The fortune teller was wrong, I sniffed miserably. She had predicted a sparkling future with a dark haired man in my life. I had been confident it was Paul, but it seemed the old woman had made a gigantic error in her interpretation of the Tarot cards
It had been three days since I had heard from him; three long days since the email telling me we had been seen out together by his wife's friend and he needed a break from everything. This was more than enough time to conclude that he had made his choice and it did not include me.
Either that or she had castrated him and he had bled to death in a pool of gore.
Option two was looking pretty tempting... I just hoped it had been painful. It couldn't be any worse than the way I was feeling at this precise moment in time.
The bottle of vodka on the table before me was half empty, as was my stomach. I knew I should have eaten some dinner, but somehow I could find no enthusiasm for food. Even in the depths of my black depression, part of me imagined the glamour of my funeral and strived to create a suitably dramatic ending for my tortured soul. Wasting away from a broken heart seemed a fitting demise — I just hoped the bastard would then feel guilty about the callous way he had used me. It was an unlikely proposition though; he wasn't that sensitive.
I sobbed again and reached for a tissue. My arm knocked the bottle and it fell crashing to the floor, spilling its precious liquid all over the linoleum. Christ, I couldn't even do alcoholic poisoning right!
My head was reeling and I felt like death. I had intended to go out tonight. I had even gone as far as putting my party clothes on. But when it came to it, I just couldn't leave the house. Mandy had sighed in exasperation and left me to wallow in my misery. She had told me right from the beginning it would end in tears and she wasn't about to miss out on a night of clubbing because of my failed romance.
Nobody loves a know-it-all, I had retorted crossly. But she was right and we both knew it. I should have learned my lesson the first time round. He treated me badly then and still I took him back. Ten out of ten for stupidity...
Trying to quell the rising feeling of nausea, I lurched to my feet and stepped over the puddle of Smirnoff. Bloody expensive puddle, I thought irrelevantly. Balefully, I eyed my mobile sat on the worktop. It eyed me back and refused point blank to ring. Nobody loved me it seemed, least of all him.
"Fucking BASTARD!" I screamed pointlessly; he couldn't hear me. The sound echoed off the tiled wall and once again the room was silent but for the faint sound of next door's television.
I knew I should never have got involved with him. It was a mistake to believe that he would eventually choose to be with me. God what a fool I had been. I honestly thought he cared about me. All the bullshit about how badly she treated him, how he was so unhappy. It was all just a line. A line intended to arouse my sympathy and make me feel sorry for him.
And I did feel sorry for him. I wanted to make him feel better and naturally this involved sex. Not that it had done a lot of good. He still chose her over me. Better the devil you know, I concluded bitterly as I lurched into the living room on a cloud of vodka fumes.
The television wavered before my eyes. I debated turning it on and watching some inane crap — but I couldn't find the remote. Flopping down on the sofa, I thought about where I had gone wrong.
Was it when I replied to his text after nearly eighteen months? Or was it when I agreed to meet him again on the basis that I needed to see if I still had feelings for him? No, it was when I began to let my guard down and he slipped through my emotional firewall. From that moment I was doomed. I fell for him all over again and the writing was writ large on the wall — 'you will be fucked over big style'.
He was never going to leave her for me. He even fucking told me! But, being a typical woman, I ignored the obvious signs and persisted on writing my own happy ending.
I curled up miserably into a foetal ball and closed my eyes. The room was spinning and I felt sick to my stomach. The pain was so intense and I wondered if I would ever be able to move past this horrible moment in time. Love was never meant to hurt this much. Love was meant to be all white and fluffy. This was more like a vat of sulphuric acid thrown in my face — it hurt like hell and made me wish I was dead.
I must have passed out shortly after that nihilistic train of thought. The next thing I knew, the sun was shining directly on to my wan face and I was about to throw up. I scarcely made it to the bathroom in time. As the meagre contents of my stomach emptied into the toilet bowl I resolved never to drink again — ever.
