Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.
There are people in the world that are super good and those that are super bad and then there’s this whole chunk of people in the middle that just exist, just live, coasting along through life with nothing really happening to them – your average Joe’s – and this is where I lived, where I had always lived no matter how hard I tried. Growing up I would spend hours studying but my grades were just ok so I
ended up in an ok college and my degree grades, yeah you guessed it – it was ok. At work, I’d be the first one in, last one out, dedicated and it was ok, just average. Hell, even with my friends I was just there, I just existed in the group – no one’s real best friend, wasn’t the funniest or the coolest but just there. Wasn’t my parents favourite kid or anything and actually it didn’t really bother me much. None of it did, I kind of just got used to it. My looks even were just average, plain – ‘she’s ok’, that’s what I heard used to d
Like I said before, all this – it didn’t bother me much. I guess in a way I didn’t know any different. Sure, I would see those girls who had it all, the beautiful hair and pretty faces, working their dream jobs and wonder how it felt. I wondered how it would feel sitting at a bar and having a drink sent over just because someone thought I was pretty, but it never happened. I guess the problem with being average is you never really entice those kinds of feelings in anyone, no one looks over and thinks ‘wow she looks amazing’ or even thinks ‘urgh she’s not great’ – you just don’t really entice any feeling and sometimes I wonder if that’s worse.
It probably will come as no surprise that my love life wasn’t that great either – you guessed it, it was ok. My high school boyfriend, Leo had pretty much been an absolute dick, I guess I had this sad feeling where I just felt grateful I even had a boyfriend that I put up with a lot. A lot of cheating and lying. I kept forgiving him and going back, I guess I was a bit of a hopeless romantic, trusted too easy – or maybe I was just a dummy. Although even while I’m saying all this, I suppose the correct word may have been desperate. Leo was just the start of a series of bad relationships.
There was Sam, the druggie who kept stealing money out of my purse and then Craig the violent drunk – yeah, I sure did know how to pick them. My friends would tell me repeatedly, that I was too forgiving, a doormat and most of time it was out of genuine concern but sometimes I could hear the pity in their voices. I guess after the 5th or 6th time they kind of just gave up and we just never spoke about my relationships. To be honest, I didn’t really hear much from them anyways. But you know I’m ok with that. That’s just me – I’m ok with that.
These disastrous relationships seemed to follow me until my late 20’s – until Aaron. Aaron would change my life. I was at this crappy bar celebrating a friend’s birthday when I saw him – he was on a work night out, drinking awkwardly with colleagues he would rather not see after work. He had the sweetest laugh and the way his eyes would crinkle up when he smiled just seemed to hypnotise me – I was obsessed. Later that night, as we stood by the bar he initiated a conversation and like they say, the rest is history. All the years of being in the background, being average, being ok was worth it, I didn’t care about any of it, all I cared about what Aaron and Aaron’s opinion of me and he had a great opinion of me – he thought I was charming and funny, quirky I think he called me but most of all he loved me. He told me all the time, he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and so I dared myself to dream, dream of a future where I wasn’t just there, where I didn’t just exist – I dreamed of Aaron and I together forever and the feelings I had were crazy. I had never felt this way before, it felt like my entire life had been numb and I had just been coasting until this moment and now I wasn’t just existing – I was living. A fire had been lit. He adored me, he loved me – well he loved me all up to the moment he cheated on me with his assistant – cliché right? And then everything changed, everything was broken because Aaron didn’t love me anymore and apparently, he loved his assistant – I’m not sure when this happened or how? Was it all while I was dreaming away? I was broken – just as quickly as those feelings of joy had appeared, they had been replaced by sorrow and sadness. He broke my heart and I sat there craving for my numb average life back and not this pain. I was angry he had let me believe that I could live an above average life, that he had let me believe that I was no longer just ok, I was more than that. How dare he? He left me and I’m not even sure if he was sorry for what he had done or even really knew what he had done. I had begged him to stay, on my knees while he packed up to leave – I always kept thinking I was a hopeless romantic but that word is back isn’t it – desperate. I feel like for the rest of my life, I would cringe thinking of that memory, the moment I lost all focus in life, all my dignity and pride – the tipping point. I mean I didn’t have much before but now I had nothing. Feelings are fun when they’re good but when they change, to be honest I’m not sure I coped well during this period of my life, it’s a bit of a blur. I had trusted him – why do I keep doing this? Trusting men that don’t treat me right and hurt me. I can still see it you know, the look of pity in Aaron’s eyes as he picked up his bags to leave. I would never see him again after that night.
