New Woman – Chapter 4

Throughout the journey home my constantly raced back to Vicky. I kept trying to rationalise my behaviour, why my body kept reacting to Vicky in ways that it shouldn’t. Images of our kiss continued to flash into my mind and with every image and every thought of her lips on my own, a foreign tingle runs through my body. My head was clustered with so much confusion, so many emotions running through that I wasn’t too sure how I was meant to react or even feel. I’d only moved here for the job a month ago and look who I’d become – a stranger to myself. It was coming to a point where I couldn’t even understand why my body was reacting and behaving the way it was. Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt my self-control slipping away from my fragile grasp. Having these feelings towards Vicky rattled me, it made no sense, how could I go from being in a serious long-term relationship with Jonathan, to now being single and having feelings towards Vicky. It was obvious that Vicky had strong feelings for me, the way in which she stared at me after she shut down my PC, the way in which she came closer to me to kiss me, was enough to tell me that she had been suppressing her feelings towards me for some time. I rested my head against the window of the taxi and closed my eyes. I tried with all my might to rationalise my emotions, trying to find reasoning as to why I felt different whenever I was around Vicky. I didn’t think I was attracted to her, neither did I believe I fancied her, there must be more behind why my body continued to disobey me when she was in close proximity to me.

After the taxi driver dropped me home, I paid him and made my way inside, feeling more drained than I did before. I made some spaghetti for dinner and sat down in front of the TV, watching the images flash across my screen, but not really taking anything in. Eating silently, still in deep thought, I felt my phone vibrate. I picked up the call, happy to see my mother on the caller ID.

“Mum!”
“Rebecca, how are you my love?”
Just hearing her voice had caused me to get emotional. Whenever things were getting tough, I could always rely on my mum to make things better, however moving so far from my parents has made things difficult. It was tough enough to leave a relationship for the job, but to leave my family behind, was heart wrenching. I wiped a stray tear away from my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm the quiver in my voice.
“I miss you mum.”
“Is everything alright? Are they treating you good up there? I could come up in a heartbeat Becca, you know I would.”
“No,” I said sniffing. “I just missed your voice, that’s all.”
“Ah baby, it’s okay. Just remember you’re making the right choice. This experience, this job is just the beginning for you – there is so much more for you after this.”
I smiled, hearing my mum’s words always made me calmer.
“Thanks mum, I wish everyone saw it in that way.”
“Oh forget about him Becca. How is work going, let me know everything? Written anything yet?”

 

For a split second, I saw myself telling my mum everything that was going on between me and Vicky. Asking for her advice and hoping that she would share some words of wisdom, but as quick as the thought came, is how quickly it went. There was no way I was going to let my mum know that as soon as I left her house I turned into a woman even I wasn’t aware of. I could imagine hearing the sheer shock in her voice and her demanding to come up to help me pack and come back home. I instantly threw the thought away and smiled again.
“It’s going okay. I’ve got the opportunity to write my first article for next week’s issue.”
“Oh my gosh! I’m so proud of you Becca, look at you, writing in the most famous magazine known to women. What’s it about?”
“Well I didn’t get to choose the topic, but it’s about the portrayal of women in today’s society. I discuss jobs, relationships and family – it’s not a bad topic in all honesty.”
“Oh Becca, as soon as the issue is out let me know. I’ll buy all the copies!”
“Mum, you only need to buy one.” I said chuckling.
“I always knew you’d be special and make me proud. Have you finished the article?”
“Not yet, I’m struggling on how to finish it. I want it to summarise what I’ve spoken about, but leave my readers with something to think about.”
For hours, both my mum and I spoke about ways in which I could complete my article. Throwing ideas back and forth, we finally came to an idea that we both agreed on and thought would have the best impact on my readers.
“Look at me helping you with your article – I better get credit for that.” I rolled my eyes smiling.
“Nice try mum, how’s Dad by the way?”
“Oh he’s alright, working later shifts so he’s always tired.”
“Send him my love.”
“I will, I should let you get on. It’s late and I don’t want to keep you up. But darling remember, if you need me I am just a call away okay?”
I nodded, feeling myself get emotional. Once we said our goodbyes I almost felt ten times more worse than when I had taken the call. I wished I could confide in my mum, it would have made things much more easy and bearable. But, if I barely understood what I was feeling, why I was even feeling this way how could I expect my mum to be of any help, getting her involved would have further confused the situation which I definitely didn’t need. What I did need was things to go back to how they were last week, Vicky barely noticing me and me trying to blend in with the others. I wiped a stray tear from my cheek, speaking with my mum was a huge help, but it was bitter sweet. There was so much I wanted to speak to her about but only managed to glaze the top of the icing. After

a heavy sigh, I clear my dinner and make my way to my bedroom.

