Chapter 12 - Amanda Morton
Staring up at my bedroom ceiling, I wondered what kind of person I’d turned out to be; and whether it was for all the right – or wrong – reasons.
To start, I was now a teenage parent. Although the better part of the first two years of Jamie’s existence – from his point of conception to his first birthday – were kept completely hidden from me, I still felt that this had to be one of the biggest milestones in my life; though thrown at me quicker than a bullet to my head, regardless.
Second, I had fallen in love with the most amazing, brilliant and most beautiful girl to walk the planet: Casey Stewart, the mother of my child. Despite the outcome of her string or lies about Jamie and the destruction it caused between mine and her relationship earlier that year, I never stopped loving her. She’d meant the world to me and I never realised just how much she meant to me until I almost lost her on the two occasions she had removed herself from my life: the day she said goodbye before she left for Scotland and the day she told me she never wanted to see me again.
I’d never realised how much pain a person could leave with someone when they no longer wanted to be a part of their life anymore. The pain that burns through your skin each moment of every day you’re not permitted to see her; it hurts like hell. All because of stupid mistake…
Next up is the cause of all this pain… an on-going, on/off,ridiculouscause for this pain: Amanda Morton. Yes, I’d briefly uttered the word ‘love’withoutthe word ‘not’ in the same sentence as her name in the past, but now I could do no more than spit at the sound of her name. Her name sent venom coursing through my blood after all the havoc she had caused, perhaps intentionally through her wrath of jealousy; she had always been the jealous type.
For as long as I had known her, she had always wanted what she couldn’t have, and this had resulted in a multitude of good, bad, profitable and, ultimately, disastrous outcomes. Funnily, I’d seen this all happen before and never suspected it to happen again this time around.
She’d done this before, when Casey first moved to Scotland and I’d broken up with Amanda through nothing of her doing and purely my reckless guilt of confusing feelings towards Casey at that time. I’d never told her the truth behind our break up, I wasn’t that cruel, but no doubt she figured it out for herself by putting one and one together. She wasn’t stupid, after all. In fact, she was very smart and knew exactly what to do to get things running in her way once more.
She’d sent countless numbers of texts and phone calls over that period of time, proclaiming her love for me and begging me to take her back saying that she wouldchangeand that she’d do all she could to be abetter person. But I knew she would always be Amanda and thatnothingwould change the personality she was; not even the likes of me.
Eventually, I’d warmed to her texts and phone calls and mellowed down. I even felt that I could possible still ‘love’ her and that getting back into a relationship was a possibility again. But that all shattered on the first day of college.
The moment I saw Casey’s face on that first day back in September, everything that had previously been going on in my head for the last year about Amanda and everything else had disappeared. Everything that had been confusing before suddenly became clearer. Although she still looked as she had done before she left – quite tall, with an average slim figure – I had taken into account a slight change in her build, for example: her hips were slightly broader, her curves more prominent and her chest more…you know… but I only really considered this change to be due to the possibility of a poor diet in Scotland, as opposed to it being her post-pregnancy figure. No matter how she looked – before or after – she was, and remained to be, a natural beauty in my eyes.
A knock on my bedroom door awoke me from my daydream and brought me back to the real world. I turned my head to the left and peered at the digital clock on the side table. I’d been staring at the ceiling for the best part of an hour or so.
“Ben?” Mum asked from behind the wooden door, “Are you awake, love?” I sat up and stretched as my joints clicked into place after being frozen for so long.
“Yep,” I answered, shaking myself out and relaxing against the headboard.
“You have a visitor.” I held my breath, perhaps it was Casey… no, I wouldn’t be Casey…
“Oh. Alright, send them in.” I replied. As the click of the handle and squeak from the hinges reached my ears, the door swung open and in stepped Amanda, who quickly shut the door behind her again. She remained on the other side of the room and smiled at me nervously. I neglected to be friendly in return. What was she doing here?
“Hello,” she whispered, waving her hand a little in my direction like a shy little school girl, “I haven’t heard from you in a while.” I remained silent. A frown was gradually forming on my forehead at her and my breathing had thickened with quick intakes of air through my noise as I inhaled each breath. She gulped, took a deep breath in herself and took a couple paces in my direction.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, trying not to be too harsh in my tone yet forceful enough at the same time. She came to a halt and placed her left hand on her elbow, playing with the rolled up sleeve. Her mouth opened, as if to say something, but soon closed again. She looked down at her feet, which she had crossed one in front of the other; a typicalinnocentlook, on her part.
