The One

There were more people there than I had anticipated. I specifically remembered sending out forty invitations, but there were at least seventy people crammed into the house, some even spilling into the garden to brave the nippy January air.

I busied myself handing out drinks, being accosted by people here and there, wanting to discuss the date of the wedding, fuss over my ring, and tell me how jealous they were of me.

I could barely find Tom amongst the chaos. I eventually discovered him huddled in a corner with two of his friends and a beer.

'There's my beautiful bride!' he yelled over the music, slipping an arm around my waist and kissing my cheek.

'Lucky bastard,' one of his friends grinned, giving me a hug. 'Congrats.'

'How about a dance?' Tom shouted.

'Go on then,' I shouted back, letting him lead me to where a small collection of bodies were wiggling about, attempting to show some sign of talent.

'I love you,' Tom whispered in my ear as he put his arm around me we swayed to the  music. 'So much.'

I felt myself choking up involuntarily. No, don't cry, I thought. You've got this far, dont break now...

'You OK?' Tom asked, holding me at arms length and looking concerned.

'I think... I think I just need some air.'

'Want me to come with you?'

'No, no... I'll be fine.'




'Yes!' I laughed. 'I'll be back in five.'

'OK, baby,' he smiled, kissing me on the nose and pushing me gently in the direction of the door.

I slipped from the room and out the front door, closing it behind me and sinking wearily onto the step. I began to shiver almost instantly and wished that I'd brought a jacket with me.

I wiped away one tear that had escaped and took a few deep breaths to pull myself together. It had ended years and years ago... why was I thinking about it now? I was getting married to an attractive, rich lawyer who loved me to bits. What more could I want?


I saw him occasionally. Charlie. He still lived in that shabby old apartment that I'd spent so many hours in during my student days.

We'd run into each other on the bus a few months after we'd broken up, and I'd sat next to him. I remember he started to give me a hug, and then changed his mind. It broke my heart and I don't know why.

Then I saw him in a coffee shop a year later. I was sitting in a corner with a novel and he was with anothe rwoman. I noticed his eyes land on me for a few moments and then flick away as though he hadn't recognised me. But I knew he had.

I met Tom once I finished university. He was a friend of a friend who was introduced to me at a party, and we'd slowly got to know each other before he asked me out. It had all been uphill from there really. Tom started to fill my life while Charlie gradually got forgotten.

And then Charlie came knocking on my door.

How he knew where I lived, I don't know. And I hadn't thought to ask until he'd vanished just as mysteriously as he'd come.

It had just started raining and I was coming inside with arms full of rescued washing, when there was a desperate knock on the door. Throwing it all on the floor, I ran to answer it - and there he was.

I didn't even have a chance to be surprised before his hands were all over me, he'd thrown me on the sofa and I was whisked back to all those years before when everything had been perfect. When we'd been together without a care in the world, without any thought for the past or the future, just the right now, living in the moment.

He'd stayed for a couple of hours. He'd just needed to see me, so he said. Then I told him about Tom, and he'd got angry and left. I hadn't seen him again.


And now, here I was at my engagement party, two years later, thinking about Charlie.

'You OK?' I heard from behind me. It was Jen, my best friend. She sat down beside me on the step.

'Yeah,' I sighed. 'Just thinking.'

'You're not having second thoughts about  Tom, are you?' she asked. 'Cos if you are, can I have him?'

'Shut up,' I smiled.

'I'll take that as a no then. Seriously, what's up?'

'Do you remember Charlie?'

Only two people knew about Charlie. Jen, and my brother-in-law, Chris. I hadn't meant for him to find out. I'd come crashing through my front door in tears just after Charlie and I had broken up, and Chris was standing in my living room, with an armful of DVDs that he'd borrowed about a year before. And I'd sort of hysterically collapsed on the floor with him standing there, looking horrified and completely at a loss for what to do.

I think that's when he realised something was wrong.

'Oh, not Charlie,' Jen groaned. 'That's ancient  history, Immy. Why bring that up?'

'I dunno,' I sighed. 'I've just been thinking about him a lot in the past couple of days.'

'Don't tell me you still have feelings for him?' She looked horrified.

'Well... I'm not sure. Maybe.'

We sat in silence for a moment, before Jen stood up.

'Imogen, you are marrying the perfect guy, and I'm not gonna let you ruin it by being silly about Charlie. He's gone, over, finished two years ago. He doesn't want you back and Tom adores you. No offence, but you need to sort yourself out before you marry Tom.'

'I agree. I think I need to go and see him. You know, just to make sure that there's really nothing between us any more.'

'I don't think that's a good idea,' she warned. 'The guy dumped your ass.'

'No he didn't, we broke up. And we still loved each other. We just... you know... couldn't be together. It was a difficult situation.'

'Yeah, the two of you never went out in public together for fear of what people would say. You couldn't even tell your parents about him because they'd probably disown you. Your relationship was one huge secret. You could never have had a life with him, Immy.'

'Yeah, I know,' I snapped. 'You don't have to remind me.'

'Well, I'm going inside now, to give you a chance to clear your head. But you'd better be back inside in five minutes, or Tom will get worried and I'll get angry.'

With that, she left me alone on the step. I rubbed my freezing arms and stood up.

'I have to see him,' I said to myself firmly, before I trotted down the pathway, out of the front gate and towards Charlie's apartment, leaving seventy guests, my best friend and my fiance behind.

The End

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