She wakes with a jolt, the ping of her phone and the flashing icon of the unanswered social media message in her mind’s eye.
Excitedly she reaches for her phone but there is no flashing light. She unlocks the phone to find no unanswered messages.
Just to make doubly sure she opens the messaging service and there it is; her message from earlier in the evening, still unanswered.
She reads and re-reads it.
“Just thinking it would be nice to catch up. I hope we’re still ok, you’ve been quiet lately.”
She looks at the clock, 1.45am. A few months ago she would be wide awake talking to him at this time.
She sits up in bed and turns on the light. Why has he stopped responding to my messages? It’s a question she has asked and re-asked herself way too many times to be healthy.
There is something about the dark of the night that opens the wounds in your heart that have yet to heal.
She begins to scroll through their old messages re-reading the best ones. She met Josh online over a year ago; they bonded over her insomnia and love of late night TV and the fact he works shifts and was often coming home in need of some human contact.
One night a few months ago the conversation changed from innocent teasing and chatting about their lives publicly to private chats of a more intimate nature. They began sexting in addition to their public conversations.
At first she was sceptical about the whole thing but she trusted Josh and the more they talked the bolder she became. They exchanged photo’s, never anything naked; she drew the line at that but it was fun and it made her feel alive for the first time in a long time.
Her life changed. She was no longer alone at night.
For the first time in her life a man called her beautiful, stunning, sexy and gorgeous and it turned her head.
They spoke everyday sometimes just publicly and sometimes privately too.
They began to talk about meeting; well he raised the subject. He took the lead in everything but she was always happy to follow. He had truly captured something inside her; it wasn’t love, she could never love a man she had never met. But there was something between them, something she didn’t want to let go at any cost.
Even before that night when he messaged her out of the blue and changed the course of their relationship, she had wondered what he looked like. His profile never carried a picture of him and hers didn’t either.
She enjoyed his company and felt she could talk to him about anything.
Finding out about the age gap between them took her by surprise. She had always suspected he was younger but never 10 years younger. He had guessed her age to within 2 years; had known about the age gap all along and was fine with it.
For months they had been close. Talking about their days, sharing bits about their lives and developing emotional connections, or so she thought.
She was hooked on the way Josh made her feel. She would do anything to find out if they had a real future together. But then just like that something changed.
He started talking about not being ready to be in a relationship with anyone. Needing his own space as he’d decided to start studying again and he’d need time to himself.
She was happy to be friends, she needed him in her life. She didn’t need a relationship right now either. They agreed to stay friends and continue just ‘having fun’ his code word for sexting.
Out of the blue during one of their chats he asked to meet her the following week; she agreed but then the talk went quiet. She tried to raise it again but he ran away.
In her mind it was meeting as friends but she suspected what he was asking was to meet purely for physical contact. She couldn’t believe she would allow herself to meet under those circumstances and yet for this guy she knew there was every chance she would.
The contact between them changed. Now when she messaged to ask about his day he often didn’t respond. She became depressed and confused and messaged him more and more to ascertain why he was ignoring her.
After everything they’d been through and all that she gave she felt she deserved more from him.
She started to challenge him over his behaviour. He’d become snappy and aggressive with her and it scared her. They argued but somehow always came back to each other.
He’d almost cut all contact and rejected all her attempts at being supportive and friendly when one day, out of the blue he told her to stop asking about his day. She was crushed. There was nowhere for them to go after that. How can she be friends with someone if she can’t even ask about their day?
The next day when she thought all was lost he’d apologised and things were good for a short time again.
He asked for her help on an assignment and she was over the moon. It was like old times again. She was happy, things were back on track; her friend was back.
Right up until he had her input on his assignment and returned to ignoring her again. He’d said they would work on it together and she would get the finished article for proofreading but it never came. She thought he’d forgotten as he was busy so reminded him a couple of times but he never sent it.
She felt used and embarrassed. Josh had now used her in all the ways it was possible to use someone; as a friend to pass the time with, as a sexual relief when he was feeling lonely and now to do his work for him.
The worst part was she had let him. Her self-esteem was so low and he made her feel so important that she knew if he were to ask again she would say yes.
She’d found some old messages from back when they first started private messaging and out of the blue told him. He messaged straight back to say how much fun it had been. She said it was fun but finding them just reminded her of how good they were together.
He told her not to hang onto the past but for her he wasn’t the past. He was the present and a part of her hoped in some way shape or form her future.
He’d known a long time ago she was developing feelings for him and he’d let her continue. He’d always made her believe that they had a future together. Always lead her on that one day he would be ready.
She decided she would wait for him, he was worth it. There was something about the connection between them she had never experienced before and doubted she ever would again. She had a picture of them in her head, sitting in a bar drinking and watching football. Hanging out as friends do.
