Be My (Dark) Valentine? – Valentine’s Day Special!

Hello, my little demons!

I wanted to write a new blog post, this one I wanted to discuss one of the days I dislike… Feburary the 14th.

Valentine’s Day.

This blog is in two parts; the first part I want to explore with you guys the history behind Valentine’s Day, who is St. Valentine? When did it start? And, of course, exploring the dark side of it (because I do love a bit of darkness every now and then). The second part, is the concept of Valentine’s Day, and why I dislike it.

What is Valentine’s Day and where did it come from?

Most of us, at least those in the Western World, will know about Valentine’s Day. The day of love. Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. Buying wilting sevice station roses in cheap red glass vases in a mad rush to get something for a loved-one because you forgot all about it… Ahem…

But the real origins of Valentine’s Day is actually a little hazy, even Historians are a little unsure. There isn’t one ‘definitive’ answer, instead there are a number of theories. This blog post will explore these a bit more.

Is Valentine’s Day originally Catholic/Christian?

One of the issues with understanding where Valentine’s Day comes from, is that there are numerous martyrs called ‘Valentine’, and there are many sources that appear to mix them up. (So, bare in with me if I get something wrong!)

Valentinus comes from the Latin “Valens” which means ‘to be in good health’, and was unfortunately a common name in ancient Roman times [2].

However, one source suggests that two holy martyrs of the same name was recorded on the 14th of February [2].

But, the problem is, when I dig into these names I found, there are many different versions. I guess this is the problem with having a popular name, and the power of the internet; facts get mixed up. And to avoid being part of the expanding problem; giving false/mixed facts, I’ll instead just mention the names and the different versions and let you make up your own mind. I think this topic is something historians and archaeologists spend decades researching and a simple novice and her blog simply cannot delve into in a day or two!

Aside from this, however, most sources talk about at least two Valentines.

Saint Valentine of Terni (c) Melanie Renzulli.
Img src: https://www.italofile.com/saint-valentine-terni/

One story is about Valentine of Terni, it suggests he performed marriages for young lovers in secret [1]. He did this because the Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriages for young men, suggesting single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. Claudius found out, of course, and ordered Valentine to be put to death. The source suggests that that many hagiographers (a writer of the lives of the saints, and yes, I had to look up that word!) agree that this was the ‘real’ Saint Valentine.

Another story, which again is mentioned in the same source [1], but I found mentions in other sources [2, 3], talks about a ‘Valentino falling in love with the daughter of the prison guard (Asterius) when he was imprisoned in Rome’. It talks about a note which has ‘Your Valentine’ or ‘From your Valentino’ (you have to remember the issues of translating languages), which was left before his death. One source even suggests that he performed a miracle of restoring her sight [2]! Valentino was apparently beheaded on the 14th of February 273 [2]. The issue is, within the first source [1] it is unclear whether the author actually talks of two different Valentines.

Another issue is that source [3] not only talks the Valentine that married soldiers when marriage was outlawed, but the source then continues to talk about another Saint Valentine… of Terni, as if this Valentine was seperate from the marriage Valentine. The line “he, too, was beheaded…” suggests this Saint Valentine of Terni was a seperate Valentine to the second. However, it doesn’t really seem to suggest this other Valentine was the imprisoned one from the previous paragraph (You can begin see my confusion with researching for this blog post!)

To backup source [3], Saint Valentine of Terni being a seperate Valentine to the Valentine that married soldier’s, another source talks about Valentine or Terni ‘debating a potential convert’ and he too ‘was beheaded’. But unfortunately not much else is given in this source for this version of Valentine of Terni.

One line I found from source [4] suggests the two Valentines decapitated were in fact different versions of just one saint, which appeared in both Rome and Terni. This would offer an explaination as to why sources appear to confuse the two. Source [5] also offers this as a suggestion too.

Wikipedia [6] also talks about two seperate Valentines; Saint Valentine’s of Rome and Saint Valentine’s of Terni. Which could be another name(s) for the two most common Valentines. However, I always take what I read on Wikipedia with a very large pinch of salt, anyone is able to make changes to pages on Wikipedia, and I have always been told in my past university professors to not use wikipedia as a reference in essays and other university work.

Just to confuse things even more, some sources talk about other ‘Valentines’. Source [1] also explains (which the author admits doesn’t ‘buy’) that Valentine ‘offered roses to a fighting couple and told them to love each other as if they had only one heart’. I would have to agree, this story seems a bit too far-fetched and not strong enough to be ‘written’ and thus become a legend.

Source [4] also talks about another ‘Valentinus’, apparently the earliests of Valentines, who died in Africa along with 24 soldiers, but the source says there isn’t much more information about him, other than birth and death dates, which also makes me consider isn’t enough to turn into a Valentine’s Day.

It is also worth noting that February the 14th became an official holiday associate with romantic love around the 14th and 15th centuries [5, 6]. One source talks about the oldest mention of ‘valentine’ from the 15th century, Charles d’ Orléans, who was held in the Tower of London after his defeat at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). He addressed his wife with “I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine” [2]. However, another source explains it was the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century who linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his works “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars”, the source then suggests Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as we know it today [7].

Another note here is that, if St. Valentine’s Day originated from one two martyrs, these would have been many centuries before these first mentions of the ‘Valentine’s Day’ above.

Or… was it actually originally Pagan?

But (get ready for the darkness), the [7] source previously also talks about February 14 also being considered the first day of spring in Britain or more generically, has it’s roots in paganism.

A few sources talk about the feast of Lupercalia [7, 8]. From February the 13th to the 15th, men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals, beliving this would make them fertile.

Although, again, sources make these references in history a little fuzzy. One source explains it was the Romans who celebrated this feast [8], whereas another explains it’s a pagan ritual (I’m sure the Roman’s were Christians, not pagans…)

Source [7] also talks about another tradition at this time, where men selected women’s names at random to ‘couple’ with them for either the duration of the festival or longer, if the match was right.

Source [7] goes on that it was Pope Gelasius I who combined St Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan ritual, so like a previous post I have written (Samhain), it was the Christian’s way of ridding of paganism but combining pagan festivals with Christian ones.

And lastly, Source [8] mentions the Norman’s celebration of Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women”, and it could be possible that the two days were confused.

To conclude, therefore, it isn’t definitive as to where Valentine’s Day originated. It could be that it was from one of the martyred Valentines (or it could be that this was indeed one man), it could be a pagan festival whether it was murged or not by the Church, or it could have come from the Norman’s Galatin’s Day. Or, it could have come from the other lesser known stories of Valentine’s I mentioned, or something else entirely.

Why don’t I like Valentine’s Day?

No, it’s not because the last five years I have spent Valentine’s Day alone. I’m not that cynical. I’m actually very happy being single! And trust me, I feel the same when I am in a relationship.

One reason is that, like many holiday’s celebrated in the United Kingdom; Easter, Christmas, Halloween, it’s heavily commercialised. Of course, if it was just commercialised and it didn’t affect my everyday life, I probably wouldn’t care. It’s up to those who want to celebrate it. But, it does affect my everyday life.

