In June 2006, I had to go back to Scotland. I wondered how things would work out with Toad and I, whether he even wanted to give a long distance relationship a go or not. Over time there seemed to be a power shift in our relationship. In the beginning, I was reluctant to be with him. He did all of the chasing. Sent me flowers. Turned up on my doorstep as a surprise. Paid for a train ticket for me to come and see him in Paris. At the beginning I seemed to have all the power: I felt as though he was putting all his effort into getting me to be his girl. And so, at some point, I gave in.
But once we became official, the tables turned. I came over all needy. I felt like I had to work hard just to keep his eyes from roaming, had to almost remind him that I existed. It was as though I was smitten and he didn't give a damn. The chase was over, he had me and now, like a cat who walks away from their half dead prey, he was bored. Suddenly, he had the upper hand in our relationship and I would do anything just to keep him.
Toad did make an effort when I moved back to Scotland. Albeit a small one. He phoned me almost every night. He even managed to make a trip over to see me, but it was the strangest thing. I came to meet him at Glasgow Train Station and we got on the coach to go back to Edinburgh. We'd just been reunited after not seeing each other for a few weeks, maybe a month even, and we were supposed to be in a loving relationship. So why, as soon as we got on the coach, did he put his Ipod on full blast and put both buds into his ears? I sat there, desperately and pathetically hoping he was just tired after the travelling and I held onto his hand until he took it away and snapped at me, telling me I was making him too hot. He ignored me for the rest of the journey.
Since I'd moved back to Scotland, Anthony and I had been sending each other emails. He was so adorable, and his English, although still bad, was improving slowly but surely (my French was not, however). He had just moved to Germany in order to do an apprenticeship. We talked a lot about our respective relationships, about how he was scared Allie would cheat on him while he was away. She'd done it before, he said. They'd been together for 6 years, they were high school sweethearts and I couldn't get over the fact that they'd been together for so many years. To me, at the time, 6 years felt like forever. I felt like if a couple were together for 6 years then they were probably going to work out ok.
One evening, while Toad was staying, he was watching the TV while I was on the internet, bored and fed up of watching football. Anthony was online and we were chatting through the instant messenger. At some point during our conversation things turned serious and he said 'Linsey, what would you do if you were tempted to give it all up and be with someone else?'
I could read a million things into just that one question. My heart skipped a beat. What was I to say? I looked over at Toad, laid out on my sofa, a beer in one hand and the other hand scratching his balls as he watched the football. And then I thought of Allie. She was a nice girl, we were friends and from what I could tell, she loved Anthony. They had been together 6 years, they were obviously supposed to be together.
'I would look at the person I was with and think of what I might lose if I gave into my temptations.' I replied. Sighed. Closed my laptop and walked over to Toad. 'You're in the way,' he waved me out of his vision. 'I can't see the football.'
It was about that point when I realised that Anthony and I could be dangerous for one another. I didn't know if I was in love with Toad, but I didn't want to just give up either. I'd been jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend since I was 17, I'd introduced Toad to my friends and family. I didn't want to let them all down. I didn't want them to say 'oh surprise, surprise, Linsey has split up with yet another boyfriend.' I didn't want to keep doing that. I so wanted to be in a long term, loving relationship, I so wanted to be with The One. I had convinced myself, forced myself to believe that Toad was that person. Because Toad was the one who was in my apartment and in my life at that point. It was easier to believe it was him.
After that, I got too busy at uni to communicate with Anthony online much. Or that was my excuse. Sometimes I checked my emails to find he had sent messages saying he hoped I was ok and that he missed talking to me. I missed him too, but I didn't want to cause trouble between him and Allie and I really needed to concentrate on my relationship with Toad if I wanted it to work out. But one day, while checking my inbox, I saw an email from him that seemed different. The words in the subject box startled me : 'She did it'. Those three words seemed so heavy. As though all of Anthony's emotions had been poured into that one sentence. I opened it up and began to read.
Coucou Linsey, Cela fait longtemps que je ne t'ai pas vu sur l'internet...J'espere que tu vas un jour lire ce mail et me repondre. Voila je voulais te dire que Allie et moi c'est finis...et oui elle m'as trompé avec un mec...Je souhaiterai tellement t'en parler. Bon, je t'embrasse. I MISS YOU SO MUCH.
