Tackling Tinder: Dating Online

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This is a blog post about my experience using the app Tinder. I am a cisgendered heterosexual female, and this is my experience. I am not speaking on behalf of everyone using Tinder, and don’t wish to speak or comment on anyone else’s experiences using the app. All comments, stories, and experiences are welcome and appreciated. Also, I am not sponsored by Tinder. This is just an account of my own experiences.

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I’ve been on Tinder twice in my life. Once, right now, and the second time was six months ago. Before signing up, I was really nervous, because of the reputation that Tinder has for being an app primarily for hookups and dick pics. Still, I thought I best give it a chance, as if I never try I won’t know.

So six months ago I made an account and started swiping. First of all, most of the guys on there seemed like genuine profiles, and quite a few of them had stated in their bio section “not just here for hookups” which I was surprised about. Another thing I was surprised about was that I actually matched with people. I was quite liberal with my ‘right swipe’ thinking “oh, he’s cute. But he probably won’t match with me” and it turns out a lot of them did. In my first week on Tinder, I racked up about fifty matches. As someone who has always been quite self-conscious and awkward in the dating game, it’s safe to say it was a massive ego boost.

And I actually met someone too! Carter*, who was gorgeous, funny and into all the same things as me. I’ve never hit the ground running with someone as much as I did with Carter and we had a really good time getting to know each other. It didn’t work out romantically but we remain great friends, and he was part of the reason I decided to go back on Tinder. If I could find someone like him, who I clicked with so instantly, then surely it would be worth going back and seeing who else I could meet.

So I did. I re-downloaded the app and remade a profile.

Clare, 25, Supervisory Assistant, Studied at the University of Winchester.

Once again, most of the guys on there were genuine, looking to meet people and talk, nothing serious but nothing casual either. People like me, seeing who’s out there. The first three days I was on Tinder again, I matched with about twenty people, which I was very flattered and boosted by.

Would I recommend Tinder to a friend? Absolutely. Although I have a life, I lead a simple life. I get up, go to work, come home from work, potter around the house, maybe do some laundry, maybe go to Tesco… but of course, I’m not looking for a potential match in Tesco. I’m staring at a jar of green olives and a jar of black olives, wondering which one I should get and asking myself why they don’t do a tin of mixed olives?! So Tinder, in some ways, seems like the way forward. I get to meet and chat with people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t signed up. People from a few towns over whose paths I would never have crossed.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

(I will, however, mention that most profiles I’ve seen, people really love to travel, love to ski and snowboard and like to put their height in their bio section! Some people might not write anything at all, and if you match with someone, they might not ever message you. And with some profiles, thanks to pictures with more than one person in, you might not know who said profile belongs to!)

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*Names have been changed to protect identities.

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Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org

Netflix and Chill: My Week with TV

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I spend a lot of time on Netflix, like most of the population, and I love nothing more than sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching my favourite shows. In fact, I take pride in my well crafted TV Schedule that keeps me ticking over for weeks on end, (until the mid-season finales and season breaks, that is.) You may thing a schedule is incredibly sad, but this is coming from the girl who does monthly lists of her top five/ten/fifteen favourites. And I’m a Virgo, get over it.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

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If someone were to say, ‘Clare, we’re going to create a TV show just for you‘, I would have chosen something along the lines of Once Upon a Time. Fairy tale characters in the real world? Totally up my ally. The huge ensemble cast of the show and the varied characters not only from fairy tales but from Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, are what makes thing show so special.

Monday

The Fosters

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I watched The Fosters, firstly, for the diversity it brought to television. Then, as I got more invested, I watched it for Callie and Wyatt. Now, I still watch it for the diversity in the show and I live in hope that Callie and Wyatt will get back together and Callie will forget all about Brandon and we’ll all pretend like it never happened. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday

Finding Carter

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Sadly it was recently announced that, Finding Carter is not being picked up for a third season, but I wanted to give this beloved show an honourable mention.

I used to watch Kathryn Prescott in Skins many years ago, and I spent most of the first season marveling at her slick American accent. Although I love Max/Taylor as much as the next person, I’m still hoping for Max/Carter to drive off into the sunset like a teenage Bonnie and Clyde. Although the show has wandered far from it’s original premise, there’s something lovable about these characters that keeps me coming back.