It restricts my ability to go out for a meal, not only is it difficult to just go and find a table anywhere, but some restaurants deliberately put the prices up knowing they’ll have people willing to pay it. It can also make things busier, not just restaurants but take-away deliveries too.

Another issue is if you went out with a friend of the opposite sex (of which I have many friends from the opposite sex), it’s immediately assumed they are your partner. Of course this tends to happen to me frequently regardless of whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, but it’s more prevalent on Valentine’s Day.

Another issue is that shops, such as supermarkets, move items on their shelves to fit in the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards. Sometimes this can mean stock isn’t available, given me less options, and I already have a dislike for supermarkets in this country (that’s a rant for another day!) I will admit, this is more of an issue at Christmas time rather than Valentine’s Day, as there are usually rows and rows at Christmas, yet Valentine’s Day isn’t as commercialised as Christmas, but this still pays a small factor into it.

And, of course, the commercialism from companies that promote Valentine’s Day, not only profiting from it and giving more rise to consumerism (given more power to companies) but making it more of a thing, giving it more social construct and thus giving rise to the guilt people can feel when they don’t conform to the holiday. This is one of the reasons why I didn’t use the day to promote my romance books, as I’d be a hypocrite if I did!

I also dislike the way it makes single people, those who have recently lost love ones, those who generally feel low/depression/isolated and those who are in violent relationships, feel worse. The day is thrown in these’s people’s faces.

And of course, lastly, the one that I constantly tell everyone… why do we even have Valentine’s Day? One day of the year that is devoted to love? Those who are in relationships shouldn’t be using the one day of the year to confess their love!

Rather than celebrating love on one day of the year, let’s remember the reason why we even have Valentine’s Day…

…If we could just remember the reason!

References:

[1] https://www.italofile.com/saint-valentine-terni/

[2] https://www.italyheritage.com/traditions/calendar/february/14-san-valentino.htm

[3] https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2

[4] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gory-origins-valentines-day-180968156/

[5] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day

[7] https://www.countryliving.com/life/a46353/history-of-valentines-day/

[8] https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Back in 2009, when I had only just turned 21, I decided to do something big. Something I had never done before… I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. Sun, sea and surfing (well, I probably won’t be doing the surfing bit!)

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows… I went with an ex boyfriend, who made my life hell, had a falling out with my family out there and suffered with mental health issues.

The journey there was awful, 25 hours flying, leaving on the 4th of December 2009. I was lucky that the flights were cheap, even though it was a few weeks before Christmas, it was too early for people to be flying out to see family for the holidays. I had a layover at Singapore, but not long enough to escape the airport, and a connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, where I will be staying with family in Burpengary.

I stayed with an Aunt and her husband, and for a little bit of my stay I was in the company of my step-cousin and a couple of his friends. And of course, my ex, but that quickly turned nasty just before Christmas. In fact, I had a falling out with my Aunt and her husband and ended up moving in with a Australian family.

My Aunt lived in a town called Burpengary, just North of Brisbane City, in the state of Queensland. It wasn’t a bad place to live, quiet, local amenities, a train station to get into Brisbane. Although it got boring pretty quickly.

The Ex

Day three (7th Dec) into to the year (hopefully) spending in Australia, my ex decided he was going to spend a good chunk of his money on a bike. Now, my ex was a bike enthusiast, although I didn’t share his enthusiasm, but I do like my cars, so I appreciated his enthusiasm and supported his dream to buy a bike.

DSC00288

Even if it was day three.

And the majority of his money was going on this bike.

And I had to spend my own money helping him out with other things, like new clothes for work (we’ll get to that).

Day Five (9th Dec). My ex got a job (well, he at least went for a job interview). We hadn’t even been in Australia a week and he was getting work! I mean, it was good that he was proactive at getting a job, but this became un-fun very quickly. I was hoping to explore and experience Australia for at least a little bit first. He had other ideas. And it was equally painful when I had to help my ex buy clothes for his new job! New shirts, trousers, even new shoes. The little bit of money I had saved up before getting to Australia was getting smaller.

Day Seven (11th Dec). My ex was sending the bike off to get repaired. Yeah, he bought a new bike… which needs repairs. Even more money being spent.

Now, this is where it gets interesting…

I don’t know what day it was exactly, but it was between Day 13 (17th Dec) and Day 20 (24th Dec – Christmas Eve!) that I decided to throw my ex’s things on the front lawn. I’ve told this story to a few people, and it’s still a really interesting story to tell. But basically, I had been feeling low for a while, I felt like no one cared and no one really understood me, not even the boyfriend. On top of it (which I now realised as I didn’t at the time) he was gaslighting me, making me feel like I was the paranoid one, when he clearly was seeing other women.

He wasn’t really being secretive about it either, he was obviously talking to other women, on this dating site “Plenty of fish”, but he made me think he was only looking for ‘friends’. The website had the option to look for friendships, to tell other people you were in a relationship. I had seen his profile, it did say he was just looking for friends, but no where did it say he was in a relationship.

I joined him on it, as I was naive (yet suspicious, I wasn’t completely stupid) and I did meet a few people on there, it was through this website that I met the friend I eventually went to stay with after an issue with my Aunt and Uncle. But, the general feel of the website was for relationships and hookups.

But one day, when it got to the point that I had to look through his history on his laptop (I know, cliche psycho girlfriend thing to do! But I needed a reason!) and I found exactly what he was doing, and decided I had enough. Long story short, I tried to contact him at work and he refused to talk to me, so I decided that if he wasn’t going to talk to me, I was going to put his things outside.

I did. But he didn’t make it easy for me. He literally got so angry that he threatened mine and my Aunt’s life. It was just us two at the time, my Uncle was out at work and my step-cousin and his friends had gone off on an adventure somewhere.

Needless to say I was scared. My aunt and I locked doors and windows, closed curtains, all after shoving his things onto the lawn. We threatened him with the police, after he was being abusive, and the funniest thing was, when he came round with a truck to get his things, moments before, a police traffic patrol car came and sat right outside the house as if karma was on our side. He had no idea that we never called them, and he parked up and walked straight up to them. I wonder sometimes how things would have gone if the police weren’t there.

That wasn’t the last time I heard from him. The break had a huge affect on me, I was still quite young, having only had my 21st birthday (which was pretty shit, but that’s another story), so I was still in touch with him. I can’t remember the order, but I remember a few things happening around Christmas with him. One thing I remember was that I had his friend (who I knew too) ask me why I was being a bitch and bribing him, holding his passport and refusing to give it back to him until I got the money he owed me – I had no idea I still had his passport, all of this was made up, it’s scary how easy it was for him to lie to people, not just me. Although I was asking him for the money he owed me, not only the money from which I paid for his clothes, but I also paid for our travel insurance, he owed me for that too. I also remember him messaging me on New Years drunk and sending some really creepy messages, and I think it was from then on that I decided to cut all contant.

