Lucy’s still in Kenya, where she’s been dating a charismatic Australian named Brad. Brad won her over with his twinkly smile and his strings of heart-eyed emojis, asked her to be his girlfriend, then did a U-turn faster than Nigel Farage the day after the Brexit vote and decided he didn’t want a relationship after all.
Since the argument that caused the entire shining palace of happiness to explode in a fireball of misery, Lucy’s reluctantly agreed to ‘just keep things casual’ with Brad. Yes, he’s been behaving like a cunt, so really she should just tell him to fuck the hell off, but she can’t. She’s been blinded by how great the first couple of weeks were, and by the dream of a glorious African holiday romance, and she’s simply not ready to let that go.
So when she barely hears from him for the whole of the next week, it drives her certifiably, call-the-men-in-white-coats insane. She’s leaping every time her phone buzzes, overthinking every text, delaying her replies for as long as she can bear so as to appear sufficiently unbothered, and driving poor, long-suffering Anna completely up the wall with her pathetic heartbroken angsting.
But by the time it gets to Friday, and there’s still no word from Brad about whether they’re going to meet that evening, she’s forced to drop the casual act and chase him.
A sensible girl, of course, would simply make other plans. Lucy is sensible girl, but not when it comes to men who’ve stolen her heart. When it comes to them, she’s a pathetic, needy doormat. Someone needs to give her a slap.
Even in her darkest, most wretched moments, Lucy will never let misery get in the way of an uncorrected typo.
Brad’s response to the suggestion that she might go out with another friend is a swiftly brutal “Ok cool”.
And finally, the red mist descends. NOW she’s mad (better late than never, eh?) If Brad can’t be arsed to make plans with her, well FUCK HIM. Lucy’s fed up of feeling like freshly dumped shite at the hands of this prize arsetrumpet. Fuck him to the moon and back. She’s done.
If passive aggression were a criminal offence, Lucy would be looking at a charge of GBH, no question.
Those last two words. Seemingly so small and innocent. And yet containing such soul-crushing hurt, such pent-up rage and frustration. Or. Not. A combination one-two punch with all of Lucy’s bodyweight thrown behind them.
It takes Brad less than two minutes to reply.
What’s up with her? Lucy is speechless with fury. Except of course a lack of words has never been her problem. And so finally, since he’s opened the door, she unleashes all the hurt and anger she’s been bottling up for the last two weeks.
Lucy’s entirely aware that Brad will accuse her of being a crazy psycho bitch who’s massively overreacting, but she no longer gives a flying fuck. The damage is done; the dream is dead. At least giving him a grade-A bollocking might afford her some small crumb of satisfaction.
And sure enough, his response is as predictable as that part in the film where the insignificant desk clerk gets his head ripped off by the monster. He unleashes a torrent of defensive abuse, which is far too long to bore you with, so here are some excerpts:
Well, thinks Lucy. How very big of him to agree not to try to kill her or someone else on the roads that night. What a hero.
Lucy sees now that clearly Brad could not possibly be the guy for her. For one thing, she met him on Tinder, FFS. Any idiot could have predicted this would happen.
Never wanted to be in a relationship? So what the actual fuck was with the strings of heart-eyed emojis and the sending photos of her to his mother and asking her not to date other guys?
This is where Lucy’s getting confused. In one breath he’s saying she’s too intense and too controlling, and then in the next he’s getting cross because she’s going out and socialising with other people. What does he want? Surely he doesn’t just expect her to sit at home doing nothing until such time as he decides he wants to see her?
Don’t answer that.
Oh nice, here’s the classic, “I’m so in demand, I could be with hundreds of other women, but I chose you, so you need to just shut up and be grateful. With a side order of “it’s not me, it’s you.” Stir, put in the oven, and bake for 40 minutes, and you get a brilliant shit cake with a sour cherry on the top.
Fuck. Lucy definitely shouldn’t have brought that bag, she should have listened to Anna. Yet again, being a planner has fucked everything. And not in a good way.
But then, what difference would it have made if she hadn’t? This whole thing was already barrelling towards the cliff edge like a runaway train, so at best it would merely have delayed the ghastly moment of impact.
There’s a lot more of this rant, but I won’t bore you with the rest. You get the point. Here’s some of Lucy’s reply.
It’s probably pointless now, but still Lucy wants to explain, to justify her actions, make him understand. If he’s going to accuse her of overreacting, if he’s going to think she’s psycho, she at least wants the chance to defend herself.
