Love Between The Lines | Alicia Bakewell

Books are meant to be finished.

Love Between The Lines

By Alicia Bakewell

For the What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award


I fell in love with Jonathan real easy. I wasn’t looking for love. Not after what the last bloke had done to me and called it love. I was still hurting after that, inside and out, but Jonathan couldn’t hurt me.

I met Jonathan in a book.

He wasn’t off the big shelf in the living room, or from the library down the road. I found him in a pile of paperbacks in the back of Mum’s wardrobe. It made me wonder how long Jonathan had been there waiting for me. Jonathan had a girlfriend called Clara in the book, but that didn’t matter. Clara wasn’t real.
Jonathan was super rich, but he didn’t care much about money. He did drive a nice car, though, and he had a boat too. I get seasick pretty easily, so I skipped the boat parts. Jonathan had dark curly hair and intense green eyes and tanned skin. He was kind most of the time, but he had a temper. He never belted Clara though, and I knew he wouldn’t belt me. He’d kiss me as the sun was setting and whisper I love you in the dark.
Meera thought Jonathan was a good idea. Meera’s my doctor. Not a doctor for broken arms or sore throats, but a doctor for feelings. I talk to Meera a lot about all the ideas I have. Sometimes I have bad ideas. I was glad she thought Jonathan was a good one. She asked me how I felt when I was with him. Tingly, I said. I couldn’t think of a better word for it. I’m not great with words. Meera smiled. She said it sounded like I was in love. She said as long as Jonathan made me happy, I should stick with him.
Not everyone was happy about me being in love, though. I stopped going to the day centre, or if I went, I’d sit in the corner with Jonathan and we wouldn’t talk to anyone. Kerry at the day centre asked me if there was something wrong. I told her about Meera saying it was a good idea, but I don’t think she believed me. I stopped going to my piano lessons, too. The time seemed to go too slowly when I was there, and all I thought about was getting home to Jonathan. My mum told me off for reading at the dinner table. I thought everyone was out to get us.
Things were good for ages, between Jonathan and me. Then after a while it started to get a bit boring. Even the juicy bits weren’t so juicy anymore. I’d read them too many times. I missed my friends at the day centre. I even missed my piano teacher, Mrs Temple, and her stupid metronome. I knew Jonathan would take it real hard, though, if we broke up. I’d never dumped anyone before. No one ever told me it hurts just as much as being dumped yourself.
I cried so much. I read all my favourite scenes, but it wasn’t me with Jonathan anymore. It was Clara. I was jealous of her, even though she’d have to go on his stupid boat and get seasick. I didn’t think I’d ever get over Jonathan. I went to see Meera and tell her what had happened. She smiled. She always smiles, even when I tell her something bad. Just because I was feeling sad, she said, didn’t mean I’d made the wrong decision. It would take time to get used to life without Jonathan. I would have to remember the things that used to make me happy before I knew him. Those things would still be there, Meera said.
This morning, I heard the phone ringing in the kitchen. It was for me, my mum shouted. It was Kerry from the day centre. They’d missed me, she said. She was taking everyone out to a movie today, and she hoped I’d come. Polly would be there, and Emma and William. My best mates. They all wanted to see me. The bus would pick me up at ten, if I wanted to go. I thought about Jonathan, then what Meera said about doing things I used to like before he came along. Did I used to like the movies? I reckon I did.
“Yeah, okay. I’ll see you at ten.”
Down the phone, I think I heard Kerry smile.