I Luv U

Melanie snuggled deeper into Paul, resting her head low on his chest, her arm stretching across his stomach. Paul in turn rested his hand on her hip, occasionally stroking her as they watched the DVD.

“You want a cup of tea?” he said. Melanie shook her head and snuggled deeper into him.

“You all right?” he said, a note of concern edging his voice. She nodded. Paul twisted round and pushed her upright on the sofa. She tried to hide her tears but it was too late.

“Oh, love, what’s up?”

She shook her head and smiled through the tears. “Nothing. You know I always cry at films.”

“At a Stephen Seagal film? Don’t be daft. Tell me, what’s up?”

She nailed the smile on her face and shook her head, but then the facade shattered and she threw herself into his chest again, this time the tears flowing in the noisy sobs she had tried to hide. Paul held her, stroking her hair and crooning wordlessly until the sobs stopped shaking her body.

Finally, when Melanie was reduced to sniffing, he nuzzled her ear and said softly, “Is it your mum?”

Melanie nodded. Paul stretched over to the coffee table and pulled the box of tissues over. Melanie grabbed a handful and blew her nose. Paul continued to stroke her hair, knowing words from him could do nothing.

“I’m sorry,” she said eventually.

“Don’t be silly, Mel. You cry if you want to.”

“But it’s not fair on you.”

“Rubbish. I get to play the manly butch guy. You know you don’t let me do that often. I feel so manly at the moment I could kick Stephen Seagal’s arse. I won’t obviously, because I’m sensitive as well, but I could.”

She sat up and smiled, more that he was attempting to cheer her up than at his weak joke.

“You want a glass of wine instead of a cup of tea?” he said. “Maybe something stronger?”

“We haven’t got anything stronger.”

“For you, my darling, I would travel to the ends of the earth to get you a bottle of vodka, if that’s what you wanted. Oh, wait, is it raining out?”

This time her smile was genuine as she smacked him on his arm.

“Shut up, you daft beggar.”

“Talk to me, then.”

She sighed so heavily she seemed to shrink into the cushions.

“I just miss her, you know? All those phone calls, when we were in the middle of dinner, or I was getting ready to go out. The way she used to wait till I said goodbye before she’d say, ‘Oh, just one more thing,’ then talk my ear off for another half an hour. The way she always sniffed when she said your name. All those things that used to drive me crazy, all those things I hated her for, and now I’d give anything to hear her again, just once. Just so I could say, just so I could…”

Paul pulled Melanie towards him and held her as the tears flowed again.

“She knew, Mel love. She knew, otherwise why else would she call you so often?”

“But I never got to tell her. I was always trying to get off the phone and do something else. I should have told her I loved her, and instead I used to fob her off. I can’t even remember what our last conversation was about. How awful is that?”

“Some things you don’t need to say, love. Some things people just know, and if there was anything she knew about you, it was that you loved her.”

She struggled out of his arms and sat upright again, reaching for the tissues and blowing her nose as though she were furious at them.

“I still should have said,” she said. Paul shrugged, unable to think of an answer beyond what he’d already said.

“Have we got any wine?” she said eventually.

“And chocolate. I’ve been hiding a bar.”

Melanie’s phone suddenly chimed with an incoming message.

“That’ll be Jo, I expect,” she said.

“Fine, you bond with your sister and I’ll go get the booze.”

Mel reached for the phone as Paul heaved himself off the sofa and made for the kitchen. He had barely left the room when Melanie’s scream brought him dashing back in.

“What? What is it? What?”

Melanie sat huddled in the corner of the couch, hugging her knees to her chest. Her phone was gently spinning on the parquet floor where she had thrown it. She pointed wordlessly to the phone, horror written across her face. Paul, frowning with confusion, picked it up. He read the message out loud.

“See you next week, love, Mum.”

He looked up at Melanie. “It’s not her, love. It’s not. It’s some sort of mistake. Look, it’s not even her number. Wait.”

He thumbed the controls and held the phone to his ear.

“No, don’t phone her back!” hissed Melanie, but Paul waved her into silence.

“Hello? Who is this?… Hello Mrs Chapman, my name is Paul. The text message you’ve just sent, it’s rather baffled us…. No, no, it was to my girlfriend’s phone, and she’s just lost her mother, you see…. No, no, please don’t be. We just wondered who it was, and we didn’t want you missing your daughter, that’s all…. No, this is eight-one, not eight-four…. Yes, they can be fiddly, can’t they…. No, no, not at all. Goodnight.” He hung up the phone. “See, love. A wrong number, that was all.” He pulled a face. “Pretty freaky though, wasn’t it.”

“Oh Jesus. I thought it was her. I thought, I thought, I don’t know what I thought. God, my heart, it’s beating like a drum.”

Paul laughed and placed the phone on the coffee table before crouching before her. “It’s okay, Mel. It’s fine. If you were scared, how do you think I felt, seeing you climbing up the wall like something from the Exorcist?”

“I could really do with that wine.”

“Sure babes. You know what? I think this might be a two bottle evening. And the chocolate, yes?”

After he left, Melanie picked up the phone and looked at the message. Of course it wasn’t from her. The number was totally different. She thumbed her mother’s contact details. A totally different number. She’d been stupid. How long before Paul would start teasing her about it?

She hit the options button and stared at the menu. The she glanced up at the door. She could hear muted sounds from the kitchen as Paul clinked bottles and glasses. She hit the new message option. She smiled as she read the message.

I luv u mum

Then she hit the send button as Paul re-entered the room.

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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