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I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

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I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

539 pagine
8 ore
Oct 10, 2011


Amber hates herself, she hates everything about herself, from her curly, red hair to her bad habits of smoking, drinking and shoplifting. But most of all, she hates feeling unlovable and that's caused by a deep-seated angst of letting anyone too close in case they abandon her too, just like her mother did.

So when Amber realizes that she has been, dumped, made homeless and up to her eyes in debt and in constant fear of losing her job as a beauty therapist. Well, can her life get any worse? Yes, it can, when she finds herself pregnant. Helping her deal with this is a colourful cast of characters that will make sure she gets through it, one way or another.

When Amber impersonates a singing sensation, her world is about to be turned upside down once again. Is there more to them looking like sisters than meets the eye? Will Amber discover the truth about her mother? Will Amber ever learn to love herself, even if she gets closure on this? Join Amber on her laugher-filled journey, with all the domestic drama added for an engaging and entertaining read in this full-length British novel.

Oct 10, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Maureen Reil writes comic commercial fiction and has had over 35 books published, so far, but she's always working on a new manuscript so she wishes to add to that tally with lots of new titles before she's done and dusted. She was born in the city of Liverpool and resides in semi-rural Lancashire UK, but longs to live by the sea. It was always a dream of hers to become a novelist and thanks to her readers, she has fulfilled that ambition, so she couldn't be more grateful if she tried. And Maureen hopes you enjoying reading her books as much as she enjoys writing them.

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I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate? - Maureen Reil

I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

By Maureen Reil

Copyright ©2011 Maureen Reil

Revised Second Edition ©2014

This eBook is entirely a work of fiction.

The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Maureen Reil asserts the moral right to be, identified as the sole author of this work.

Also by the author Maureen Reil

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name (Chick-Lit Collection)

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name 2 (Chick-Lit Collection)

Lily Loves To Love

Sleepyhead Shares A Secret

I Did Write What I Know

Chick-Lit Saved My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 1)

Chick-Lit Stole My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 2)

Chick-Lit Staged My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 3)

Chick-Lit Collection

Chick-Lit Trilogy

Mistletoe And Wine (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 2 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 3 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Christmas Comedy Trilogy

Let’s Get Married (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Together (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get It Started (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Serious (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Physical (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

The Finch Family Holiday (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 2 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 3 (Comical Vacations)

A Granny Is For Life, Not Just Christmas

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 2 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction (Six-Book Box Set)

Comical Vacations 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Wed To The Wrong Wayne

Christmas Crackers

The Desperate Dater’s Intervention

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Things Can Only Get Better

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Dedicated to my late mother

Kay Reil

Chapter 1

Before I knew what was happening, the branch was in my hand and I was swinging my arm back and forth and hitting the bloody thing with all my might. And if I wasn’t standing in the middle of the street with passing traffic, then I might be on my knees and flocking myself with it instead whilst voicing ‘repent’ at the top of my lungs for a bit of relief. Only a moment ago – the bushy twig had been happily hanging off the nearby tree and minding its own business and getting on with the task of growing leaves or berries or whatever it does – until I’d ripped it from its stem and laid into a frenzied attack. You know that famous scene where ‘Basil Fawlty’ goes berserk and attacks his car in a similar fashion, because the stress of everything combined just got to him and then the car refused to start. (I had watched the box set with my dad over Christmas.) Well I’d found it funny too, until I find myself doing near enough the exact same thing this morning as the car stalled before it’d died a measly death on me.

I very nearly ran out of petrol as well and was frankly running on fumes, whilst stupidly thinking that I could make it all the way to the pumps before the inevitable happened. And now I, namely Amber Greene (I know, who names their kid two colours right) well I am late for work yet again for the third time this week. I knew I should have gotten that second-hand electric, ‘Smart’ car instead of this heap of shit. Maybe the ‘smart’ bit would have somehow rubbed off on me and I would not be quite so dumb, maybe not. So with half a tree in my hand – I am getting some satisfaction from this ‘damn good thrashing’ – as I take my frustration out on the immobile vehicle. When all of a sudden, some bastard on a push bike decides to ride past me and going right through a big puddle which ended up splattering me with some oily mud (and I’ll never be able to get the stains out of my shoes or coat, no matter how hard I scrub I might add).

‘Look what you have done, you moron,’ I scream after him but I do not think he heard me despite not wearing a helmet, for he rode off without even turning around. He is probably not even deaf but simply got ear buds in underneath that mop of dark hair. I hate it when people ignore you and I hate people who selfishly listen to music, just to block you out of their private world. In addition, I have run out of cigarettes, which frankly can turn me into a homicidal maniac any minute now if I am not careful.

