Ch.33 End

“Here in the dark, in these final hours,
I will lay down my heart,
And I’ll feel the power,
But you won’t, no you won’t.
Cause I can’t make you love me,
If you don’t.”

– Bonnie Raitt

Camilla left the flat for her home a few of days after that weekend. She seemed to be elated now that she had finished her degree and she was moving on with her life.

There was more than one farewell party for her, some of them seeming to spring up out thin air. I had no idea that she had so many friends at university, and I was also surprised that so many of these people seemed to be completing their study that year. Some had already had job offers in their field of study which was wonderful for them.

The conversations at these parties often moved on from the subject of their studies to the futures of Camilla’s flatmates, including me. The other girls would be ending their degrees at the end of 1998, as originally planned, further education notwithstanding.

My plan for 1998 had been to defer for the year and move to Canberra with Jeremy. I still intended do that but, when the subject arose, it quickly began to grate on me when some of the girls would answer on my behalf.

“Oh, Alison isn’t going to finish next year. She’s following her boyfriend to Canberra!”

“Deferring her study? That’s a slippery slope. He must be some amazing guy!”

“Well just ask Camilla how amazing he is. She’s one of the ‘Swinging-Sisters!’”

And that was the other thing that really irked me. The condescending and snide remarks that now started to appear after the weekend. Initially I had been elated by our fun, and Camilla verged on bragging about her involvement, but very quickly the whole thing began to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

I could see people across the room looking in my direction and laughing while Camilla lapped up all the extra attention like she was a movie star. I also had to endure total strangers making fun of me to my face.

“Alison, are you going to miss Camilla? I guess Jeremy didn’t either.”

“Alison, have you seen Camilla? Well, you probably saw enough of her on the weekend.”

By the time I left Sydney, to go back to mum’s house in Bathurst for Christmas, I was in a foul mood. I didn’t talk to anyone the day I left, and I almost hung up on Jeremy when he called. I say almost but I still cut him off by pretending that I was too busy talk.

When I got to Bathurst, I was almost in tears. I don’t know how it had all come apart so quickly. Just week earlier I had been in love, about to move cities to be with my future husband, my study deferred only for a short time. And now I felt that I was on the precipice of making the biggest mistake of my life.

Mum didn’t help the situation either. I knew that she hadn’t wanted me to defer, and she’d used the last month since we had spoken to plan her none too subtle campaign.

She backed off a little when she picked me up from the bus and saw that I was upset. I wouldn’t tell her why, but she was canny enough to figure out where to press when I eliminated all the other options of family, work, army and my university results.

She subtly reminded me that I had been a baby when dad had left her and found another wife. If she’d just listened to her mother, she decried.

“Men always turn into their fathers,” she said. “If only I had listened.”

I was feeling very confused by that point, so it didn’t occur to me that if she had listened to her mother then I would never have been conceived. It wasn’t till years later that I thought about her cognitive dissonance. I knew that she loved me, but she was intimating that it would have been better for her if we had never been born. I know that wasn’t what she meant but that was its logical outcome.

After a few days of her chipping away at me, added to what had transpired in Sydney the weekend before, I was finally done. I had spent Christmas Eve mostly awake trying to justify the move I knew I was about to make. I don’t know what time I eventually fell asleep but when I finally woke, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

We had a nice Christmas day, and I was just beginning to forget my troubles when the phone rang. Mum answered and looked in my direction.

“Alison it is for you. It’s Jeremy.”

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