After a whirlwind romance, an angry fight, and a total meltdown, it’s all over between Lucy and the man who stole her heart in the African sunshine.
If you’re just joining us now, what the hell took you so long, dammit?! But you’re very welcome, so make a cuppa, find somewhere comfy to sit, and catch up from the beginning. Or check out what happened last week at Part 13 – Meltdown.
Right, now they’ve gone, let me tell the rest of you lovely folks how the story ends.
The weekend after Brad returns from his trip to Australia to see his kids, Anna’s organised a weekend away in one of Kenya’s most luxurious safari lodges. Both Lucy and Brad said yes before everything kicked off, and Lucy panics about whether she should still go, particularly when she discovers that the only other people signed up are Anna, Brad, and an unknown Algerian named Abdul.
If she does, this will be the first time she’s spoken to Brad since the hideous WhatsApp meltdown. She’ll have to spend an entire weekend pretending to be just friends, in a beautiful romantic setting. Total torture, right?
But Lucy’s determined not to let Brad rule her life. She point blank refuses to miss out on a weekend away just because of some cunt who’s too much of a fuckwit to see how awesome she is. No, fuck him. She’s bloody going, and if he’s got a problem with that, he can shove it up his arse and swivel.
Since the luxury lodge is butt-clenchingly expensive they’re going for just one night, so to make the most of it they’re leaving on Saturday at the crack of dawn. Lucy, who’s pathologically incapable of being late for anything, turns up bang on time at Anna’s house to be told that she’s not nearly ready, but that Brad was also ‘early’ and has gone to wait at the nearby cafe. “Jesus, you two should really be married,” Anna jokes, unhelpfully. And since there’s no point putting off the painful reunion, Lucy nervously heads round the corner, heart in her mouth and and anxiety curdling in her stomach.
Brad, who’s sitting with a coffee directly opposite the door, sees her as soon as she walks in. So she has no choice but to channel her inner Beyonce, head over to his table with as much fake confidence as she can manage, give him a friendly hug, and act as though they’re just mates.
It’s an Oscar-winning performance. The crowd goes wild.
Throughout the five-hour drive Brad’s polite but distant. Lucy enquires about his holiday, but notices he doesn’t ask her about what she’s been up to (she went on a work trip to Uganda AND her house was broken into, as it happens, but apparently he’s not interested in knowing about any of that so fuck him).
In the afternoon the four of them go horse riding: Lucy’s an inexperienced rider and Brad’s something of a pro, so he helps her with her stirrups and rescues her when her errant steed decides to take an unauthorised wander into a nearby stream, but there’s a vast difference between his coolness to her and the warmth with which he flirts with Anna, which drives Lucy into a sick spiral of jealousy.
This becomes fully-fledged angst when Anna tells her that while he was home, Brad matched on Tinder with some random woman, and that although he hasn’t met her yet, he’s already giddily infatuated and is texting her constantly. Lucy’s insides turn to concrete. How the fuck do guys move on so damn quickly! And how fucking DARE he accuse her of being too intense, when he’s now starting the whole thing up again five seconds later with someone else!
When they get back from riding Lucy goes back to the beautiful cabin she’s sharing with Anna to have a shower. The place is honeymoon-perfect, with a giant four-poster bed romantically draped with mosquito netting, and a private veranda overlooking a rolling green landscape – in other words, exactly the sort of place you ought to be spending disgustingly loved-up with an adoring partner. And not at all where you should be if you’re nearly 40 and terminally single and pining pathetically for some cuntish man-child because he briefly showed you a bit of love before losing interest and fucking off without a backward glance.
But here we are. Alone in the room, Lucy sits on the bed and weeps. And then pulls herself together. She’s come all this way, she’s in a beautiful place, she needs to snap the hell out of this self-pity and make the best of it.
When she goes back to the bar area, Abdul’s disappeared, and Brad and Anna are perched on the edge of the pool, feet dangling in the water, mid-conversation.
“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” Brad is saying. “I always seem to get so much drama!”
“Yeah, we make the same mistakes over and over,” says Anna.
“I somehow always pick the crazy ones,” whines Brad. “My ex was mental. Why can’t I just find a nice, non-crazy girl for once?”
Lucy’s speechless with fury. She’s RIGHT FUCKING HERE! A nice, reasonable, not-too-crazy woman (ok, a bit crazy, but no more than most) whom he could have had, but chucked in the sea! How FUCKING DARE HE! She can’t resist butting in.
“Have you considered,” she asks, “that maybe she wasn’t crazy before, but your relationship dynamic made her crazy?”
“No,” he says firmly. “She’s always been mental.”
“Well in that case you clearly pick the wrong girls. You’re a helpful guy; you like to feel useful. So you pick girls who need you, but those girls have issues. You should choose someone who can stand on her own two feet but wants to be with you anyway.”
“What the fuck is this?” he snaps angrily. “I didn’t come here for an interrogation.”
