Niall and Jenni ended the night somewhat inebriated, though in largely good spirits—aside from a momentary lapse where Niall became melancholy about the fact that Chantelle hadn’t responded to his message. They each fell asleep on the couch cuddled up and, despite their earlier moment, took it no further than that.
Jenni insisted on making Niall breakfast in the morning. That culminated in him staying for the rest of the day too as the pair drunk innumerable cups of tea and caught up further on lost time. There was little further mention of anything to do with love and relationships as they discussed pretty much everything besides.
The day soon became the evening and neither one of them had left the house all day. The thought had come to Niall that he should leave soon. If he was being honest with himself, he didn’t really want to because he knew that he’d start thinking too much about Chantelle again whilst in his own company. Worse still, he might wind up messaging her. He didn’t relay this information to Jenni though and banked on her telling him to leave when she’d finally had enough of him.
That moment was destined not to arrive as Jenni suggested that Niall run to the local shop and get some more alcohol. Clearly, her wish was for him to stay again. This made Niall wonder if she, too, was in a vulnerable position that she hadn’t yet raised. Perhaps she didn’t want to raise it. Either way, Niall went with her suggestion and walked to the shop in order to replenish the wine.
They drank until it was late and, eventually, Jenni fell asleep on the couch next to him just like the previous night. Niall was left alone watching whatever movie they had on the TV and it didn’t take him long to start thinking again about Chantelle.
He opened up their message thread on his phone. He didn’t scroll or read anything; merely stared at the screen, momentarily touching it so that it didn’t go off. That was all he did for several minutes, unaware of anything else around him.
Then he caught a flicker on the screen and immediately snapped to attention. The word “Typing” had appeared next to Chantelle’s name. She was responding and Niall felt a wave of relief and joy.
Seconds later, “Typing” disappeared. Niall waited for it to reappear. He waited and waited. Several minutes passed. Still, he waited. When his drunken mind made the connection that took so long in coming—the simple realisation that Chantelle wasn’t going to finish the message she’d started typing—Niall’s heart sank into the pit of his stomach.
He stood on weary legs, picked up the almost empty wine glass from the table, and guzzled what remained in one go. He then staggered into the kitchen and opened the fridge from which he pulled a half full bottle of wine.
Disorientation was rife. An uncomfortable sensation wasn’t just in Niall’s head, but on it too. His brain struggled desperately to make connections and bring about a modicum of sense to what was happening around him. The light was too much for his eyes and he struggled to prize them open.
One sensation was evident: wherever he was, it wasn’t indoors. Either that or there were windows wide open because the wind was very fresh and stronger than it should have been. It felt as though his clothing might be damp too.
The latter connection was enough to force his brain to at least halfway functional and his eyes began to adapt to the light. He didn’t recognise what he saw. It looked like the underside of a piece of playground apparatus. Graffiti adorned the wooden panel. He turned his head to see other panels that had been similarly decorated by whatever youths had been there in the past.
Niall now knew that he was under some kind of jungle Jim. He had a feeling he knew what park it was on too—luckily, one that was local to him—and wondered why he’d have decided to go there in his drunken state.
He sat up and rubbed his face. Everything was spinning. He was grateful, at least, that he was no longer entirely confused about where he was. The why still wasn’t coming to him. The how wasn’t clear either. After moving his feet marginally, Niall felt something hard and a light clanking sound was heard. He looked down to see an empty bottle of wine and immediately recalled having taken it from Jenni’s fridge. His memories after that point were non-existent.
Reaching into his pocket, Niall retrieved his phone to check the time. It was fourteen minutes after seven in the morning. There were a bunch of unread messages as well.
Niall clicked on the unread messages. All, save one, were from Jenni. The other was from Lewis. Chantelle hadn’t been in touch. His mind whirred. Had he just imagined that she’d been typing a message? Was he really that obsessed? Were his feelings for Chantelle deeper than he’d first realised or was he just acting irrationally because his pride had been hurt?
Even thinking that, Niall went onto C-MAC and checked Chantelle’s profile. Active less than four hours ago. Nice! She was obviously so distraught about their situation coming to a sudden end that she simply had to get over it by messaging other blokes, most likely whilst drunk.
What was the point anymore in making himself feel bad? Chantelle very obviously didn’t give a shit!
Niall looked around at where he had woken up and then down at the wine bottle. He tutted and shook his head. “You’re pathetic! Pull yourself together, you fucking idiot!” His voice croaked thanks to an exceedingly dry mouth and throat. It was time to go home. A couple of pints of water, some paracetamol, and a sleep in an actual bed would help—as would forgetting Chantelle ever existed!
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.