Part two of Fel Arall, obviously.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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Hello and welcome to episode 14 of season three of Excuse the Jess. Thank you to everyone who has got this far, 14. Is it doubly lucky because it’s double 7? Yes, I am talking nonsense. You’re 14 episodes into season 3 if you haven’t realised that’s all I talk then, then that’s on you. The good news is that this will be a short episode. It is technically a continuation of the previous episode Fel Arall. Fel Arall meaning alternatively, hence the second part being called Alternatively part 2. I am doing it again. Okay, back on point. I am trying to keep them around 30 minutes, but really, they take as long as they take. Birthday Part Two in Season 2 came in on around 50 minutes, and that was another Niles heavy episode. He makes me want to talk – a lot.
In the last episode, I gave myself a day to decide whether I wanted to be with Niles. In retrospect, it was probably daft to spend that day with him. The fact I didn’t want to be apart from him to make that decision was what made the decision ultimately. We had spent most of the day talking, really talking though, he had made it clear it was my decision whether we had a future and what that looked like. He was already in, for life. To keep the good folks at the ICE happy, my decision had been marriage. Niles would propose to me at some point in the future. Then we kissed and lived happily ever after. Accept, I haven’t even finished telling you about that day yet, or the following day. That happily ever after will have to wait.
Like a TV presenter from the old days who used to pad when the tape wasn’t working for the next show. I now bring you, Alternatively, Part 2, Episode 14 of Season Three of Excuse the Jess.
Well, run opening titles.
We got back to Amy’s around 9pm after we kissed, etc. Niles wanted me to stay, but I didn’t have clothes there, plus I was going straight from Amy’s to drive to their parents. I was going to pack, though and move into Niles’s apartment the next day. After everything that had happened, it still felt surreal.
As soon as we walked in the door, Amy took one look at us, screamed, and came running over. Niles put his arms out to hug her, but she ran to me first for a hug.
‘You’re back together.’ She yelled.
‘What did you…?’, I asked Niles, but he shook his head as Amy charged into him.
‘She’s too good for you, bro.’, Amy told him as they hugged.
‘Thanks for all your support, sis.’
We hadn’t walked in there holding hands.
‘How did you know, Amy?’
‘She broke away from Niles. You both look about ten years younger.’
Amy looked up at her brother. ‘Which means you now only look 60.’
Then she giggled before actioning us both in because she wanted to hear everything.
I was nervous on the drive to their parents the next day. Amy reassured me that it would all be fine. Rose was a good kid. Smarter than both her parents, which was a relief, she joked. We were the first to arrive. Niles’s parents greeted me like a long-lost friend, not someone they met a couple of days three months ago. It was lovely. We went into their sitting room as they brought us hot drinks, and we talked. I heard a car pull up in their driveway, and I thought I was going to have a full-on panic attack. I could barely breathe, although I am sure I was masking it. Niles’s mother answered the door, and I could hear muffled voices in the hallway. Amy and her father stood up, so I followed suit. A pretty teenager came running into the door like a whirlwind. I would have known it was Niles’s child anywhere. Same eyes. Rose hugged her grandfather and her aunt. They were all so excited to see each other. Then our eyes met across the room.
‘My new mommy’, she cried with a mischievous grin and came running over to hug me. I knew immediately that it was all going to be all right.
After a lovely day with the family, where I got to see another side of Niles, ridiculously overprotective and deeply caring father, Amy and I drove back to her apartment. Niles was going to drive back with Rose and then come to collect me. As I waited, I put my laptop on to see if there were any emails. That was another new thing for me. Esther had advised me to take emails and social media off my phone and only look at them when I was on the laptop. I was always on alert, and it wasn’t good for me. It made sense, and since I had a phone detox, it was much easier than I thought it would be. There was an email from Dawn.
