Authors: Jade Goodmore
Copyright 2013 by Jade Goodmore
Copyright © 201
2 Jade Goodmore
All rights reserved.
Published by Jade Goodmore
This book is a work of fiction. The names and characters are a product of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Thank you for respecting the work of the author.
To My Mum
Thank you will never be enough for all that you’ve sacrificed and all that you continue to give. I love you, you know this, but more than that, I respect you, appreciate you,
and strive to be just like you.
One day I’ll find the means to show you how grateful I am.
Table Of Contents
The room around us is buzzing with life and yet it’s the silence at our table that is deafening. We sit here as perfect strangers while the restaurant is teaming with spellbound couples. The delectable food and sweet surroundings do nothing to warm the chill that resonates between us, me and my date, Reid. There is no chemistry. Sure, he’s good looking, definitely good looking, but there’s only so much admiring I can do before it becomes awkward, right? Wrong. There’s not even enough of a connection between us for it to be awkward. He’s barely looked at me all night, let alone smiled or dared to indulge me in conversation.
“A rose for the lovely lady?” an aging man with a soft, French accent asks. He’s carrying a basket of individually wrapped flowers and watching Reid for a response. With a subtle shake of Reid’s head the man is excused and walks away apologetically.
Surprised by his lack of romance, and annoyed, I down the last of my wine. I can’t bear to eat anymore but my plate is practically full, so using my fork I slide the food from side to side in a bid to look interested.
The quiet between us is broken by the sound of his phone ringing from his pocket for the fourth time in the last hour. “I’m sorry, I should take this,” he says, at least having the decency to look embarrassed. I nod politely while biting my tongue. Literally. It doesn’t hurt. It’s numb from all the wine I’ve drank. Yet, even through a drunken haze I can see how pitiful this evening is.
As I watch
Reid walk off to take his call I wonder why he even asked me to come tonight. I could have felt this shitty at home, but at least I’d have felt shitty in the comfort of my pajamas. I’ve made such an effort; lacy underwear, killer heels and a little black dress so unlike me. The natural curl of my long dark hair has been accentuated and my overly large blue eyes have a smoky silhouette. Why? To please a man that has turned up straight from work, briefcase and glasses included.
Filling our glasses with even more wine, I concede that there’s still time to turn this date around. It could go one of two ways; either I finish up early and admit defeat or I persevere and salvage the date, maybe even getting lucky. I guess I owe it to myself to try, I mean, it has been a really long time.
On his return I adopt my sweetest smile and he returns it, even if he does look a little bewildered. “Work,” he says by way of explanation.
“I gathered,” I reply, working harder than I should to hide my bitterness.
“So,” he begins, slipping his legs under the table and picking up his knife and fork again. “How’s the food?” He’s looking at my full yet muddled plate.
“Nice, I’m just not very hungry.”
“But the wine’s good?” he asks, looking pointedly at the empty bottle beside us.
Meow, Mr. Daley.
“The wine is excellent and
“Good.” He smiles a Hollywood smile. Hollywood, as in big and fake. He
gets stuck into his food and I resume pretending to eat mine.
While he finishes I take a moment to appreciate the room around us. It really is enchanting. White drapes hang low from the ceiling, matchi
ng the crisp, linen table cloths and floral arrangements before us. Classical music hums softly in the background, synchronizing perfectly with the dim light of the candles to ‘romancify’ the restaurant. Couples around us are taking advantage of the sweet decor and atmosphere, besotted with each other, kissing and holding hands. I almost feel embarrassed to be this far detached from Reid. Why did he have to bring me here of all places?
floors up and the amazing view has been a good distraction from the difficulty of the date. I can see the South Loop of Chicago spread out before me, grand but contained within the iron-framed window. It looks like a piece of contemporary art.
Good, huh?” Reid mumbles, his leaf green eyes following my own. I hum in agreement. “Maybe we should take a trip to Willis Tower sometime. The view there’s meant to be pretty amazing.”
Another date? Because this one is going so well.
