The Night The Bubble Burst

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A snippet of my life at 22. Tonight was going to change everything and usher in the beginning of a new disasterous era.

Submitted: September 17, 2015

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Submitted: September 17, 2015

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The Night The Bubble Burst

 

In the many ways I had before, when I found an artist I liked, I listened to as many songs by them I could find until I had successfully killed them. January was Amy Winehouse's turn, but it was ok, I couldn't kill her, she was already dead. "I cheated myself, like I knew I would, I told you I was trouble, you know that I'm no good." Amy's words for Carla's narrative, I jokingly threw at her that only the last verse of the song had yet to happen. She frowned.

 
"Don't say that, I love you."
 
Carla's words were stripped of sincerity. Something was up, I'd been aware of her changing for about the last month, and I was now aware of myself changing also. As she excelled, I appeared to falter. I was trying to approach our relationship with the same safety and caution I had implemented for a while now, but its effectiveness was wailing. We sat at our table in The Green Man, me, in my shirt, my hair waxed with precise technique, up and slightly to the left, trying desperately to rival her efforts. Her, and her new look, her ever darkening hair, darker make up, and a tight dark green dress, highlighting everything she had to offer. As if my inadequacy was not already subtly exposed, she made sure to open wide my insecurities.
 
"You know, you should feel quite lucky to have me."
 
I'll never forget the fear and shame that statement filled me with. My confidence shortening, she'd just given it a fresh cut, short back and sides. It was a statement that would sum up her new persona, and I remember being both concerned and stunned. It was a mere foreshadowing, one I would be acutely aware of.
 
The month grew as I didn't. Other than academically, I had stagnated, I wasn't achieving the things I wanted to. Still no car, no more weight loss, no progress. But, my degree was important, and considering the tactics that got me the last two grades I needed, staying in Luton for the night should've proved a decision that would yield success. I sat in this small booth that was fought over between groups desperately trying to secure their own private study space. Although unglamorous, it was a nicer alternative than being sat next to strangers, and the projection screen meant I could utilise my skills to acquire the football through the various dodgy websites I knew. Me and Pete walked through blistering gusts to order a curry. I chose mushroom, I was conscious of my weight. I needn't be. Tonight, my world was going to change forever, and the era I had been blissfully living in following my recovery from the poisoning was finally going to change. It had been a great year, but, tonight was going to be the game changer. Nothing could've prepared me for this, or what was about to follow. It was the last anyone would see of me for months, it was the last I would see of me for months. I was about to change, drastically.
 
Carla had promised me, in a way that Domestos promises to kill germs, that she was 99.99 percent sure that she could pick me up from Luton. That meant there was a 0.01 percent chance she was going out, those were good odds. But, if hanging around with Josh had taught me any lessons at all, it was that certain odds could inexplicably ruin you.
10:30pm and Carla informed me of the bad news, she was going out, meaning I was stuck, stranded. Incandescently fuming, I had begun to grow tirelessly intolerant of Carla's bullshit. She knew she was going out, and I wasn't going to let her off lightly. How the fuck was I supposed to get home?! I'd underestimated the renewed strength of the bond between me and my mother. Whereas a few years ago I would've been completely and utterly powerless to solve this solution, this time I had allies, ones with cars. My mother arrived at around midnight, and we began the journey home. I didn't let Carla know I was safe. That was key.
 
Blissfully unaware of my return, Carla continued her meekly apologetic texts, as we turned the corner into Berwick. Then came the game changer.
 
"Tom I'm worried I'll die"
"Jason and Kyle, they made me take some powder"
"I think it was MDMA"
"My arms are numb"
 
The last one I could especially sympathise. I stepped with purpose onto my drive, already having glued together my plan of action. A taxi arrived and I egged him on to get me to Chicagos as soon as legally possible. Entry paid, I scouted the club. I didn't know what the Isted boys looked like, so it was Carla or bust. My peripheral caught her, and I swiftly glided towards her. My finger gently tapped her shoulder twice, and a look of shock swung round to greet me.
 
"What are you doing here?!" She spat, her voice breaking in amongst the words.
 
"What am I doing? I've come to rescue you. You said you were worried you'd die!" I couldn't understand her tone. She thought I was stranded, she hadn't wanted me to show up, just to worry, just to feel helpless.
 