‘Are you all right, lover?’ asks a man, practically hanging out of his van window. You know the type, those with only one arm that has a permanent tan from exposing his bare skin to the constant weather be it hail, rain or shine.

‘I will be, if the likes of you leave me alone,’ I retort and I feel like punching something I am so mad. It is a good job that he has a vehicle door between us.

‘Touchy . . . and here was me about to offer you a lift, seeing as you’ve broken down and all.’

‘I wouldn’t get in that van if you held a gun to my head, now piss-off before I call the police.’ I took note of his number plate just in case he took me at my word, but he took the hint instead and sped away at breakneck speed.

It has been a horrible morning so far, I have just had the mother of all rows with Adam. It was, started by me after he had received a text message from his ex and I did not even know that they were still in contact with one another before it escalated into something downright ugly. Now I do not even know if I have a boyfriend anymore, let alone anywhere to live if he kicks me out of the apartment that we share together. Well, he owns it and I just moved in with him because it was more convenient for work. (This is what I told him anyhow as I did not want him getting any ideas that I loved him or anything of that nature.) He would not just turf me out, right. No, he is not a hardnosed kind of man and besides he told me that he loves me and you do not just get rid of someone that you profess to care so deeply about just like that. If I do find myself out on my ear, then that fact will totally peeve me to the core because I am just, not independent enough to afford my own great flat like Adam. He is a website designer from a privileged background and I am not.

Having done the whole housemates sharing thing and now the live-in boyfriend thing, I am beginning to believe that I am probably better off living alone. For I can be a bit of a slave to my angry emotions, that often form the dark mood swings and the tantrum throwing shit that I become. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that I hate myself. It is not to the extent of wanting to commit suicide or even in a self-harming sort of way. As I cannot stand the sight of blood for a start (especially, my own) and the same goes for any form of pain. No, mine is more of a good old-fashioned self-loathing kind, which does not really damage anything physical apart from my relationships with men that is.

Enough about those woes, for now anyway as I have parents giving me the ‘weirdo’ eyes while they walk past taking their offspring to school. One little angelic blond-haired chap, all of about six picks up another stick and actually hits me hard with it on the leg. They do say that violence breeds violence and this just confirms my loathing for kids. They ruin your world clearly and I definitely do not want any, ever. My friends tell me that I’ll change my mind when I mature – well now that I’m twenty-seven (going on seventy-seven judging by the way I’m feeling this morning since it’s not only my heart that aches) so when that time comes around then I’ll hopefully be too old to conceive – end of and indecision solved.

The boy’s mother is wearing a fleece jacket; she gives me an evil look but it is not me, who has raised her baby Satan from hell as I stomp past them to catch the bus into work. I currently have employment as a beauty therapist at a salon called ‘The Royal Treatment’ which resides in the posh part of this large Lancashire market town as it stands today, but it wasn’t always the case. It is located in the massive main square that offers everything from luxury goods to quaint little teashops. The double bow fronted building has small oblong shaped windows, which are in keeping with it dating back to the Victorian era. It is one of those destinations, that tourists like to visit and try to imagine living in such splendid surroundings and locals come here to escape their busy modern lives and pretend that they too are strolling through a much more pleasant period in our country’s history.

Mind you, saying that, if it was to travel back in time then there are probably a few things missing from the scene, like the children’s malnourished bodies lying on the ground because they have died during the night and gin-soaked women that are trying to sell their wares for another drop of the hard stuff. Not to mention the thieves, con men and murderers who patrolled this neighbourhood in Victorian days gone by. Why would anyone look on this period and think it all lovely and nostalgic is beyond me? No, give me this current millennium any day of the week. I hate history, why look back or forward come to that since I cannot stand those who are obsessed with the future either. I live in the present and am just trying to survive this life, never mind worrying about the next. I’m talking about all those lost souls who believe in the afterlife and contacting them; well I also include this load of codswallop on my list of things that I hate since the way I see it, it’s basically just ripping off the poor grieving people for money (even though some would argue that it brings them comfort). So who am I to judge what works for them?

The grand premises where I work are set over four floors; the basement houses the staff room and storage plus a small washroom. Whilst the ground floor level is the domain of hairdressing and the second story is home to the beauty department. With the third being the lavish apartment of the owner Mr Nash. We sometimes rename him ‘Mr Nashty’ when he verbally goes off on one, as he will probably do to me today for I am already on a warning about my constant tardiness. And dare I admit it, my inability to pay attention through gritted teeth when I have to endure another boring staff meeting with the prim and proper Paige, who is the head therapist and manages us lot in beauty.

