Being Better

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Amateur

The moans of a mad man. That’s what Josh said it sounded like. He wasn’t meant to have heard it at all; not a sound. However, to my embarrassment and utter dismay, the walls had betrayed me and sold the sounds of our intimacy to the nearest bidder.

Josh had not wanted to hear us, of course not. He looked at me with his usual soft complexion and admitted that our love making was unavoidably audible to the party goers. I couldn’t speak of the horror myself, yet as my only friend, Josh found ways to laugh about it and poke fun.

“He really is a little bitch.” Tom said as matter of factly as he could, which was strangely out of character I thought. Gentle Tom, the kind hearted and loyal man I had thought him to be, saying ‘bitch.’

“Okay, I know you don’t like Nelson, but at least say things that are true,” I implored. After all, I didn’t see Nelson as being weak or anything of the sort! He was a professional man; indeed he wasn’t a little bitch.

Tom rolled his eyes and shook his head, “you have no idea Jenny, so tucked away in your own version of things that you just don’t know what’s actually going on.” He pointed at me, perhaps a little too hard, because he poked me in the collar bone- and it hurt.

“Are you angry at me?” I asked in a tentative voice, worried I had somehow upset him.

“No,” he smiled and looked at me softly, “I just can’t believe you’re dating such a little bitch.” He simpered, adding; “you deserve so much more than Nelson.”

~

Nelson sat on his leather TV-watching chair, so far, so distant from me. I looked over at him and wondered how to grab his attention the best. A list of possibilities ran through my mind; a mischievous text message, a suggestive outfit, or perhaps… if I could just say the right words, he would break free from his sport watching marathon.

He noticed my staring and spoke up, “what’s wrong? Come on out with it. You’re doing the sulking thing again,” he raised his eyebrows expectantly. I knew from past events that not providing an excuse for my facial expression, would end in his frustration, so I had to think on my feet-

“I’m just uhm, w-wondering what you’re thinking about.” I paused knowing that was a stupid answer, right away he seemed annoyed that I had somehow found a reason to make an ordinary moment- all about my feelings of anxiety. I knew I did this often, and I tried desperately to avoid doing so, “I meant in regards to the game,” I added.

“It’s okay, you can tell me what’s wrong. I’m not angry with you, if that’s what you are worrying about.” He looked back at the TV and huffed. I wasn’t sure if that was an indication that I should keep talking, or not, so I sat there in silence.

When the game finished he turned off the TV and looked my way with tired droopy eyes. I knew it had been a long day at work for him, and I felt conflicted about wanting affection, and then wanting to please him by leaving him to rest. He began to mutter, “Well if you aren’t going to tell me what’s wrong, do you want to just go to bed?”

I curled up inside myself and thought about how I could meet both our needs. How does a person allow someone to rest while receiving affectionate attention at the same time? “Can I just have one minute of affection from you before we go to bed?” I asked as innocently as I could muster.

“Of course,” he stretched his arms out to me and patted me on the back for a moment. The familiar buzzing of his phone went off though, and the minute cut short as he took a phone call from his co-workers.

~

That night I lay resting next to a man while tossing and turning in unease. The usually warm embrace of Nelson left me feeling empty and unsatisfied. Somehow a woman of 24 had out-libidoed a man in his even earlier 20s and I just didn’t understand. Perhaps all the clichés of men wanting sex all the time was just wrong?

Nelson often reminded me that we still made love regularly; he would moan that it was hard to work a job and have sex every night. I agreed with him about the issue. I was a greedy woman to want him to spend hours pleasing me every night, and I thought I deserved only what I received. So with that thought I turned over and snuggled into him, closing my eyes tightly and hoping that my feelings of unsatisfied arousal would dissipate into nothingness.

~

My brain was working on overdrive that morning: breakfast, brush teeth, shower, and dress, do dishes, make daily schedule and hope everything ran smoothly. Tom had sent word that he would be visiting that afternoon and I wanted everything to be completed before he arrived. His text message was a welcome break from my lonely existence. I felt I needed as much.

When Nelson woke up he stumbled out of our bedroom in his day robe and he sat at the table stating only one word- “coffee”. I made him a cup of his favourite brand and handed it over while sitting next to him hopefully. Nelson looked up at me with worn eyes; “How are you feeling bahis firmaları today?” He asked with what I thought was concern.