Also on a Tuesday is:

Pretty Little Liars

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Although the Big A mystery is over, (and we’re all still not sure quite WTF happened in that episode), our Pretty Little Liars continue convince themselves that telling the truth will get them killed for another season and a half. I’m just hoping we get a bit more backstory/information re: the first five and a half seasons because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit confused. That being said, it’s the PLL quintet of friendship that keeps us watching, especially after the scene where they all said goodbye before college. Don’t talk to me. I’m welling up.

Wednesday

Catfish: The TV Show

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My non-fiction pick of the week. For me, the mystery side of the show is what appeals to me (along with Max and Nev’s bromance), and whether or not the the love interest is Catfish-ing or not. I’m always thinking up wild ideas of who could be behind the profile before the reveal the identity, but some of them are so bizarre you just couldn’t call it.

Thursday

How to Get Away with Murder

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I wanted to watch this originally because of Alfred Enoch who starred as the lovable Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. Then, when I watched the Pilot, I was hooked on the mystery that surrounded the Keating Five and binge-watched the whole of the first season. Then the second season came out, and I didn’t think they would be able to top the neatly packaged, perfectly paced story line of season one – but they did. The writers of this show are genius. They manage to keep the suspense moving, keep the character development deepening and seem to go bigger and better.

Friday

Reign

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Mary Queen of Scots, fiercely portrayed by the wonderful Adelaide Kane, shows what life was like for the young Queen at French Court, and the short-lived marriage she had with Francis II of France. I originally wanted to watch this show for Anna Popplewell, who played gentile Susan Pevensie from the first two Chronicles of Narnia films, but soon I fell in love with the whole ensemble of characters, from Mary’s ladies in waiting, the Valois family and the nobles at court. And as an already established Tudor fan, this show was just my style.

Saturday

Doctor Who

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Watching Doctor Who on a Saturday is a habit I’ve let slide. When David Tennant and Matt Smith occupied the role I was an avid watcher, and I’m not for one minute saying I don’t like Peter Capaldi. I do like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. The issue I have is with the content of the show, as some of the science-based narratives often get lost on me, so I prefer to sit down and binge-watch the whole season after it has aired so I can at least remember what happened between each episode, rather than have them weeks apart. I love each Doctor for different reason, and I won’t participate in a who-I-like-better debate because, for me, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter who’s face he has, and he’s the reason why I still watch the show.

And then we go back to Sunday and do it all again! Let me know in the comments what TV shows you like to watch, and did I miss any out that are on your TV schedule?

Honourable Mentions to Shows Not in Transmission

FRIENDS

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For me, Friends is the mother-ship of TV shows. The best of the best, the cream of the crop, I can put any episode or season of Friends on and laugh my ass off. The characters, their lives, their love of coffee, the New York City apartment life. Everything about this show is perfect. (except for the episode where Joey “speaks” French. I mean REALLY?!)

One Tree Hill

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I missed the boat when the show was airing but I spent a long, long time watching and re-watching this show. I still can’t decide whether I wanted Peyton/Lucas to Brooke/Lucas to be end-game, and it’s something that still keeps me up at night, but maybe that’s the power of a good TV show. It keeps you thinking long after it’s finished.

Franklin (Part 3)

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Haley and I became inseparable. If we weren’t in class together, we were catching up at lunch, usually in the music room, and we always sat next to each other on the bus home. We started writing songs together, playing music and goofing off. Sometimes Jared would join us on bass, but it wasn’t until senior year, when we were playing open mic nights around Nashville that we realised we had a good thing going.

Haley practically lived with us, especially over the summer months. It was becoming tradition on the last day of school to walk home together instead of take the bus. Mom and Dad would be waiting for us and we’d have a barbecue that evening. It was always sunny on the last day.

Tim would make a fire and we’d sit around, cook sausages, toast marshmallows and eat s’mores, and talk about how much fun we were going to have over the summer. For Haley and I, that usually meant writing more music.

Afterwards, we would all set up camp in the basement, watch movies until the early hours of the morning and eat chocolate, just because there was no school the next day. Tim would fall asleep eventually, but Haley and I would always stay awake to watch the sunrise from the roof of the garage.

We sat there quietly, the red tones of Haley’s hair illuminated in the sun’s glow. She caught me staring and smiled.

“We’re not going to be able to do this next year,” she said.

“We will, it’ll just be…”

“Different,” she finished and forced a weak smile.

“We’ll be thinking about our future, and making the most of the time we have left.”

She sighed. “Mom is really against us going to college together.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged. “That’s our decision.”

“I just feel like I’m not ready, you know?”