Luckily, Mr Nash is nowhere in sight so I whip off my coat and load my arm up with nicotine patches from my locker, before I make my way into the staff room. Where I sneakily take a vacant seat next to the lovely heart shaped face of the rosy-cheeked Alison, who gives me a generous smile like always. I do not know how the young trainee always manages to be so God damn happy all the time. She is very sweet but so annoying with it, that it sometimes makes me want to hurl. And her appearance is immaculate too as usual; no wonder she’s the current favourite with Paige seeing as she is just as pristine as her mentor.

Speaking of Paige, with her long dark hair scraped back into a serious ponytail using a single black band to match her sensible flat shoes. She even has grey eyes and I have never actually seen her wear anything of colour and even her coats, jacket’s or bags are all monochrome which is just so dull if you ask me. I on the other hand am a riot of colour, for I love to mix them with my purple wedge shoes and the jade dangly earrings that match my green eyes. They were a recent ‘making up’ present from the boyfriend, even though I was too stubborn to apologise which is sadly yet another trait inherited from the mother that I never knew.

I also have on a thick red band, which roughly holds back my bumpy auburn tresses since I had to use my fingers on my hair because I had flung the brush at Adam in anger this morning. I have and this depends on whom you speak to, but my dad says that I have a great mane of hair just like my mum. I however, can put it bluntly when having been cursed with a natural curl to my hair that frankly borders on the complete frizz. Moreover, I am often too lazy to bother straightening it so it remains a work in progress.

I am also quite tall with gangly legs that can make me sometimes seem a bit clumsy. It is just another one of the things, which I hate about myself and this is probably why I got into this beauty game in the first place. I must have foolishly thought that it would improve my looks no-end and lesson the self-loathing; it seldom works. I repeatedly tell my clients this in my head but never aloud because then, I would not have any paying customers left. I suddenly glance down and realise that I still have the chipped bright blue nail varnish on from the other day’s tester that I had tried on. I am such a lazy tramp by all accounts.

That is not the only thing I notice about my shabby appearance, for I have a large gold-rimmed creamy stain from who knows what on the front of my white uniform dress. As I place my hands on my lap to try to hide it from the eagle eyes of Paige, who simply cannot abide by such things. I look around at the eager faces of the other young women here – who hang on to Paige’s every spoken word like it was God himself giving the evils of stealing beauty products speech – which would result in going to hell or the unemployment line and isn’t that the same thing anyway.

Indeed, I cannot quite believe it when bleached blonde bitch Janine stands up and grasses me out whilst pointing in my direction ‘she’s using up the samples that should be handed out to the clients. We all know that they’re not for our personal use.’ But then again – I can’t deny it when I’m wearing the telltale paint job for all to clearly see – so I guess you could say that I was caught red handed or should that be blue fingered?

‘Amber, can you wait behind after the meeting; I need to speak to you?’ Paige asks without even looking at me. It is not the first time that they have reprimanded me for taking samples and it surely will not be the last because I cannot help myself sometimes.

Janine sits back down with a smug smirk aimed at me. While I bite my lip, but what I really want to do is to fly my fist straight into Janine’s full moon shaped fat face. I imagine it instead and in the daydream – she even loses a tooth or two – now that’s a happy thought and I told you I had anger management issues. I do not know what I have done that is so bad to that girl, but she does not like me one little bit and will take every opportunity to show it. The disliking of me all started when a new trainee called Vicky joined us and I recall that she was such a timid little thing. I sort of took her under my wing and showed her the ropes so to speak. Then one day I found her crying in the toilet and that is when she confessed that mean girl Janine was picking on her, just as she did at their last work placement together. Well with me being hardly the font of all wisdom and knowledge, I had foolishly ordered Vicky to be strong and talk it through with Janine in a bid to end all this silliness since it might help to sort out their differences and make them disappear altogether.

Apparently it was all over Janine’s last boyfriend (who for all of four weeks and four days later) had dumped her for Vicky, to whom he then consequently dumped for yet another girl seeing as he was just a player. That is when the lifetime of hatred began, which to me was making Janine bitter and twisted enough to lock poor Vicky in the sauna room by using a broom across the handle until she passed out. I was sad that Vicky let Janine drive her away, because she could have made a decent therapist given half a chance. Nowadays I suppose I am the brunt of Janine’s little snide comments when she mutters something about my dirty shoes that is loud enough for everyone to hear as I am suddenly, looked down upon.

