"Well, since you've said it. I wasn't going to mention it, but I could have sworn I just saw her walking down the street when I went back for the bags." What? But there weren't any tickets. And that card was definitely posted, not hand delivered. Why would she be around here? Did she have something else to post? Maybe she saw people at the door and got spooked. "She was just casually walking down the street, I couldn't believe it. She didn't look my way. I don't think she saw me. It might not have been her. Why would she walk down this street?" Gotta tell him now. He's the only person you can.
"Actually, I think she's been down here quite a bit."
"You've seen her? Is this why you're suddenly looking at uni courses? Have you met up with her? Are you two-" No, no, no. Time to pull out the drawer. Uncover the evidence. "The train tickets? You still have those? Thought they were used."
"Yeah. On dates I went on with Tanya." Now he gets it. Henry loves a puzzle. "We used to just pick a place on the train map and head out. It was fun to get out of town and just have time alone, without bumping into anyone we know. Around Christmas time we went to Penzance and it was so cold we agreed to go again in the spring. Then she told me her plan to travel after graduation. I said I'd wait for her to come back, but I couldn't go with her. Anyway, we fought about that for the next few weeks before she finally went back to uni. But that night, we agreed, no matter what, that in five years, in spring, we'd meet again in Penzance."
"It's five years since you guys broke up?"
"Wait. You didn't break up at Christmas. It was ages after that."
"Yeah. When I called her to break it off a few months later she said 'I'll see you in five years, matey.' And now she's reminding me with these tickets and the prospectus-"
"Wait. I thought you ordered it?" But the second prospectus sits on the table with the train tickets. "The second one?"
"And today a valentines card. One I made for her. Five years ago. The tickets stopped a couple of weeks ago, just before the prospectus came. She sent them to match with the dates after Christmas." Reliving each moment, each argument, each kiss.
"Newquay? You went to Newquay in January? Oh that's disgusting. Beaches shouldn't exist in winter." Actually it was nice. Refreshing. The waves were amazing to watch. Like they were angry too. "Par? What's in Par? Barnstaple? St Ives? Jeez, you went everywhere on the train line within like two weeks. Why didn't you just agree to travel with her?"
No idea now. "I had a job here. And bills and debt. I had no money to travel. Especially for as long as she wanted." No idea whatsoever.
"Do you regret it?" Yes!
"Man, I chose to stay. I met Angie. We've been together for basically five years now."
"But you only got with her as a rebound thing. Well, kind of a rebound. Did you stay with her because you felt guilty about cheating?" This is what everyone has always wanted to ask, isn't it? But nobody has. Not even the people involved. "Do you think Tanya knows you're still together?" If she has been watching, then she knows. If she's just playing a joke: then maybe. If she's serious about all of this: then who knows. "So, when's the last ticket? The five year one?"
"Fist of April, two thousand and fourteen. 1.4.2014. Fourteen, fourteen. That's what she said down the phone. 'I'll see you in five years, matey. 2014. First of April 2014. Ha, 14, 14. I like that.' Then she hung up."
"April fool’s day? You're kidding?" Everyone said it was a bad idea to tell her that day, but you don't think of those things when you're in the situation and you just have to get it over with. Get rid of the guilt. "Oh, yeah. I remember I didn't believe you. I thought you were making a really bad joke."
"So did Tanya. At the start." But then she knew it was true. And part of her must have been relieved. She didn't have to fight or convince anymore. She got what she wanted; freedom to travel the world. No one to worry about back home.
"Are you going to go?" How can you ask that? From the start, there has been no question. Life is here. With Alice. And Angie. That's how it is. There is no choice, because that is what was chosen.
"It has to be a joke, Henry. There's no way she'd really want to meet after what I did to her." Ultimate betrayal. You can't forgive that.
"You know, sometimes people forgive anything. They just love."
"What? Nah, you have to do the right things to deserve it. That's how it feels. You do stuff for someone and they love you because of it. Why else bother to be nice?"
"What did Angie do to deserve your love?"
"Uh, Alice. That was kind of a big deal."
"Before that. You can't just love someone because she had your kid."
"Well, I guess she didn't do anything not to deserve it. Put up with me."
"What about Angie loving you? Why did you deserve that?"
"I chose her instead of Tanya!"
"Whoa, dude. Is this why you're threatening not to go to the christening? Are you testing Angie? Or do you want her not to love you anymore?"
"No, no. It's not that." It's not. It's not. "But I wish love was like you said. That'd be worth all the effort. I guess it wouldn't feel like such effort and pressure."
"I think it can be. It just means you're not so obsessed about what you do and what the other person does against you all the time. If you can look beyond yourself and see a better reason to love, than getting something out of it. I'd hate it if Janice only loved me if I got her this cat toy. There has to be more to it than that."
Henry has some nice ideas sometimes.
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