‘Sealed by red lips’ Part 3


2015-02-22 12.08.51

PART 3

“Feeling lonely while being alone is not as bad as feeling lonely while surrounded by others” 

It was suggested that she should spend as much time with him as possible, to be able to capture him in his domain, as that is the only way they will be able to print a true representation of John Butler.

She argued it for a few minutes saying that a couple of interviews throughout the week will be sufficient resource for her to write the article; her editor didn’t really understand why she was fighting it.

“ You know how we work, we go to the source, we live it together with our subjects and put a masterpiece on paper. That’s why we are the best out there”, Claire was trying to understand why is Amanda so against spending more time with John and getting to know him.

“ I know,… he might not agree to it but if you think this is the best way of doing it, then I’ll do it”, she gave up not wanting to raise any suspicion from Claire about how well she really knew John.

“ I’ve already spoke to him about it and he seemed fine”, Claire’s response just triggered something in Amanda.

‘Of course he was fine, he thinks something will happen between them, all that time spent together, he can get into her head and make her lose it again.’ She became very angry, her eyes sparkled a bit like when having a devious thought,  she turned towards the window; as the wind was carrying golden leaves from the trees her anger flew slowly away as there was no reason why she should worry, he has no effect on her anymore, that door was closed, the key turned and got forgotten in some old box thrown in the attic. Was she trying to convince herself of not having any feelings for him that could come to life or just desperately attempting to avoid a possible broken heart all over again? 

*

They agreed on the phone she could use the office next to him for the whole week, join him in some of his meetings, discover him in work mode and social settings.

It was the first Monday of September, early morning; the air was a little bit colder, the park started to turn golden brown because of the trees, autumn had one foot in the door.

In need of a clear mind, Amanda took a walk to work; it was a new territory and situation she found herself in. To many things were running through her mind, so fresh air was the best option; she will probably need some more throughout the day.

John’s morning seemed to work out perfectly, no traffic, short queue for coffee but something was on his mind. For the past two days he was thinking about the night he spent with Amanda and the morning after; she wasn’t the only one who said it was a mistake, at that time he agreed.

More Amanda was rejecting the thought of them being together, more reasons she found against it, John woke up next day with more reasons to chase the one chance they have left to save what they once shared.

It’s funny how more we hear ‘no’, more we want to say ‘yes’; as children we are told not to touch the hot-pot but all we’re thinking of is how can we get close to it. Even if we get burned, it doesn’t matter as we forget by the time we are at the same cross-road again. Love lives by the same rule, a broken heart is only broken until somebody might want to fix it and somehow it becomes whole again… 

The secret is time, because time heals, time fixes and time puts us in the right direction.

They’ve met in front of the lift, said hello and silently decided to make the best out of this week; Amanda was thinking of a promotion, John was trying to find a way back to her heart. Challenging week ahead, but none of them knew exactly how it will end.

She spent the morning making her new office more welcoming, trying to concentrate more on the article than John, which was a little bit ironic as the whole reason why she was here, was him. John had a couple of conference calls and he seemed more in tune with his  projects than ever, it was like his entire work environment got inspired suddenly out of nowhere.

He could hear her steps on the hallway getting closer and closer; he promised himself he would not mention anything about their past and just let the two of them discover the people they’ve become today and if there is still a link and a possibility, then just hold on to it as much as he can.

“ I have a business meeting at one o’clock with a new client, you are invited to sit in and observe if you wish”, said John hoping she will be interested as he wanted to share everything; he didn’t think much of the article and becoming a public figure, all he cared about is how Amanda will see him.

“ Thank you, I will be there”, she was short and really wanted to leave his office; there was something about him that made her blush sometimes, feel like a little girl again and lose control around him but to stubborn to admit it to herself.

John introduced her to Adam Preston, who was a new client and told him why she will be present in their meeting. Amanda took a seat on the sofa next to the window, where she could make notes. It was raining outside, the wind got worse as the day went by and it became a distraction for her. The conversation between John and Adam became interesting as they passed the figures chart and payment details which didn’t make much sense to Amanda anyway. John started to talk about how he was planning to put Adam’s company on the map, a few advertisement ideas and marketing strategies.

She never saw him talking about something so passionate, his knowledge and past experience put him into a new light. He was selling not a service but a vision of what could be and for Amanda it was fascinating.

