By Adam Dixon
I’ve been sitting here for hours now. The wall has made my back ache and my backside has gone numb from sitting on the floorboards, but I don’t mind. Not while I can sit here with her head in my lap, stroking her beautiful hair. I would happily sit here all day doing this and I’d barely feel the passage of time. I live for these moments, when I can relax, hold her in my arms and run my hands gently through her gorgeous golden locks. It seems that these moments don’t come frequently enough, but when they do…bliss.
I love my Bev. Beverley Watson, to be precise. Beverley Anne Watson, to be even more so. A name which has fallen out of fashion somewhat, but I can’t think of one any more beautiful. She doesn’t think so, my Bev. She thinks it’s a name for an old crone, a spinster. I always laugh and shake my head. A beautiful name for a beautiful woman, I insist. I’ve told her so often, which she loved at first. She seemed to weary of it over time, but I still tell her. She needs reminding, the silly girl. We met two years ago. Two years, two months and seventeen days, to be precise. I like to keep count, but Bev tells me it’s silly. I tell her that that day was the start of our lives together and that nothing on earth would ever make me forget it. I’m a little hurt that she doesn’t see it in the same light, but that’s okay. I can keep count for us, so there is no need to worry.
We met at Kingston University in London during our final academic years there. I was working on my dissertation in the library when a woman’s voice with an American accent nervously asked me a question. I had been absorbed in my work and so had missed the inquiry, and upon glancing up I found myself gazing into a pair of hypnotic blue eyes. My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. I stammered lamely, asking the woman to repeat herself. It turned out that the owner of those mesmerising eyes was also a student there and she wanted to borrow the book I was studying once I had finished with it. It was a history book concerning the use of propaganda during the Second World War, and she said it would be very helpful for her dissertation in Film Studies. I had the last copy, it appeared. I had swallowed nervously and told her that of course she could. She had smiled at me, a relieved, grateful smile that was every bit as captivating as her eyes. From that moment I was under her spell.
Bev told me that she was from Miami, and that her family had moved to England roughly five years previously. She was amiable and chatty, and I was hooked on every word. We spent the rest of that afternoon getting to know one another, and we parted on pleasant terms after I had practically begged her for her phone number. She had been embarrassed, but I saw her hidden delight. She had given it to me, and I had floated back to my student flat as if on air, her smiling face filling my thoughts entirely. We instantly struck up a friendship and began to talk every day, via text messages, phone calls and on Facebook. Bev was committed to her studies, and so we often had to cut our conversations short so that she could focus on her work. I found it extremely difficult as my own studies were the furthest things from my mind at that point. I asked her out twice during our final terms, but she politely rejected me both times. She reasoned that she could not afford any distractions, no matter how tempting they might be. She had said it with a smile and a laugh, robbing any sting from her words in my eyes. I decided to be patient; I would wait an eternity to be with Bev. It certainly seemed like I had waited that long when results day came around. I had become less and less focused on my studies once we had met, and so my marks had dropped sharply. I had, however, worked hard enough previously to gain a second-class honours degree, but barely. I could have failed for all I cared. Bev had done fantastically well, with her hard work earning her a first. She was deliriously happy, screeching in my ear with joy and dancing round and round in circles with her friends, all of them whooping with excitement. Later that night, whilst we and hundreds of our fellows were celebrating in the student bar, I asked Bev if she would like to go out with me again. It was exactly four months to the day that we had met. I held my breath as she regarded me, a sly smile on her face and her cheeks reddened with alcohol. Finally, she leaned forwards and whispered to me gently.
“You betcha, handsome.” Then she had slipped her arm around my neck and kissed me. If I had died at that exact moment I would have died the happiest man on the planet.
Ah, what a sweet memory that is. I’d like to voice it aloud, but I don’t want to disturb her. I’ll leave her be, and keep stroking her hair. She’s always liked that and I’ll never tire of it. I’ll simply memorise my thoughts and write them down at a later date, just like Dostoevsky during his imprisonment.