I stared at the flickering screen and tried hard to make sense of this email he had sent. My French - even after a year in La Rochelle - was still not up to scratch. I knew he was saying he hadn't seen me on the internet for a long time and that he hoped that one day I would read that email and reply to him. I understood that Allie and him were finished. And I supposed, although I'd never come across this word before, that trompé meant she had cheated on him. And all the while I had distanced myself from him, practically ignored him. I felt awful.
My heart broke for him. How could she do that to him? How could anyone do that to Anthony? He was so sweet and adorabley funny and gorgeous and - I was outraged. All of a sudden I had all these feelings that were floating to the surface of my gut - no, not floating, more like bubbling. I had so many feelings all at the one time that I didn't know which feelings they were. One was anger, that was for sure. Another was sorrow. I felt so, so sad for him. I didn't want him to hurt. I knew what it was like to be cheated on, I didn't want him to feel that way. It hurt me to think that he was hurting. I wanted to be there with him, to take him in my arms and hold him against me, to protect him.
Protective. That was another one of those feelings. I felt protective of him.
I loved him.
Anthony and I started talking more often through emails and instant messenger again. We didn't really talk much about Allie anymore. Mostly we spoke about our hopes and dreams for the future and we found that a lot of them, we had in common. I loved waking up to a new email message from him every day. Sometimes they would be hilarious :
Hello linsey, Your mission today is to record my email (that i refund the password.. lol) and to feel free with it. As i can answer yet to your sms, i can answer to email. Even if one of your team or you are captured, the nation tell to everyone that they dont know you. This message must be deleted quickly, if not the worldwide can exploise. Stop. Anthony from a far German nation...
(I have no idea what that one meant but it makes me laugh SO MUCH even now and I think that's what he wanted.)
And sometimes they would be just plain sweet :
Do you will stay my Scottish friend Lins? I'm addicted I can't stay 24 hours without having news of you! I'm annoying boy but you know you are special for me isn't it?
Our relationship was becoming stronger and stronger and I was opening up more and more with Anthony. In him I had found a really good friend. Someone I could really talk to. Although saying that, I hadn't yet told him that I had some unexplained illness that was getting worse and worse. I suppose the fact that him not knowing about it meant that I could pretend it didn't exist.
I did tell him, eventually. Because it got to the point where I wanted to. I wanted to tell him that I was scared. I kind of felt that he would understand. I blurted it out to him while we were chatting on the internet and it all came tumbling out at once, not at all the way I'd planned it. Afterward, when the shock had subsided, I explained everything that I knew, didn't leave anything out. And he cried. But he still understood. Maybe more than anyone else ever understood.
The next morning I received this email:
Hey my tresor,
yesterday night, when i have smoked my last cigarette, i have watched the sky and ask to God if he could turn his face toward Scotland, toward you.. I have asked him that he can stop help me now but he must help someone i love. And guess what? i think he answers me this night cause he gives me your pretty face smiling on my dream! i have seen you smiling! my little finger tell me that is a premonitory dream!! :-)
for anyway, dont forget my mind is with you and i wish help you go pass through this difficult moment...
I am on msn tonight from 18h30 to maybe late.... so if you need...
be strong honey....
It occurred to me that I was talking to Anthony more than I was talking to Toad. In fact, I realised that Toad hadn't called me for over a week. Hadn't sent me an sms message. Hadn't even sent me an email. That wasn't right...How could that be? We were supposed to be in a relationship. Unless it was over and he just hadn't told me...
It was over. He just hadn't told me. Hadn't had the guts to. I called him. Texted him. Emailed him and finally, a day later, I got an email in response. It was over. He just didn't feel right. He'd been with his ex. He'd been with a new girl he'd met on the internet. He'd been everywhere, evidently he'd been too busy being with other girls to let me know we were finished. I was livid. As I read the email I burst into tears. Was I sad that he didn't want to be with me? Or was I sad that I had to tell my friends and family yet again that I had another failed relationship under my belt? It was neither of the two. I wasn't sad. I was humiliated. They were tears of humiliation. I was humiliated that he didn't want to be with me and I was humiliated because I had to tell my friends and family that it hadn't worked out.
And then I picked up the phone and called the one person who I knew would be able to calm me down. Anthony.
It was his birthday. The 27th August 2006. He picked up the phone tentatively and I heard his voice for the first time since we'd seen each other at the party months ago.
He says it was the best birthday present he had ever had.
Two days later, Anthony told me he loved me for the first time. Said he always had. From the moment he first met me.
And that's where life began...