"Coffee?" asked Mandy wryly as she stuck her head around the door. I nodded feebly and she vanished to flick the kettle on. God knew I needed more than coffee to make me feel better, but it was a start.
I splashed cold water onto my pasty complexion and looked at myself in disgust. My blonde hair was plastered to my head and my turquoise eyes were flat and dead. God I looked a state. How I hated him at that moment, but I hated myself more knowing he had driven me to such depths of self pity.
The smell of frying bacon slipped through the miasma of depression and a small twinkle of light flickered on in my brain. My stomach propelled me into the kitchen and Mandy smiled sympathetically.
"Eat this," she ordered and I immediately felt better. There was nothing like a bacon sandwich to restore one's faith in humanity.
A week passed and life went on. I felt like a zombie most of the time — functioning, but only on a superficial level. On the surface I was my usual efficient self at work, but beneath it all I was seriously losing the plot.
My heart was broken and I was scarcely able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew all the clichés about time healing all wounds, but it felt like this particular wound was rapidly becoming gangrenous. If I had been able to cut my bleeding heart out, I would have.
Mandy was sympathetic to my desolation, but she knew there was very little she could do other than listen to my endless streams of diatribe. It was cathartic at least to spew all the poison out to someone who gave a damn.
"I thought he cared about me!" I wailed for the umpteenth time as we sat drinking coffee one evening.
"Rach, you should know by now men will say ANYTHING to get laid!"
"But I really thought he had changed this time..." I sniffed, looking away before the tears began to fall again.
Mandy sighed patiently. "It's not your fault you wanted to believe his bullshit," she said philosophically. "We all fall for it — we like to believe the best in men even when the fact they are total bastards is staring us in the face."
It was cynical, but true. I always saw the good in people. This probably explained why I was taken advantage of so often. Mandy on the other hand was the queen of cynicism. She never took a man at face value and always looked for an ulterior motive. Maybe this was why she always had men running in circles around her, when I on the other hand got shafted time and time again.
"That's it — I am not doing men any more!" I made this declaration passionately and Mandy bust out laughing merrily.
"Can I write this down for posterity?" she giggled. "You won't last five bloody minutes!"
"No, I mean it this time. No more men. I have had it with them — they are all wankers!" I honestly meant it too. I couldn't face the idea of dating again. The trouble was, I only wanted one man and if I couldn't have him, I didn't want anyone.
Jake, our neighbour, smiled at me when I stated my 'no men' policy again.
"Really?" He didn't look all that convinced and I was rather stung by the fact that he hadn't believed me.
"Yes! I am sticking to a life of celibacy from now on." I pulled a skimpy thong from the washing basket and pegged it onto the line. Well I won't need this anymore, I thought firmly. No more sexy underwear for me.
Jake shook his head and sighed. "What a terrible waste," he muttered before he turned away and walked back into his house. I watched him go in surprise; he had sounded rather sad for some reason.
Shaking my head in bemusement, I returned to my task. Anything mind-numbing to occupy my time was useful. If I had nothing to do, I ended up raking over all the pointless moments of my relationship with Paul. It didn't help one iota - it just left me feeling like shit again.
"Want to come next door for a drink later?"
I looked up in surprise at Mandy's question. "Why?" I asked curiously.
She rolled her eyes and said, "Does there need to be a reason?"
"Er... no, I guess not. But I didn't think you were that friendly with Jake?"
"He's a nice guy! I bumped into him at the corner shop and he mentioned he was having a few friends round later. He asked if we would like to pop round and I said yes. God knows you need cheering up, even if I don't!"
She was right. Despite my best efforts to appear happy, it sure as hell wasn't working. I seemed perpetually slumped in a quagmire of depression and even the guys at work had begun to notice.
"What's up with you?" Tony had asked in the kitchen the previous morning.
"Men," was my succinct response. I slammed the milk down on the worktop and proceeded to pour boiling water into all the mugs.
"Right..." Tony replied, hastily moving out of my way. "Well er... if you want to talk about it or anything, you know I'm here..."
.... There is more of this story ...