She knows he’s probably not even listening. She imagines him sitting at his desk, eyes rolling at every word, probably winding himself up into a furious frenzy, feeling even more abused and misunderstood and hard done by than ever before
And secretly enjoying the self-righteous indignation.
Lucy, on the other hand, is at home in her Nairobi apartment, sat at the dining table on a stiff-backed chair, with tears, mascara and snot flooding down her face as she watches the dream fall apart in slow motion.
During the half hour it takes Brad to reply again, she sits motionless at the table, with as much life in her as a Madam Tussauds waxwork, unable to focus on any other task but the simple act of breathing, and waiting.
Poor, hard-done-by Brad. Always accused of being the asshole. He can’t get it right, can he?
I’m sure you wondering why Lucy is even still bothering at this point. Brad’s an abusive, gaslighting man-child, clear as day, and even Lucy, blinded by infatuation as she is, can see that now.
And yet still she’s trying to salvage something from this wreckage. You may well ask why. But when you’ve fallen for someone, you’ve let your guard down, it’s very hard to let that go. Lucy had allowed herself to picture, if not a long-term future with Brad, then at the very least a brilliant three months with him, travelling all over Kenya together, having amazing fun times and great sex, and then maybe, just maybe, something more. And now not only has the Brad she thought she knew been snatched away, but so has this gilded vision. That’s what she’s trying to claw back. Because if she can’t, the rest of her time in Kenya is going to about as much fun as a work team-building exercise at a paintball centre.
Brad, of course, doesn’t give a fuck about any of that.
Lucy doesn’t quite know what to make of this. One moment he’s accusing her of being too intense and controlling, the next he’s talking about falling in love. Does this mean there might be room for hope? Hope that maybe he was just having a bad day, or trying to protect himself, and that actually if she takes a softer approach she might still be able to resolve this sorry mess?
If there is, maybe it’s time for her to soften her tone.
I’m sure you’re all probably screaming at your screens now, telling Lucy to walk away, but she simply can’t. And while there may still be a glimmer of hope, she simply isn’t ready to let it all go. Not until she’s finished the job, and made even more of a fool of herself than she already has.
All weekend Lucy’s in agony. She reads and re-reads the conversation over and over, trying to work out where she went wrong. Is this all her fault, for overthinking and reading too much into things? Maybe everything was fine and she ruined it? Yes, he was being distant, but maybe if she had played it cool, he might have come back. Instead, she overreacted and ended up digging her own grave. What a fucking mess.
On Sunday she finds out that Anna, Brad, and the rest of the gang went out without her the previous evening. When she checks her WhatsApp, the dreaded ‘last online’ display shows her that Brad was up at 4.45 am. Her mind goes into overdrive again. Who was he with? Was he hooking up with someone else? Did he take her home? She begins to panic too that she’s being phased out, and that soon she will have lost not only a boyfriend, but her entire friendship group as well.
Next week Brad’s flying back to Australia for a two-week holiday to see his kids. Lucy knows she’s unlikely to hear from him while he’s away, and she really doesn’t want to leave things unresolved. She needs to know if this is really over, or if there’s a chance they might be able to salvage something when he gets back. So she messages him again.
Any idiot should have been able to see that it’s way too late for a message like that, and that all it achieves is to make her look even more pathetic.
It’s quite stunning how far a bright, independent, spirited woman can fall when there’s a charismatic man in the picture.
Of course Brad wastes no time at all in bursting what remains of her deluded bubble.
And there you have it. Brad the 37-year-old father-of-three just wants to go out every weekend and get shitfaced with his 20-something mates. He wants to reclaim his lost youth, be one of the cool kids, drink and smoke and go wild until 5 am, and not have the ball-and-chain of a woman cramping his style.
Too late, Lucy realises that she should have walked away far sooner. But instead she tried to cling on and all that she achieved was to come across as a pathetic, needy, worthless little girl, instead of the fierce, pin-sharp, strong woman she really is. Fuck’s sake! Why do we let ourselves fall so far for a cunting man?!
All she can do is try to style it out, but her attempt is laughable. Talk about shutting the barn door too late, the horse is already halfway to Morocco.
Ah well, we all live and learn. Lucy doesn’t reply, and the next morning, when he messages her again to say farewell, she keeps her answer short and cool. If only she’d done this sooner, eh?
Brad leaves for two weeks, and Lucy goes back on Tinder. By the time he gets back, she’s determined to have replaced him with someone nicer and hotter.
Next time: The aftermath. There’s an excruciating weekend away, and Brad ends up in hospital.