But, moving on, I still managed to see a few places while I was there, throughout my whole stay I saw Brisbane City Centre, Gold Coast / Surfer’s Paradise, Australia Zoo, Glasshouse Mountains, Stradbroke Island, Noosa, Moranbah and even took a trip to Sydney.

Brisbane City Centre

I visisted Brisbane City Centre in the first week I was in Australia, my Aunt and Uncle had taken us in to show me about. It was a pretty interesting city, a bubbly business district mainly, but it had a few interesting things for torists to do. From the man-made beach, the markets and a casino (I heard it called Bris-vegas once, but thought it was funny as there was apparently only one casino at the time).

Although I wasn’t hugely impressed with it as a tourist destination. At the end of the day, it is just a business city. Large buildings, a river running through it. There wasn’t much to see once you’d seen the River, the few Museums (there was a Natural History Museum if I remember rightly), the beach and the casino. It was a place you’d go for just a day out. It was just like any other city, large buildings that people work in, shops that you get in other cities like Starbucks and H&M and yes as it’s a city you get the big brands like Chanel and Gucci. It didn’t really have anything different to other cities.

Although, I do remember going to a Dessert Restaurant with a friend once, a restaurant specifically for desserts. That was one thing that I liked about the place; if you wanted to go out for a decent night out, something different to the usual pub-grub meal, to a decent bar or restaurant maybe (I’m not a clubber myself), then yeah, Brisbane was a little up there.

I will admit, I didn’t really get the chance to explore Brisbane City. My view of the city was a quick stop tour, a hop on the CityCat across the river, walk through the markets and a few pubs/bars stops. I’d be interested to go back to actually see more of the place, do a bit more research, be a bit more adventurous, have a bit more money to spend in unique bars and restaurants.

