Someone Else's Sky
‘ I know you’ll be a star in someone else’s sky but why, why, why can’t it be mine?’
Black by Pearl Jam.
He had no idea how long he had lain there, still as a corpse, eyes open staring up at the light blue ceiling. It had been bright outside when he had first thrown himself down on the king size bed , the sound of birds chirping cheerfully, his fathers voice humming softly drifting over from the rose garden. It was dusk now and the birds chirping was getting louder as it always did before it faded away for the night. He had spent the night with a girl he previously shagged, a very rare occurrence. He had stopped into his local on the way home from Peter’s and Lara’s , to get shitfaced. He fought the urge to ask the barman to ‘ Keep em comin’. That would not wash in this particular establishment. Instead and he realised this was poncy, he ordered whiskey after hot whiskey trying to comfort his battered soul. He was beginning to feel better, relieved even. What had he been thinking ? He should have been the one to stop this whole weird situation from continuing. He was waiting, he realised, waiting as he always did for things to happen to him. He was doing it with his writing, expecting to be discovered as he submitted phoney articles to a ridiculous magazine. He had done it his whole life. He still lived at home for fuck’s sake, waiting for someone to physically push him out. That would never happen of course. He had however been pushed out of this triangle. It wasn’t even a triangle if he was honest. More of a circle, him a silly insignificant dot, aimlessly wandering inside,wondering . Of course they would push him away, should push him. He meant nothing really. He was a jogging partner to Lara and they had developed feelings for each other but that didn’t mean she would leave Peter, the love of her life for him. Stupid him, who had never moved out of home , who despite all the money and opportunities had never really achieved anything. He had it so easy and still he felt like a failure. He must look like such a gigantic chump beside Peter. The guy who had come from the country and opened his own Bistro. Even Lara who had lost her mother , and suffered so deeply from depression, even she had managed to hold down a job for a few years. Even if she was crazy about him, she must see what a loser he was, she must see.
‘ Hey’ A vaguely familiar and very attractive face had appeared on his whiskey horizon.
She had looked at him like he was God’s gift and laughed at all his jokes. She hadn’t asked him what he did for a living and he hadn’t asked her... anything... now that he thought of it. It had been the perfect night for a randomish shag. They didn’t go to his because he really couldn’t face the whole ‘ so you live right next to your parents?’ conversation. Instead they had sex in the middle of her small double bed , covered in a rose bedspread in a rose themed bedroom, which smelt of musk. It had been perfunctory. She had gone down on him but he hadn’t returned the favour. He had passed out a few minutes later and instead of being charming and offering to bring the lady to breakfast as he usually did, he had snuck out quietly at the crack of dawn, perfectly aware that she was wide awake pretending to be asleep.
The walk home had been visually beautiful. The sun was coming up and he was catching a glimpse of the city like he never saw, at least not since his school days when he had taken the early bus. But inside he was feeling something he had never felt before. Lara had spoken about it and he had tried to understand it but failed. Now the black she spoke of, had crystallised inside him, its shards stinging his every fibre. He understood now, he understood perfectly what she had meant when she had told him about depression.He had lain down on his bed the moment he got home and not stirred until heard his mother’s concerned voice outside the door of his room. She had let herself into his apartment, something she never did. He usually checked in with them every day, just by eating in their kitchen and he hadn’t talked to either of them since he left for dinner the night before.
‘Sam sweetheart are you ok in there?’ He closed his eyes and prayed for the strength to ‘ Buck up’ as his mother was prone to advising.
‘ I’m fine Mum, sorry I’m just a bit tired’
The door opened and the waft of her Channel hit his nostrils.
‘ What’s wrong Sam ? Don’t tell me you’re ok , you’re never tired’.
‘God mum, relax I’ve just had a weird few days is all , don’t worry nothing serious’.
‘ It’s that girl isn’t it ? Your Lara ?’
He felt a shard aim for his heart.
‘ She’s not my Lara she’s married for fuck’s sake !’.
He waited to be admonished for the cursing but unusually his mother said nothing.
Switching on his bedside lamp she sat down beside him forcing him into an upright position. He knew this was going to be a serious conversation.
‘ Marriage isn’t a fort my darling, feelings can travel in and out.’ She patted his knee and he felt mortified as tears tickled his eyeballs. He gulped to stop himself blubbering.
‘ I hate being like this, I hate feeling what I feel.’ He stopped and tried to breathe as the panic which had tried to play down after his dismissal last night overcame him.