This unknown thing between me and Vicky had to take a backseat. I was going to get this article complete and then I was going to have to approach Vicky. There was no way I was going to work with this constant confusion between the two of us. Neither was I going to pursue that tiny little voice in my head that always wanted to know how Vicky tasted, wanted to know how soft she felt and how she would gently caress me. I was also not going to notice how every time I thought about Vicky and the kiss in her car that my heart beat just a tad bit harder than before, or even how my insides coiled and tightened in pleasure. If I gave room to these anonymous thoughts and feelings then everything would get messy and I didn’t just lose my long-term boyfriend and move away from my family home to ruin an opportunity of life. Making my way to bed I think about how I plan to gently tell Vicky that a platonic relationship is better than whatever we had managed to get ourselves into. However, she decided to take it was up to her, I just hoped this talk didn’t cause her to rethink my position at work.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Advertisements

New Woman – Chapter 2

I barely slept last night. The constant images of Vicky’s lips on my own replayed in my head disobediently whilst I tried to erase the memory. What was I doing? This was not the way I behaved with a man let alone a woman. The first time Jonathan and I were intimate, I had done intense research in the way to kiss and how a man would like to be touched – ridiculous as it seems, he was my first boyfriend and with no siblings, I had to depend on a number of articles to be my guide. However, I’ve just moved to New York and here I am acting out of character, way out of character! So many thoughts were running through my mind, reminding me of the previous night, that I could barely concentrate on anything. I could barely allow one emotion to run through me because I started to think about things like Vicky’s lips on mine, remembering how soft they were on my own, how my body vibrated in unexplainable excitement and warmth, and instantly I regret even doing it in the first place and wish I could bury myself under the sheets so that I didn’t have to come out until I forgot about last night.

It didn’t help that my head felt as though two mine workers were hammering at my brain trying to find gold. I found myself wincing at the pain amongst a number of other memories which I tried to forget. I knew that I had to get up soon for work, but the thought of even raising my head felt impossible and facing Vicky today, did nothing to encourage me to leave my white silk sheets. I closed my eyes, trying to focus on eradicating one problem in hope that would make any future plans easier to organise in my head. Firstly, I needed to locate some paracetamols. There was no way I was going to have an internal war with myself when I had a splitting headache. Slowly I sat up, instantly gripping my head when the throbbing intensified due to my elevation. Taking deep breaths, I slid out of bed and carefully made my way to the bathroom, remembering the floor pattern as rising my head to look directly in front of me, would have only made everything worse. After making my way to the bathroom safely, I opened the mirror cabinet and grabbed the only tablets in there.  Feeling far too awful to make another journey to the kitchen for a glass of water, I popped two pills into my mouth and gulped the water from the taps of the sink. Once the bitter pills made their way down my throat, the image of Vicky arose in my mind. What was I meant to do? How was I meant to act with her now? Did she ever consider that before throwing her lips on mine?

My forehead tightened as I remembered another detail from last night, I’m sure she mentioned she had felt attracted to me for a long time hence why she was unsure of how to behave with me? If I took what she said into consideration that would mean, from when I first arrived in the office she had started having feelings for me? It all seemed to surreal to believe. I could imagine telling Jonathan what had gone on yesterday and him turning around and blaming me for my boss kissing me. I scoffed thinking about Jonathan and instantly regretted it as the mine workers bounced around in my head, causing me to wince. Bloody Jonathan, how could we be in a steady relationship for a few years and the time when I start to progress in life, that is when he decides to give me an ultimatum? I looked at myself in the mirror, looking at the way my brows furrowed in annoyance and the way my mouth frowned as I thought about the way in which Jonathan failed to get in contact with me after I left for the job. After staring at myself for a few minutes, I realised that I had transferred my anger, shame and guilt to Jonathan. If he had been caring, if he had stuck by my side, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself here, clutching onto the rim of the porcelain sink, my head pounding and my heart racing after every thought of Vicky. I had no right to blame Jonathan, if anything he would laugh and say the infamous, ‘what did I tell you’ line – but who else could I blame?