“Pretty good,” I said weakly, despite my lack of sleep and feelings of what could only be described as depression.

“Good, keep it that way.” He joked with that, yet something about it felt unsystematic. Of course, that feeling was just little ol’ me… overanalysing the statement, giving power to the ‘crippling paranoia issues’ I’d always been led by.

“I’m seeing Tom later today, did you want to come with me?” Nelson looked across at me with his narrowest expression and I knew his answer before I had been told.

“Sweetheart, you know I don’t like him. He’s pretentious and not to mention you haven’t even known him long enough to be sure he’s a keeper as your friend. Where did you meet him again? A book store or a library of something? Anyone in this day and age with the time to stroll around book shops all day just isn’t proving their worth to the economy.”

And that was Nelson’s last words on the matter. In fact, those were his last words that morning, for he got dressed in silence, and walked out the door shortly afterwards. I slumped over the kitchen table near his empty cup of coffee and pondered the dilemma. Was it okay for them to dislike each other and still be part of my life? Or did I have to let one of them go?

The doorbell rang.

“Coming!” I shouted and walked over to the front of the house wondering who on earth would be visiting first thing in the morning. I turned the browning door handle of Nelson’s flat and peeked outside. “Hello?”

“Hi I’m Sherry,” a lady reached out her hand for me to shake, and I did so very timidly. I felt completely embarrassed to be speaking to a woman in a fancy blue business dress, while I stood in overalls, and a plain yellow shirt.

“Hi Sherry,” I stumbled over what to say, “sorry I wasn’t expecting anyone t-to be here this early in the morning, not that that’s a problem or anything, really because I always say to welcome company but, you know how company isn’t always welcoming? S-Sometimes…” I frowned in knowing that my nervous social speak was completely ridiculous, however I had not anticipated a social interaction so I supposed my off guard manner was to be expected, right?

“Yes, yes he did mention what you would be like. May I come in?” She stepped inside before I could reply and walked down the hall, “now personally I have never seen the inside of this little flat, isn’t it adorable?”

This fiery brunette with tightly drawn back hair was staring at me and waiting for some kind of response, however I could not understand what was actually happening. I squinted at her as if that would give me some form of clarity; however it just made her look blurry.

“You are Jenny, aren’t you?” Sherry looked concerned.

“Well, yes that’s me, but I still don’t quite know who you are? I mean, I know you told me your name, but I’m not sure how you know me.” I cuddled my arms around myself and looked across at the intimidating woman before me.

“Well I’m an associate agent of Mr Braint, or rather, you would call him Nelson. I was hired by him to help him to make a name of himself, to help straighten out the knots in his exterior if you will.” She reached into her little leather purse and handed me her personal business card. It looked authentic, and stylish enough to be envied by other business professionals, I thought.

“But why does Nelson need an agent? He didn’t mention…”

“Yes well, as he and I discussed it was just easier to let me deal with you.” She lead me over to Nelson’s kitchen table as if it were her own, like she had owned everything in that little flat, including me. As we sat I felt a million butterflies jumping from my stomach right up my throat, as if I could open my mouth and a swarm of them would fly out and devour me on the spot.

“Nelson discussed me with you?” I exhaled and no swarm did erupt.

“Yes of course! You are his little house mate and he very much needed you to be recognised as part of this new career development,” she smiled with her professional finesse. I then realised what this was about- I was being made a part of his professional career as his public partner, a part of his image! He was including me in his most important part of life, and I would be acknowledged by all his co-workers as a result!

I began to ramble in excited tones; “Nelson is a very professional and successful man, I guess just I didn’t realise he was taking such a serious stance on his career.” Anxiety bubbled at my surface, “I can’t believe I hadn’t even noticed how serious he was, I really should have, what with all the hours he works, and all the time he spends talking of it. But I didn’t realise that health inspection officers were so… Like you can get an agent for being in that field?”

“Yes,” she tapped her nails across the table as if waiting for me to stop speaking. kaçak iddaa I covered my mouth and apologised, “yes well, he is planning on becoming a published novelist in businesses and health criteria.”