"No, I want to stay here for 2 more hours and dance." Right, what the fuck was this about. I show up to stop her succumbing to her drug induced death she's made me believe is imminent and she wanted to stay another 2 hours. I was fucking stunned.
 
Suddenly I was lead outside by an unfamiliar face. Two boys walked, with me and Carla, both with a purposeful pace, too much pace. I was sure I recognised one, Kyle.
 
"Chill out Jason."
 
Kyle's three words gave me a face to my nemesis. This was Jason, big bad Jason, the one she'd got off with at Christmas, twice. The one who had incited the ever growing rift between me and Carla. The better boy, who threatened to take my girl, my 12/13 player of the season, my future. I was strong and I was level headed, I was sure I would play this right.
 
We stopped, round the corner, out of bounds from the bouncer's sight. I guessed why, the drugs. Jason began his protest:
 
"We didn't give her the drugs mate, some black guy gave it to her." 
 
I was really supposed to believe this. This wasn't an underground warehouse rave in the mid 80s, it was fucking Chicagos. Jason was shorter than I had imagined, he didn't look like the image I had constructed in my head. Despite his small frame, I felt threatened by what he represented. He exposed all of my fears of losing Carla. Before I could begin a protest of my own, Carla began to laugh. Her and Kyle were chatting away about how Jason had kissed Carla. They either thought I was deaf, or some kind of cunt.
 
"And why is that funny exactly." The message sank through to the boys but not her. I angled myself towards Carla, my hurt was clearly now resonating through my voice. "How can you do this Carla, I came down here to get you out of here and you wanna go back in with these two, I don't think I can do this."
 
"You alright mate." Jason's fake consolation broke my pleas. "You look as if you're about to cry." His voice was comprised of what Drew would describe as 100% gobshite, nothing was genuine about what he was saying. It was then I'd realised that I wasn't perhaps as strong as I'd hoped. My 2014 zest had worn away and Carla was now stronger than me, I was the one hung in despair this time. They walked. I walked. I watched as she cheerfully skipped, arm in arm with the pair of them. Her gaze never threatened to meet mine, and I stumbled away, my humiliation complete. It was at this moment I thought I had lost her for good. My only comforting reservations being how I had conducted myself, with diplomacy. I wandered through the train station and across to Tesco. I littered myself between the aisles, picked up a bottle of water, and internally began to judge the situation and plan my next move. What next move? What could I do now? I didn't know what to do. 
 
"Hey Tom."
 
My daydream shifted back to reality, and I looked up to see the security guard I'd spoken with before. I'd even booked him before during my short spell of sending off random people and turning TVs on and off in various pubs and shops. An ally.
 
I explained what had happened and he looked at me as if to say, what the fuck are you going to do about this Tom, you need to do something. He told me to write off tonight and ignore her behaviour, she was on drugs after all. I knew he was right and I paid for my drink, ready to do something about something. At the till, a second, unknown security guard began conversation. One more and I could keep the match ball. 
 
"Where'd you get your top from, I like it."
 
He inquired about the top I'd acquired in ridiculous fashion. The original had been lost, then stolen, then I ordered a replacement from America, then they only had one similar, before I was finally reunited with the original. This was the similar one, blue at the top, grey at the bottom. It was scarily thin and unsuitable for the winter, but I had stubbornly stuck to it throughout the arctic season. Tonight was no different. I told him where he could get one, probably somewhat easier than my method, and then asked his advice on my predicament. 
 
"Easy." I hoped his next sentence would summarise how that was possible. "Just tell the bouncers, or, tell her parents. She's not gonna stay there if you tell her parents." How simple, yet effective. A drawback to my over analysis of absolutely everything prevented me from constructing plans that relied on nothing more than utter simplicity. So now, with renewed purpose, I journeyed back across the train station, ready to unleash my plan and put a spanner in the works of the would-be drug dealers. I was Tom, diplomacy wasn't in my make-up. I wanted to do what was right, but not at the expense of being humiliated, I was never afraid of using unconventional methods to sort things out. I didn't come out the other side of illness to be mugged off by these two. I was going to rescue Carla by whatever means possible. I knew the risk of leaving her there. This girl barely drank, so the combination of drugs, plus drink, plus OCD. It was a sum that added up to disaster.
 
