He leaves me at 11.30 p.m. as he has an early start to Cardiff the following day. I follow the match and his team loses so I text him a few words of sympathy like I givashit. He replies straight back which is inordinately important to me, considering he must be feeling like a bottomless pit of soccer despair.
In the evening he calls and regales me for twelve whole minutes with the finer nuances of the entire match. I hang on his every word even trying to make intelligent observations based on the radio commentary which I took the trouble to listen to.
I resist saying: “Never mind dear, it’s only a football match…” remembering the t-shirts they sell in Oxford Street with the logo Football is Life. I am flattered that he feels close enough to me to share his abject misery and I 'there-there' him and make the appropriate sympathetic noises.
Wednesday Morning. I’m sitting up in bed working on my laptop with MLP asleep by my side. Having established that I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and he was busy Thursday and Saturday, he’d popped over to spend the night late on Tuesday. I made him dinner of chicken soup followed by a Spanish omelette and salad I’d prepared earlier.
After dinner, we'd settled on the sofa and had a few drinks. We'd talked and laughed and hung together and I suddenly decided I’d had enough of him wearing the ring his ex-girlfriend bought him which he professed not to be able to get off.
I went into the kitchen and returned with some olive oil which I rubbed over his finger eventually managing to remove the offending article. I now feel he’s even more mine and I tell him so. He smiles enigmatically. I then proceed to re-open his closed-up earring hole with a rather girlie heart-shaped fake diamond ear stud of mine. Possession is nine tenths of the law.
At around 1.15 a.m. we go to bed and lie there face to face gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. Mine are asking a million questions and he slowly begins to talk:
“I…er…I need to tell you something…” he begins.
Oh shit… oh shit… what’s it going to be?
“Is it bad?” I whisper trepidantly. “Do I want to hear this?”
“Prob’ly not but you're gonna anyway” and he laughs much too loudly for the room.
“You know when you texted me…”
“…and you spelt it ‘l-u-v’…”
“You see! That doesn’t count…and I really regretted it afterwards…”
“But you said it to me one other time…”
“No I didn’t! Did I? When? I don’t remember…Did I?”
“You did. In the car once…anyway…listen…shut up and listen. I like everything about you. I like being with you all the time. There’s not a moment in the day I don’t think about you. I even Google Earthed you the other day… but…er… Love… to me… it’s such a big word. And people misuse it. It’s like… enormous and I would never say it lightly unless I really, really meant it. I just wouldn’t. It’s…too important…so…”
“I know, I know… it’s OK baby…I quite understand…it’s just that when I’m with you sometimes, I get all swelled up and…and …”
I stop talking but I want to say “…and I do love you” to him now because I think I do. I stroke his face instead and feel both happy and sad, because he’s said some lovely words to me tonight but he’s not about to tell me he loves me. And I want to tell him all the time. I mean All The Time. At the end of every phone call, when I send him a text, at the beginning and end of each kiss, definitely when we’re making love. But now I feel I can’t ever say it again because it’s ‘too big’.
I do know that if he ever says it to me, he will really, really mean it, though. And for some reason I think this is going to happen in about three weeks’ time.
Next day, he joins me again on my morning business outings and we come back early and I buy him lunch at The Cochonnet. Then we come home and I get my laptop out and because I've got Air Miles, next thing I know I’m booking us a weekend away in two months time. Crazy.