I can never see the future. I don’t mean fiddling with tarot cards and crystal balls. Rather, when a relationship ends, I can never imagine moving on, and meeting someone else.
I always do get over it, of course. We all do, even though we may be changed and a bit exhausted. So I know the moping stage will pass and someone else will come along but, at the time, I just cannot imagine it.
I’ve thought of writing a letter to myself, to be opened six months in the future, saying ‘Look moron, I told you this would pass. What were you crying over him for?’ I could then tuck it away in a drawer, knowing that when the time came to open it, I’d be miles removed from the grizzled, miserable sop I am now.
So, although I chose to break up with Shug, I couldn’t help missing him but at least I was able to pin-point what I was missing: not his sulks or his prima donna behaviour, but the whirlwind of activity he brought with him.
My natural state, I hate to say it, seems to be depression. I find it all too easy to slump in a chair and stare at the wall, slowly starting to hate myself. Shug banished all this with his mid-life mania and pulled me along with him. And suddenly, it has all stopped.
In this flimsy emotional state, we began e-mailing each other. As friends. We’d given one another a few buffer weeks of distance, but then tentative e-mails sprang up. Staying friends is risky. It’s OK to do it after the anaesthesia of a few months, but we’d only given it three surly weeks.
One of our late night e-mail exchanges inevitably descended into talking about what went wrong. Unable to restrain myself, I told him exactly where it had gone wrong. Shug immediately recoiled and hit back with Oh, you’re so vicious. I can’t believe you hate me so much.
He was over-acting as usual, but there was no audience except me so I told him to shut it with his hysterics.
I’m getting a migraine, he wrote back. I cannot believe there is someone out there with such ill-feeling towards me. It really hurts me to think of this.
It hurts me, I threw back, to have wasted six months with him.
I’m going away for a few days to try and get over this. Your anger is really affecting me. I’ve had migraines every day.
Jealous, I asked where he was going. Is he jetting off with some fancy piece to the Seychelles?
I’ve booked into a spa in North Berwick. I’m getting one of those de-tox seaweed wraps.
Poor Shug. I was angry, but not at him. I was angry at myself. Shug had removed all the glitter and activity from my life and I lacked the guts to create it for myself. This was exactly what happened with The Clown. I fell for him so completely as he was the ultimate in energy, colour, in a life totally removed from mine. I let the same thing happen with Shug, and now here I was again, on my own, in the same old flat feeling the same old grimness.
It got worse when Shug posted on Facebook that he’d be appearing at The Kings Theatre in Beauty and the Beast. My envy for his quirky lifestyle wasn’t even slightly dented when I read he’d be playing a Cheese Grater. Quite fitting, I grumbled, for a man who’s so cheesy and grates on the nerves.
Enough of this. I need to create some life of my own, and not cling to the coat-tails of ‘interesting’ men. Let the Clown juggle and parade and tumble. Let Shug roll about in seaweed. I can create my own adventures.
So, when I was in McPhabb’s the following Friday and E-Dog asked me if I wanted to go to trapeze classes with her, I pounced on it, and said yes. I then instantly regretted it, and hoped she’d forget she’d asked me, but no. An e-mail came through with a link to the Ariel Edge Circus School, where I could sign up. Damn E-Dog! Damn my resolution to be feisty and fearless and create zany adventures.
‘But,’ said E-Dog, peering at me over her cats-eye glasses, ‘doing trapeze has nothing to do with clowns.’
I put on my innocent face.
‘You know what I mean. This isn’t a chance for you to get involved in clowny stuff so you have an excuse to text him. This has nothing to do with clowns.’
‘Oh, E-Dog,’ I said, shaking my head, ‘everything is to do with clowns!’
‘No, nothing has anything to do with them.’
‘Name one thing,’ I challenged her. ‘Name one thing which has nothing to do with clowns.’
She frowned. ‘Jam.’
‘Easy,’ I said. ‘Jam is used in cakes and puddings, as is custard, and custard pies get chucked at….clowns.’
‘Whatever,’ said E-Dog. ‘Just remember, this has nothing to do with clowns.’
Excited to be back in the real world, I immediately e-mailed the Clown. As always it was chirpy banter. No hint of my obsession with him. I just happened to mention that I was single again. No harm in that, is there? And I mentioned I was doing trapeze . No harm there cos it’s nothing to do with clowns.
When my phone rang that night it woke me up with a fright. I grabbed for the handset. It was a number I didn’t recognise. It’ll be my landlord. About the boiler. Not at midnight! I tossed it aside and let it ring out. He’ll leave a voicemail. I’ll deal with it in the morning. I snuggled back down and tried to get comfortable. Then I sat upright, suddenly wide awake.
When I was living through the Clown Horror I would give up on him and delete his number, countless times, but he’d always come back to torment me. So, I came to recognise the number as it was constantly popping up on my phone. It ended in a 55 something. This number has 5s at the end.
I jumped out of bed, opened my laptop and googled the Clown’s website. Yes, there’s his contact number. It matches the one on my phone. I went back into the room and sat on the end of the bed. The Clown has just phoned me. And I ignored the call! My hands started to tremble so I tucked them under my legs. The Clown. My killer, heart-searing, devastating obsession. The Clown has just phoned me. Why? Oh God, I’m going to die.
My hands stop trembling and I fumble with the phone and text sorry I missed your call. What’s up? Oh so innocently bright and breezy! He’ll never guess the terror he’s thrown me into.
My phone beeps . It’s him. Your e-mail made me laugh, so I wanted to call you so I could hear your laugh.
I will die. I adore him so much I can’t breathe or do sums. I plunge in and ask him to meet me for a drink.
That would be delightful, he texts. Would love nothing more than a glass of red in your company. Up North at the moment, but will be in Glasgow soon.
That’s not long. I phone Jenben, my sister, and squeal down the phone that The Clown is back, and that everything is to do with clowns!
As I calm down and climb back into bed I think of how a vampire can’t hurt you unless you willingly invite him across the threshold. Now what put that in my head?