Before Adam left he invited both of them to a party at the end of the week, it was his 10th anniversary and his wife wanted to be a special event, so an evening with family, friends and colleagues was their first choice. John said yes without even thinking, Amanda respectfully thanked him but did not promise anything…she wasn’t sure of her schedule and in reality was more afraid to become his plus one and that wasn’t in her plans as the week began.

The next few hours she closed herself in the office to make some kind of start on her work, but shortly after reading back her notes, she remembered feeling proud during the meeting, proud of him, of what he ’s become, of how much he achieved on his own only with hard work and passion.

She decided that’s how the world will know him, a man with a vision that became reality through effort and great commitment.

It was late in the evening when she got home; a long bath was the first thing on her mind followed by hot tea before bed. She didn’t feel so exhausted in a long time, but strangely didn’t mind. The first day took an unexpected turn… she set down on the sofa, closed her eyes for a second and felt relieved. Her golden rule for this week was intact, ‘nothing will happen’, but that wasn’t entirely true, something did change, Amanda met today’s John Butler and it was an interesting encounter.

The rain got worse during the day but as the night fell, the noise on the windows and the sound of a strong wind made Amanda feel more like a frightened little girl than a grownup; never really liked the heavy rain at night and the sound of everything being chased by an invisible powerful wind as she used to call it made her feel afraid. Now she just wished somebody there to get comfort from, a voice that would calm the storm down and would whisper her to sleep.

Feeling lonely, when being alone was your choice, is hard to accept and moments like this make us realise that maybe we are not on the road that we wish to be.

*

Tuesday’s morning was what we would call a crisp sunrise, clear blue sky and not a cloud on site, freshest air that makes you feel you’re cleansing your body every time you’re breathing. Amanda woke up early, went for a run and on her  way back had time to stop for a few minutes along the river to take in the dawn ; it was her way of getting inspired. Each of us have a place, a memory, a landscape, a vision that gives sense to everything else and daybreak was hers, one could only describe it as a point in time when the city comes back to life, everything is set back into motion and people start chasing their dreams again.

Her schedule for the day looked busy, short catch up with Claire , her editor, to talk about the assignment, field research for her weekly column and the first one to one interview with John. She felt nervous but curious at the same time; the thought of her being alone with him, might bring back old feelings was threatening but him revealing himself to her, as an open book could have an unknown effect.

As in life, closer you get to someone less you see the outcome of the story…love is indeed blind, it is not planned or already written; more we think we have control over our hearts more we fool ourselves with useless explanations. There is always a point in time, a manoeuvre if you like, that can take us either way, we might think we made the decision before but life is never that simple or straight forward; things change without our will, without notice but if we look closer it is always taking us where we need to be.

John suggested that lunch would be great during the interview as he had a busy morning and they both been in the office for a while now, Amanda wasn’t sure but didn’t say anything as being always against everything might raise some questions in his mind that are better left buried. She did feel sometimes like holding too much back, her attitude towards him looked more like fear of something that might hurt her, when they could just play it as it is. They were friends, not your usual friends but who can raise their hands and say everything in their life is normal…probably nobody…so why keep thinking of the negative and be afraid of something that might not even happen?

They arrived at a little bistro separate as Amanda was just finishing her research for her column, everything seemed to play as they both planned, a lunch between friends, business and pleasure with no thoughts of tomorrow. She tried to be professional but as the conversation flowed they went back to remember things they did when they were children, places they’ve seen together and strangely the air got thinner between them, more relaxed with no set boundaries.

John talked a lot about his years in Sydney, his journey on the ‘Marketing Express Train’ as he called it, because everything happened so fast for him that without realising what his goal was he found himself reaching it sooner than planned. He shared stories about people he met in his travels and how his life changed so much but some things stayed the same, even now. She knew that between the lines he was talking about her and it was somehow sweet, for the first time this week, she didn’t mind remembering the past.

Certain things in life are discovered with a leap of faith, things are not always as they seem, we try to look closer but sometimes it all becomes a blur… she decided to not look into the past but have faith into the future, whatever it may bring.

Amanda took a taxi home as it was too late for an afternoon walk and couldn’t think of anything else but John and how enjoyable their long conversation was. It came as a surprise to her, this warmth and comfort towards him; she felt herself again like taking the first breath of air in a very long time.

There are people in our lives who look at us and see a project in play more than a chance of discovering a possibility, something to fix and not something to appreciate…that is the impression she had of her marriage, never good enough more like a plan in progress than an excitement for her husband. When John left all those years ago, she did feel like in need of fixing and maybe that is how she became somebody’s  homework and not a life partner…

Today, in a very long time, she was good enough and excited in discovering herself through his eyes…unknown territory but more like an adventure than a project.