I dragged my feet as I walked back to bed and gently sat on my bed. I grabbed my phone and noticed that soon enough if I didn’t start to make a move towards the shower, then I would have to call into work and let them know that I won’t be showing up. And even though every muscle in my body craved for me to get back underneath those sheets and get lost in my unconscious, something within me stopped me from doing so. I had to remain professional. Maybe because I was one of the youngest of the bunch at work (bearing in mind the team was all nearing the same age), but I felt I had more to prove. I was the one with the least experience, yet still managed to find myself in a position where someone who had years under their belt should have been. I had to prove not only to myself (and the imaginary Jonathan in my mind) but also to Vicky. I needed to show her that no matter the curveballs thrown my way, my head was still in the game and I would fulfil any promises I made.

With very slow movements, I made my way back to the bathroom and ran the hot water in the shower. Watching the water spray out of the mouth of the shower hose relaxed the miners in my head. I stripped out of my pyjamas and stepped into the shower slowly, enjoying the hot water beat against my skin. Breathing slowly, I thought about nothing apart from the water being sprayed against my skin – it was much needed. The silence, the calm because I knew after I left my apartment, I would have to face the storm I wasn’t prepared for.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It took longer than normal to get to work, but as I stepped through the glass doors of Building 59, and swiped my ID on the barrier sensor I knew that I had to put on a brave face. Even though I couldn’t think of anything better than hauling a taxi and returning home. Instead I put on a bright smile and walked out of the elevator meeting Kirsty, the receptionist by the welcome desk.
“Bloody hell, how do you do it?”
Paranoia claimed me as I tried to decipher what Kirsty had meant. Do what? Had Vicky gone around and told everyone we had shared a kiss yesterday night and now Kirsty was wondering how I could show my face in the office the next day? Too stunned to speak and too scared to hear what her next line was I stood in front of her in utter silence, bracing myself for her next words.
“I mean, we all drank so much yesterday, yet here you are looking like you never went out and got the best sleep ever.”
A nervous chuckle escaped my lips as I remembered that she too was there yesterday, dancing the hardest on the dance floor. I shrugged my shoulders whilst signing in.
“Trust me, I don’t feel as good as I look.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed that you felt like shit.” She said taking a long gulp of water, whilst taking a tablet. I waved her goodbye and made my way to my desk, dreading seeing Vicky as my desk was the closest to her office. I couldn’t face any awkward situation and didn’t think I had the energy to. Once I got to my desk, Eileen was first to greet me with a disgruntled face.
“I feel bloody terrible Rebecca…you know when you think to yourself ‘was it really worth it?’ – yeah that’s my thoughts now.” She said slightly perching on my desk.
“Yeah, I seriously contemplated coming into work today – I feel like absolute crap.” Eileen looked at me deeply and then shook her head.
“Would have never thought you have a hangover, you look too good to be feeling as crap and you say you feel.”
I chuckled slightly, booting up my computer. “Don’t us females try harder when we know we look even more worse than usual?”
“No honey, that is you only. How did get home anyway? I should have texted you, but I had to share a cab with the girls because I could barely stand once I left.”
“Just a taxi.” I said avoiding any eye contact, hoping she could notice the lie.
“Did you see Vicky, she left shortly after you and I thought she may have caught up to you?”
“Nope, didn’t see her. I got a taxi quickly lucky for me. Anyone get lucky yesterday?” I asked her hoping to get her to switch topics and talk more about herself and her experience yesterday night.
“Nah,” She said shaking her head and getting up from my desk, slowly making her way back to her desk. “sadly, I was banking on someone to get lucky…even a cheeky kiss would have been exciting!”

