and the way he had said my name. I remembered the pictures he had sent me too, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t thinking about me once in a while too. After all, three years were not easily forgotten. I had a long way to go to find a way to live without him.


25

“Hey, Sweetie.
“Do you think about us sometimes?”
“I miss us.”
Three messages from Sam and my heart went like mad. I knew that I lost control every time he came back into my life. And I knew that he liked to play with me and my mind.
“Sweetie, this is ridiculous. Say something.”
I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to keep my distance, but I also wanted him. I would always want him.
“How are you?” I messaged back.
“I miss us. I miss the pictures you sent. And I miss your dirty mind. I miss how you did everything for me.” I swooned. Until I realised that the things he missed most were the ones I didn’t want for myself anymore.


26

He was playing with me again. Sam knew exactly what to say and which words to use to win me over. He knew what I needed. But as I progressed with my self-love, I realised that I needed new things.
“Tell me you miss me, Sweetie!” It made me wonder. Did I really miss Sam as much as I told myself that I did? Did I really need him in my life? Or was it just that he saw me and that I thrived with his affection.
“I am busy now.” I tried to deflect.
“Let’s stop it here then. I don’t want you in my life anyway. Don’t ever get in touch again.” I looked at my phone and was in shock.


27

It hurt, and it took all my willpower not to beg him to stay. But this was exactly how our relationship had been. I had not given him what he wanted, and he blew up in my face. While I would have crawled on my knees and asked for his forgiveness in the past, I merely shrugged it off now. I was angry. But I knew that he would be back. It was what Sam needed. I had what he wanted. Not giving it away freely anymore made him want it even more. I knew how to push his buttons. Two can play that game.


28

For once, I didn’t let Sam’s behaviour negatively affect me. It felt like a small victory for me. Only, I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Apart from one person.
“Matt, are you there?”
“Sure. What happened? 🙂 ”
“Nothing, I just wanted to have a friendly conversation,” I tried to play it cool, but I wanted more than just a short back and forth tonight. I wanted his attention.
“And you thought of me? You are the cutest.” I smiled with pride.
“I have my moments.”
“You are amazing, Shelly. And you know it. Men must be running down your door all day long.” I did not expect that.


29

“No. Not really. You are overestimating me.”
“I don’t think I am. I really like you.” And I liked Matt too. But I remembered his family. I didn’t want to break up a family.
“How is your son?”
“He’s good. With his mom this weekend.”
“Are you married? Separated? Divorced?”
“We are separated, I guess. We haven’t lived together in months.”
“Okay,” I didn’t know what else to say. Matt came with a past, so did I.
“Share some music with me… I need some distraction.” I smiled to myself, he had guided us back onto safe territory.


30

For the better part of the next hours, we sent links of songs back and forth, discussing them at length. I liked it a lot and time seemed to fade with Matt on the other side of the screen. His words made me laugh. He made me feel good. But I wasn’t satisfied with that. I was the maker of my own bliss. I should have been the one who made myself happy. And I understood that as long as I needed someone else to be happy, I would never really feel true happiness. Was I turning into one of those New Age people?


31

I decided it would be easiest to go with the flow and get rid of the pressure I was putting on myself. After all, I had a good life. I had a home, I had a job, I had a car. Materialistically speaking, I was well off. I severely lacked in the emotions department though. I shed my clothes and slipped into a hot bath. I exhaled and closed my eyes. I was my own worst enemy. Maybe I had the power to be my own best friend too? The scent of the foam that had formed in my bathwater was clouding my senses, and soon, I was out of thoughts. My mind became a blank canvas.


32

But as always, my serene state was disrupted by my anger. Anger that was fueled by new messages Sam sent my way. He had left me, why didn’t he stay away. Why did he enjoy torturing me this much? The truth was, he didn’t know how I felt.
“It hurts when you get in touch just to have sex. I am not your toy anymore. I am not yours.” I hit sent and got out of the tub. Dripping, I padded to the bedroom.
“Who cares? I don’t. Tell me what I need to hear!”
“I don’t have anything to say,” I replied and muted his number.


33

Muting Sam’s number didn’t bode well with me. For the life of me, I couldn’t ignore him that way. I unmuted his number and went on with my day. Work was the usual. The kids were great, the colleagues were bitching about each other, and I tried to do my job.
“Hey, you. Listen to this song:”
“Later. At work now,” I replied in between changing messy diapers. It was nice that Matt thought about me at random. And he rarely demanded anything from me.
“Tell me about your day when you’re home.” I smiled, Sam had never asked me to share my daily life with him.


