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Daniel Williams, 01 Aug '12

One of the first times I went up to Innsborough to visit Amy at her uni we were invited out to dinner at one of her new friends’ house.        
‘She lives with her boyfriend- they’ve just got engaged,’ Amy said, ‘and they live in a house, not studenty at all. It’s a proper house. It’s a people house.’
Katie and Stuart were the same ages as us: eighteen and nineteen.
At the house, Katie showed us around while Stuart cooked. The house was small and very clean. They’d moved in only a couple of weeks before.
In the upstairs corridor, Amy said to me in whisper, ‘Could you imagine us in a house like this?’
I smiled and took her hand.                        

In the dinning room, a white cloth covered the table. Red placemats were set out with matching red-handled cutlery. It all looked very new and very clean.
We had a dinner of salmon, potatoes and green beans.
‘It’s better than pizza,’ Katie said.
‘And burgers,’ said Stuart, ‘and chips and all that junk.’
‘It’s better than that.’
‘It’s a lovely meal,’ Amy said.
I agreed.
Stuart was studying Computer Sciences and Katie was studying English and Media Studies. She was in one of Amy’s English classes.
We had dessert and Katie poured more wine for me. Under the table, I had my hand on Amy’s thigh.
I asked, ‘When’s the wedding?’
Katie and Stuart laughed. ‘Not yet,’ she said.
‘Once we’ve graduated.’
‘A long engagement?’
Katie stopped laughing. ‘It’s no longer than anybody else.’
Stuart said they’d been together for a year. They’d met at Sixth Form. Stuart and Katie told their story and before it was over we’d all finished another glass of wine.
Every now and again I squeezed Amy’s thigh to remind her I was there. The wine made me feel a little light-headed.
‘You just know, don’t you?’ Katie was saying about her fiancé. ‘I mean…you just know. When I was younger I thought I knew what love was, but I got that wrong!’ She laughed, but not a happy laugh.
Stuart said, ‘She dated a complete psycho before she met me.’
‘Oh?’ Amy said.
‘You know what it’s like when you’re fifteen… I thought I loved him and Carl thought he loved me.’
‘When she broke up with him he tried to kill himself.’
‘Really?’ Amy leaned forward.
‘You think you know what love is when you’re fifteen,’ Katie said. ‘I’d been with Carl since Year Nine. And then I heard that he’d, well, he’d been with this other girl.’ She spoke quickly. ‘Jess, her name was. I knew her, she was a bitch, and we all knew she was in love with Carl, but anyway, this rumour was going around that Carl had done things with her at a gig. I found out and I confronted him about it.’
As Katie took a moment to take a gulp of wine, Stuart said, ‘He was a real psycho.’
Katie quickly swallowed her wine and said, ‘He was in love with me.’ She said to us, ‘I broke up with him over it. I couldn’t believe he’d cheated on me, I was heartbroken. He kept calling me up and I blocked him on MSN. I wouldn’t talk to him at school. And then he started getting in fights with people- even teachers. He broke a desk and got himself expelled. It just kept getting worse and worse… and then...’
‘He tried to kill himself,’ Stuart said. ‘He didn’t even do it properly.’
‘He stabbed himself,’ said Katie, ‘with a knife. But, in his stomach, in his bath at home. He kept stabbing himself in his stomach but he didn’t die, somebody found him and took him to the hospital and the doctors said he was alive but he was all cut up on the inside, in his stomach, full of holes and cuts.’
I said, ‘Was he alright?’
‘No, he died a few days later. His stomach was all cut up and he got an infection.’ Katie sipped her red wine. ‘We had an assembly about it and everything.’ She said, ‘He thought he was in love with me.’
Katie drummed her fingers against her wine glass. The glass rang every time her engagement ring clashed against the empty glass.

Amy and I walked home and I didn’t feel much like holding hands. I said to her, ‘Nobody knows anything, do they?’
‘What about?’
‘About love.’
‘I know I love you,’ she said. ‘Don’t you love me?’
On the Sunday I went back home. I didn’t see Amy very much after that weekend. We broke up a few months later.

Comments · 5

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  • Daniel Williams said...

    Hi. This is my first burrst, so any feedback or comments would be most welcome.

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Hi Danieal, welcome to Burrst - this is a great debut!

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    This was great :D The beginning was really nice, with the excitement of everything being new and I loved the interactions between the silent narrator and his girlfriend. I liked the switch from a normal dinner party between friends to when it got darker, and Katie's uncomfortable telling of her ex-boyfriend dampening the light-hearted mood.
    I believed in your story up until "On the Sunday I went back home. I didn’t see Amy very much after that weekend. We broke up a few months later." I don't understand why that happened, after they had just hinted at living together, I guess a seed of doubt was placed in his mind but up it wasn't even hinted at and then they randomly broke up.
    Anyway enough rambling, I liked this and your dialogue was real, I felt like I was listening in on an actual group of university friends. I'll wait for your next piece :D

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Daniel Williams said...

    Thank you both for your kind comments, I'm glad you liked the story.

    @Jessica Cambrook I can see what you mean about the end. Whenever I see a story of mine published I always see something I should have done, and that would have been having the narrator explicity state at the end how young the whole night made him feel, which I would hope make the ending less jarring. My original intentions had been that the narrators lack of action throughout would infer to the reader that the seeds of doubt were already there. Thank you for the constructive crit, it's always vital.

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Angela Watt said...

    Hi Daniel. I really enjoyed this and having just submitted my first Burrst, I know what it's like to see your work published and then think of other things you could have done. However, I think it worked well and I liked how it went from a perfectly ordinary dinner party to explore much darker issues. Well done. I'll look out for more Burrsts from you.

    • Posted 7 years ago