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II. Chapter 2

17 YEARS EARLIER

The great enigma of life is its circle of often unintended beginnings and incongruent endings that over time loop around into new and yet completely unforeseen beginnings and endings. Circumstances that flow backwards and forwards like waves in the ocean, sometimes gentle and serene but others tumultuous and unsettling as they crash into the shoreline like an angry fist pummels a table.

Occasionally a restless and impatient current will pull you backwards away from safety, sucking you into a dark abyss of swirling water while you scramble for safety as sharp rocks and seaweed pull away from under your desperate grip as you are washed further and further away from the shore.

Claudia found herself walking into the sea of her life, scrunching the sand under her toes and allowing the gentle tide to pull the straws of sand out from under her feet.

For seventeen years Claudia’s diary had remained tucked away in the back of a cupboard like a time capsule waiting to be reopened. It was her diary from her final year of school. A time where she had documented a period in her life when she had met a shy young man with stars in his eyes who captured her heart and her soul and sent her on an emotional rollercoaster of undiscovered truths and painful reckonings. It ended as quickly as it had begun as Claudia walked away from her relationship with Alex with a chasmal hole in her heart. Their lives had been crushed by the merciless hand of Fate who had decided that the timing for their souls to be together hadn’t been quite right.

But a new script was being written to bring them together again.

As one year flowed into another, Claudia would often come across her diary and secretly open it up to travel back in time. She would find herself catching her breath as she saw his name written in her handwriting on those yellowing pages. How she longed to see him again…

Claudia’s sister Elizabeth – who was eleven years younger than her – had been begging Claudia to sign up to the world’s latest craze: Facebook.

Claudia was in her early thirties and even though she was proud of being an “early adopter” she really didn’t see what all the fuss was about, thinking that it was more of a social spot for teens than a hangout for old friends and lovers, and had put off signing up for some time.

Eventually however she conceded to the relentless demands of her over-enthusiastic sister and before she knew it she had her own profile and was signing up to interest groups and hunting down old friends.

She joined the group for her high school, wondered for a moment whether Alex was perhaps signed up, searched for a few minutes, found nothing, and moved on.

She didn’t think for one second that he’d been searching for her for all this time. Until one day, out of the blue, she read his message in her Inbox. A message she had been waiting half her life for.

It began with the words “Were we once?…”

Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her pulse was racing. Her tide was rising and she wasn’t sure whether she should swim for shore or let it take her out to sea. Her fingers trembled above the keyboard. She held her breath as she clicked through to his profile.

And there he was. Her boy. Her childhood sweetheart. How had she missed him when she searched for him before? Oh, it was his middle name, she realised; he had used his full name on his profile.

Alex Rhys Winterton.

She took his name in, one word at a time.

She scoured his profile for clues about his life. Was he married? Did he have children? Where in the world had he ended up?

She went back to his message.

Reply. Click.

She started typing…

29 July 2007 9:45am

Claudia Stevenson

Alex, of course I remember you! It feels so surreal typing to you right now after all these years.

Yes, I am married, as I see you are too. I’ve been married to Gareth for twelve years now, and we share two children, both boys. Ross is six years old and Kyle is eleven.

It really is amazing reconnecting with you again; I’ve often wondered how you are and what you have been up to.

I would love to hear more about your life since we left off, so please write back soon.

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She closed her eyes and submitted her reply, wondering if and when he would write again.

Every day she checked her Inbox. But every day yielded the same result: nothing.

Hours dragged into days, days into weeks, and then one day, two weeks later, there was a message…

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11 August 2007 10:52pm

Alex Winterton

Hi Claudia,

I am so glad to have made contact with you! It has been far too many years and so many memories have come rushing back to me.

As for the wondering, I’ve pretty much done the same over the years.

I am married – correct – to Christine, and have been now for nearly six years. No children of our own yet, instead we are just focusing our various businesses and passions.

And you? I assume life treats you well and that you have all the things you have desired for yourself?

I am really looking forward to hearing more from you and keeping in touch.

A temporary cheers for now…

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Claudia’s excitement at her reconnection with Alex was palpably absurd but at the same time it just felt so damn right. She found herself questioning her life and her happiness while  Alex consumed more and more of her thoughts.