“I know.” She looked out at the rising sun again, and I wrapped my arm around her tightly. “I bet you wouldn’t mind getting away from your mom and John though?” I said.

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“It’s not fair that he treats you the way that he does. I know you don’t think so, but believe me he treats you like shit.”

“He doesn’t hit me,” she replied.

“It’s not about that.” I kept quiet because I didn’t want to argue with her. I didn’t want to ruin the moment. “I just hate him hurting you,” I muttered, picking at the holes in my jeans.

Haley laid her head on my shoulder, and I rested mine on top of hers. Haley was right, leaving wasn’t easy no matter what we had to face. Leaving meant change, just when everything was starting to make sense for us.

We stayed like that for a while. We would be thankful for another year in Franklin, pushing the thoughts of the last “last day” from our minds.

~

Present Day

Mom closed the lounge door. I felt suffocated, smuggled blind, kicking and screaming into a situation that I had been trying to avoid. I hated confrontation, especially now. Haley and I had argued so much recently that I was sick of it. Haley paced the room, and I could see the rage in her eyes.

“You didn’t say anything, you just left.”

“I couldn’t do it, I thought you of all people would understand that,” I cried.

“I do, Taylor, but I thought something had happened to you.”

“I buried my father, that’s what happened.”

“I know this has been really tough for you, but if you had just… left a note… or -?”

“I just had to take some time out,” I insisted. My eyes were burning into hers, but not the way they usually did. “Things were getting… too hard.”

“I know that.”

“So why don’t you get off my back?” I could feel the heat rising from me.

“I’m not on your back.”

“Well, it feels just like that.”

“I know we’re not the same kids anymore, Taylor, but don’t treat me like a stranger.”

“I’m not.”

“I came down here because my boyf… my friend, my best friend, isn’t okay and that’s what friends do. What happened to night time walks around campus, or studying together after class or just playing music, like we used to.”

“We’re not those people anymore, Hales.”

Tears started welling in her eyes. “You haven’t called me that in a long time.”

“Jesus – I can’t do this -,”

“Why can’t you write music in front of me anymore, Taylor?” She asked. I couldn’t give her an answer no matter how hard I tried. “Is it because the songs are about me? The songs that we used to write together about our identity and friendship, about Franklin and us – do you remember that?” I avoided her gaze. “Are those songs we used to write now about me? Why did you push me away?”

“I don’t write music in front of you anymore because I can’t bear to – because everything has changed since then, Haley.” I took a breath, trying to work out everything that was going on in my mind.

“Taylor -,”

“I didn’t mean to push you away.”

“I think ‘cut me out’ is a more appropriate phrase.”

I thought I hated her for that.

“It’s because I care about what you think of me,” I cried. “I care if I fail in front of you. For so long I’ve spent my time looking after you, and I cannot accept the fact that I need looking after too.”

Haley closed her eyes, and let a small tear fall onto her cheek. “I know that.” Her voice was dry, and she sniffed loudly. “I’m here for you.”

“I’m not okay…” I resigned myself to it. I couldn’t pretend anymore. “I needed to come home and be with my Mom. I can’t settle at college knowing she’s here on her own.”

“She has Tim.”

“I know, but Tim has his own family to think about.” I saw in Haley’s eyes that she knew how I felt. “I thought I could go back to college but I don’t think I can,” I said.

She nodded. “If you think the best thing to do is come home then…”

“I know,” I reassured her. “I never thought we’d be having this conversation either.”

“It just scares me that I have to do this without you,” she whispered, and stepped forward to wrap her arms around my waist. I rested my chin on the top of her head, inhaling her scent all over again. I felt a stab of guilt, but I couldn’t decide what was right. “Where are we now?” She asked, looking up at me.

“I’m always going to love you, Hales. That’s all I’ve got.” She nodded, and I kissed her forehead, then looking down at her. “I’ll take you home?”

Haley looked up at me again with her big eyes blinking back tears. A ghost of a smile crept onto her face.

“Alright,” she said.

Franklin (Part 2)

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Haley and I first met in freshman year at Franklin High School. I was moving up with the rest of my grade, so I knew a lot of my classmates already, but Haley didn’t. She moved around the hallways like a fish out of water.

“So, what’s her story?” Jared asked me, as we walked past her down the corridor.

“Who?”

“The new girl.”

“How should I know?” I shrugged.

Jared gave me a look. “She looks kind of cool, though.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I like her style,” I agreed, thinking about how girls always dyed their hair peroxide blonde and wore tight jeans all the time. Haley didn’t seem to follow that trend. “I overheard her saying to Miss Williamson that she moved down from Indianapolis when her Mom got remarried.”