I had lived for Bev from the moment I saw her, and now that we were together I felt like my life belonged to her. Unfortunately, the mundane structure of society had pressured me into finding a new place to live and seeking some form of employment. I hated being away from my angel, but they were necessary distractions. We still saw each other several evenings per week, as well as on the weekends. I took any opportunity to spend time with her, which irked her friends a great deal. I ignored them, whereas Bev good-humouredly laughed their objections away. So many wonderful things happened during those few months: day trips to history museums, the sharing of our favourite films snuggled under blankets, the first time we made love…Bev was as much caught up in the whirlwind that surrounds new relationships as I was, and it seemed to me that during that time she never stopped smiling.
But things started to go wrong exactly six months into our relationship. I was thrilled that we had made it so far, and the months had flown by in a dizzying dream for me. I was complete with Bev, and wanted to tell her so. I took her out into London for a meal at her favourite Italian restaurant, the one with the garlic bread sticks and the live bands. I even booked it for the night the Elvis impersonator was on, because she loves that silly man. Personally, I’ve always thought that having an Elvis Presley impersonator in an Italian was a bloody stupid idea, but I’ll happily endure it for Bev. We ate well, with creamy carbonara for me and seafood risotto for Bev, her favourite. She even had two helpings of dough balls that night, winking and warning me not to tell a soul because of her diet. I told her that I wouldn’t dream of telling on her, and that she could eat dough balls morning, noon and night for all I cared. She laughed, her beautiful mouth raising up into a dazzling smile and her hair swishing to and fro. I ordered a couple of bottles of the best wine they had; no expenses were spared that night. We were sitting quietly at the end of the evening, comfortably full of good food and more than a little bit tipsy. Bev was sitting slightly forwards with a demure smile, nodding her head to a passable rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes” with her eyes half-closed. Drinking in her beauty, I sat there in silence just watching her. After the song had finished, Bev had noticed me staring and asked me shyly what I was thinking about. It was then that I asked her to move in with me.
Her reaction was not pleasing to me.
“Oh, sweetie…I don’t know what to say…” She looked shocked and perplexed, not in control of herself as she almost always was. “I mean it’s a great idea but…isn’t it a little bit soon for that? It’s quite a big step to take…”
I was confused and hurt. I told her that it didn’t seem like a big step at all to me, but the logical progression of our devotion to one another. Again, she seemed bewildered and extremely uncomfortable.
“Yes, I suppose, but still…have we reached that point yet?”
It was as if she had slapped me across the face with her words. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Of course we had reached that point, we had reached it months before! We were made for each other, and this was the correct step, a way to properly begin the forging of our life together. Romeo and Juliet had only needed one evening to come to the realisation that they were destined for one another, and she adored that story. Therefore I was at a loss as to why she would balk at my suggestion. I mean, six months was positively aeons in comparison!
Needless to say, the pleasant mood was utterly ruined. I made some bumbling comment about rushing into things in a half-arsed attempt to appease her before asking for the bill. We sat in a painful silence as we waited, with me struggling to come to terms with my injury.
Whoops, I’m gripping her hair a bit tightly now! That memory does that to me, unfortunately. The pain still feels fresh when I recall that night. I haven’t hurt her, thankfully. There, I’ve smoothed her hair back and resumed stroking it gently. She still seems quite content to just let me be. Bless her, I love her so.
Then what? Ah yes, things had become quite awkward for us after that. I was wracked with doubt and deeply hurt, but I couldn’t stay away from her. She meant so much to me. After a couple of agonising days we met up once again and laughed the whole thing off. Well, Bev laughed anyway. I smiled and held her hand, determined more than ever to never let her go. I had come to the conclusion that she had not progressed to the same emotional level as I had, which whilst unfortunate, was not a major cause for concern. I was certain that she would catch up before too long, and meanwhile I would patiently dote upon her and let our love cleanse away any doubts.