34

Once at home, I changed into comfortable clothes. Comfortable clothes meant getting rid of the socks and bra and getting into yoga pants and a flowy top. I put my hair in a messy bun and made dinner for one. With my eggs and rice and spinach, I trotted to the living room. My phone was waiting for me. The TV was flickering on the wall, my attention was divided between my food and my phone. I listened to the song Matt had shared and smiled. It was an artist he loved to share with me.
*Ping*
“What are you doing?”


35

“What are you doing?” Matt asked again.
“Sitting on the couch. Having dinner. You?”
“Sitting on the couch. Having dinner.” I smiled.
“Copy paste, stealing my words.” He replied with a photo. He had never sent a picture of himself before. I had never seen his face. But now I knew that he was wearing a black T-shirt and shorts. His hairy legs were crossed at the ankles, and his feet rested on a coffee table. He had nice feet. The TV was on at his place too, and in the corner of the picture, I saw a plate with food. For a moment I wondered if I should reply with a selfie too.


36

And I did. I sat up straight and pushed my breasts out, sucking my tummy in. My legs were resting on the couch, the plate was on the floor next to me. I just checked that I didn’t have my face on the picture and hit send right away. No time for self-consciousness.
“Nice” came the prompt reply.
“Thank you. What are you watching?”
“Big Bang Theory,” I starred at the phone, then at my TV. The same show was playing in my living room.
“Me too.”
“Awesome.” I wanted to reply with ‘Bazinga’, but that would have meant that I was joking, and I wasn’t.
“Must be fate,” Matt added. I nodded.


37

I didn’t want to believe in fate, but this was weird. I decided to change the subject.
“How is the writing going?”
“Oh you know, not well. Writer’s block.” I felt for him.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You are at once distraction and inspiration, lol.” I knew he didn’t mean anything by it, but it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to keep him from work. I poured myself a glass of wine, deciding what to do.
“Don’t overthink it. Everything is alright.” Matt wrote before I even had a chance to reply to his message.
“What gave me away?” I wondered.
“You did.” And again, I smiled.


38

That night I went to sleep with a smile on my lips. Matt was a nice man. If I weren’t careful, he would be my last thought at night and the first in the morning. I didn’t want it to happen, but I couldn’t prevent it. It was like an infection. And I had just fended off my last almost deadly love bug. I wished I didn’t feel this deeply. I wished I was less sensitive to feelings. But I was not. It made me good at my job. It made it hard to lead a normal life.


39

Human interaction almost always led to tears. At least when I was concerned. I wanted Sam. I needed him. It felt as if I had Matt, but I wanted Sam. My tears were soaking my pillow. My heart was racing a mile a minute. And my thoughts refused to make sense. One step forward and two steps back. Maybe I was more comfortable being miserable than stepping out of my comfort zone. I ignored Matt. I didn’t reach out to Sam. And life went on. I was the maker of my own destiny. And right now I didn’t give a damn about change or anything else.


40

I showed up at work, went through the motions and got home. There, I stuffed my face with whatever I found in the fridge and binged on unfunny sitcoms on TV. I read that it took twenty-one days to form a new routine. If I kept this up, I could as well lay down and die. I was in my mid-thirties, mentally unstable, and I was isolating myself from the outside world. Every invitation from family or work colleagues was declined. I hated myself. I hated who I was turning in to. And the feeling of being obsolete grew from day to day. No positivity left.


To be continued…

(Thirty minutes ago, I finished this story… all 100 chapters are done. I exceeded the planned wordcount of 10k by 300 words… oops)

Find a Little Love in me 1-20

1

I tried to forget him. I tried to find a way to live without the man of my dreams. But I couldn’t. Sam was in every memory; in every breath I took; in every word I wrote. My life went on. It had to. Although he had left me over a petty argument. My bed was empty without him. My life was empty without him. I needed something to fill that all-consuming void. Something. Anything. But I had no idea what that was supposed to be. He had left and he had taken me with him. Who was I without him?