“Well,” she murmured, still looking at her feet, “I-I miss you, is all.” She looked back up at me with wide eyes nearly on the brink of tears. I, on the other hand, was not feeling the same as she was and rolled my eyes in annoyance. This was typical of her too; she does something wrong and guilt tricks you into forgiving her and going back to how things were.
I kicked my legs over the edge of my bed and stood up, placing my face into the palms of my hands, and took a moment to think before I said anything that would make matters worse. I took deep breaths and removed my hands from my face, placing them onto my hips instead. I gazed over at where Amanda stood in the centre of the room, with tears now escaping down her cheeks. She looked so vulnerable, so fragile, but I knew that I couldn’t fall for her tricks again… I’d been fooled into that one before… and it had cost me.
“Look, Ben, I just want to set things straight,” she began, daring to edge closer towards me one fairy step at a time, “I love you, you know I do, and I know that you do too and–”
“No I don’t, Amanda,” I interrupted, facing her now, “I don’t love you. Not anymore. You really messed things up this time; for me…andfor you. Not only did I lose Casey, you lost me too.”
“Don’t say that, Ben,” she pleaded. She was less than a foot away from me now. She was wearing the perfume I’d bought her the first Christmas we’d been together and I knew exactlywhyshe was wearing it… that why she wore it last time, “we have history – you can’t deny that –youeven said that in those text messages–”
“Those text messages are the reason why I can’t bear to speak to you right now!” I threw back at her, eyes wild and guard lifted, “if you, being the spoilt brat that you are, hadn’t of been so God damn flirty and cutesy before – when you knew that Ilovedher and washappywith her and wanted to spend the rest of mylifewith her – I wouldn’t have lost her.
“I thought that we could still be friends after everything that had happened in the past and I thought that you were happy with that too. I told you things that I thought I could trust you with, things that you could keep quiet about it and not ruin the surprise. I thought you were myfriend! Yet you go and make it all about you!”
“Ben, please, let me speak–” she pleaded, looking back down to her feet.
“No! Why should I? For all I know you’ve been scheming and planning all this time in attempt to try and win me back, make everything better, and get back to how weusedto be. Well it’s not going to happen, Amanda.Ever!” I was well aware at the volume and tone of my voice and the fact that my parents were in the room downstairs but this was the first, proper time I’d been able to say exactly how I felt to Amanda since the mess that had occurred in Scotland and I was relieved to have finally got it out. I could finallybreathe!
Amanda stood before me in floods of tears, expecting to be taken into a comforting hug and be told that I ‘didn’t mean it’ and that was ‘sorry for what I’d said’ but I wasn’t going to fall for it; I knew her all too well to even consider it.
A buzz filled my ears as my phone vibrated against my desk next to me. I glanced down at it and froze at the name spread across the screen in flashing, pixelated letters: Casey Stewart. My hand sprang to the handset and hit the ‘Open’ button:
WE NEED TO TALK
Nothing more, nothing less…We need to talk.
“Amanda, I-err… I like you ought to leave.” I muttered, not taking my eyes off the message in front of me. There it was, in plain black and white:We need to talk.
“Please…” I looked at her sternly and she bit her lip. She sniffed pettily and nodded before turning on her heel and heading for the door. Before she left she turned her head back to me:
“I love you.” She whispered and then left, slamming the door behind her; an oxymoron in reality, if you ask me. I had no time for her right now. All that mattered to me was that Casey wanted to at least talk to me whether it be about us, the weather,anything!So long as she was prepared to speak to me that was all that mattered.
Chapter 13 - Déjà Vu
Looking back on all the trouble I’d caused pained me to death. It sickened me, in more ways than could possibly be imagined, knowing that I’d inflicted such pain and remorse on the person I’d truly loved. No one should have to suffer to that extent, especially not the mother of your child.
I’d been stupid, immature and easily lead on by weakness. I regretted my actions and was paying the price for them. If Amanda hadn’t have thrown herself at me so hastily and hadn’t hovered or clung to my side so much, thing might have been completely different. Casey and I might still be happy… together.
The constant flirty text messages from Amanda were killing me. I was with Casey and I loved her, yet Amanda and I had history together. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to say? I couldn’t tell her that I no longer felt any of those feelings I once had for her; that would be lying. Most people will always have a soft spot for their girlfriends past, there’s no denying it, and to tell lie to her would be awful. So, I told her the truth. Yes, I did still have a soft spot for her but it was nowhere near as strong as the love I felt for Casey… nowhere near.
