Valerie had stayed up all night. It could have been by choice but it was more by compulsion. She was on the phone all night with Zara, listening to the tale she knew she shouldn’t be hearing because when the events occurred between Zara and Valerie’s boyfriend, it definitely wasn’t for Valerie’s consumption.
It started from needing a friend. Valerie was new in town and she had no one but her ex-boyfriend as her friend. Unfortunately, he is in another relationship now hence he had even less time to spend with her, taking her around town. So he introduced one of his college friends to her. Zara lived not too far from where Valerie stayed so it was easy for them to take a stroll together or to each other’s house or to go on a date together or just hang out. However normal she noticed Valerie and Jon’s friendship was trying to play out, she knew they had both shared something so powerful because Jon had told her of their relationship that ended not so long ago but they had managed to stay friends regardless of their painful and complicated break up.
One evening after Jon dropped off his girlfriend after she had stayed with him for a few days, he wanted to see his good friend Valerie so he drove straight to her. They sat in his car while they spoke. Then his phone rang. It was his girlfriend.
‘’Jon, I forgot something at your house. I’m downstairs to pick it up. Could you come open up for me?’’ she said, acting innocently. She knew Valerie was in town and like a well-known Romeo and Juliet story, almost everyone knew the strong connection that Jon and Valerie once shared. Hence her stay with him days on end and perhaps the cause of deliberately forgetting something for the excuse of coming back again so soon.
Jon shut his eyes tightly together. He knew she wouldn’t let him free that easy. ‘’I’m not home now’’.
‘’Where are you?’’
‘’I stopped at a friend’s’’.
‘’Can I come meet you there?’’
‘’No, I’ll come to you. Wait for me’’. Then he hung up. Facing Valerie, he said, ‘’I have to go’’.
‘’Yes, I got that. See you around’’.
‘’I’m sorry’’, he said in that usual concerned way.
‘’It’s ok’’ and she stepped out of his car but didn’t wait to watch him drive away.
Getting upstairs to her room, she knew it had upset her that he had to leave her to meet his girlfriend who was the same person he had once cheated on her with. He blamed it on the distance between them then but it didn’t take away the hurt and disappointment she felt. So she grabbed her jacket and headed out the door again. She headed for Zara’s house. She didn’t want to be alone.
Jon called her mobile phone on her walk down to Zara’s house. He heard the wind blow through her mouth piece so he asked where she was. She had told him she was going for a walk and they had left it at that. She called Zara on the phone when she got to her house and Zara came out to talk with her. They spoke, gisted and laughed and as they did, Zara recognised Jon’s car driving into her street.
‘’Did you tell Jon you were coming here?’’ Zara asked when she sighted him.
‘’No, why?’’ Valerie asked and turned in the direction of Zara’s eyes when she asked her. Argh! It was Jon. Silly.
‘’Did you guys have a fight?’’ Zara asked.
‘’No’’, Valerie was confused. ‘’Why?’’
‘’I don’t know. He didn’t come here for me, that’s for sure. He must have known you would be here’’.
Jon pulled over and walked towards Valerie. He hugged her as though he hadn’t seen her in days. She liked the way he hugged her. It made her feel like nothing had changed between them. Then he hugged Zara casually.
‘’I know you didn’t come here for me because you didn’t call me to say you were coming’’, Zara accused jokingly.
‘’So I’m gonna excuse the both of you and you can talk’’.
‘’Hey’’ he said to Valerie.
‘’I thought you were seeing your girlfriend’’.
‘’Yes, I saw her. She got her stuff and I dropped her off again’’.
‘’That was fast’’.
‘’Oh well’’, he said casually. Then he looked with intent at her and said, ‘’I didn’t want to leave you like that’’.
‘’Like how?’’ she knew what he meant but it was the only thing she found to say at the time. She didn’t want to be overwhelmed by her emotions for him.
He knew she knew what he meant so he ignored her question and said instead, ‘’I knew you would come here’’.
‘’Hmm, very few choices of places to go anyway’’, Valerie laughed.
And they talked and laughed and reminisced and hugged and flirted and all those silly love things they thought they weren’t doing. At the end of it, they had both ended up visiting each other at Zara’s house. He dropped Valerie off at her house and he left her late into the night.
It was that night that Zara called her and one talk lead to the other and before Valerie knew the motive Zara had called for, they were talking about how Jon had also cheated on Valerie with Zara.
‘’So how did it happen?’’ Valerie asked, not really wanting to know but she did want to know.
‘’It wasn’t spontaneous. We thought we were attracted to each other so we planned it actually. We were going to leave college early one day and meet at his’’’, Zara explained unapologetically. Then as if deliberately, she described in detail to Valerie how he touched her, where he touched her and how they both made each other feel.
For some reason, that conversation had gone from late that night into the wee hours of the morning. Valerie got very little sleep afterwards and before she knew it, the sun was up. As she struggled to get up from bed, she thought, one was explainable but two? He had cheated on her with two girls. Then she looked forward to their meeting later in the afternoon. Jon had taken some pictures of her which he said he would help her develop and bring. So she waited patiently for that time.
When they saw, she didn’t want to tell him of what she knew because Zara had made her promise not to tell him what she had told him. So she only just observed him, wondering how easy it must have been for him to cheat on her.
‘’Are you ok? You seem unusually quiet’’ he said.
‘’Why were you with Zara while you were with me?’’ she uttered without giving her emotions away.
She had caught him by surprise. He didn’t know how to answer her. Well, he should have known better than to introduce your ex to your side-chick and expect them to be friends while still treating one as special in the presence of the other without incurring any consequences.
‘’It was out of curiosity. She must have told you’’, he confessed sadly.
‘’You were curios to touch her and to feel her?’’ she was confused at his honesty.
‘’You wouldn’t understand’’, he resigned.
‘’Help me understand’’, she said as she sat there calmly.
‘’You weren’t here. I had a void. You left a void in me I so desperately wanted to fill’’.
Valerie struggled to understand him but for some weird reason, she understood but she refused to be won over so easily. ‘’So at what point were you with her different from the time you were with Ella while you were with me?’’ Even the question seemed unbelievably confusing to her.
‘’Let’s not go there. I apologize’’, he said, looking really sorry and confused himself.
‘’Ok’’, she simply said.
‘’You know it all didn’t mean anything, right?’’ he said, holding her hands gently in that way that usually melts her heart. She looked up into his eyes. She saw the tough, strong and caring man she wanted him to be but she didn’t know if she could ever see him like that again.
‘’I did love you’’, she whispered sadly.
‘’And you know I did. I still do but I didn’t want to keep hurting you because of the distance so I had to end it’’, he explained.
She said nothing but nodded her head. Then said, ‘’I want to go home now’’.
He was hurt that he had hurt her but he didn’t want to insist on making her see reasons or explaining himself when it would only hurt her. So he said, ‘’I’ll drop you’’.
On the ride to her house, he looked constantly at her, trying to read the expression on her face and read the hurt in her heart. When he couldn’t, he reached out to hold her hand while it was on her lap. Perhaps, he would feel the vibe of her emotions from her hand. She looked at him but was not attracted to the whimpering puppy he had become. Yet she knew that all she had come to know wouldn’t change the way she felt about him or erase the beautiful memories they had both shared.