Christ what are we, pathetic hormonal teenagers back in high school. Are we not women in our prime of life that should know better about how to behave in the workplace? Only Janine will get her comeuppance one day and I want to be there to see it happen, preferably make it happen even. Everyone else leaves the room to get on with their working day as I remain firmly in my seat. Paige makes her way towards me whilst putting on her glasses, before she leans forward to lift up my right hand in order to inspect the colour on my nails more closely. She pulls a tanned face at me and wrinkles her heavily freckled nose to show her disgust.

‘I know it looks terrible now but at the time that I applied it, I thought it looked pretty cool . . . and anyway, the client didn’t want it when I’d offered her the free sample,’ I say whilst thinking that I heard someone at the door, so I look around sharply and listen.

Paige shook her head and said ‘if you weren’t the best therapist here. I mean all the clients adore you for some strange reason, then you and those thieving hands of yours would be fired . . . and if we were in the middle east then they’d probably be chopped off!’

‘Oh by the way, did you have a nice holiday there?’ I quickly change the subject to avoid punishment for my crime. A wide smile ascends across Paige’s chops, so perhaps my plan has worked.

‘It was everything I’d dreamed of and If you must know, I met someone but it’s early days and I don’t want to jinx it by discussing it yet,’ replies Paige shyly and almost whispering just in case someone was at the door listening, namely Janine.

‘You’re always nicer to us lot when you’re in love, so here’s hoping that this one lasts,’ I express this cheeky observation just as the friendly face changes back to the familiar bossy boots one.

‘What is that unsightly mark on your outfit? I don’t know how many times I’ve told you that it has to be pristine white, or change it.’

‘But I don’t have my spare one with me and I don’t know what the mark is from. Oh hold on, I had a curry for dinner with Adam; maybe I spilt some of it.’ It was then that we both realise that it has nothing to do with food at all. What happened after the takeaway whilst on the couch with my boyfriend, which accounts for the strange stain?

‘You’re disgusting, go and wash it straight away. I’ll be deducting the time off your pay mark my words and that’s an intended pun by the way.’ Paige is ‘grossed out’ by the thought of what remains on my uniform dress and sends me to the washer/dryer room, where I don one of the thin white cotton robes while I patiently wait for my garment to be cleaned.

It was not the first time that I had been down here or even, having money docked from my wages just like last time when I had accidentally slipped on the wet tiled floor. All because I had neglected to mop up after having spilt, some mixed herbal massage oil there beforehand. I happened to be carrying the client’s coffee to them, which resulted in thankfully me wearing it and not Mrs Brentford. We definitely would not have heard the last of that, if I did douse the old mare in caffeine. I am soon joined in purgatory by Imogene who is a junior in hairdressing because she has towels to wash, lots and lots of white (not so fluffy anymore) towels. While she is not, best pleased to find me hogging the industrial machine judging by the face she is expressing right now for she seems in a bit of a hurry.

‘Are you going be long, because I’ve got to practice my showpiece for the Blackpool competition soon?’ Imogene asked while looking at the square metal clock on the yellowing wall. She is dressed in her uniform that consists of white trousers and a baby pink tunic.

‘I am but a slave to modern machinery I’m afraid, so I can only go as fast as it will allow,’ I reply and feeling slightly claustrophobic at being stuck down here in this basement room. Imogene plonks her bum down on the bench and plays with her rainbow of coffee and cream coloured long hair, which is, held together into a loose clip on one side. She looks thoroughly confused by my comment.

‘So, are you going be in the beauty side of things in Blackpool or what?’ Imogene asks me with interest, but the mere mention of the annual event makes me feel rather nauseous to be honest.

‘As it’s not compulsory to attend, I think I’ll give it a miss this year. Especially after what happened last year,’ I tease as I stroll over and take my overall out of the washer to place it in the dryer.

‘You cannot leave it there . . . tell me everything,’ insisted Imogene with eyes that had one eyeball slightly looking to the left and I had never noticed this before until now.

‘I’ll tell you, if you give me one of your cigarettes. I can see the packet sticking out through your pocket.’ I was chomping at the bit.

‘But I’ve only got five left and those I’ll have to share at lunchtime. I don’t know . . . cigarettes are like currency in a prison around here.’ Imogene handed over the much-needed booty.

‘Oh, it was nothing really . . . just the fact that I drank too much white wine at lunch time which found me hurling my guts up over the male head judge. This resulted in his biased vote being cast for our rival salon, who then won the prestigious award that we should have got instead.’ I am still in the doghouse with the boss over that one.

