As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.
Falling in and out of love – Friday Night
Lizzie sat at the table in the pub next to Dave, her boyfriend of three years. As usual he was the life and soul of the party, cracking jokes, shouting across the packed bar welcoming anyone he knew as they turned up for the end of week celebration.
They came here every Friday, and the rare times Lizzie had suggested they might do something on their own, such as trip to see a new release at the cinema, or a meal down at the local Indian restaurant, she had been given a kiss and a cuddle, and reminded their friends would miss them.
After three years of sitting quietly sipping her white wine at the noisy table, she was under no illusion the friends were theirs, only Dave’s. He dominated the conversation and paid more attention to his mate’s girlfriend than he did her. Under the table she felt the large bag resting against her leg and felt a surge of resentment. He had said he had to work late, could she make her own way to the pub and he would see her there. He arrived a few minutes after she had sat down at the already full table, carrying the bag which he deposited beside her on the floor.
‘Be a doll and do my washing for me love, the laundrette around the corner was closed again.’ With that he greeted all his mates with high fives and kissed the girls on the cheek before announcing it was his round and headed off to the bar. Lizzie noticed a couple of the girls were giving her a look which was more pitying than envious. As she watched her tall handsome boyfriend swagger back from the bar carrying a tray of drinks, she felt the trance she had been under for so long begin to clear from her mind.
Later in the evening, on the way back from the ladies, she found herself in the middle of a bunch of lads celebrating a birthday next to their table. They were good natured and moved aside to allow her to pass, but just as she was about to emerge from their midst, she heard her name being mentioned. Pete, one of Dave’s mates, shouted over the noise of the others around the table.
‘Hey Dave, isn’t it about time you popped the question to Lizzie, it’s been three years mate, she’ll be expecting it soon.’
Lizzie paused, shielded by two strapping lads who were beginning to look at her questioningly.
‘No rush mate, I get everything I want already and don’t have to put up with the nagging or a mortgage. Her mum thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread and I’m round there every Sunday for my dinner. I can’t see much point in getting married.’ He laughed, and Lizzie already on the verge of tears, waited to see what else Dave might share. She didn’t have to wait long.
‘It’s a leap year and I am going to have to come up with a bloody good excuse if she pops the question at the end of this month.’
One of the lads, who were shielding her from sight, looked down at her and smiled gently.
‘If he’s talking about you love, you could do a lot better.’
She stared at him for a moment, and then nodded before turning and walking towards the pub entrance. She pulled her phone out of her bag and opened her purse to check she had enough taxi fare to get her home. She stood outside in the rain and tried to stop crying long enough to call for a taxi. She felt a hand on her arm. It was the same lad who spoken to her inside, and he reached for her phone.
‘Do you use a particular cab company?’
She nodded wiping the tears from her cheeks. ‘Yes, I do. It’s under Baxter Cars.’
He found the number in her contacts and connected. When the call went through he gave the address of the pub, and putting his hand over the phone asked Lizzie where she was going.
’25 Wilson Street,’ she replied quietly.
After conveying the address to the despatcher he disconnected and handed her back the phone.
‘My name’s Billy and I’ll wait with you until the cab comes, okay?’ he smiled at her. ‘Do you have enough money for the fare?’
She nodded. ‘Thank you. I am sorry to put you to this trouble.’
‘No worries, do you think your boyfriend might come looking for you?’
Lizzie took a shaky breath and looked into his concerned face.
‘I doubt he will notice I am missing, do you?’
Billy smiled ruefully, waiting silently beside her until the cab arrived, and she was safely buckled up in the back seat.
It was an hour before Lizzie’s phone rang, and when she didn’t pick up, a text message arrived.
You okay Doll… just wondering where you got to. And you forgot my washing. Shall I drop it around now as I don’t fancy lugging it back to my flat again xx.
She switched the phone off and eventually dropped off into a fitful sleep.
The next day after sitting down to a cooked breakfast her mum insisted she ate, she switched her phone back on and read the three text messages that had arrived overnight.
They were from Dave asking what she thought she was playing at; acting like a spoilt princess and the comments became increasingly nasty with each message.
Lizzie deleted them all and sent a text of her own. Then blocked Dave’s number.
Her mother looked at her questioningly.
‘I told him if he comes around here my dad is going to knock his block off.’ Her mother smiled grimly.
‘If the little bastard survives the first round with me.’ She smiled and wrapped her arms around her daughter.
A week later, on the first Friday Lizzie had not been down to the pub for three years, there was a knock on the front door. Thinking Dave had lost his mind coming around after her final text, she steeled herself for a confrontation. She opened the door and peered out into the wet night, prepared to do battle.
Standing on the doorstep Billy held his umbrella over his head and held out a bunch of pink roses, smiling at her ruefully.
‘I wondered if you would fancy going to the cinema with me tonight to see the new James Bond film.’
Lizzie took a deep breath and smiled at him. ‘Thank you, I’d like to very much.’
Down at the pub, Dave kept looking at his watch and wondered where his mates were. Not like them to miss the Friday night booze up. He sat nursing a pint for an hour then drifted out the door and back to his empty flat wondering what he had done wrong.
© Sally Cronin 2020
One of the reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries
Sally Cronin’s anthology is an entertaining collection combining sweet, wholesome tales with stories from a more jaded point of view.
I love how she takes everyday situations and infuses them with humor, such as in The Weekly Shopping;
‘What the hell does DNST mean?’ ‘Do Not Serve Treats.’
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries- Sally Cronin
Bittersweet endings like The Wedding Day when a hero returns from the grave to see his daughter’s wedding.
I teared up think of my Annie with The Nanny. The story of an overwhelmed couple caring for their teething baby and the unexpected help they receive.
Another favorite is a poem titled The Duchess, where the author paints a portrait of her beloved parent.
There were a few stories about the dark side of life, but these just served to enhance the rest and made me appreciate the blessings in my own life.
Easy-to-read, enjoyable, and relatable.
If you need a fun escape from the winter doldrums, give Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries a read!
My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.