She turned from me and walked to her desk as I looked back at my monitor. If only she knew that a ‘cheeky kiss’ was shared last night, but between the two people she would have least thought would have shared an intimate meeting.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Her Secret – Part 1

Tala rolled up her sleeve, to check her watch for the third time that hour, 16:47. She knew Vince would eventually not show up, especially after the last public display they shared together. They hadn’t only embarrassed themselves, but had also highlighted their personal issues to their counsellor and anyone who had close proximity to her office door. She looked at Dr Bailey, who had a stack of reports across her desk. Aware of her gaze, Bailey looked up and gave Tala a smile, aware that time was passing by and Vince had not yet showed up to their appointment.

Tala reached for her phone, which was wedged in her pocket and tried Vince’s cell phone for another time, cursing softly under her breath when she was directed to his voicemail again. With her annoyance rising, she begun tapping her boots against the marble floor, trying to find a solution to what seemed to be a downward spiral that she had found herself to be apart of. Taking another sneak peek at her watch, she rolled her eyes knowing their appointment ended at five o’clock. She wasn’t even sure why she had waited for so long. She knew deep inside of herself that she should have taken her jacket and left as soon as Vince started playing hide ‘n’ seek. But she didn’t and it was because she was still scared of letting a relationship of nine years go to waste. She knew if she had walked out when she really wanted to, then she wouldn’t be returning. As soon as she stepped outside Bailey’s office, she would have finally given up on Vince and that wasn’t something she could do so easily after building a family with him; a family that she was bounded to. And for that reason alone, is what kept her sat in Bailey’s leather seats, constantly hoping Vince walked in.

She was never sure why she let Vince convince her in going to relationship counselling. She knew way before he did that their relationship had come to a sour end and all counselling did was make their issues more obvious. Instead of rebuilding their damaged bond, counselling in fact had strengthened Tala’s resentment towards Vince. Every night she’d found herself wondering what her life would have been like if she hadn’t met Vince that Friday night in the bar. If she hadn’t let his lies and façade paint false images of him for all those years, she probably won’t be sitting in a counsellor’s office waiting for a stranger to help solve her personal problems.

Thoughts about Vince always caused her teeth to clench in anger. If only she was smarter she would have noticed the signs from early, but love had blinded her to the point that every indication of his actual self was disregarded. Then she had Deanne and things started to change. The arguing wasn’t as frequent and their focus was on their first child together, they didn’t have time to notice each other’s faults. But of course she knew it was only a matter of time before old habits slipped through the cracks of their act. It was the little things he did that caused problems, never wanting her to leave the house, making her feel like a maid instead of a mother. She hadn’t even realised when she’d stopped communicating with her friends and family, must have been when she was still trying to please Vince and his unreachable needs. But it happened, and it meant that whenever things got too heavy for her, she had nowhere to run to apart from the bathroom, where she found herself frequently. In the same position every single time, crumpled to the ground next to the sink, crying until she felt better.

With things as bad as it was it surprised her when she found out she was pregnant again with Paige. She contemplated aborting Paige, shuddering as she feared her second baby would look at her with questions in her eyes, the same way Deanne’s had. But as soon as Vince found the pregnancy test in the bin, she was further constrained to him. So she’d brought another beautiful baby into a fragile and damaged home. There was no escape for her, because if she left she’d have to think about her daughters, think about them seeing their father, think about how they would feel, so for four years she sat, waiting till the moment was right. But it never was and here she was, sitting alone in Dr Bailey’s office.

The weight of the leather chair shifted slightly to the left side of Tala, pulling her out of her thoughts and back into reality. It was then she realised she was crying as Bailey held a box of Kleenex in her hands.

 

“Oh, excuse me Dr, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Tala, you need no reason to apologise.”

 

Tala took a few tissues from the box and wiped the tears that had found their way down her face. It was bad enough that she sat here alone for so long but now she’d begun crying in front of Bailey, she took time to suppress her emotions before grabbing her jacket and leaving once and for all.

“I know you’re upset Tala, it’s obvious that there’s things you’re dealing with that you haven’t shared with anyone and it’s getting too much for you to handle by yourself.” Bailey moved closer to Tala, as Tala wrapped her arms around her body remembering how alien she was in her own family.

“I have no one to speak to…”

Her words trembled as they left her lips, feeling naked to her emotions she huddled more into herself. Taking note of her stance, Bailey moved close enough to Tala that she could embrace her, using her right arm as a belt, she gently held Tala as she remained hunched and pulled her softly towards herself. Allowing Tala to understand her presence was there for her.

