Playing Cards, Ch.3 - The Father

Ben Russo. There he was, just sitting there… looking as handsome as ever. Yes, he was attractive, but I wasn’t interested… not really… okay, I was a little interested, but not in an obsessed, stalker-type way. He tilted his head up and his eyes met mine. Despite being stood on the opposite side of the room, his deep green eyes glistened and a perfect smile gleamed back in response. This was all too familiar…

    July. Emelia’s party. Booze. Ben. Me. Flirting… the rest is history. It was merely a drunken mistake… a mistake that sat humbly and peacefully in my belly.

    I was still stood in the doorway. I could have turned around, right then, and run; I’d never have to see him again. But I had to… I had to tell him… tell him I was leaving, at least.

    I put one foot in front of the other, and repeated it with the opposite foot. Walking. Yes, my legs hadn’t turned into mush. I would have rather they had, though, and I could have gone to the nurse. No! I had to tell him. I quickened my pace by a milli-second and walked straight in his direction, oblivious to everyone around me. When I got to the table, I sat down opposite him… in my seat.

     “Hey, Case,” his voice chimed as he spoke. I melted inside. His voice was like chocolate: irresistible… “how a’ you? I missed you in Art the other day. Where were you?”

     “Home,” I replied, a little too quickly. My voice was almost a whisper. I cleared my throat and began again, “I barfed at lunch, so Mum came and picked me up. I’m better now though.”

     “Good to hear. You didn’t miss much, just a big long lecture on lighting and texture in paintings. It was quite boring and educational, really.”

     “So, there’s no catching up to do then?”

     “Not much.” He lied sarcastically.

     “Good.” There was a brief silence then.

    ‘Tell him now.’ my conscience nagged me, ‘Tell him now!’ I ignored it and came out with the first thing that popped into my head:

     “How’s Amanda?” I asked him. Amanda was his… girlfriend. I smiled nervously as he chuckled, clearly thinking of the love he had for her. It wasn’t that I was jealous or anything but I felt a pang in my chest when I saw him looking this way, thinking about her. And it wasn’t that I didn’t like her because she was a really nice person and always smiling over something or another. It just felt... weird… especially seeing as she and Ben had technically broken up just before Emelia’s party, and then gotten back together a few days later… awkward, much? Despite the many break ups and make ups in their relationship together, in total, they’d managed to be together for just over a year; quite an achievement, if you ask me, seeing as my longest relationship didn’t make it to a month, let alone a year!

     “She’s good. Thanks for asking?” he replied, questionably yet joking at the same time, “Another one of your ‘break-the-silence’ questions, was it?”

     “Maybe?” I replied, in near enough the exact tone he’d just used. He laughed at me, grinning away. I joined him, my own laugh and smile slightly more forced than his own. He didn’t notice. He had a gorgeous smile... and pearly white teeth… and his hair had been styled well and suited his face shape well… basically, he was perfect!

     Ms. Britt, our ancient Art teacher, entered the room just then. Her shrill of a voice filled the entire room as she informed us that we were starting a new piece of coursework based on what she’d told us the previous lesson… the lesson I’d missed… when I was locked in a toilet stall, crying over a pregnancy test.

     “Great,” I murmured. I’d been using sarcasm a lot lately, as I’d found it quite appropriate in my situation, “I’m gonna need a teeny-tiny bit of help with this.” I said, leaning over the table towards Ben in a sarcastic whisper, loud enough just so he could hear it. He smiled as he leaned towards me too. My heart thumped hard against my chest as I breathed in his musky, masculine scent. We hadn’t been this close since…  Emelia’s party… yeah, anyway. He opened his mouth:

     “Yes, I bet you will.” He smiled and patted my shoulder, before sitting back down properly in his own seat. I returned back to mine with my back stuck straight against the plastic seat.

    ‘Tell him now! Tell him now!’ I looked around and saw everybody chatting away to their friends and working at their own pace. Ben had gone to get us both a large piece of card to work on. He placed mine in front of me and sat next to me… oh god… he turned in his seat and sat facing me; an easier way to talk and explain. I did the same and listened tentatively, nodding my head in the right places and appearing to understand what he was saying. The truth? I hadn’t a clue!