Since her relationship with Denise, Claudia had promised Gareth that she would never keep anything from him again or let anything threaten their marriage. She had been working hard to put the pieces back together again but she often felt that all she had been left with was shards and splinters of a life that was trapped in a perfect storm. And now there was Alex.

She felt responsible for the break down in her marriage and Gareth continued to remind her of her innocent infidelity. How she wished she could find that same love with her husband. But his scathing tongue continued to push her further away from him and Claudia started to feel herself being pulled into the swell of the possibility of a rekindled love from nearly two decades before.

Claudia had to force herself from digressing into an unrealistic world of fantasy and romance and deposit herself back on the shore of her life.

But there was someone awaiting a reply from her. There was a lifetime of catching up to do. There was so much that she wanted to say. So much that she needed to say.

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12 August 2007 7:47am

Claudia Stevenson

I am really thrilled to have reconnected with you again Alex.

So where did you and Christine meet up? Anyone I know?

Gareth and I met when I was nineteen. I was going through a rough time at home and I ended up leaving and moving in with him a few months later. We tied the proverbial knot after four years and Kyle was born a year later.

I started my own business shortly after that, and then Ross was born. Looking back, although it was hectic at the time – building a business and starting a family – it has been so worth the sacrifice. You obviously know what I mean, running your own businesses too. Now I’m just trying to get more balance in my life.

We bought a holiday house two years ago (just after my mom passed away- not sure if I ever told you about her and her illness), when I realised life was too short to spend working twenty-four seven. We then decided that this is the lifestyle we wanted permanently, so we put our house on the market last year and we’re going to be building our dream house in the same estate, as soon as our house sells. I’m visualising starting our new life over and over again and I am sure it will happen before the end of this year.

Do I have all the things I desired for myself? Well not just yet, getting there slowly I guess, one step at a time! And you?

I still can’t believe I am typing to you. You won’t believe how many times I have thought about you. It’s such a pity we lost touch!

Remember all the fun we had together? Remember our first date at the ice rink where you had to hold me up the whole way around (and no I still haven’t learned to ice skate). I’ll never forget that one night at your place when your mom walked in on us; we were fully clothed but I nearly died of embarrassment!

By the way, how are your parents?

Can’t wait to hear from you. Don’t keep me waiting so long this time.

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Claudia sat at her desk and smiled to herself. He sounded so different. So mature. In a strange way, their individual commitments to other people and the distance afforded by this digital interface offered a measure of safety where each could explore the other’s world without any fear of trespassing into forbidden territory.

The following morning Claudia found a new message waiting for her from Alex in her Inbox.

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12 August 2007 11:43pm

Alex Winterton

Hi again,

Shew, the memories are coming back to me hard and fast. I pretty much remember all our dates. Do you know how totally difficult it was for me to ask you out on a date the first time?

I also remember the walks we used to take from my place to the mall down the road; the ice-skating (or attempts there at) grin… My skating has deteriorated over the years, especially at the thoughts of usually landing face first, or on my butt.

As for getting caught by my mom, I don’t think I could ever forget… but then again, you and I had a particular knack for getting caught. If you don’t remember the two other occasions, let me remind you : One was at our favourite place: the roof top of the mall by a security guard (oh, how I know you must be blushing by now) and the other was at a party, whose exactly I can’t remember, but in the bathroom with the lights off almost having the door banged down (at this stage you should be red in the face – grin).

Then there were our break times at school where we sat and chatted (and I never ate my lunch thanks to you – far too embarrassed to do so in your presence), and our favourite meeting spot where you always waited for me on the walkway. I remember how every time I saw you there, my heart would just light up. Really cool memories…

Yeah, as for typing to one another, this is really great and I am glad to be doing so.

As for not taking too long to reply, I must apologise for taking so long to reply to you the first time. I don’t normally go onto Facebook that often – however that has changed; now I have a real reason to.

Really sorry to hear about your mom. That is so sad. What was wrong with her? You never did say. I’m sure you miss her; I know most girls are always close to their mothers.

My parents separated many years ago and my dad and I, well, we don’t talk. In fact, I haven’t seen him since the day I came out the army and we had a fall out. Rather sad one that. Close to fifteen years ago now.

I am so glad you started your own business. With all the ups and downs, it really makes you a totally different person to those who work for a living. Nothing wrong with that type of person, but I have always believed you get two types of people: those who earn a salary, and those who pay them! And until you’ve owned or run a business, people just have no concept of what you are talking about.

