Short story; The mistakes we make

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What follows is one of my most ambitious writing projects. I was inspired to write it as part of The Prompt linky hosted by the Mum Turned Mom blog. The inspirational phrase suggested on this occasion was “the mistakes we make.”

This inspired me to write…a love story. Not only that, but I’ve written it from the perspective of a woman, something I am completely unqualified to do. I can’t quite decide if I’m brave or foolhardy for unleashing this on the world. Without further ado, here goes…

The mistakes we make

Rosie was sat on the sofa in her small living room, legs curled up beneath her. She’d thrown on some casual clothes after returning from work; loose fitting linen trousers and a tee shirt and nothing on her feet. Her long brown hair had been hurriedly pulled into a pony tail as she rushed to sit down and open the letter.

On the table next to her was the letter, her mobile phone and a half-finished glass of red wine, the one luxury she had allowed herself this evening. Apart from taking the occasional sip of wine or picking up and re-reading the letter, she had barely moved in three hours. The phone had rung and beeped as various people had tried to get hold of her. All were ignored.

Rosie hadn’t even got off the seat to get a tissue to mop up her tears. Instead she’d simply wiped them away with the tee shirt she was wearing.

The letter was from a former lover, Sacha, although everyone everybody called him Sash. Rosie recognised the handwriting the moment she’d seen the envelope and knew this must be serious. Other than birthday cards, it would be the first time she’d received anything handwritten from Sash in a very long time.

The couple had been quite an item fifteen years ago. Although it wasn’t to be, friends and family assumed they were going to get married, have children and live happily ever after.

The pair had got together at the age of seventeen. They managed to stick together for quite a while and saw through most of their university years as an item. This had been no easy task. Rosie had studied in Newcastle while Sash went to Cardiff. As typically happens, they got into their studies, made new friends and, especially in Rosie’s case, thought long and hard about life after university.

He had taken a degree in media studies, a subject that didn’t come with the greatest career prospects. She read chemistry and was singled out by her tutors as someone suitable for post graduate study.

Towards the end of their university days, Sash surprised Rosie and took her off for a romantic weekend in the West Country. It turned into one of the saddest occasions either of them would ever face. On the last night, they drank bad Australian wine from plastic cups in the candlelit room of a cheap bed and breakfast. They chatted into the early hours, at first talking the nonsense young lovers talk.

While on the second bottle of wine, Rosie had outlined her desire to become a full time academic. Sash outlined his desire to make films in Los Angeles. They knew this couldn’t work. The couple went their separate ways, both knowing they were with the correct person but at the wrong time.

They had stayed in touch, but never too closely. Coming from the same home town, they’d often see each other at Christmas and bump into each other at the occasional party. Facebook comments were read and remarked upon, but only from time to time.

Mutual friends would sometimes pass on news as to how the other party was getting on. The same friends would gossip about how Rosie and Sash should get together again one day.

Needless to say, they both had other relationships in the intervening years. Sash had even been engaged at one point, but the couple broke up before making it to the altar. The reason for the split was never sufficiently explained, even to the closest friends and relations. Just occasionally Rosie allowed herself to wonder if it was because he still felt for her.

A glittering career as an academic and the international travel it involved had hindered any attempt by Rosie to settle down. Although she had been seriously involved with a couple of other men, she would have run into Sash’s arms at any time given the right circumstances.

Then the letter arrived. It was unlike anything Rosie had received in the past. Without sounding desperate, it was a declaration of intent. Sash made clear his desire to try again. On reading it Rosie had burst into tears and her eyes had been moist ever since.

The letter explained that his most recent girlfriend had run off with someone else a year ago. It had hurt, but he was over it. It also said the one person he wanted to share his life with, the one person he’d always wanted to share his life with, was Rosie.

“The mistakes we make,” said the letter, “are sometimes for the best.”

Rosie knew what he meant. With the passing of time and all the experiences they’d had individually, they were different people and in a much better place to be together as a couple.

To many people’s amazement, not least his own, Sash had eventually put his education to good use. Bruised by the break up, he hadn’t done as well at university as he should. On entering the world of work he’d bummed around, living in dingy bedsits while trying to secure funding for horror films that were never made.

In the end he grew up and went into publishing, first as a copywriter then an editor and eventually becoming an author. He couldn’t quite break away from his past and specialised in writing biographies of film stars and actors but was making a decent living from it. Dull as it sounded, this proved he could be a dependable partner, something Rosie found herself doubting when they had that conversation in the bed and breakfast years ago.

There had been no one in Rosie’s life for a while, at least nothing serious, and her current research project was nearing completion. There would soon be nothing tying her to the area where she was living or the university that employed her.

They weren’t students any more, they were adults. Dreary as it may seem, both Rosie and Sash longed for companionship and the certainty of domesticity. They weren’t getting any younger and Sash’s letter even made reference to children. Rosie didn’t find this frightening at all. Instead it appealed greatly and her stomach tightened at the thought.

The letter was read one more time. Rosie looked at the address on Sash’s letter. He had moved around a few times and she couldn’t remember where he was living now. She picked up her phone, started an app and punched in the postcode. It was two and a half hours away.

Rosie got up out of the seat and put on a cardigan and a pair of trainers. She picked her car keys out of a bowl by the front door, placed the letter in her handbag and threw it over her shoulder.

She didn’t have a clue what to say when she arrived at Sash’s. She just wanted to see him and to try again and see if, second time around, they could build a good life together.

Copyright, John L.Adams, London, October 2014

16 thoughts on “Short story; The mistakes we make”

  1. I’m impressed!
    Do we get to find out if it was a happy ever after?
    Do they pick up where they left off, or should their love have remained in the past?
    I’m intrigued. You must write part two!

    1. I confirm there will be no horrible car accident! I shall keep the rest to myself in case I do write a follow up. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Ah, I want to know more! You have to give us part two 🙂 Seriously though, this was great, I really enjoyed reading it (and I am thrilled that The Prompt is inspiring you to write fiction, I’ve loved all your stories). I don’t think it was foolhardy to write it from Rosie’s perspective at all, it worked. Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

    1. Thanks for saying so. For whatever reason I just wasn’t inspired to write form the guy’s perspective whatsoever. Glad it worked!

  3. This is a great story that really works the idea of the prompt. I love the description at the beginning as you set the scene before she reads the letter. I hope she doesn’t fall straight back in to his arms so easily, though. She’s got to make him work a bit harder to get her back, rather than running straight back to him just because he’s finally made the decision that he wants her. It might be what she wants too, but she can’t let him know that, can she? (Spoken from a woman’s point of view, with loads of logic, of course!!!).

    If you get the urge to write more fiction, would love it you popped over to share on Friday Fiction.

  4. I think you did extremely well in your “unqualified” position. I really want to know what happens to them.
    I loved the line in the letter about the mistakes, too.

    1. Thanks for saying so Chrissie. I just couldn’t even figure out how the male character would have reacted. It simply seemed natural for me to write it from the female perspective.

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