‘I see. Well I’m excited to go, it’ll be my first time competing,’ replied Imogene with a disappointed look on her face, like she was expecting some big sex scandal or something along that line.

‘Are you Ok? You’re scratching like you have nits or something.’ I watched the young woman closely and soon realised that it, was just the irritating hair extensions that had caused her to have this unfortunate habit and she probably does not even know she is doing it half the time.

‘I do not have nits so do not be telling anyone that I have. I’m just itchy, that’s all.’ Imogene clearly took the hump and set about shoving as many of the dirty damp towels into the washer as she could get into the machine and still close the door, before leaving me in peace to have a crafty fag. The towels will not wash or dry properly like that, but it is not my place to tell her off about it so I do not.

I start to think about Adam and the fact that he has not text me yet, but he must know by now that I am too pigheaded to contact him first. After all, it was entirely his fault; our little spat in principal had been a bit rough though when he had pushed me hard against the kitchen table. I found it very manly and very sexy for I half expected him to then, jump on my bones with passion. Instead, he just fled the flat in a flash and I found myself wanting while in need of a time machine so I could start the morning all over again, only this new scene would play out rather raunchier on the replay.

I am certainly not having the best of mornings so far and it could get worse. For I soon find out that I have a regular in the form of Mrs (motor mouth) Minnelli, as my first client of the day. She never shuts up as the verbal diarrhoea spills forth from her gob in that screechy high-pitched voice of hers, which always leaves me with a pounding headache afterwards. I have her booked in for a pedicure with her podgy feet and sausage toes, which are so misshapen and crippled from wearing pointed high-heeled shoes all her life, that she should just have them removed altogether. That would save me the trouble of trying to perform miracles, in an attempt to make them look anywhere near half-decent.

She is (how can I put this kindly without insulting her kind) simply a talentless lazy bimbo, who once appeared in a commercial with a nonspeaking part and calls herself ‘an actress’ for life. I am just jealous I suppose because her rich husband loves her so much that she is literally, spoilt rotten by him while at least she had the good sense to marry well. Unlike me for I am probably destined to be the preverbal lonely dead woman who is only, discovered weeks after her death lying in a pool of boxed wine and half-eaten by her own cats (even though I cannot stand the furry felines and they must hate me too, if they eat me). Although I do recall that when I was younger – I always wanted a puppy like the one on the adverts for toilet rolls then again – who did not.

Right now, I cannot even handle the responsibility of looking after myself let alone anything else. And that brings me full circle back to Adam – who regularly complains that I’m not ‘wifely’ enough – whatever that means when we’re not even married and I don’t posses any intention to be hitched anytime soon. As I really do not see his point of view, unless of course he is talking about me not being the obedient little doormat that he can control. Now there is one thing I will never be, so I guess I do have a lot of my wayward mother in me after all.

Chapter 2

I finally drive home in my car having rescued it from the clamping firm that had held it to ransom, before I threatened to firebomb them with my can of petrol and lit cigarette. My face still hurts from all the false grinning that I have to do as part of my job description. I totally empathise with the person who is supposed to have been, fired from playing an animated character at a kid’s theme park because they had refused to smile all day. Was that only an internet rumour – who knows these days what is fact or fiction anymore – because I for one do not.

It is not long before I arrive at our apartment block – only to find that out on the front mat is my faux snakeskin suitcase that I had purchased recently because it was on offer and to be honest – I do not even really like it. But I have a habit of buying stuff on impulse and then getting it home, where I discover that I don’t know what possessed me in the first place to hand over good money for half the things I purchase. Then, I am usually stuck with it for I am too lazy to bring it back. The designer excess of shoes and clothing had been bundled into black plastic bags but thankfully (being that it is the appropriate day for the refuge men to turn up) they had refused to take away my stuff since they were not in the proper grey bin. I am literally fuming by this state of affairs (not that they did not take away the bags this time for that usually annoys me) but for the fact that I was being ‘tossed out’ like garbage. I suddenly turn an unhealthy shade of pale purple in anger, which always made me wonder why the Incredible Hulk turned green, seeing as this colour is clearly associated with sickness or jealousy rather than rage. As I am no comic book expert, there might be toxic reasons involved here so please do not hold me to it.

Anyway, I can’t get my key to work in the lock as Adam has only gone and changed the damn thing which of course he has every right to do I suppose seeing as it is his place after all. However, I will not, be treated like this so I bang on the black door with my right fist and kick fiercely with my left foot whilst I keep my left-handed forefinger firmly ringing on that bell. Adam is clearly not in but the nosey neighbour across the hall is, since the much older woman than I am with the gold velour tracksuit and blue paisley patterned headscarf opens her door instead.

