How I Got Drawn In

It begins in a dance hall, dark and noisy, with dancers packed so closely that elbows and feet collide.  On this island, the dancing begins when the pubs close at ten, and ends at midnight when Sunday begins. Two girls are dancing with two young men. I am of the girls, out on a late pass from the school where we board. This dance hall used to be off-bounds because of its poor reputation but lately it has cleaned up its act and the matron has relented. My dance partner is Pete*, a guy I dated for a few weeks. We broke up, but it seems he might be interested again. I feel hopeful, excited.

Someone bumps into me, and then moves on. Just another dancer – or so I think – but he is dragging my friend away. It is someone she went out with a few years ago, and that did not end well. Pete doesn’t like it either. He says, “Hey! Have some manners. Leave her alone. She’s already dancing with someone.”

The reply is a fist in his face.

Within minutes we are all outside the dance hall, having been ordered out by bouncers. I am shivering with cold, fear and confusion, barely aware of what is going on around me. Pete hisses that he isn’t impressed with company I keep. “I thought you were a nice girl.”

“I don’t know him. I’ve never spoken to him before, and Abby*  finished with him long ago. She doesn’t want anything to do with him.”

It is the last time I will ever see Pete.

As Abby and I head back to our dormitory, she tells me that she has agreed to see her ex-boyfriend the next day – on the condition that I go too.

I don’t want to go. I definitely don’t want to go. But I agree, just like she did.

As we walk down the cobbled street to see him, on a cold Sunday afternoon in January, my hands are clammy and my throat hurts. Tension winds around my chest and eats into my stomach.

That meeting is a blur. After it, the phone calls start. I didn’t give him my phone number, but I didn’t need to. It is the same number he used to call Abby when they were dating.

He tells me he is drinking a bottle of whisky a day and that he needs help. He has thought of ending it all. He wants to straighten himself out so that Abby will love him again and come back to him. I suggest he sees his doctor for help with his drinking.

He phones again the next day and he says he’s seen a doctor who refused to help him. I feel shocked, appalled at the doctor’s lack of care. It never occurs to me that what he’s told me might not be true.

And then there are the aggressive calls: the ones when he has been drinking, the one when he says that he because he works in a hotel he has influence and will get Pete barred from every pub in town. Somehow, this feel as if it’s my fault, and so I try to call Pete to warn him. His flatmate answers the phone, and says he’ll pass on the message. His tone suggests I am over-reacting, and I now feel embarrassed as well as guilty.

The phone calls keep coming, sometimes several times an evening. It gets so I dread its ring. He says sorry for his previous behaviour, says he was depressed, and blames it on the booze. He wants to stop, but doesn’t know how.

I agree to meet him, to talk face to face. This time, Abby says she isn’t coming and I go alone, afraid of what he might do if I abandon him. We meet on the seafront, in the dark and cold. He talks about God, and what God wants for him, about how he is failing to live as he should. He says he is determined to kick the booze, and gives me a half bottle of whisky, asking me to get rid of it. I don’t want the responsibility and would get into trouble if I was caught with it. But I want to help him when he’s so desperate and trying so hard, so I take it. Then he hands me a knife. He says he had intended to use it to hold me hostage to get Abby to come to him. He realises this is a stupid plan that would never work. He begs me to get Abby to come and see him. I say I will ask her, but that I can’t promise anything. Already I feel sure Abby will say no.

Back at the dormitory, I tell Abby what happened and together we pour the whisky down the drain and get rid of the knife.

It seems to me he wants to get better. It seems that perhaps by listening to him I am helping. So when he rings wanting to know if Abby will come, I say it’s unlikely, but that I will ask her again.

It is Sunday afternoon again when I walk back down the cobbled street, with dread once more making my hands clammy and my throat sore. We meet in a shop doorway, and he talks about God again. I have a Bible in my coat pocket.

It begins to snow.

He suggested we go to his accommodation, which is only a few blocks away, and which will be warm and dry.

Naive as I am, I agree. This is a big mistake.

Read the second installment  A Minister’s Son 


* Names have been changed. 

If this post drew you in, you will like my novel, Drawings In Sand, available in Amazon’s Kindle store.

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Comments

  1. Oh Yvonne, this would have been me under different circumstances. Nothing like that ever happened to me but I identify with every one of your heart movements here and know I would have reacted similarly to every single situation you describe. It sounds like a terrible situation to be in I’m so sorry that your kindness, empathy and friendship ethic played to your disadvantage here.

    1. Thanks Katia, it’s good to know that you identify with this. I spent years feeling guilty for having been so naive and have only recently forgiven myself, so its reassuring to write this and see in the comments that others have had similar feelings even if not the same experience!

  2. This is one time when I wish you didn’t write as well as you do. My stomach is in knots, and I’m practically yelling at you to stop, even though I know it has all happened in the past.

  3. It’s that untold, unspoken premonition – not taken seriously enough isn’t it? It’s there, in the real story and it’s there in the telling and it is subtly terribly frightening. And so many

  4. …….con’t…….of us have had situations like this. I know I identify with your every move, unfortunately – powerless and pulled in, scared every step of the way but still trusting because that’s what you do, isn’t it?

    1. Penelope, powerless does sum up how I felt, terrified and yet feeling like I had no choice but to try. I just didn’t know any better then…
      Thanks for your comment and support!

  5. Your post did draw me in just as Drawings In Sand did. I want to read more and I want to know what happened next. This must have been so frightening and since this happened in your past I know that whatever happened you ended up okay. Still I really want to read more.

    1. Susan, it was frightening for sure! More will be coming soon! I’m just trying to decide on the best day to post the next instalment.
      Thanks for your comment!

  6. You’re incredible. Your book completely drew me in as did this post. I’m yelling at her in my head to stop and that this is going to end badly but wanting to know more! I can’t wait for part 2!

  7. you just rocked my world with your book. I finished reading it and posted reveiws. thanks. this one looks incredible as well! jean

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