Did you meet Gareth while you were studying at university?

Christine and I met at a New Year’s function back in 1998. It was through mutual friends, but no one from school. We have been together ever since and I proposed to her in Tel Aviv on my birthday six years ago.

Your new home and your new life sound really awesome. Keep up with the visualising;  it is the only way to succeed in life and achieve what you really want: create it in your mind first and then in reality second.

As for desires, well, I guess that’s what keeps driving us hey? I think I too am slowly getting there. I have a lot of ambitious goals at the moment. It could be an age thing but I am looking for the quality in all things I do lately. Also, I am really passionate about positively affecting all the people in my life, and I have a lot of goals in that area too.

So, how’s all that for a catch up hey? And I didn’t even keep you holding on for it. There’s a lot more I’d love to hear from you.

Okay, so tag, you’re it!!

PS – I can’t wait.

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Claudia was surprised at how much Alex remembered. All this time she had never realised that she had been as important in his life as he had been in hers. When they broke up, Alex had walked away and continued with his life as if there had never been anything between them, and even though it had been Claudia who initiated the break up, she was the one who was left heartbroken. Reading Alex’s words now left her with a lump in her throat and a longing to hear more of his memories. Memories that to her were a reassurance that not all had been lost.

Gareth was oblivious to the shift in Claudia’s world and Claudia’s heart ached knowing that she was once more treading on forbidden ground. She had wandered too far down this path and she was being drawn in to the light like a moth to a flame and she could not turn herself around and walk back to where she had started out.

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13 August 2007 9:05pm

Claudia Stevenson

Wow, what memories…Going red with embarrassment, let’s try crimson! I’d nearly forgotten about some of those but boy did they come rushing back to me.

And the security guard…

There was so much chemistry between the two of us Alex. I have always said that was one of my big regrets with you; that things never went further. I just had some stupid issues that I was dealing with at the time.

Wow I’ve waited a long time to tell you that!

Even though it’s seventeen years later Alex, I have never forgotten you. You were a very special part of my life, my soul mate, and it took me a very, very long time to get over you.

I’ll always remember that one Christmas party at the store that we worked at over the weekends. We were all dancing (you were dating someone else then, I think you’d even gotten engaged), and the song “Sacrifice” by Elton John came on, and one of our workmates pushed you and I together on the dance floor. We both felt so awkward but you put your arms around me and pulled me close to you and we danced to the rhythm of the music. I felt electrified as your skin touched mine and I felt your soft breath on my forehead. It was the saddest dance of my life. When the song ended, we both looked into each other’s eyes, not wanting to separate our grasp, and then we did, and you turned and you walked away and you didn’t look back. I felt as if I’d sacrificed my soul to the devil. God I wanted you back so much.

So needless to say every time I hear that song I think of that dance, and you, and everything we lost.

Anyway enough of that!

I don’t think I ever told you about my mom – I think you always thought my step mom was my mom, but I never told anyone about my real mom. She also lived in a flat close to where you lived back then, just up the road in fact. How’s that for ironic?

She died of Huntington’s Chorea, a genetic disease that slowly destroys the victim’s mind and body. I lost touch with her for many years and then discovered her living in a hellhole in Hillbrow, being beaten daily by some guy she’d “befriended” but who was actually just using her. He sold all her precious possessions, her books, her furniture, evrything he could lay his hands on to buy booze. She was living on the kindness of the Salvation Army who brought her food every day. I eventually got the social workers in and she was committed to a mental asylum, and later moved to a sanatorium where she stayed in their Frail Care section as there wasn’t really anything that anybody could do for her other than make her comfortable. She was there for about four years before she died.

I visited her shortly before she passed away and she was lying in a child’s cot, a shrivelled up remnant of a once-beautiful woman, shouting and screaming at people that weren’t even there. She was trapped in schizophrenia and her lucid moments were few and far between.

It was terribly sad; she never even got to know her grandchildren.

Yes, I remember your dad, I always liked him. I’m so sorry you had a fall out, what happened?

My dad and I didn’t speak for about four years after I left home. I got myself a part time job and moved in with Gareth. I only started speaking to my parents when Kyle was born; it was quite weird how he brought us all together.

How is your mom, you didn’t mention her?

Gareth’s going to start wondering why I’m still in the office, the last thing I need is him finding out I am pouring out my life story to my long lost love of my life! So, I will carry on tomorrow, promise!