Only, that didn’t quite happen. I blame her friends, personally. Those shit-stirring, envious parasites she calls friends, anyway. They were constantly whispering amongst themselves about me, I know it. They disliked how much time Bev spent with me, which was somewhat understandable. Friends of new couples often tend to react to their changing time commitments with jealousy, it’s almost a rite of passage. However, these “friends” took it beyond mere jealousy. They despised me, and I know that they were trying to turn Bev against me in order to get her back. I’d often come back from using the toilet or buying drinks at the bar to see Bev laughing uproariously with two or three of them surrounding her, whispering. When I’d ask what they had been talking about, one of them would interrupt Bev and palm me off with some half-thought drivel. They were like vultures, bloated with lies and guarding their next meal.
They were no good for her, and I tried to tell her that various times. Bev brushed it off at first, then she grew defensive and finally angry with me for suggesting it. So I stopped saying anything to her about it, and instead began to check up on her whilst she was out with them. I’d arrive unannounced and uninvited to coffee dates, lunches and even cinema screenings, much to the chagrin of the friends in question. At first Bev was pleasantly surprised to see me, and was happy to have me tag along. However, she began to become visibly disheartened by my sudden appearances and grew frustrated with me. It led to heated rows, during which I insisted that her jealous friends were getting to her, and that by causing arguments between us they were getting what they wanted.
Damn it! I’m gripping her hair again and my fingers are tangled in it. It’s those bloody friends of hers, it still infuriates me to think about what they did to us. OK, I’m untangled now. Slow, gentle strokes…
I continued checking up on Bev, especially when she started becoming evasive. I was angry when she got like that, and knew her friends were behind it. A couple of times I called in sick or swapped shifts at work in order to sneak out and follow her. It was often simply a matter of touring her usual haunts, as I could usually locate her that way within a couple of hours. If she had gone out of town, I found out where she would be by contacting her cousins or her siblings and convincing them that I had something urgent to tell her. That worked like a charm, but eventually they became maddeningly unhelpful. Her brother even threatened me once, and told me to stay away from Bev. I had never heard such a ludicrous suggestion, and angrily told him so. She didn’t need her family anymore anyway, she had me. All they would do is get in the way. Presently, whenever I appeared to rescue Bev from her parasites I was pleased to see that they were becoming visibly shaken by it, even frightened. I would have revelled in my victory if Bev had not started exhibiting the same reactions towards me. As I watched from afar and out of sight, I could see her casting her head to and fro, restless and fearful. She started stammering when we were together, and she was reluctant to let me touch her at times. The smiles I craved became fewer and further between, and the laughter was strained if it was even there at all. I couldn’t understand it; I was trying to protect her from her “friends”, for her sake. For our sake.
Nine months and fourteen days into our relationship, something terrible happened. Bev told me that we needed to talk, and sounded very much on edge. When I met with her, she blurted out that it was all over and that she didn’t want to see me again. She said I frightened her, and that I needed professional help. As I think back on it, I must say that I was surprisingly calm about the situation. It’s because I knew that she wasn’t serious; this was merely another setback which we would get past and be stronger for. It would hurt me being away from her, but if she needed space then I could forgive her for it. I could also forgive her for her harsh choice of words, as they were uttered in a moment of passion. I love how passionate Bev is, and I could never fault her for it. No, I would just be patient and everything would be fine. Bev would come back to me and I would welcome her with open arms and a full heart.