I had sent her an email with the final documents I promised her and apologised again for leaving her like that. It was unprofessional, and I would work for her for free to tie up loose ends when I returned. That had to be soon. Although I was planning a big move, I still had to empty my apartment in Reading and my house in Cardiff. That was all while planning to live here permanently. My life wasn’t going to get any less hectic any time soon. She had sent me back a lovely email. Scolded me for apologising to her, saying that it couldn’t be helped, and because I was so meticulous with my work, other people finishing off what I had started had been relatively easy. I was only a week from the end of my contract anyway. Then she gave me something I didn’t know I needed. She had calculated all the income I had created from various contracts I pulled in and the costs I had saved from the projects I had taken on. It was in the millions. I had done that. In just over seven months. I had help of course, I had Niles as my sounding board, and Dawn had pushed some of this stuff, but still. Dawn thanked me for everything I had done and wanted my invoice. I think I was tired, yes, I was tired, and it wasn’t because it had been emotionally up and down the last few weeks, but I started to cry. Not sobs and hurt crying. I just silently felt a small flow of tears down my face when I realised what I had achieved. All it took was for somebody to give me a chance to prove my worth.
I had been lost in my own world and hadn’t realised Niles had arrived. Suddenly hands were over my eyes as he announced, guess who. He had never done that before. The first time he does, I was crying, typical. He came around to face me and asked what was wrong. Was I having second thoughts? I showed him the email. He then spun the laptop around and showed Amy, and they passed a look to each other which I couldn’t quite read. Of course, they would have done deals like that over breakfast. Just a few mil, why should that impress them? Imagine getting weepy because you made a few mil in seven whole months. I excused myself to clean up and get my stuff. This was it. I was going to live with Niles. Permanently. Okay, there was still stuff to sort like my contribution to the apartment and how this was all going to work, but physically, this was it. I didn’t really know how I was feeling, excited, nervous, apprehensive, worried. I probably felt all those things, but I was still doing it.
As I hauled my suitcase into the main room, Niles and Amy were talking but stopped when they saw me. Maybe Niles was having second thoughts? I asked if everything was okay. They nodded it was. Okay, they were talking about me.
‘Are you having second thoughts Niles because now would be the time to tell me?’
Niles’s face softened. ‘None, you’re pretty much stuck with me now.’
‘What’s going on then?’
Amy looked at Niles and then to me. ‘We were talking about getting you working while getting citizenship.’
‘And I told Amy you didn’t need to work.’
Which was living the dream, right?
‘I do need to work.’ I confirmed. I hated myself too.
Amy passed a smug look to Niles before looking at me again.
‘What you did in your old role. Pretty dam impressive.’
‘You thought it good?’. Esther would have slapped me right there in the face for coming out with that needy question.
‘Hell, yeah!’, Niles said. ‘But I always knew you were impressive. Right from that first zoom.’
That felt like a lifetime ago.
Niles pulled me in for a hug and then a kiss.
‘Urgghh!’ Amy cried. ‘Do that in your own apartment.’
I slapped Niles’s back to move away because I knew he would have carried on just to annoy his sister.
I saw my laptop abandoned on the breakfast counter with my emails just opened up and I reminded myself not to do that again. As I went to pick it up, two emails popped up. One from Ems and one from Izzy obviously coordinated, and I couldn’t deal with it, so I closed the laptop. Niles was taking the suitcase and ushering me out of the door, so I gave Amy a huge hug and thanked her for letting me stay and for everything really. I would never have been there if it wasn’t for her demanding I go to Niles. She is one smart lady.
It was late before we finally got to settle down to sleep. Niles had given back all his gifts to me. Said I should have never brought them back, but he was glad I did. I noticed he didn’t offer to return any of my gifts to him. This would usually be the point where the story ends because isn’t the couple finally admitting their true feelings and getting together for good usually the end of the story? There would have to be a glib or cheesy line or some throwback to the scene where they first met. In our case, it was a Zoom call, so even in middle age, we were very on-trend. I love romcoms, and I won’t be made to feel stupid about that. I just know the difference between the book or movie world and the real world. In bed, we went back to our spooning position, and I loved feeling the weight of him against me, the smell of him, his hot breath on my neck and I listened as he quickly drifted off into sleep. I thought this could be it. The podcast chapter of my life can end right at this moment, and I drifted into sleep too. This was real life though, and we don’t get happy endings. We just get happy moments. I had less than 24 hours before it all kicked off again.
