I am sitting on my bed; half naked and crying like a baby.
How did this happen? Why is this happening? I hug my knees and rock back and forth mumbling to myself “I can’t wear an odd pair. I just can’t”.
Then I realise how ridiculous I sound. And it occurs to me that I may be over-reacting somewhat.
Yes. It is annoying that I have mislaid one of my stockings but does it really warrant body heaving sobs?
No. Of course it doesn’t. So what the hell is wrong with me? The stockings were merely the trigger; this must be about something much deeper than that. I frantically rack my brain for the underlying cause.
But I am actually happy with my life at the moment. Or maybe I just think I am and my subconscious is trying to tell me otherwise? What have I buried that needs to be dealt with? And if it’s buried so deeply that I don’t even know what it is then how do I get to it?
Then I feel a dull ache in my stomach. And that ache saves me from hours of painfully pointless over analysis; I must be pre-menstrual. I’ve been suffering from it really badly since I started taking that bloody progestogen only pill.
Apparently the risks associated with the combined pill increase significantly once you get to thirty-five; my doctor's words ring in my ears “You’re too old to continue taking it”. And I start crying again. I get up and look in the mirror at my puffy face “I look old. I am old.” I wail at my reflection.
Then I notice my stocking on the bed behind me. I had been sitting on it.
I’m immediately and ridiculously happy, skipping around the bedroom clutching my stocking to my chest. Then I curl up on the bed exhausted. These extreme mood swings can be very tiring. I really must find an alternative method of contraception.
I’m feeling sleepy. Maybe I should just cancel tonight and get under the covers. Then I get a text from Jake see you soon – can’t wait xx.
And it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I have thirty minutes to make myself look presentable. I get up and splash cold water on my face.
Then I carry out some quick repair work before he arrives; physically I'll pass but I’m worried that my emotional schizophrenia could blight the evening.
So I stand in front of the mirror and give myself a good talking to “You know why you’re emotional so you should be able to control it. Don’t fuck up the evening or you’ll have me to answer to, get it?” My reflection nods sullenly at me.
I meet Jake outside my favourite restaurant; an Italian tucked away in the backstreets of Soho.
I love the slightly rickety old tables covered with red checked tablecloths. And the way they always greet me like a long lost friend (even if I had only eaten there the day before).
“Bella, we have missed you” Alvise kisses my hand. Then gives Jake the once over before seating us at my favourite table.
I smile at Jake. I have never felt such a strong physical attraction to someone in my life. He looks delicious. And he’s mine. This is going to be a fabulous evening.
Then Anthony walks in. What the hell is he doing here? This is my restaurant; my bloody territory. He lost the right to come here when we split up. I watch as a very attractive woman follows close behind.
This really is too much. I hide behind my menu before he can spot me. Alvise greets Anthony. Then turns and throws me a ‘what’s going on?’ look. I’ll be damned if I know.
But I can’t help peering around the side of the menu to take a closer look at the woman. Dark hair. Olive skin. Prominent nose. She could be Greek. Oh my god. Is that Maria?
He seats them at the furthest table from ours. But it’s a small restaurant. So it’s still too close. Jake exposes me by taking the menu away “That’s better. I can see you now”.
I quickly excuse myself and go to the bathroom. I need to pee. I also need to think. Why is this happening now? I knew I’d bump into him sooner or later but I wasn’t expecting it to be here. And not when I’m trying to control my PMT.
I sit on the toilet. What do I do? Do I tell Maria what a cheating shit he is? Or is she better off living in ignorant bliss? But am I being a traitor to my own sex by not telling her?
What’s the moral code for this situation? I take several deep breaths. How do I feel about seeing Anthony? Angry. Very angry. Does that mean I still have feelings for him? No. I’m angry because he is an arsehole.
Then I tug (angrily) at the toilet paper. The large plastic toilet roll holder box flips open and smacks me very hard on the side of the face. It really fucking hurts. I blink back the tears. Then I check my reflection; I have a red welt on my cheekbone.
I am putting all my energy into not losing control emotionally so something has to give. And it’s my balance. I trip over the step and go flying into the restaurant.
Alvise helps me back on to my feet. Then he notices my cheek. And draws even more attention to me by making a big fuss. Anthony looks up and actually has the nerve to smile at me. I scowl back.
Jake comes over “What happened? Are you ok?” I assure him that I’m fine. Then notice that my stocking is ripped. Why didn’t I just stay in bed? Alvise tells him he’ll look after me and leads me into the kitchen.
He gets me an ice pack then asks “Now, what is happening with you and the Greek?” I explain that we had got back together.
Then I found out he had a girlfriend. “The bastard. You want me to throw him out?” I tell him no as I pull off my stockings; bare legs are less trashy than ripped stockings.
I make my way back to the table, holding the ice pack to my cheek. I can feel Anthony’s eyes following me all the way back. Jake looks concerned “Is everything ok?” I smile and try to behave ‘normally’ but he notices that I’m distracted.
So I confess that Anthony is a recent ex. And that it didn’t end too well. He isn’t at all fazed. He doesn’t even look around to check him out.
It’s wonderful to be with a man who is so secure and self-assured. So why I can’t help thinking that he should at least be a little jealous?
I try to focus on Jake but I can’t help watching that creep out of the corner of my eye. He is putting on a little show for me, leaning over to stroke her face and holding her hand.
Then Jake goes to the bathroom. And I decide to make Anthony sweat a little.
I walk over to their table. “Hello Anthony” He isn’t looking quite so cocky now. Then I turn to the woman “And you must be Maria”. She isn’t. She hisses at him “Who is Maria?” He explains that she is his ex-girlfriend.
Then she asks (in a distinctly hostile tone) “And who is she?” I explain that I am also his ex-girlfriend. Then I wish her luck and walk off. She doesn’t look too happy.
I can hear her giving him a hard time as I sit back down “Why did she wish me luck? How many ex-girlfriends have you got exactly?” I watch him squirm. Then she insists that they leave. And they do.
Her behaviour leaves me in no doubt that they are not in the early stages of a relationship; he was probably seeing her at the same time as me and Maria. And that makes me incredibly angry.
Then Jake comes back and takes my hand in his. He looks at me in a way that simultaneously dissipates my anger, makes me tingle and temporarily disconnects my brain from my mouth;
“It’s-probably-too-soon-to-say-this- and-I-probably- shouldn’t- say- it- now-and-I’ve-certainly-never-said-it-this-quickly-before-not-that-I’ve-even-said-it-that-many-times-but-I-really-can’t-help-how-I-feel”.
The connection is restored before I make a complete fool of myself. But I’ve already said too much. Jake is waiting for me to continue. I must think quickly.
Then Alvise bends down and (stage) whispers in my ear “Say it, just say it. Tell him you love him”. My cheeks are burning. This is so embarrassing.
Jake leans over and kisses me “I love you too”. I burst into tears. Then I quickly explain that they are tears of happiness. And that I am very hormonal which makes me emotionally unstable. He tells me I’m cute as he wipes my tears away.
I’m still feeling emotionally unstable when Mark drops Mia off in the morning. He asks me what happened to my cheek. And his concerned expression makes me well up.
I explain how it happened. There is a brief pause. Then they both start laughing. And Mia’s laugh is infectious so I find myself laughing with them.
Then he turns to look at me as he leaves. And I feel a huge pang of regret as I watch him walk away.
That does it. First thing tomorrow I’m going to get the contraceptive injection.