‘I’m not ready to see him’ I say out loud, as I anxiously pace up and down the 3.6m x 7.4m newly renovated living room. Naturally, I start to think of every reason why this is a bad idea. Dishes. He probably doesn’t rinse his bloody dishes. Unrinsed dishes drip drying in soapsuds have just got to be the ultimate deal-breaker for a Brown girl. Panic seeps through my veins as I realise that I don’t even know what sort of music he listens to – clearly not the ‘90s Bollywood cheese, I sigh. My mind fucks me sideways as I picture him spending his evenings sitting in an armchair listening to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind. His Minton’s bone China dessert plate is carefully embellished with only the finest organic dark chocolate orange, whilst his premium silk napkin slowly teases his paper thin lips. I see him deeply analysing the citrus tang from the ripe Valencian oranges soaring over the base notes of the 70% dark chocolate that leisurely melts in his mouth… Dear God… why am I here?! I momentarily pause my internal livestream to share my meltdown with my friend Seema. ‘My heart is literally about to stop’ I tell her. ‘Take a deep breath’ she calmly instructs. Just then, I receive his message – he has arrived.
For the backstory: see here (part I), here (part II) and here (part III).
It’s coming up to two years and Harry is slowly becoming a distant memory. I’ve convinced myself that any connection I felt with him was all in my head, and I’m more than okay to just leave it at that. We chat briefly over LinkedIn during the summer because his client has an immigration issue that he wants to discuss. I wear my professional hat with ease, not once thinking about who I am talking to. That chapter is closed. Well… that’s what I thought.
Our paths cross again merely three months later. Another work related chat. This time however, we’re edging on friendly. He tells me about his new job as a lecturer at a well-known law school in the Midlands. I on the other hand, think it’s both appropriate and necessary to tell him about my law lecturer that wore his jeans so tight that I’m still haunted by the sight of his ‘package’. ‘Noted’ he says with a hint of amusement. I just can’t stop myself can I?! Before I have a chance to reprimand myself, he does the unthinkable – he asks me if I’m still drooling over Salman Khan. Wait. Let’s pause here for a moment. If by now, you don’t know that I absolutely LOVE SALMAN KHAN, then slap yourself with a wet fish. Hard. My love for the one and only Khan is often abused by those closest to me (aka my stupid sister) with ‘If you love Salman Khan do X’. Yes, I bloody well just do it.
I’d have been pleasantly surprised if a Brown guy remembered my love for Salman Khan. But a gora (White guy)… two years later?! Not one to miss an opportunity to talk about the love of my life, I pour my heart out to Harry and tell him how my poor baby received a five year sentence for poaching a rare antelope – twenty bloody years ago!! Harry of course has done his homework, as he is aware that Salman Khan was released just two days later. Smooth bastard I think, as I grin ear-to-ear. Harry remembers other things too: my obsession with Christmas, my passion for human trafficking cases, and… my late night confession where I admitted that I visualise myself murdering my love interest… oops…
A day later, Harry and I move our conversation over to WhatsApp. I immediately check out his display pic. He looks different. I take note of the light stubble caressing his face. His hair is clipped on the sides and shorter on top – perhaps a new style to manage the emerging silver strands. Slender as an axe rod, his long neck makes my vampire fangs sing with sweet joy. Two years on, this guy is still without a doubt, the hottest man I’ve laid eyes on.
A week later I’m in the Midlands for an event at the NEC Birmingham. Harry lives close by, but I don’t tell him that I’m visiting until very late in the day. It seems that he has a lot going on in his life right now, and in any event, I’m not mentally prepared to see him yet. That night though, I’m taken by surprise as he asks me whether the quote on my display pic was about us – it’s about having a rare connection with someone that sparks your soul. Admittedly, my transparency doesn’t extend to this sort of talk – I quickly become guarded. I don’t answer his question, but instead ask: ‘do you think we have a rare connection Harry?’. He doesn’t want to answer either it seems. ‘I don’t know… I am drawn to you… but I’m also scared of your murderous side’, he says, trying to lighten the mood. As I ponder over this weird conversation we are having, he sends another message before going silent ‘yes’. Our connection feels like an elephant in the room and so I decide to admit that it has me somewhat confused. It defies logic and my lawyer brain simply can’t handle the mind fuck.
Harry then addresses the Rhino in the room. He won’t get married again or have any more children. He says he knows it’s something I will want and he doesn’t want to hurt me. I have mixed feelings about this. There are at least four reasons why he and I simply can’t happen, irrespective of his views on marriage. Individually, these reasons are big enough for me to not go there, let alone deal with them collectively. If I’m being really honest with myself, I don’t want to be married – at all, but I definitely want children. However, I haven’t quite figured out how to do this without upsetting those closest to me. The reality of course is that I can’t rule out marriage at this stage, even if the thought does make me want to throw up a little in my mouth. Panic sets in as I realise that he and I really shouldn’t be speaking – it’s a fucking disaster. What the hell was I thinking?! I ask myself. I’m neither interested in getting hurt, nor am I willing to hurt another. I decide to do the adult thing and tell him that we should call it a day. He agrees. His final message to me ends with ‘look me up when you’ve buried him. Harry x’. I collect my thoughts as I purposefully rise from my bed, slowly walking out of the front door. Looking upwards, I address him directly: ‘that was a cruel fucking joke God. I’m not impressed’ I turn around and storm back in, slamming the apartment door like an unhappy teenager. I reach for my Sophie Kinsella book: ‘I Owe U’ and hit Ctrl+Alt+Del on the world around me.
