Jess attempts to tie up the loose ends.Support the show
Excuse the Jess is a fictional story told over each season.
Written & Performed by: Jacquie J Sarah
Produced by: Deliciously Bright Productions
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Episode 11 - Revenge
Hello and welcome to episode 11 of Season 3 of Excuse the Jess. I have called this one revenge. I am not sure it’s fitting but I always wanted to title an episode this way so I thought now is the time. You have guessed 11 episodes in that the titles are a bit meaningless this season. Good, let's crack on.
Amy had rang me demanding I go to New York to tell Niles he was, in her words, an asshole for dumping me. Of course, there was more to it than that. I don’t what Amy’s end plan was. I guess it was I had to forgive her brother so he could be guilt-free about what happened. Well, he shouldn’t be guilt free. Not about dumping me, that was his choice. I just mean one minute okay, the next running out the door. Not acceptable. I was happy to go to New York on Amy’s dollar and tell him just that. Well that’s what I thought when Amy rang, when I was packing, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. I had just spent days gutting my life and trying to get to a point where I was able to begin putting it back together. I was pretty sure seeing Niles again would take me right back but, at the same time, I couldn’t leave it how it was. I needed closure, and if that was a blazing row or him looking at me in disdain, then so be it. All I really hoped for was an explanation. Not a lot makes sense in this world. You can only hope that sometimes, something does. I rang Dawn and explained what I was going to do, and she kind of warned me against it but kind of also saw my reasoning. I had work to finish for her, but she said to take my time and do it remotely if I chose.
I washed Niles’s night clothes and my bedding. I didn’t want to sink back into wanting to smell him to pretend he was still around. Then I put his clothes in a bag in my suitcase, the jewellery he gave me in my hand luggage and on that Monday morning I took a train to Paddington and then the Heathrow Express for my flight. I decided to stay in the moment and just take everything a minute at a time. Not think about what was coming.
By the time I landed in New York, it was 2am our time and 9pm their time. I was exhausted, so I went to the hotel and straight to bed. Amy met me for brunch the next morning, and I came prepared with all Niles’s things. I asked if she would give it to him, but she was adamant that it would have to be me. Amy seemed entirely sincere when she said that she was annoyed with him for what he had done. If someone had done that to her, then she wouldn’t have let it go. It was nice, but I also said, he’s your brother, and you’ve got to help him.
At least she had the intelligence to agree.
‘We should go to the apartment now’, she suddenly announced and I felt my stomach drop. What the actual fuck was I doing? I didn’t want to see him. Not true, I desperately wanted to see him. I just didn’t know what good it would do seeing him.
‘Now?’, I stammered. ‘It’s Tuesday morning, he’ll be in work.’
Amy shook her head. ‘He’s taken some time out.’
He was celebrating with a little holiday. What the fuck was I doing?
When we got to the apartment, Amy made her way through with me by her side. I was waved through because, of course, they knew me as Niles’s partner. Amy knocked on his door, yelled that it was her and had the keys to open it. When she did, she walked back to the lift and let me go on. I wasn’t prepared. I could hear the TV in the sitting room, so headed straight in that direction. I had built myself up to be angry, to demand an explanation. Even if that explanation was, he had come to my senses. I stormed in the room, opened my mouth but wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I was confronted with Niles, but it didn’t look like him. He was in a T-shirt and PJ bottoms, now sporting a messy beard, and he looked dreadful. He was horrified when he saw me. I wanted out of there as fast as I could, so I just needed to say what I needed to say and go.
‘Here’s your stuff back. I don’t want it. You’re an arsehole, and guess what? All your relationships have failed. So you’re the same as me. And you broke your own heart’
After that stunning piece of erudition, I ran out of the apartment to the lift that Amy was just getting in and I just made it inside before the doors shut.
‘Cocktails?’, I asked her.
‘I gave his stuff back and told him he was an arsehole. Job done.’
She looked at me bewildered. What did she think was going to happen? I would see the obvious mess he was in and relent because I nearly did, but who would that really help? Him. I would spend all my time and effort making sure he was okay, and nobody would check on me. I am not saying it’s all me, me, me. But it’s about time I started thinking that way. He had a support system. I didn’t. I couldn’t support him for something of his own doing. Plus, there is obviously a lot more going on there that is not about me. How could there not be?