XXX

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Claudia closed the web page and looked out at the night sky and sighed. Had she said too much? She listened and watched as an ambulance siren punctuated the quiet night air and moved quickly up the road.  Red blue. Red blue. Red blue.

She locked her office door and tiptoed into the house. Gareth was snoring softly in bed and she carefully slipped in beside him.

Claudia closed her eyes and placed her hand over her heart. She thought she felt it skip a beat. Alex. God, how could something that was so wrong feel so right?

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 The following morning Claudia woke early and went through to her office, hoping that there would be some new words to read yet fearful that she had gone too far the previous evening. She felt the blood rush from her body as she saw Alex’s reply…

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13 August 2007 10:45pm

Alex Winterton

No ways! Now, there is absolutely no way I was expecting you to reply tonight and not only do you reply, you quickly whip up an intense response!

On the deep comments regarding you and I, I also felt the same and wondered “what if” many times, both during our time together as well as after. Life has a weird way of allowing things to happen the way they end up happening. We have no control and we always wonder why, but it’s all for the good of the bigger plan. That I truly believe.

Thank you for sharing all of that. I am glad that you could get this off your chest.

I never took it personally and through it all I totally respected you and your place at that point (I believe you know that).

I think “soul mate” pretty much captures it between you and I.

Remember, nothing is ever too late. The Universe has a perfect sense of timing – always.

I think with us, we both had our hearts broken in different ways, but chatting to you now and fast forwarding through the years really makes it all so worthwhile and intriguingly interesting.

I really look forward to catching up with you over time.

As for getting caught, we had it sorted. I reckon there’s a section in the Guinness Book of Records that we could enter and quite comfortably win.

Shew Claudia, hearing about your mom is really so sad. That is so terrible. Have you allowed it to rest, or does this still sit heavily with you? It sounds like you really did do the best you could under all the circumstances. And in a little way made the last years a bit more bearable for her. I don’t know what else I can say to you.

Unfortunately I don’t have a great relationship with my mother. She has an exceptionally bad drinking habit and the whole thing just drives me mad. I have tried talking to her – so many times – but no matter what the conversation I know it’s always the alcohol talking back. I know in my own way I am going to have to deal with this before it’s too late, but it is a really big challenge for me.

Just a thought – it’s so weird how we haven’t spoken in years and here we both are pouring our hearts out and chatting like good old friends.

Well, it’s a bit late now and I am about to go and wrestle with my pillow until it’s in a comfortable enough position to sleep. Something tells me that I’ll have a new genre of dream.

Until the morning then and the next time I hear from you, keep safe.

And sleep tight…

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Remember, nothing is ever too late...” Claudia read the words over and over again, wondering what Alex had meant. Her mind was in a whirl.

14 August 2007 6:14am

Claudia Stevenson

Alex, I totally agree with you about divine timing. Perhaps back then, the timing was just not right.  And yes, I knew you respected my choices and I really appreciated that at the time.

I slept with a guy I barely knew when I was in high school – long before you and I met and for totally stupid reasons. I think a lot of it stemmed from being insecure and looking for attention in the wrong places. After I realised what I’d done, I made a promise to myself that the next person I took that step with would be the person I married. And I stuck to my guns on that one. Pity though, in retrospect we had some serious chemistry and there probably would have been a lot of fireworks.

Maybe in another life then hey?!

Regarding my mom, yes, I have put it all to rest. She suffered for so many years, and her passing away was a relief as much for me as it was for her.  I have so many regrets around the way she died, always wishing I’d been closer to her at the time, and that I’d been more of a daughter to her while I was growing up instead of choosing to look the other way.

Unfortunately I was only told about the Huntingtons by my dad when I phoned to tell him I was pregnant with Kyle, and he felt I needed to know then as it was hereditary. It was very traumatic having to suddenly go for all this testing, and then knowing I would have to make a choice to terminate the pregnancy if Kyle had the gene. Fortunately he was fine, and I was tested after he was born, and I didn’t inherit the gene either.

I do miss having a mother around though, especially with my boys, and I never found that closeness with my step mom, but that’s all part of the big picture, and had I not been through what I went through, and not had her as my mother, I would be in a very different place today. And I am happy where I am, so no regrets!