But I know I wouldn’t be upset if I never went back, there are other places I’d be more interested in seeing first. And that includes places inside Australia.

~~~

If you liked this post, please do press that like button and follow! I’ll be writing a few more travel blogs in the future! More adventures in Australia, Scotland, England, Egypt and hopefully other places when I get travelling again!

Click here to read my post on Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Also, please do check out my other posts, such as my written works:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1
New Story idea!
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Also, check out my other adventures:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 5

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.


Chapter 5

Just before the guy was even able to even think about what to do in that moment, Xander lunged for him. I didn’t really see much, only really a flash and a loud gasp from someone, because I had fallen onto one of my knees and held onto my foot instinctively.

When I looked up, I just caught Xander punching the guy in the face who was knocked to the ground by the force of Xander’s punch. I saw Xander pick something up from the floor and then walk over to the guy, now in possession of the knife.

“Now let’s see what your intestines look like,” Xander sneered.

He was about to bend down when his mate rushed over to him in a panic. He looked white as a sheet. Unlike Xander who looked red from rage. “Leave him, mate, just let him go.”

“Like fuck will I, after trying to steal my watch?” Xander replied, not even looking back at his mate. “Do you even know who I am?” he sneered again at the guy on the ground. He pointed the knife at him like an extension to his own arm.

“Please don’t hurt me,” the guy started to whimper.

“Listen to yourself, you’re pathetic!” Xander huffed and shook his head in disgust.

At this point I had noticed that my foot was actually bleeding, and I cursed under my breath. The rock had caught two of my toes as they had broken its fall to the floor. One of them had started to bleed and I was worried the other one, my little toe, was broken because it was excruciatingly painful. So much so that tears were starting to appear in my eyes. It took a lot for me to cry.

Because I had muttered though, Xander looked over at me and must have only just noticed I was hurt. At this he stood up a little straighter and appeared to talk to the guy on the floor; “Leave.”

“W-what?” said a small voice from the floor.

“Leave,” Xander repeated, looking back round at him. “Just go before I change my mind and cut you open from your throat to your naval.”

The guy clearly got the message as he stood up and rushed away, without even taking his knife. At first he tried to scurry away on all fours and then managed to stand up properly and made a decent run for it, nearly tripping over as he was in a panic to get away.

“Are you hurt?” Xander asked, walking over to me suddenly, not even watching the man run away. He walked passed his friend who was standing stock still in fright and passed him the knife. He took it without hesitation and just stared down at it in his hands as if shocked he now had possession of the offensive weapon.

I laughed. I was laughing at myself. I felt stupid for what I had just tried to do. “That bloody rock fell onto my foot.”

“Why are you bare footed?” he asked, as he towered over me from where I knelt. I was starting to wish I had sat down on my backside rather than kneeling. My knee were hurting as the road was digging into it. Not to mention I was worried about flashing anyone who stood in front of me. Luckily Xander was standing by my side, otherwise it could have been a lot more embarrassing.

“I took my heels off so they wouldn’t draw attention to me.” I gasped in pain as my toe twitched. “Are you going to help me up or what?” I accidentally spat, half in frustration and half in pain.

I heard Xander laugh slightly and he held out a hand for me. Just as I placed mine into his, he turned to his friend; “Get some ice from Mario’s.”

“W-what?” the guy stuttered.

“Ice, Devon, from Mario’s,” Xander demanded, just as he helped me effortlessly into a standing position. “It’s not a hard request.”

“Oh, sure,” the guy called Devon said and then went to wander off down the street back to where Mario’s front door was waiting.

“Devon, don’t take the bloody knife with you!” Xander snapped at the guy.

“Oh!” Devon stopped, turned round, looked at Xander and then at the knife and just placed it on the floor carefully like he was handling something that might explode and just walked away.

He wobbled slightly as I watched him. I was worried he was going to faint and collapse on the hard floor, but he disappeared round the corner and out of sight, and was momentarily forgotten about. Xander was just shaking his head at his friend as he had just placed the knife in the middle of the street.

I gasped again as a pain shot up my foot and up my leg like an electric bolt. It reminded me of when I once been bitten by an ant in Australia. Although double that pain – no, probably triple it. I remember sitting drinking a small bottle of beer the Australians called a ‘stubby’ under a slight canopy in my rented house. I hadn’t noticed there was an infestation of ants right next to my bare feet – what is it with me and bare feet? They were these huge things with blue abdomens, horrible little buggars they were. One had bitten me on my big toe. The pain had shot right up my whole leg. My toe even throbbed for at least an hour afterwards.

Although the pain I felt after dropping a rock on it was worse, the idea was still the same; the pain travelling right up my leg. Although unlike the ant, I was suddenly feeling a little sick from the pain.

“It’s probably best you move out of the street, Jo,” Xander said, his voice seemed to have gotten softer in a matter of seconds. Although I was mostly concerned with the fact Xander had taken his hands out of mine and I was now standing on one leg.

“Yeah, before I fall over,” I snorted, and put my foot down. But as soon as I did, I wobbled dangerously because I didn’t want to put pressure on it and the pain had made me a little dizzy. Xander had to grab me to stop me from falling over.

He had quick reflexes, but he didn’t seem too bothered where his hands landed when he grabbed me. Although, luckily he didn’t grab anywhere inappropriate, but he did have one hand on my arm and the other on my waist.

“I’ll help you,” he said.

I muttered a thanks and allowed him to guide me over to the side of the street.

Just as we reached the side and I was able to lean against a wall – Xander taking his hands off me again – he asked me a strange question.

“Did you not care that guy had a knife?” he asked.

“What?” I asked, looking back at him in confusion, unsure I heard him right.

“The mugger,” he said, “he had a knife. Did you not care?”

“Err… I guess not,” I shrugged. “My main concern was stopping him, I was worried he was going to hurt you.”

“You didn’t have to step in like that, you could have been hurt yourself.”

“If I didn’t, he could have hurt you. Were you not scared?”

“I’m used to it.”

I laughed. “You’re used to people attacking you with knives?”

He looked at me, his deep green eyes seemed darker for some reason. “I’m sort of used to-,” he paused as if choosing his words carefully, “people trying to threaten me.”

I stared at him for a few seconds wondering what that meant. He was used to people threatening him? Why?

Check out the next chapter here!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Psychopath-2 (2)

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 4

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.


Chapter 4

The next week and a half went by in a mess. Or was it that I was a mess?

Later that day, after Liam had asked me out – well, sort of. He finally managed to ask if I wanted to go out on Friday. I was already busy Friday, I had made plans with Leah to go out with a few of her friends for a meal. It was a favour for her. She had found out her ex-boyfriend was going to this meal because he was best friend with her best friend’s fiancé or something and she needed someone to back her up. It was an interesting night actually. Her ex-boyfriend was actually really lovely and didn’t hold any grudges against Leah and was quite happy now with his new girlfriend. Even Leah went away – albeit a little drunk by the end of the night – a lot happier knowing that there was no bad air between them.

Liam then asked me if I wanted to meet up at the weekend, but he was busy Saturday and I had already arranged to skype my friends back home and do some well-needed cleaning on Sunday. I had a pile of washing and ironing and my apartment was a mess. I hated it being a mess. But I counter-offered next weekend, so as to avoid it sounding like I was brushing him off, and he agreed.

So, I had a date with my crush, Liam, on Friday after work.

That was in two days.

When Wednesday came, I found myself sat in my apartment fiddling with my thumbs. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was too nervous about Friday evening. I had tried reading a book, but when I read the same line about five times I gave up. I tried to watch TV, but everything just reminded me of Liam and I was a nervous wreck watching it. Even this silly advert about a super-power man with kitchen clothes that is able to scrub away any tough bit of dirt reminded me of Liam – he was always sneaking up to people and blurting lines from the advert. I tried to clean more of my apartment, I hoovered my floor again, even though it didn’t need doing. I washed all my dishes, put a load of clothes on to wash, dusted, cleaned the windows, even gave the kitchen a good scrub. But by about half seven, I had done everything and was bored – and a nervous wreck.

I plopped myself down on my sofa and stared at my blank TV screen, just about seeing my reflection in the mirror. For some reason my own reflection reminded me of a poster I read. The poster had these girls on the front of it drinking cocktails. I think it was because one of the girls looked a little like myself and my mind decided to bring it up now. The poster itself – although not very well done from what I could remember – was trying to advertise a deal on cocktails. Every Wednesday evening they have a two for one deal on cocktails at the bar. It was as if my unconscious was trying to tell me something: go to the bar.

The only problem was; the bar was Xander’s local.

But was that a problem? It’s not like I was going there on a date. I was just hoping to pass the time until Friday without going crazy with nervousness.

Before I was able to talk myself out of it, I was out of the shower, dressed in my favourite red dress and out of the door heading for Mario’s.

***

“Can I have two Mojitos, please?” I yelled to the bar man about the unexpected busy noise. I couldn’t help but think the extras were back in place. I just needed to figure out where the main star was again.

“Two Mojitos coming up,” said the bar man, before he wandered over to the drinks shelf to grab the white rum and pour a two shots into a large metal mixing decanter.

As soon as he poured one shot in though, I turned around to face the bar to scan the faces.

I huffed under my breath as I couldn’t see who I was looking for. I had caught the attention of a few guys because of my red dress, but none of them interested me.

Last time I was at Mario’s, I had worn jeans and blouse. This time, I had made an effort. My red dress always got me attention. I had read somewhere once then men were attracted to the colour red. So not only did I have my red dress on, I had deliberately accentuated my eyes in dark make-up and wore a deep red lipstick.

I realised as I was sat in a cab that I was being stupid. I told myself that I was only going for the cocktails that was it; I was bored and wanted cheap drinks. But as soon as I saw my reflection in the cab window, I realised it was more than just me being bored and wanting cheap cocktails. I wanted to see Xander again. I felt guilty; I had a date with a perfectly nice guy on Friday. Liam. I was looking forward to it, I was even nervous about it to the point of feeling sick. Unless it was because Xander had been a distraction from Liam last time, that I wanted him to take my mind of Liam again?

Or was it something else?

But whatever was going through my mind. Conscious or not. Xander wasn’t in the bar.

“Here you are, love,” said a voice from behind me. The young barman had made me my Mojitos already and had placed them on the bar top. I smiled and took out my purse from my clutch. After I paid for them, I wandered over to a free booth which appeared to be wet where someone had clearly spilled a drink, and slumped down in disappointment.

***

I was there for an hour and a half, sipping my Mojitos. I only had two. I decided it wasn’t worth getting another two in fear of drinking too much and having a hangover at work tomorrow. It wasn’t until I was trying to drain the remainder of the melted ice in the bottom of my glass that I realised there wasn’t much point staying there either.

I sighed and stood up from the booth, taking the glasses with me and putting them on the bar top. The bar man giving me a small nod in appreciation as he noticed me, and I just smiled back and left feeling hugely disappointed, both at not seeing Xander and with myself for even thinking this was a good idea in the first place.

When I got outside and started to sulk away, I noticed there was a bit of an incident happening down a side street. The side street was actually down the side of the bar. It wasn’t an alley; unlit, dark and smelling like urine, like back at home in the UK, but it was definitely a little darker and less populated. I noticed there was a guy yelling in the distance as I walked past the street, my phone out in my hand ready to call a cab. I stole a glance down the street and saw there was a guy in dark clothes yelling at another guy. Another was present but was holding himself back away from the scene a little.

But I gasped and stopped in the middle of the street when I seemed to recognise one of them.

I stared down at the commotion and realised finally what was going on. Someone, the guy in dark, held something in his hand. I had a feeling it was a weapon. I wasn’t sure if it was a gun or a knife. But the thing that upset me to the core was that he was clearly threatening a guy in a grey suit. It was a mugging. And the guy in the suit, even from this distance, I knew who it was.

I rushed into the shadows of the street and took my shoes off, now bare footed I walked down the other side of the road and towards the issue, hoping and praying that the attacker didn’t hear me and didn’t attack before it was too late.

Not that I knew what I was doing, but I was hoping that coming up from behind him I could find something to whack him across the head and knock him out. I’ve had my fair share of incidences to be able to protect myself, although none have involved a gun. But me, walking barefooted down the street, looking for something to use as a weapon, was their only chance.

“Just give me the watch, Rich Boy and no one will be hurt,” I heard the guy in the black hoody. Now realising he was in a filthy hoody that was up over his head. His posture was bent and I could see a glint of a knife in his hand.

“I’m not giving you the watch, so either you stab me or fuck off,” said the deep booming voice that went with the masculine bulk in a suit.

“Just give him the watch, Xander,” said the guy holding back. Looking apprehensive.

I didn’t realise at the time, as I was too busy looking for something large and heavy, that Xander really didn’t give a shit the guy in front of him had a knife in his hand.

“No, this watch was a gift from my grandfather, I’m not…,” he paused, his green eyes suddenly fell on me, just as I reached down and found a large rock on the floor next to a large bin. I put my finger to my lip to signal him to stay quiet. His eyes flicked straight back to the attacker in a matter of seconds. “I’m not handing it over. Over my dead body!”

Xander’s friend hadn’t noticed me yet, but the attacker had noticed he paused and went to turn around to see behind him. He would easily have seen me. I held in a gasp as I had straightened up, putting myself in a position to run if I could. But Xander took a step forwards as if to go for the guy and he stopped and held up the knife in his hand at Xander. “You move and I’ll stab you!”

“And you move and I’ll kill you,” Xander said, his voice sounded a little menacing.

The guy seemed to falter slightly, suddenly unsure whether to pursue this idea of mugging Xander and must have been weighing up his options. In the meantime, I had started to slowly make my way towards the guy now armed with – hopefully – a weapon in one hand and my heels and clutch in another.

But just as I made my way slowly and quietly across the street, hearing my own heart pound in my ears and my head yelling at me to leave Xander and save myself, I stood on something and gasped in pain.

Unfortunately, however, the guy with the knife had heard and swung round, knife swung round with him, still in his hand. His emaciated face sunken and pale, his grey eyes fixed right onto mine. I remember seeing pure madness deep within them.

I gasped again and accidentally let the rock in my hand slip from my grip. It landed painfully on my bare foot and I screamed in pain.

Check out the next chapter here!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Character names – there are certain names I won’t use…

Any fellow authors/writers here have to sit and ponder over names for a while just to get that perfect name for their character?

I did a blog post a while ago about how I come up with names. I have a few names that I love and I have used already (Jason and Alex are two examples that I like – well, I’m not having children, so might as well have fictional characters! I also use names from friends, inspirational people, or use names from authors I like).

Anyway, this last story idea I came up with (I fell in Love with a Psychopath), I started to sit there thinking about what name to use next. I found myself coming up with names off the top of my head that I really shouldn’t use, for one reason…

Someone I don’t like in real life, or doesn’t like me, has that name. Having a name like Sarah in a book might seem like a brilliant name to use, simple and easy to remember, but what happens if you know a Sarah and you two hate each other (I don’t, by the way, I was using it as an example. I won’t spell out real names as examples). It can be awkward sometimes.

It doesn’t mean that I think of that person (whether friend or not) and use them in my stories – name and all. I try to avoid people like that in my stories. I don’t want it getting back to me and getting bad press from them. I might use a situation or a quirk, but I’d never write them in completely.

Friends, I might do, to an extent. Maybe just borrowing their name, and maybe a quirk they have somewhere else. But then I’m worried about using a friend’s name who has a common name, and they share the same name with someone else I know that doesn’t like me from my past. I used to know four people with the same common name, three of which are friends, one no longer is. Because one of those friends is a very good friend of mine (he’d always come straight round to my house when we were teenagers and I was having a bad day and go to tescos to get junk food and swap ghost stories in our local park), I have used his name in one of my stories, but with crossed fingers!

It’s the same with last names too. I have big trouble with last names. Again, I have used last names from inspirational people, or otherwise. But not really friends though as last names are a bit more obvious, so again I try to avoid last names from people I know.

I guess this is where a name generator comes in handy!

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 2

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.