The sexual side of things she was happy to explore too but not just to satisfy his needs. It needed to be a reciprocal arrangement, too often had he left her feeling used. Too often had she just let it happen; put aside her fears and gone with the flow of things.
But lately she couldn’t ignore the fact that he was showing his age. It was obvious that he’d found someone to spend his time with but was happy to string her along for the times when the other girl was busy. He’d become increasingly distant and more aggressive in his dealings with her.
He’d never hidden the fact there were others but he’d always made her feel that there was something between them for him too. When they spent time together he always made her feel special, like she was the only one.
She had his attention and once and for all needed an answer. She took the opportunity and asked him to give her a chance.
He said he’d never lied about wanting to meet her but she was too serious for him. He just wanted to have fun with her.
She said she missed her friend and would do anything for a chance to get things right.
He agreed as long as it was just fun and no emotional discussions about how she was feeling. She was happy to be getting her friend back.
She promised herself that this time she wouldn’t mess things up. She needed him in her life and was happy to do that on his terms if it meant that one day they would get the chance to meet and see where things would take them.
The chance for that to happen was one she had wished for since the beginning. The fact that she was so much older meant she was happy to take things slowly. Knowing those 10 years held a lot of life experiences and knowledge that Josh had yet to learn.
She always felt that the age difference mattered to him too; even though he had said it didn’t. She felt that maybe the reason he ran away was that he knew if they met he wouldn’t be able to ignore his feelings any more in a way he could by ignoring her messages.
He wasn’t ready to settle down with one person, he was happy chasing girls.
He hadn’t yet experienced the realisation of life, the fact that chasing girls will one day not be enough. That he’ll crave the attention and affection of someone who like her wanted to get to know him as a person.
By the time he reaches that understanding she would be gone. He would have pushed her away for good and there would be no turning back.
After the last agreement things had been good. They’d messaged privately a couple of times. He’d even sent her some photos and she had finally told him how she felt about him. The air was clear. She was happy and no longer confused and depressed.
But then he started ignoring her messages again.
A couple of vague attempts at small talk went completely unanswered. He wasn’t giving her a chance at all. He had lied.
He was using her again and again and again and she was letting him.
The person she had gotten to know was all an act. He didn’t care about her at all. He once said he had but clearly he’d decided he could let her go.
She was sure that one day he would regret it but she couldn’t change his decision. Even her begging for a chance hadn’t worked.
She had given him everything he had asked for and in the end he gave her nothing in return. The promises he made had been long forgotten.
She looked at the pictures on her phone that she had taken for him and cried. In the heat of the moment it had seemed like the right thing to do but sitting alone waiting for a message she knew would never come she realised she had played into his hands all along.
She took out her diary and wrote one last entry. She flicked back over the pages, each day detailing the contact between them. Some days happy and other days ending with her feeling sad and lonely.
Faced with another night alone in her dark and cold room, without the prospect of his friendship she felt more alone than she had ever been.
She opened the contacts book in her phone and scrolled looking for the name of someone she could call who would help her but there was no-one. A list of names of the people who had all at some point used her good nature and left her behind.
She couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with her; there had to be something wrong with her.
Josh had told her she was beautiful, stunning and gorgeous but clearly not enough to be seen out in public with. He had shown her affection and taken it away at will.
She’d always been told that men wanted girls who were smart and funny and sexually expressive; she had been all of those things and more and still he didn’t want her.
She was a giver, the kind of person you can turn to when you need help because they know it will never be denied and yet everyone threw her away.
She wasn’t important enough in anyone’s life for them to message her first, she always had to be the one to keep the relationships going.
She began deleting the photos on her phone, she didn’t want anyone to find them. She deleted the history on her social media messages.
She wanted to delete the photos he’d sent her too but she couldn’t do it. She sat staring into his beautiful eyes, tears flowing down her face.
She reached into the drawer and grabbed her notebook and pen, took a deep breath, closed her eyes and began to write.
Thank you for everything. You were a good friend and made me feel more alive than anyone ever did.
I sit here now looking at the last picture you sent me wishing you a long and happy life. It’s just a shame I wont be a part of it.
You know all I ever wanted to do was be there for you and be your friend. I would’ve done anything for a chance at that but you lied about giving me that chance. That was cruel.
One day you’ll realise that what we had was special and you let it go. Had you have given me a chance to meet you would have realised that.
We all need someone we can rely on to be there for us no matter what, I would’ve been that person for you in a heartbeat had you let me.
I wasn’t asking for much in return. The odd chat here and there, a drink now and again, and someone to share a laugh with at the end of a long day.
