Wednesday Write-In is a new competition run by Cake ShortnSweet, some of my favourite and most enthusiastic friends in the writing world. They give you a couple of prompts and challenge you to write in with your short story, submissions the following morning. This week, I chose 'a stiff drink' as my prompt. Take a look at their website and maybe join in the competition next week!
Why does she insist on a stiff drink when something happens? I’d much prefer a cigarette, but that’s the crux of our relationship; opposites attract. Breathing deeply, I accept, is half of the relaxation in smoking, but because of that, smoking always seemed the better option to me. Poisoning your liver with no positive side-effects – not with the kind of drink she enjoys anyway. No heart boosting red wine or low calorie white wine for my girl – she even refused mixers. Just whisky on the rocks, please.
A ‘good, stiff drink to settle the nerves’ was never needed more than on last Tuesday evening. We’d waited to break the news in some appropriate place at an amenable moment in time, but you know what it’s like, there’s just no good time to break some news, and sitting on a secret gets uncomfortable sometimes. There was no sitting down quietly with a nice cup of tea, letting the chips fall carefully where they may. It was more like the plate of chips had collided front-on with an articulated truck and there was mess everywhere.
Andrea, a Bristol University chemistry student, and I had met in Kavos, Greece, at the start of this summer. We’d both been on holiday with friends; her girls were enjoying a sun worshipping beach break, while my group was living for the dark hours, barely seeing the island bathed in sun. However, staying in hotel rooms adjacent to each other meant we crossed paths several times. We hit it off immediately, much to the surprise and possible annoyance of our friends (after all, we were supposed to be on a ‘mates from home’ holiday!). Although many things suggested this was ‘just’ a holiday fling, we had a fantastic couple of weeks.
On our return to the UK, Andrea managed to convince me we’d probably just started a simple holiday romance which made no sense in the real world, and we reluctantly decided to part ways. However, Southampton (home for me) isn’t that far from Bristol, and as non-soppy as I am, we couldn’t stay apart.
Now it was September, and time for Andrea to return to University for her final year. It was time we made some concrete decisions and took our lives into our own hands. After all, ten months from now, we’d hopefully both be working, both be ‘real adults,’ and life would move forward. While we were sure the world would throw some challenges (sometimes the same repeated challenges) at us throughout life, we were sensible enough, loving enough, and sure enough that we could look after each other.
Time and space develops relationships to a degree which even living in the same town could not rival. You’d hardly see us apart on the few days off we snatched, and people had become used to seeing us as a pair. People, I say, excluding the families. We have taken our time telling them of our relationship. Andrea’s father, in particular, had been positively hostile towards any past boyfriends she’d brought home, and Andrea didn’t see why her parents should have any say in her romantic status and who she chose to date.
For me, it was the contrary. My family had always been close, and I’d prefer them to know and understand a relationship as important to me as this one. They would be supportive and happy for me whatever decision I made. A prime example was when I decided to remain in Southampton, to find a job and discontinue my studies. They weren’t overjoyed, but they let me discover what made me happy. I envisaged the forthcoming news going down not quite like syrup, but definitely not like oversized shards of Goldschlager. My family would see how happy Andrea makes me, and would welcome another daughter to add to their tiny family unit. My father would undoubtedly joke, perhaps a little awkwardly, that he was still surrounded by women, but if I was happy, he was happy. My parents would even open a bottle to celebrate, I suspect.
As sure as I was of what my family’s reaction would be, I wasn’t comfortable with only informing one set of parents without the others having a clue. This is why we found ourselves at Andrea’s home on Tuesday night. We had decided to begin with the family we anticipated would have the most negative reaction.
Negative wasn’t the word. Repulsed, angered and disappointed; those words would have gone some way to have explained Andrea’s typically Catholic parents’ response to the news of their daughter’s blossoming relationship. I wasn’t exactly expecting the warmest reception, the first serious partner of their only daughter among a crowd of sons, but I knew there would be a gulf of difference in our two families’ reaction to our news, like two opposing magnetic poles.
That’s one thing not so opposite in mine and Andrea’s relationship. Opposite sexes do not attract.
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