~~~

Chapter 2

It must have been over an hour before I started to relax slightly around this guy. Or it could have been the alcohol. We sat chatting for almost two hours in total, while he tried to figure out where he knew me from. Well, he chatted, I mostly uttered one word answers or the occasional small sentence.

He at first asked if I came to the bar often. I didn’t, it was the first time I’d been there. Then he asked if I had heard of some restaurant. I hadn’t. He mentioned some place with a strange name. I didn’t even know what it was let alone heard of it. He mentioned a company. The name sounded vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure from where, so I said no. The questions continued one after the other, all the while he sat there watching me curiously.

That was the first hour anyway. The second hour, or what was left of the second hour, was a little different. It wasn’t until I noticed he had gotten a little bored with the conversation and something changed. I remembered thinking at the time; he must have a short attention span.

The conversation had suddenly become weird too. He had given up asking questions that required closed single answers and seemed to start asking a different type of question. Questions that was a little odd in nature, ones I couldn’t possibly answer.

“So, who are you, Jo?” he started after taking a small sign and catching me unaware.

“Sorry?”

“Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” I said. One of those rare sentences I had managed to string together.

“No I don’t,” he replied and took a long pause. It was the pauses that made me nervous. Like I was waiting for him to do something spontaneous in that time frame. I don’t know what, but I had a feeling he was the spontaneous type. My thoughts ranged from him dragging me out of the bar and having his wicked way with me up against a wall, or dragging me out of the bar and murdering me in a dark alleyway. “All I know is your name’s Jo and you interest me, that is it,” he said again. His deep penetrating eyes surveying me.

I literally gulped. I wasn’t yet relaxed at that point. I was still nervous. It was the ‘you interest me’ that set me on edge slightly.

“What do you want to know?” I asked, trying to remind myself that it was just a conversation. A slight sense of confidence suddenly appeared. There was no harm in a conversation. I’ve done it loads of times. It’s not like I’ve never spoken to a guy before.

“I don’t know.”

My confidence vanished. What did this guy want me to say? Was he interested in knowing where I was from? Where I worked? Who my friends were? What?

“Err, well…” I started, “I’m from England–”

“I know that, I can tell by your accent,” he interrupted and then paused again, waiting for me to continue. Waiting for something interesting.

“Okay, well… I moved here a few years ago. After travelling and working a little. I have a Master’s degree in History, I’m mostly interested in ancient history though, not the world wars or anything. I…” I paused, I ran out of things to say. My mind drew a blank. “I don’t know what else to say really.”

“You were on a roll,” he said and smiled again. A smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

I didn’t know what to make of that. I had never met a guy like this. Not one that actually cared enough to know anything about me. I’d met the odd guy who asked certain questions, but more of a formality than anything; “Where are you from? Where do you work? How old are you?” those sorts of questions. But this guy didn’t ask those questions. He asked who I was. A vague question. A question that was difficult to answer. A question that seemed to require an interesting answer otherwise he wouldn’t be interested.

