“So then I said, ‘No, love. You’re the one who’s wrong! You just told Wolfgang Puck to take it up the ass in German!’” I finished, summing up a long story about a dinner with an old friend as the group at our table laughed.
Across the table sitting with his four best friends on either sides of him, I could see my boyfriend rolling his bright blue eyes. He was obviously bored of the story. “Isn’t that something, Niall?” I asked him, crossing my arms across my chest. He finished off his third beer of the night, signaling for the waiter to get him another before he met my gaze and said,
“Yeah… What if he likes it up the ass? Hmm? Maybe Mallory was considering that.”
I wrinkled my brows, making my tone of voice a bit higher pitched, the tone he hated most in the entire world, and shot back, “Yeah, intelligent input darling, why don’t you just have another beer then?” It was at this particular juncture that the waiter was setting down his fourth beer in front of him. Niall’s upper lip curled in disdain and anger.
“I will then, bitch.” And as soon as those words left his mouth, there became an immediate tension at the table, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see our friend Danielle shift in her seat uncomfortably. Eleanor, who was to my other side, cough delicately into her napkin before sipping her Cosmo. Even the lads seemed to move their gaze away from Niall and I and became suddenly interested in either the menus or their own drinks. I knew the feeling, they were embarrassed about us.
But the thing was, two years ago, what he said would have caused me to run for the ladies’ room, tears streaking down my face.
Two years ago, I wouldn’t have picked a fight.
And furthermore, two years ago, I never thought I would have even met someone like Niall.
But now, I just didn’t give a shit.
My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundations, and I know that I should let go, but I can't. And every time we fight I know it's not right, every time that you're upset and I smile, I know I should forget, but I can't .
Two years ago, I was nineteen, beginning my second year of university in London. Fresh out of a long-term, long-distance relationship with my high school sweetheart, Ben, I was ready to be single for a long time…
But Niall came crashing into my life, made himself comfortable and never left.
In the past few months, after moving in together into his modest penthouse flat, things had become more stressful than ever. We’d been fighting more than ever, and not in the way we always used to.
He’d say something to set me off or vice versa, we’d say things that I could only hope we both didn’t mean and storm off to different places: Him, taking off in his Range Rover, probably off to a pub to drink pints until he couldn’t see straight or to one of his friends’ houses. Me, to the bedroom or bathroom, where I would sit on the floor, my arms wrapped securely around myself, a sick form of protection. From what? I didn’t know.
Sometimes, he would get frightening when he was angry.
One specific time, he’d said to me about how I never got dressed up for him anymore. How I was too busy with work to try to do anything with him before he was due to head out on tour. How I wasn’t as beautiful as I used to be. And that was what really enraged me.
So, I screamed out, “Well, I’d much rather be out with your friends, mate, ‘cause they are much fitter.” It was childish, stupid and he came towards me, hovering above me, using his height to his advantage. I could see his hands tensing at his sides, but instead of swinging at me, he merely turned on his heel, storming out.
It was only after hearing the screeching of the tires that I sank to my knees, tears flowing from my eyes. I had this sickening feeling of sadness. Sadness that he hadn’t struck me. And with a sinking feeling, I realized then just how bad things were, especially if I had wished he would hit me…
Even more sickening was the realization that the reason I wanted him to hit me was because it would give me a good reason to leave him…
“Anyway,” Liam said, clearing his throat. “But Spago’s is good? I’ve been meaning to go there with Dani next time we’re in Los Angeles.”
I nodded, taking a long sip from my glass of wine. “It’s amazing. You should definitely go.”
And with that, the natural flow of conversation resumed, and I maintained small talk as I could see Niall ordering more drinks as time wore on. He was getting progressively more flush, as he got more and more drunk.
By the time everyone was tired and done with their food and drinks, it was nearly eleven. We got our checks, paying quickly and beginning to head out towards the carpark, bundled in out jackets due to the spring chill.
Danielle and Liam went one way, holding each other’s hands, whispering to each other as they walked away, probably about their pending wedding plans or my behavior. Either way, I didn’t care.
Zayn and Perrie had grabbed a taxi, heading off to a club, both of them slightly tipsy as they tried to convince the cab driver to find a Burger King as the taxi pulled away.
Louis had his arm around Eleanor’s shoulders, telling her jokes in her ear to make her laugh as he lead her towards the car, with Harry and his date, Lauren, behind them, their arms interlinked.
Seeing these couples, all in various stages of their relationships, so happy made my heart hurt. But I bid my friends goodbye, forcing a smile as usual.
I looked back at Niall, who was staggering a few feet behind me as I walked towards the car, digging in my purse for the car keys. I just wanted to get home, get out of my fancy clothes and get some sleep. No rest for the weary, they said. Pressing the key fob, I saw the blinking lights from the Range Rover.
Suddenly, as I made for the driver’s side, Niall was beside me, trying to tug the keys from my grasp. “Lemme drive.” He was saying, but his words were slurring. Most would think they were unintelligible, but when you’d been around Niall as long as I had, you could understand his drunk gibberish.
“No, you’re wasted. I’m driving, end of story.”
His blue eyes were looking at me hard. He began to argue, but then he frowned and before he could turn away, he bent at the waist and threw up on my new heels. “Ew, gross!” I said with a bit of a shriek. “I just got these yesterday!”
He sort of smirked, looking at his mess, before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Sorry. Bit too much to drink, I guess.” He mumbled before making his way over to the other side of the car to crawl into the backseat. I opened the driver’s side door, sitting on the seat sideways, taking off my heels and shaking most of the alcohol-scented puke off them as much as possible before putting them on the passenger side’s floor.
I put the key in the ignition, starting it and turning on the heat just a bit to warm me up from the London cold. I could hear Niall groan in the backseat and move about before he got comfortable in a half-sitting, half-lying down position. I backed us out of the lot and directed the car onto the main road, heading for home, my eyes checking on Niall in the back through the rearview mirror every so often.
I’d always sort of hated him when he was drunk, which was more often than not as of late, because he always became this stupendous asshole. Slurring, stammering, stumbling mess of a man. Nothing like the Niall I’d fallen in love with, who was funny, outgoing and sweet…
But who was I to say I wasn’t who he’d fallen in love with anymore either?
I used to be so much more carefree. Sweeter, too. Kinder. But now, it felt like I had to worry about everything; my job as a journalist, student loans I needed to repay, groceries to shop for… And now, drunk Niall to look out for and our shared loft’s electricity bill.
I was so tired of all of it.
Pulling into the apartment complex’s closed-off carpark and shutting off the engine, I noticed Niall was asleep in the back, snoring away as he lay on his stomach, nearly hanging off the edge of the seat. I decided to just leave him there, knowing he’d be pissed and hungover in the morning, but I just was fed up…
I crawled into bed, shutting off the light, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret for leaving Niall down there by himself. But I also knew there was no use in trying to get him upstairs either. So instead, I wrapped a blanket around myself and, against my better judgment, headed out to the carpark with a few pillows and an extra blanket in hand.
I got into the driver’s seat, pushing the seat back and resting a pillow under my head after making sure Niall had a blanket over him and a pillow under his head. Looking at him, so peacefully asleep, it reminded me of why I hadn’t given up.
And that was because, regardless of everything, I was still in love with him…