2

Every morning, I got up, showered, had a cup of coffee and headed to my car. I got in, took a chewing gum out of the glove box, fastened my seatbelt and pulled out onto the street. My morning were dull. Ever since he had left me, there was no spontaneous lovemaking in the shower, no American pancakes filling my home with their sweet scent, no kiss that made me get out of the house too late. Every morning became efficient in their routine. No move was unnecessary. This boring way of life kept me from dealing with the pain of having lost him.


3

At work, I wore my brave face. I joked with the colleagues, and smiled with the parents who left their toddlers at our facility. My private life wasn’t allowed at my work place. Here too, I followed the routines that had set in. I peeled fruit and arranged it in bite-sized portions on plastic plates. I smeared bread with cheese and filled glasses with water. After breakfast, I cleaned sticky mouths and hands, and I changed diapers. All the while, I smiled and pretended to be happy. Singing, dancing, entertaining, and repeating everything again and again. It was the glue that kept me together.


4

My only weakness was naptime. Sitting in the bedroom, waiting for the children to find some rest, I too had time to think. I had time to miss him. I had time to count the days since he was gone. The even breath of the toddlers indicated that they were asleep. I exhaled, took my phone, and began to a scroll on my screen. On a site, I had recently met an interesting man. He liked to talk about movies and music. He liked books and apparently, he was working as a writer. I found him oddly fascinating, but Matt was no real distraction from Sam and my broken heart.


5

I had a private message and it made me smile. Matt asked about meeting me for coffee or a drink some day. He said he had tickets for a concert and if I wanted to join him, he would be happy. I didn’t reply to the message. I was not looking for someone else. I was happily licking my wounds. On the other hand, he had tickets to see Matthew Ryan and I had wanted to see him live for a long while. I didn’t know what to do and how to react. And I didn’t have time to deal with it right away. Saved by a crying baby.


6

But every workday has to end and mine did too. Walking to the parking lot, I thought back to that message and the invitation to the gig. Maybe I should step out of my comfort zone and do it. Just going with the flow and enjoy myself. I was not expecting to fall in love, but at least there was a possibility to have a nice evening with a man I enjoyed talking with. I didn’t have anything to lose. Apart from my broken heart.
“Pick me up at 7? I’ll text you the address” Before I could reconsider, I hit sent and drove home.


7

I was hungry. The fridge was full, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to eat. And so I kept opening and closing the fridge for a while, realizing every time that there was nothing new inside. I plopped down on the couch with a load of laundry to fold and watched reruns of “Murder, she wrote”. The show reminded me of my grandfather. He used to watch things like that all the time. With the TV on and mindlessly folding pants and shirts, I felt thoughtless. My mind was blank. It was new, but not unwanted. It made room for something else.


8

It made room for hope. For the first time in a while, Sam didn’t dominate my thoughts. I didn’t relive this or that situation while folding this or that shirt. Was I freeing myself from the shadow of my ex lover? We had spent three years together. Was I ready to let him go? Maybe my heart had moved on, and my head hadn’t? If I had friends I cared about enough, I would have reached out and asked for advice. But I kept every one away from me. I didn’t allow anyone to get too close to me. And that was why he had left me.


9

The sun was setting and it became dark in my home and in my heart. I turned on the lights, but there was some darkness that kept looming above me. I had these moments of abject loneliness, of hopelessness. Often, they came without a warning, and before I could even react, I was reduced to a bawling mess. There was this dark cloud that kept me company. A dark veil wrapped itself around my thoughts, choking every attempt of happiness. I turned off the lights, made sure that my door and windows were locked, and headed to the bedroom. On top of my already miserable state, Matt didn’t get in touch. He hadn’t picked me up to see Matthew Ryan.


10

I shed my clothes, they felt restrictive and suffocating, and got into bed. I grabbed my pillow – the one I had since early childhood and that comforted me with its smell, and inhaled. Why did everyone abandon me? Why didn’t I deserve some love? It took all the strength I thought I didn’t have to keep from sending a needy message to Sam. I didn’t want to be that girl. I was better than that. But I was lonely. Naked. Raw.
*ding*
“Hey are you okay? You didn’t share any music with me today ”
He was right. After having been stood up, I hadn’t gotten in touch. Was I supposed to act as if I didn’t care?


11

“Sorry Matt. I had a bad day” I texted him. It was the first time I even considered lowering my guards with him. Everything had been shallow until now.
“Wanna talk about it?”
Did I? Was I the kind of girl who poured her entire emotional baggage onto someone else? But I was in distress and I had nothing to lose.
“I’ve been left not that long ago. Some days it is really hard. I don’t know who I am without him. And I don’t remember who I was before him. It’s messed up.” I hit send and groaned. I didn’t expect and answer. But it came.


