A Lesson Never Learned

I could say that after that day, life went back to normal, but it didn’t. Henry and I were trying to work through everything, putting all that had happened behind us and at least trying to move forward. I was so grateful to him. I couldn’t believe the lengths he was willing to go to for me. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why he stood by me, why he tried so hard to be there for me, to stay by my side when most men would have walked the other way.

I had been avoiding going out and particularly drinking in public. Everything still felt so raw, so new, I was afraid of what might happen when people asked where I had been or what was wrong, but the time quickly came for me to step back into my social life. A friend from work was having a birthday party at her flat, and my flatmates somehow persuaded me to join them, claiming that it would be good for me to go out and get my mind off everything. It seemed like a good idea.

I hadn’t had alcohol in a while though. Due to the morning sickness and my general inability to keep anything down over the past few weeks, alcohol wasn’t really on the cards, nor was it wanted. I tried to pace myself when we got there, but quicker than expected the drinks were flowing freely. It felt good to be out with my friends again, to be sociable, to not feel like whatever I put in my body is just going to come right back up. People occasionally asked me what the situation with Jack was, so I told them of how he had slept with me after New Year and then started dating Tessa. Their responses were usually “what an arsehole” or something of that variety. I just didn’t want to talk about him. Not yet.

As the night wore on I became more and more intoxicated, and the more I drank, the more I began to feel everything I was trying so hard not to. I didn’t want to make a scene and I didn’t want it to come out in front of so many people, but I could feel the tears coming, I could feel the wave of emotion about to break. I removed myself from the apartment and went into the stairwell, where I climbed some stairs and let myself feel it.

As I sat there weeping, a girl from work who I despised walked by and asked if I was alright. I told her I was fine – she was the last person I wanted to speak to. She was quickly followed by Gary and Nicole, two people I actually liked. They stopped and came towards me, Nicole gently placing her hand on my knee as she asked what was wrong. I shook my head and tried to tell them I was fine but the words were stopped by the unending flow of tears that I couldn’t seem to control. “Is it Jack?” Nicole asked. I nodded. They tried to give me words of comfort, said he wasn’t worth it, that he was a dick, all the things you’re meant to say.

“No you don’t understand. It’s more than that. I’m not just crying over some stupid guy…I…I had an abortion on Monday.” I didn’t mean to say it. I didn’t even want to say it. The drink was messing with my brain and apparently my tongue. For some reason I hated the idea of them thinking I was simply crying over a guy, over Jack. The idea to me was repulsive. This was much bigger than him. I found myself explaining everything that had happened, trying to calm myself down. They stood and listened, rubbed my back, stroked my hair, and told me how sorry they were this had happened. After I finished I realised what I had done. “Please, please, don’t tell anyone!” I begged. They both rushed to confirm that they wouldn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. I thanked them and tried to wipe away the tears.

“Come on,” Gary said. “Lets get back in there and get you another drink!”


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