I was being obtuse. I knew I was being obtuse. However, this is what Amy wanted, and he had his stuff back. All this was going on in my mind. There was a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach though that it was not okay.
Amy took me to that place again. The private members club. It was around midday by the time we got there and I assured her lunchtime drinking was definitely a thing. Plus, in England, it was 5pm. This was torture. I was beginning to think she hated me. She had this look like, what is going on?
‘He said that you would be fine. On your own.’
‘Good of him’
‘I disagreed but, and this may seem kinda rude, you seem really together.’
‘Well being forced to spend three days with a therapist because you don’t eat for days puts you in a better frame of mind.’
She let out this big sigh, I think of relief.
‘I thought. I was just so worried about you both because I knew you were on your own. And he was a mess.’
In fairness, she had rung. She had rung quite a few times and emailed me, and private messaged me on Instagram.
‘I had help, Amy. The irony is that after paying the therapist's bill, I may not be able to afford to eat.’
‘Amy deep sighed. ‘This is a mess. I don’t know what got into him.’
‘Did he tell you what was said?’
‘Yes, and I would have been the same as you. Fuck marriage. How were you to know he was talking about you two.’
She started to wring her hands nervously. I was going to tell her to go, but her phone rang. It was Niles.
I guessed he had started to rant at her on the phone because she rolled her eyes and said very little. She didn’t interrupt him like I used to. Then I guessed he calmed down because she started to speak.
‘Yes she is.’
Amy looked towards me. ‘He says he doesn’t want the jewellery back, it was a gift.’
‘Why would I keep them?’ I asked, and Amy relayed the information.
There was a pause before she snapped, ‘No, I want you two to talk.’
There was a long pause before Amy spoke again.
‘He has an appointment with his therapist this afternoon. Would you go?’
‘No’, I snapped back. ‘Why would I do that?
‘Because you need to have a conversation, at least.’
‘Really? Come over here. Tell him he’s an asshole and then we can have cocktails. Not talk to him.’
She shook her head. ‘You’re both so stubborn.’
‘I don’t forgive him, Amy. It would take more than a conversation to change that.’
Amy nodded. Niles was obviously talking.
‘He’s going to text you the details of the appointment, and he is begging you to go.’
‘Well if he’s begging.’
I let Amy go soon after that. She was desperate to go back to her brother, and I was desperate not to have any more conversations about it. It had been a massive mistake to come here. Everything was such a mess.
Amy wasn’t the only person who tried to contact me when I turned my phone off. I also had a long email from my friends Ems and another from Izzy. I skim-read them because I was not in the right frame of mind. Ems said something about she thought it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission because she needed to go home so badly. It was an apology email but not really an apology all at the same time. She used the phrase that she was struggling with everything, but she was worrying about me. Like she is the noble one worrying about me, and I need to take away her worries, regardless of my feelings towards the subject. The problem is that a few months ago, I may have accepted it. I can’t anymore. The fact is that it was her husband Simon, who I categorically stated that I didn’t want in the house, but she still let him live there. She was still asking me to speak to Simon which made me believe that she thought I would calm down and forgive her because that’s what I always do. I always say my bit like, you shouldn’t have done that, and she agrees, and then we go back to the way things are. That always results in something like this. I had mug written on my forehead. I had to think about what I was getting out of this relationship. To this point, I thought it was love and support, but that seems ridiculous now.
Izzy had lied to me or lied by omission anyway. She knew Simon was living there and didn’t tell me. Her explanation was she didn’t want to get involved. Like she didn’t want to get involved when I was sick for three weeks, I guessed. Izzy told me she was desperately sad we were not speaking and she would like me to get in touch asap.
The other important email I received was from the estate agents in Cardiff. The people buying my house were keen to get in by the beginning of May. My home for nearly twenty years gone to the highest bidder. There was no going back now. Last year I tried to force change in my life. This year it was happening entirely out of my control.
I opened the laptop to read them properly but closed the lid soon afterwards. I wasn’t up to it. I was listless. That’s a weird expression. Then I had a text from Niles with the details of his appointment. He had put underneath that he needed me to understand. I probably needed to understand, but was I up to it? A couple of minutes later, I received another text.
‘Will you come?’
Then after that.
‘I promise I’ll shave.’