There were many lonely nights after that, I had alienated any friends I had left and with Aaron gone I was alone. Well not completely alone, I had the company of many bottles of red wine and pizza but no one real. After Aaron, I felt like I had changed, I wasn’t the same. Anyway, a few weeks later I picked up the courage to download a dating app. Uploaded a few nice pictures and went swiping and then one night, ping, a notification – someone had liked me. Charles. And he wasn’t too bad – slightly overweight, a little balding but had a great smile and most of all, he liked me. This was it, maybe my luck was changing – finally! I was ready to leave the ‘ok’ life I was living again.
The night of the first date came around quickly and I spent the whole day prepping and preening myself. I even found this YouTube channel run by some 15-year-old girl and learnt how to blow dry my hair and blend not 2 but 3 eyeshadows together and it looked good. I looked good. I pulled my spanx up to my chest and put on my best bra and slipped into the most beautiful dress I had. Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous as hell, but I was in control right? He had been messaging me all day, he liked me. My mind was running at a million miles an hour, maybe this could be the one? Was I meeting my future husband? Eek! I was excited and back to my normal overly trusting behaviour. Wanting the best. When would I learn?
The date was a bust, his picture had most definitely been a few years out of date and he spent the entire evening talking about himself and multiple times I caught him staring at my chest! Even when I awkwardly crossed my arms in front of me, it didn’t seem to deter him. And then there were the sly comments here and there so by the time the main meal came, I was 100% sure I knew exactly what was happening – the man sitting in front of me had no intention of getting to know me or even seeing me after tonight. He was looking for a one-night stand. I meant nothing to him and never would – why did I trust him to be different? I felt those feelings of betrayal creep up again, I could feel it bubbling under me, but I refused to let it show. Instead I carried on with the meal and let him talk away, not like he had any interest in what I had to say. It didn’t matter, I knew it, I knew in that moment that after tonight, we would never see each other again and all I could do was the make the most of this bad situation. Another blow to my trusting nature, when would I learn?
The next morning as I strolled to work, a notification was heard from my phone – I had another match. I was so ready to delete this after last night’s disaster but then I thought, maybe I’ll give it one last chance. Fine last night’s date had been a bust but maybe this new guy could be the one. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – I’m an idiot, but I just can’t give up. Not now, not when I’m so close. And its fine, because I’ve changed, I’m not letting people take advantage of me like I used to. Now I don’t let those people back in my life, I make sure of it. I’ve taken back the power, I’m stronger.
That second date was a bust too – is everyone just out for themselves? Is it all one-night stands and sex these days? Fine if so, but don’t tell me you’re after relationships and be like that – right? I’m not being dramatic – right? Anyway, like I said – I just make sure I cut contact with these kinds of people and keep trying. But everyone of these dates was just another battering to my soul, maybe the more than average life isn’t for me? Maybe the good life just doesn’t exist – for me? I can’t give up, I had been fine with my ok lifestyle, blending into the background and just existing but I had the taste of the good life with Aaron and I just wanted it again. Is that too much to ask? Why did he let me believe I could have it? Why do all these men allow me to believe I can have it?
So, this brings us to tonight, and I sit by the bar patiently trying to get the barman’s attention. It’s 20mins until I finally get a glass of pinot grigio in my hands – I guess even dressed up, I’m still invisible. Nice. So, it’s date number with one with match number five and I had high hopes for this one. He would be the one. A 6ft accountant who loved dogs and had great brown hair that fell perfectly across his head.
