‘You always want things your own way!’

Charlie’s words still ring in your ears. Tch. Of course you want things your own way. What's the alternative? He should have been grateful to you for showing him the way: your way, the right way, the only way.

You sigh, and force yourself to admit that you may have been a little difficult at times. He had a point, too, when he said you were unwilling to commit. Then again, you didn’t actually want to commit. Not now, not to Charlie, lovely though he was. Is, you mean. He’s not dead yet; just an ex. And maybe that’s for the best. After all, you’ve established that you weren’t prepared to compromise or to commit. Hardly ideal girlfriend material. And a good man like Charlie really does deserve better.

So that’s all well and good then. But what really riles you about the whole thing is the fact that it was him who ended it. Since it was all about you, you can’t help but wish you’d had the presence of mind, or the balls, or whatever it is you lacked, to withdraw from the relationship gracefully. As opposed to at the end of a steaming argument on a crowded Camden pavement.

Ah well, as your Dad always says, ‘you can’t always write your own script.’

You yawn, and wonder blearily what time it is. These mild remonstrances you treat yourself to are always at their worst in the morning, with a hangover. Another hangover. Goodness there have been a few too many of those lately, Sarah, haven’t there? I know you’ve just been dumped (don’t wince like that! You were dumped, suck it up!) but is that really any reason to contribute to the binge drinking epidemic with such gay abandon?

Last night was meant to be a quiet night, too. Alice had suggested ‘a nice civilised night out, just the girls, a lovely dinner, and home by midnight.’ It was all going so well. You grumbled for the millionth time about Charlie’s outrageous, out-of-the-blue dumping, over dough balls and montepulciano, and moved on to slate Nita’s sexist boss when your pizzas arrived, before diving into the gory details of Alice’s recent secret fling with her sister’s builder. As promised, you left the restaurant feeling relatively clearheaded, and it wasn’t even late.

Outside the restaurant you were weighing up the merits of catching a bus or walking up the hill home, when you were accosted by Simon, screeching ‘Ladies!’ and practically cartwheeling across the street to you.

‘Watch the road Simon,’ said Nita.

‘The road is watching me, darling! Look at that cabbie, he can’t take his eyes off my fabulous ass in my ice white jeans!’

You laughed, and exchange kisses and hellos with Simon and his crew. They were flying high after one too many cocktails and just absolutely insisted you went on with them. Two hours later and you should have known you were in trouble when you wound up in Cottons, paying an inexplicably high price for some obscure rum cocktails.

Ugh. The rum memory hurts a bit this morning, doesn’t it? You wonder if it’s too late to be still in bed, and root about for your phone to check the time. There it is, sandwiched neatly between last week’s Grazia and last night’s jeans. You stumble back into bed and switch it on.

10.30am. Three new messages, all from Charlie. ‘Babe. U in? Want to talk.’ And ‘Sarah, it’s not right. You shudn’tve let me. UR cutting off your nose to spit yr face.’ And finally, ‘Stop ignoring me!’ They were sent 10 minutes apart in the small hours. That fact, combined with his typos and abbreviations (he was normally a bit more old fashioned in his texts, preferring whole words and proper grammar) lead you to believe he had had a pretty big night himself. Good job you didn’t see his texts at the time. At 4am you were hitting the sack and would have been mighty tempted by the thought of a ‘talk’... or sinking into his big familiar arms. Ah well.

You switch your phone off, pull the duvet over your head, and go back to the land of Nod for a couple of hours.

A bacon and egg sandwich eaten standing up in the kitchen makes for a robust breakfast, and by two o’clock you feel ready to face lunch. You drag Alice from the sofa and head to the Queens for Sunday lunch, and sip orange and lemonade gingerly as you run over the highlights of last night.

‘That guy,’ she giggles, ‘With the stetson and the belt buckle as big as his face. What was he like? He wanted you...’

‘And you wanted him. Admit it, Alicious, you know you did. That Marlboro man look, it appeals to your love of a bit of rough.’

‘Shut up. If you’re on about Jamie again, for just don’t. How many times do I have to tell you, he might be a builder but he’s not rough. He’s quite sensitive. Just because he doesn’t have a degree. He’s actually very intelligent.’

