Sometimes time flies by, a minute seems like a blink, an hour seems like a second and before you know it a days go by in a single breath.
Other times, time seems to stand still. A single second feels like years could pass. Like right now, watching the timer on my phone, counting down until the alarm sounds. Each second taking a millennium, each change of number dwindling my patience and wreaking havoc on my heart.
“You need to breathe, Livy.” The soft voice of my best friend, Mia, says beside me. Her hand clasping mine, the only thing keeping me from collapsing into a sobbing mess as the seconds tick by.
I take a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Fear, anticipation, anxiety, nausea, all running through my system making my head spin.
When the alarm finally goes off, echoing throughout the tiled bathroom, I don’t move. I look to Mia with a look that can only be described as pure terror. Her pale brown eyes, showing the same.
“Do you want to look, or do you want me to?” She asks, not trying to hide the fear in her voice. I know she’s just as scared as I am. Mia has been my best friend since our first day of primary school, both terrified of our new surroundings, we’d met and clung to each other, and haven’t let go since.
I look at her with tear filled eyes, her own big brown eyes meeting mine with unshed tears.
“I’ll look.” I whisper, not moving an inch with that statement.
Right now, my life is normal. An 18 year old girl with great friends, a loving, if not strict, family and an adoring boyfriend. The moment I look at that white stick on the bathroom basin, my whole world will change. I already know the answer, I can feel it in my bones. But this will confirm it. This will erase any tiny bit of denial I have been clinging to.
“We will look together.” Mia states after I don’t move from my position. I nod my head, taking a deep breath and squeezing her hand in mine.
Taking a step forward, with Mia in tow, I close my eyes as I reach the counter. Images of Ethan fill my mind, the year we have had together, the love I’ve felt for him, from him, settles my nerves slightly.
It will all be ok, Ethan loves me and I love him, we will make it work. I open my eyes to see the two pink lines I knew would be there.
I don’t say anything, neither does Mia, we both knew the results. Mia pulls me into a hug as the sob I’d been holding back escapes me. My world spins as everything changes with those two pink lines.
A myriad of emotions overcome me as Mia walks us over to her bed. Fear, trepidation, excitement, love all mixed together and try as I might, I cannot cling to one emotion, them all washing over me making me light headed.
Mia sits me on the bed and takes a seat beside me, pulling her long brown hair behind her ear she takes my hand. She doesn’t say anything, letting me absorb this moment and sort my feelings.
“I’m meeting Ethan in an hour.” I tell her after a long silence, glancing at the alarm clock by her bed.
“It will be fine, Ethan loves you.” Mia squeezes my hand and I nod my head in agreement. He loves me, I know he does, and he will love this baby too. “Do you want me to go with you?” she offers but I shake my head in decline.
“No, I will be fine.” I say as a square my shoulders and take a deep breath, preparing myself to meet Ethan in our usual spot. I know once I tell him, everything will change, but I also know that we are forever, and though we are young, we can get through this together.
I hug Mia goodbye and make my way to the small, private park that Ethan and I always meet at. No one knows about it apart from us and Mia, or at least, we never see anyone there and you need to push through a hedge to be able to access it. It gives us privacy and a place where we can just be us.
Pushing through the hedge I make my way to the fallen tree branch that we use a seat. I’m early, but that gives me time to figure out what I am going to say, how I am going to tell him. I know I want to tell him today, I don’t think I could keep it a secret from him long enough to do some kind of special announcement for him like I see on Pinterest.
I sit on the tree branch and watch as the birds flit in and out of the trees. I can barely hear any of the traffic outside the park walls, the sound of birds chirping and leaves slowly brushing together fill my ears and I close my eyes, taking in this moment.
My thoughts are filled with Ethan, his blue eyes, his smile, the way he touches me, holds me, the feel of his lips on mine. I smile as the memories of our year together float through my mind like a montage, most of my memories in this very park, away from prying eyes.
Pulling my phone from my pocket, I look at the time and see that is a quarter past ten. Ethan is fifteen minutes late, which isn’t like him. Thinking he’s just got caught up, my eyes scan the hedge for any movement that would indicate his arrival.
At half past ten, I stand from the branch and slowly wander around the small park, taking in the large trees, overgrown gardens and wildlife that scamper along the grounds.
At eleven, I send Ethan a text asking if everything is okay before placing my phone back in my pocket. My phone vibrates almost instantly and I look down to see a message saying that the text is undeliverable. Frowning, I try again, but it won’t go through. I decide to wait a while longer, knowing that Ethan shouldn’t be far away.
By twelve, I bring up Ethan’s number on my phone and call him only to be met by a female automated voice.
“The number you have called has been disconnected. Please check the number, and try again.” Frowning, I hang up the phone as my stomach turns. I try again, only to be met with the same message.
I sit down on our branch again, hoping that Ethan will appear through to hedge, but there’s no movement.
At one thirty, I stand from the branch, determined to hunt Ethan down but stop mid-step as I realise that I actually don’t know where he lives. The thought makes my stomach churn, how can I be with someone for over a year and not know where they live?
I’ve never met his parents, or any friends that we didn’t go to school with. I’ve only met his sister, Kate.
The montage I had of all of our memories earlier run through my mind, but this time they are tainted by a startling realisation. Every time Ethan and I were together, it was in private. There were no dates to the movies, no fancy restaurants. There were no shopping trips, or just walking down the street hand in hand. Even in the few months at the end of school that we were a couple, it was never in public.
I sink back down on the branch as the air is knocked out of my lungs, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach growing by the minute. I have to be wrong, there has to be a reason. Ethan loves me, I know he does, he told me all the time.
I try his number, again and again, always hearing the same message over and over again. I think about any possible place I could find him, but there is no where I know he would be. By the time the sun starts to set, I’m in hysterics, my breathing is hard as sobs wrack my body, tears and snot fall down my face as I try to think of anything but the one thought going through my head.
Ethan played me. Ethan Collins hid me from everyone around him, he made sure I was a secret and I blindly followed him. I loved him, but he didn’t love me.
It’s after eight at night that I text Mia. She’s by my side within fifteen minutes, wrapping me in her arms as I tell her everything I’ve thought about, everything I’m feeling. She’s as shocked as me, unbelieving as she tries to call Ethan herself, but she gets the same automated message.
By ten that night, Mia is all but carrying me out of the park, my sobs weakening me to a pitiful state. My brain is telling me that Ethan Collins is the worst, my heart is telling me that it has to be something else.
But when the dots connect on our entire relationship, it all comes down to one conclusion. Ethan Collins never loved me, he used me and left me.
I had been played.