Christina

A short story about a messy love triangle

By

Emily Higgins

Twisting the key in the lock trying to be as silent as possible is a hard task made all the more difficult when it’s late and all street lights are on. A glance at my watch tells me it’s already half 10. Should’ve been home two hours ago.

With the front door now shut, sealing me off to the outside. Gripping the banister I stare up the stairs and shoot a glance back at the door, the way out. With a heavy heart have to more or less drag myself upstairs to our bedroom.

Seeing my partner curled up in a ball on his side of the bed, looking at him makes me feel shame, shame for putting up with him for so long. Not having the strength to leave him years ago. You just get stuck in a rut, you know.

I undress and climb in beside, Brian and put an arm and leg over him, hoping that the man might still be there to comfort me. Nestling my head into his chest even though he reeks of an ashtray. Brian wakes up “Would you get away from me?” and rolls away taking half the duvet with him.

Sitting up in the bed, hugging my knees is when I start to think of days events.

~~

This is a fine mess you have gotten yourself into, Christina a fine mess indeed. How the hell could you have been so stupid? How could you let it get this far? He is just 20 years old for Christ sake and you are a grown woman, a professional who should not have allowed this. This is not how a mentor should act. And then there’s the management to think about. What would they say if they hear word of this. And what about his parents, they won’t be too impressed with me. You do realise you could lose everything, everything you have worked for, all those hours of studying, over this, a stupid silly peck that led to a ride in the back seat of my car.

Pouring my heart out to James about what a bollox Brain is to me. James can’t talk properly due to a brain injury but he is not thick despite what some of the lads at work think. With some of them flapping their hands in front of his face to get his attention. I’m sick to my teeth telling them that he can hear you perfectly. Yet, they still do it.

Working in a fast paced restaurant can be demanding and they just don’t seem to have the time to read what he has typed up on his phone. We can talk for hours and the speech thing just doesn’t bother me, it’s a different form of communication, but at least we are communicating. First thing in the morning, James always asks me how I am. And he is genuinely interested to know.

“You hear that Brian? He is interested.” She prods, the sleeping beast beside her.

But yesterday when he asked me “how am I this morning” I snapped at him. “Told him to mind his own business and get to work.”

Instantly hating myself. Tried to apologise to him but and rightly so he ignored me. While we were working together, waiting until the other chef had gone out and sent him a text saying sorry and a sad emoji face! He looked at me with those deep brown eyes of his from the opposite side of the kitchen and gave me a warm smile. He quickly replied with, “All’s forgotten, Tina.”

My chin quivered with his forgiveness and I mouthed, “Thank you.”

“I’ll tell you all at lunch” texting back a swift reply.

He made an OK sign with his hand. The air was lifted and we worked hard for the rest of the morning, preparing food. James is a natural and a fast learner.

Lunch came. When telling him all, I broke down and cried in his arms about how inconsiderate Brian is, about the way he mentally wears me down and about the lack of intimacy between us. In my life there has been heartache and pain, I don’t know if I can face it again.

He asked me, why put up with him. Having no answer made me feel worse. My previous boyfriend stole from me and had gambling problems. And dad, another bollox he’d often slapped my mam. Guess that’s why I gravitate towards bad men. I WANT OUT!

So after work, being nice and offered him a lift home and started to cry because I didn’t want to go home. Pulled the car over to compose myself. “I’ll be alright.”

Was about to pull off when he put his arm around me. Honestly, can’t remember the last time being held by a man. When James held me and brushed my hair aside… well, my heart did skip a beat. Embraced, our lips found each other’s. We hesitated for a second while we eyed up each other. Seconds later we were in harmony … our limbs, bodies, woven as one. The scent of his deodorant still lingers on my blouse.

James did say that what happened between us, that it goes no further. Ever since he came into us 3 weeks ago, catching sight of those eyes of his, the glint in them and the way he smiled… My heart is torn because we do get on so incredibly well, it feels like I’ve known him all my life and no other man has made me feel so god damn alive. Part of me just wants to run down the stairs and get in the car drive to James’s and have him just to hold me again and the other part, well that’s the sensible part, the good girl part, which is pinning me down to this bloody relationship, which reminds me, make a note tomorrow to throw this one out. But good girls can also be bad girls to too! No, stop it, you’ll get yourself into real trouble with those kinds of thoughts.

Why does it have to be so difficult, why couldn’t we have met elsewhere, why couldn’t he be older. Why? Why? Why?

When he was 10 I was his age now… Jesus, just thinking about that, that’s as good as being a cradle snatcher. Imagine that on your C.V. No it can’t go any further, have my life to think of, have my career to think about and he has his, Sure, he doesn’t want to be with a thirty-year-old anyway. Have to say it to him tomorrow, first thing that it can’t go on.

But then again, we are both adults and it’s not like I’m taking advantage of him. There’s a certain song by Nick Cave, Do You Love Me? It keeps playing around and around in my head, echoing some of the emotions going through my head. But seriously, what would my fellow colleagues think if we did start to see each other? Giving this some serious thoughts and deep considerations shows you are weighing up the pros and cons of the whole situation. Wanting to know what real love is. Wanting James to show me. Wanting to feel what love is. Knowing he can show me. Knowing we can be good for each other. You can’t stop now, Christina, you have already gone this far. Nick Cave, I’m laughing, wouldn’t say he has even heard of him! One’s willing to educate him in the ways of decent music! And before I realise what I’m doing, packing a suitcase is the only option for me.

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