Grace sat and stared at her laptop screen. She had tried reading the chapters she needed to read but it was a subject she didn’t have much interest in, and as a consequence her concentration had waned and she had turned her efforts to people-watching instead.
A few of the customers sat eating meals were clearly patients; they were wearing the oh-so-flattering blue and white hospital gowns. The majority of diners, however, were visitors, here at the hospital to spend time with a loved one. The scene in front of Grace brought back unpleasant memories. Memories of when her mother, Kathleen, was here just three years ago. The diagnosis of cancer had come as a shock, but not as much of a shock as learning just how little time she had left. It had been a struggle to get her to the hospital. Her stubbornness was holding her back, but not as much as her fear. Grace recalled one night when she had come over to give Brigitte a break. She was downstairs watching an old movie with Kathleen when she suddenly turned to Grace and told her that she was scared. She knew that her insistence on staying at home was fruitless but she also knew that moving to the hospital meant the end was near and she wasn’t ready to go yet. Grace had vivid memories of sitting in this very room drinking watery coffee, just staring, unable to comprehend that she was never going to see or speak to her mother again...
The doors to the canteen opened and the person that walked through snapped Grace back to the present day, making her do a double-take. What was Elliott doing at the hospital?
She went to wave but stopped herself. It had been six weeks since she’d last seen him and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to speak to him. She wasn’t sure how she felt. She pondered it for a while, watching as he picked out a drink, but before she had the chance to make a decision it was made for her; as he turned around after paying, he saw her and stopped dead in his tracks. After a brief pause he gave her an awkward smile and headed over.
“Hi.” He said when he reached the table. “Didn’t expect to see anyone I knew here.”
“Ditto.” She replied and gestured for him to sit down. He tentatively took the seat across from her.
“So... everything ok?” She couldn’t deny being curious as to why he was here but she didn’t want to just come out and ask; that would be rude.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m just here visiting.” He replied cryptically. She probed further.
“Family or friend?”
He sighed and looked away, raising his arms and putting them behind his head.
“Look before I tell you why I’m here there’s a story behind it, and it will only make sense properly if I tell the story in order. Ok?” She was surprised by this statement and so nodded without saying a word. He leant forwards across the table, took a deep breath and began to talk.
“Remember that night you came over to get your DVD back?”
. Grace wanted to say, but she held back and just nodded again.
“Well, when Lorelei turned up I was as surprised as you.”
I wasn’t surprised at all
. She thought, but again didn’t voice it.
“The last time I’d had any contact with her was a few weeks before when I’d tried to tell her that Sam was having an affair. She didn’t want to listen, we had an argument, she stormed off and we’d not spoken since. She’d come over because she’d had pretty concrete confirmation that I had been right.”
Elliott didn’t need to explicitly state what he meant by that last remark; she understood.
“We talked and she was finally sounding like she started to get it, you know? Finally understanding that it isn’t ok for him to treat her like he does. All of a sudden she makes a pass at me. When I told her it was... inappropriate, she got upset and ran off.”
Wow, totally did not see that one coming
. Grace was still convinced that Elliott’s feelings towards his ‘friend’ were not reciprocated, but she understood the things shock would do to a person. She could not judge someone in that position, she had been there once.
“I didn’t hear anything from her. Then Dan called me saying that she’d taken an overdose.”
Grace’s hand shot up to her mouth.
“Shit, Elliott. Is she... ok
“She’s alive, if that’s what you mean. But as for ok
, I think it will be a while before she feels good again.”
He looked at her and she felt a faint flutter in her stomach. She wasn’t sure what it meant.
“So... she tried it on with you?” She asked, not sure what she was hoping for by bringing this point up.
“How did that make you feel?” She cringed at herself for asking this question. She sounded like a psychologist in a bad TV show.
He didn’t answer immediately, simply rubbed his face with a hand.
“Not how I thought it would.” He eventually admitted. “I still maintain that you weren’t fully accurate in your opinion of our relationship.” She knew that by ‘our’ he was referring to himself and Lorelei. “But at the same time I
wasn’t fully accurate in my opinion of it either.”
“What do you mean?” She asked, feeling dense. Normally she was more on the ball than this, but the slight hangover which had been threatening to get worse all morning was starting to make good on its threat and was having a negative effect on her cognition.
“I mean... I didn’t see her as just a friend, like you said. But I didn’t see her in a romantic way either. I liked her more than just a friend but I knew that we’d never be together, like that. I don’t think I’m explaining this properly.” He muttered.
Taking a sip of his drink he stared up at the ceiling whilst he contemplated what he was going to say. “It’s like... like we were beyond the point at which that could ever happen. Does that make sense?”
Grace nodded again. She finally understood how she felt.
“I think... I think it’s the same with me and you.” She said.
He looked at her, a look on his face that she couldn’t quite read.
“I still like you Elliott, but too much has gone on for us to be together. It’s one of those situations where your feelings alone can’t make a relationship work.”
It was his turn to nod. Neither of them spoke for a while. They knew their romantic relationship was over, but there were the startings of a different relationship between them. And that was just fine with Grace.
*** The End ***
Well that's it, all finished! I hope you enjoyed it, and didn't think the ending was too brief. I did think about doing an epilogue chapter a year after the end but couldn't think of a way of making it not really cheesy so decided against it. If you've got any comments they are more than welcome