Drew Payne’s Website

The Language of Love

February 15th

"I remembered what floor I'd parked on, where I'd left the car and all. I only forgot which car park. We had to go all three of them, and they aren't close, until we found the car. Me mum was going mad. Me dad wouldn't let me drive his car for ages after that."

Maria laughed, rocked her head back in the car's seat and laughed. It was another one of Gary's self-deceptive stories. He was always the butt of them but somehow, in the way he told them; Maria didn't feel he was pathetic or stupid.

To her surprise Maria had a wonderful time that evening with Gary. From the moment he'd picked her up she'd found herself laughing. Outside of the workshops Gary was a different person, a relaxed and fun person. He hadn't said one thing about computers all evening; they had hardly mentioned the workshops at all.

They had seen a film together, a Hollywood comedy suggested by Gary. Usually she would ignore a film like that in favour of something more romantic. With Gary she'd laughed at every silly thing in the film. Afterwards they'd gone to a coffee shop he knew and talked and talked. Finally, as it turned midnight, he was driving her home in his car. But she didn't want the evening to end; she hadn't enjoyed herself so much for so long.

She still felt a pang of shame when she remembered agreeing to come out with him only yesterday. She had only agreed out of pity. It was the way he looked at her, a pleading and hopeful look that touched a nerve in her. It most have been the way she looked at Jude, that "please like me - please want me" look. Her emotions had been raw. The only thing she knew to do not to hurt him was to say yes, and she was hurting too much to want to hurt him.

Now she was glad she had agreed.

Gary stopped his car outside her home.

"Guess this is the goodnight bit," he said.

"Oh," she couldn't keep the disappointment out of her voice.

"Yeah, I had a great time too. Look do you want to go clubbing Saturday night."

"I'd love to but, it's just..." She felt herself becoming embarrassed at trying to explain to Gary.

"What?" His face creased with concern.

"I don't have any real clubbing clothes."

"That's easy. I promised me sister, Kay, that I'd go shopping with her on Saturday. Come with us. Kay's got brilliant taste."

"Are you sure that's all right?"

"Yeah. Kay loves buying clothes, doesn't matter for who. Also helps me out. I don't know nothing about women's clothes and Kay's always asking me what I think."

"Thanks."

Then he leant over and they kissed.

****

June 15th

The weather was still hot so Jude was surprised and pleased that the "garden" was empty. He had left his workshop early so he could have his lunch in relative peace and quiet, outside in the sunshine. Beth and Ted had been bickering all morning over a television program the night before. Jude had wanted to shout at them to shut-up; it was only a television program.

He walked over to one of the benches, the one directly in the sunlight, and sat down. But instead of starting his lunch he just sat there, enjoying the sun on his body. He considered taking off his tee shirt but decided not to. He knew people around the workshops talked about him enough without anyone seeing his pieced nipple.

He looked up and saw Maria walking into the "garden". She was wearing jeans and a bright pink top. It was surprising, now he thought about it, how different she looked. Not just her new hairstyle, not just all her new clothes, not just the weight she had lost, not just her new lightness of mood, but all of them together. (Beth’s opinion on Maria's new look was "Being in love has done that girl a world of good." Ted had replied, "You should know because you've been in love enough." This lead to another one of their bickering arguments). Jude had been surprised, at first, to find out Maria's boyfriend was Gary - the computer geek. Only surprised because Gary was such a solitary person, keeping himself to himself even more then Jude that he wondered how they got together.

Maria saw him, waved and quickly waked over to him.

"Do you mind if I join you?" She asked.

"No, sure," Jude replied, he’d rather be left alone but he couldn’t be that rude.

As she sat down next to him Jude noticed that the discomfort he used to feel around her was gone. It was obvious now that her feelings for him had gone; those that made him wince with embracement.

"How are you? I haven't seen you in ages," she asked.

"Fine. Keeping busy with work."

"Oh good."

"No Gary today?" He asked.

"He's gone to Kingsgate Technical College, he's talking to them about a computer course."

"He's taking a course with them?"

"Oh no," she laughed. "They've asked him to teach on their computer course, teaching about upgrading computers."

"Good."

They fell silent of a moment. Silent because they seemed to have run out of things to say to each other, well he didn’t know what to say.

He'd noticed, when he mentioned Gary's name her whole face light up. She was so in love with Gary that it cried out. He felt relieved.

"Jude?" Maria asked after a moment.

"Yes?"

"There's something we've been wondering about."

"What?"

"Have you ever been in love?" She asked him.

It was such a strange question that it throw him for a moment, for a moment he couldn't think of the answer.

"Once, years ago," he told her.

"What happened?"

"It was a mess and I got really badly hurt." He didn't want to say anymore. Just thinking about it all bought the pain rushing back. It was like the scar had never healed and just thinking about it made it bleed all over again.

"Hasn't there been anyone since?"

"No. No-one," he flatly told her.

"You're joking. People only get their hearts broken like that in books."

He looked at her and saw she meant it, and it gave him a sense of relief. What hurt he had caused her she had forgotten about through Gary. Love had cured her blues. He hoped she never got her heart broken. No one deserved that, except maybe... Don't go there, he told himself, it wasn't worth it.

He picked up the remains of his lunch.

"Sorry, I've got to get back to my workshop," he told her.

"Okay. Have a nice day."

"You too," he replied.

He walked away, leaving her in the bright and warm sun.

 

Drew Payne

February 2007

 

Part 2