After about a month, I had seen on Facebook that she had been writing statuses about losing weight for the summer time. She had blocked me by this point, and I had seen this by hacking into her mother’s account. Although Bev is rightly considered by all to be beautiful, charming woman, she has always been troubled by her size. She has come from a society where beach-ready models with glorious sun-kissed skin and toned bodies were abundant and held up as the American standard, and she never really has been able to ignore that particular form of indoctrination. Her wonderfully curved hips, ample thighs and plump rear are anathema to her, and she has convinced herself that she is fat. No amount of argument on my side has budged that opinion, but I have been pleased to note that our relationship has inspired a certain confidence within her. Anyway, upon reading her status, I had bought her some fairly expensive summer dresses which would complement her figure delightfully and sent them to her address. I reasoned that even though she hadn’t come to her senses just yet it was still part of my duties as her boyfriend to make sure that she felt and looked good regardless of the season. It was a sweet, loving gesture. However, I received several furious messages on my own Facebook account, all from her friends and all insisting that Bev was uncomfortable with my gifts. Not a single message from Bev was sent to confirm their ramblings, though, so I knew that this was untrue.
All of a sudden, our first anniversary as a couple loomed overhead. After days of trying, I finally managed to contact Bev directly and arrange to meet for a meal. I told her that I needed to see her and that I loved her dearly, and that if she felt any compassion for me she would agree to see me that evening. She relented, and I eagerly booked a table at her favourite Italian in London once again. This time it would be a happy occasion from start to finish, with no awkwardness or disappointment. I was even looking forward to hearing that mediocre Elvis-wannabe again! I was a bundle of nerves as I waited for her. We had not seen each other properly for nearly three months, an excruciatingly painful length of time for me. But I was certain that once we started talking again Bev would come to her senses and stop playing her silly game. We would laugh and forget that anything ever happened. Imagine, then, my shock when Bev finally arrived, looking resplendent in a blue dress, flanked by her brother and her cousin. I was speechless with indignation; how dare they intrude on our celebration! I’d met her brother, Harvey, a few times but her cousin was nearly a stranger to me. Bev smiled at me weakly and mumbled something about us needing to talk, when her lout of a brother sharply interrupted her.
“Bev’s only here to give you some closure, creep, so don’t get any ideas.” He barked, folding his arms. “We’re watching you.” Her cousin stood next to him in much the same manner. To me, that had more than a passing resemblance to a pair of burly guards escorting a dejected prisoner to her cell.
For a few seconds I couldn’t respond, I merely sat at the table trembling with suppressed rage. I then managed to quietly ask Bev if she had planned for those two idiots to join us for the evening.
“No, sweetie, I had planned to come alone,” She began nervously. “But Harvey and Bob insisted that they-“. That was as far as she got. I don’t remember much about what followed. The red mist had descended and I had launched myself out of my seat and attacked Harvey. I vaguely remember knocking him off of his feet, and I think a woman nearby had screamed. Cousin Bob must have hit me because I ended up with a black eye. I was roughly seized by a hulking chef at some point and tossed unceremoniously out of the restaurant whilst someone called the police. I remember seeing Bev crying as I was taken away. Harvey was mopping at a gash on his eyebrow, trying to stop the blood trickling into his eyes and Bob had a broken wrist. As it turned out, neither of them decided to press charges, which I suppose was lucky for me. Lucky for them, too. I should have killed them.
I didn’t see Bev for a while after that incident. Her family and friends were on high alert which made it difficult for me to follow her, much less try to talk to her. I was forced to back off by those cretins. None of them seemed to realise that their actions would be hurting Bev just as much as they were hurting me. I had tried to warn her but she hadn’t listened! Just like Romeo and Juliet we were hindered in our love by the unreasonable zealotry of family. But also like Romeo and Juliet I knew that we would find a way around their oppression, a way to be together forever.
Blimey, look at me getting all romantic about it! That was almost thespian of me! Bev does that, her presence unlocks deep wells of emotion within, wells I didn’t even realise I had. She is my muse given exquisite physical form.
