A wave of dread rushed over me. He had left without saying a word. He hadn’t bothered to wake me up. I rolled onto my other side to check my watch. It was five in the morning. I had fallen asleep on top of the blankets, still fully clothed. Now I felt wide awake. I grabbed a book from my bedside table and tried to read. It wouldn’t do, I couldn’t concentrate. The sky outside was getting lighter and lighter, the first rays of sun would soon be creeping through my window. A wave of emotion rose inside me – anxiety, disappointment, anger. It was too much to stand. I jumped out of bed, got dressed and left the house.
The damp morning air felt soothing on my flushed face. I walked into the silent woods, allowing each step to calm me down. Why had Fred left? That question was easy enough to answer. Our mothers would never have approved. But he hadn’t said anything, he’d just vanished. What was I supposed to think? We had kissed for god’s sake! Was he going to ignore that? I took a deep breath. I should have known. Hadn’t mum warned me ages ago? That boy looks like he’s broken many hearts. I should’ve listened to her. And myself. I wasn’t the type for shallow flirtations. I would have to end it. But what was there to end? A little time spent to together, jokes shared, conversations had and a kiss. That was all, really. My insides felt like they had rolled into a tiny ball, bracing themselves for the pain.
I would have to go and talk to him. I coulnd’t just go and visit him at home, though. There was too much of a risk that Mrs. Alroy would find out what had happened. Angry as I was, I didn’t want Fred to get in trouble. It was my fault as much as his.
After a few more minutes of walking, a fence came into view. Without really meaning to, I had walked to the paddock where I had first met Fred. No all I could do was wait. I sat done at the foot of a plane tree and closed my eyes, savouring the feeling of the morning sun on my face and arms. It was warm and comfortable sitting here, even though the ground was still quite damp. My head slid sideways and before I knew it, I had dozed off.
Someone was blocking out the sun. His shadow was making me shiver.
“Go away.”, I mumbled sleepily.
“Wake up. Wake up. What are you doing here?”
“Hm?” What was I doing here? Who was talking to me? Why was I sleeping in a forest? I opened my eyes with difficulty. Fred was kneeling in front of me, his eyebrows raised. Oh. Oh! I was here because of – because of him. My insides constricted with rage and fear. I would have to do it now.
“I was waiting for you, of course.”, I said coolly.
“And why would you do that?”
Taking a deep breath, I got up rather shakily and faced him. “Yes, why would I do that? It seems irrational, doesn’t it? Why would any girl talk to any boy after they kissed?”
Fred took a step backwards, obviously trying to understand what was wrong with me. “But we did talk, didn’t we? We spent the whole evening together. We had a great time.”
It was hard to remain calm. “That’s all that matters to you, isn’t it? You were probably glad to have someone to make out with, knowing I would only be here for a week. It didn’t mean anything to you. And you didn’t even bother to mention that. I came here thinking I’d have to end a, a relationship-thingy, but it turns out we never had one. There was no we, there was only a you and a me. And it’s going to stay that way.” The last words tumbled out of my mouth in a scream that made the birds fly out of their nests.
“What are you on about?”, asked Fred, his voice rising. “I never said anything about a relationship. You started it, remember? I thought everything was clear. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
My breath was coming in great angry gasps. Making a last effort to control myself, I reached into my pocket, found a pen in there and grabbed Fred’s arm. Scribbling down a number and e-mail address, I said to Fred “Give this to Arthur or he’ll never get a move on. And by the way, you suck. So hard.”
With this, I let go of his arm and turned away from him. I didn’t start running until I was sure he couldn’t see me anymore.
I didn’t cry as I sprinted through the woods. I didn’t feel pain. I was ashamed of myself. Because I should’ve known from the start that Fred was no good. It was my fault. It was all my –
“Ouch!” I had run into something. Something much less solid than a tree or a house. It was mum still wearing her dinner things. Reacting instinctively, she took hold of my upper arms to stop me from toppling over backwards.
“What are you doing here?”, she asked in a tone of the upmost surprise. “Mathilde, what’s – are you alright?”
And without being able to stop myself, I began to cry into mum’s shoulder. “I ruined everything – and I’m so sorry and he’s such an asshole! I hate him!”
And this once, mum didn’t ask questions. Placing one arm around my shoulder, she led me back to the cottage, handing me a crumpled napkin to blow my nose in.
Every bad feeling we’d had towards each other was forgotten. She was my mum and of course she was there to comfort me and say there, there.
“You didn’t sleep here, did you?”, I asked once I had calmed down enough to change the subject. We were huddled on her bed, sipping cocoa and eating yesterday’s dinner.
“Well, no I didn’t.”, she said, blushing. “But I’m not giving details.”
“Urgh, mum! As if I wanted details…”
She grinned, half embarrassed, half amused. “And don’t you want to tell me what happened to make Fred an asshole?”
I choked on my cocoa. I had momentarily forgotten why mum and I had made up in the first place. “I’d prefer not to. Let’s just say I won’t be sorry to see the back of him tomorrow. Can I come and get the caravan with you tonight?”
“Oh, I would like that.” And just like that, mum and I were friends a again and at least one of us was in a happy flow about our next destination. Her date couldn’t have gone to badly…