I missed seeing Casey’s face every day, hearing her voice, making her laugh. I loved everything about her and it hurt that she wouldn’t permit me to see or speak to her. Why had I been so stupid!? I shouldn’t have sent that text message. I should have ignored it completely! Why hadn’t I deleted all of those text messages when I realised what they meant in the first place? Of course, I didn’t realise Casey would ever read them but she had and that was that.
The second worse thing about not being able to see Casey was not being able to see Jamie. I missed him so much each and every day and counted the days that I could go up to Scotland and see him or when he would next be staying with his mum. I’d missed the majority of his first year, through ignorance on Casey’s part, and I refused to miss a single moment of the rest of his life. I wanted him here, living in England, where he belonged! I wanted him here with Casey and me… his parents.
I would get him here eventually and be able to be a proper father to him and not just someone who occasionally visits. I was his dad and I had the right to provide for him by nature.
I’d often find myself sat alone looking down at the wallpaper on my mobile, cursing myself for what I’d down. As I looked at the smiling faces of the first family picture we’d had taken together on Jamie’s first birthday I wished we could go back to that time and be able to change the course of time to come. If I could go back, I would but it was a wish that would never come true.
College had started a month ago and the crisp October air filled my chest. Summer was leaving and autumn was approaching. The park was beginning its transition period between a luscious emerald green to a warm golden brown glow. The brisk air was warm but the assistance of a scarf was required for the occasional chilly breeze that brushed by.
I remembered back a year ago, when I walked through this park, and spied a pony-tailed brunette sat on a bench in the children’s play park with a pushchair parked beside her. That was the first time I’d seen my Jamie, and I hadn’t even known he was my son. He wasn’t very old at the time – give or take five months, I’d say – but I instantly felt a connection to him, and I couldn’t explain why. He looked just like me when I’d been his age and it confused me so much; I’d been told he was the son of family friends from Scotland.
I’d wished I’d known Casey had fallen pregnant; I would have helped her financially and supported her all the way. I wasn’t one of these guys that left at the first sight of trouble. I would have genuinely wanted help.
I hated the fact that I’d not been able to experience the pregnancy with Casey and that I’d not been able to care for her or Jamie when he was small. The first time I’d held my son was the day I first met him in this park and offered to take him whilst Casey got out her purse at the little café to pay for crisps and cola. The first time I’d held my son… was when I didn’t even know he was my son.
I approached the children’s play park and paused at the gate. Past the swings and beside the slide sat a pony-tailed brunette sat on her own on a bench. I took in a deep breath and continued in her direction. She looked up at me when I caught her attention and smiled weakly. Her arms were crossed, perhaps because she was cold, but her frame was rigid, a sign that she still held a grudge. I accepted this and sat a fair difference away from her on the same bench, leaning as far as I could go with my back against the seat.
There was a slight silence before she spoke: “You’re early.” She didn’t face me when she spoke but I knew it was directed at me. I was early, but so was she.
“I didn’t want to be late,” I replied, “I figured it must be important if you wanted to see me.”
“Not necessarily important, but it would be nice if you could help me with something.” she turned to look at me and time froze. I gazed directly into her blue eyes and melted. She was so beautiful and I missed her so much. Her velvet voice sang a sweet song in my ear, luring me into her spell. She had me mesmerized from sight alone and I couldn’t help but stare. Her lips were plump and enticing, I wanted to kiss her so much but I knew that I had to respect her decisions; I’d hurt her and I needed to give her time to heal.
“What do you need help with? Is it Jamie? Is he hurt?” I asked, anxious to be filled in with her troubles.
“No, he’s fine. If it was about James, I would have said it was important, wouldn’t I? No, it’s about something else… it’s about Amanda.” She said. My heart sank and I sighed. What had she done now? She hadn’t left my side since I’d returned from my last visit to Scotland it she’d really been annoying me rotten.
“What about her?”
“She hates me.”
“Yes,” Our conversation was static and I would see where it was going, “apparently everyone at college has taken a disliking to you too and I don’t agree with it. You’re not to blame, I am.”
“Then why don’t they know that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why’s that then?”
“Because they all love you and whatever you do is the best thing to do in their eyes and if you get hurt they instantly hate the person who caused you to get hurt and don’t care about how you might have hurt them too!” she spat out in one breath. She fell silent then and turned away from me. I felt for her and realised just how badly everything had affected her. I leant over to put my hand on her shoulder and comfort her but she flinched away and stood up, allowing her arms to fall to her side. I remained sat where I was and return my hand to my lap.
