Because relationships are never easy
Shelley had always been inspired by the rain. It had a cleansing appeal that made her want to walk in it until she was soaked to the skin and tingly cold. It felt good. And when she read the text from Gordie, she knew that today was to be a walking-in-the-rain day.
Being dumped was pretty rubbish, and being dumped by text message was not only rubbish but disrespectful. Yet Shelley didn’t mind. Not really. It came as a relief, and in a way she understood Gordie’s reluctance to tell her face-to-face, understood his cowardice.
After all, aren’t we all cowards, to a greater or lesser extent? She’d been skirting round the problems in their relationship for a good few months, but had reached an impasse. Sooner or later one of them would say something. She’d like it to be her, but…well…you have to get the timing right, don’t you?
She flopped her phone back onto the table. Whatever, Gordie, you always were an idiot, Shelley sighed. At the same time as releasing her from their failing partnership, he had robbed her of her chance to tell him a few home truths. But did she really mind?
Probably not. It would have got unpleasant. He would have sulked. She would have felt nervous and timid for a couple of weeks, and then when a mutual friend said, “Have you seen the things he’s written about you?” Shelley would have had to pretend to be unsurprised and disinterested, when really she would have been hurt and humiliated.
No, better this way. Let him do the dumping, it would be a lesser pain than having to endure his wounded pride.
Boots, clearly made for the English weather, stood abandoned in a dried pool of once-watery mud by the back door from her last rainy walk. Without pausing for a coat, Shelley heaved them on and went outside. The cool air, wet with rain, embraced her hot face, kissed her curly hair, and she immediately became one with the elements.
Sploshing footstep after sploshing footstep took her further from her front door and she headed towards a well-worn path than ran through the park and out onto dog-walker scrubland. The place was free of hounds and their handlers today, and so she walked alone. There was no wind and the wet air was heavy with a summery humidity.
After ten minutes of striding through the long grass, Shelley felt the familiar trickle down her back as her clothes began to soak in the water. Yeah, well, I can do better than you, Gordie, any day of the week, she told herself. I don’t need you in my life to validate it. I don’t need you, full stop. Shelley felt slightly ashamed of herself that she’d let him do the dirty deed, wondered when it had happened that she’d become such a push-over.
She paused to take in the sights and sounds and scents around her. The invisible particles floating all around cleared her head and she inhaled the damp, refreshing air. It felt like she was being cleaned from the inside out. She should have made the effort, she reflected, and got there first. Made the first move. Beat him to it. She should have been the one sending the dumping text.
It took a moment before Shelley realised tears were easing their way down her rain-damp cheeks. She sighed heavily and stared at her boots, the rain drip, drip, dripping from the curls in her wet fringe onto her laces. A quiet sob escaped her and she threw her head back, staring up into the grey sky as raindrops, like cloud-driven tears, fell earthward into her own eyes.
“Who’s the biggest coward, eh, Gordie? You or me?” Shelley asked out loud. She closed her eyes and shivered. Why had she been so indecisive? Why had she put-off the inevitable? Had she been scared? Or lazy? Or frightened of being alone?
Whatever it was, she knew that none of the above were reasons to hold onto the remnants of relationship – and yet she had surprised herself with her own inertia. With a brief but disbelieving shake of her head, Shelley turned homeward.
A hot shower and change of clothes brought her back to the here-and-now, and as she stood sipping a cup of tea and looking out into her watery and wind-swept garden, her mobile phone buzzed with an incoming text.
She paused before reading it – she knew it would be from Gordie. She was right. ‘I’m so sorry. I made a mistake. I need 2 c u. Pls say yes.’ Shelley wavered. She looked out into the garden again. The phone buzzed in her hand once more and she looked down at it. ‘Please?’
Watching the raindrops slowly track their way down the pane, Shelley sipped her tea and quietly considered her answer.