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Black book, black heart

by Alison Tennent, The Garrulous Glaswegian 2 months ago in breakups

A cheating heart can cost more than you expect

Imag Marek Studzinski Pixabay free for commercial use

Like a tired reveller the summer morning was weary yet winsome. Lackadaisical tourists strolled sweatily from coffee shop to sultry boulevard, gasping for the reinvigoration of cool ocean breezes.

I sipped breakfast vodka stealthily from a re-used water bottle and ruminated on my theft. After he announced that he had plans for his life and they didn't include me, my concentration and focus, my ability to think in straight lines, had shattered. He remained impervious to my bawling and babbling, unmoved by my pleas in the aftermath of his admissions. And while scooping up everything I thought was mine through a grieving blur, I’d somehow snatched an extra trinket.

He waited, impatiently faking pity in the other room, as I removed my few feeble “I’m part of your life” possessions from his bathroom, side tables and wardrobe. Perched on the edge of the sullied bed for a couple of desperate moments, I willed him to appear and explain it all, apologise, offer me that quirky eyebrow and sublime smile. Make it not true. 

The bedroom door remained steadfastly closed. I could almost feel his aura demanding that I leave without further fuss, and his back remained carefully turned towards me as I shut the front door with just the right amount of determination. Only to embarrass myself in the stairwell with a gentle janitor who offered me a tissue to forestall my weeping. In that one afternoon everything was changed, and something within me was changed too.

For in my haste to escape his silent disgust, I’d scooped up his little black book. Who on earth keeps a little black book these days? The contents, per my salacious and heartbroken scrutiny, revealed the depth of his treachery. There were star ratings which sickened me on a core level. Apparently, I’d been tier three, having skidded downwards from tier two when I wouldn’t perform his kink on him. I'm thankful I escaped with that much dignity at least.

I sniffled, took another unhealthy swig of fluid painkiller, and pondered. Because there was one more thing in his little black book. Tucked into the back cover, yet to be disclosed, somewhere he’d considered safe. His most recent story.

In an affected fashion he only wrote longhand, with a pen and paper. I was amazed he wasn't using a fountain pen or a quill and ink, perhaps he hadn't considered that. He also favoured old style toothbrushes, electric wouldn’t do for this guy, and of course, a Motorola flip-phone. I’d realised fairly quickly that what passed for Luddite simplicity was really retro pretentiousness. And he had noticed me noticing his belief that he was a cut above the rest of us smart-phone loving, laptop-addicted mere mortals. Nobody resents discerning scrutiny more than someone who rates themselves superior.

But he did possess one thing, besides smelling like summer, besides that laugh, besides his ability to deceive, coax and convince, one thing that he had reason to be proud of. He could write.

Oh, boy, could he write. Don’t meet your heroes, they say. Anyone meeting him after reading his gorgeous prose would have been sorely disappointed. He'd promised a piece, dedicated to me, but it had somehow never quite materialised. Too busy perhaps charming the tier ones. But the story he’d written, and tucked nonchalantly into the back pages of his little black book, was simply beautiful. Luminous. I’ve never had the knack myself, but I can certainly appreciate those who can. Some write, and some are born to write. Hemingway would have devoured this story jealously. His prose was uncluttered, unpretentious and full of startling, sparkling imagery.

What's more, Mr Ostentatiously Unassuming didn’t keep backups of anything, so far as I knew. Contemplating his myriad lectures on how unsafe it is to back up on the Cloud, I did sometimes wonder if he was just too lazy to learn to type properly. "It's just another person's computer" went his familiar cry. Anyone with decent computer skills could hack those sites, he claimed. And yet, here were his delicate, radiant words clutched in my damp fist, and not a back-up in sight.

If he knew what I’d done, what I was now considering, he'd certainly hurt me if he could. But remembering how he hadn’t even asked the whereabouts of my new flat, remembering how he’d discarded me with so little attention to detail and had so little interest in my friends, I doubted he’d find me easily. And with 20,000 dollars in prize money, plus the little I had in the bank, I could buy a car that didn’t judder every time it started, and drive to another town, city, state, escape the tainted ocean and the reminders around every corner of the town we'd strolled together, laughing. Kissing.

A $20,000 reward for winning a contest seemed nearly too good to be true. And when I won the prize money, I know I should have felt ashamed. But my mind kept returning, "as a dog to its own vomit", to the desperation and despair I'd felt that morning, to his callous indifference. And I felt, instead, a species of dark glee.

It seems the adage about crime not paying might not be entirely true. My new job is going well, and my new love interest says I'm the hottest boyfriend he's ever had. And he has a way of loving that eases any surreptitious shame. His kisses are more luminous and alive than any prose, even Hemmingway's.

And I’m always happy to indulge his kink.  

Alison Tennent, The Garrulous Glaswegian
Alison Tennent, The Garrulous Glaswegian
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Alison Tennent, The Garrulous Glaswegian

Scottish by birth, bloodline & temperament, Aussie by citizenship Eclectic, passionate, something for everyone. Links to all my writing, PodCasts and videos here:

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