Leither in London – Issue 96


Posted by in August's Magazine

The ten-minute journey to meet him was the longest ten-minutes of my life. Ten minutes where I told myself at least 20 times to turn around and go home but my feet seemed to have a mind of their own, marching stubbornly onwards. Arriving at the spot we’d arranged to meet, I looked around warily. Would I even recognise him? All I’d seen of him in seven years was his profile picture on facebook and god knows when that had been taken.

Would he still have that mop of thick, dark hair? Those huge clear blue eyes? That ridiculously irresistible smile? For all I knew, he could be balding with a paunch and false teeth. Part of me hoped he was – that would make this whole thing so much easier. I’d have one polite drink then make my excuses and never have to think about him again. Of course that’s not how it went.

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Instead, he showed up in all his tall, dark, handsome glory – beaming smile on his face, armed outstretched – and wrapped me in the biggest bear hug I’d had in months. I couldn’t help but laugh. The icy exterior I’d planned to project didn’t stand a chance. We walked along, stupid grins plastered on our faces, glancing at each other every few seconds as if to check that this was really happening. It really was.

When we reached the pub, he pulled out a chair for me and headed to the bar while I sat there slightly stupefied, dreading the awkward small talk that was about to commence. But it never did. In fact, every negative expectation I’d had of the evening was left hopelessly unfulfilled. We might have had years of our lives to catch up on but in terms of how it felt to be around him, it was like no time had passed at all. If this were a first date, it would have been the best first date ever. We drank, we told stories, we laughed, and when he finally reached over and touched me, I know where it was heading. But I couldn’t let him off the hook that easily.

G&Ts wear off
I needed to know why he’d suddenly decided to come back into my life. I needed to know why it had taken so long. And I needed to know why he seemed so sure about me now when years previously he’d chosen someone else. “I genuinely thought you hated me,” he began when I finally worked up the courage to ask. ‘When you told me never to contact you again, I was gutted and it’s bothered me for pretty much the whole time we’ve not been in touch. But I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t think you’d ever speak to me again.

“Then over the last couple of years, when I’ve been single, I kept finding myself thinking about you and wondering. Finally I decided I’d make five attempts to get you to speak to me – to forgive me – then I’d stop before you took out a restraining order. I still can’t believe you’re here. I was sure you wouldn’t show. Or you’d turn up just so you could throw a drink over me and storm out. That’s not going to happen, is it?”

Bless him, he looked genuinely concerned it might. He had no idea that in my head, I was already back where we’d started. I was pretty sure it must be written all over my face but apparently not and I confess, after years of feeling like the one whose heart had been stomped all over, it was good to hear him sounding sort of vulnerable.

Of course I had more questions – zillions of them. What had happened between him and the girlfriend? Why hadn’t I been enough before? What did he want to happen now? But I decided not to spend the whole of that first evening grilling him. At the end of the day, it was just nice to be around him and we didn’t have much time. He’d be heading home to Stockholm a few days later then god knows when I’d see him again. It was time to just let it happen. So eventually, after years of stubborn silence, I let the wall down.

Waking up beside him the next morning, when the effects of all those G&Ts had worn off, I started to feel nervous again. Despite the fact that he’d kept me up half the night snoring, was taking up about 80% of my bed, and had dribbled on my pillow, I realized I’d quite happily wake up beside him every morning. But how could that ever happen? He lives in Stockholm. I live in London. And he broke my heart once before. Could I really lay it on the line again?

While I was gazing at him, lost in thought, he woke up and pulled me to him in another one of those crushing bear hugs. “This is a game-changer, Carrie Mitchell. A game-changer.”
I hope he’s right.

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