It was after 9pm and her phone was ringing… ‘nobody calls her at this hour’, she was thinking.

“ Hello, sorry for calling so late! Did I wake you up?”, John was at the other end of the line.

“ No, it’s fine, did something happened?”, her heart started beating faster.

“ Oh no, nothing like that, I just forget to ask you something today. Tomorrow is Wednesday, Spaghetti Wednesday as my mum would call it and I was wondering if you would like to join us for dinner?, he thought this was as good time as ever to try to get closer, he did not want to push her in any direction but he enjoyed spending time with her more than he thought…and his plan for this week was to win her over.

“ I mean, I think it would be useful for the article as well, to quote some of the family members”, he added, trying to not be so obvious.

“ Yes I think it could be an interesting part of the piece”, she answered smiling, wasn’t sure that saying yes would be a good idea but before she knew her lips said it and there was no going back…

*

The next day she interviewed a couple of employees who worked with John,  sat in two meetings and thought that there was enough resources to finish the article but then decided to stay until the end of the week anyway…she didn’t think much about it, just made a spur of the moment resolution.

John left the office earlier to help with dinner preparations, he was excited and a little bit scared; his sister was very happy to hear Amanda accepted the invitation, she wanted to see them happy and together. John’s mother, Mary was slightly suspicious, she knew Amanda from when they were children but wasn’t aware of his feelings for her. She never saw him behaving like this; smiling all the time, nervous and very chatty…he didn’t know how to act around his family, all he could think of was her.

When the doorbell rang his heart skipped a beat, he didn’t move until his sister shouted from the kitchen: “ can you go and open the door, John!”

Amanda was standing on the porch thinking should she go in or turn around, make up some silly excuse and leave, decisions, decisions…’why can life be simpler than this?’ While questioning herself, without realising she was ringing the doorbell. When John opened the door, they both just looked at each other for a few seconds without saying anything, until they were interrupted by Mary.

“ Welcome to our home Amanda, nice to see you…it’s been years since we last saw you, just around the time John left to Australia, if I remember well”, said Mary smiling.

“ Thank you for having me, and yes it’s been far to long indeed”, said Amanda, she didn’t really want to talk about the last time they saw each other, it was a topic that would bring back feelings of resentment towards John, which she would much prefer to replace with anything else right now.

“ Could I offer you anything to drink?”, asked John. He saw her eyes getting dark and sad when Mary mentioned Australia and was determined not to let  their past actions determine their possible future.

“ Yes, thank you, still water would be great”, Amanda decided before leaving home on not let anything put her in a bad mood, she didn’t feel so good about herself in a long time and deserved a time out from heartache and tearful eyes.

During dinner, everyone was talking about how happy they are John is finally home, his parents were so proud of him and his achievements; he wasn’t a child anymore but he would always be their little boy.

Sam, his sister shared some funny stories about their relationship while growing up; some of them were too familiar to Amanda as she used to be the third partner in crime; for those couple of hours she felt part of a loving and caring family and also realised it was something she long forgotten about. The whole evening was filled with laughter and chatter, amazing food and just warmth.

It is sad to think that one can forget how it feels to be loved and cared for; that life takes you into journeys that do not have always a happy end and that you wake up one morning feeling good being alone.

He offered to take her home as it was late into the evening and because he just didn’t want to let her go. They did not speak too much in the car, she was confused about everything, him, her, them, her life, decisions she made in the past, choices that could be made now; all turned into a puzzle she couldn’t put together soon enough

John wanted to say so many things; he knew now she was the one and the possibility of being rejected could crumble his whole world; he was looking at her and falling in love over and over again. 

The car stopped in front of her house, he wanted to walk her to the door but didn’t quit knew how to say it; her mind was completely somewhere else and did not even notice him walking alone side her towards the door.

He reached for her hand and it felt like someone pulled her back to reality; she turned around, looked at him like she was expecting something; he stopped thinking about it, leaned in and just kissed her with so much passion like it was the last thing he would ever do. Amanda didn’t pull back, at some level of confusion and denial it all felt right and wrong all together.

They said nothing to each other, she opened the house door and stepped in, turned around, smiled and closed it back.

He felt like flying, he knew this time around was different, they weren’t trying to find closure, they were trying to find their way back to one another. 

But between intention and action there is a moment that could change everything and this was that moment. 

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