‘Ha. I wasn’t thinking of Jamie at all. But I think it’s quite telling that the second I mention a bit of rough, you think of him. Anyway, I’ve seen him lugging bags of cement with all his tattoos on display and he looked pretty rough to me.’

Alice smirks, ‘Hot though, isn’t he?’

You have to admit that he is and leave her to congratulate herself while you go to the loo.

‘Your phone buzzed while you were gone,’ says Alice, as you return. ‘You got a text. And I wasn’t looking or anything but... I couldn’t help but notice it was from dear old Charlie.’

‘Couldn’t help but notice?!’ you chuckle. ‘Sure.’ Meanwhile your stomach’s flipping, but you’re sure that’s just the rum punch making its presence felt.

‘Sorry about the text. I was just a bit pissed. Hope all’s good with you.’

You show it to Alice with a sigh. ‘Time for a shandy, I think.’

‘Considering how cross he was with me three weeks ago, he’s being awfully polite these days.’

‘These days? You didn’t tell me he’d been in touch.’

‘Oh he hasn’t really. Just those drunken texts last night. Oh and he emailed me last week to see if I wanted my DVDs back. Which obviously I didn’t. I only bought them to keep him entertained during one of our shit boring nights in.’ Another sigh. ‘Still. It was nice of him to ask.’

‘Well of course he’s being nice. He’s had three weeks to realise how dull and empty his life is without you. I told you he would.’

You mull over, for the gazillionth time, the rudeness of Charlie breaking up with you. And its annoyingly unquestionable rightness. And you admit, as if she didn’t know it already, that you do sort of miss him.

‘It’s only natural that you should miss him, love. But missing him doesn’t mean you should get back together with him. Don’t get confused.’

‘You don’t think I should get back together with him, do you?’ You ask.

‘Well first of all, I didn’t think it was an option. I mean, you’d have to grovel a bit, and I thought you weren’t prepared to do that? ‘

You nod. You’ve been through this one before. She’s right, you are so not going to go begging him to take you back. He was the one doing the dumping, so he would have to do the grovelling. And he hasn’t. Yet.

‘And secondly, of course I don’t want you to get back with him, you’re much more fun when you’re single. But listen, I know he’s a good bloke – you know I love Charlie – and if you two are meant to be together, then I wouldn’t want to stand in your way. I just think you’re not in the right state to make that sort of decision. You need to think this one through. And it’s your round.’

   Over a pint, you repay the favour and let Alice bang on about The Builder again. It’s old ground but the least you can do is listen. She’s been an absolute rock lately. The same old questions surface – should she tell her sister? Should she end it?  A good builder is hard to find and Alice's sister is so house-proud she might not take kindly to discovering that Alice was shagging hers… As usual you advise that no, she shouldn’t tell confess And yes, she should end it. It was an afternoon of passion that should have ended at that. To be obsessing over him and sneaking around in her sister’s flat while she’s away, a month later, is really daft. Still, you indulge her as you give your wise counsel – you know she won’t take your advice and that’s just fine. You both know sometimes advice is sought just so you can indulge in talking through a problem that you don’t really want to solve.

You get home in time for a bit of quality BBC period drama. After a long hot bath, you turn in, feeling jaded and just a little bit flat. Another Monday morning looms large on the horizon. It’s really not that appealing. Work at the moment is just the obstacle that stands between you and fun. At least the office Talent:Twat ratio just improved. The new cute Finance guy means there’s a reason to dress up a bit, and that’s the only consolation you can find. He certainly does brighten up your Monday mornings. You cheer yourself up, as you nod off, deciding which shoes would best offset your foxy new shirtdress. The brown heeled sandals would look good, but they do cripple you. Hmmm... zzzzz.

 What feels like just seconds later your alarm goes off. Gah! Why the heck should you let the toad, work, squat on your life? Even the great dress/sandal combo can’t make the prospect of getting out of bed that appealing. You try to remember the last time you took a sickie. Ah yes, that’s it, the day you spent in bed with Charlie. He was ill-ish (man flu), and you thought it was your duty to nurse him. Naked. That was months ago. You’re owed another sickie, really. And it’s going to be a nice day; just perfect for lying on a rug in the park.

 

What will you do?

If you decide to put on something fabulous and go and do a good day’s work go to Chapter Two I

If you decide to call in sick and have a leisurely day in the park go to Chapter Two II