‘ I can’t be in a world where I know she is and not see her or speak to her.'
‘ Sam please don’t be morbid, you need to..’
’ Please mum don’t say ‘buck up’’
‘ I was going to say, you need to get it out of your system, maybe go travelling or something, have a nice holiday preferably somewhere with beautiful women.'
‘ I can’t run away from this, I can’t spend money on this one.’ It was true, he had thought the same thing himself as he lay there all day but he wasn’t ready to be that far away from her. He hadn’t realized how strongly he felt until the thoughts of not being able to bump into her, even by accident were a reality. He didn’t plan on stalking her obviously, but there was comfort in knowing he could drop everything to see her if she called. Not that she would. Poor Peter had felt bad he knew that. He must have sensed something but not known for sure. Why else would he pipe in about them all meeting up again? The guy was so fucking nice it made this whole thing ten thousand times worse. Why couldn’t he be an arsehole and then he wouldn’t care about stealing Lara away from him.
‘ It’s all your fault anyway’ he grinned at his mum
‘ Darling??’ She drew her immaculately manicured hand to her chest.
‘ Well you instilled all those morals into me and now look’.
She had forced him out of bed and prepared him his favorite eggs the way she had done all those years ago when he had come home from school after the terrible news of Rob, the way she always did if he was under the weather.
The following weeks he lost himself in his writing. Being a loser had its perks. If he had learned anything from this whole experience, it was the fact that he had to take control of his life. He could write article after silly article for the rest of his life but he wanted to create something he could be proud of, something (and he hated even thinking this) that would make him worthy of someone like Lara. He directed the black into his writing and into forming the characters in a world that he was creating from nothing. He was the big bang and his book would be the ever expanding universe.
He felt strange not seeing Lara every week but eventually he stopped staring at his phone waiting for her text. He even stopped looking at her Facebook profile because she never posted anything anyway and he was beginning to feel like the stalker he didn’t want to become.
Slowly he felt the distance between them get wider and wider until he wondered had she ever really been part of his life ? Had a beautiful woman with copper hair and green eyes really told him that she had feelings for him? Had they really wandered around the souks of Marrakech together ? What seemed the most like a beautiful dream,was their time together in the park.He took it as a turning point. He would just have to put it all down to experience and never again get involved with a married woman. Instead of watching matches in the pub and sleeping with random women he began spending most of his evenings writing. His parents worried that their one and only son was becoming a recluse insisted he accompany them to events and eventually he did- a dinner in honor of Organ Donation. His father had received a kidney when he was much younger which had allowed him to become the surgeon he had always wanted to be now that he didn’t have to go for endless dialysis. It was a cause close to his parents heart or kidneys as his father was fond of joking. Their table consisted of wealthy businessmen and women whose guilt at being rich in today’s world forced them to attend such events. ‘Don’t be a dick Sam’ He knew he was being harsh and that many of them were sincere. He just couldn’t help but wonder how much the cost of the lavish meal would eat into the donations.
He was standing at the bar ordering a whiskey because he found the champagne a little sickly, when someone lightly tapped him on the shoulder. He hoped it wasn’t the girl he had already slept with twice because he felt he owed her an apology for leaving the way he did. Sheepishly he turned around. Her face was familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. Her jet black hair was in loose curls around her bare shoulders and she was wearing a polka dot navy dress.
‘ Sam isn’t it ?’ She held out her hand and didn’t give him a chance to embarrass himself or her with his poor memory.
‘ It’s Jane’, She grinned ‘ We met at Lara’s?’
‘ Jane of course, how are you, can I buy you a drink?’ The barman had just arrived in front of him.
‘ I’d love a vodka... neat’. There were two bar stools in front of them and she sat up daintily beside him.
He fought the urge to bombard her with questions about Lara. He remembered anyway that they weren’t that close anymore and that she probably hadn’t seen much anyway.
‘ So you guys went to Marrakesh after ?’ He was right.
‘ Yeah we did it was fun.' He didn’t know what else to say and stopped before he launched into the saga with this stranger.
‘ It must have been weird for you though being around those two?’ His heart skipped ‘ They’re so sickeningly lovey dovey’ She smiled taking the edge off the words.
