So, this is the first thing I've got far with writing since Don't You Remember and I'm determined to make it good. Any praise and criticism will be gratefully received.
The book brings into question whether there is just one person for everyone - and what happens if, just when you thought life was at its best, someone comes along to shake everything up? How would you cope? And how does it affect everyone else around you?
Let me know what you think.
“I think,” he began, a look of deep sincerity covered his face, “I think I’m in love with another man.”
Poppy rolled her eyes. Who was it going to be this time? The new neighbour who had just moved in across the way? Or the receptionist at work who, for the last two months, he had sworn had a burning crush on him. Ollie had been coming to her therapy sessions for the last four years, on and off. Initially, it had been for his insomnia following a nasty car accident on the way to the hospital for the birth of his daughter. But over time, his insomnia had manifested into an unhealthy amorous attitude towards, usually, complete strangers.
It hadn’t been too bad in the beginning. He was sitting in her office one day and had suddenly blurted out how he was going to leave his wife for the new next door neighbour. Sheila her name was. He hadn’t even so much as spoken to her at the time, she had simply pulled up on her drive as Ollie came home from work, and he had decided that she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with; completely disregarding his wife and two year old daughter who had been playing on the living room carpet not 10 feet away.
But over time, it had become more than just women who he would declare his love for. It could be anything from inanimate objects, men, food, babies and even once, his own reflection.
It had taken them both a while to work out exactly what was happening. It was certainly something Poppy had never encountered before. But after weeks of talking about the problem, it had emerged that Ollie was in the early stages of an identity crisis. The behaviour he was displaying was similar to imprinting and they had established that this was his way of trying to find himself, while he was unhappy with who he was at the moment.
Ultimately, Ollie and Poppy had found that discussing the possible outcomes of the amorosity would wane the desire and bring him back to who he was. This had worked up until now as they had never become anything more than a fantasy, but about a year later, it became more serious. Ollie had begun taking off in the middle of the night… to go clubbing. Frequently, he would come home in the early hours of the morning, completely wasted and the drive to work the next morning.
“Where did you meet him?” Poppy asked.
“Town. We connected. I saw him from the other side of the dance floor…”
Poppy just sat there for the next few minutes, listening as Ollie poured his little heart out about how much he was in love with this new man. At first, it didn’t seem like anything unusual. The physical description was a little different, of course, and while Poppy let him carry on, she imagined herself rolling around in piles of money as it continued to fall from the sky. At £250 an hour, she kept her clients close – and Ollie even closer. Two hours a week, almost every week – except his birthday and Christmas and a few periods where he felt he could cope without her – for the past four years. Yes, she kept Ollie very close.
“And then… I kissed him,” he said, matter-of-factly.
There was a silence, and Poppy could feel her eyes growing wider.
“You kissed him?” she repeated back.
“I kissed him. The first time I met him!” And with that, Ollie burst into tears. Poppy couldn’t deny she was slightly surprised, shocked even. Nothing Ollie had ever described had got this far before.
“How did that make you feel?” she probed a bit further.
He thought about it, through the sobs. She could see him replaying the whole event in his mind. “It was nice… I felt like someone actually wanted me. And I wanted them… It felt right.”
“Do you know his name?”
“Yeah,” Ollie replied, “Dylan. He gave me his number and everything.”
“And you’ve text him since then?”
Silence. She thought for a moment, she may have come up against a brick wall. His face hardened, like it did when he didn’t want to talk about something any more.
“C’mon, Ollie,” she encouraged, “You know I’m only here to support you.”
His face relaxed again and his eyes joined with hers.
“He text me,” he murmured.
“We went for coffee… And…”
“I think I’m in love with him, Poppy.” He said this so quietly, that she had to strain to hear it.
For the first time in a long time, she was at a loss for words. How could this have gone on for so long and Ollie not tell her about it? Normally, she could tell when something was on his mind, but this had completely passed her by. It was like he didn’t mind what he was doing this time. That it didn’t bother him, which was strange, because he was reluctant to talk about it now. Like he knew it wasn’t right - but it was right to him.
Could it be that different from any past fantasies? Could they already have passed the point where his marriage could be salvageable from this new imprint? She hoped, for Ellies sake, if no one else’, that she could do something. Over the years, her and Ellie had become quite good friends.
“Does Ellie know?” she asked tentatively.
“Ellie?” Ollie looked mildly perplexed.
“Yes, Ollie. Ellie, your wife,” her tone became serious.
“Ellie,” he replied, his voice distant, like he was thinking really hard. “Ellie. No, Ellie, doesn’t know,” still distant.
“Ollie, can you tell me your name and birthday?”
Ollie thought for a moment, his gaze wandering before snapping back to her.
“Oliver James Bridgenorth. June sixth, nineteen eighty.”
Poppy tapped her pen on her paper pad, glancing away and then back at Ollie. His gaze was now fixed on her, his expression blank.
“I’m sorry. What were we saying?”