A million things raced through my mind. My daydream shifted once more.
 
"They'll be gutted!" Stuttered giggling followed this outburst and I quickly angled myself to the source of the laughter. There, stood, pointing at an uneaten cheeseburger that had clearly been accidentally dropped, was Drew.
 
"Drew!"
 
"Tom!"
 
A smile crept on both our faces, both of us seemingly bemused at the other's arrival. A "what are you doing here" was yelled in unison, and I explained, for the third time tonight, what was going on. Then again, I was no stranger to repeating stories.
 
"Right then," began Drew, "let's sort these boys out."
 
Now I meant business. The best players in my squad were now coming to assist me. I felt invincible in this group, I felt confident again. I was back to being me, and I was not going to lose this battle. My best friend had arrived exactly when I needed him, but it wasn't the first time this had happened. Similarly, to when I first recovered from illness, Drew was there, just when necessary, to give me a platform to succeed. Our unit was tighter than Flinty's wallet catch, and I felt no fear of anything.
 
Banking on the bouncers allowing me back in to the club was the most integral part of my plan. Fresh in their memory, I re-entered, in a very different manner than before. It took me mere moments to locate Carla and I threw the lesser of my two threats at her. She didn't give a fuck what I told the bouncers, so out came my trump card.
 
"Don't tell my parents you cunt! Why are you such a cunt!"
 
Carla reserved this word for rare special occasions, such as this. I remember the penultimate night of The Wiz she had said something similar, just before punching me and storming out of my house. I expected her to hit me, but she didn't. I raced outside in a battle of who could ring her mum first. I won, and the evidence I needed was provided with her her texts. She pleaded, not with me, but with Drew.
 
"You can control him Drew, I can't, tell him what to do!" Even if Carla's assertions had been true, it wouldn't have mattered. Drew was on my side, he wasn't about to betray me for her. It was at this moment I saw Drew and Jason converse. Drew knew him, Drew knew everyone, and nearly every place we went there would be either a family friend or a cousin. Statistically, I believe 1 in 4 people are Drew's cousin. It wouldn't have surprised me if I was related to him, we were so alike in philosophical terms.
 
"Alright then Jason?"
 
Drew's tone was sarcastic yet genuine, it was hard to differentiate. I'd never met anyone who spoke like Drew, he could confuse you with language in a way no-one else could. It was all part of his game, how he got a bite out of someone, and he was an expert at it.
 
Jason and Kyle left abruptly and went back inside the club, I don't know what Drew had said to them, but it was enough. Carla was left to face her parents impending arrival alone. We left, 2-1 to Tom. Football had been my metaphor for the best part of 8 years, I wasn't about to abandon it now. 
 
Drew's laughter echoed throughout the night, he didn't stop.
 
"So Tom, let me get this straight, she humiliated you, then you scared those boys, then her parents come and drag her out of a club while she's on drugs. You have won here mate, that was perfect." It didn't feel perfect, I felt vindicated but not good, I didn't know if Carla would ever speak to me again. I didn't want that. This wasn't 2014 and I wasn't completely in my single mindset, it was still there though, still thoroughly there, although the it's epilogue was being given its cue line.
 
"I didn't scare those boys?" I asked. Drew's laughter rose.
 
"You did. After what me and Josh said. They asked us what you were like, said you seemed alright but what were you like if you got angry, and then Josh got involved."
 
I prompted. "Go on Josh."
 
"I told him that I weren't gonna get involved. I said fuck me, I'm 6' 3, but when Tom gets going he's a good 6' 8, 6' 9." Josh mirrored Drew's giggles.
 
Drew continued. "That Kyle just turned round said fuck that I ain't getting involved. Jason ran back in the club saying he left his drink on the table."
 
We hopped in a taxi and went to Tom's house. No, not mine, no 3rd person narrative has just come into play. Their other mate Tom. In the most bizarre but calming aspect of the evening, his house was a carbon copy of mine. It not only looked like Berwick, it was the exact same layout. I was in my house but someone else's. I could point out where radiators and cupboards would be. It was crazy. Then my phone went, that was odd.
 
