There is no Such Thing as Happy Ever After

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Meet Claire Adams. She well on her way to a happy ending. She's found Mr right, her carreers on track and she has the world at her feet. But she has one problem, something that could destroy everything.

Submitted: January 19, 2011

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Submitted: January 19, 2011

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My name is Claire Adams. I’m twenty seven years old and my aim in life is to have fun. I go out at the weekend; mostly I hit the bottle but not always. I’m waiting for Mr Right to sweep me off my feet and then I’ll be content in a suburban mansion with two point four children. I’m just waiting for my happy ever after. But until that happens I’m going enjoy myself and if I kiss a few frogs along the way, so what? I’m just living my life! I’m a single girl in London for God sake!
I stared hard at my best friend. Charlotte glared back with a forced sternness. ‘Sit down Claire your embarrassing yourself.’ My heart was beating with indignant fury. ‘I’m embarrassing myself? Have you seen these people? You’re putting me in the same bracket as these losers?’ Doubt passed over Charlotte’s face; she looked to Sean for help. The expression on his face was bitter. He was normally so calm and gentle; towards me anyway. Obviously he’d never have become a senior partner in Clovers publishing house if he was a total softy.
‘You know what Claire? Just go. Leave. I’ve had enough and I don’t think I’m helping you. I give up.’ I gazed at him in shock and his sad eyes caught mine. A lump was forming in my throat, I felt as though I was going to choke on it. ‘Sean there is nothing wrong with me.’ He shook his head. My body language sprung into self-protect mode. My arms crossed over my chest and my legs started to move towards the door. ‘Fine, I don’t need this; all you are doing is judging me.’ I awkwardly shoved passed the nervous onlookers and left the suffocating room.
Once outside the building I leant against the wall and tried to light a cigarette. This was no easy task as my hands were shaking violently. Finally I managed to get it lit. I heard the door open and I saw Sean and Charlotte emerge. Charlotte was sobbing and Sean had his arms around her leading her to his car. My teeth clenched in disgust.  Charlotte was beautiful. We’d first become friends in infant school after I’d been playing alone with my skipping rope and accidently whipped her in the face. The whole playground had surrounded her, showering her with sympathy and casting me withering looks. For the rest of the day I’d had to endure boys tripping me up and flicking balls of paper at me in the quest to make her giggle and claim her attention for their own. She never once responded and at the end of the afternoon she moved her chair next to mine, offered me a sweet and we’ve been best friends ever since. This has been pretty much the nature of our relationship throughout, me doing stupid things and Charlotte having to forgive me.
But she’s not going to forgive me now. Not that I’ve done anything warranting forgiveness I thought. She’s acting like a poor little victim and Sean being the lovely honest man that he is, will comfort her and then fall in love with her like men always do. I stubbed out my cigarette. One puppy dog look with her big blue eyes will render Sean putty in her hands. The thing that really pissed me off was her total ignorance to the beauty she possessed and the power that it afforded her. Her self-esteem is as shrivelled as mine. However in her case it’s more endearing to the male sex. I come across as desperate.
My feet involuntarily started to cross the road. My brain was begging me to go back to my car and drive home but my Jimmy Choos were not listening. Before I could even consciously ask what was going on, I was sat in the corner of a dingy old bar downing a double vodka. It didn’t end there. Before I knew it there was a line of empty glasses. I felt giddily happy; I wanted to share my happiness with the world. I stumbled over to the barman, ‘give me another please’ I slurred. The barman looked unsure but he complied. I downed it in one, started to the door then changed my mind, ‘one more for the road’ I winked. Once again the barman reluctantly complied. After downing this I left the pub and made my way back to my car.
I knew I was too drunk to drive and that one more drink driving offence would cost me my license but I was too happy and mind numbed to care. Giggling excitedly I started the engine and reversed out the car park. The roads of London were unusually quiet for a Thursday evening and I managed to drive to my destination only hitting a few kerbs. I got out of the car singing and laughing. When I reached the block of flats I buzzed, holding onto the railings with both hands to keep steady. A voice boomed through the intercom, ‘Chris’s abode, who’s there?’ I purred in reply, ‘why hello there Chris. It’s Claire waiting for admittance.’ I was drunkenly proud of myself, thinking I sounded witty and sexy. There was a pause on the other end. ‘Oh Christ Claire I was going to have a quiet one tonight.’ I pulled two bottles out of my bag and clunked them together so that he could hear them. ‘I have vodka.’ I heard Chris sigh but I smiled in relief when he said, ‘Come the fuck up then.’
Two hours later we had polished off a bottle of vodka. I was sat on his sofa singing, “Girls just want to have fun.” Chris was leaning on the floor, rolling a joint. ‘Shut the fuck up Claire’ he grunted. I stopped and pulled the rolled joint from his hand. ‘Give that back you silly bitch’ he cried, wrestling me to the floor. Chris was always quite harsh towards me once he was drunk, and when I was in the same state, I found this a huge turn on. I threw the spliff across the room and Chris made a move to get off me and retrieve it but I pulled him back. He looked at me for a moment and I could trace no liking in his expression, just alcohol induced desire. I put my arms around his neck and tilted my face towards him. ‘Take your nickers off, I’ll fuck you then I want you to go home. You’re pissing me off.’ For a second I felt a slight doubt. Chris and the whole room disappeared as I got caught up in a bitter sweet memory.
 
