Tessa Barrie

5 months ago   -   8 min reads | Followers

The One


Hi, Jack, I'm home. It's been such a long, hot day. I've missed you so much. Mm. I feel better already, just seeing you, and now we have the whole weekend to chill together. I can't wait. Just give me five minutes to change, and then we'll walk along the towpath to the pub. I can't be bothered to cook tonight, so I thought we could stop at the Cutty Sark for a drink and something to eat.

Isn't it glorious? It's such a perfect July day, balmy with a hint of a breeze, much like the first day we met. Do you remember? You did that impossible thing you do with your eyes. It should have been my first summer of love with that ridiculous Atticus Ridley. Why his parents chose to call him after an ancient Greek philosopher is a mystery. Looking back, I think his Christian name affected him psychologically, especially at school. His classmates nicknamed him Abacus. Even as a child, he was brilliant with figures. So, becoming an accountant was the only job for him.

Then there was his OCD problem. Ha, ha! A man with an obsession with cleaning, who'd have thought? As soon as he got home, the duster would be out. The upside was that I never had to lift a finger in the housework department.

Despite all his faults, obsessions and anxieties, I still put up with him until he went off with our dentist. She was my dentist! I introduced him to her, but I should have realised that there are only so many visits you need to sort out a root canal. Don't worry, she's not my dentist any more.

Who would have thought that the baby-faced Attie would turn out to be an adulterous accountant? Being unfaithful is something I've always found abhorrent. So I kicked him out. And good riddance is what I said. Sigh. I still say that - out of my life and into the dentist's chair. Mind you, he'll have excellent teeth for the rest of his life if he manages to stay faithful to the tooth-yanker. Anyway, he's history now, and I hope all his bloody teeth fall out after what he did to me.

I was still getting my head around what Attie had done when Jennie asked me over for a glass of Pimms. As I walked up the garden path to her front door, I saw you for the very first time. You were on the lawn, lying on your back with your eyes closed and chewing on a blade of grass. Not a care in the world.

Jennie came to the door. The sound of our voices disturbed you. You sat up, blinking your eyes open against the glare of the sun.

'That's him,' Jennie whispered.

I turned to look at you again, which was when you did that ridiculous thing you do with your eyes. 'The look.' You had no idea you were doing it, but it made my heart flutter under my ribcage. You still do it, and it always has the same effect. I dismissed it then as indigestion because my heart had never reacted like that before.

'Jack! This is the lovely Lucy I've been telling you about.'

There's no need to shout! I hissed.

You got to your feet to acknowledge my presence, still holding my gaze. You hypnotised me with the deep, limpid pools of your cocoa-coloured irises. When I finally managed to avert my eyes, I went into the house and watched Jennie stuff a bunch of mint into the jug with her hand, then swirled it around with a spoon before pouring me a Pimms.

'He could very easily be the one for you. He's so adorable. I find it hard to believe that nobody has snapped him up.'

'Don't be so ridiculous!' I said, forcing a belly laugh, loud enough to convince myself that I didn't need another man in my life, not then, not ever, because I believed that all of the males of the species would be like Attie, not necessarily an accountant, but unfaithful.

We went back outside to drink our Pimms, and somehow, without me noticing, you were there, sitting so close I could feel your warmth against my leg. Jennie smiled and raised her eyebrows. An irritating, knowing sort of expression, which I returned with a slight roll of my eyes before turning my attention to you.

You gave me that look again, your beautiful dark brown eyes, intense and staring. This time, my heart cartwheeled inside my chest, so I knew then that you were the one. I promised to spend time with you the following day. The rest, as they say, is history.

We've been through so much together since then, haven't we? That dreadful holiday with my darling little sister in South Wales when she spent the whole time picking fights with her ghastly ex-boyfriend. At least we managed to escape some of the tedious verbal skirmishes by going for very long walks. Thank God she lives in Australia now, and we don't have to meet up with her at all.

I find it hard to believe we are sisters. We're not remotely alike. We have nothing in common. She was irritating as a child and insufferable as an adult. I have a theory about where she came from because she's not like me, Daddy or Mummy. I was only six, but I vividly remember Mummy, God rest her soul, having a little fling with Bernie Armitage whilst Daddy was on a one-year secondment to the New York office. Bernie was always at home when I got back from school. When I walked through the door, Mummy, still in her housecoat, would say, 'Hello darling, girl. Uncle Bernie's here. He's been marvellous, keeping Mummy company while Daddy's away.'

After Daddy came home, he didn't seem very happy that Mummy was pregnant. That's when the awful rows started. I couldn't understand why at the time, as I thought Daddy would have been pleased that Mummy had another little bun in the oven, but it all makes sense to me now. Even though Daddy, unlike Attie, was never great at mental or any other kind of arithmetic, he managed to work out how many weeks had passed since he and my mother last, you know, did it. The figures wouldn't have added up, so Daddy left home because he didn't take infidelity well like me, but I never forgave him for leaving me behind with my adulterous mother and, within a few months, my super-annoying little half-sister.

Last year was the worst, though, wasn't it? When Mummy and Daddy passed on. Poof! One after the other. Just like that. Remember how I stressed over having to arrange their joint funeral by myself after my darling sister told me she refused to return to the UK, which was the last time we Skyped each other.

'What's the point?' she asked, necking a bottle of Foster's lager, 'they're dead, aren't they? They won't know if I'm there or not.'

I was furious! She should try coping with the aftermath of death twice in a handful of days. Oh, God. It's a funny old world. Daddy hadn't been near Mummy since Uncle Bernie had his wicked way with her, yet, somehow, they managed to synchronise their deaths.

But you, Jack, you were my rock. You still are. As soon as you were part of my life, Attie was archived in my dim and distant past, and you've been propping me up ever since. Your constant, loving support has got me through all the dark times.

So, I don't care if you come home muddy and filthy after chasing a silly football around the rec all afternoon. You are so very different from the squeaky clean, adulterous Attie, and I love you for that! I even put up with your sometimes unsavoury eating habits in front of the telly. Still, at least we've found out what foods cause you prolonged periods of flatulence, haven't we?

And you know why I put up with all these things, don't you? Of course you do! You don't need me to tell you I love you unconditionally because you must know that from looking into my eyes. You and I only need to exchange looks to know exactly how each other feels.

Jennie will always be my best friend forever because she introduced us. And she was right. You were and are the one. I have never felt so close to anyone in my life, and you saved yourself just for me.

She told me you were shy and hated meeting new people. The first time she ever saw you take an interest in anybody was when I walked up the garden path that evening.

I am so lucky to have the handsome you sharing my life. You turn heads wherever we go with your sleek jet-black hair, gorgeous long eyelashes, and those irresistible dark brown eyes. You're not my little Buddha-bellied baby anymore, you're a handsome young man now, and I love you. You are my constant companion, and I know I will never have to worry about you being unfaithful.

Oh, look! There's Jennie now, sitting outside the Cutty Sark with your Mummy. How lovely, I think she can smell you from here. She's getting very excited. Bless her. Look at her tail go!

And you know what the icing on our cake is, my handsome boy? My darling sister has developed an allergy to all things canine. Now off you go and say hello to your lovely Mummy.

  • Short Story

Tessa Barrie



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