“Well, tell me about yourself?” I asked. Trying to take control of the situation, but not sure I really wanted to know. I was worried about what I might find. Although at the same time, I did want to know. He was mysterious and judging by the watch on his wrist, rich too. I know, thinking back to it, it was an extremely weird interaction. He just wandered over and started talking to me uninvited. He was demanding to the point of arrogant.

“No, we’re not talking about me yet, we’re talking about you,” he said. And I could have sworn I saw him looking disinterested suddenly.

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Okay, where in England are you from?”

Easy question, I can answer that one. “From a little city called Bath in South West of England. You might not have heard of it, it’s–”

“In Somerset. South-east of Bristol. Known for its Roman baths. Became a World Heritage Site in nineteen eighty seven,” he said, interrupting me.

“You know Bath?” I asked in shock, feeling my nervousness slowly ebb away.

“I do. I’ve travelled to England a few times.” He nodded. But he didn’t linger on the subject for long, to my disappointment. “Next question; what University did you study at?”

“I got my undergrad at Oxford and my master’s at Edinburgh.”

He gave a small nod. If he was impressed by my qualifications, he didn’t say. Most people did when I mentioned Oxford at least, and those that knew Edinburgh were equally impressed.

“And why move to Chicago?” he took a sip of his beer.

“Err, a number of reasons; I like travelling and I wanted to further my career.”

He didn’t seem too interested in that answer. Like he was expecting me to say something remarkable about how I had got my big break and it was only here in Chicago.

“Where do you work?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t currently work in anything to relate to history. I just got a pretty boring job working in an office.”

His eyes narrowed. Wrong answer. “So, you got your master’s degree in ancient history but you’re working in an office that doesn’t relate to it?” he quizzed suspiciously.

“Err, yes?” I said. I made my reply sound like a question, not an answer. I felt suddenly concerned that this guy was disappointed in my life choices. I had said something wrong. I needed to fix it.

“Why?”

“I…” I paused and thought for a few seconds, what was wrong with the truth? “I moved here temporarily, I just got a job anywhere just to get my feet on the ground, get settled, before I could apply properly for history vacancies-”

“Why not just wait until there was available and then apply?” he interrupted.

It was my turn to frown. I suddenly realised that I didn’t need to justify myself to some guy. Regardless if he was attractive and possibly rich. I didn’t care who he was, I wasn’t going to bend over for him. It was my choice to move first without my big break, so what if he didn’t approve? How dare he question me? “I don’t know you’ve noticed, but there aren’t many vacancies in ancient history,” I snapped.

“There are lots of a teaching positions around the country,” he replied, not even noticing that I snapped at him.

“Yes, but I don’t want to teach!” I huffed.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t stand people!” I said, raising my voice angrily.

At this the guy raised his eyebrow and smiled at me again. This time his smile reached his eyes a little. “Something we have in common.”

“Then why come over here? Or are you just here to mock me?”

His smile disappeared. “I’m not mocking you.”

“Sounds like you’re questioning my life choices!”

“No, I’m just asking questions.”

“You just asked why I don’t just wait in England and apply for a position when one was available. You sounded as if you were mocking my choice to come to Chicago first without the job.”

“I was curious, I wasn’t mocking you.”

“Right.” I frowned at him. No longer sure what to say.

There was few moments silence between us before the guy in front of me finally filled it. I was mostly aware that he was just watching me. I was starting to get a little nervous again. Plus, I was starting to realise how strange this interaction was; he came straight over and started to ask questions. He didn’t even introduce himself. I started to realise I should probably leave.

“Do you want another drink?” he asked.

I looked at him, looked deep into those green eyes for a moment, trying to figure him out. When I couldn’t see anything there, I groaned slightly before answering, “No, I don’t want another drink!”

“Okay,” he said, apparently unbothered that I was raising my voice and clearly annoyed with him. Instead he just stood up.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting another drink,” he said, and paused as he stood. I was able to appreciate the bulk of his body and his lovely and clearly expensive suit he wore. It looked black in this light.

“What the hell?” I huffed.

He just frowned at me, as if he was confused by the question.

“You think I want to speak to you again after you insulted me? You didn’t even apologise!”

“I didn’t mean to insult you.”

All I heard was; ‘I’m not apologising’. I laughed, which the guy just gave me a funny look, like he couldn’t tell why I was laughing at him. “You come over here, demanding to know why I am familiar, you probe me with questions, then insult me, and I don’t even know anything about you, not even your name, you didn’t bother to introduce yourself.”

“You didn’t either.”

“I did, I told you my name is Jo.”

“I asked you for your name. You didn’t ask me.”

“What?” I laughed again. And he looked at me strange again.

There was a few moments silence between us. He just stood there staring at me while I was just scowling at him. I didn’t want him to leave, I still found him mysterious. But at the same time, I was annoyed with him for being rude.

“Xander,” he finally said, breaking the silence.

“What?”

“My name; it’s Xander.”

Check out the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Read my stories on WattPad!

Hey, guys.

Anyone here love reading? Or maybe you’re a writer yourself, like me?

Why don’t you check out WattPad?

No downloading needed. Just read straight from the internet, on your computer or phone (probably other devices too, but I don’t have any fancy iPad and such!)

Don’t forget you can comment and vote (on each chapter in the story!). It helps WattPad users to be seen more with the more comments and votes you make. (Everything these days is a popularity contest, is it not?)

Check out my WattPad profile here, if you’re a WattPad user, give me a follow and I’ll return the favour! https://www.wattpad.com/user/penny_bones16

I have posted four stories in total (none complete yet):

Rose Garden Sanatorium is up on there, this one is my favourite! Check it out here!

My first (and currently only) published book is also going up! It’s My Mistake. Check it out here!

I also started writing another one a while ago, chapters are going up on WattPad, and I may continue to post them until it’s set to ‘complete’. It’s called ‘Ender’s Love‘. Check it out here!

And my most recently one is also going up. This one is brand new, but the story line is something that has really made my brain fire with excitement. I posted one chapter a couple of days ago and already 14 people have read it. Chapter 2 is now up! It’s called ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath‘. Check it out here!

Don’t forget, if you’re a WattPad user, give the chapters you like a vote and feel free to follow me, I try to follow authors and writers back. If you follow, you also get updates straight to your email inbox.

Much love!

Fifty Shades of Life

Life isn’t black and white. There is no good and evil. Everyone has the capacity to be good. Everyone has the capacity to be evil. We all lie somewhere on a scale between good and evil. Some are more good than evil, while others are more evil that good.

I have struggled with this notion for a while. One day I might pride myself in being good. Another day I might feel crushed by how unfair the world is and say ‘fuck it’ and dabble in the world of evil.

But I cannot truly be evil. It isn’t within my nature. I cannot sit by and watch someone suffer. I cannot play a part in such suffering myself.

I see a world that is tainted with negativity and hate. A lot are selfish with a thirst for power – whether this is power in riches, power in popularity, power in knowledge. Everyone wants power.

It’s easy to fall into line and follow like lost sheep. It’s ingrained into us when we’re young to compete over each other. We compete in sports – one team against another. It’s seen as okay to do so. We compete against our classmates for either recognition from the teacher or to get a gold star. We see it in the work force, with employee incentives.

