Kate was on a date with Nathan Boyd, Julie’s ex-boyfriend, who she unceremoniously dumped the day after their first anniversary. Did I forget to mention their movie date was part of a three-day love extravaganza? A memorable, and costly, celebration of their anniversary?
Yeah, he loved Julie.
Kate knew she shouldn’t have accepted the dinner invitation, but her curiosity was too high. Strike that; his desperation for answers was too great.
Sitting at the back of Anderson’s in Hawthorn, Kate knew the quiet restaurant would be perfect for their forbidden rendezvous. Julie would be heartbroken if she knew she was meeting Nathan. More likely angrier than any other emotion.
Kate couldn’t risk anyone seeing her with Nathan.
Still to this day, I’m conflicted by Kate’s decision to meet Nathan. I appreciated why it would be a terrible idea to meet up with him because it looked disastrous for her. She would appear as a defector.
But Kate had zero romantic interest in him, and her loyalty was with Julie. Yet, it would still reflect poorly.
It would forever look like Kate was choosing his side.
However, and this is the big ‘however’ moment, Nathan deserved an explanation.
Julie had rudely, unfairly, irrationally dumped him. And if this meeting allowed him to move on, then it was the right thing to do. We all believed he deserved better treatment than what she gave him.
Kate would do what Julie couldn’t. And she deserved a medal for it.
The waiter approached the table and handed her the menu. “Are you waiting for someone?” She nodded with impatient frustration. Nathan was late. She was already doubting her decision. She didn’t need him to give her any other reasons to feel unsure. “He shouldn’t be much longer.”
She felt her stomach twist. Every moment that ticked past, she convinced herself it was time to abandon the meeting. But when she found the courage to leave, he walked in.
Nathan looked like shit. Well, shit is being kind. He looked like he hadn’t slept ever in his lifetime. And his chosen shirt decorated with an array of coloured condiments alarmed her. Kate could determine he was eating tomato sauce based on the red hue. It was that or a lot of red wine. Probably the latter.
“Hey,” he started, missing a collision with the table by an inch. “Sorry, I’m late. I’ve lost my watch.”
“Oh,” she replied, “Was it valuable?”
“Yes. Worth quite a lot.” He picked up the menu and then thumped it back down to the table. “Why did Julie dump me?”
The Questions and Lies
Oh wow, he’s going right for it, Kate mused. “What did she tell you?”
He sighed. “Julie said that she was feeling different about us. And that we were over. I asked her why, and she said that’s what she felt inside.” He took a breath. “She also asked me not to question her if I loved her.” Julie used all the manipulative tactics in the cliched break-up book, Kate mused.
“Well, she didn’t lie to you.” Kate knew she wasn’t lying either. But neglecting the part that there was someone else. Harry, no less.
“She has changed, but it’s more than about you.” And here came the lies. “She’s confused. Very confused about her life. And she’s baffled about her identity.” That was good, Kate, she thought, keep going. “She said to me that she doesn’t know who she is, and she’s feeling lost. Julie didn’t want to keep hurting you while she figured it out.”
Nathan’s eyes lit up. “I didn’t know that. She said nothing.”
“Well, of course, she wouldn’t. It’s embarrassing. No one wants to admit that they are lost and their life is a mess.” Now Kate was embellishing. But the scary part was that she wasn’t straying far from the truth. Julie was screwing it up. Big time. And Nathan was her collateral damage.
“Do you think I should call her, see if she’s ok?”
“Don’t. Don’t do that. Us girls are there for her and it might feel over-crowded, you know?” She reached over and took his hand. “You need to focus on you right now.” He nodded in genuine understanding. Whether he agreed with sincerity, Kate will never know.
But that day was the last time she heard from him.
The Sad Truth
“By the way, I didn’t lose my watch.”
Nathan stared at her with intensity as she stood up to leave. “Julie still has it. I don’t have the nerve to ask for it back.”
Kate realised Nathan was more screwed than she had given credit for.
Especially as Julie had already gifted the watch to Harry.
See you the next time I open the Little Black Book…
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write the stories that have formed my life and comment on the experience along the way.