This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Keith Smith silently watches his partner Lilly Wilson get herself ready to meet her friends. Every movement made by her is scrutinised intently by him. Even though she faces the other direction from him. She is fully aware of his presence.

“I don’t understand why you are going out with them. You see them at work every day.” He says abruptly.

“When we see each other at the hospital we are really busy with patients. And don’t have time to talk to each other.” She says applying her mascara.

“But during lunch hours or when you are on your break. You have time to chat. “

Lilly turned round suppressing her anger towards him and finds her herself in an all too familiar and daunting situation. Then again when she told him about her arrangement to go out at the start of the week. Lilly knew that it would inevitably lead to them arguing over every detail of it. Keith slowly moved closer his eyes swirling with sadness and anger. As if he had been betrayed. The two stop and look at each with a chasm of silence between them.

“I promise you we won’t be going far or even for that long. I will be back by midnight “She said through a gentle smile. At the same time praying inside that Keith would feel any closure from her words.

Keith stood silent not really sure what to think of Lilly’s response. He knew that she would never cheat on him. Although he hated seeing other men look at her. Her tall and slim body often caught the attention of many other males. The two of them then moved towards one each other. As they hugged a single tear ran from his left eye. Lilly wiped it away with her hand and then straightened him up. They stare into each other eyes sharing a moment of tenderness. Something they had not experienced in a long time.

Keith put his hand on her shoulder. “It’s just that I worry something will happen to you. There is lots of new variants around. Remember also someone got attacked and mugged not far from here.”

“Take it from a staff nurse I will not end up as a corpse. And I won’t be alone or on another planet.” Lilly said, continuing her on the spot form of comedic reassurance.  

Keith’s face then showed signs of calmness. The two then kissed on the lips and quickly separated. Lilly then continued to get add the final preparations to her much anticipated and well-deserved night out. Keith stayed and watched for a short while before going into the living room.

“That’s me away love.”

Keith bolted up from his chair to try and catch one final glimpse of Lilly before the door shut. But all he got was a blur of her clothing and a whiff of perfume. He then hurried to the window in the living room to see her walk down the street. Lucky for him the top floor of their flat in Cathcart Road provided an amazing view of the street below. Keith waited up that entire time not doing much expect for going on his phone and watching the odd bit of television. The entirety of his thoughts focused on him imaging Lilly and her friends having and incredible time. Keith in some ways felt inadequate to them. Perhaps it was due to her and them knowing each other for longer or working in the exact same line of work.

It was quarter to midnight when Lilly returned home. She reckoned that coming home a little bit earlier in order to reassure Keith and not to reignite their argument from before. To her surprise he was much calmer than he usually was after she had returned from previous night outs. Keith only asked her very few details on what happened. It was a far cry from other interrogations he had given her. One of the worst memories Lilly had, was when she went to the convenance store at the bottom of the flat. She and the owners’ daughters were good friends and regularly chatted to each other. One time when Lilly came home after visiting them, she found Keith in tears with his face scarlet. For a moment Lilly thought something awful had happened.

“Your always with them. It’s like you cannot stand to be around me.” He sobbed.

Lilly did her best to comfort and reassure Keith. For a short moment she felt she was looking after a child. The true extent of Keith’s insecurities and jealous nature seeped out like his teardrops to her for the first time.

During the lockdown Lilly could tell that Keith found it strangely enjoyable with the two just being by themselves. Although she wasn’t made to feel guilty or restricted for speaking to her friends on Zoom or Facebook. Afterall, he had her all to himself in all the other times. Lilly never enforced his sort of behaviour on him with any of his friends both male and female. It was not within her nature. Lilly knew even when Keith hung around other females when she wasn’t there, he wouldn’t be unfaithful. That was a quality he had that always shock off any notions of leaving him.