     Despite genuinely trying to listen to what he was telling me, my eyes wandered and examined the structure of his face and traced his lips, all sound being drained and forgotten. Ben and I were friends… sort of. We talked a lot at school but that was about it… well, in Art anyway… seeing as we were the only two people on our table.

     He was a nice enough guy, and just so happened to be one of the popular guys in our year group. All the girls were in love with him and wanted to be with him. I, on the other hand, was just average. Average in the popularity scale, average in grades, and generally very average in appearance and personality. I’d never been the top girl on a guy’s list for possible girlfriends and I doubted I ever would be; which was fine by me. Our two roles in the school system – popular and norm – suited each other well and I couldn’t see us being any other way. I mean, Ben was just too gorgeous to be a geek… anyway!

     “You got that?” he asked after. I looked up at him, breaking from my daydream, and smiled wearily.

     “Yeah, I think so.” I lied… all I’d heard from him was a sweet echo in my ears from when he’d opened his mouth. No words had functioned in my brain… I must have been in a really deep day dream.

    ‘Tell him now!’ 

     He smiled at me and began to get up, ready to return to his side of the table. My heart beat at a thousand times faster than it should.

    ‘Tell him! Before it’s too late!’

     “I’m…” I began. He stopped, sat back down again and waited. I couldn’t tell him…

     ‘Pregnant! Go on, tell him!’ 

     I couldn’t get my words out… I couldn’t… no!

     “… Leaving.” I gushed. His eyes grew wide, apparently shocked at my big reveal. I sighed, disappointed in myself for being too much of a coward to tell him the truth.

     “Leaving? Why?” he asked, nervously. What? Okay..?

     “Oh, family stuff. Mum’s been given a better job in Scotland. We’re leaving tonight.” I told him. Yes, we were moving to Scotland, but not because of Mum’s job.

    ‘I’m pregnant!’

     I could still tell him… it wasn’t too late…

     “Your Mum works in my Dad’s bank, doesn’t she?” Ben asked. I nodded, “he never mentioned anything about giving her a promotion or anything.”

     “Like I said it’s family stuff. She asked your Dad if she could be transferred, and he agreed.” I told him. Technically, this was true but I still wanted to tell him the entire truth – the full reasons why we were going – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. What was wrong with me? I had to tell him!

     “How long will you be gone? A month? A year? Forever?” his voice was almost scared. Scared of loosing me? Never!

     “Most likely a year.” True again…

     “A year? Wow, that’s a long time…”

    ‘Yes, I know…’

     It would be hard for me, especially if I didn’t tell him…

     “I’ll miss you, y’know” he said with sincerity. My heart skipped a beat. Would he really?

     “Oh, you don’t mean that.” I replied, attempting to sound jokey and ‘pally’. I’d be the one missing him.

     “No, I will miss you. You’re a right laugh and, I know we agreed never to bring it up but,” he looked around, to check that nobody was eavesdropping, and leaned in toward me ever so slightly, lowering his voice, “Emelia’s party was amazing!” I felt my cheeks burn bright red. I looked away so that he wouldn’t notice. I knew what he was talking about, and he knew that too. He had noticed me blushing, though, and smirked to himself. He got up and moved back to his seat. I remained still… thinking to myself.

    ‘We didn’t only just get drunk at that party and we didn’t just get up to no good under the sheets… you gave me something that will change everything…’

    The lesson passed slowly, neither Ben nor I spoke a word to each other for the remainder of the lesson. It was kind of sad really. It was the last time I would see him… the last chance I would get to tell him…

    ‘Tell him! Tell him before it is too late! He needs to know!’ 

    The bell rang, ringing through my ears. Since when had it been that loud? Everyone around me began to gather their things together. It was the end of the day and people were planning their Friday nights. I remained seated for a short moment before gathering my own things.

    When I turned to face the door, the room was empty apart from Ben and me. He stood by the door, glancing my way. He gave me one last smile before turning and leaving. A single tear ran down my cheek.

    ‘Why couldn’t I just tell him..?’

The End

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