"I've been kicked out." Carla's voice was cold, as was she. I remember she was only cloaked by a short thin dress. My mind cast back to when I'd been homeless, been in the snow, it was cold like that tonight. Despite how I felt about her right now, I couldn't do that to her. I had to get her out of that.
 
"Ok, I'm gonna walk across town to get some money out, then I'll get you a taxi to me, then to Berwick. We'll talk to your parents in the morning and sort this out."
 
Carla was spoilt rotten, was able to command her parents to do almost anything, it was inconceivable that they would kick her out, I was incredibly shocked. Still, she'd hammered home that her Dad was dead against drugs. Perhaps she needed this.
 
The now famous thin Hollister top offered me no protection from the wind's force. I began a light jog and felt the ice air fill my throat. The same ice air that was filling hers. I ran. She rang.
 
"I've gone to Kyle and Jason's."
 
"For fuck sake don't do that."
 
She ummed and ahhed about leaving, but eventually my persuasion took hold. She surrendered an address. Number 51. I rang for the taxi and waited nervously by the cashpoint.
 
I rang to check she was coming, and reluctantly she agreed she was. She arrived, and I held her hand to remind her that there was still hope and love in what I was doing.
 
Back at Berwick and the broken pieces of the night became all too much for me. The cusp of tears met me insistently, and I begged for an explanation from her. She appeared ambivalent in response. She just sat there, texting away, not a shred of emotion encompassing her. Only defiant that she should go back to Kyle and Jason's. Eventually, we prepared for sleep, much later than previously expected. Then, she said something simple that changed everything.
 
"Can I have that side of the bed?"
 
This is where my over analysis was practical once again. Carla, riddled with OCD, rattled by the notion of altering routine, worried that it might incur the prospect of death, and she was asking me, for the other side of the bed. She'd never asked that, and to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to give up my side of the bed.
 
"What do you want that side for?"
 
I made no attempts to hide my suspicious tone.
 
"For the phone charger."
 
"Nah, you're alright, I'll have my side of the bed."
 
As always, Carla wore one of my tops, a navy blue Voi Jeans top, slightly too tight for me, but ideal for her. I waited til she slept, fully aware of what I was going to do. Her phone, she absolutely had something to hide. One six zero one. Another show date. All her phone codes had been show dates, they represented to her something more than just plays and musicals. They were her safety net, her pride, her passion. I understood that better than anyone.
 
The texts revealed I was right. Carla couldn't get back with me because she had feelings for Jason,  she had taken the drugs of her own accord, she had been doing stuff with him since before Christmas.
 
"Then you notice little carpet burns."
 
Winehouse's last verse began to relay in my mind. Carla had been telling Jason I'd begged her not to kiss him again. His reply was for her to not do that. She'd been kissing him that night, she'd been on his sofa kissing him while I ran across town pleading with her on the phone.
 
"My stomach drops and my guts churn."
 
She even told Kyle she was glad she left or she may have slept with Jason. Carla, the girl who couldn't fuck, giving off about sex, maybe she now could, she hadn't tried with me for ages, it's not like I ever pushed it.
 
"You shrug, and it's the worst, to truly stuck the knife in first."
 
It was somewhere in those messages that I broke. I changed, my era was shattered. I screenshotted the messages and sent them over to myself. My heart thumped so much that I could hear and feel it in my ears. I'd never felt my heart so viciously pound against me. I lent over to Carla, and gently rocked her.
 
"Car, how much do you reckon a taxi would be this time of morning?"
 
"Pricey?"
 
"Well I hope you've got a lot of money." My tone darkened, I spat the words at her. Her face blossomed with shock before I made her very aware of what I knew. "You got feelings for Jason do you?! You kiss him tonight?! You think you can come to my house, my house, sit here taking the piss out of me to him and humiliate me, in my own home?!" Her face dropped as she became aware of her gross mistake. "Get out my bed, get out of my clothes, and get out of my house."
 
My shouts woke my mother who came racing downstairs.
 
"What's going on?" My mum's voice echoes her shock and confusion, unaware of anything post me leaving for Tesco.
 
"This slut, was just leaving!" My words were slow and sharp, I was fuming.
 
"I didn't.... I... I... I don't remember!" I tore apart her protest.
 
