When I met you I fell in love with you and India to, though I’ll never get to go
Getting ready to meet Johan again, Lucy ‘feels like she might not go’, she tells the dog.
What to wear. She wishes she could do ‘ mod’ fashion a bit better. You would probably have to be a bit thinner for that. But a big baker boy cap, Capri pants and a polo neck Jumper could do the trick.
In the end, she goes for black trousers, (so as not to look too tarty), a sparkly pinky coloured bat wing top and a sensible but colourful necklace that can be green or blue depending on the light.
The thing is she never had enough money to get her nails done often and naturally they would split off, so occasionally she would go and ask for long acrylic nails to be put onto her fingertips, but then they would snap off and look tacky. A little disheveled maybe. Her skin was dark so the top seemed to sparkle in the moonlight as she left. Her cousin giving her kiss for good luck as she felt her heart beating with fear.
She is apprehensive of what she will have to say in order to leave the house. She has a certain amount of will left but not enough o argue everyday, or to run away. Not enough money either. God, what if he asks me to speak to him in my father’s language. I can barely remember a thing.
She sits on the edge of her bed for a while. The bed is wooden and a king size one, a present from her favourite uncle. Outside the view form her window is a mix of shrubland and plains. A few distant hills can Just be made out, as the sun sets. Her cat scratches to be let in and her dog, an old little sausage dog growls at the cat.
‘ Ok, you two, stop it please,’, they both look at her expectantly, ok, and I will get you some food.
She recalls a time that they both were meowing and well mithering for food, she fed them and had to go out in the cold to work. Before she left, looking upstairs to make sure the curling irons were off ,the pair were ensconced in her duvet, looking pretty smug.
‘ Something is wrong about this situations, honourable pets’, Lucy smiled to the pair. The cat is a Bengal tiger cat a present form an old friend. Markings Just like a little tiger, he could be difficult for a cat, always scratching nothing new there but quite noisy too, although Lucy wasn’t bothered it got under other people’s skin a bit in the house. A lot of the family either lived in that house or near by. This had pluses and minuses as you can probably imagine.
Before they met Lucy and J. That should be before when she was stronger, a completely different girl. Her man looked out for her. He was a brummie. Six foot two, a lawyer. Blue eyes, used to have a goatee and long hair, bit like a younger Billy Connolly. As he was an only child his mum and dad had spoiled him a bit but it didn’t have any bad effects obviously Lucy noted watching him hand over a fiver to a big issue seller.
They are walking through Leeds this Saturday. He Just bought her a pedigree dog and also a pedigree cat. He’s driving a car that people stare out. Transpired it cost nearly sixty grand. He bought it on credit and pays back a grand month. He specializes in divorce. This makes him more of a commitment phobic than ever before. Everyday when they first met he would do little things for her, send her power rangers socks in the post, with a poem. Buy smarites leaving them under their pillow at uni in Sheffield. She dropped out and he still travelled miles to go and see her, making her feel as if there was at least one person she belonged with. Once to save money they went to renaissance and stayed in a tent. He’d bought her from the market a wooly hat, gloves and scarf all multicoloured. The tent was on a slope, no ground sheet and she felt her teeth chattering all night.
That was all in the past though. Now she was alone again, making her way through her work and trying to help out at home as much as she could. Like a good girl. The consequences of not being good had been subtle to her at least in the beginning. A divorce or a broken engagement could result in fact in your worth being whittled away at, in their eyes. She had to make an effort, finish her degree, lose weight and marry well. But they knew about the Englishman she had loved, he was meant to save her, marry her and like a returning Messiah ensure that she was happy each and everyday. Maybe that’s going a bit far but he really was her talisman. Whenever someone in the family didn’t know something, the etiquette of whatever event it was, he knew. He could fix everything from windscreen wipers, tying her back windscreen wiper with a little piece of a plastic bag. It did the Job, tying in place, no need for a new windscreen wiper Just yet. Money wasn’t abundant and even if it was wouldn’t you rather buy something fun with the money. That’s how she thought in those days. If he put a dog turd in a silver bow it would be Christmas, right? Said her cheeky mate Olympia grinning. Ha-ha yep, that’s how it is.
Once when she was ill, she suffered from migraines and works in a well know chain, a large department store with bright lights. She was away from home, a few hours away. As one of the supervisors dressed her down, she felt like crying. Running off to call him the tears cannot be held back any longer.
‘ Stay there, go and get a cup of tea I’m coming to get you’.
‘You’re four hours away?’
Not deterred he drove though the snow to get her, all he did was drop her off at her protective family’s home where she always lived.
No one except him knew this but she had another house, she’d bought it on the sly, too much opposition from he family. Not her Dad and Uncle but the extended family, you know, she’d mentioned to Olympia. Over time, he made so many requests to meet her family, she hesitated, not sure of how to tell him that they might have to stop seeing each other. He knew all that didn’t he.
‘Anyway, skin colour is less important these days isn’t it, ‘ he said optimistically, but his smallish pale blue eyes looked a bit afraid.
‘My mum says it’s ridiculous Luce.’ In this day and age… petering off now.
They had to be careful, she could not stay at his house for long and when they went on holiday they had to construct an elaborate plan. Friends sometimes helped in the early years, fibbing so she could go to events and see him, but it Just got more and more embarrassing as one by one the friends became settled. They had bills, babies to think about. Which thirty year old needs a note from mum?