After several moments of unease Reid puts his cutlery down. “Are you finished?”
he asks. I nod, declining dessert or coffee, so he requests the check to pay. We stand to leave and he politely offers me his arm, which I dutifully accept. “Happy anniversary, Darlene,” he says, kissing me lightly on the cheek. “Here’s to the next five years...”
Vast, industrial buildings tower over us as we walk home through Printers Row, their abundance of windows like a mosaic against the brickwork. We can see our apartment in the distance but we’re slow to get there, trudging past the quaint cafés and bookshops that line the street. We’ve lived here for five months and only now am I beginning to feel settled. It’s nothing to do with Chicago; it’s everything to do with me. It’s so far removed from all that I’m used to. It’s cold for a start, and when you’ve spent the last few years being bathed in the opulent sun of LA it comes as a surprise to have to wear two, sometimes three pairs of woolly socks at this time of year.
Chicago wasn’t my city of choice, I admit, but it’s growing on me, thankfully. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter when my husband got offered the job of a lifetime after slugging it out as an editor’s assistant for years. Finally offered a promotion, he took it, despite it meaning me having to give up my job, my friends
, and move seventeen hundred miles to be with him. I was more than happy to do so at the time, but I guess it’s pretty obvious that I am now a little resentful. My bitterness no doubt coils from the fact that I’ve been unable to find work here. I’m a music teacher, I
a music teacher, but having left so close to the start of the school year it’ll be a long while before the new semester starts and I have a chance of finding a new teaching position.
“What time is your interview on Monday?” Reid asks, surprising me by both his remembering and his sudden hand around mine.
“Are you nervous?”
“Don’t be, you’ll be great.” He smiles encouragingly, but I attain no warmth from it.
“Even if I get the job it won’t start ‘til September. That’s seven months away. What am I supposed to do until then?” I ask, genuinely hoping for a good answer.
“Whatever you’ve been doing until now, I guess.”
I scoff. “So nothing.”
“I don’t know, Darlene. Maybe get another job
to tide you over. It doesn’t have to be in teaching.”
“Like waitressing or somethin
g?” I bite, unable to stem the whining in my tone. “Baby, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I don’t want to be a twenty-six year old waitress.”
“Fine.” Reid shrugs, concluding the end of that short-lived discussion.
Slowing down to allow for the damn heels that are now pinching my feet, I absent-mindedly study the windows of the businesses as we saunter past. Coming up to
, a popular bar currently blasting out some Crowded House, I eye up the collage of leaflets that layer a notice board hung outside. I’m drawn to the slip of black paper screaming out from the vibrant colors that surround it.
Open Mic Night - Every Sunday - 8 ‘til late
- All Expressions Welcome
Releasing Reid’s hand, I step closer, peering around the notice board to study the bar. I’ve only ever heard
, not seen, having had no social life the last few months. I guess for a social life you need friends within the same vicinity as yourself, or at the very least, a partner who isn’t completely consumed with work.
The bar is crammed, so crammed that it is likely to be running against health and safety
laws. I can’t see much further than the entrance but the crowd is spirited and animated as the track changes to Aerosmith’s
Walk This Way
. I almost do. Instead, I opt to simply admire their lively attitude to this great opening guitar riff.
“What is it?” Reid asks, seemingly bored behind me.
“They’ve an open mic night here tomorrow.”
Several seconds pass.
“Are you thinking of going?”
why not? I’m not exactly juggling social engagements.” Tearing myself away from the energy of the bar, I look to Reid who watches me with confusion. “What?”
“I didn’t think you wanted to perform anymore.”
“I didn’t, but it might be nice just one more time.”
He puckers his mouth into an intrigued pout and offers his hand again. “Okay.”
“You’ll come with?”
“Darlene, I can’t. James has arranged dinner with an author.”
“On a Sunday?” I don’t know why I’m so appalled. Apparently there’s no such thing as a weekend off when you’re the newbie at a publishing firm.
“I’m sorry. You’ll be amazing though.” He takes my reluctant hand an
d brings it to his lips. I savor the warmth of his kiss, knowing how long I may have to wait until the next. I smile in return, regrettably realizing that it’s my first genuine smile all evening.