Lilly never felt in any danger from Keith. She found him attractive due to many factors; such as his intelligence, humour and his career as a support worker for people with physical and mental health issues. Convinced her that he was a sincere good person. Everybody who knew him always gave him much praise on his work ethnics and attitude. Keith was much shorter than Lilly which was something she found strangely appealing with male bodies. There was a slight age difference between the two. Lilly was twenty-one. Where Keith was slightly older at twenty-seven. She stayed with him despite how insecure and envious he was with her social life outside of him. Lilly had other male friends who started to see less and less. She did still keep and contact with them but over time that dwindled away. Her and Keith still had fun together. Lilly did see a generous and gentle side to Keith many times. It was only a few months into their relationship when Keith moved into Lilly’s flat. At that time they would sit up late at night and even discussed the idea of having children much further down the line. Lilly imagined him as an amazing role model.

The afternoon went very well between them. Lilly even showed Keith photos she took that night. She did have a great time. But at the same was dreading what Keith would be like when she got home. Keith did not ask. Lilly had a sense of reassurance in her that she hadn’t felt in a long time. All that changed when her mobile rang. Lilly picked up and went into the other room to speak. After she finished the call Lilly knew any tranquillity between her and Keith was about to end.

“Who was that?” Asked Keith.

“It was Peter.”

“What did he want?”

“He was wondering if he could come over and stay over next week.” She said crestfallen.

Keith shrugged. “I was hoping you and I could go and see a film and go for dinner instead.”

Lilly knew that Keith secretly resented Peter. This really saddened her due to Peter not only being twelve. But for the sole reason of their bond as brother and sister. Lilly understood that Keith always felt jealously seeing the two together. They had a past albeit sad in parts due to their mother’s death. Even though Keith was nice to Peter. Lilly knew he hated when he came over. She theorised that he felt somehow resented their relationship. Whenever they spoke or shared a joke together the false happy demeaner put up by Keith always dissolved away. Lilly was never fooled by it. She couldn't defend Keith's way of thinking. It was beyond pety and just sad.

She never hated him seeing his family or friends. However her soft and timid nature never gave her the confidence to do so.

“Please we haven’t seen each other in a while.”

“You’re doing this again. Putting everybody in front of me.” Snarled Keith.

“Please stop thinking like this he is my family.” You know how much I love you.” Cried Lilly putting her arms around Keith. Who was sitting on the edge of the couch bent forward. He turned round and went into the bedroom and lay on the bed. Lilly followed him not knowing what to say or do to resolve the situation. She went in the room extremly tense. But knew now was the time to clear the air. Keith sat up as Lilly walked in. The two hugged however any relief they desired from it was not there.

“I think you and I need to get couples therapy or counselling.” Said Lilly softly standing back. At the same time trying to hold back the tears.

“Here you go again trying shove some other person between us. I just wanted to do something nice together. Look I have a lot of stress at work. Peter being here is not going to help.” I am not interested in looking after your annoying brother.”

“I don’t exactly enjoy having to sneak around you and justify every conversation I have with someone.” Yelled Lilly stepping forward on her right leg.

Keith saying nothing leaves the flat leaving Lilly not knowing what to do. It was around nine when he returned. The two went into hug each other. But found whatever spark they had was now gone. They then went into the bedroom saying nothing.

“I don’t think what we have is healthy and should continue.” Said Lilly putting her hand on Keith’s cheek.”

“You know I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings about your brother.” 

Lilly nodded. But did fully believe him.       

Keith then stood up and got out a rucksack and then started to pack various bits of clothes into it. He did not say anything barely making any eye contact with Lilly. As he did Lilly felt strangely sad seeing part of her life being removed. Keith then turned to her. “I am going to go stay in a hotel. I will return for the rest of my things in a few days.”

“Okay call me first and please return your key.” Lilly says standing up.

Keith handed it over with no resistment. The two then stared for a short while before Keith exited the flat. Lilly sat on the bed staring into every crevice and corner of the room. Every memory of her and Keith flooding back into her mind. For a while she cried before feeling strangely revitalised. 

Six months later Lilly had moved into a new flat in Shawlands. She decided not to date but to simply continue on with her life. Her and Keith only saw each other when he was moving the rest of all his things out of the flat. After that she never saw or heard from Keith again. She still had his number. But just couldn't call it. Even though Lilly still loved him in some way. She knew she had made the right choice.

August 05, 2022 19:38

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