A Note from the Author:
Just a couple of things I want to say first. As one of the conditions for this is no names, I shall refer to my beloved in boy format as B*. This stands for Beloved. Another major character is X, which refers to the ex-wife. Finally, please excuse any pronoun confusion that may arise. I have tried to use â€œheâ€ when referring to my dearest in â€œboy-mode,â€ and â€œsheâ€ when referring to same in â€œgirlie-modeâ€ (his own terms) but there are still times when Iâ€™m not sure which to use when.
Chapter 1: In which Tink sees photos.
I think I first fell in love when I saw her picture. The problem was, he belonged to somebody else- a friend of mine- and so I put it out of my mind.
I had known B* for a couple of years. He was going out with X, who was a friend of mine, and we became good friends ourselves, the kind that sees each in other in the pub, but with occasional deep and meaningful conversations between just the two if us. This was one of those times. Most of our other friends had retired early, and it was just the two of us in one of those dodgy local rock clubs that you seem to find in every city. He was entertaining me with pictures on his mobile phone. They were various models, singers and actresses all looking beautiful. I had the difficult task of putting names to the faces, and my knowledge of popular culture kept letting me down. He selected another image and presented it to me. Again I was clueless. She was slim and beautiful like all the rest, with lovely long, dark hair and dressed in black. I took a wild guess.
â€œMorticia Addams?â€ Apparently I was wrong and had to look again. â€œI have no idea, but whoever she is, sheâ€™s very pretty.â€
â€œWow!â€ I was stunned. I looked again, and I just couldnâ€™t believe it. She was just amazing.
A while later we had a girlsâ€™ night. It was shortly before the annual over-running of the seaside town of Whitby by several hundred Goths, an opportunity for everyone to get dressed up and show off. And B* wanted to do the same, but was unsure how well it would be received, so he sent X along to the pub with a few more photos and get a feel for the general opinion. She shared them around, and everyone was ooh-ing and ah-ing. I found myself going very quiet. I looked at the pictures, and I realised I was jealous. Very jealous. So I kept my mouth shut and just stared, letting myself indulge in the feelings. Then we put the photos away, and I put my feelings back away, and didnâ€™t look at them for a long time.
Occasionally, I told X how lucky she was. She would tell me something nice that heâ€™d done, and Iâ€™d say â€œYouâ€™ve got a good one there, hold onto him.â€
Chapter 2: In which Tink gets lonely and B* makes her smile.
They got married the same day I graduated from my theology course. It may have been due to all the excitement and lack of fluids, but itâ€™s the one time in my life that Iâ€™ve had a full-on migraine. I look back now and think maybe it was some kind of premonition of wrongness. I do remember talking to another friend that day, and saying how I felt that I would never find anyone that wonderful. She promised me I would.
After that I started going a bit wobbly. I got into another tarting phase. I would go out with my friends, seeing them all happily paired off (or so I thought at the time) and put a brave face on things. B* was the one who noticed when I was quiet, when voices louder than mine wouldnâ€™t listen. He was the one who could always make me smile.
Around this time, I lived next door to a pub we went to. He asked me a favour: Could he come round my flat to get dressed up before we went out? Of course, I was delighted to have anybody visit me, and even more so to have what I call â€œa getting ready party.â€ He bought a huge bag of stuff, we gave each other outfit advice (K: â€œI was thinking this top and that skirtâ€ T: â€œHmmm, not quite, but you could wear that skirt with that topâ€ K: â€œOh, I hadnâ€™t thought of that, but youâ€™re rightâ€ T: â€œDo these sleeves work with this outfit?â€ K: â€œUmâ€¦ noâ€) drank vodka and coke and made a complete mess in all 3 rooms of the flat. I was in heaven, and I bounced around a lot.
We did this a couple of times, I found myself looking forward to it. I found myself almost pretending that she was mine. I knew that the boy part belonged to someone else, but with the girl part, I could almost pretend. Almost, but not quite.
I heard of a job going in a distant town. I felt like my life was going nowhere fast, so I applied. I was amazed when I was successful. It meant I had to move. B* came and helped lift everything down two flights of stairs into the van.
Chapter 3: In which the morals are temporarily partially suspended and things go a bit tits up.