“Oh wow, that’s so exciting. He’s going to be so happy, to be so successful, that’s- that’s all he ever has wanted.” I flushed with joy for him.

“Precisely,” the woman continued, “this is all he has ever wanted and that is why I’ve had to assess your standing with him.”

“I’ll do anything I can,” I opened up to her, “I’ll stand any way he needs, 100% support, and I’ll, I’ll change my wardrobe and even never leave the house without at least a little makeup or… A lot of makeup if that’s better and”-

“Actually,” Sherry put up her hand and cut through my ramblings of glee like it pleased her to do so, “we were thinking it would be best if you moved.”

I stopped and regarded her for a moment. I blinked and looked around. “Yes, of course,” I began with a little hesitation, “like, this is our first place together, so it’s been really a sentimental space for me, but I can see how we would have to move. Like how will anyone take him seriously if he doesn’t live in an actual house? A big house, right? Like business family men live in?”

She gave me a dumbfounded look, just for a split second, and then regained her posture. “No, Nelson won’t have his address made public darling. He won’t have the kind of income to buy a house for at least a year.” She stood up from the kitchen table, her chair screeching across the tiles as if the house were screaming in angst. “What Nelson needs is for you to move out- just you.”

~

When Sherry left, I felt broken. Had Nelson seriously just hired an agent to break up with me? Where was I going to go? Hadn’t he loved me and wanted me? Did I not please him? Broken fragments of these questions darted through my mind as if to stretch the boundaries of my reality but failing to do so…

I packed a bag of items I knew to be mine and stood in the hallway of my home, which was no longer mine at all. I was being evicted by my own boyfriend, who was also; no longer mine at all. I sobbed for myself and crouched down against the greying carpet of Nelson’s flat. At least, I thought, the sobs I emitted were still my own.

I didn’t see Tom that afternoon. I suppose I felt ashamed by it all, so I just hired a room at some old motel and cried until I fell asleep. The room smelt musky and the blankets were tattered like hell, but it was all I could afford. This was it.

And who was I anyway? Just some ordinary girl- with anxiety issues that crippled everything, a sexual drive that left men tired of their efforts and not even enough intelligence to discern a business meeting from a breakup. Heck, I didn’t even have a ‘career’ of my own.

I thought my phone was buzzing lightly from the end of my bed. However, it was hidden under old blankets and piles of scrunched up tissues and I, I just couldn’t deal with it. No one was going to help me from drowning out the sounds of reality because I didn’t want to hear it. That was all there was to it.

“Open the door Jenny,” I heard a familiar voice, “I know you’re in there.” I shot up in a sitting position, my hair a wild mess and my face all blotchy. I thought perhaps if I was terribly silent he would go away.

“Jenny?” He insisted, “Open this door before I ring for an ambulance under suspicion of a suicide attempt. You have three seconds to do as you’re told.”

“One…”

“Two.”

I raced to the door and stopped at the handle. “Wait, wait, please don’t do that.” I cradled the inside of the door holding myself upright against it while I continued to sob.

“Jenny,” I could tell now that it was Tom, “Jenny… I am not leaving until you let me in and let me…” he sighed as if finding it hard to make the words.

“How did you find me?” I mumbled through the door.

“How did I find you? I bumped into Nelson, that’s how. Then I made him tell me where you would go. And then I went to your favourite restaurant like he suggested, but realised what a stupid suggestion that was. Because who in their right mind wants to eat lobster after their heart has been broken, right? So I thought of where I would go…”

“And you would go to a cheap motel to cry?” I found the thought humorous among the tears.

“No, I would go to the gym and box it out because I’m too manly,” he joked, “Please let me come in.”

I opened the door and looked down to the floor, ensuring my face was covered by the strands of my blonde hair, hoping he wouldn’t notice how terrible I looked. He came inside and shut the door. Tom seemed to have this way of making me feel vulnerable yet safe. Something he was doing right in that moment. Yet I wasn’t in the mood to feel vulnerable! Not when it meant I would hurt

“You,” he began, grasping each of my arms with his warm hands, and leading me towards an old wooden chair, “you kaçak bahis don’t need him.” He sat me down. I tried to open my mouth in protest but all that came out was some strange sobbing sound that I didn’t even recognise as my own. So he continued-

“Jenny, listen to me,” Tom crouched down to level with my face, “he was a coward, an ugly, selfish, self-involved scum-bag who didn’t treat you right.” I could see it in his eyes that he believed what he was saying to me. Yet I couldn’t shake this feeling of loss and sadness. Nelson was my person, he had been the one and only in my life for the last 3 years, and before him I couldn’t even remember.