Flicking on the light switch to our recently acquired and decorated apartment, I notice how the smell of paint still hangs in the air from yesterday. I blanch as I scoot past Darlene to hang up my jacket. Darlene absentmindedly hands me hers, out of habit I think, and so I hang that up too.
“Maybe you should have aired it out some more,” I suggest as she fans the stink away from her face. She nods lightly before taking a seat in her favorite chair, one of the only pieces of furniture we bought with us from LA. She’s about to go all quiet on me again, I can tell. The silence has been killing me tonight, heck, it’s been killing me slowly for a long while. I’d rather her shout at me than ignore me.
Now, there’s an idea.
“I mean, the windows didn’t really even need
painting, did they? You shouldn’t have bothered.”
She shoots me a look of pure contempt before shaking her head and lowering her gaze to unfasten her shoes. “What else is there to do?” she mumbles to herself. She doesn’t think I
can hear her but I have fine hearing, extremely attuned to Darlene’s mumbling having become accustomed to it over the seven years I’ve known her. She will always favor muttering something under her breath to screaming or shouting in my face, even on the occasions that I’ve deserved it.
“Sorry?” I ask, knowing damn well that she won’t repeat it.
“No, I guess I shouldn’t have.” She smiles sweetly. I only wish it were real.
Even if I was only trying to goad her into a much needed argument, I was right. Not
hing needs doing anymore. She’s spent the entirety of her time here decorating a home that didn’t really need decorating. She has stripped everything and painted everything, trawled the city far and wide finding furniture to fill the moderate space, and she has called upon her many talents to both find and supply artwork to adorn the bare walls. Overall the effect is one that I am amazed with. The open-plan living space, comprising of a seating area, a dining area and a kitchen, all follows the same earthy color scheme. The walls are a calming oatmeal color while the furnishings are tinted with mint greens and weak browns. Darlene’s chair sits snugly in the far corner with her guitar on one side and the sizeable window that overlooks the street on the other.
Thinking I was being kind, I recently told her that she should look into decorating as a career. I mean, she really has done a fantastic job here. She ignored me for days after that little slip. Apparently I had “belittled her passion for teaching.” There was me thinking I was helping her expand her options. I have since given up tryin
g to help. But, it seems like a new career is an even better idea now. With the apartment completely finished she is bored out of her mind. I come home to find crazy dishes cooked for our evening meal, something she’s spent hours concocting, or she has written a song that she never intends to sing for me. Just last week I found her alphabetizing my extensive book collection. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that they were already alphabetized by author, not title. That would have been worth at least a week in silence.
After tossing my briefcase gently onto the sofa I remove my
glasses and tie, then open a few buttons of my shirt. I walk around and sit facing Darlene. She’s relaxed into her plush chair as if it is warm hug, her head back and her eyes closed. Her shoes are off and her bare legs are folded neatly beneath her. Clutching a huge gold cushion to her chest as if it were her childhood teddy, she looks so unbelievably cute, and yet so heartbreakingly lost. She hasn’t been herself for so long, and in turn, neither have I. My anchor is lost and I am finding myself adrift.
I knew it would be difficult here and we were both aware that the chances of her finding a job immediately were slim, but I don’t think either of us w
as prepared for how much the move would affect us as a couple, especially when it started so well. We were excited to be on this adventure together and the city pulled us in with its energy and noise. Darlene was keen to explore while I worked, and the days seemed to skip by happily. Then, as my workload increased and my hours spent at home dwindled, so did our fire. Now, instead of fighting for our relationship it feels like we are simply accepting its decline.
“Shall we go to bed?” I ask, hoping that my intentions are clear without being pushy. It’s been a really long time. Long for anyone, but especially for us, considering our previously amorous relationship.
“I’m not tired,” she says, her voice sleepy and her eyes closed.
“I didn’t mean to sl...” I exhale heavily, rubbing my lips and chin to hide my bite. “Right, you look about ready to perform the fuckin’ Cancan.”
“Nothing,” I sigh. “I’m going to bed.” I push myself from the couch and head for the bedroom. See, I can mumble too.