I manage to last an impressive forty two minutes.
Then I retrieve the letter and the gift wrapped box from the bin.
I understand that you are angry with me and you have every right to be. I have ended it with Maria. I know that I really messed up with you. I don’t expect you to give me another chance. But I need you to know that I love you so much. I hope my gift proves that to you.
I stop reading. And open the box. It is a beautiful diamond and sapphire encrusted ring. My stomach does a little somersault. My heart flutters.
Then my head takes over. Trust cannot be bought. Does he really think that an expensive trinket will absolve him? Or serve as proof of love?
He did it to Maria. He can do it to me. And the more I love him, the more it will hurt. My head overrules my heart. I will return the ring.
I throw myself into enjoying the holidays with Mia. And do not give him another thought.
Then Mia goes to stay with her father. And there is nothing to distract me from my bruised heart; it is time to feel the pain. I put Tori Amos on (‘Little Earthquakes’). Light some candles. And prepare myself for the worst.
Then the phone rings.
I throw my arms up in the air. Somebody cares! Somebody save me! I grab the phone. It’s a wrong number. Typical. I start to feel sorry for myself; wailing as I fall to my knees. I hug Mia’s teddy as I curl up in the foetal position. And stay like that for a while.
Then I get angry. I can’t believe I got him so wrong. I am such an idiot.
I stop hugging teddy. And start using him as a punch bag. Then I throw him down. And pull books off the shelves; hurling them across the room.
I catch sight of myself in the mirror and see myself for the drama queen that I can be. I start to giggle. I can’t stop. Not sure if I’m hysterical. Hang on. Wait. No tears! I’m not hysterical! I must be happy! Shit. Tears. Maybe they’re tears of happiness? No. I’m definitely hysterical.
I calm down long enough to notice a flashing light on the answer phone. Joanna has invited me to her New Years Eve party. Ordinarily I wouldn’t go. I haven’t known her very long. But I don't have anything else planned. So it's either that or wait here to be sectioned.
I drive there. I'm feeling too lonely and emotional to drink. And there is nothing that says “I’m vulnerable, hit on me” quite like a woman sobbing into her wine glass.
I walk in. And I am immediately accosted by a very loud American banker. He tells me all about himself in a very confident (verging on arrogant) manner.
Then he offers me a glass of champagne. I tell him I’m sticking to the coke tonight. That seems to get him quite excited “Really? Come with me.”
He takes me by the hand and leads me into the bathroom. I assume Joanna is keeping the drinks in an ice filled bath. I get a little worried when he locks the door behind us.
Then I notice that the bath is empty. I can hear him fumbling around behind me as he says “I can guarantee this is the best you’ve ever had. It will make you feel incredible.”
I turn around sharply with my fist raised. And almost punch the large bag of cocaine that he is holding up; I’m not sure which one of us is more surprised.
He speaks first (whilst clutching his cocaine protectively) “What the hell is wrong with you?” I tell him that I meant coke as in diet. He finds this hysterically funny.
It's a long time since I've been around Class A's. And I did note the symptomatic over confidence, the shouting and the self absorption. But I put it all down to him being a banker (and we all know what that rhymes with).
I leave him to it and rejoin the party.
I retreat to a corner of the room. Then I notice a skinny man wearing a red bowtie (and jeans that are way too tight) walking towards me.
He stops, leans forward and pulls a coin from behind my ear. I smile politely. He takes that as an invitation to start performing his entire repertoire of magic tricks. I say “Wow, that’s great” then add firmly “Now stop it. Please”
He carries on. I walk away. But he follows. And asks if there is a specific trick I would like him to perform for me. I respond with “Yes, make yourself disappear.” He laughs.
I tell him (through gritted teeth) that I’m not joking. He just laughs harder. He is really starting to piss me off. Then I hear “Kitty! There you are!” And I am whisked away by a very attractive man.
He guides me to safety, introduces himself and explains that Joanna sent him to rescue me. I check his pupils (discreetly) to make sure he isn’t high.
The more Jake talks the more attractive I find him. He is funny and charming. There is something endearingly unguarded and open about him.
Then he asks me what I do. I hesitate before replying “I’m a writer” I pre-empt his next question by adding “And no, I’ve never been published. But it is all I've wanted to do since I was nine.” Shut up Kitty. This is not interesting for anyone except you. I stop talking.
But he asks me to continue. So I start to babble nervously at high speed “The-teacher-asked-us-to–write-a-romantic-fairytale-and-I–knew-the-other-girls-would-write-about-kissing-a-frog-that turns-into-a-prince-so-I-wrote-about-a-princess-who-swam-to-the-bottom-of-the-ocean-and-kissed-an-octopus-mine-was-the-only-one-that-went-up-on-the-wall-that-was-the-moment-I-decided-that-I-was-going-to-be-a-writer-unfortunately-I-brought-so-much-shame-on-my-family-rebelling-against-their traditions-and-having-way-too-much-fun,-that-the-only-way-to-redeem-myself-was-to-become-either-a-doctor-or-a-lawyer-and-I hated-the-sciences-so-law-it-was!” I finally take a breath.
I can feel my cheeks burning. I talk too much when I’m nervous. And when I run out of things to talk about, I resort to telling people totally inappropriate things (like the colour of my knickers) just for talking’s sake.
I decide to leave (somewhat abruptly).
I stop off at Anthony’s and post the ring through his letterbox.
I go to bed; my thoughts wandering towards Jake. I sleep until it is time to pick Mia up. And meet Jade.
I walk in expecting Grace Kelly. In my mind she is tall, elegant and effortlessly beautiful. Mark tries to keep me in the hallway. But I walk around him and into the living room. I brace myself for a vision of perfection.
She is short. A tad overweight. And non-descript. It takes me a moment to adjust. Maybe she was a hand model?
I introduce myself and shake her limp hand as she scrutinizes me. I am determined to be civil for Mia’s sake. Then she smirks at me as she asks “Did you have a nice time at the circus?” She is gloating about preventing Mark from joining us on Mia’s birthday; something she clearly views as a victory. I smile as I tell her that we had a wonderful time. And resist the urge to slap her.
But I can’t resist the parting shot that Mia hands me on a plate; “Daddy and Jade work together”, “Really?” I ask, looking from one to the other “How convenient”.
I walk to the car with Mia. My ego is satisfied (no woman wants her ex to upgrade). I don’t like her but I will continue to be civil; until she crosses any kind of line with my daughter...
Mia interrupts my train of thought by asking me what my new year´s resolution is. I absentmindedly say "to be nicer to teddy". She looks suitably confused. Then rattles off her list of rather more grown up resolutions.
Happy New Year (I hope).