‘ They toned it down for me.’ He tried to drown out the sounds of their lovemaking from his memories and took a large gulp of whisky.Looking back at the night he didn’t know how it happened. He had been bored he supposed and vulnerable he admitted. She had been dragged along with her parents and she told him how strange it was living at home again after being married. They were both adults in children’s costumes and he found himself comforted by the feeling that he wasn’t the only one feeling he was leading a pathetic life. He had felt a nudge of guilt when they exchanged numbers but he had pushed it away . He and Lara would probably never see each other again and it wasn’t as if Jane was her sister or close friend even. She would probably never call him again anyway.
He was still surprised when Jane had text him later that week suggesting they meet up for a date. He had wanted to go see this art exhibition and it was always nice to have company. She had been hesitant when he suggested taking the tram but he had charmed her into it. He felt that maybe at last he was getting back to his normal self. They had met in town and he was relieved to feel a flicker of attraction as she walked confidently towards him in incredibly high heels and skin tight jeans. She was completely the opposite to Lara but maybe that was exactly what he needed. He couldn’t realistically wait for her or someone like her to swoop into his life.
‘ So sorry I’m late Sam. I was just talking to my lawyer and well ..things ran over’ She kissed him on each cheek and he cringed a little as he always found that sort of pretension embarrassing. They weren’t on the continent for Pete’s sake. Her heavy perfume was tickling his nose and he felt oddly distant as she chatted on about her divorce. She was doing that thing he had seen other overly confident people do when they were chatting to a friend. They would raise their voices and become overly- animated. They must have figured that everyone wanted to hear what crazy shenanigans they had been up to. Again and he couldn’t help it, he thought of Lara and her soft voice. Even in the park when no one was around she would speak so quietly that he used to lean in closely to hear her and he realised to inhale her.
They had gone for lunch first in a tiny French Bistro where Jane spoke fluently but unnecessarily in French to all the staff.He was feeling like he had made a big mistake when all of a sudden the mood changed and Jane at last stopped working so hard at impressing him. Her interest in his writing seemed genuine.
‘ I would love to write a book.’ She said this enthusiastically as if she had really considered it ‘ but I just don’t have the patience to sit down everyday and type’.
‘ I don’t either to be honest and that’s why I’ll probably never finish it’. He grinned sheepishly.
‘ You’ll finish it Sam, I can tell’. She smiled and he liked the way her dimples appeared out of nowhere.
‘ What are you going to do ?’ She had told him that it was getting harder living at home and he sensed that there were some underlying issues in her past. God were all women so complicated ? Then again maybe Lara and she had been friends for that very reason.
‘ Who knows? If I thought she would do it, I would ask Lara to open a cafe with me’. She grinned ‘ I can’t bake of course but I’m sure I could do the selling’. She flashed him a fake winning smile and they giggled. They had chatted easily for the next hour as the wine flowed and it was strange stepping out into sunlight feeling pretty drunk. It had been a while he realised.
They had nearly missed the tram as he tried to buy the tickets. He was embarrassed again as she shouted out about not paying for them and risking the fine. It was true that the fine would be no major big deal but why not just buy the damn ticket ? He had tried to cheer up as he jumped in beside her and in a moment of folly and tipsiness had wrapped his arm around her waist. Her sudden shout made him pull away as he assumed she was angry at his forwardness. But then he heard her say the name’ Lara’ and his world crumbled once more.
Jane had taken off down the carriage towards Lara, who had the most painful smile plastered on her face. At least that’s how he saw it. How could he have been so stupid ? She had told him a million times she rode this line home from work. He knew he hadn’t consciously decided to take the tram for this reason but on some level he must have done. He had never seen her dressed for work since he had fixed her PC and he had forgotten how attractive she looked in something so corporate. He on the other hand must have looked like the biggest knob in the world. Going out with one of her friends after he had told her he had feelings for her. He hadn’t banked on her finding out this way. He hadn’t banked on ever seeing her again if he was being really honest. How come Jane was so nonplussed ? Then he realised that from her perspective she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Lara was married and he was a friend of them both. It wasn’t as if they had seen each other before today so really from Jane’s world this was completely ordinary. All he knew was that he wished he could jump out of the tram to avoid looking into those eyes who were now confusedly staring at him.
He heard Jane ramble on about their plans and he had reluctantly explained the exhibition to them. He knew it was something Lara would have liked. But then and he really didn’t know where this came from, perhaps he was trying to sound normal in front of Jane or trying to get back to something normal with Lara. He found himself saying
‘ I’ll see you maybe for a run soon?’
Her face didn’t drop but she raised her eyebrow ever so slightly betraying herself to him. He knew it wouldn’t happen.
Especially not now.