“See,” Jared grinned, and shoved me playfully. “I knew you’d hear something.”

“Are you coming to check out the music room?” I deflected, feeling the tips of my ears go hot. “I hear they’ve got six string basses.”

“Nah, I need to go ask Vanessa to Winter Formal. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Alright, later,” I said, ducking into the music room and picking up one the guitars on a stand. I sat down on a nearby chair and gave it a strum. When I looked up, Haley was standing in the doorway wearing an oversized Phil Collins t-shirt and her trademark frizzy hair. We were a mess of acne, bad haircuts and thick eyeliner back then, but I still thought she was cute.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” I smiled, strumming a few chords again. I really hoped she hadn’t overheard mine and Jared’s conversation.

“You’re really good.”

“Thanks,” I stuttered.

She shuffled through the doorway and sat down on a chair opposite me.

“I’m Haley.”

“Taylor.”

“That’s a nice name.”

I had never heard my name be described as nice before. I shrugged. “It’s alright.”

“You’re really good,” she said again, looking down at the guitar I was playing.

My words stuck in my throat. “Thanks. Can you play?”

“Not really. I sing and write songs but they usually suck.”

I shrugged again. “I’m sure they’re alright.”

She smirked at me, but I wasn’t sure why, and I could feel my ears going hot again.

I cleared my throat. “So… the Alaskas are playing in Nashville on Saturday,” I said. “Do you know them?”

“Are they from Alaska?”

“No,” I laughed. “They’re Swedish.”

“They sound cool though.”

“Well they have this album coming out; it’s called We’re Not Actually from Alaska.” Haley snorted. “I know,” I laughed with her. “But they’re really good… and I was thinking of going…”

“Is this a really long winded way of asking me out?” She asked.

“No. I mean – yes. I mean.” I could feel myself sweating. “Do you wanna go? I mean, with me – to see the show. If you want to…”

Haley looked at me, her eyes big and blue, and her goofy smile showing the gap between her front teeth. She had a nice accent, and suddenly I found myself smiling.

“Alright.”

Taylor – Taylor!” I shook the thoughts from my mind. Back in the coffee shop, Tim was waving his hand in front of my face with a sympathetic smile.

~

The next day, I was still thinking about Haley and me, as I lay on my bed staring up at the ceiling, admiring the poster for The Alaskas I bought at their concert. I suppose it was mine and Haley’s first date. I don’t remember if The Alaskas were any good or not, but I’ve had the poster ever since.

Mom knocked on my bedroom door. “Are you alright, honey?” She asked, pushing it open.

I sat up, leaning on my elbows. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

Mum stood in the doorway clutching our home phone. “We had a strange voicemail from Haley this morning. Maybe you should give her a call?”

“Okay. Yeah – maybe,” I nodded.

Mom smiled and closed the door again. I looked towards my phone on my bedside table, which hadn’t vibrated since earlier that morning. Thirteen missed calls. I knew Haley would want an explanation from me but she must have guessed where I was.

I thought about her finding my empty room, all the clothes gone from the wardrobe, my truck gone from the parking lot. I hadn’t left a note but there were still books on my shelf, which I thought made it clear I would return at some point. I just didn’t know when. There was so much I had to do, get over what happened to my Dad, finish college… put things right with Haley… continue with my life. It all seemed so impossible.

I got up off my bed and headed downstairs for some milk. As I got to the stairs, I overheard my Mom on phone in the hall. I sat down at the top of the staircase and listened in, resting my forehead on the banister, like I used to do when Mom and Dad would argue.

“… I just feel like he gets mad at me every time I try and make sure he’s alright.” Mom said into the phone. “Of course, he isn’t alright, his father is…” She sighed deeply. “I don’t know how to help him, Tim. I know he’s gone back to college since but that doesn’t change anything. I’m glad he’s home, at least I can keep and eye on him here… I’ll talk to him, I will… what? Come on… Tim, tell me… they broke up?”

My Mom started to cry. A wave of crashing disappointment washed over me. Everything flashed into the forefront of my mind. Haley and I. Running, laughing, drinking, crying, shouting. They had been talking about me. My Mom was crying and they were talking about me and me and Haley had broken up and my Mom was crying.

“He just doesn’t need this right now,” she choked out as the doorbell rang. “I’m sorry, honey. I have to go. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Mom put the receiver back on its holder and opened the door. “Oh my God,” she said, as Haley stepped in out of the rain.