It’s probably human nature to do so. Before humans became civilizations, before we cultivated farming, we were simple hunter gatherers. We learnt to survive for only our own benefit, or at a stretch; our small immediate families. Outsiders were threats. But as we became more complex ‘thinking’ beings, we grew into this huge web of civilizations. We had to learn to get along, but all the while this ingrained desire to dislike the ‘others’ is within us.

But we are ‘thinking’ humans, we are able to think, to creative, to learn, to evolve, to philosophise. We should be able to see past our ingrained human desires to hate the others. We should find ways to work together. If we cannot work together, then the world may as well go back to being simple hunter gathers.

Doctors work with nurses, work with scientists, work with the maintenance staff, work with the people who invent and make new tools. We work alongside strangers in our community to keep the space the way it is, to fix issues, to keep the place clean and safe. We work with the police, the fire department, the tax man (sometimes we don’t, but the majority of the time we do until something threatens us). We have come together to create technology, art, public spaces, road networks, other transport networks, even trading foods and materials to our distant neighbours.

If we don’t work together, all this fails.

Life isn’t black and white, there are those of us don’t want to work with the guy next door because his views are different, or he looked as us funny, or he’s from a different land. We don’t want to work with the police officer because we believe he isn’t doing his job properly for no fault of his own. We don’t want to work with a person because of something that he did a long time ago and has since paid his dues. We don’t want to work with a person because of what a collective body has said and we have decided we believe it.

Sometimes there are parts of life that don’t work well. Whatever it is you believe. It might be that you believe the police force doesn’t work well. It might be that the NHS doesn’t work well. It might be the government. It might be something ethical or moral, like a homeless persons on the street, or a pet being abused, or our sisters and brothers in a foreign country do not have a decent quality of life whether that’s from hunger, thirst, safety or other.

We should do something about these. We should come together and make them right. We should stop making excuses, we should stop our ancient human prejudices get in the way, we should stop thinking ‘someone else will do it’. WE should do it. Not the guy next door. Not the guy with lots of money. Or the woman who is popular. We ALL should.

If you do not do your part in society. I see this as negativity. I see this as being just as bad as pushing someone down or hurting a helpless animal. If you want to live in a world that has better quality of life, better policing, better NHS, better government. YOU should be doing something about it. Don’t just make excuses. Actions speak louder than words.

How many of you can say that you did something selfless? How many can say they gave money to a homeless person? How many can say they helped in a charity? How many can say they didn’t put aside their particular anger and just be nice to a stranger who didn’t deserve to be shouted at for no reason?

This world runs on all of us. At the moment it has become a popularity contest. Who is most popular, who is the richest, who is the brainiest, etc. “How many likes can this post get?” “How many retweets can this post get?” Games require you to be popular for others to help you out. Being creative requires you to have friends to help you out. If you don’t run the race of popularity, you lose.

Back to the idea of life being a scale of black and white. I used to think that because I wasn’t popular, because I didn’t have many friends and family supporting me, I was obviously a bad person. People didn’t want to know me because I was bad. No one was helping me out because I was bad.

Yes, I agree. I’m not a saint. I’m not 100% good. No one is. I’ve said nasty things, I’ve cut people out, I’ve been selfish in cases. But does this mean I am a horrible person? Does this mean I am evil? No, it means I am human. I make mistakes. I have probably said nasty things because I was in a bad place. I have probably cut people out because I was upset (I have cut people out because they were bringing me down, that was for my own sanity), I have been selfish because the world has made me selfish.

I’m not always nasty. I’m not always pushing people out. I’m not always selfish.

I try to be there for people when they need it. I try to support my friends when they need support – whether literal support or emotional support. I give money to the homeless. I try to buy charity items instead of new. I offer a stranger a chair to sit.

I am not evil. I am human.

I am trying. I am trying to stay happy in a world that is full of hate, fear, and violence. I am trying to inspire people to do good or do what they love. I am trying to avoid these ingrained human tendencies to dislike others that are not like me, or who are different, or to avoid angry outbursts when I am upset. I am trying to fill this world of hate with as much happiness and love as possible.

I have hardly any support. I have hardly any friends. I have family that don’t talk to me, who don’t support me. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not popular. I am struggling through life. I try to make the most of it.

I will get back up again when I am pushed down. What other choice do I have?

I will try to make a difference in this world.

 

No one likes you! – A short story.

A short story,
Based on a true events.
By Penny Hooper (aka The Girl Who Whispered)

Early 90s

“Are you okay?” said a big scary woman in her strange blue clothes said as she bent down to look at me.

I nodded viciously, hoping she would just leave me alone. It was easier to just sit here quietly. I wouldn’t get in trouble if I sat and stayed quiet. What if I wasn’t allowed to speak to strangers? I didn’t know this woman. Even if she looked like she worked there.

She smiled at me and just walked off. I sighed. And tried to calm my beating heart as I sat on the hard plastic chair in the corridor of the hospital.

But I didn’t know what to do. What do I say? Do I say something? Do I sit and wait? Do I find him? Or had I been left here? I had no concept of how long I was sitting there panicking. I knew I was there to think about what I had done. Dad was angry with me the moment he burst into my room. I hadn’t even got in his way yet. Or said something wrong to him. But I had an idea of what it was I had done. He tried to get me to speak. I refused. He got angry.

But I couldn’t think about what I had done. I only sat, tried not to cry – I wasn’t allowed to cry – and hoped that he would come back for me. Eventually.

I couldn’t forget what happened to me though, even though I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I hoped one day I might forget. A kid at school had trapped me in tables and chairs. The teacher had called us all over, I think it was reading time, but the kid, he was ignoring the teacher and was instead moving the tables and chairs to trap me. I don’t know why. Was this a game? He was laughing. Or had I done something wrong? But the teacher had called us, she wanted us all over to her, we would get told off if we didn’t!

I got told off. For not going over to her. For playing. I didn’t know I was playing. I was trapped. I couldn’t go anywhere. How could I explain that to her? But I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be there anymore. What did I do wrong? How could I have done that differently?

I had decided not to talk anymore. The grown-ups didn’t listen. They didn’t see and they didn’t listen. I was just a kid. But it was okay, that kid was a boy. Boys will be boys after all!

But why did I feel so bad?

I had gotten home after school and refused to talk to mum. Mum didn’t like it. But dad was angry at me. I don’t remember exactly what happened, it all went by in a flash; he took me in his car and drove me to the hospital, told me to sit, I obeyed and then he walked off. Taking a cigarette out and walked off without even looking back at me.

After what felt like hours, I saw out of the corner of my eye, dad was coming back. I felt a little relieved. I hadn’t been left here. I wasn’t going to have to live on this plastic seat for the rest of my life. But I was also nervous. What if I did that wrong? What if I sat here wrong? What if I was supposed to do something? What if he yelled at me again? What if he forced me to speak again?