The first day of living together officially, we were like love’s young dream. We stayed in bed for most of the morning, and even when we got up, we still couldn’t move for each other. It was ridiculous, but it didn’t feel like it. I mean, I knew this stage wouldn’t last. It couldn’t last, it was way too intense, and our bodies are not built for full-on intensity all the time. We would need a breather. Niles had now officially asked for a sabbatical from work. He had taken all his sickness, and he was feeling better anyway. He would still go to his therapist, but I wouldn’t be going there with him unless he needed me to. I would find my own because of the work with Esther, and I wanted to explore it. I was extremely fortunate to be in that position. I knew that. I wasn’t in that position a year ago. Having two good jobs for six months, having a house sale coming up, and no need to purchase another place meant I could do it. I had worked since I was 16, even through Uni, so I had paid my dues. But still. I was lucky. Now Niles wanted the sabbatical to come over to the UK with me to sort my places out. Yep, even as I say it, it doesn’t sound like me. Then we were going to come back, and sort out visa’s so I could live and work here permanently. Well until at least Rose went to uni and we would make another living decision then. We had already decided we would make this work.
We were still living in our little bubble when he said he had to email work, and I thought I should reply to Dawn with my invoice but also to thank her for her lovely email. I asked Niles if I should tell her about us, and he said that, as she was one of the first to know about us, go on. I was full of excitement when I lifted my laptop lid and had almost managed to forget there were two other emails waiting for me there. One from Ems and one from Izzy. I could tell them too, of course, but they probably hate me. I concentrated on the reply to Dawn. Thanking her for everything, how her email had made my day, and then my news of my leaving. I realised I probably had to email her partner to give notice on the flat too. That was an easy email to write too. As Niles was still busy, `I steeled myself to read the other emails. Then among the junk, I noticed a third one that needed my attention. It was from my mother. I did not have the energy for that too. I went for Izzy first because it wasn’t her that had betrayed my trust so massively. She just omitted to tell me it was happening. Izzy told me everything I had written was fair, and she was disappointed in herself and upset that she had upset me, which would have been the furthest thing from her mind. I believed her. Izzy wasn’t intentionally mean. She said she would like a chance to make it up to me and would love to meet to discuss without Ems if I prefer. Our friendship was ours, and she would hate to lose me as a friend. It was a lovely, kind and thoughtful email, and I was already having second thoughts. Just replying saying forget about it and tell her my news, but I couldn’t. I could forgive her though. That I was aware of, and I would tell her that when I see her. I replied stating that I would let her know when I was back in Cardiff. I started to write home instead of Cardiff, but that wasn’t home anymore. I wasn’t sure if I would ever live there again.
Then the difficult one, Ems. Let’s see how this was my fault now. It did start well. How she appreciated me being open and honest with her about how I felt. It did slip a bit though, how it made her ill that she had made me feel like that and how she couldn’t sleep and had gone to the doctors to raise her anti-depressant dosage. It felt like manipulation again. This is how you have made me feel. I honestly wouldn’t want to upset anyone to that degree, but at the same time, this was but for her actions. She then continued that she was deeply sorry for what she had done, moving her husband into my house without my permission. Ems still felt that if Simon and I had a conversation, it would be better for me. If this is what she felt, what could I say that would change her mind? I know it wouldn’t be better for me, just better for her. Then she said I am sure that I would agree I hadn’t been perfect either, so a discussion would be great and to let her know when I was back so we could meet. I hadn’t been perfect. Hands up, I hadn’t. I hadn’t completely stabbed her in the back either, so there was that. I replied that I would let her know when I was back.
I clicked on my mother’s email then. Naively I thought it couldn’t be worse than Ems. It would just be some self-centred nonsense about how well he was doing and how Sean was the best husband ever. I told her in September I had started to see someone, told her I spent Christmas in New York, but she had never asked how it was going, so I had never updated her. I wasn’t even sure I was going to tell her now. The email started with the usual BS, how she had started the day going to the beach and how wonderful it was to wake up and take some exercise by the ocean. It was always something about how great her life was, and yours still sucks.
And then I read the sentence that completely changed everything. The one that made my stomach turn and vomit rise. I am coming back to Cardiff for a week, and I would like to see you.