“I’m sorry,” Haley said, and then looked up at me. “But I didn’t know what else to do.”

Dear Clare, please help. Love Me x

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My ASK box is now OPEN. Today, I am launching the Agony Aunt feature on my Tumblr, where you can ask me questions, send me queries and in return I’ll try and help.

I’ve been told frequently over the years that I give good advice and I’ve always aspired to be an Agony Aunt, so today I thought why not. Life has handed me generous dollops of bad luck, and I’ve emerged from the ashes stronger each time. I’m not claiming to know the meaning of life, or how to cure unrequited love, or how to bring someone back from the dead, but hopefully I’ll be able to put some of my life experience to good use.

You can visit my ASK box here with questions, queries or just a place to rant! And here is my FAQ page for everything you need to know 🙂

Franklin (Part 1)

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Franklin was originally a short story I wrote in my second year of university, and was my first assignment to achieve a First class mark. It’s a piece I am immensely proud of, and wanted to share it here in a serialised form for my readers to enjoy.

Franklin

by Clare Holman-Hobbs

My Mom always used to say “if you ever feel afraid, all you have do is come home.” I thought about her words long and hard as I stifled a yawn, the sun rising over the dusty hills of my hometown. Franklin wasn’t far now that I was seeing signs for Nashville. My cell phone vibrated on the passenger seat next to me but I ignored it, and kept my eyes on the road.

The UNC campus had been dark when I left, probably around midnight. I would be lying if I said I had made the decision to come home rationally, but I couldn’t sit in the four walls of my dorm room any longer. As I headed out towards my car with my heavy duffle bag slung over my shoulder, I glanced up at Haley’s window. I knew she’d worry about me, about where I’d gone when she knocked for me in the morning for breakfast like usual. I considered going back for that reason alone, but I didn’t want another argument.

I shook the thought from my mind, realising I had almost passed the turning. People were stirring on the streets of Franklin as I turned down Main Street, commuters passing by on their way into the city and shops owners unlocking their doors. I drove further into the suburbs, passing house after house until I got to mine. It hadn’t changed a bit since I left; only this time, the driveway was empty. I pulled in, taking the space where my father’s car used to be and shut off the engine. I sighed, looking at the worn out wood of the porch, the swing swaying slightly in the breeze.

I got out of my truck, slamming the door behind me and checking my watch. After composing myself, I rang the doorbell, reminding myself to breathe. After about a minute, the front door creaked open, and my mother emerged from around the dark oak that separated us. Her face was pale.

“Taylor. I heard your truck. I thought it was you,” she said quietly. “What are you doing here?”

In the shadow of the cold, empty house that I had fled from months ago, I asked myself the same question.

~

After I got back, my brother Tim and I met at the coffee shop in town. I had spent a lot of time in the basement; trying to make my fingers move coherently enough to play a decent song on my guitar, but it all came out in fragments of an un-tuned mess. Tim took one look at me and knew I needed a break, practically marching me out of the front door and into his car. In the café, he sat across from me, shaking the sugar packet between his thumb and forefinger.

“I couldn’t believe it when Mom called,” he said, breaking off the top of the packet and pouring the sugar into his coffee.

“I know,” I agreed, forcing a weak smile and picking up a packet of sugar from the bowl on the table.

“Little bro – back in town,” Tim muttered, sipping from the steaming mug.

I poured the sugar into the coffee and stirred it, taking a sip; beautiful and bitter, just how I liked it. I sighed and tried to relax.

Tim noticed my posture. “You didn’t bring Haley back with you?”

“Not this time.”

“How come?”

I inhaled deeply, trying to begin. Tim raised his eyebrows at me.

“We’re not together anymore; she doesn’t know I’m here.”

Tim’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Taylor and Haley. Like Lennon and McCartney. I never thought I’d see the day.”

“I know,” I sighed. “I can barely believe it myself.”

“What happened, man?”

“Well, I can’t listen to Fleetwood Mac anymore.”

Over his shoulder, I saw a girl with deep chestnut curls. My breath caught, heart hammered against my chest, eyes transfixed on her as she turned her head. It wasn’t her. It couldn’t be.

I looked back to Tim and opened my mouth, but I couldn’t find the words, or the strength to begin to tell him of our downfall, of how everything had changed, and how I had lost the best thing to ever have happened to me. I had lost Haley. I may as well have lost a limb too.