I cannot even remember her name since I have always tried to avoid her, for I had heard from Adam that she could be a bit intrusive into one’s personal life as she tries to befriend all the folks who live in her block of apartments. We have only officially met once before and that was when I had just moved in. I recall that she had made me nearly jump out of my skin, when she had suddenly popped her head around the open bedroom door to introduce herself. Really, I think she was just spying on my gear as I unpacked to see if I was her sort of people.

The same woman in question now enquires ‘have you two had another fight? Only I’d witnessed Adam flinging down your bags and storming off earlier on.’

‘It’ll all be sorted soon enough. We always break-up and then make-up. That’s the fun of being in a relationship, isn’t it?’

‘Here, let me help you with those.’ She kindly takes hold of a couple of bags before mentioning ‘you should really take better care of those designer boots, they’ll last longer. I could recommend a good scratch guard and interior padding for them, if you like?’ Meanwhile I wonder how she could possibly know about them without going through my stuff, but I let it go and say nothing seeing as she gives me a friendly little wave goodbye before departing my company.

It starts to rain as the weather matches my mood, while I sadly load up my small baby blue coloured car with tears streaming down my face. As even, I do not believe it has come to this over nothing really, after several months of living together. Who cares if I am not a domestic goddess and a bit on the ‘ladette’ side of life? Does that make me unworthy of his affection? I think not, for I had honestly thought that Adam understood me like no one else ever did. At least I learned that someone could love me if not live with me forever and I will miss him more than I can put into words right now, so I will not bother explaining further.

I am not talking about missing the monetary aspect of having Adam in my life but he did pay all the bills as the only thing I contributed towards our outlay was the odd takeaway meal and cinema outing or an impromptu trip to the pub for the evening, that kind of stuff. Well they do say that two can live as cheaply as one. This is a quote, which I had often used in my defence to avoid paying for anything other than spending my cash on frivolous girly items. It does not really matter if you do not have anywhere to live I suppose. Any young woman these days would understand my plight – seeing as I do not earn a great deal – but still feel a need to maintain a certain lifestyle whilst keeping up with the girlfriends and such. Speaking of which, I now call one of them in the vain hope that she will take me in just so I do not end up sleeping in some Godforsaken doorway this evening. Because let’s face facts here folks, there’s not much room left in my car to put my head down now that it’s full of my gear.

‘Hello . . . you sound upset, what’s up?’ asks my friend. Thank God Kim wasn’t out on one of her ‘date nights’ as she likes to call them – even though they more often than not don’t include any romance with her boyfriend of five years and one child later – simply because a lot of them are to formal social events and dealing with the entertainment of his clients. Adrian treats Kim as if she is his mistress even though he is not married anymore since his first wife divorced him (before he met Kim) and sadly having turned him against the idea of wedded bliss for life. He lives alone like a carefree bachelor doing as he pleases, when he pleases. You see, there lays the difference between Kim and me straight off. She wants commitment and I do not want to be tied-down. I do not want marriage, I do not want kids and I do not even want a serious boyfriend really. I just want friends and lovers and a decent place to live and a job to go to and lastly, to have some fun in life without all that responsibility for other people stuff getting in the way and being weighed down with the burden, stress and guilt which often accompanies this type of average lifestyle.

Adrian only contacts Kim when it suits him, specifically, for a booty call and her man has not exactly bonded with his son (who is a complete ‘mini-me’ of him). After I had explained briefly about my tiff with Adam, Kim told me ‘well what are you waiting for, make your way straight over to my place and I will see if Valerie can come on over too?’ My friend is indeed a great mate to have, for she wants to comfort me in my hour of need. How many people can say that about their so-called chums? Since everyone’s so busy these days and getting on with their own lives that you’re lucky if they remember to drop you a line on your internet message board now and then just to prove that they’re still alive and you hadn’t missed their funeral, simply because there wasn’t one to go to.

So having travelled into the city, there I stand on the doorstep of Kim’s (two bed-roomed) townhouse with a couple of the bags in hand as the rain pours heavily down onto my head from a cracked gutter. This is a good job really seeing as it hides my own frustrated teardrops, which lay prominent on my cheeks. Then suddenly the gutter breaks altogether and mind you, I could have done without the soggy rotting leaves and twigs which now ring my hair like a Christmas wreath that has seen one too many bad winters. I feel like screaming my head off and smashing something up just to get the anger out that is welling up inside me. I must not wake Charlie for I know how Kim struggles to get him to sleep at night. So I pull the maddest face I can muster and let out a silent scream – that in my head out does any movie victim being closely chased by the obligatory axe wielding murderer – who’s just witnessed her family being butchered and is next for the chop because she can’t keep quiet.