Oh Alex, I’m so sorry about your mom! Was she drinking while you and I were together? I always thought there was something awry with her but never thought it was that. I totally understand where you are: Gareth’s dad is also an alcoholic and it causes huge family stress for everyone – they don’t realise how much their personality changes when they drink and how they upset everyone. I am always threatening to get a video camera out and film him in action so that he can see how much damage he does when he drinks.

I really feel for you, it’s not a nice place to be. It’s different when it’s a friend, you can just cut them out of your life, but not when it’s a parent, they’re there for keeps and what happens one day when she’s old and needs you, and then it might be too late.

A close friend of mine’s father died about eight years ago; he was also an alcoholic and he died of cirrhosis of the liver. Not only was he a chronic alcoholic, he was also a hobo. He lived on the street and from the hands of kind strangers. It was terrible.

You know, it’s really so good to be talking to you.

You asked where Gareth and I met. We actually met at a New Year’s party at a friend’s house, and he was engaged to someone else at the time. Three months later we started seeing each other after he broke his engagement off. He was with me through all the trouble at home and got me through so much that I never would have handled on my own, and one thing just led to another and next thing I knew we were moving in together and planning a wedding a few years later!

He’s a good person.

I was just re-reading your last message and thought how funny it is that we were both feeling the same about each other yet neither of us did anything about it. It was as if there was never any closure between us. As I’ve said before, there was always something about us that kept you in a very special place in my heart. And just the fact that we can reconnect like this and just talk and talk and talk is totally awesome!

Gareth would probably kill me if he knew as he is the insanely jealous type.

Can’t wait to hear from you again…

XXX

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Claudia thought about that “other life” she had referred to. Connecting with Alex on such a deep level was stirring up confusing thoughts and emotions in her soul. She knew that in a few hours she would be receiving a new message from this special man, and she tossed and turned in bed that night, praying for the morning light to stream in through her bedroom window.

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14 August 2007 11:02pm

Alex Winterton

Claudia, I must tell you that my focus has completely flown out of the window. I had a totally crazy day, in and out of meetings non-stop and all I could think about was you and getting back to catching up. I tell you, I never was this hooked on Facebook until now. It’s like a drug, but it’s the fix of you that I’m continually after.

I still can’t believe we are actually chatting; it’s really as if the years never happened. It feels like a very short time when in fact it’s close to twenty years.

Occasionally I have to pinch myself to check that I’m awake.

I still remember that last day when you told me you were breaking up with me. We walked to the mall in silence and your dad picked you up. You drove off and I just sat there for ages, not knowing what to think.

Claudia, you are someone I have never been able to forget. We had many special moments, both in the physical (even with getting caught) and in what I now see as the spiritual. Seventeen years later and there is still a deep connection between us. Wow! This is really deep for me, but I feel the energy of what I’m saying right now as I type it.

Thank you for your honesty and everything you have shared with me, both in the past and in the present. I truly thank you.

As for sticking to the promise you made yourself, I am glad you did. As much as the mind and heart wonders about what things might have been like, I know for sure that fireworks would have only been the beginning. Alex now sits and ponders on that thought for some time…

It really sounds like you and Gareth have a special and wonderful relationship. And jealousy is really only because he cares and treasures the beautiful person he has in his life.

I would never want this renewed connection with us to come between the two of you in any way whatsoever. I hope I am clear on that. And if it ever potentially does, please let me know right away. I mean this okay?

At this point, I am going to once again submit to my tiredness. There is so much I want to respond to and I promise to do so. There is also so much more that I want to hear.

Well, I will see you shortly again online. Until then, rest well and have the best dreams possible.

Ciao

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Claudia’s heart was thumping in her throat as she read and re-read Alex’s words. He’d never forgotten her. Just as she had never forgotten him. And as much as she tried to push the thought out of her mind, there was more than just a friendship that had resurfaced.

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Claudia Stevenson

7:38am August 15th

Alex, reading your words makes me wish you were right here and that I could just give you a long overdue hug. I really wish we’d been able to communicate more like this way back when we were seventeen.

I felt so sad reading about the time my dad fetched me from the mall and you just sat there wondering why we had broken up. I remember that day too. Part of me was devastated but the other half longed to make things work.

I hope you don’t mind me re-hashing all of this, but I really feel that so much has been left unsaid and I’ve carried this with me for so many years.