There’s a momentary stand-off, which is broken by the appearance of Abdul, who suggests they go for dinner. But now Lucy’s curdled stomach has returned; she can barely eat anything, and later, while Brad and Abdul get drunk and stoned together, she sits in the room with lovely, long-suffering Anna, and sobs on her shoulder.
Pull yourself to-fucking-gether woman! You’re in a beautiful country, and this man is a shitbag. He’s not worth it!
But you can’t control feelings, and Lucy has them in bucketloads. Brad’s soured her entire Kenya experience – tricking her, for the first time in for-fucking-ever, into a false optimism for a bright future, before ripping it away again. And so now she’s grieving – not, perhaps, for him any more, but more for the happiness she might have had, if things had turned out differently.
More pragmatically, she’s also lamenting the loss of all the sex she thought she was going to get. She came all this way with 24 condoms and has only used a handful of them! That’s no damn use! A girl’s got needs! Who TF is she going to get to satisfy them now?
She wonders if there’s a chance she could still convert Brad into a fuck buddy. The sex was pretty good, and he wanted casual, so it’d be the ideal solution. Besides, he’s a twat, so the occasional shag is pretty much all he’s good for. At least this way she may have lost the romance, but she’d still get the occasional hard banging. Which’d be, y’know, nice.
(Lucy there, ladies and gents, conveniently ignoring the fact that there’s no way she can separate out the feels with this guy… or any guy really.)
In fact she’s so deluded that a few days later, after an evening out with some other friends, she does a very very foolish thing indeed.
Brad replies the next morning with a “Thank you, that’s very sweet of you,” which couldn’t be more of a brush off if he’D just typed FUCK YOU, YOU PSYCHO BITCH, and Lucy’s forced to laugh it off, pretend she was just drunk, and try to absorb the humiliation as best she can.
Seriously woman, get a fucking grip!
Black Tie Ball
The following Saturday there’s a black tie charity ball. Although Lucy could not be less in the mood for a party if she’d just found out she’d been fired and her bank account had been hacked on the same day, FOMO has made her fork out squillions for a ticket anyway. It’s important to go, she thinks. She can’t keep hanging out with Brad and Anna all the time. She needs to meet new people.
But when the day rolls around, her confidence has abandoned her like a newly-loved-up friend. She knows Brad’s going to be there, and that seeing him, and having to watch him flirting with other girls, will make her feel shitter than an uncool fat girl at the high school prom (and Lucy’s had direct experience of this). So what’s the point of going? Yes, she’s spent a ton of money on the ticket, but that’s a sunk cost now. If she’s going to have a crappy time, surely it’s better to just stay home.
At 5 pm she’s still undecided, so she showers and gets dressed anyway, just in case. And of course by the time she’s all done up, wearing a long black dress borrowed from the lovely Anna, she feels pretty, and decides maybe she should go after all. She wants Brad to see her looking gorgeous, and maybe realise what he’s missed out on. Plus there might be other cute guys there. Fuck him. She’s going.
And, believe it or not, in a twist of fate that normally only ever happens in the movies, she meets a dazzling stranger who sweeps her off her feet and makes her forget all about Brad. Well… sort of.
Markus is Austrian and vaguely friends with Anna; handsome, tall, with soft, boyband hair and a quiet demeanour – vastly different from Brad’s dazzling charisma. He’s come alone, so he and Lucy join forces and end up sitting next to each other at dinner. At first she finds him rather dull, but as the drinks flow he loosens up and begins to reveal not only a cheeky side, but also an epic flair for dancing. When the music starts he invites her onto the floor, and Lucy, who can normally only be persuaded to shake her flat white-girl booty when she’s paralytically drunk and there are cheesy 90s hits playing, decides to throw caution to the wind and accepts. And what a dancer Markus is. He throws her about as though she weighs nothing at all (which takes some skill, considering that Lucy has about as much grace as a baby rhino), spinning her round until she’s giddier than an eleven-year-old girl at a JLS concert. They twist and twirl in full view of everyone for hours until Lucy feels like the heroine of her own version of Dirty Dancing, while Brad stands smoking on the sidelines, where he simply cannot have failed to have noticed her being spectacularly swept off her feet by a much taller, more handsome man. Fuck you, Brad you cunt. Watch me moving on in style.
Later, when they are both very drunk, Markus and Lucy run around in the hotel fountain like a pair of hysterical students, before having a delicious snog up against a nearby wall. They resurface at 4 am to find that the staff have all packed up and there’s no sign of anyone else, so they pile into an Uber and Lucy drops Markus back at his apartment before heading home.
The next day he messages her.
Lucy’s a little disappointed to find out Markus is dating someone, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was there when she needed him. She went out expecting to have a miserable time, and was proved profoundly, shockingly wrong. She shook off the pathetic, depressed, hurt little girl she’d become, and reclaimed control, owning the room, while Brad stood on the sidelines, being little more than an observer. So thank you, Markus, you may be a naughty boy, but you were perfect.
