It is better to be unfaithful than to be faithful without wanting to be.
As the week went on she invited me to come round to her flat the following weekend so they could go out. I offered to drive so she could drink. The flat was in a big, old house overlooking the main road. The house was grand and her flat retained loads of the original features. She showed me in to the lounge. The room was massive. It had high ceilings and a huge bay window with a bench seat. It reflected MariCarmen’s personality. All the walls seemed to be painted different colours, not clashing but it did look really busy. There was a cream carpet and a huge rug lay out between two brown leather sofas.
“Sorry, I’m running late. I need to shower. Make yourself comfortable. There’s coke in the fridge. Oh, and heroin in the microwave”
She laughed at her own joke.
I poured myself a drink and flicked through the CD’s. The advantage of going out with someone your age was always their taste in music. We remember the nineties and I selected something I used to love and hadn’t heard in years. Slightly depressing was when I found out it was 27 years old.
I could still hear MariCarmen screeching in the showers. I actually recognised the song, but only from the lyrics, not the percussion solo she was now launching into.
The phone rang. I left it and eventually, the answerphone cut in.
“Hi MariCarmen, its Arran. Just thought I would see how you were. Hope you got my card. I know we said we wouldn’t contact each other for a while, but I just hoped to hear your voice. Anyway, speak to you soon.”
The phone rang off and the light flashed to remind me the message was there.
I sat there looking at nothing. I could hear the hair dryer and the bedroom door open.
“Right. You ready then? Let’s go.”
She didn’t even look at the phone. She kissed me and took my hand. “Ready?”
I just smiled and nodded.
I tried to make conversation in the car. She laughed in all the right places and put her hand on my leg.
I drove us to a quiet bar overlooking the beach.
In the car I decided I wasn’t going to say anything. It wasn’t worth it. I would carry on as normal. I bought a hideous sounding drink for her that looked like cat sick, and then went to the toilet. I put some money into the condom machine, pulled the lever and nothing came out. I took it as a sign. Maybe I should say something.
As I washed my hands, I thought I looked really tired. I had thought I was doing OK, but maybe not.
But I didn’t want to get involved in anything I wasn’t sure about.
And I wasn’t sure about MariCarmen.
She was half way through the cocktail with the straw almost up her nose when I sat back next to her.
“We need to talk.”
“I need to know stuff. Simple stuff. But I am going to make this really easy. Just answer yes or no.”
“OK. I mean yes.”
“Do you like me?”
“Do you know I like you?”
“Would you ever deliberately hurt me?”
“Are you still in love with your ex-boyfriend?”
“What? Where did that come from? I …”
“The answer phone in the flat earlier when you were in the bath and I was waiting for you. Now, are you still in love with your ex-boyfriend and remember yes or no?”
“No. I don’t know.”
“MariCarmen. You are amazing. You are kind and warm and in a short period of time we have got on really well. I wanted you to say no and mean it. I don’t want to share my life with someone, not knowing if they’re thinking about me or someone else. I am used to being made to feel special. Anything else would not be right. I don’t want to just settle for something. I hope I have made a friend. I hope you will be around and I promise I will always be there for you. Thank you for coming into my life and reminding me what it was like to think about someone else.”
I patted myself on the back in my head for a great speech. I put my arms around her and kissed her cheek.
“I love the fact you are tone-deaf and sound like an animal experiment when you sing. I love the fact you dance in shops the second you hear music and most of all I love the fact you sound like a pterodactyl when you make love. I hope we are friends.”
I got up. “Time to go.”
“I’m fine. Really. I just need to be first best with someone.”
And I left.