scared of heights.”
you ever think you’ll fall in love with me?” I asked again, on all fours. The
rhythmic motions of him humping me began to take its toll. I couldn’t see his
face but I imagined him wincing at the question – he always does. He was out of
sync by now, but he tried to push himself inside me a few more times.
Eventually, he sighed and his erection softened. I rolled over on my back effortlessly, stretching
out my arms to clear the pins and needles.
just never want to talk about it.”
you always talk about it at the most inappropriate of times,” he said through
gritted teeth as he started to put on his shirt. I wore a dress especially for the
occasion. Accessibility if anything. I hate the awkward moment post-sex when I
realise we’re both lying on a bed totally naked and it’s not really that sexy
anymore. Especially when I have to get up, get dressed and avoid him looking at
the rolls of fat I’d been strategically hiding for thirty minutes. No matter
how much I was ‘in the moment’, I’d always put my tactical plan into action. My
trousers would be ‘thrown’ onto the chair closest to my side of the bed. That
way I could squeeze my fat under the waistband of my jeans in record time and
then stroll around looking for my top in a sexy Marilyn Monroe-like strut. Not
today though: we hadn’t seen each other for a few days and I figured
accessibility was priority for Jack. I pulled down the hem of my dress and
propped myself up against the headboard.
I asked him about falling, he usually mustered up some make believe story about
three words not being able to change anything. I knew he was talking shit
because he was an English teacher. Sometimes I even found him reading the
dictionary on his own. He’d tell me not to believe the hype: ‘as long as we’re
happy, who cares?’ But I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t believe the hype because
I’d done it before. I had fallen, and I wanted to do it again, but this time I
wanted Jack to be there to hold my hand. I didn’t want to queue up all alone.
Not again. Jack would be with me when we’d tell my friends we’d done it. My girls
would giggle about the position of their bruises over a bottle of wine and
Jack’s boys will proudly show their scars like war wounds. No one would ask how
it felt because we would all know. We’d all had the experience that can only be
described with three words. On their own they easily slip into everyday conversation:
they appear so common and not very special at all. Even if you want to string
them together, the words just don’t come out right. If you haven’t physically
fallen in love, it comes out stuttered and wrong.
tried to make up for it by taking me to restaurants, buying me flowers and
making other gestures he’d seen on television. I couldn’t help feel that, when
we were at these fancy places, the waiters would laugh behind our backs in the
kitchen and the other couples surrounding us would say ‘bless ‘em’ under their
breath because we were only pretending. We were frauds. Jack wanted to talk
about his day at work, or what he should get his Mum for Christmas, when he
should be talking about us. About how we should save up to buy a nice big house
in the country together and say things like ‘I hope this doesn’t scare you but
I want to have a family with you.’ But he doesn’t. He always manages to cut
around it. To act like it won’t happen.
remember as a child reading fairy tales about love and living happily ever
after. I asked my Mum what it was like when she fell in love with Dad and she
said ‘painful.’ Love didn’t have any cushions at the bottom and I bet health
and safety wasn’t so strict back then either. You have to perform the brace
position now. She was always sad. I think that’s why Dad wasn’t around anymore
– because his bruise from falling just didn’t heal.
had now positioned himself next to me on the bed and we found ourselves in
mutual silence. I knew he was thinking about getting me in the mood again
because I could see a bulge in his pants. Lust. He could do lust.
should go on the training course,” I said.
we’re prepared when we fall, what if the bruises don’t heal?”
the rush, Bella? Can’t we just enjoy this moment?”
didn’t reply because I was mad. I was angry that he didn’t understand the
process. You can’t just turn up on the day and ask to fall in love. It’s not
that simple. You have to go to the
training and pass the final exams and only then are you permitted to book a time
to fall. Even on the day, you’re not guaranteed to fall in love. I told him
this and he called me a worrier. He said I lived too much in the future and needed
to chill out. I knew what he meant when he said that. He meant he didn’t want
to fall with me.
had started kissing again and he found his way on top of me, ready for another
round. I moved my head to the side to avoid his breath and made the odd noise
to assure him I was enjoying it too. He didn’t last as long, but at the end he
looked at me differently. He didn’t just grunt and clamber off me, he stared
right into my eyes. For a second, I thought his penis had snapped in two and
was stuck. He nodded.
was just ‘OK?’”
I mean, OK. Let’s book onto the course. I think I’m ready.”
been waiting for so long for this moment, it almost gave me butterflies. Still,
I made him repeat it. I had to make sure he was telling the truth, that it was
happening. I gave him a quick peck on the cheek and sprang up off the bed,
switching on my laptop.
just come back to bed. It’s late.” He begged as he struggled to get himself
under the covers.
I next looked up from the computer screen, the clock on the wall said it was
twenty past three. Jack was snoring. We were booked onto the ‘Introduction to
Falling’ course which met every Wednesday for six weeks at the church hall. I
found myself at my desk, writing mine and Jack’s names and surrounding them
with little love hearts until my head started to drop and bounce back up like a
puppet on string. I put down the pen and quietly snuck into my side of the bed.