‘ There will be a family meeting, sis’. Her brother looked angry.
‘ Ibrar is coming up from Bradford, won’t think this will go down well’, her cousin said. Her cousin was sorted however, with an English mother and a liberal communist Dad she hadn’t had to face this kind of thing really.
Ok Wendy, I’m going to go. Lucy annunciates her words clearly showing her veiled anger.
It was decided that they shouldn’t see each other again. That’s the clean version. What happened over that period is probably best left alone. She would never be the same again. He’d been unfaithful anyway, Lucy would tell herself. He didn’t want to marry her Just then, if he had then she could have Justified things more easily, but he chickened out. So what else could she do, run away and never speak to them again. She wanted to run away with him but he had started to have doubts. He had met her Dad once, he cross examined him vigorously. He felt uncomfortable. They didn’t drink, it was alien.
He had gotten closer to a girl at work, who was married but unhappy. Blonde and store bought, what a relief. No difficult family members to worry about. She wasn’t Lucy that’s for sure though.
Lucy used to be funny, but the Jokes ran out and it worried Andrew. Andrew could remember her as the one who loved pranks. These include making Job applications for Jobs she had no intention of getting, then on one occasion turning up to the interview wearing only one earring with lipstick all over her teeth. Her friend Olympia put her up to it. When they said goodbye, the atmosphere at home was oppressive. Spending most of the time in her room now that the relatives had gone, she had ventured down stairs to try and make herself an herbal tea but her angry cousin who lived there pushed her out of the kitchen.
‘ We just want to be together’, he mocked. He pulls a face then laughs as if he is really enjoying this. He had sometimes been a decent cousin too her, giving her lifts in the snow. Lately he had become more angry with what he saw as police victimizing him, pulling him over in his white maxed Honda. This was his favourite trick repeating things she had said again and again it wore her down.
Andrew moved in with the girl from work, they were happy together in time they had a baby called Jasmine. That was the name Lucy had always said she wanted to call her daughter, if she ever had one and she didn’t understand whether Andrew had Just forgotten that. He probably Just forgot.
At first when he ended it, she would call frantically and try to find a way out of the situation, after a few months of this she was resigned. Resigned to having to also lie about where she was going. If she wanted to go to the cinema on a Saturday afternoon, for a matinee she had to tell them exactly when the film was on and arranges to be dropped off and picked up depending on them. She did not drive for a long time. Her Dad relented and she took her test, passing on the second occasion.
Feeling stronger with the driving license under her belt, she enrolled on another college course. Ideally, she’d like to study Egyptology, but they only study that in Oxford or Cambridge. Her mother had passed away and anyway had lived out in India, looking after her own mother for some time before her death. She tried very hard not to think about her mum or Andrew now either. There were her cousins, they were more daring, and they were breezily educating themselves, getting degrees and masters degrees. Life seemed like it might have been more comfortable for them, but Lucy couldn’t put her finger on why. It should have been worse really. They were younger than her, more confident. It could Just have been their characters.
Facebook allowed her to keep in contact with some good friends she had from school and whilst she was at the university for a time.
Olympia was much braver than Andrew. She was a bit too pretty and thin. A lot of girls did not like her for this reason. She visits their home and always has ‘ provisions’, a sneaky chocolate bar, in her usually designer handbags.
She had an exciting Job, involving big contracts within the NHS sector. It wasn’t easy to understand.
There was also Felicity. Flick could be cruel. Depended on her mood. She usually only got in contact if she wanted something. There were times that she really had needed people, when her husband left she noticed how many texts went unanswered. No one wanted to know. So called friends should ring if you are getting divorced. This made her cautious, when it came to friends. Fingers in many pies, Flick drags Lucy out on the town when she can. Lucy got more daring again, going salsa dancing, or making up excuses when she got a Job about travelling with work.
Medium build, reasonably tall with long black hair, aged thirty two Lucy turned heads as she had a baby face and shiny hair. Or it could have been her brightly coloured tops.
She won’t ever know if he did listen to her, she later thinks when she is ok again. He probably would not. His pedestal means he is forever a god to her.Charged with making her feel good forever and ever. Anything that goes wrong is somehow down to him not being looked after by her in some way.
She is singing in the house, before their first ‘date.’ Neither saw it as a date.
‘Last night I dreamt. That somebody loved me. Der der der dad dad daaaaa, no-oo surprise. Last night I ee felt real arms around me, no hope no clue Just another big goodbye, ‘
She sings to The Smiths, only her in the house, washing all the dishes everyone else left.
Turning the radio station over when the irritating dJ interrupted the song Lucy pulls her pink rubber gloves off and into the cupboard under the sink.
The steam from the hot water used billowed outside from a pipe, into the cold November garden.
She hated this time of year. December was when her mother died years back. September was when her fiancé had chucked her and well, it’s a non-descript wasteland of a month. All those Christmas tunes in the shops and all the frost.
Her phone rings, but she doesn’t pick up. Christ I’m tired. She walks upstairs, so glad the many cousins and other selected relatives are out. It is quiet. Her dog is nestled in its basket beside the fire. Walking up the stairs she notices that her Carnelian friendship bracelet had fallen off her dressing table.
In a moment she’ll fall asleep. A cookoo from the garden softly cooed. From her bed Lucy could see trees peeping over the balcony, she liked to wake up with the sun so left her curtains open. At night the big conifer sometimes looked like a monster. Just for a minute or two, she knew it wasn’t.