The red painted door seems to take an age to open as I am continuously; pissed on by the Gods, which is probably a just punishment for all the bad thoughts I have wished at people lately. Kim finally presents herself in person with her son tucked firmly under her arm. Charlie wriggles to get free from the big blue fluffy towel that he is currently, smothered inside of in a bid to protect him from the cold evening air.

‘You look wetter than Charlie here. He has just been, plucked from his bath kicking and screaming. He didn’t want it to end quite so soon,’ said Kim, while stepping aside to let me pass.

‘Sorry, Charlie . . . blame, me not Mummy for your playtime ending abruptly.’ I give the little dude a smile and he gives me the tongue, as the two year old sticks it firmly between his baby teeth that are starting to grow around his dummy.

‘I didn’t even know it was raining this hard. We were too busy splashing about in the water making bubbles. Weren’t we, snuggles?’ Kim gave Charlie a tickle which made him give out a wicked laugh that put the shits right up me, for sometimes he does have the look of a demonic child and I might even go as far as to suggest that Kim check underneath his hair for the sign of the devil.

‘If you want to put Charlie back in the bath . . . I can just wait downstairs until you’re finished?’

‘No, it’s fine. He’s all shiny as new, now that we’ve got all that dirt off him from making mud pies in the garden earlier on.’

‘God, do kids still do that? I mean . . . we did that when we were his age because we didn’t have anything better to do, but surely the youngsters today have plenty of things to play with which should make for a cleaner playtime.’

‘Charlie is a typical boy and he loves to get dirty and besides, it’s healthier than sitting in front of a screen all day. Why do you think kids have many allergies that were never, heard of when we were young? I’ll tell you why . . . it’s because they don’t get enough exposure to the outside world and build up any kind of immunity against such things.’

‘Yeah that’s true, but television and computers can be educational as well and it gives you some freedom to get on with other stuff.’

‘What can be more educational than the natural world around them?’

‘I suppose you’re right. Hey, you’re the mummy around here and not me while they do say, mum knows best.’

‘And don’t you forget it. So why don’t you take a nice soothing power shower while I put Charlie here to bed with a story.’ Kim must have read him the same one at least a hundred times before. It is his favourite and ensures that he settles down well after an evening bath. That is another reason I could never be a mum since I have never, in my whole life before even read a book twice. Sometimes I struggle to finish them at all – not because I have learning difficulties or anything like that – but if it does not hold my interest then I put it down and do not ever bother going back to finish it. Once I know the ending from say watching the film or TV adaptation then that is it for me, forget it altogether. As far as fairy tales about a pot of porridge goes, I simply do not have the patience or enthusiasm for it and I am glad it is not my job to read to him. I would make the worst nanny ever and Mary Poppins has a lot to answer for because everyone thinks that the British ones are all like this, but sadly we’re not all gifted with being that kid friendly.

Kim on the other hand was definitely born to be a mummy, seeing as she mothers us all in some way or another. I soon feel slightly better by having washed away the crap that has become my life, when I light up a much-needed cigarette and take a deep drag on it. Then Kim comes into the living room and tells me off ‘you can’t be smoking in the house, you know that and you also know where the patio door is so that’s no excuse.’

‘But it is still raining; I will go outside when it eases off, promise.’

‘I’ll not have you polluting my air space with your filthy habit.’

‘Err, less of the remarks. I seem to remember that you used to enjoy this too.’

‘Well that was before I got pregnant with Charlie and you know it. I have not touched one since and if you are finding it so hard to quit, perhaps you should think about having a baby. You never know it might work for you too.’

‘I don’t want a baby and I don’t want to quit. I like polluting my body and I hate it when people tell me that I cannot. But out of respect for your son’s health, I will go outside,’ I say and stroll over to the patio doors, where I swing them open and lean out as far as I can without actually getting wet from the overhanging roof.

‘I can still smell it and if I can smell it then I can breathe in your second-hand smoke. You can use the shed at the bottom of the garden when it’s raining.’

‘Yeah, thanks. If I like it in there, I might even move in.’