In his sleep, Jack turned around and draped his arm around me. I carefully
removed it and placed it in between us instead. I get claustrophobic.
we woke the next morning, I went over the details with Jack as he made me
breakfast. Our first meeting would be at half six this evening and we had to
bring in a picture of us looking happy.
never look good in pictures though do we?” he said, turning over sausages in
we’ll just have to, won’t we?” I smiled, my eyes still fixated on the pan. As
soon as he put down the spatula I intervened, taking over his position. Jack
took this as an invitation to wrap his arms around my waist and kiss the side
of my face repeatedly.
can’t wait to fall with you,” he whispered.
we arrived at the meeting, I soon realised this course was a lot different to
the single, unrequited one I had been on previously. For a start there were no
Kleenex on every table or a complementary glass of wine and bar of chocolate on
arrival. Jenny, the course leader, had an average pitched voice and her smiles
seemed more genuine than the pity-filled looks I used to receive. Behind Jenny
was a flipchart board with the title ‘Your happiest memories’ written in curly
handwriting. Already, there were a few pictures stuck on the board so I dragged
Jack to take a closer look. I took our photo out of my bag: it showed us both
in stitches as he gave me a piggyback in the park. It was only taken a few hours
ago but we had changed our clothes since then, so no one would know. I placed
it in the centre of the page to make sure it stood out from the rest.
how nice,” Jenny had turned around to look at our picture.
I said, placing my hands on Jack’s chest in an over exaggerated manner. Jack
just smiled; I’d already told him in the car to look all loved up but to let me
do the talking.
be starting soon, so feel free to have a little mingle beforehand.” She left
before I could ask her any of my questions. Should I be reading any books for
preparation? How exactly is the final exam marked? And what time should we get there on the day
of falling? I saw a pile of leaflets waiting to be given to the class, and I
reached out to take a peek. Jack stopped me by rubbing my arm and winking.
wait, Bella, it’ll start soon. Come on.”
classes taught us the very basics, like how to comfort each other after a bad
day and how to behave appropriately when meeting the parents. After the first
few meetings, Jenny stopped picking me to volunteer or answer questions after
complaints from some of the couples that she was showing favouritism. Jack made
friends with a few of the couples but I focussed on the extra research and
preparation for the final exam; they were our competition as far as I was
were top of the class, of course, but I still had nerves as the exam date got
only ever had to fail three people, Bella. And that’s because they failed to
attend the classes.”
always tried to reassure me, I wondered if she thought I was doing it for the
attention and praise but I wasn’t. What if we were the exception? What if, at
the graduation ceremony, Jenny told everyone we tried ever so hard but,
unfortunately, we would not be able to carry on to fall with a mark of only
didn’t happen. We got a ninety two. I found myself asking Jack where we lost
eight percent and he laughed and told me to relax. We had got the highest score in years. During
the celebratory drinks that Jenny put on that night, Jack couldn’t keep his
hands off me. He whispered how much he couldn’t wait to fall and settle down
and grow old with me. I smiled back and politely accepted the drinks that were
bought for us throughout the night.
the day of the fall, we got there at dawn so we had the best chance of doing it
by the afternoon. When we joined the queue, hand in hand, there were at least
another few hundred couples in front of us, surrounded by the odd single looking
so lonely in the massive crowd. A single joined the queue behind us and I
avoided her gaze and held Jack’s hand tighter. Notices were placed at certain
milestones so we’d know how long we had to wait. We joined the line at the
‘eight hours to go’ sign. As we moved further down in the queue, the place
began to look all official and was cordoned off with barriers and tape. I was
obsessed with moving to the next sign, knowing each one we passed meant we were
just that bit closer to falling. Jack was getting apprehensive. I could tell
because his palms were sweaty and he kept asking questions. I was too caught up
in my counting to answer them though. We were at the final milestone now
anyway. In only ten minutes we would have fallen in love.
of us was the massive pit and we watched as couples took a final look at each
other with a mix of excitement and nerves as they took the plunge. Alongside
was the escalator that transported the couples back to the surface, with a
marshal at the top giving out plasters and bandages to those hurt badly.
it hurt?” Jack asked.
stayed in silence as we were guided to take our turn. We were told about all
the safety procedures which we had practiced countless times in the sessions. Before
I knew it, I felt the rush of adrenalin rip through me as I fell. A hole in my
belly appeared whilst everything else jumped up into my throat. I counted to
twelve. That’s how long it took to fall into love. Twelve seconds. My feet hit
the candyfloss bottom but I didn’t feel anything. The shine of a torch gently
guided us to the bottom of the escalator. Jack took his first few steps but
stopped once he realised I wasn’t following. He turned around and smiled
empathetically at my body which was frozen with shock. He placed his arms
around me and kissed me on the forehead for comfort but pulled back when I
didn’t respond. Jack’s face turned from contented happiness to confusion.
cautiously made his way to the escalator, looking over his shoulder, his eyes
peering back at me as if he was scared he’d forget what I looked like. The
moment he turned his back on me, I allowed my eyes to follow him up to the top.
He collected his plaster and I was ready for him to turn around for one final
look. He didn’t. The torch that guided Jack back up to the surface now shone against
a door I hadn’t noticed at first. I turned the handle and entered the room.
had fallen in love with love.