“I’m willing to be civil with you, Ben, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to trust you again,” she spoke with tears brimming in her eyes, “you hurt me and the piercing eyes of everybody I know judging me every time I walk by doesn’t help much either. Please, just sort it out for me, okay?” as she began to walk away I stood and intersected her path. She halted, crossed her arms and looked down at the floor. We were a foot away from each other and it had been the closest we’d been together since we’d broken up. I could tell she was uncomfortable with the situation but I had to talk to her.
“I’m sorry how things ended, Case,” I began softly; “I never intended to hurt you. It kills me inside knowing what I did to you and put you through and I wish there was a way I could take it back, but I can’t. You know that I love you and that I will always love you. I want to forever be a part of your life and of Jamie’s life too. Even if we can’t be together, I still want to be by your side as we watch our son grow up.
“I want to be there with you when he starts his first day of school, I want to be stood at the end of the drive and nervously waiting to see if he passed his driving test, I want to be sat next to you at his University graduation ceremony, wedding day, and anxiously waiting in a hospital waiting room for our grandchild to be born.
“You may never love me again, but I will always love you and our son for as long as I shall walk this earth. I’m not asking you to forgive me, but I’m asking for you to allow me to be a part of yours and our son’s lives.” I had much more that I wanted to say to her but she was already hurting and I didn’t want to add salt to the wound. I would have to be patient and allow recovery for her emotional scars to heal. She looked up at me, her eyes were full to the brim with tears, and she sighed.
“I would never deny you the right of being a part of our son’s life. Even through all my pain, I would never be able to stoop so low. I’m thankful that you want to be present in his life as I know what it’s like to grow up without a father. As for you still loving me, I cannot say the same. With everything that’s happened, I’m finding myself incapable of being able to remember the old you and I haven’t got the patience to try to remember. Thank you for meeting me, Ben.”
I watched as she turned and walked away, arms still crossed and shoulders hunched to hide her tears from others at the park. Just as I was about to turn in the opposite direction I heard her call my name. I rotated my body back in her direction. She was stood by the gate and was half facing me.
“James will be in England this weekend if you want to see him. Just thought I’d let you know.” She called; trying to make sure her speech wasn’t broken by choked tears.
“Thank you,” I replied, smiling, “I look forward to it.” She smiled back before finally turning and leaving the park without turning back. I stood stationary for a few moments whilst I took in my newfound knowledge. James would be here and I was being permitted to see him. There was so much I wanted to do with him, and so little time to do them in. I would make the most of my time with him and I wouldn’t take a single moment for granted.
I felt my phone vibrate against my leg and my ringtone reached my ears. I reached into my pocket and retrieved it, looking at the caller ID in disgust: Amanda. I did not want to talk to her at all. She was the one that had caused all this mess and I didn’t need her crazed love for me thrown in my direction right now. I flipped my phone open and didn’t even bother to say ‘hello’.
“Look, Amanda, I do not want to talk to you. I’ve told you a million times already and I’m not going to change my mind. I told you once and I’ll tell you again: I do not want to be in a relationship with you! Not now, and not ever again, do you understand? And I don’t care what you tell everyone at college, tell them I’m the worst person in the world and that nobody should be associated with me; I don’t care! And one more thing, the next time you want to make Casey Stewart’s life a misery, think again!” and I hung up. She hadn’t even been able to get a word in. I felt kind of bad but it was necessary.
Ever since she’d learnt about mine and Casey’s break up she’d been onto me like a fox. She was always ringing and texting me and flirting with me like a ridiculous little school girl. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually said I loved her at one time in my life! The love I’d said to have had with her was nowhere near the amount of love I held for Casey and never would reach that level.
Thinking back, I gathered that I might have been a little too harsh on the tongue with Amanda just then, but force was necessary in this situation. If I’d let her dig her claws in long enough, I would never be able to escape.
The only thing I could think about at that moment was the fact that I would be able to see my son that weekend. A smile spread across my cheeks as I turned to leave the park. Just as I was about to place my phone back into my pocket it began to vibrate again, a text this time, and I instantly thought it would be Amanda again. I was pleasantly shocked to learn that it was Casey. I flipped open my phone and opened the new text message:
BY THE WAY, MARC IS COMING DOWN THIS WEEKEND TOO. WE’RE SEEING EACH OTHER.
I stared down at the words on the screen, planted to the spot on the ground and unable to move my feet. ‘Marc is coming down this weekend too. We’re seeing each other.’ Those were the words no guy wanted to hear from their ex-girlfriend, especially those whom they still loved…