"Don't remember?! Don't remember?! One of the texts says you're glad you're so fucked so you can pretend you don't remember anything in the morning!" I jumped into the porch and threw the bag of Christmas presents she'd bought for me in front of her. First I snapped a hardback football book, some generic football quotes collection, then a wallet, then anything I could conceivably break. "You're not good enough to be in my house, get out of my house!" I screamed. "I'm going to find a real girl, not a freak like you!" Now I was stripping away at the walls I'd built around Carla to protect her. Since day one is convinced her that her OCD, her inability to have sex, that it didn't matter, that it didn't make her a freak. I was honest, it didn't bother me, I loved her all the same. But now, words were all I had. No-one had humiliated and hurt me like this before. There was a pain in my stomach, it wrenched me. "Get out of my street, get out of my street!" As I walked, Carla stopped to purposely ensure I bumped into her, my chest met her shoulder and she turned to claim I'd budged her. I'd never lay a finger on her and she knew that. "I said get out!" She needed no further prompting. I marched her through Berwick, past the gate I'd been poisoned at, past the road I'd played curbs at, past the hole we'd dug to trip people, past the bush I'd defeated Harry at, past the wall I'd scored so many goals at, past the stairs me and Gary would sit at night after night. She deserved nothing of this history, this was my place, my home, my empire, my everything. How dare she come here and humiliate me, not in Berwick, I was invincible in Berwick. It meant more to me than anyone could understand, it wasn't just a place, it represented nearly every positive memory I'd had from 12 onwards, every hardship overcome. I saw past versions of me as I walked her step by step out of my domain. I thought what they would think if they could see this, would they understand, would they agree, would they hate me for allowing this to happen. I never came back home to suffer this. I walked her down the steps, then climbed them and watched her shuffle slowly towards Clovelly Way. She turned her head. "Don't even fucking look at it." I ran down and confronted her once again. "Don't ever come back to Berwick, you're not wanted, we don't want ugly sluts like you in this street." I attempted to march her up the hill, the hill I'd retire if I couldn't climb. She wouldn't climb. My mum had rung her a taxi, and she left. I slumped, my head held slightly aloft by hopeless hands. They, along with my head and the rest of me were finally all out of hope. I sank against the door and this pain overcame me. It was new. 22 and I had assumed I knew every different type of emotion my body could feel. Not this one. It was new, it was horrific. I sobbed, each sob was hastened and halted by this new pain. It was almost as if the crying and the hurting were working against each other, battling for my attention. The anger had ceased, and the passion I'd had within me had subsided. I was broken, and I was different. It was a terrible night, the night the bubble burst.
 
I'll never be able to encapsulate just how I felt that morning, no words I could ever amass from deep thinking or journalistic skill could accurately convey the horror I experienced. It was a new pain I'd become all too familiar with, although this time it was at its zenith, and I wished I could flick it's switch and turn it off as quickly as it was activated. The worst thing is the allegory for it that I played out, the worst thing is I was right,the worst thing is all of it. I could change nothing. I broke, the inner emotional workings ceased, they had become overwhelmed and didn’t allow me to feel emotion, only broken, only empty. She was everything, a folly I implemented, a disaster I planned with meticulous strategy. I hated her, I hated the subtle way she began to define the importance in my life, I hated that her lies became my dreams. I hated that my humiliation was compounded by her, the one single entity that could undo all that is wrong, yet caught in the paradox that it was her creation. I didn’t hope he was worth it, I hoped he would fail, and that his failures lead her to destruction, that maybe he might represent such besotted importance to her that his betrayal could replicate my pain. It's untouchable that pain, it's somewhere in the stomach but everywhere at once as well. She had infiltrated my empire and tried to bring me to my knees. But I wouldn’t kneel, and I wouldn't let her escape unpunished. Her fears exposed and taunted, I tore down the clothes pegs that held her worries, horrors and concerns high above inthe sky, I unclipped them and bought them down to earth, down to reality. Did she hurt half as much? Not half a chance.
 
It was at this point I realised that I loved Carla, it hit me that I had possibly never stopped, and I knew that I would take her back in a heartbeat. Desperation overtook me and ushered in a dark new era that I simply refer to as Broad Oak. This era would punish me.


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