Leither in London – Issue 60


Posted by in January's Magazine

A few days after our lost weekend, John headed off to New York, unwittingly leaving me to fall foul of temptation. It all started innocently enough; with a few of us girls going along to a party held by one of Rob’s mates. But a few hours later, when I let him kiss me, I knew I was on a slippery slope. Realising I’d made a mistake, I wasted no time in telling him all I could offer was friendship. His reaction wasn’t at all what I expected. “You’ll come round,” he assured me. “And I’m not going anywhere.”

He was true to his word too. When John got back, we picked up where we left off, but Rob was always there in the background, charming me with emails, sending me playlists he thought I’d like, asking me repeatedly to give him a chance. Most of the time it was easy to brush him off but then John started acting weird. He assured me it was simply because he wasn’t feeling well, he’d felt wiped out since he got back from New York. And sure enough, it turned out he had glandular fever.

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But I knew there was more to his sudden distance than an illness, and over lunch one day, he dropped the bombshell. “What do you think about what’s going on between us?” he asked. It felt like a trick question. “I thought we were having fun,” I offered.

“Yeah, good, me too,” John agreed. “I just can’t get into anything serious right now.” I tried not to look like I’d just been punched in the stomach and inwardly wondered how I’d got things so wrong. Things didn’t add up though. John had never exactly played things cool. From the beginning, he’d made it clear that he was keen – keen enough to want to talk every day, keen enough to dub Fridays ‘our night’, to dub the pub where we’d had our first date ‘our pub’, to confess that he’d told all his friends all about me. What’s more, he’d been on at me to meet his parents for weeks. And now this?

“I bumped into my ex last week and it made me realize how much I still haven’t dealt with the whole thing.”

Of course, I should have known there was another girl involved. He’d mentioned the ex before – she was his only serious girlfriend and they’d split up when he left her in India and flew to New York because ‘he needed space’. He’d told me he felt awful about it, that she’d never forgiven him, and that they’d never met to talk it over. But why now, a year later, was it an issue again? I had no idea, but I knew one thing – he’d been honest with me so it was time for me to come clean too.

When I told him about Rob, he looked confused. “So are you dating this guy?” No, it wasn’t like that, I assured him. “Have you slept with him?” No. “Are you going to?” No. “I just wanted to be honest. He’s around, I like him and he’s made it clear he’s not going anywhere. He made me a mix-tape for god’s sake!” I joked, trying to lighten the mood. “…which was annoyingly good.” Now it was John’s turn to look like he’d been punched in the stomach. “Lets go for a walk,” he decided, regaining his composure, and putting his arm round me. “I’m glad we’ve talked about this.”

“So what shall we do on our night this week, my dear?” he asked a while later when he’d taken me up to the Heath to see his favourite view of London. “How do you feel about pet names?” So we were back on.
Of course, it didn’t last. A few weeks later, after many more perfect dates, many soppy text messages, a romantic night in a hotel, and even his suggestion that we go on holiday together, he went cold on me again. Bizarrely, he’d introduced me to his mother just before bombshell number two came… “I think we should have a break for a while. I need to focus on getting well, and I still feel like I’m not in the right headspace for all this.” So we were back to the ex-girlfriend.

That night was horrible – I hadn’t realized how much I’d let my guard down till I found myself in tears on the floor of my bedroom. I’d agreed to this ‘break’ but I knew we would never go back to the way things were, and finally, my self-preservation gene kicked back in…“I can’t do this, John. I can’t pretend I’m okay with this, and I can’t wait around while you decide how you feel so I’m going to make it easy and walk away.” And that was that.

Who was there to put me back together again? Rob, of course. He’s been an absolute gem, making me laugh, taking me out, and somehow charming everybody in my social circle till it feels like I’m being indoctrinated into some strange Rob-loving cult. He’s not doing any of this because he wants a friend, but he’s stopped pushing me to give him more, and if going along with it means I have someone to take me to the cinema to see It’s a Wonderful Life, and text me in the wee small hours to tell me I’m beautiful, then it’s pretty hard to walk away from. I just wish I could give him what he wants for Christmas. And I wish I wanted the same thing.

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