12

“You will be okay. The woman I know doesn’t need a man to tell her how to feel and who to be. Wanna meet for a drink tomorrow?” His text made me cry, and I was glad he couldn’t see me.
“I am sorry that I am such a mess,” I apologised.
“You are human and we are made of emotions.” I smiled. I didn’t deserve anyone this kind.
“I will try and catch some sleep now. Thank you for being there.” I ignored his invitation for a drink. I was in no shape to make such a decision.
“Sleep Shelly. I will be here tomorrow.”


13

I woke up and assessed my state of being. The heaviness from the day before was gone, only residual melancholia scraped at the edge of my thoughts. I took my phone and sent out a message before I began with my usual routine.
“Thank you for having been there. For now, I am better.” I didn’t wait for a reply. I got in the shower, shaved my legs and pubic area – just for me, and washed my body. Already I felt more desirable. I took time to straighten my hair and find something nice to wear. I always did that when I didn’t feel all too well.


14

Work was over too soon. I had fun that day. The colleagues had complimented my hair, which lightened my mood. The kids weren’t any trouble that day, and even my boss had nothing but nice things to say. I didn’t think about Sam. But Matt was a constant in my thoughts now. His kindness, and his willingness to be there at my worst – it meant something to me. I had a fuzzy feeling inside. And whenever he was on my mind, I smiled.
“Still up for that drink? I will be at the Club tonight.” Confident and satisfied with myself, I got home to make the best of me.


15

As I sat there nursing my beer, I didn’t wonder why he hadn’t replied to my message. My mood was too good. I smiled and I flirted, but the longer I sat in that bar alone, the more I wished I wasn’t there. I started to feel uncomfortable. All eyes were on me. Or at least it felt that way. Matt had stood me up. All talk, no action. I grabbed my tote bag and threw some money on the counter. It was a heavy tip, but I didn’t care, I felt tired. I just wanted to go home, and forget about this evening. Matt was just like him. I was too stupid.


16

I wrote several messages but I sent none. They all sounded petty and childish. I wanted to act like an adult. We weren’t a couple. There had been no promises. Matt had asked me out twice. I should have waited for his affirmation. I groaned and threw my heels in the closet. In the bathroom, I rubbed my face with a washcloth until the mask came off. My face was red and swollen. I felt raw and swollen on the inside too. Just to punish myself, I opened old chat logs of Sam and me. He had been charming in the beginning. Until everything had become about sex.


17

For Sam, I had become a slut. I had sent nude pictures in various positions. He had asked to show myself like this and like that. Once in a while, he sent something back. It had felt good to take these naked pictures. To see myself as a sensual being. It had changed me. But the knowledgeable that he still had those pictures made me uncomfortable. I wanted to text him and ask him to delete my pictures. But who was I to believe that he had kept them? I was sure he had moved on, and that he had found a new woman to manipulate. Anger rose in me. Why didn’t he say something?


18

“stupid,” I pushed out through clenched teeth. I didn’t believe in regrets. Was Sam making me regret our time together? I chose to believe that I had changed in our three years together. I wanted to believe that I was more of a woman now than I had been before. I was stronger. And I was weaker. Most of all, I was alone. Before him, I had had friends. Now that he was gone, I only had myself. And I didn’t like my own company a whole lot. I raided the fridge to stuff my face. No need to look pretty for anyone anymore.


19

Matt didn’t get in touch. He didn’t apologise for standing me up. There was silence on all channels. I messaged him a couple of times, but even after telling him that I was worried, he stayed silent. It worried me even more. In the meantime, I tried to distract myself with cleaning my home. While doing so, I realised that I didn’t have any hobbies. I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was on my own. I didn’t want to go out and meet new people. I wanted to be on my own. But I didn’t want to feel this lonely and alone


20

I realised that Sam had put me here. I tried not to think about him and mentioning his name, but it was the truth. Sam had wanted me all for himself. I dressed the way he wanted. I ate what he ordered me to eat. I felt what he made me feel. He had been my guide. My light. He had made me who I was. But he was not here anymore. He had moved on as soon as he had made sure that I was broken beyond repair. “No one will ever love you like I do.” Sam had repeated those words again and again.


To be continued