Yousense it even before you open your eyes. A niggling feeling that someone is unpicking the seams of your pretty little world. In the night you seem to have climbed inside the duvet like a sleeping bag, the summer weight quilt tangled between your legs and goose pimples sprinkled across your stomach like chicken pox. For a moment you lie stock -still waiting to hear the sixth sense shuffle of your babba waking up with you and then you remember that he is with his Dad and this morning it is just you again. But it is too early to get up so you lie with your phone in your hand waiting for the man you adored as a teenager to call, to return the voice message you left on his phone late last night. To text you good morning, or I'm so sorry, or you will never guess what happened last night, but he doesn't because you told him to run for his life and if there was a marathon for commitment-phobes, it turns out he'd be there, swinging the gold medal round his neck, brandishing the winners bouquet and breathing a sigh of relief.
You go into the bathroom and resolve never to buy gigantic toilet rolls again. The Daddy Long Legs living on your window ledge looks sad so you open the window and help him climb out, chuck a slimy bar of soap into the bin and wonder all over again whether grouting grubby tiles is a job too difficult to contemplate. You feel a bit stupid. You feel mildly incensed. Exhausted by your endless capacity to believe grown men who tell you that they love you when it becomes clearer by the day that talk is cheap. You want him so much it hurts in your tummy. You want a cup of tea. The over sweet kind that burns your throat and shocks you into reality. The kind that says he has called or texted you everyday since the first of December and the only thing that has changed is that you let your guard down. So he will call. He isn't the man he seemed to have turned into yesterday. The coward who left you sitting in on a precious Saturday night without informing you that he wouldn't be taking you out that night after all. No, he is the man in your kitchen stirring his soup just a few days ago. Isn't he?
Who knows? You strip back the bed and carry the quilt downstairs to throw over the line to air. Stand and drip tea tree oil down the plughole, and slice lemon into a glass of warm water before knocking it back like so much bitter medicine. Then you go and poke your spindly little sunflower seedlings and tie one ailing little specimen to a lollipop stick with a narrow strand of lilac ribbon and hope for the best. You are cross with yourself. For two years you have resisted introducing any man to your little boy. It is so hard being a single mummy. So very difficult to split yourself in two. You have never let anyone stay over. Never watched anyone else don your dressing gown and drink juice from your fridge. Your baby and your home have been sacred. But he was different. You sat in the midst of his truly lovely family and sensed he was different and letting him in didn't seem too big a risk. It really didn't. For the first time you felt like here was somebody you could trust with everything you've worked so hard to have: your child's' imperative sense of security, your own sense of family, your personal space, hard won independence and your heart. Goddamn your silly, vulnerable heart.
You pull on your car boot sale uniform. Dig out your red penny purse and shove it into the bag you wear across your body, in fear of imaginary pick-pockets. And then you get really mad. And blatantly stupid. Because perhaps he's dead in a ditch and not really avoiding you at all! Or maybe he has lost his phone and is in need of an email!! So you start typing and before you know it you have tapped out something of a Dear John, because your fingers work in conjunction with your head, not your heart and your head is saying he isn't good enough Sweetheart, this kind of behaviour isn't acceptable from someone who professes to love you. You press send and walk out the house.
But what a disappointment the world of other peoples junk is lately. Who knew so many people owned a copy of Robbie Williams autobiography or had kept the box their cumbersome foot spa had lived in since the day they found it under the Christmas tree? And anyway what's with all the mean dogs? It seem's like every other person is being dragged along by a pit bull terrier foaming at the mouth and ready to bite your bum the minute you bend over to grab a pretty plate. The smell of raw steak has you heaving as you pass the meat wagon and before you know it you are back in the car, heading to your Mums to drink tea and blame her for all that is wrong in the world.
Then you go home and he has called. So you dial his number and listen to him tell you that he wants to be single again. That perhaps you could be friends and see what happens? That he just needs a little time to decide what he wants to do with his life. Can you do that? Be friends? Well no. Not really. You want to reach down the phone and wring his neck. Ask this body-snatcher what he's done with the man you were snuggled up with on Tuesday. But you do nothing but cry and put the phone down. And cry a bit more. And take a deep breath and call him back so you can set yourself crying all over again and make him listen. And then you walk out the house for the second time that day, terrified that you might catch sight of your own stupidity in the big mirror on the landing if you stay in. Because he's lying. You can almost pinpoint the day he started seeing someone else.
You've never been the cinema by yourself before. For a while it is just you sitting in the dark, waiting for friends called Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte to join you. And then you are surrounded by giggling couples and you are squashed down low in your seat, eating tears and reading a text from your real life Kath, "The Git!! I'm so sorry Hon, get yourself lost in Sex and the City for a few hours. C. U later.xxx". So you do. You lose yourself totally in a world where the only cowardly bastards are called Big and the clothes are to die for. And it is everything you hoped it would be. And just like you are supposed to, you find yourself in everyone of those women. In all their worst fears, about ageing, and loneliness, and authenticity, and trust. And you get it. That in the end there is just you, staring at your worst nightmares head on and coming out the other side, with or without a man and an over-sized floral corsage in tow.
You go home. Your little boy arrives clutching a bunch of flowers, his Dad trailing behind him carrying chippy chips because he has guessed you won't have eaten. So you go upstairs and wash your face because your curly topped little angel must never know that it was his six foot two and a half super-hero who made his Mummy cry on this wet Sunday afternoon.
There is a bit of you aching to be sitting in front of your laptop making sense of the day on virtual paper, and there is another bit of you terrified of looking silly, of being she who wrote that she was letting herself falling in love with Paul just a few days ago, and who now has to report that just like that it is all over. Have to acknowledge to yourself that just as one reader pointed out a few days ago you are in danger of turning into nothing but a second rate Mills and Boons author, all heartbreak and hectic social life filling the gaps where decent, inspirational writing used to live. You wonder how much more even your most dedicated of readers can take. You worry that once again your sexual tourettes will get the better of you and you will offend someone else with another reference to a crudely named cocktail: another acknowledgement that we are grown women who have sex and don't have to pretend that life is a one dimensional round of laundry and lavender. Surely.
You switch the computer on and start writing because writing is your drug of choice, the only panacea your daft, trusting soul understands.
At seven o'clock he calls, but you miss it. You will miss him. He doesn't call again.
Perhaps he never will.