The Great Escape

Empty vessels make most noise and this one was no exception. She’d been talking for ages now and, apart from the occasional pause for breath, didn’t look like stopping anytime soon. She was now recounting the breakup with her fifth boyfriend and by his estimation, they were still only somewhere around the late 1990s. ‘Cool Britannia’ they had called it in the newspapers and it was cool for a while until musicians started to hang out with politicians; Geri Halliwell draping herself over Nelson Mandela and Noel Gallagher going round to Cherie and Tony’s for drinks. It had, in his opinion, ‘all gone a bit Pete Tong’ and so had this blind date.

He nodded his head and made appropriate noises, oblivious to what had been said for the last five minutes. He thought about checking his watch and inventing an excuse to get away. He’d arranged for one of his (less reliable) friends to ring him and conjure up a domestic crisis requiring his urgent and considered attention if things weren’t going well. There had been no phone call. His friend was probably in another pub somewhere with his other mates having a laugh at Sean’s expense whilst Sharon (it was Sharon wasn’t it?) had moved her life story into the 21st Century.

Sean hated dating. It was something to endure like visiting the dentist. Sean contemplated the joys of root canal surgery as an alternative to another decade of Sharon’s relationship history which would be closed by the words ‘and that’s me’. This would be the signal for Sean to respond with the Holy Trinity of Dating; outlining a relationship track record suggesting fidelity whilst intimating that he had yet to meet ‘the one’, hinting at financial stability and an ambitious career plan and professing if not a love of, at least a tolerance for romantic comedies.  Sean may have hated the dating game but he knew how it worked.

‘You need to get out and meet someone.’ Kate, his sister had told him. ’You can’t go round moping forever.’

‘I’m not ready for all that. It’s too soon.’

‘Nonsense Sean, it’s been over a year. I’ve got a friend, well maybe more a friend of a friend. Anyway she really likes you. You’d be great together.’

Sean was considering the new definition of the word ‘great’ when Sharon’s mobile started to ring loudly to the tune of ‘Single Ladies’. The phone vibrated and sped across the smooth wooden table towards the edge. For a split second, he considered letting it fall. He’d always hated that song but realised that the call might contain salvation and caught it just as gravity took over.

‘No, no, he hasn’t, has he? Aw you poor thing!… I’ll come over… Don’t cry, he’s just a man…. I know, they’re all bastards. I’m coming over now. See you soon.’ Sharon hung up. ‘Look I’m really sorry, I have to go. It’s my friend, she’s just…’

‘I heard. Don’t worry. Yeah, it’s been well been…erm… like really great. I’ll call you.’ Sean promised without much conviction. He gave her a peck on the cheek as Sharon disappeared into the evening and history. He wondered whether the call had been genuine or whether she too had arranged a ‘get out of jail’ call. It didn’t matter. He doubted he’d see Sharon soon. Perhaps they’d bump into each other at Kate’s wedding? They’d survive; Sharon would probably have a boyfriend by then anyway. She didn’t seem to go without one for very long if the period 1993-2002 was anything to go by.

Sean pulled on his coat and headed for the exit. Kate would be annoyed with him but she’d get over it, she always did. As he approached the door, it swung back sharply and hit him squarely in the head. As he picked himself off the floor, he stared up into a mass of wild black hair, deep brown eyes and a whole lot of trouble.

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About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

One Response to The Great Escape

  1. Rebecca Emin says:

    Pete, this is brilliant. I was sinking into the pity and sympathy zone and then, wham, that twist was great. I’d love to know what happens next.

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