A little over four months later, I discovered through my various sources that Bev was planning on travelling down to Brighton to visit her aunt. My head was filled with fantasies of a tearful reunion on Brighton Pier and romantic walks along the beach as we inevitably reconciled. My heart ached for it, and I knew that it would be possible whilst she was away from her loathsome self-appointed guardians. I hacked into her email account and saw that she was getting a coach from London Victoria. I eagerly bought a ticket on the same coach and waited for the day with an impatience born of deep longing. The day finally came, and I excitedly boarded the coach a few stops out of Victoria. The overweight, bored-looking driver waved me on with little more than a grunt, hardly glancing at me. I was wearing my sunglasses and had my hood up so that Bev wouldn’t recognise me as I walked past her down the aisle, my heart leaping as I saw her reclining peacefully in her seat and gazing out of the window. I sat on an empty seat just behind her but on the opposite side of the coach, so that I could see her easily and day-dream about running my fingers through her beautiful golden hair once again.
Disaster struck on the way to Brighton. Firstly, the heavens had opened and deluge of rain had poured down on us as we cruised along the motorway. Secondly, we all overheard the driver panting heavily and attempting to discreetly contact his management back in London. He seemed to be in some distress, and some of the passengers started to become uneasy. I barely noticed any of this, I was too focused on my Bev. Suddenly, the driver lurched to the side, clutching his chest and dragging the steering wheel with him. The coach lumbered crazily across the road and into the fast lane. The screeching of brakes and the urgent blasting of horns filled our ears. Several passengers screamed in terror. The driver attempted to wrestle the wheel back, his ashen face and wide eyes visible in the rear-view mirror. Bev sat bolt upright, gripping her seat in panic. The coach swerved. A van collided with it at speed. The coach was spun around slightly on the wet asphalt, tyres squealing in alarm. Another vehicle hit the coach on the other side. Windows shattered. More people screamed. Another collision. I saw a section of the cabin burst inwards in front of me, and everything went black.
I came to in a hospital bed. My first thoughts were of Bev. My head was full of fog and I couldn’t think straight. I had vague memories of being pinned down under a cage of jagged metal and broken glass, soaked to the skin with rainwater and blood. I remember managing to look up and seeing another decimated coach seat in front of me, and a mangled body with golden hair streaked with red…I had been in a coma for almost a month with severe head injuries. When I asked about Bev, they tried to tell me that she was dead, and that her funeral had come and gone whilst I was unconscious. I refused to accept this information. She couldn’t have died. She simply couldn’t have. It was another heartless scheme conceived in jealousy by Bev’s family and friends. They were all in on it, every last muck-scraping one of them. They must have bribed the hospital staff to spin me that story, too. I was filled with disgust and contempt for them. They had taken advantage of a horrific accident and had faked Bev’s death, and all because they didn’t like me! All because Bev didn’t need them anymore! It was, and still is, unbelievable. The strength of some people’s vindictiveness is quite literally breath-taking.
I have since been searching for Bev. She was no doubt forced away from me whilst I was laid up in hospital, coerced or threatened to do so by her monstrous relatives. She is an exiled princess, and I am her lonely prince, tenaciously seeking her trail. She had previously discussed a desire to travel around the country in order to “get the full English experience”. The thought still makes me smile. So, I have been travelling from place to place, trying my utmost to catch sight of my beloved.
Which brings me, unfortunately, back to my present situation. I was so sure that I had found her this time. Those bright blue eyes, the welcoming smile, the gorgeous blond hair…But no, she is not Bev, and no amount of pretending will change that. I thought that perhaps she’d gotten amnesia from the crash and therefore needed some coaxing to awaken her memories, but I was wrong. I had realised my mistake eventually, but by then she was dead. My anger and frustration had gotten the better of me and I’d lost control. Still, she looked so much like my Bev that I was quite content to sit here on the floor, stroking her hair as the day grew darker and her body grew colder. It is nearly dark now, which is good; I can get rid of her more effectively in the dark, and then I can get back to finding Bev.
This young girl is the third almost-Bev I have stumbled across in the last six months, but I know that the real Bev, my Bev, is out there.
I will find her. We will have been together for two years very soon, and I must tell her once again how much I love her. Bev loves me too, I know it.
We’ll be so happy once we’re together again.