When you sent me that first Facebook message asking me if I remembered you, I remember thinking to myself, how could I have forgotten you?

All these feelings are making me quite emotional. I’m just so amazed at what I thought was a one-sided connection for all these years has turned out to be a very deep two-sided connection.

I shudder to think what would happen now if we had to bump into each other.

Thanks for everything you said about Gareth. Sometimes the jealousy is totally overwhelming and it is a huge stumbling block in our relationship. Even though I care for him deeply, I always think that jealousy stems from mistrust. Because of this, I feel that I cannot always tell him everything that is going on in my world because he might read into it the wrong way.

I did that once and totally regretted it.

I will tell you about that one day.

I don’t think Gareth would know how to deal with the knowledge that you and I have reconnected. He knows that you were a huge and special part of my life, and because of that I think it would be safer to keep this information away from him for the time being.

Does Christine know that you and I are writing to each other?

This is a major addiction! I think it’s more you than Facebook.

I hope that there is no way that somebody could get their hands on these messages and blackmail us!

Write again soon!

XXX

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Gareth had no idea that anything was going on. He was so wrapped up in this own life and his own problems that he could not see beyond that. In the meantime, Claudia kept her distance and spent her hours trying desperately not to drift off into a fantasy world where it was just her and Alex and everything was perfect.

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Alex Winterton

12:35am August 16th

My dearest Claudia,

Please feel free to hug as much as you would like to. For now I will accept a virtual hug and return a massive one right back in your direction.

As for having been able to communicate like this while we were at school, I guess it is that whole cosmic timing element once again. I think that as one gets older (or let’s say more mature), we get more in touch with who we are as a person and a spiritual being. I also think that inner truth comes more easily and we also realise just how short life actually is. I too wish we had been more connected back then.

I always knew you were emotional, but I guess I probably missed the extent of it. I mean, some of what you tell me now really makes me look back in deep contemplation to try and place it all in context (I do that a lot).

I remember the letters between us and remember how beautifully you wrote. I on the other hand battled a little in terms of expressing my feelings on paper. Once again, these days, I have slowly developed a passion for writing. I find it is the best way to totally express myself for who I am and how I feel, sometimes even better than actually speaking.

Claudia, I am truly glad that you feel I am here for you emotionally in the present, it means so much to me and in a way, almost seems to make up for the past. I thank you for that, truly. If only you could feel the deep intense feelings rushing through my body right now.

Please don’t make the mistake or jump to the misconception, even for just one second, that I would not want to be sharing these special moments of our history with you. This really means so much to me. You have no idea. Our time together was really special for me and being able to relive it like this is totally amazing and energising for my soul. I look forward to you sharing as much as you can and are able to.

I couldn’t believe it when I found you on Facebook but I honestly wondered if you would remember me. “Were we once?” was a bit of a cheesy heading for my introduction after seventeen years, but I guess it worked in catching your attention.

I don’t know about bumping into each other in this late stage of the game. If we were to meet now, I guess it would be due to a well-orchestrated arrangement. If we had bumped into each other before this reconnection, something says to me that we would have both been rather polite with one another, with the usual pleasantries, and then been on our way thinking “why hadn’t I taken his /her number’ and “I wonder if I’ll ever see him/ her again”.

So, come to think of it, the way things have panned out between us as made everything rather interesting and intriguing.

Your feelings have most definitely not been one sided at all. As I have said a few times, I have often wondered about you.

As for the jealousy thing, I know what you are saying there. I too – funnily enough – am not the jealous type and with Christine it has created some challenges. There have been many times where she has accused me of not caring at all. The truth is, I am a rather trusting person and I don’t believe you can stop someone from doing something by being jealous.

As for Christine knowing about us, no she doesn’t and I don’t believe she would handle this well at all.

So I guess you and I are in the same boat here.

There is something that I have been debating in terms of whether or not I should mention it, but I feel I need to. When I found you on Facebook, the first place I looked was at the pictures of you. The truth is that unlike me, you have changed: you’ve gotten way more beautiful!

I will admit to sitting and staring for quite some time…

It is now 00h31 as I finish this and I will have to be up in three and a half hours. I also know that you should be coming through in about four and a half hours to check in on me and my reply.

I hope you are resting peacefully. It is almost the weekend and I will have plenty of time to catch up with you then as well.