I decided to go for a walk around Central Park. Try and clear my head. Apparently, exercise was good for that. It just reminds me how unfit I’ve become. The sun was shining, and it was a warmer day than I thought, so I gave up walking. I laid my coat out on the grass and lay there for a bit. I realised I hadn’t eaten for a few hours and got an apple out of my bag. That was another of Esther’s instructions. I must eat at regular periods, even if I don’t want it. It keeps energy levels stable, so I don’t sink. I hate to say she was right. I took each bite slowly and took in the scenery. Spring was coming to New York, and I remembered how much I loved this city. There was always such a buzz. I could hear a guitar in the distance and found the source, a young couple with a woman playing the guitar for him. They looked so happy, and she was good. She knew she was good too. On the path there was a group of three friends, all in sports gear with their hair tied back, they were pretending to exercise, but they were actually just fast walking, chatting, and laughing. Close to me, there were two mothers and toddlers. One toddler happily sat on the picnic blanket eating. The other one kept making a run for it, and the mother was up and down trying to control the youngster. I would have been the one sat on the blanket eating, I should have been the one that kept running away, so I admired the child. The next time the child, I think she, came running towards me. We made eye contact and grinned at each other. The mother came over, and she was swiftly taken back to base. Then there was the older couple on the bench. They reminded me of Niles’s parents a bit. They still loved each other dearly. Their eyes were shining at each other. Of course, when we see an old couple, we assume they have spent their lives together, but they could have only just met, or they could be cheating on their actual partners and have been for years. All these people were heroes in their own stories, and here I was in mine. The best thing to do would be to sit here, relax, and people-watch. I had been working so hard lately, and my brain needed some time out. That was the plan, except I found myself dusting myself off, flagging a taxi, and heading downtown for an appointment with a therapist.
When I arrived, Niles was sat there already. Clean shaven as he stated. Like that was the bit that bothered me. His eyes still looked sunken, he still looked sad, and I realised that he looked older than I remember. His eyes met mine, and he smiled. It wasn’t that big, wonderful smile that I loved though. He was sad, but he was trying. I felt an overwhelming urge to hug him and tell him everything would be okay, but that wasn’t my place anymore. He didn’t want that from me. He had ended it. Came to his senses like I always knew he would. It still didn’t make it any less painful. I returned the smile but sat away from him. I didn’t want to talk; I was probably in the wrong place. An office door opened, and Niles got up, so I followed him.
The therapist was a man who seemed to be in his late fifties. If you were casting a therapist in a film, he would have been your guy. Cords, a check shirt, a big comfy cardigan, and he wore glasses which sat down his nose for extra effect. I was instructed to sit down on a sofa. It was a three-seater, so I sat at the opposite end to Niles. The doctor and I am running out of made-up names here. I wish I hadn’t gone with the Frasier motif now because Doctor Crane would have been perfect. Let’s just call him Doctor House. Doctor House introduced himself, thanked me for coming in and asked why I thought I was there.
‘So Niles can tell me why he ended things because he’s too gutless to do it without a trained professional there.’
Niles sunk back in his chair. It was such a dichotomy. On one hand, I hated the animosity, and on the other, he deserved it because he could have just told me back in Reading.
‘You’re angry, yes?’ House asked.
Woah, I could see why Niles was paying him the big bucks. I wanted to say that, but instead, I said nothing.
‘It would be helpful if you explained to Niles how it made you feel?’
I couldn’t let that go.
‘Would it? Well it would be more helpful to me to explain why he did it. Shall we start with that?’
Niles snatched a look at me and then quickly looked back to House.
‘Maybe we should go back to the beginning’, House said calmly and started writing notes.
‘Can I save you a bit of time?’ I snapped. ‘I have an above-average fear of suddenly being abandoned by someone close to me born out of real-life experiences that I won’t bore you with. I’ve known Niles for about nine months, and he’s done it to me twice. So can we skip to the part where he tells me that as much as he liked me as a person, there was no future in it, and he wants to be with someone better?’
‘Bullshit, Niles suddenly shouted. ‘I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.’
‘Well dumping me was a really weird way to show it.’
That shut him up. Doctor House cleared his throat to get our attention.
‘I don’t think this is helpful. Let’s go back. Niles, you start.’
Because all men stick together, I thought.