He was late. And after failing to get the barman’s attention the second time, I just sit here scrolling through my phone. Does everyone do that when they’re bored or waiting? First, I open Facebook then Instagram and then it was the news app for some serious stuff. I scroll through the headlines, something about a celeb divorce and then something about an affair and then a headline that makes me sit up straight – ‘Dating App Murderer strikes again’. I nervously read through the article, panic and fear coursing through me. I read through all the grisly details – about how the murderer was preying on victims through this dating app and how the police have no leads. How could that be I thought? Apparently, no one could remember seeing anyone at any of the crime scenes. I read about all the victims and how they had died, and this feeling flooded over me – what was it? Was it sadness? Was it fear? I can’t place it.
I read about how the first victim had been found with their skull smashed in and the next was found dead in a car pack. The car park victim was called Charlie by friends and described as popular and funny. Someone who had just recently entered the dating app world and was nervous. I wondered how much of this article was the truth, I guess no one likes to speak ill of the dead but I doubt Charlie was without faults. Poor Charlie dying in a car park.
There were others that had died from blunt force trauma, some had been strangled with some type of rope. The police were confused with all the different methods that they hadn’t linked it all to one killer until recently. Should I be scared? Would my trusting nature be my downfall? My naivety. The only description of the murderer was that they had brown hair – that could be anyone right? And
that they must be either charming or very attractive to be able to get their victims alone.
Just then my 6ft accountant walked into the bar – he was beautiful and immediately made me forget about the Dating App Murderer. How easy was it for me to forget? He apologised for being late and then went to order drinks at the bar, getting served immediately. Of course, he did. He was attractive and I sat here staring at him.
There was a petite blonde woman across the room who I could tell was interested in him, she kept looking over at him and I felt some form of satisfaction that he was on a date with me – plain,
average me. And he was just looking at me, right? I kept thinking I could see him looking at her, but surely not? He was here, on a date with me – I was the one he was interested in, right? Right?
My mind did that thing again, where it wonders to all these places. Our wedding day and future kids. Thinking how it would be just like how it had been with Aaron – before he broke my trust. Aaron who let me first experience all those feelings, feeling special and wanted. Having someone be interested in what I had to say and think I was pretty. Aaron who had awaken all that in me, and I loved it. I loved those feelings, I just loved it.
I was day dreaming so was taken aback when he learnt in close, his whiskey breath hot against my neck – ‘let’s get out of here’ he whispered. Did I hear that right? No no – I must have misheard, he’s not like the others. We had just been here for 20mins, we were on a date. He wanted to get to know me and this was going to be the beginning of a relationship, right? But as I made eye contact I could see how mistaken I was, he was just like the others. Another man set to hurt me and not let me have those feelings of joy back. Just interested in sex, a one-night stand, to use her and dispose of her. ‘Sure, let’s go Aaron’, I reply.
Crap this wasn’t Aaron! He looked at me puzzled – ‘Sorry’, I exclaimed, ‘too much wine, I meant Danny’, I giggled a little hoping he wouldn’t notice. And he didn’t notice at all and why would he, he didn’t care? Little did I know that at that moment what thoughts were going through his head – he wasn’t even sure what my name was? Was it Charlotte he was wondering? No Charlotte was last week’s date – beautiful girl but won’t be seeing her again. Just like he had no intention of seeing me again.
As I climbed off the bar stool to put on my coat, ready to follow him out of the bar, I wondered whether he would wait until we got back to his or just pounce on me in the car park? And my mind thought about Car park Charlie for a moment before I shook it out of my mind.
My heart was broken, I felt sad. Feelings of fear and anxiousness suddenly filled me – should I be scared? And there was something else there – another feeling I actually longed to feel again. The feeling of adrenaline rushing through my body. My heart was racing now, thinking and remembering what happened last time. When guys initiate one-night stands. Yeah, I guess at a certain level, I enjoyed it even though the next morning I would feel rubbish and guilty, but right now, in this moment I loved it, craved it. It got better each time it happened.
‘Ready’, he asked, and I nodded in response. I grabbed my phone off the counter and slipped it into my handbag and slowly caressed the thin nylon rope that was in there and I smiled. Yeah, I wondered whether it would happen in the car park or his place. He was going to pay for treating her this way, for lying about his intentions and breaking her trust. He won’t get away. Yes, there were benefits of blending into the background and I was definitely ok with that. He may have no intention of seeing me again after tonight but what he didn’t realise is I had no intention of seeing him either, ever again. No one would. Not alive anyways.