Sean entered the office I shared with two other secretaries. We worked for the three partners of Clover Publishing. ‘Afternoon Claire’ he said, making his way over. ‘Looking perky this morning,’ he teased. I replied with a smile, ‘I went on a date last night.’ Sean nodded and leaned in closer towards me so that the other girls wouldn’t hear, ‘how did it go? I hope he was a gentleman in every sense of the word.’ I blushed as I said, ‘It was amazing; he even gave me a lift to work this morning.’ Sean eyes were soft and laughing, ‘did he now? I hope he didn’t have to go too far out of his way?’ Once again I felt blood rush to my cheeks; Sean’s mouth was so close to my ear now I could feel his breath on my neck. ‘I had an amazing time too,’ he whispered. ‘Dinner tonight? I’ll cook?’ I raised my eyebrows, ‘you cook?’ He laughed and the sound caught the attention of my neighbouring secretary. Sean stood up, ‘No dilly dallying Claire. I want attendance at 8 pm.’ His words sounded business-like but I understood the meaning. ‘Have you couriered that letter yet?’ No I thought, I haven’t even typed it up, ‘In my lunch hour sir.’ He nodded and left.
 This was an extremely important letter that he referred to as contained an author’s contract. I needed to start typing it up and I had tried several times that day. But the panic and stress was rendering me incapable of starting it. I hid it deep in one of my draws promising I would see to it later.
The next afternoon one of Sean’s fellow partners emerged from his office and started towards me. I glanced up as he reached my desk. ‘Pub?’ He asked. I was feeling stressed, I still hadn’t started the letter and knew that there would be a phone call very soon off a disgruntled author. I couldn’t face Sean’s disappointment. I knew I would have to face his wrath sooner or later and drinking with Chris would increase it tenfold. We’d most likely not arrive back till the end of the day. Despite all this, with disapproving glances from the other secretaries bouncing off me, I made my way out of the door with Chris.
 
Just as I predicted we returned ten minutes before clocking out. At first I thought the office was empty, but I noticed Sean sat at one of the desks. We both stood before him in disgrace. Chris cracking under the tense atmosphere slammed his fist on a desk, ‘I don’t have to answer to you. I’m partner too remember? If I want to go for a drink in my lunch …’ Sean cut him off, ‘but you can’t stop can you? Neither of you can.’ Chris’s demeanour changed dramatically, his face wore the expression of an abused animal. Sean continued, ‘Since your wife left you’ve spiralled out of control. You’ve become an alcoholic. I’ve tried to help you. God damn it I’ve been trying for 3 years but you’re a lost cause.’ Chris’s anger abruptly returned and he clenched his fists. I thought he would hit Sean but he settled for a slam of the door as he made for the salvation of his own office.
Sean turned to me. I was concentrating with all my will not to sway off balance. ‘You promised this wouldn’t happen again.’ He searched my face but I couldn’t reply, for then he’d know how bad I was. ‘I thought that now we’re…I thought I could believe you.’ He looked sad and defeated, I suddenly wanted to take him in my arms, comfort him and reassure that all would be okay. But although he was talking to me he seemed a million miles away as he said, ‘When this happened the other times I thought it was him leading you astray. I thought you were just too naïve to say no. Now I know otherwise. I called charlotte; she told me you’ve been drinking heavily for years. You’re an alcoholic and do you know what alcoholics do Claire? They surround themselves with likeminded people.’ I could no longer remain silent, ‘how dare you? How dare she say that? I just like a drink.’ I started to cry. I could sense Sean softening. ‘We’re not against you Claire we love you. Please let us help.’
 
And that’s how I found myself at the alcoholics meeting and that’s how I ended up lay on the floor of Chris’s flat, while he sweated above me, pumping into me roughly. I felt sick. I knew that I didn’t want this and I screamed for Chris to stop. He ignored my cries and carried on fucking me. I screamed again. ‘Shut up Claire’ he gasped. ‘You begged for it. I’ll be finished in a minute.’ I lay still waiting for him to finish. When it was over I stumbled outside and into my car. I drove home and bathed before passing out.
 
 ‘My name is Claire and I’m an alcoholic. I can’t tell you how I became this. I didn’t have a tragic upbringing. Nothing horrific has ever happened to send me spiralling into depression. I’m a normal girl from a normal middle class family. But I always felt different. I never felt happy or good enough. I always wanted to be someone else and drink gave me an escape. I haven’t touched a drop for three weeks.’ As I say this I turn to Sean sat beside me and he gives me an encouraging smile. ‘I know it won’t be easy but I’m going to stop drinking.’The other alcoholics clap as I finish. At the end they all shake my hand and offer me advice and support. Sean leads me towards the door and as we reach the car he strokes my stomach. I told Sean about my pregnancy this morning and he proposed on the spot. I’ve never felt so happy and excited about my future. I just hope the baby looks like Sean because if not, I know the only thing that will numb my pain is the one thing that will destroy me. There is no such thing as happy ever after.
 
 
 
 
 
 


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