A week later, life is back to normal. I’ve booked a spontaneous trip to Albania. Many of my clients have been trafficked there, so I decide now is the time to check it out. My crazy interpreter Julie, who has become more like family over the years agrees to travel with me. I want to check out the North of Albania – where the alleged blood feuds take place. It’s a few days before my departure and I find myself sitting in the living room at 2am thinking about Harry. Something has been bugging me… I look at his display pic, more specifically at his neck – and I find myself getting increasingly annoyed at him. So I do what any normal adult would do at 2am in the morning. I send him a WhatsApp voice note.
‘Look me up when you’ve buried him. What does that even mean?! Do you ACTUALLY think I’ll be looking you up when I have OLD SAGGY BOOBS?!?!’ I shriek, assaulting my own ears. When I’m done ranting, I tell him that I’m going to Albania. Not one to stand in the way of my own imagination running wild, I’ve convinced myself that I’ll either be kidnapped in the North of Albania or shot by a ghostly looking fat hairy old man in a white vest, trying to enforce Kanun law. ‘Now that I’m here, I should just tell you some important stuff in case I die out there’ I say, with a hint of my usual drama. You’d be forgiven for thinking I was about to say something romantic. No. I take the opportunity to tell him about all the bad stuff I’ve done in life, like spitting in my cousin’s abusive sister-in-law’s tea, and even the accidental witchcraft I did on someone – I may have ruined their life in the process– oops. Nine minutes later as I offload my final demons, I say goodbye. I remind him not to reply to my message because put simply, I like to have the last say. Maybe it’s just a woman thing.
I wake up the next morning having swiftly forgotten about my antics from the night before. I have a message on WhatsApp. Fuck. You idiot, I scold myself as I realise who it’s from. I can’t even blame it on alcohol. Hold on. Why did he reply?! Typical man – can’t take simple instructions. I realise it’s too late now, so I take a deep breath and assess the damage: ‘I was listening to your dulcet tones whilst brushing my teeth… discussing necks, witchcraft… and boobs. Don’t delete it. I want to listen to it again on the train. I’ve buttoned up my jacket at the neck, you vampire’. Oh fucking kill me now I cry out loud. Saggy boobs?! Really woman, what a fucking image to give a guy! I sigh in despair as my cheeks flush red.
We’ve done it again. We’re back in the room with the elephant and rhino slowly suffocating us. This time, two days later, he cracks first. I’m not annoyed at what he is saying, but rather how it is said – like a dick swab. The following morning, I receive a message from him – so it’s a rather hot photo of him in a white shirt, with a message wishing me a safe flight to Albania. I overpower the dirty little pervert in me and fire off an angry message instead ‘are you drunk again?!’. ‘No, I thought I was just being cute’ he responds playfully. The bitch in me however has awoken: ‘cute would be you jumping off a cliff’… and that is the last I hear of him.
This time, not speaking with Harry is easy. He’s actually pissed me off. I consider running him over in a metallic red Range Rover Evoke, and getting the girls to bury him under my patio. If the existing bodies are nudged to a 45 degree angle, I’m certain we can free up some space to accommodate his 6’4 frame. After much thought, I let him live – only because he has children.
The house warming gifts I ordered for Harry two years ago are still residing under my bed. Now, they’re starting to feel like a thorn in the flesh. When I return from Albania (alive and well as it so happens) I decide to throw the gifts away. Bin bag in hand, I take them out and throw them onto my bed. The guilt of throwing away the photo frame with the names of his children however overwhelms me – I can’t do it, even if I am pissed off at him. As I’m assessing my options, I realise that I know where he works. I decide to send the frame to him – he knows from our earlier conversations that I’m holding on to something from two years ago. I pack the unopened frame for delivery, marking it from the elephant in the room. I decide that the other two items, including the personalised hammer can be binned without guilt. But wait. A deeply satisfying evil grin slowly spreads across my face as I have an unprovoked eureka moment. I unpack the hammer from its original packaging and hold it up. I imagine the shock on his face when he receives this at work with a personalised message: ‘Harry, fucking up since 1981’. Two years ago, the intention behind the purchase was simple – I wanted to balance out the ‘nice’ gift with something a little batshit crazy- after all, you can’t be too nice to a man… but now, it just seems so fitting. ‘Mr Nice Guy will shit his pants’, I laugh out loud as my black heart spins like a jubilant ballerina. I’m not surprised when I eventually receive a thank you message, but this time I don’t engage in unnecessary conversation and Ctrl+Alt+Del him from my thoughts.
A few months have passed since we fell out and I’m busy doing what I love – collecting horror stories through my dating adventures. Standing in front of my bedroom mirror one night, with my hairbrush in hand, I notice how much my hair has grown since… I last saw Harry. I’ve not thought about him for a while but I now feel the sudden urge to see him. Shut up I tell myself as I head back downstairs. Planting my bottom on my two seater sofa, I reach for my phone. I have a message from Harry.
Once I’ve lifted my jaw off the floor, I read the message. I learn that he’ll be coming down to London next month and, he wants to meet – or as he puts it: ‘you owe me a drink for that hammer’. My stubborn lawyer brain jumps into action – no fucking way are you seeing him. My heart however tells my head to go fuck itself… and so I reply ‘bring that hammer with you’.
As it turns out, we don’t wait for a month. We meet the following week. What happens when we come face to face? Is he everything I’ve made him out to be in my head? Or just another dick swab… well… I suppose that’s a story for another time.
The Accidental Lawyer