Whitby again, a year and a few months ago. I had just moved, and felt like this was the last big gathering I was to have with all my chums, so it was full of that sweet sorrow. Again, B* was the one who noticed, who listened to my fears, who encouraged me.
There was a lot of alcohol, dressing up, shopping and dancing. Kate was looking especially gorgeous one night. I wonâ€™t go into all the circumstances here, because unless you were there itâ€™s hard to understand what was going on. However, that night I was lucky enough to have the chance to kiss Kate.
Weak at the knees does not begin to cover it. I could say there were fireworks, or the earth moved, but in truth it was like everything else fell away, and she was the only thing that existed for me. In that moment, I didnâ€™t care about any of the moral dilemmas or being alone or that I knew it was only temporary. In that moment, she was all mine. It was the most amazing kiss ever. It was the most wonderful feeling.
I couldnâ€™t stop thinking about it. I kept trying to put it out of my mind, but it wasnâ€™t working. X had told me that things were not right between the two of them (for reasons other than the kiss, I hasten to add.) I felt guilty for everything I was feeling, and I was worried about what might happen next.
So there I was- new flat, about to start a new job, a hundred miles away from home and all my friends. Then B* called me, saying that X had left. We talked, and I promised if there was anything he needed I would do all I could.
As I thought about it, I realised that I did love him, that maybe that love had been there longer than I realised. And it felt right, and real, in spite of the complications. So many times Iâ€™d thought Iâ€™d been in love, and I wasnâ€™t sure Iâ€™d recognise when the real thing came along. My friends told me â€œyou just KNOWâ€ and all of a sudden, I did know.
So what to do now? The answer was clear, I had to wait. There was no point in rushing into a disaster zone and ruining any chance I had. For the first time in my life, I didnâ€™t mind waiting. Before I moved, I felt like I was almost dead inside, I thought I couldnâ€™t feel anything anymore. Now it felt warm and colourful and happy. It didnâ€™t matter if he returned my feelings or not, it only mattered that I wasnâ€™t empty anymore.
So I would wait. I would be there for him, help him as much as I could, but I wouldnâ€™t do anything about how I felt. No pressure.
Chapter 4: In which Tink engages in an old-fashioned courtship.
We talked a few times on the phone. Just doing that made me happy. And after a while I persuaded him to come and visit with a couple of other friends. It would be good for him to have a weekend away. When he arrived, he kept asking why I was smiling so much, and all I could say was â€œIâ€™m happy to be going out with my friends.â€
So we all went out, shopped, chatted, drank. On the bus home late at night, I was really desperate for a pee. It was agony. So we all got off the bus, and I very quickly found an almost suitable bush. B* stood guard over me, with his back turned. I was so grateful and impressed.
Another bus came along, and we got back to the flat. The other two went to bed, but me and B* stayed up drinking more. We ended up talking about everything in depth, for hours, about everything that we had done and thought up until that point.
In the end, I told him that I loved him, but it wasnâ€™t the right time for him to say it back yet.
There were more conversations over the phone, long emails and analysing things from even more angles, and one more visit (me in his direction this time, though I stayed at other friendsâ€™ house). Then, just before Christmas, he slipped up on the phone, and referred to himself as a boyfriend. I pounced on the word, and he gave in.
Chapter 5: In which we are together.
We spent the New Year together. I was so nervous about staying with him at last, but I neednâ€™t have worried- we had a wonderful time, and everything was as it should be. I even helped scrub the kitchen.
But there was one more thing I wanted, and that was to spend time alone with her. Girls are easier to shop for than boys, so Iâ€™d bought her an outfit. I was also a reason to get her dressed up. So he poured me some wine, sat me in front of the TV with the cat, and disappeared for an hour or two.
I was nervous again- more wine, more cigarettes.
At last she appeared. I cannot describe how amazing she looked, or how stunned I was. I just couldnâ€™t believe that the most beautiful girl Iâ€™d ever seen was actually mine. I definitely got the euphoria that night. I found myself constantly looking at her, as if to reassure myself of the reality, and savour every moment.
So, it all went on from there, and it just gets better and better. Ok, so we had a hic-cup or two, (after all, nobodyâ€™s perfect) but when we work it out itâ€™s as if everything is magnified and purified.
Even now, a year later, when I get the chance to have an evening in with Kate, I still find myself looking over. I know itâ€™s real now, but I still get that warm fuzzy feeling.