It’s 3am. His arm rests heavily across my waist. I clench and unclench my buttocks yet again. My stomach is starting to cramp. What I am doing is totally unnatural.
A sharp pain shoots through my groin. It’s time to admit defeat. I gently move his arm and get out of the bed. I head for the bathroom. Then realise that it is too close to the bedroom.
I walk quickly (in a most peculiar bum clenching fashion) to the living room. Close the door. Move towards the window. Open it. And let out a long (and very loud) fart.
I would never have had those bloody onions on the pizza if I had known that I was going to end up in bed with Anthony.
I’m wafting it towards the window when I notice the light flashing on the answer phone. It’s my mother “Kitty, it’s your mother”. She always starts her messages with that superfluous statement.
I turn the volume down. My mother never talks. She shouts. “We haven’t heard from you today and we’re worried. Phone me as soon as you get this message.”
I can hear the rattle of the phone as she tries to hang up then she carries on talking (to my father) “Of course she isn’t home, Mia is with her father so she is probably out doing god-knows-what-with -god-knows-who. If only she hadn’t left her husband. Mark was a good man” She lets out a big sigh “I miss him”.
Then she is distracted by one of those awful Turkish soaps that she is addicted to. “Ooh, has he found out that his- lover- is- actually- his- long- lost- sister- and- his- wife- is -her -mother -and –that- his- son -has been- having- sex- with- his- auntie, yet?”
My mother has selective amnesia. She will have conveniently forgotten her initial reaction to Mark; we were in her kitchen when I finally plucked up the courage to blurt out “I’m engaged!” (they didn’t even know I had a boyfriend).
She immediately (and very dramatically) collapsed into a chair before exclaiming “Oh my god! He is English, isn’t he?” in the same tone you would adopt to say “Oh my God! He is a blood sucking, flesh eating, kitten drowning, psychopathic paedophile, isn’t he?”
My grandmother took to her bed wailing “Aman AllahIm” (“Oh my god”) over and over again. And my father demanded that I summon him to the house immediately.
My mother answered the door, took one look at him, burst into tears and ran off crying “He is blond, we can’t even pass him off as Turkish”. My grandmother’s wailing got louder (and louder).
My father led Mark into the guest room where he had arranged three chairs, interrogation style, in the middle of the room.
Mark was made to sit opposite my parents (the chairs were so close that their knees almost touched). My father fired question after question at him while my mother simply wept loudly in his face.
After at least an hour of this my father asked him the final question "Do you love my daughter?" to which Mark responded, "With all due respect sir, would I put myself through this if I didn’t?"My father allowed himself a little smile.
And I allowed myself a little sigh of relief as I watched through the crack in the door. I had been rebelling against my upbringing ever since I ate my first packet of bacon flavour crisps at the age of eight. But I still cared a great deal about what my parents thought. Although I only (consciously) realised that when I was looking death in the face;
It was a lesbian friend’s birthday (I only mention her sexuality because it becomes relevant later in the story) and we were celebrating it in Brighton. It was late by the time we finally stumbled out of the club. Totally off our heads. And decided to go home with someone we had only just met. There were seven of us so it felt safe (and the first train wasn’t for another two hours).
It quickly became apparent that all was not right with our gracious host. His behaviour was odd. He made random religious statements. And he was jumpy.
We got to his flat to be greeted by a very skinny, nervous cat. That alone should have tipped us off. But it was cold outside and the flat was warm. So we continued to dismiss sign after sign.
Until he suddenly got up and went over to the cabinet. He took out a bottle of pills and popped a few. Then he took out a gun. Yes, a fucking gun. He sat down cross legged next to me and started rocking back and forth with his finger on the trigger.
His face got redder and redder as his rocking became more and more frantic. He was mumbling incoherently. I was the closest to him so I would be the first to go. You expect your life to flash before your eyes at a moment like that. You’re supposed to think of all the things that you won’t live to see. The children you’ll never have. The countries you’ll never visit.
Do you know what was going through my mind the moment I realised that I was probably going to die? "Oh fuck, Mum and Dad will go ballistic. I’m going to be found dead in a house full of gay people and drugs"
Yes. That is how deep it goes. So the fact that I love Anthony is only half the battle. An Englishman was bad enough. But would they ever come to terms with a Greek? I suppose it’s not entirely impossible. They did grow to love Mark.
It wouldn’t be easy but I am (sort of) confident that they would eventually come to accept Anthony. I’m actually thinking about this in serious terms. It can only mean one thing. Three years on from the divorce and I think I am finally ready to commit again.
I let out one last fart. Close the window. And go back to bed. I feel a sense of calm (and not just because I no longer have trapped wind). I snuggle up to him. I feel happy. Warm. Secure. Anthony sleepily wraps his body around mine and whispers “I love you Maria”. I freeze. Who the fuck is Maria?