It wasn’t as if I wanted to know where you were and who you were with 24 hours a day. In all honesty knowing would only have hurt even more.
You hurt me more than anyone I ever met has. You showed me an affection no-one else did and took it away at will. You played with me like a toy when it suited you; not giving a second thought to how that made me feel.
I hate you for apologising to me and asking for my help with your assignment. You’ll never know how happy it made me that you needed me as much I as have needed you. Waiting for the assignment to come through and it never arriving hurt.
I have never felt so used in all my life and yet I still wanted you around. That is the power our connection has over me.
When you agreed to give me a chance I didn’t realise that meant only when it suited you. I thought you were agreeing to the proper chance Ihad asked for to see whether we could be friends and meet.
Sending someone a message for a chat only for them to completely ignore it is soul-destroying.
Our connection was real no matter how much you choose to ignore and deny it. You felt something for me as I feel something for you; it isn’t love but we both know given a chance it could have been one day.
I told you once; rarely in life do you meet people you have such a connection with; someone who shares so many of your interests but yet still challenges you everyday to be a better person.
That was what you were for me.
Someone who I could talk to about anything and have a laugh with. Someone who could teach me about things I didn’t understand and share new experiences with. Someone who showed me I was worth spending time with. Someone who made me feel worthwhile; like I was being given a second chance to start my life again. Someone who was so confident in them-self that it made me feel strong enough to change my own life.
I never told you but I’m proud of you. You are an amazing person who has a lot to offer the world and one day you will see that for yourself and know that I was right.
Find someone who will look after you like you deserve, like I would have. Make sure they inspire you to keep on track and achieve your goals.
For me the time is up. My demons have caught up with me; I’m tired and I’m giving up. I have always been alone but losing you made me ctually feel alone for the first time. You were the only person who could stop that and you weren’t ready to face it.
I’m sure you have already but please delete all the messages and photos I sent you. I have deleted everything at my end so no-one will know what happened between us.
I know for you I was easy to forget but for me you aren’t and I can’t keep hurting and missing you forever.
Looking down at the tear soaked page and staring at the clock through blurry eyes she wonders. Can I really do this?
She looks at his photo again. Those eyes that mesmerized her, the wrinkle in his nose, the lips she wanted to kiss and knew she would never be able to let him go. He had found a way into her heart, no matter how hard she tried to fight it in the beginning and she knew once someone was in her heart they never left it.
Something inside her was connected to this person she barely knew but she felt he was a part of her future in some way. That feeling just taunted her now, torturing her every waking moment and causing her endless sleepless nights.
Had he given her the chance he promised she would have waited. She would’ve waited forever if he’d asked. But maybe that was it, he knew as long as she kept messaging him she was there and she always would be. Maybe that’s why he continued to lead her on all this time. He liked the idea that someone was there for him who would come running when he clicked his fingers.
They had both said that they would be there for each other. Even when things were at their lowest and she had sent him depressed messages he hadn’t left her. Although she knew in her heart he probably should have; she couldn’t understand why he didn’t.
He could have deleted and blocked her contacts at any time but he didn’t and that always gave her hope. Had he felt nothing that’s exactly what he would have done. But it is the endless hope in life that kills you in the end.
Men don’t waste their time with people they don’t like. They cut them off and move on. He was cold with her at times but he never cut her off. He knew he was playing with her feelings and he didn’t care.
She couldn’t be his back up plan any more. She deserved to be his first and last thought of the day. That was never going to happen now.
She longed for him to hold her. She dreamed of how it would feel for him to hold her in his arms; how he would smell. How it would feel to finally kiss his lips and know the feelings were real all this time.
He had become the man who stole her dreams. Who offered her a glimpse of the life and affection she wanted only for him to take it away time and again.
She walked to the cupboard and took out her bottle of pills. The doctor had prescribed them when she was depressed but she hadn’t needed to take them as they had sorted things out and she had her friend back.
A week was a long time in her relationship with Josh. They could go from being close to days of silence. But she couldn’t wait any longer. She had been hurt and tormented enough.
She flipped off the cap from the bottle, opened his photo on her iPad, lied down wrapped up warm in her bed and took a mouthful of pills with her night time glass of water.
She lay staring at his photo until her eyes became heavy; her blinking slowed. She clutched the iPad to her chest as her eyes closed for the last time.
The last thing she heard in her semi-conscious mind was the bleep of her phone.
Had she waited a few more minutes she could have read the message that Josh had sent her.
“I’m truly sorry for how I’ve acted lately. I have been working through some things at my end but I realise now I haven’t been fair to you. I’m ready to give us a chance; that is if you still want to meet me. I really hope you still do, I fear I might not deserve it. 🙂 xx”