A brief goodbye until our next encounter…

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The following morning Claudia awoke, excited to read the magical lines that she knew had been left for her the night before.

As she read Alex’s words she felt both exhilarated and guilty. Claudia felt as if she was on a runaway train. The feelings and emotions were pouring out of her heart and her soul and she felt in no way compelled to hold them back.

It was if a web of magic had weaved its way into her life and as much as she knew it was wrong, she smiled and submitted to its enchantment.

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 Claudia Stevenson

8:18am August 16th

Alex, if it’s any consolation, I couldn’t get you out of my head yesterday. I tossed and turned the whole night, going over our time together and all the things you’ve said to me in the past couple of days and couldn’t help thinking “What if?”

You and I seem so completely similar in so many ways. I always knew there was a really deep connection, even back then, but it seems as if that we both needed to mature to be able to reconnect on the level we have now.

Alex (big breath as I say this) if you and I were not married, I can guarantee you that I would be sitting with you telling you all of this in person, rather than typing it out. And I’m pretty sure you feel the same way. Just as you said in one of your letters, this is deep stuff, and I too can feel the energy of what I’m saying coursing through my veins as I type.

I just can’t believe this is all happening. So many years, so many feelings, so many things that should have been said and weren’t, so many tears, and look at us now. WOW. I just can’t get over this and I’m not quite sure how to deal with all my feelings right now.

I went back to the house before I started writing and I took my diary out of the cupboard again. I found so many pages in between the pages that I had not filled in, where I had just written and written about you. I had even stuck extra pages in to write on!

I was so in love with you then Alex.

It is so funny how we have both got caught up in this conversation. It’s amazing how we both feel this amazing energy between us.

I have been back to your photos on your Facebook page many times It’s good to see that you’ve looked after yourself and that you haven’t turned out to be a beer-bellied thirty-four year old.

You are so right about the jealousy thing: being jealous only complicates things and invites mistrust into a relationship. If two people can be completely open and honest with each other there should be no reason for jealousy. I sometimes wonder if it’s also not a bit of possessiveness. What Christine says about you not seeming to care is what I hear all the time from Gareth. I am always honest with him and tell him that I DO care, very much in fact, but that it’s very difficult to open my heart to him about my deepest feelings when he is going to be judgemental. I hate to say it, but I think that Gareth has become very insecure, both in and outside of our relationship. He uses money to buy things for himself to make him feel worthy on a material level, and he uses his harsh tongue to bring me down and in a sad way, it probably gives him a sense of power and control over me.

Do you and Christine have a good relationship? I know I probably shouldn’t be asking these things but it’s like I finally have the opportunity to get to know you really deeply again and I want to know EVERYTHING.

Do you still have the letters we wrote to each other?

I have been thinking that perhaps it is better that we keep things like this – virtual – there is way too much chemistry in the mix right now.

It is wonderful that you have developed a passion for writing. I’m an obsessive writer and can also express myself much better in writing than in person. I still want to write my own book one day. I am sure that there are many people out there, like us, who have reconnected and have the most incredible stories to tell. I have been thinking about writing a book called “The Facebook Diaries” and asking people to send me their stories. What do you think?

Can’t wait to hear from you again XXXXX

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Just a few more hours, Claudia thought, just a few more hours and Alex would be writing back to her again.

She felt giddy, as if she was standing on the edge of her life, arms outstretched, ready to fall forwards and let the wind catch her and swirl her up and around and float her gently down to earth and into Alex’s arms.

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Alex Winterton

9:23am August 17th

Dearest Claudia, you are so dominating more and more of my thoughts and all in a damn beautiful way, especially while I drive. My mind normally runs off in all directions but lately I find myself thinking only of you.

There is so much I wish to tell you, as you already know, but I will get there.

Yes, the energy and blood racing through your veins, I know exactly what you mean because it is happening to me right now.

As for the feelings and the things that were left unsaid between us, I totally agree with the way you are feeling. I however look at it this way (and more and more of life I believe): You can either get stuck in the past and live in regret and miss out on the present, or, you can learn from the past and totally live in the present each and every day and suck out the juice of each moment. This is my personal plan, and it’s something I believe more of us need to do.

Take us for example: I love this discussion we are sharing in: It’s so amazing, and sharing everything we have done and haven’t done is wonderful. I do however sense that the ‘what ifs’ pain you deeply, and I cannot allow that to happen to you.