Therefore, off I shoot while racing down the long thin garden to get to the shed before the rain puts my cigarette out altogether. It was locked shut. As I had to then sprint back to the house in order to get the key and back again. All this exercise might take away what little puff I have left in reserve for having any cigarettes if I do not sit down soon. I mean, I have been on my feet all day in work and I need to take the load off as they say and just relax. While I use the mobile phone in my pocket to be my guiding light as I spy one of those fold-up lightweight chairs hanging up on the back of the shed door. That’ll do nicely I think to myself as I open it with glee that I have at least the space to take refuge in here with some much needed comfort and luxury.

It was then that I suddenly heard music and the smell of real ale coming from over the fence. Who in their right mind is having a barbeque in this weather? Well with me – being the inquisitive type well I simply had to find out – rain or no rain. As I yank the flimsy chair over to the blue painted fence and I stand on it to peek over into next doors garden. It was not the marquee that I was expecting to see, but a glorified shed, which had had an extension reaching beyond the realm of decency for merely supplying a place for tat that cannot fit into the home. No indeed, for this was a mini public house as it even had a sign and a licence note above the door. Only if I had a pub in my backyard and I could name it anything in the world. I could surely come up with a better title then ‘The Pussy and Pint’. Perhaps it is a naked lap-dancing bar but when I look at the signpost, it depicts a cat holding a glass of beer so maybe not.

The getting up on the chair part was soon, mastered with relative ease but the getting down again was the tricky balancing bit. The chair began to wobble when lifting one foot off it and I tried to grab hold of the top of the wooden fence for safety but only succeeded in gaining a splinter instead just as the chair decided to do what it was, designed for as it folded beneath me. This in turn sent me tumbling down into the thorny bush beside it. Was this nature’s revenge for me ripping the branch off that tree this morning? With the music blaring out from next-doors pub, because someone had left the door open then no one could hear my cries for help. Well I had to scramble about and rescue myself from getting any more thorns in my side (literally).

‘Jesus, what happened to you? You only went out for a fag and you’ve come back looking like you’ve been dragged through a bush backwards,’ asks Kim and smirking at my hedgehog impression. Not only is my jogging pants, pumps and sweater covered in thorns but my towelled head too, from where I’d bulldozed my way out of that wretched plant. To be fair, I had dragged myself out of that bush backwards so she was not far off with her analogy.

‘I have a splinter,’ I replied and holding up my hand to show her, my war wound.

‘Do you want some help removing the thorns?’

‘I can probably do that myself. Would you be a love and get this splinter out? I’m such a baby when it comes to things like this.’

‘Jeez, hold still. You were not half-wrong when you said that you were a baby. Charlie can handle getting splinters out better than you.’

‘OK! You just go for it and I will not even look. Ow, that hurt. You are not digging for gold, you know. Be gentle with me.’

‘I’ve got it . . . see,’ she insists and holds up the tweezers that contains the tiny splinter, which was causing me such a huge amount of pain.

I rub some medicated cream into the wound and change the subject ‘I didn’t know you had a pub next-door. Can anyone go to it or is it a private members only kind of affair?’

‘So that’s what you were doing, spying on the neighbours. To answer your question, it opened last week and I do not know what type of pub it is. But I do know that if they keep Charlie up then I will be complaining to the local council about it and try to get it shut down.’ Speaking of drinking alcohol, Kim had produced a bottle of red wine as she pours it into three glasses.

‘Is Charlie joining us for a drink because there’s no one else here?’ Before Kim can give me back a smart remark about teaching her son the dangers of under-age drinking, the doorbell goes.

‘I’ll get it,’ says Kim as she dashes off to answer it before it wakes Charlie. I really cannot be bothered to straighten my hair as I have lost count about the number of times I have burned my ears. In fact, it is a wonder that I still have anything to hang my sunglasses on. So I think I will just towel dry it and brush it instead. While I let the natural curl proudly, come into its own since I am certainly past caring by this stage. The snugness of the fluffy pink robe soothes my inner soul, seeing as I had changed into it from the prickly garments that I was wearing earlier on. It somehow wraps a comfort around my body that I really need right now. As I am currently raging with self-hate for I have mucked things up big time with Adam, my lovely boyfriend. I do not like to use a possessive word when speaking about that man, but what else, can I call him.

I do not have much time to dwell on it as I look up from my slumber on the couch to see that Valerie has arrived. Her petite frame bounds towards me with arms outstretched and sadness in her smile but also, hope in her heart for a speedy reunion. I know the way her mind works, since she believes that there is no barrier too high to climb over if it is indeed true love waiting for us on the other side. Me on the other hand, well I would not even cross a busy road if it meant that there was a designer handbag waiting for me on the other side with my name on it. That is how lazy I am when it comes to the things that I

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