This story is by Tom Housden and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Mark and Anna had known each other since college, where they were both studying English. They started off as friends. They did almost everything together. After about six months of not seeing each other, they met up again. They went for a few drinks and had some laughs. One thing they talked about was what they were doing now. Mark explained that he was trying his hand at stand-up comedy. Anna wanted to be a teacher.
He had always wanted to ask her out. Her face was like the fire-gold glow of dawn. She had long flowing red hair down to her shoulders, stunning green eyes, the kind of eyes that stared into your soul. Her skin was a golden colour, flawless, utter perfection. A dazzling smile revealed the bronze glow of her cheeks. Beauty radiated from every pore in her body.
Now was his chance – he knew that Anna had had a few boyfriends who had messed her around. Could he be the one for her?
He didn’t have to answer that question. Even before he could ask her out, her plump, soft lips caressed his. She kissed him passionately. Even though it was pleasantly unexpected, it seemed a little too forward.
‘Sorry Mark, I didn’t mean to…’
‘I know. I kissed you too soon. I just think you’re the loveliest guy I’ve ever known, and I thought I…’ Mark replied rather hastily.
‘You don’t have to explain. I’ve wanted to ask you out for a while now, but I didn’t have the guts to tell you how I feel. I want to see if there’s any romantic spark between us.’
‘Mark, shut up and kiss me and take me home.’
‘Are you sure? We’ve only just agreed to go out together, and we need to…’
‘Life’s too short not to be spontaneous. Come on babe, let’s play Snakes and Ladders.’
After spending a few minutes in stunned silence, Mark acted on his feelings for Anna. Sleeping together so soon might not be the best idea, but, thinking about it, he felt so strongly about her. Why wait? And all he really wanted was to make her the happiest girl in the world.
They hurried home to a night of amore. Before they did the deed, Mark tried one of his jokes out on Anna:
Two men were painting a house.
Pat: Have you got a good hold on that paintbrush, Mick?
Mick: Yes, I have. Why?
Pat: Well, hold on tight, because I’m taking this ladder away.
Anna laughed out loud. Whether she thought it was genuinely funny or she was just humouring him, he’ll never know, but at least it made her laugh.
‘That was the best night of lovemaking I have ever had,’ Mark said with a grin.
‘It was pretty good for our first time together,’ was Anna’s reply. ‘In fact, extremely good. You certainly know how to please a girl.’
‘Well, thank you very much.’
‘Yes, you were a very busy boy! Anyway, I think we should go downstairs, have breakfast, do some work, and make love after lunch. You could …’ She hesitated but giggled as she added, ‘You could have me as dessert!’
‘Anna, you are naughty, but I like it.’
They spent most of the day in bed, exploring each other, kissing, cuddling, foreplay, incredibly passionate, sizzling sex, and just enjoying being together.
‘Mark, can I ask you something? You’re not with me just because I’m good in bed, are you?’
‘Ummm, no. How could you think…?’
‘I was just teasing. Now get on the bed, I want to feel you again.’
‘Anna, you are insatiable!’
They spent a second night making love. It was as magical as the first time.
Their relationship was healthy in every department. Well, almost every department. They were both still looking for paid employment. Mark was still hoping to be a stand-up comedian. Anna was still hoping to be a teacher.
Months passed by. No sign of anything for both of them. They were getting fed up with having no job and very little money (apart from the benefits they claimed).
They figured that if they wanted to pursue their chosen careers, they would have to show commitment and perseverance. Stand-up comedy was harder to get into than teaching.
Six months went by and Anna was doing rather well. She had enrolled in a teacher training course with a placement one day a week. Mark, however, was still trying to get into stand-up comedy. Through his contacts he had made on social media, he had secured a few gigs, which made him a few pounds now and then, but it didn’t amount to much. All he wanted was a big break, someone big to spot him, which would propel him into the big time. Maybe, though, he was aiming too high. Surely there was someone out there he would bump into by chance who would recognise his comedic talents. He was wondering whether he had made the right career choice. He spent days before a gig (when he got one) perfecting his comedy routine, and for what? To risk bombing? He did like it though; it gave him an adrenaline rush, and he knew he was funny. It didn’t seem fair; he was slaving away trying to get gigs, writing routines and little comedy scripts, getting rejected, going round and round in circles, not earning any cash (or very little) while Anna was earning doing what she loved.
A year later and both their careers were gaining momentum. Anna was beginning her third year of teacher training and Mark was getting more and more gigs thanks to the contacts he had made. He was earning a lot more money as well and establishing himself as a big comedy star, putting himself out there, meeting the right people. His life was finally turning around. Then he got a phone call that could it all …
‘I have just got an offer to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Every comedian aspires to perform there, and it might lead to a spot at Montreal!’
‘That’s great and I’m pleased for you, but my teacher training is going well. I have a placement in a school I love. I can’t just up and leave.’
‘Surely you can find a place up there. I really want this. It will elevate my career.’
Mark tried to reason with her.
‘Hunny, another option is a long-distance relationship.’
‘Those don’t really work. And look at my track record. I have had one before and it didn’t end well.’
Even though they tried their hardest to find a solution, they were growing further and further apart. It got to the stage where they both decided it wouldn’t work.
They decided to go separate ways. They stayed friends, though. Not that he was going to see her much.
Mark had had a few positive gigs at the Edinburgh Festival, getting big laughs. All the comedians were there. They could elevate him to his dreams. However, he found his mind wandering back to one person – Anna. Yes, he loved his work, his comedy, but he also loved Anna. He’d thrown it all away, just like that.
If they had have stayed together, it would have been their anniversary today. He was hoping he could surprise her with an anniversary visit.
He hoped that she was still available. Comedy would be there in a few years, Anna probably wouldn’t. He bought a ring on the way down. He hoped she’d give him the answer she wanted.
With a bunch of flowers in his hand, he set off to her house. He was ready to ring the doorbell, in two minds whether to go in, when he stopped himself. She might have moved on, made a fresh start, found someone else.
Mark, stop thinking like that.
He thought back to their time together. How he felt when he saw her again after six months. How it felt to ask her out and get the answer he wanted! She was the best girlfriend and lover that he’d ever had. That time of his life was amazing.
He finally plucked up the courage to ring the bell. He’d be red-faced if she didn’t live here anymore.
‘Mark? Is that you? What are you doing here? I thought you wanted a career in comedy.’
‘I’ve realised that life’s too short. I love you, I’ve always loved you, and if you’ll have me back, I’ll make you the happiest girl in the world, again!’
‘Course I’ll have you back. I’ve been thinking about you ever since we broke up. Now, if you want to make me the happiest girl in the world, come upstairs…’
A year passed. They were still together and were blissfully happy. Mark was all she needed.
Just three years later, they got married.