Chapter Two, Part Three
This morning was the second morning that passed in a daze for Louise, she could barely remember anything that Hannah had said or that Tim had shown her. The playfulness and nervousness she had felt in the morning had vanished, and now she was filled with something she had not felt for years. It wasn’t fear, she knew it couldn’t be that, it was an amount of unconfidence in herself. How did she know she could do this? Louise needed to speak to someone.
Phoning Mark was not just a phone call. It never was. It meant more than that. Just as giving confession is more than talking to a priest, like gasping for air after you have felt yourself drowning is more than just taking a deep breath; it was necessary, it was needed. Right now Louise felt she was drowning.
Talking to Mark would make everything alright, it always did. He was a rock, her grounded stability. He was her Mark, and talking to Mark made magic happen. She did not know why, but she was over taken by a wave of well-being whenever she was close to him – that was a certainty. That is what she needed right now, certainty; certainty and a tsunami sized wave of well being; she needed the magic to happen.
She dialled the numbers so well known to her fingers, automatically her fingers pushed the buttons. His phone rang. She waited. It rang. She doubted. It rang. Her heart sank. It rang. She felt lost. Click.
“Hiya babylady.” Mark was there.
“Hello Bunkle, how are you?” And he told her. He talked about everything he had done since she had left. As Louise listened she could hear what he was saying, and she could hear what he was meaning.
Her ears heard “How’s London”, Her mind heard “Mostly I want to talk about me”
Her ears heard “The match was great”, her mind heard “I can get along fine without you now”.
Louise knew she was being silly, “it’s just because I’m a bit upset right now,” she said to herself. She started again, telling him how she was feeling. She needed him to know, she needed him to help.
And they chatted. She started again, but it started again. She said a little, he said a lot. And she waited. He chatted, they laughed. This was stupid. And she waited. He talked more about her friends and her family and life at home; and she waited. She waited for the magic, but the magic didn’t come. She willed it to come, she yearned for it to come, but come it did not. She could hear Mark talking and it was all hollowed out, all echoey, all empty. This made no sense; no sense at all.
Her ears heard, “I love you”, her mind heard, “I need sex.”
Her ears heard, “We went down the Pilgrims on Friday, me and the posy and got wasted,” She heard, “Same pub, same story, same guys, same drinks, same old same old. Everything’s the same, you’re gone but it’s the same.”
He said “I miss you,” She heard “Sex please.”
“Stop!” Louise almost shouted it, or she might have shouted it she couldn’t tell. Louise didn’t know if she was talking to the voices in her head or to Mark, or to both. The word jumped from her mouth.
“Sorry honey,” she could hear his paused shock, “I’m just having a stressful day.” So she told him about her day, and he was quiet while she talked. She told him about her empty flat, and he was quite when she asked when he would visit. She told him about her confusion, and he was quite while she cried. She stopped talking, she restrained her sobbing. And Mark, her rock, her magical answer giving fount of well-being, was quiet.
He said “You will do great in London” and she heard, “There is no going back.”
Her eyes were stinging. Rushing to the toilet she looked at herself in the mirror. No amount of make up could hide the truth. She sat in the cubicle with the door locked and cried.
Louise couldn’t understand what had happened. Was it her? Louise knew that she was in a funny mood, she certainly wasn’t feeling herself. She hadn’t been feeling herself since she’d arrived. He hadn’t said anything rude, or mean or even unusual. Mark had been his usual self. It must be me, she thought. He was the same, the same as he’d always been. It’s me. She needed to apologise, but later.
But then why had she felt like that. Talking to Mark was a fool-proof plan. It always worked. She needed it to work, but she had wanted a rock and she had got a marshmallow. How can someone change so much in such a short space of time? Louise didn’t know if it was her or if it was Mark who had changed. If it was her, she was determined to change back.