I also wonder ‘what if’ many times, but I know the reality is that no one (no matter who they are) can change the past. And besides that, the past happened for a reason. We were very different people back then. As you rightfully say, we were on different pages of life’s book. I don’t want there to be any pain for you, only joy. It is important that we focus on the great times we shared as that will only stand as a foundation to build on what you and I have once again found with each other.

Claudia, I know you loved me, as I truly loved you, but I honestly never got the sense of your love the way you portray it now. And for that I guess I am truly sad.

There is so much that I still need to tell you, but I will have to leave you with this brief instalment for now until I write to you again.

Until then…

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With each reply, Claudia felt as if she was getting closer and closer to a new tipping point in her life.

She was trapped in a marriage that was destroying her and she did not know how to break free from it. She felt so responsible for Gareth’s happiness and could not bear to destroy his fragile state of mind. If anything, she was terrified of the repercussions of walking out of his life, which in a sad, sadistic way, kept her bound to him and their life together. She had no idea of what this tipping point would bring. She knew that she was naïve to even think that she could ever be with Alex. He was married too. It would take a miracle for them to be together.

The sadness crept into her heart, her soul aching for an answer.

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Claudia Stevenson

11:12am August 17th

Dearest Alex,

You are so right, the “what ifs” are very painful for me, especially knowing that there is still so much of life left to live, and I am now finding myself questioning my own happiness and wondering what choices I may have to make in the future. But I’ve decided that for now, I’m going to, as you so rightly say, suck the juice out of this very special moment in my life and not hold back.

The truth is Alex, you were honestly one of the best things that ever happened to me, and for me that is the hardest thing to deal with right now. You’ve always been in my heart, for as long as I can remember, and I always thought to myself that if I was ever single one day I would look you up, even if I was ninety years old with a Zimmer frame and false teeth! I certainly didn’t expect us to be writing to each other like this right now, each with another person, with our own lives, yet feeling as if all we want to be is together. So I guess that that really sucks a lot!

Bloody hell but this is deep, and I hope I’m not scaring you off with all the things I’m saying but I honestly cannot help myself.

Our work days (where we worked at the clothing shop together over the weekends) were my best days; my happiest memories were meeting you and working with you there. I remember there were fireworks from day one and I just couldn’t get enough of you. Every other relationship I had after you I would compare to our relationship, but none ever quite matched up to our good times and the intense feelings I had for you.

Gareth came into my life when I was in crisis mode. He’s an amazing person, and I do love him deeply, but we are very different people to who we were when we met over a decade ago. Back then we were both on the same level with the same ambitions and desires, but twelve years down the line we are on completely different paths. I am more spiritual and grounded; he is more earthly and steeped in the past. I look on the bright side of life while he tends to dwell on the negative. I offer a listening ear and advice where necessary, whereas he tends to be critical and judgemental.

So, things aren’t the way they used to be and it really makes me sad. I know that if things were perfect between Gareth and I, I would have not even contemplated having any kind of conversation with you at this stage in my life, never mind all the things I’ve said.

So when I talk about my own happiness, I look at things as they are right now and ask myself whether this is where I want to be in the next ten years. It’s not as if Gareth and I haven’t spoken about this, we talk about it almost every weekend (it’s our only real time together). He knows how I long for more in a relationship and he does try to meet my high standards, but at the end of the day we are all who we are and it’s difficult to change yourself to please someone else.

I believe that if I just take one day at a time everything will work out the way it should in the greater scheme of things…

I am sure that a time will come when we have caught up with each other completely, but then there will be the fun part of keeping up with the present and the future, so I cannot wait!

Hope you’re having a great relaxing day, and that you’re warming your fingers up for some serious replies later.

Hugs

XXXXXX

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Later that afternoon, when her work day was done, Claudia busied herself by packing for a weekend away at their holiday home out in the country.

Gareth whistled as he loaded one of the boy’s quad bikes into the back of his truck and she heard Kyle chattering away to his dad about all the fun they were going to have together over the weekend. Her precious boys.

Claudia thought about Alex and her life with Gareth and her feelings for this man who had suddenly reappeared in her life. How was she going to spend a whole weekend with her husband and not let anything slip?

Read Chapter 3

One Comment

  1. Elsie Fourie Elsie Fourie

    I am more than ready to read the rest……

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