Scrape: Chapter Seven, Part One
It had been a restless night and Louise wasn’t looking forward to morning. She had spent the night in a swirl of thoughts and confusion and was unable to control the jumble of images and words in her head. One moment she was walking hand-in-hand with Mark, then Tim, then Dan, then Becky. Louise knew she hadn’t done anything wrong with Tim or Dan, she was just being herself and one thing had led to another.
“And anyway,” her thoughts were loud in her head, “it’s not as if I’m going to see Dan again. And Tim’s just a little boy; I was doing him a favour. And if I saw Mark more often none of this would have happened.”
Louise’s feelings of innocence were soon replaced with a conviction of Mark’s guilt. She had been living in London for almost a month and he hadn’t even bothered to come down to see her. She knew that if he really cared he would have made some effort, but instead he was enjoying his freedom and going out every night with his idiot friends. There were girls in the office whose boyfriends came to visit them every weekend and called them every night. Mark barely even bothered to pick up the phone anymore. The more Louise thought about it the more she knew that Mark was glad she was so far away, “he’s always been looking for a way to get rid of me,” she assured herself.
By the time the sun peeped its head through her curtains, Louise’s feelings of anger and rejection were directed totally at Mark. Reluctantly she dragged herself out of bed and into the shower, still unable and unwilling to shake the feeling that Mark had treated her terribly. As she was deliberating over what to wear, her phone buzzed with a text from Mark,
‘Good Morning Honey. I missed the train so won’t get to you till about midday. Can’t wait to see you though xxx’
“Typical,” Louise thought as she flung the phone onto the bed and herself down next to it, “he can’t even wake-up on time!”
Mark and Louise weren’t the type of couple to argue. They weren’t the type of couple to have any issues at all. To everyone who knew them, and even those who saw them only in passing, they were the perfect couple. Even in both of their minds they knew they were perfect couple. Within weeks of meeting each other they both knew they had found their soul mate and over their three years of dating, nothing had happened to challenge that perception. If ever the occasion for an argument arose, they would work hard to stop it from ever appearing. Sometimes, even Louise would have to admit, her whims and requests would cause a little turbulence; but even with Louise’s sometimes demanding temperament, she and Mark never argued. A lesser man might have crumbled under the pressure of Louise’s occasional teenage-style tantrums but if ever there was a cause for disagreement, Mark would give in wholeheartedly before Louise got too upset.
Thinking things through in her current angered state, Louise realised that a lot of the things she used to love about Mark were beginning to infuriate her. His laid-back outlook for example, “surely if a man really loves you he’ll have passionate feelings about you that make arguments inevitable,” she thought to herself, unsure of whether this was really true. “And I don’t understand how anyone can love living at home that much,” in fact, the more Louise thought about it, the more she couldn’t understand what she actually liked about Mark. He was beginning to seem less and less like her soul mate and more and more like a boy she’d left behind. By the time she was ready to leave to meet him at the station, she wished his text had said he couldn’t make it.
Louise had taken the slow route to Kings Cross, she knew Mark would be off the train by the time she got there. The thought of him waiting, frantically calling her mobile although she had no signal, made her chuckle a bit inside. Louise did feel a bit ashamed that she was having these feelings about Mark on their anniversary, but she still felt that he deserved every ounce of her anger. When she came out of the tube, Louise had 4 missed calls on her phone all from Mark. She listened to his voicemail messages one after the other,
“I’m here babe. I guess you must be on the tube.”
“I’m waiting in the ticket hall, hurry up. I miss you.”
“Still waiting honey, I’ve got a surprise for you!”
“This being late must be your new London thing. You sure know how to keep a man on his toes. Can’t wait to see you!”
Louise put her phone back in her bag and headed for the ticket hall. The slow motion of tourists that she usually found infuriating was a welcome dampener to her speed and she found herself intentionally stuck behind a large group of Japanese tourists. By the time she had made her way to his waiting place, she could see Mark pacing up and down in an agitated fashion and checking his watch. He must have felt her looking at him because he turned around to see his gorgeous girlfriend walking towards him. Mark waved excitedly and picking up his bag and a massive bunch of flowers ran towards her.
“Baby,” he cried as he flung his arms around her neck and planted soggy kisses all over her face.
“Honey, sorry,” Louise mumbled, “the tube was a nightmare.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Mark grinned, “you’re worth the wait.” Louise fidgeted from one foot to another, “I bought you some flowers,” Mark exclaimed holding them out to her.
“Why did you miss your train?” Louise asked, taking the flowers from him.
“Oh,” Mark laughed, “I over slept.”
“Did you go out last night?” Louise was looking down, talking into the flowers.
“Yeah, but only with the guys and only into town,” Mark could feel an argument brewing, one that he wasn’t prepared for and wasn’t sure how to dodge.
“Did you stay out for long?”
“Well we only went for one drink, because Phil got a promotion, but then we met Kelley and her mates…”
“You met Kelley,” Louise cut him off, “And she convinced you to stay out? Kept you up all night?”
“Hey? What?” Mark was genuinely confused, “No, it’s nothing like that. You know who Kelley is right? She’s the mechanic.”
“So you stayed up all night with the greasy mechanic girl, missed your train, and bought me some flowers to make up for it?” Louise practically shouted flinging the flowers onto the floor. She stood for a moment looking at the flowers she had thrown away and felt tears dripping down her cheeks. Louise turned to storm off, the perfect finish to the perfect row, but Mark caught hold of her arm.
“Babe,” he almost whispered, “are you ok?”
“Sorry,” Louise mumbled, “I just.” She didn’t finish her sentence, instead she bent down and started to pick up the broken blossoms. The tears in her eyes were too much, and Louise could barely see what she was doing. She felt too ashamed to ask Mark for help, but wished that he would help her like he always did. Finally she felt Mark’s arm around her shoulders and saw his hand helping her collect the flowers. As they walked from the station hand in hand, neither of them had noticed the photographer capturing their row, and neither of them felt his eyes as they walked past his seat in Starbucks.