Niles started telling the tale of meeting me in the factory, and you know it. If you don’t, it’s out there in the world. I talked about it a lot in season 2. He said how much he liked me but found it difficult because he was higher up than me, and the organisation had rules about it. It was made tougher because he had no idea how I felt about him. That was BS though because I told him I thought he was good-looking. I digress. He believed he was part of the reason that I chose to leave the organisation, but he couldn’t get me to admit it.
House looked at me then to get my feedback.
‘It was, but only because I did like him, and I didn’t think he liked me. I couldn’t work for him.’
Niles started to protest about it, but I reminded him that he didn’t say anything to me. I continued.
‘Then he announced he was going back to his partner and left me standing in the office. I didn’t hear from him for two weeks.’
House just nodded and started to write notes. Neither of us spoke. Was Niles meant to continue?
‘Niles, so it was you that got back in touch.’
Niles told his side again. How he had just finished a relationship, but Daphne wanted to try again, but he knew he loved me. He wanted to come back completely single because he knew I wouldn’t touch him if he weren’t.’
Then we talked about our relationship, and I told House about Christmas with all the things he didn’t tell me about that day, and then Niles talked about Valentines'.
‘I was going to propose’, Niles suddenly said.
I didn’t hide my surprise and then thought it through.
‘No, you weren’t. You didn’t even know you were going to see me.’
‘Why do you think I was so disappointed that I couldn’t see you? Why do you think Amy arranged for you to come?’
‘She said you were missing me. Why wouldn’t I accept that at face value? Plus, you didn’t propose.’
He shifted his body so he was directly pointing at me. ‘Not after I found out you thought I didn’t want to be seen with you. I knew I couldn’t do it then. I still don’t understand why you thought that.’
‘Oh fuck off Niles.’ It was the best I could come up with. He had made me feel that way.
Niles shot back to House. ‘This is what I mean. She gets something in her head. Doesn’t tell me and I am somehow supposed to know.’
‘With your red-hot communication skills too.’
House coughed to get our attention back. I looked at the clock behind him. We had been there 45 minutes, and I was no closer to understanding why Niles did what he did.
House looked towards me.
‘Are you okay Jessica? Is there something you would like to express?’
‘Yes, when are we going to get to the point?’
‘I just feel if you understood the communication issues.’
I cut him off, and I heard Niles sigh deeply.
‘This is not couples counselling. You have to be an actual couple for that.’
‘You never committed to me, Jess.’ Niles suddenly interjected. ‘I was waiting for you to end it. You wouldn’t commit to conversations about the future. When I told you I loved you, you would flinch. When I mentioned marriage, you snapped back. Okay, it was shitty what I did, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.’
‘We never had conversations about our future. And I do think marriage is an outdated institution that unfairly impacts women more than men, so fucking sue me. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t or couldn’t commit to anyone. I never once thought about ending it. But I always knew you were going to leave me and so never thought about a future with you.’
‘You always thought Niles would leave you?’ House asked solemnly.
I nodded, and I was right, but that felt churlish to say.
‘And you always thought Jessica was holding back on you?’
I watched as Niles nodded.
‘Do you see what the issue might have been?’ House said, and I bet he wanted to do a little high five for getting to his conclusion.
That was that then. I got my answer. I needed to be out of that room fast so shot up.
‘Where are you going?’ Niles asked.
‘Did you just not hear what Doctor House said? We are completely incompatible.’
House told me to please sit, but I was over it. This was Niles’s session, and he could finish it in peace.
I went straight to the door. I needed to be out of there and out of Niles’s life for good. Niles leapt up and was about to follow me.
‘Don’t you dare.’, I said in a voice that scared even me, and he backed away.
When I left the building, I was surprised at how bright and busy it was. Sometimes you forget that life goes on when your world stops. I had my answer, and it didn’t help me because I still loved that fucking idiot. I flagged down a taxi and was back in the hotel within twenty minutes. It just felt so desperately sad. I went to change and decided just to put my PJs on. What was I going to do? I needed to go home but where was home? Reading or Cardiff or someplace new, where was I going to work? What was I going to do? What the fuck was I going to do? And it all became too much. I was in a strange hotel room in a city I would never be able to go back to, and I was on my own again. I had fucked it up again, and I sobbed again.