I have to thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills
Jargon buster: Give over = Please stop that; a friendly retort, normally said to someone who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Diane's Gap Year
When Diane told me that she was still going to take her gap year from university, I didn't believe her at first. All right, when we'd first met at a college party some eighteen mouths previous, she had been raving on about how her friend Emerald and she were planning on taking a long trip down to Australia, where apparently some of Emerald's relatives lived. From what I could remember Diane and Emerald had been discussing plans to backpack around the country together.
But in the ensuing time Diane and I had become close and finally engaged, so I had thought she'd given up on the idea. She hadn't made mention of it since just after we started going out together, steady-like. Suddenly she announced that the pair of them are making plans to fly out there, right after the end of term exams.
I had just uttered my amazement at the news; I was stumbling around a bit trying to take it in whilst thinking of what to say at the same.
"Why don't you come with us, Dave? It'll be fun, I promise you," Diane suggested, as I struggled to voice my surprise and bewilderment at this — to me - sudden turn of events.
"You know I can't do that, Diane!" I finally said, "I can't take a year off now. You know I just can't afford it, and besides I thought we are were going to get married after we take our finals next year."
"Oh, that. Well, when I came to think about it, I realised that we might have to put the wedding off for a while, until I've sat my finals the following year," she replied, rather nonchalantly in my opinion.
"Diane, you haven't mentioned this trip down under for over a year. How-come it's suddenly raised its head again now."
"Honestly, Dave, I got so caught up in us, that I almost completely forgot about my promise to go on this trip with Emerald. Besides, lately I've come to believe that things have been going a little too fast for me."
"Hold on there, Diane! If you'd care to think back, it was you who wanted to get engaged and it was you who first suggested that we get married right after our finals next year."
"Well, I've changed my mind. I'm allowed to do that, aren't I? You don't own me yet, you know!" she said with a very antsy tone to her voice.
I think the shock of what Diane had just said gave me a real kick in the guts. Three o'clock in the morning it might have been, but that didn't stop me getting out of bed and starting to get dressed.
"What are you doing, Dave?" Diane asked.
"I'm going home, Diane! You've just given me quite a shock and I've got some things to think about."
"Oh, you're not going to sulk about this, are you?"
"No, Diane, I've got to think about where my priorities lie. Perhaps you should do the same!"
To be truthful I probably was sulking a bit. Christ, you have to react in some way when the woman you love suddenly tells you that she's off around the world on her own.
Yeah, yeah, she did invite me to go along with her. But she also knew that wasn't in the cards for me; I didn't have the time.
When I was fourteen my father had died of cancer. That left me as the oldest of three siblings. Mother had struggled a bit to make ends meet in the following few years so, although a good student with straight A's in just about everything, I'd left school at seventeen so that I could bring some money into the house.
The company I'd gone to work for was a pretty small concern. But the guy running it was sure convinced it was going somewhere and over the following couple of years he kind of took a shine to me. Not wishing to blow my own trumpet, but I think he realised that I wasn't just another of the minions. I had the capabilities of going somewhere as well. He kind of took me under his wing and I joined him in the design office. It was whilst I was working with him in there that he suggested that I go to University.
He found out about all the loans and grants I could get and even organised my interview with the university. Oh, I wasn't going to attend a redbrick college; I was going to one of the older establishments.
He also organised it so that I was on leave from the company whilst at Uni, although this did mean that whilst all the other students were living it up during the holidays I was working my butt off back at the firm. The advantage I had over them was that, when I graduated, I walked straight into a well-paid management position with quite a few years seniority.
You understand now why I couldn't go flying off around the world on a whim.
I left Diane in bed still making sarcastic remarks about my reaction and went home to my own little flat. Mind I didn't sleep very well when I got there as my flat mate had his squeeze in bed with him. So it was either bang, bang, bang as the headboard hit the bloody wall, or 'oh, yes, yes, oh, fuck, yes, ' all bloody night. Why do some folks have to be so bleeding noisy about it? You know what I'm talking about here.
It was lunchtime before Emerald turned up at my door.
"What are you being so selfish for, Dave?" she demanded as she walked right past me into the flat.
"Sorry, Emma, who's being selfish. It strikes me that Diane was being selfish in the way she just announced that you two are going on this trip."
"What are you talking about? We've been planning to go down under ever since we met."
"No, Emerald, you were talking about it when I first met the pair of you. But I haven't heard either of you mention it for well over a year now, and in the meantime Diane has consented to marry me." Then I added, "I think!"
"What do you mean, 'you think'?" Emma demanded.
"Well, Emma, it's usual for the man to ask the woman, and thinking back I believe I did ask Diane to marry me. But the more I think about it, I'm pretty sure that the driving force was Diane. I went along because I love the woman."
"What? Are you trying to say that Diane tricked you into asking her to marry her?"
"No, I am not, Emma! Please don't put words into my mouth. What I'm saying is that Diane was all-keen on us walking down the aisle together as soon as was practical one minute. Now suddenly she wants to fly off around the world."
"But there's nothing sudden about it. You know..."
"Emma, Diane hasn't mentioned Australia for so long that I thought she'd abandoned the idea. Then last night she brought it up at an inopportune moment and it took me completely by surprise. If you and Diane want to go on that bloody trip, then you go. I would just have preferred it if Diane had found a better way of letting me in on the secret."
"Oh, well, if that's the case, you'd better go round and apologise to her. She's been crying her eyes out all morning. What's that noise?"
"Oh, just my flat mate and his girl," I said to explain the bang, bang, bang of the headboard against the wall again.
"Start early, don't they?" Emma said, with a very funny look on her face.
"No, they are still at it from last night."
"Oh," Emma said as she stood up and headed for the door. "Are you coming to apologise to Diane?"
"No, I think its Diane who needs to apologise to me. Tell her I'll be waiting for her to call."
I could see that Emma was not expecting me to say that. Actually if that headboard hadn't been banging against the wall, I do believe she would have argued things out for longer. But for some reason, that bang, bang, bang of the bed headboard had unsettled her.
Diane didn't call round and I didn't call her. I think I was upset that she couldn't understand my point of view. Okay, yes, I suppose I was still sulking about the whole thing. I spent the rest of the weekend studying and drinking with some of my friends.
It was as I was enjoying a quiet pint in the pub on the Monday lunchtime that Diane walked up and plonked herself down in the seat opposite me.
"What's got into you, Dave?"
"What do you think, Diane? You didn't think of the best time to tell me you were going off for a year without me."
"I'm sorry. I was very thoughtless about that, but I'm so excited about the trip."
"Bully for you. But tell me, Diane, if you were so excited about it, how come you waited until we'd just finished ... Er, well, the time you did, to tell me that the trip was back on?"
"I think I knew you'd be upset about it. But, Dave, I'll never get a chance like this again."
"Maybe you won't, but then again maybe you will. If you want to go Diane, I can't stop you. I'll still be upset and I definitely won't like it. But I will be waiting here when you get back."
A smile came over Diane's face and she scooted around the end of the booth so she was sat at my side.
"Thank you, darling. I'll write everyday, I promise," she said after she had kissed me.
"Don't make promises you can't keep, Diane. Australia is a big country and you'll be doing a lot of travelling. I doubt you'll find time to write everyday."
"I'll do my best. Dave, please understand I really want to go, but I wouldn't if I hadn't promised Emerald."
"Yeah, as you will, Diane. When are you planning to leave?"
"Right after Emma and I finish our exams the week after next."
"What about your visas and plane tickets."
"That's all taken care of. We fly out from Heathrow in three weeks."
.... There is more of this story ...