Short Story: Happy
The sun rose above the hills along the horizon, filling the sky with fiery shades of red and orange. The clouds glowed yellow, and the light that fell through them reached out to Erin. But as she watched the beautiful colours mix with the greenery before it, Erin couldn’t help the dampening mood that had overcome her two months before. It lingered over her like a black cloud, and even the cheery chirps of the morning birds outside her window weren’t enough to make her smile. She mindlessly doodled on the notepad on her desk, and she sighed exasperatedly when her downcast eyes caught sight of her watch. She had been simply sitting there for what was now three hours.
The notepad was thrown across the room, colliding with the opposite wall and landing at its feet with the pages all folded and askew. Erin leaned back in her chair, rubbing her face vigorously with the palms of her hands. Why was this happening to her? After everything...
She got up. Before she could think about what she was doing she was outside, breathing in the warming air the sun brought to her lungs. She didn’t know where she was walking to, nor did she care. She just had to get out; she had to think. The wind ran its cool fingers through her tousled hair and the trees waved at her. She crossed the main road and walked through the park, and eventually she found herself standing outside a familiar building. Her feet stalled to a stop, faltering, hesitant. Was this really the right choice?
She knew that no matter how many times Troy broke her heart she would love him unconditionally. He was a charming young man at his best, with deep blue eyes that she would find herself drowning in. He was her first love, and she had been very sure that he’d be her last. But unfortunately, loving somebody like Troy wasn’t easy. He had grown up by the rules that emotions were a weakness and that men were more superior. But Erin had stolen his heart, as had he stolen hers, and the cold exterior had started to melt away, allowing them to live the wonderfully new life of first lovers.
The new flat had supposed to be the next commitment for them, the next step towards their future. Instead it seemed to have brought the coffin, each row they had being a hammer hitting the head of another nail, the tip biting into the wood. Troy hadn’t been as driven as Erin; whereas Erin knew that she wanted to be an architect from the moment she started art and design at high school, Troy had always been more laid back, not knowing – or caring for that matter – what career path he would take. So the arguments commenced, arguments about rent and bills and Troy needing to get a job. It had been the final straw when he started with his snide comments, calling her a “badgering old bint”. She had packed her stuff immediately, moving back in with her parents without another word to him.
It seemed now, of course, that it had opened Troy’s eyes to the fact that he had been a jerk. He had called her two days ago, telling her that he had sorted himself out and wanted her back. He had a new job as a sales executive and enjoying it, but would only truly be happy if she went back to him.
So she did. And now he had kicked her out. It was getting pretty embarrassing now – this was the fourth time she had knocked on her parents’ door asking if she could move back in.
“Why do you bother with him?”
She had often asked herself the same question, but the answer had been simple: she loved him. She loved him with all her heart, and she knew despite everything that he loved her too.
It was that night in the pub that she saw him. He had that young Richard Gere look about him and his eyes seared into hers with an intensity that took her breath away. He was an assassin, he joked, later explaining that he actually saved lives as opposed to taking them away. He was sarcastic yet charming, arrogant yet complimentary, and those eyes drew her in like a moth to a flame.
She couldn’t help but feel like she had cheated on Troy when she awoke in the strange bed. The covers flew across the room as she jumped up and rushed to get dressed, feeling sick and hung-over despite the fact that she had never drank a drop of alcohol in her life. Ian had left a note on the bedside table to inform her that he had rounds to do, to which she sighed her relief. At least she wouldn’t have to face any awkwardness with him.
The sickness feeling only intensified as she caught sight of Troy going into work. Guilt wasn’t a sensation she was used to, and now she felt like she was overcome by it. She couldn’t think straight; leaning against the nearest wall she took deep breaths to calm herself down, feeling as her heart rate started to slow gradually. Why was she acting like this? Troy and she were over. She was allowed to be with whoever she wanted.
But maybe Troy was the only one she wanted to be with.
A couple of days later she found herself in the pub she met Ian in, her eyes searching for the Richard Gere lookalike. She wasn’t sure why she was so drawn to him. Maybe it was because she knew he wanted her. Maybe she’d decided that the thrill she got from this mysterious doctor had her feeling like her 24 years as opposed to a nagging mother. Maybe-
“Looking for someone?”
She turned to be met by the dark stare that make her breath hitch in her throat. “No, not at all,” she said too quickly, and she chastised herself for making it so apparent that she was nervous around him. His smirk was not cocky as she’d expected, instead cheeky and...
She shook her head and returned her gaze to the bartender.
“A coke, please. Diet.”
“Diet?” Ian mused. “Health freak?”
“No,” she snapped before she could muster a calm state of mind. “I just prefer the taste.”
“Ah. Make that two,” he called to the barman before meeting Erin’s puzzled look and winking at her.
It was perceptible that the doctor was genuinely attracted to her, and she to him. But it was also evident that Erin was scared. She was scared of this thing – whatever the hell it was – with Ian, and she was scared of the idea of turning her back on what she once had with Troy for good.
This feeling nearly caused a collapse in the supermarket when she bumped into Troy. Why? Of all people in the supermarket, why him?
“Woah, hey!” he’d said, turning to meet her shocked expression with one of his own. “Erin.”
The silence between them had been deafening, not to mention awkward, and Erin had left without another word. She felt all over the place. Guilty. Torn.
And now here she was. Standing outside the building that held her fate. Possibly the building holding her future. Her hesitant steps became confident, and she walked inside, taking the elevator to the required floor. It was as if she had punched his name into the elevator because the doors opened to him. Of course – he was probably going to the cafeteria for his lunch break.
“Erin?” The smile that came to his face was both pleased and puzzled at the same time. It was adorable, and at that moment she knew that she had made the right choice.
“What are you doing here?” he laughed. “I thought you hated-” She cut him off with a kiss, a kiss full of fear and desire, love and pain, the need to be happy. And he kissed back with as much intensity, holding her firmly in his arms.
“Not that I’m complaining, but what was that about?” he asked when they broke apart.
“I want to be with you,” Erin breathed. “I want to be happy...with you. Ian...”
“Shh...” Ian kissed her attentively, gently stroking her cheek. Erin found herself leaning into the touch. “Let’s get something to eat, shall we? Then we can talk.” He kissed her once more before leading her back into elevator, a hand squeezing her own slightly. Erin looked up at the doctor and smiled as the doors slid shut. She knew she was finally going to be happy.