Truth be told, my sister’s probably not going to be putting out the bunting. I mean, she wasn’t exactly what you could call pleased to hear from me but what could she do – she’s my big sister? I often wonder how her life worked out so much better than mine. We both got the same shit deal when childhoods were being handed out but she’s in Paris, senior buyer for a famous department store and I’m; well to not put too fine a point on it, not.
Anyway, that’s by the by, I’m in a pickle and my sister is the only person I know who won’t turn me away. No matter how much she may want to. Her husband won’t be happy, it’ll probably put a fair bit of pressure on her but I can’t think about that – I’m desperate. That’s another difference between us; she met Michel when she was still at uni and stuck with him whereas I’ve not been able to stick with the same bloke for longer than a month. Mind you, where Michel is concerned, I think she settled. He’s no David Ginola and he barely speaks, even though he’s fluent in four languages. He’s got some government job, which is how she met him in London. I’m not sure exactly what it is though, I think she’s told me but my brain starts to shut down at the very mention of him. Frankly, he’s boring.
I don’t blame my sister, sometimes it’s hard to see what’s in front of you until it’s too late. I should know! I’ve just had my own brush with mundanity, where I thought it might be a good idea to settle down. I set my mind to it and Eddie was going to be the one. I gave it a good go, I really did but, in the end I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know why, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s good looking, in a young Rupert Everett kind of way – you know, all floppy hair and charm. He’s got a good job too, in medical research. No, he was perfect. I knew that the moment I set eyes on him, which is why I decided he was going to be the one.
Things were going great as well, at first. I got past the month mark no problem, broke my own relationship record. I was at his flat more than I was at mine. I even let him stay over at mine a couple of times although I’ve got to admit that was a bit of a strain. Watching him paw through my stuff, like he was looking for clues about who I was – well, let’s just say it was easier all round when I stayed at his.
Even when he started badgering me to meet his parents it didn’t seem like too big a deal. I’ll be honest with you; it got on my nerves a bit. I mean, why would I want to meet his parents? I kept putting him off and it didn’t seem like a deal breaker, at least not until he asked me to move in with him. We were going to try living together and see how it went. I gave the notice on my flat and pretty much moved in straight away, it wasn’t like I had a lot of stuff or anything.
That’s when the parent thing started to become a big deal. Anyway, one night in bed, I got to thinking how far I’d come, how much I’d changed – got over the whole anxiety about commitment thing. Meeting his parents would be fine, the new me could handle it no trouble at all. His face was so ridiculously happy when I told him; I think I went off him a bit, right then and there in that instant. I didn’t know it though, not then. No, it all came later.
I barely had any time to adjust to the idea because that same day, when I came home from work, he was waiting all pathetic and smiling - he’d made the arrangements and we were going that weekend. His parents live in Guildford, which isn’t that far from London so it seemed ludicrous to me that we would be staying for a whole weekend but he’d already arranged it with his mother. We were to drive there Friday straight after work and return home Sunday afternoon. I tried to reason with him – I mean, if they’d lived in Prague, fair enough but Guildford, in my opinion, did not warrant a full weekend.
Friday seemed to come around in the blink of an eye and all day I felt as though I was carrying a heavy burden. You know the feeling, all headachy and sick to the stomach. I was half hoping I might be coming down with something but Eddie turned a little bit nasty when I mentioned it. I saw a different side to him and, the nearer we got to Guildford, the more he began to change. By the time we pulled up outside his parents’ house, I barely recognised him. They live on one of those new housing estates, where all the houses look exactly the same. I mean, all I said was that if you got lost you’d never find your way back and his face looked like I’d just suggested his parents were swingers.
By now, I was on the point of a full blown panic attack so I think I deserve some credit for persevering with the whole thing. I made it into the house and his mother ‘call me Fran’ showed me to the guest room. I had no idea where Eddie was going to be sleeping because he’d rushed off with his dad ‘call me Phil’ the second we arrived, to check out his latest models – don’t even ask.
So here I was, stuck in some box of a bedroom, pretending to unpack while fighting a full blown panic attack and wondering how the hell I was going to make it through to Sunday. I think I might have made it as well, if it hadn’t been for the fish. It all happened so quickly after that, one minute I’m staring at the Laura Ashley wallpaper, willing myself to breathe, and the next ‘call me Fran’ is peering around the door telling me supper is ready. I even made it to the table where Eddie and ‘call me Phil’ were discussing his Battle of Waterloo project, but it was the fish that did it for me.
Staring down at the plate, mesmerised by the trout staring back at me with its sad little eye still intact, it all suddenly became clear as day. These people were insane and I had to get out of there, right away. To be honest, the next fifteen minutes are a bit of a blur but the upshot is, I got a taxi to the train station and was back in London by eleven. I spent the night at Eddie’s flat but obviously I couldn’t stay there.
It’s funny how few friends you have when you suddenly find yourself homeless. I basically found myself without any. I even tried mum but my step-father doesn’t like me. So here I am, waiting for the 13:33 train to Paris. I just need a place to stay for a while until I’m back on my feet. Then everything will be okay, I’ll be able to make a fresh start somewhere else.