Monday, 3 November 2008


Her blue eyes stared fixatedly at the numbers on the clock. The seconds ticked by, and the noise was loud in the silence of the room. It took her two, maybe three minutes to clearly distinguish the time. Just a little quirk she had. A little bit to do with OCD.

Her hands shuffled the deck, quickly, swiftly. The deck was in her palm, and with a soft flap, she allowed half the deck to drop to the base of her palm. Her pinky finger then pushed the deck to the thumb, allowing the remaining half still suspended between her fingers to drop. The first half was then dropped on top of the other, and she shuffled the deck again.

She knew how to play solitaire from the numerous amount of times she'd played it on the computer, but playing Klondike with a deck of cards instead was much more rewarding. Regina Spektor was playing in the background, and she picked up the remote, turning the volume up higher.

You are my sweetest downfall

I loved you first, I loved you first

Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth

I have to go, I have to go

Your hair was long when we first met.

She hated conflict. Conflict was to her like vegetable was to lion. But this happening, however pleasant it was, was killing her slowly. She placed one card, face up, in front of her. It was the King of Hearts. Next to it, she dealt six more cards, all face down in a row. On the first face-down card, she placed another, face up. The Nine of Spades. Moving on to the next one, she dealt five more cards, all face down. Then she opened another card, putting it face up next to the Nine of Spades. It was the Jack of Diamonds. Another row of face down cards on the rest of the rows, then she uncovered a card, placing it beside the Jack. She chuckled quietly. The Ace of Spades. She repeated the whole process, finally adding to her face up collection with the Seven of Clubs, Six of Clubs, and Two of Hearts.

Outside, if she strained her ears, she could still hear the loud shouts of happiness, of pleasure. Forcing herself away, she turned back to her game. She removed the Ace of Spades, placing it above the other cards, then uncovering the one below it. It was the Six of Hearts. She placed the Six on top of the Seven of Clubs, uncovering the next card. King of Diamonds. She exhaled. Okay.

The door opened, and he entered. She didn't bother looking at him, wanting to erase from her memory everything she'd heard. Grabbing the deck, she drew one card. A black queen. She placed it above the King of Hearts, drawing another card. The Ace of Hearts. She placed it next to the black ace, and placed the red two on top of it, uncovering the face down card beneath the red two. It was a Jack of Diamonds.

Samson went back to bed

Not much hair left on his head

Ate a slice of wonderbread

And went right back to bed

The history books forgot about us

And the Bible didn't mention us

No the Bible didn't mention us

Not even once

He was sitting next to her now. She could feel his eyes on her, but she didn't want to talk to him. Not just yet. Then he spoke. 'Shouldn't you be studying for your exam?' he asked softly, twirling a curl of her hair around his finger.

Trying not to let him see how much that simple gesture affected her, she replied, as coldly and as harsh as she could. 'It's just comprehension. There's nothing much to study for.'

'Really?' Now he was challenging her, a hint of disbelief etching his features. When she continued to ignore him, he took the cards away, forcing her to look at him. 'You heard,' he said finally. She still wouldn't look at him, but she gave a short, barely perceivable nod. He paused. 'You don't seem pleased.' he continued quietly.

Inside, her heart broke. The man she loved, the one she'd waited for so long, was getting married and he wonders why she doesn't seem happy?

'I am. I just need some time, to process everything,' she answered equally. 'You fell in love with a woman who loves you back. That's good news. You should go, enjoy her smiles. The door's that way.' Forcing a smile, she jerked her head at the doorway. A look of hurt crossed his face. 'I thought--' he shut his mouth. She knew what he was going to say. Hadn't she told him her feelings for him twice, albeit a long time ago?

'Whatever it was, it's over,' she said quietly. 'Claire is waiting for you. You should go. Enjoy yourself. Be happy.' Even as she said these words, she felt as though she would die from the agony of her breaking heart.

He stood up, smiling shyly. 'You'll still come to the wedding?' he asked hopefully. She plastered a big grin on her face. 'Absolutely.'

Smiling, he came forward, gave her a hug. She could almost lose herself in the warmth of his embrace, then he was pulling away, and leaving for his soon-to-be-wife. She watched him, watching every step he took, every step that took him away from her. She watched as he embraced his laughing bride, full of happiness, and her heart hurt.

She watched as he stepped into his car, his wife on the other side, and watched as they drove off, a group of well-wishers waving at them. Then they were gone, disappearing around the bend.

She watched, as the man she loved was taken away by the sister she admired, and just when she thought she'd lost all feeling, her heart broke all over again. Then she broke down, tears falling freely, clouding her sight.

Then she heard footsteps, and for one wild moment, she thought it was him. That he'd got back somehow, coming back just for her. And she realized it was only her friend, the one who'd seen her through the agony. 'He's gone,' she said simply.

'I know,' her friend said. 'You made the right choice, letting him go.'

She tried to make light of the situation. 'Hear ye, agony of the heart. Thy name is unrequited love.'

Her friend stepped closer. 'I know how hard it was to let him go.' Then she changed the subject. 'Are you going to the wedding?'

'No,' she said firmly. 'I can't. If I do, I'll just fall in love with him all over again, and I can't afford that. Not now. How can I choose between my sister and the man I love?'

'It was the right choice,' her friend said gently, knowing the sobs were coming soon.

'Perhaps it was,' she said silently. 'Perhaps you were right. Perhaps I should just move on. Perhaps I should just let him go. The thing is,' her voice dropped to a whisper. 'I'm not sure I can.'

Her voice grew louder. 'I'm leaving for France immediately.'

'Elle...' her friend said warningly. 'Don't do it...'

Elle gave a wry laugh. 'I can't stay, Lou. The only way for me to forget about him is to leave this place. Robbie and Claire can have Hertfordshire. I'll leave for France. I'll never come back. I'll leave for the farthest ends of the earth if only I won't have to see them again.' She glanced at the unfinished game of solitaire, and she chuckled in dismay at the irony. Regina Spektor was still singing, softly now, as the end of the song approached. Then she left her friend behind, knowing that no matter what she did, no matter what she said, she would always love him till the day she died.

You are my sweetest downfall.
I loved you first.

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