After that night, things settle down. Lucy gets busy planning her big Kenya holiday – an exciting adventure round as much of the country as she can manage in two weeks. This is the trip she would have taken with Brad, had he not turned out to be a feckless arsehole, but now he’s too busy getting off his tits every night of the week, so her Swedish friend Lise has stepped into the breach. Two girls road-tripping round Kenya together. It’s going to be amazing.
Lise’s due to arrive very early on a Sunday morning, so when Anna announces yet another weekend away, this time to a remote campsite, Lucy’s forced to decline. Anna, Brad, Byron, Abdul, and a bunch of others head off on Friday night, and Lucy spends the evening chilling out at home and packing, relieved not to be forced to pretend to like camping.
She wakes on Saturday morning to a frantic text from Anna, sent at 3.45 am.
When Lucy calls her, Anna explains that last night, Brad got blind drunk, and somehow fell off a step. No one was with him at the time, and they only noticed when someone heard his screams over the noise of the music in the bar. They found him outside, passed out in a pool of blood, his right wrist ripped open with bones sticking out. A doctor who happened to be staying in the campsite used tree branches to make a splint, bound the wrist as best he could, and packed Brad off in a taxi to make the three-hour journey back to the nearest decent hospital, in Nairobi. Anna went with him, cradling his head in her lap as he screamed in agony over every speed bump and pothole. By the time they arrived at the hospital, infection had set in, and he was rushed into surgery, doctors fearing that he might even lose the use of his hand.
Lucy’s distraught. Brad might be a prize twat, but for all his faults she still cares about him, and the thought of him suffering brings her out in hysterical terrors. She immediately wants to rush to his side, to hold his hand (the left one, obvs) and nurse him through the pain. But she doesn’t know what’s allowed any more. She’s not his girlfriend; she’s not sure if they’re even friends. Would he even want her there? Or, alone and probably terrified in a Kenyan hospital with his family far away, would he be grateful for some support?
At first Anna advises her to stay away, but by the end of the day she changes her mind and asks Lucy to come and support her; after 36 hours awake she’s too tired to keep vigil on her own. It’s just the excuse Lucy needs, and she’s in a taxi and across the other side of the city faster than a glutton going for seconds at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
She arrives just before Brad is wheeled back from recovery. He’s sheet-white, covered in bruises, his arm bandaged up, and off his tits on drugs. He looks at her, blurry-eyed, broken and damaged, moaning with pain and confusion, and Lucy’s composure crumples and she bursts into tears.
She offers to sit with him while Anna goes home to get some sleep and a shower, but Anna seems determined to enjoy her role as saviour and guardian angel, so after a few hours Lucy goes home. Lise will be arriving at 2 am anyway, so she needs to get some sleep.
A trip to one of Nairobi’s hospitals is not exactly what travel experts would consider a great day out for the first-time visitor, so the next day, instead of sitting by Brad’s bedside as she might have preferred, Lucy takes Lise to see the sights of the city. They explore mosques, markets and museums, while Lucy constantly checks for regular updates from Anna, who eventually invites her to drop by later in the afternoon.
Lise waits politely in the corridor, and Lucy goes in to see the patient. There’s no sign of Anna, but Brad’s sitting up now, awake and alert, and he gives her a sheepish smile.
“Hey, how are you feeling?”
He tells her he’s still in pain, that he’s going to have to have more surgery, and that the plan is for him to fly home to Australia to recover. He feels like a complete idiot, he says, for getting so bladdered that he smashed his arm, and Lucy manages to restrain herself from agreeing with him. Now’s not the time.
She settles for a gentle, teasing admonishment. “You’re such a twat,” she tells him.
“I know,” he replies.
Brad asks what she’s been up to, and she tells him about Lise and the amazing trip they’re about to go on. Much as she feels sorry for him, smashed up in a hospital bed, Lucy can’t help feeling a certain delicious schadenfreude. This could have been you, you dick, she thinks. It could have been you, instead of Lise, about to head off on this trip with me. You fucked it up, and then you fucked yourself up, and now look at you, broken in a hospital bed through your own stupidity, while I’m off on an amazing adventure without you. Look what you could’ve won, you pisshead waste of space.
And so the next day Lucy and Lise head off on their travels, and a few days later Brad flies home to Australia for two months of surgeries and recuperation, and before he returns Lucy’s time in Kenya comes to an end, and she goes home to London.
And that, as they say, is that. Brad crashed out of Lucy’s life just as dramatically and unexpectedly as he crashed into it.
There’s a bit of sporadic texting, and some instagram-liking and general breadcrumbing, but she never sees him again. At least, not so far.
She does see Anna though, who comes to London for a work trip in August, and who’s become a firm friend. So there is a silver lining to this whole sorry shitstorm: if Lucy hadn’t swiped right and met Brad, she may never have met Anna either. God Bless Tinder after all, eh?
NEXT TIME: Lucy’s still in Kenya, where an old face makes a reappearance. Click here to find out who.