“I’m here Tala. You can speak to me, you can tell me what’s truly bothering you, tell me the things you hide from the world. I’m here for you.”

It’s as though Bailey’s words were filled with a key that opened a door to Tala’s vulnerability. The more Bailey spoke, the more tears continued to fall from Tala’s face and into her laps. She hadn’t felt so naked before, she made sure she stayed strong in front of everyone, even if that meant she broke down almost every day privately, she was okay with that. But here she was, feeling like a child in her mother’s arms, just looking for some guidance.

Bailey moved the box of tissues to the table in front of them then faced Tala, feeling a wave of sadness rush through her own body seeing a grown woman cry uncontrollably because of her partner. She pulled Tala to sit up, unwrapped her arms and then held Tala’s hands. With tears still streaming down her cheeks, Tala felt embarrassed for letting Bailey witness her in such a state. She looked into Bailey’s eyes hoping for an answer, or an escape but saw nothing but big brown eyes stare right back at her.

“You don’t need to cry anymore Tala, things will get better for, I promise that.” Tala closed her eyes, her eyelashes wet from all the water and nodded, hoping Bailey’s words held more than truth but reality. She looked back at Bailey who’d watched her in pain. She didn’t want anyone’s pity, hating the feeling of being helpless, Tala released one of her hands from Bailey’s grip and made sure all tears that may still be visible was gone with the back of her hand.

“I’m sorry Dr, I should go, but…thank you.” Bailey smiled and surprisingly gave Tala a light hug. Stunned, Tala stared blankly at Bailey’s embrace. Not knowing what to do, she sat waiting for Bailey to let go, unsure of how she should take Bailey’s action, but she didn’t move. Involuntarily she found herself resting her head on Bailey’s shoulder and for once allowing herself to be looked after. She couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling of someone truly caring for her, a feeling that had become so foreign to her. She hugged Bailey back, hoping that everything she was going through was a dream and that she’d wake up and everything would return to normal.

She felt Bailey’s chest rise and fall against her own, taking note of the amount of breaths she took, noticing how her fingers penetrated warmth on her spine and how her hair smelt fresh. Something about the way Bailey was, made Tala feel safe. She didn’t want to leave the microcosm she privately built with Bailey, because she wasn’t sure when she’d return. She hummed silently as her reality slipped away and she found herself lost in Bailey’s touch. Bailey’s fingers circulated against Tala’s spine leaving small flames everywhere she touched, causing Tala to draw closer to Bailey.

Bailey knew this was beyond what a normal counsellor would do for her client, but seeing Tala wait for her husband and then surprisingly start crying had triggered something deep within Bailey. Tala deserved more, she definitely deserved better, and it pained Bailey to know she could do nothing but sing empty promises in her ear. After a few minutes, she loosened her embrace on Tala. It may have felt like the right thing to do, but she was not ready to lose her job over a woman who’s husband barely cared for her.

When their eyes locked Tala felt a surge run through her. She wanted to crawl back into Tala’s arms, she wanted to remain there until things had gotten better, Bailey seemed like a secure place to lay her nest and that was what she wanted to do. But she had never felt like that with anyone. She wasn’t even completely sure if it was a sexual emotion or just raw emotions getting placed in wrong categories. But after staring at each other for longer than necessary, Tala grabbed her jacket and rushed for the door – feeling so vulnerable and exposed, she knew the only place she wanted to be was in her bathroom.

Bailey watched as Tala rushed out, trying to ignore what she knew she felt, as it was beyond inappropriate. She closed her door behind Tala and sat back at her desk, her heart beating against her chest hard. She felt her chest, disbelieving the way in which her heart seemed to crash into her when she felt the pebble beneath her shirt. Looking down ever so slightly, she saw her nipples were erect. She never mixed her personal life with work, but that hug had overstepped the mark and now Bailey knew she was going to have to have the upmost restraint if she ever met Tala again. Because Bailey not only understood her pain and wanted to resolve it, but she wanted to be the reason why Tala smiled and the way Tala held onto her, she knew Tala wanted the same.