“Len, what’s wrong?” Margot demanded “and don’t say nothing because something is.”
Len shrugged “nothing much, just a bit fed up”
“Why woman? You have just got a first class degree with honours, you won the college prize for the year, schools are queuing up to give you a job, you should be on top of the world.”
Len mumbled something “What did you say?” queried Margot.
“I’m lonely.” Len blurted out.
This is not what Margot expected her to say, “Why?” puzzled. “You have Con and Ted here.”
Len looked at the floor “I’m in love with Ted.”she whispered “always have been since school.”
“Oh Len.” Margot sat beside her sister and held her tightly “Oh darling, why didn’t you tell me sooner.”
“You have behaved so well, I never knew, and Con told me how you stood up for her and Ted when mother started at them.”
“Well yes, I love the pair of them, couldn’t let her do that.” Len muttered indistinctly, safe in her sister’s arms.
“So how have you coped, what have you done?”
Len blushed”been an idiot.”softly
“Tell me, I won’t judge you.”
Len told her honestly about the years of one night stands, or short affairs, of the searching for someone to love and failing, that no one else matched up to Ted. Margot listened quietly, still holding her sister, her face showing sorrow and pain . “Oh sis, you should have told me, trusted me, “she said gently. “ I would have understood.”
“I couldn’t, I was hurting, then later I was embarrassed.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Get a job, maybe back at the CS if they’ll have me, but somewhere away from them.”
Margot nodded “I understand. Len if you go to the CS take my advice, live at the school not at home, at home mother would just use you. “and Len “she paused “will you give up what you have been doing please, for me?”
Len was quiet, then nodded “Yes, I will.”
Len moved away, took the job with the Chalet school and started to rebuild her life, started to forget. She was a great success as a teacher and life seemed easier for a while. She returned to the UK to visit her sisters and friends. She found she could see Ted without the terrible ache, she would always love her but perhaps now she could let someone else in.But she never seemed to meet the person who would unlock the door to her heart so she stopped looking, resigned to never finding love.
She was in the UK visiting Ted and Con, there was always the slight pain in the corner of her heart but she refused to let it stop seeing them. They were so happy together it hurt almost. Rushing down the street on a typical UK summer day, windy and pouring with rain, she bumped into someone, sending their bags flying. “Oh I’m so sorry, let me help you.” Swiftly gathering bags, as she looked up “Jack.”
“Len, what, I mean what are you doing here?”
“Visiting Con, you?”
“I’m at college.”
“Good for you, doing what? “
“Geography, going to teach.”
“Wow, that’s great, never knew you wanted to. Look we are getting soaked, there’s a café over there lets catch up over a coffee.” And led the way. They sorted themselves out, ordered coffee and as they sipped the hot brew eyed each other. “You look well Jack, pretty grown up since I last saw you.”
“Well that was a few years ago,” Jack grinned “I’m bound to have grown up.” She wished her heart wasn’t pounding in quite that way, surely Len could hear it.
“I imagine so.” Len smiled. Jack had grown up, still boyish but in a more feminine way, still had the short hair though.
Len looks so much older thought Jack, she’s a teacher, I am never going to be old enough for her.
“So Len , any boyfriends in your life?”
Len grinned at Jacks total lack of subtlety and realised, with a shock, that she had missed this girl “No Jack, no boyfriends.”
“Me neither.” Well we are both single, good….Jack thought.
Len felt amused, she could read Jack’s thoughts” How old are you now Jack?”
“And I’m 25, is that too big a gap” Len thought then “And why did I just think that.” With a shock.
They looked at each other in silence for a moment then”Hey, I know how poor students can be, let me treat you to supper, do you live far away?”
“No, just a couple of streets”
“Do you know the Italian restaurant ,Marios?”
“ Fancy meeting me there at 7.00,” casually ,wondering what on earth she was doing.
“Yeah love too.”
And they parted. What am I doing thought Len, that’s Jack, you know she is in love with you, don’t hurt her you idiot, don’t use her. Then she stopped, ignoring the rain, and realised that for the first time in years someone had opened her heart.