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The Flatshare: Part 7 – Chapter 74

Leon

The police take Justin away. He’s basically foaming at the mouth. One look at him and you can see what’s happened: a man who has always had control has lost it. But, as Gerty points out, this will at least make the restraining order more straightforward.

We inspect the door. He’s dented the wood with kicking, and chipped off chunks of paint with his fists. There’s blood too. Tiffy turns her head aside as she sees it. I wonder what it can possibly feel like, seeing that, after everything she’s been through. Knowing that she loved this man, and that he loved her, in his way.

Thank God for Richie. The man radiates joy tonight. As Richie launches into yet another story about the lengths ‘Bozo’ would go to for first dibs on the weights machine, I watch the colour come back into Tiffy’s cheeks, her shoulders lift, her lips slide into a smile. Better. I’m relaxing too, with each sign of improvement. I couldn’t bear to see her that way, jumping, crying, afraid. Even watching Justin carted away by a police officer wasn’t enough to ease the rage.

But now, three hours post-police drama, we’re scattered around the living room just like I imagined it. If you squinted, you’d hardly even notice that the evening I’ve been looking forward to for the last year was briefly interrupted by an irate man attempting to break and enter. Tiffy and I have taken the beanbag. Gerty has pride of place on the sofa, leaning up against Mo. Richie is ruling the room from the armchair, which hasn’t quite returned to its usual place since it was used to blockade the door, so now just sits somewhere between the hall and the living room.

Richie: I called it. Just saying.

Gerty: When, though? Because I called it too, but I don’t believe you could have called it right from the

Richie: From the moment Leon told me he was getting some woman in to sleep in his bed when he wasn’t there.

Gerty: Not possible.

Richie, expansively: Come on! You can’t share a bed and not share anything else, if you know what I’m saying.

Gerty: What about Kay?

Richie waves a hand dismissively.

Richie: Eh. Kay.

Tiffy: Come on now

Richie: Oh, she was sweet enough, but she was never right for Leon.

Me, to Gerty and Mo: What did you think at the start?

Tiffy: Oh, God, don’t ask them that.

Gerty, promptly: We thought it was a dreadful idea.

Mo: Bear in mind you could have been anyone.

Gerty: You could have been a disgusting pervert, for instance.

Richie roars with laughter and reaches for another beer. He has not had a drink in eleven months. I consider telling him that his tolerance will not be what it once was, and then contemplate how Richie will react to this suggestion (almost certainly drinking more to prove me wrong) and decide not to bother.

Mo: We even tried to give Tiffy money so she wouldn’t do it

Gerty: Which she said no to, obviously

Mo: And then it became clear that this was part of getting away from Justin, and we just had to let her do it her own way.

Richie: And you didn’t see it coming? Tiffy and Leon?

Mo: No. To be honest, I didn’t think Tiffy would have been ready for a guy like Leon yet.

Me: What sort of guy is that?

Richie: Fiendishly handsome?

Me: Gangly? Big-eared?

Tiffy, wryly: He means a non-psychotic guy.

Mo: Well, yes. It takes a long time to escape from relationships like that

Gerty, briskly: No Justin-talk.

Mo: Sorry. I was just trying to say how well Tiffy did. How hard it must have been for her to break out of that before it became a pattern.

Richie and I exchange glances. I think of Mam.

Gerty rolls her eyes.

Gerty: Honestly. Dating a counsellor is dreadful, by the way. This man has no concept of light-heartedness.

Tiffy: And you do?

Gerty pokes Tiffy with one foot in response.

Tiffy, grabbing the foot and pulling: Anyway, this is really what we want to hear about. You never did fill me in properly about you and Mo! How? When? Excluding penis-related details, as discussed.

Richie: Eh?

Me: Just go with it. It’s best to let the in-jokes wash over you. Eventually they start to make some sort of sense.

Tiffy: Just wait until you meet Rachel. Queen of the inappropriate in-joke.

Richie: Sounds like my kind of girl.

Tiffy looks thoughtful at this, and I raise my eyebrows warningly at her. Bad idea to match-make Richie. As much as I love my brother, he does tend to break hearts.

Me: Go on, Mo, Gerty?

Mo, to Gerty: You tell it.

Tiffy: No, no, Gerty’s version will sound like something she’d read out in court – Mo, give us the romantic version of events, please.

Mo gives a sidelong look at Gerty to see how cross that’s made her; thankfully she’s three glasses of wine in, and has just settled for glaring at Tiffy.

Mo: Well, it started when we moved in together.

Gerty: Although Mo was in love with me for ages before that, apparently.

Mo shoots her a mildly irritated look.

Mo: And Gerty has liked me for over a year, she said.

Gerty: In confidence!

Tiffy makes an impatient noise in the back of her throat.

Tiffy: And you’re all loved-up? Sleeping in the same bed and all that?

There is a shifty sort of silence; Mo looks at his feet, uncomfortable. Tiffy smiles up at Gerty, reaching to squeeze her hand.

Richie: Well. Looks like I need to find myself a flatmate, don’t I?

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