Early 2000s

I sat in my class, staring at my book and scribbling notes hurriedly, trying not to look at anyone. I didn’t want to grab someone’s attention and then they pick on me. If I ignored everyone, maybe they’d leave me alone. I already had a bad day in my previous lesson. Physical Education. PE. I hated PE. It meant changing in a room full of other girls and playing sports that I hated and wasn’t even good at. It was a good lesson to have others laugh at you too. At least if you’re writing and got your head in a book, the other students can’t see how terrible you are. I was stupid after all.

PE was up there with Drama. I hated Drama too.

“Oi, you talking yet?” I heard someone whisper behind me. I felt every muscle in my body go tense. I hadn’t been small enough. Someone was talking to me. I pretended I didn’t hear.

“I thought you had a sore throat?” another kid said from behind me, I recognised her voice, “Been going on for a few years now hasn’t it? Faking it much?”

I gulped as I felt the tears in my eyes again. I had already fought the tears back after my PE teacher told me off for having an attitude. I didn’t have an attitude. I didn’t hear her call my name and then turned round to see her staring at me angrily. I got called into her office. The smelly PE office. She told me off for ignoring her. I wasn’t ignoring her. I crossed my arms, not knowing what to do with them. They felt suddenly heavy and in the way. I got told off for crossing my arms.

I can’t do anything right.

“She’s such a looser,” said one of the girls behind me and the other one giggled as if it was the funniest thing her friend had said.

I stared at the same word on my page in my school book, attempting to control my shaking and my beating heart and blinked away the tears. I wasn’t sure what was worse, the popular kids name calling me and throwing things at me or the kids that weren’t popular, the smart ones, calling me names now too.

I sat and pretended I was somewhere else. Anywhere else than here. Well, maybe not home.

Late 2000s

I heard whispering and giggling from behind me as I sat on my computer. I looked round at the two girls that used to be my friends. They stopped and turned round as if suddenly getting caught doing something wrong. They had.

Were they upset with me? What had I done? I know I was hanging out with my two guy mates more. I got on with them better. We had more in common. It was cool to hang out with them. But I had no idea that the girls didn’t like me anymore. I still said hello to them, asked them how they were. Although one of them completely ignored me that morning. I didn’t know why.

I looked back round at my computer, I was trying to figure out this problem. I was starting to think college wasn’t for me. My two mates sat next to me were happily tapping away on their keyboards, they looked like they knew what they were doing. But I couldn’t get past this one bit. How could I do a whole two years of this?

I sighed just as I heard whispering and giggling again. I turned around and noticed the two girls were looking at me again.

“Do you have a problem?” I said loudly, everyone in the class looked round at me.

But to my joy, the two girls stopped, went pale faced and looked back round at their own computers. They left me alone from then on.

I felt proud. I’d spoken up for myself.

I found out a few days later why they didn’t like me. I had said something to one of the girls. Apparently she took offense. I didn’t mean to be nasty, I was just joking with her. Had I of known I upset her, if she told me, I would have apologised. But instead she decided to pick on me. But I had enough of that at school.

College was supposed to be different.

Sometime between 2012 and 2013.

My heart dropped when I saw the text message that my boyfriend had been deliberately trying to hide from me. I know he had. He said he didn’t. But I wasn’t stupid. But when I read the text message over his shoulder I saw why he was trying to hide it from me. His brother had text him to tell him that I need to suck it up and go to the New Year party because he wanted to see his brother.

I snapped. I was angry. Hurt. Upset. Both at his brother and at my boyfriend too.

“That’s it, I’m not going now!” I said.

He looked at me in shock.

“I’m not taking that!” I said, “I’m sorry! But that is just an asshole thing to say! I’m not going to make a scene there! I was just worried about that guy being there, he doesn’t like me, and you know I’m nervous in big groups of people!”

I remember the day I met the guy in question. It was about a year ago. I was at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. He at his brother had decided to have a few friends over for a barbeque, I met a load of his friends for the first time. I was stupidly nervous. I was trying to fit in, feel included. A song came on that reminded me of an ex and I told my boyfriend’s brother he was a chav if he listened to that song. It was a joke. He thought it was funny and turned it over. His friend didn’t. He had a go at me. Thought I was calling him a chav for liking the song. What was worse though, I went inside feeling stupid and all eyes were on me. Everyone hated me. My boyfriend followed me in, asked me what was wrong. He was there, he heard what went on. But had no idea why I was upset. He even told me that I was being rude for calling him a chav. I never called him a chav. I called his brother a chav. It was a joke.

But we had been invited to a New Year party at my boyfriend’s brother’s house, only that guy was going to be there. I was nervous. I was worried that he was going to have another go at me. I also wasn’t doing too well. I was lonely, missing my very few friends back home who were slowly forgetting me. I had moved far away from my hometown. I was upset too and struggling to stay happy, I had lost two grandparents and another grandparent was seriously ill and my childhood dog had died. I was tired too. Always fighting battles.

And now, I felt even worse because I felt like I was the bad person for not wanting to go to a New Year’s party and my boyfriend was starting to resent me and none of his friends liked me.

This was supposed to be a happy time of my life. I had escaped my parents. I had moved in with my boyfriend. We were living together in our first house. It was supposed to be new and exciting. But I was still miserable. I was starting to believe that I was supposed to be miserable. I must have done something really bad in a previous life to deserve this.

I just wanted to be happy.

Present day

“Why you taking your phone? To take a selfie in the bathroom?” my dad jeered as I stood up to go to the toilet. We were in a bar.

I looked at him in utter shock. Did he really think I was one of those girls? Who goes into bathrooms just to take a photo of herself? I wasn’t one of those girls.

“She doesn’t have any friends to show it to anyway!” my mum commented and I snorted and just walked off.

Any normal day, it would have been funny. It would have been me that said instead of her.

But today, it wasn’t a normal day. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to take those jokes. But I couldn’t complain. I couldn’t fight back. It was best I just said nothing. Or just made a joke back, pretend I thought it was funny.

I walked into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, staring at my phone.

It was true. I don’t have any friends. Aside from the odd one or two I sometimes speak to. I looked at my last text message on my phone. The last text message was just an automated message with a code to log into a service. Probably PayPal. That was two weeks ago. The last text message I actually got from a friend was six months ago.

I sighed and locked my phone up. It was pointless having a phone. No one called. No one text. It was my parents’ choice that I had a phone. I was happy without one. At least if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have a constant reminder that I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t have anyone that cared. I was alone. A loner. A loser. Billy no mates.

Even my dad didn’t like me. Didn’t even know who I was.

Maybe I should have changed those settings on Facebook. Then I’d get a few people who would notice me today.

Today was my birthday. No one remembered.

No one liked me.

~~~

Check out my other works:

Read Chapter 1 of ‘It’s My Mistake’ here.
Or buy on e-book here or paperback here.

Read Chapter 1 of ‘I Fell in Love with a Psychopath’ here.
Or buy on e-book here or paperback here.

Check out my Prologue for Rose Garden Sanatorium here.

Read how I come up with character names, here.