#FGC22: In Four Parts

“If it was you, what would you do?”

“If it was me? I’d do it.”

“What if it was Matt?”

“I wouldn’t stop him.”

“But you’re—”

“Married. Look… people don’t remember the wonderful things when they’re dying. They remember all the things they didn’t do. Matt used to sit with me while I cried, my uniform soaked in blood, telling him the last thing someone told me before they died on the side of the road. We understand how fragile life is. We promised each other we wouldn’t live a life of regret. I’d never stop him doing something he needed to do.”

“Need. Or want?”

“There’s only a delineation if you want to get moralistic.”

“Moralistic. C’mon Ava. Of course there’s a difference. I want another piece of your strawberry kirsch slice, with an extra helping of cream, but I don’t need it.”

“You’re skin and bones, so that’s debatable… Look, it’s not about selfishness or selflessness. It about what makes you happy. And those you love, happy. That’s all the matters at the end of the day.”

***

“He’s married.”

“So you keep telling me. Or are you reminding yourself.”

“I… It’s not… It’s just… not the way I thought it would be.”

“How did you think it would be? You’d marry him and live happily ever after.”

“Hell, no. Shit. We were just kids. Our friend Mandy used to keep a scrap book of bridal stuff. It freaked me out.”

“So you wanted to get laid.”

“It was complicated. My Mum. His family. I just didn’t want it to end. Him and I. He was my best friend, but I wanted more. And I thought he did too. Shit. And he told me he did. Well I think he did, in his letters. All that perving he admitted to. I wanted him so badly it hurt to be near him but I couldn’t stay away. It was messy and I stupidly left him behind… Going back is like dredging up all the unresolved stuff from twenty years ago, without the safety of time and paper and distance and all of that. I don’t think I can do it.”

****

“Has he ever sent you a photo?”

“I never asked. It’s not like I don’t know what he looks like.”

“Twenty years ago, you mean. He’s probably balding and overweight now and you’ll look back and—”

“His Dad still had all his hair.”

“His Dad had all his hair.”

“He did!”

“Dilemma sorted then. Go forth and bump uglies with Jude.”

“Ava!”

“You want it to happen. I see the expression on your face. The thinly veiled desire when you read his letters. The yearning when you write back.”

“He’s married.”

“Then don’t go.”

“I want to go.”

“You want to go. So go. Say hello, shake his hand, kiss him on the cheek. Give him a bit of a hug if you really want to walk on the wild side. Meet his wife, have a banal conversation about how they met, and how cute their tribe of kids are. Drink, mingle, come home and mark it off your bucket list.”

“He’s not on my bucket list.”

“Of course he isn’t. You don’t even have a bucket list.”

“Stop mocking me.”

“Stop driving me spare. Go. Go and get him out of your system. You need to move on. “

“I don’t want to move on.”

“Jesus Mary and Joseph. This is some kind of warped wish-fulfilment weighed down by your conscience, isn’t it? Don’t shake your head.”

“What if this is our second chance? The fact I’m alive to even have this conversation means there has to be more.”

“Maybe it is a second chance. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe second chances are a lie we tell ourselves to keep hope alive. Or justification—”

“I’m not justifying anything. I’m just saying—”

“Why did you come to me? To talk you out of it? Or talk you into it?… Look, it doesn’t matter what you want or don’t want. Or what you pledge to do or not do. Honour and loyalty and fidelity. Sometimes things just happen because two people are in the same space together. And that’s the way it is.”

“He won’t. I know he won’t.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about and you owe me five minutes of my life.”

“…I can’t say the same for me.”

“Ella-Louise, if you really want to be with him, just be with him. Be happy. That’s all I want for you: to be happy. But promise me no matter what does or doesn’t happen you won’t feel guilty. Guilt will hold you hostage worse than all these what-ifs you’re still carrying around.”

***

“He’s done one hell of a job on you.”

“He’s done nothing. Said nothing. Intimated nothing. Promised nothing. Suggested nothing.”

“Other than invite you up there.”

“Along with everyone else.”

“And tell you he’s beige and offered it up like some challenge. I know you Ella-Louise. My bet is he does too.”

“It’s not a contest.”

“Battle of wills perhaps.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Really? This is the fourth time this week you’ve bought it up.”

“I didn’t.”

“The look on your face did then.”

“…So? Did you bet against me?”

“You think Matt and I are that shallow.”

“I know you, Ava.”

“Perhaps I’ve hedged my bets each way.”

“I know you, Ava.”

“Ask me when you get back. Then it won’t really matter, will it? It will be done one way or the other.”

**YOU CAN VOTE FOR “IN FOUR PARTS” HERE AS PART OF THE READERS’ CHOICE AWARD FOR THIS WEEK.**

Author’s Note: I’ve done something a little naughty and taken two of the characters from Piper’s Reach and written them off the page. The opening conversation has been in my head for months and it became increasingly clear with current events, it would never find a home in one of Ella-Louise’s letters. Ironically it fits perfectly with Ella-Louise’s most current letter. Stranger things happen!

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3 thoughts on “#FGC22: In Four Parts

  1. I love these dialogues. Helped me understand Ella-Louise a little more and shaped Jude’s current letter (not that Jude knows these went on of course).
    Adam B @revhappiness

  2. Of course Jude knows nothing about these conversations… though I was tempted for so many months to put that opening conversation in one of the letters, but felt it revealed too much of Ella-Louise and her expectations were.

    Am counting down until Wednesday.

  3. Pingback: F&GC #22 Dialogue Only Submission | Write Anything

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