“No,” I shook my head stubbornly, “you don’t know how he treated me at all. You only met him one time. He was really good to me. He gave me a place to live and protected me.” I brushed away the tears rolling down my cheeks and looked at Tom with convictions I knew stemmed only from crippling fear. If Nelson had never truly loved me…

“I met him once that’s true. At a party where he practically made it impossible for me or anyone else to interact with you. Every time I asked you a question he spoke for you. Every time I came near you, he would send you away to gather food or to clean some new mess.”

Tom’s version of the party was much different to what I had remembered. Yet it wasn’t entirely untrue. I frowned trying to think of how to argue the point with him, “He just wanted to make sure everyone had drinks. That’s thoughtful right? And I had asked him to get to know you, so he was making an effort to speak with you.”

“It wasn’t just me, everyone at that party who was there to see you, didn’t see you.” Tom saw the conflicted look I carried and stood up to walk around the room.

“Look I get it; you’re a grown woman making her own choices and opinions of those around her. Nelson was, to you, a love who you just lost. I know I can’t change your feelings just by calling him a little bitch… even if that’s the truth of it.”

Tom picked up the motel’s rubbish bin and began throwing all the used up tissues away. I told him he didn’t have to do that, I was fine to clean up after myself! Yet he insisted.

“I’m cleaning up because you are about to get dressed and sign out of this place,” he put down the bin and straightened out the blankets, “so go into the bathroom and wash your face.”

I looked at him, this man walking around my motel room and cleaning about; was he going to take me back to Nelson? Was he going to convince Nelson not to leave me? I blinked back some tears, but I didn’t ask him any questions. The silent hope was all I wanted. It was something to cling to.

I stood up and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind me with shaking hands. The mirror was a sight to be seen. My face was discoloured and red, my hair a tangled mess, and my overalls were… Well they were still nothing compared to that woman in her business dress. I couldn’t forget her. The way she spoke with self-assured confidence. Her hair tightly woven, not a single strand out of place, and that sharp red lipstick. There was nothing about her that was anything like me.

I turned on the tap and adjusted the temperature until it was lukewarm. My hands quivered underneath its running surface, however, to do as I was told- I cleaned my face, splashed the water over my cheeks, and the towelled it dry.

When I left the bathroom, Tom had cleaned the entire motel, and even had chosen some clothes from my bag for me. They were laid out neatly upon the bed and he was standing with honest patience.

“I always liked it when you wore this dress,” he smiled at me, “it was the first one I ever saw you wear, and caught me off guard a little. Nose deep in a book about mystery and suspense, when you asked me why there weren’t any books explaining the concept of appropriate cleavage.”

Tom went on, “see, at first I thought you were making a sarcastic remark about the large woman at the other end of the isle, because her breasts were almost falling out of the sides of her top, but then I realised you hadn’t spoken to me at all. In fact, you were muttering to yourself while actually looking for a book on how much cleavage is appropriate for a woman.”

I looked shyly at Tom’s retelling of the moment we met, but I had not known how he had been watching me before he had actually introduced himself. I flushed a light pink at the thought of him noticing my public ramblings, and said, “I didn’t know you had heard all of that.”

“I thought it was delightfully refreshing,” he smiled and turned his back to me, “now get dressed.”

~

Tom had helped me sign out but still I had not asked where he was taking me. I feared that the answer would not be to make everything better with Nelson. Occasionally I glanced out the window to see if it was in the direction of Nelson’s flat, but I did not recognise any of my surroundings.

Eventually I caved, “where are you taking me?” I asked in a faint voice.

“You’re going to stay with me for a while,” Tom looked across at me curiously, “unless you prefer the motel so badly, but I don’t like the idea of you being alone in that place.”

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