I walked through the door with you
The air was cold
But something about it felt like home somehow
And I, left my scarf there at your sister's house
And you've still got it in your drawer even now
Oxford, Early September 1976
Theresa smiled as she shook the woman’s hand. She had butterflies in her stomach as she took in the slightly shorter woman. Her black, curly hair framed a round face and kind brown eyes as she looked down at her. “It’s so nice to meet you, Mrs. Rucker. Jacob has told me so much about you.”
“It’s lovely to meet you too, dear. Why don’t you get that coat off, and I’ll fix us some tea,” the older woman said in a soft voice with a slight Scottish lilt.
Nodding, Theresa unwrapped the scarf from around her neck and hung it on the coatrack before placing her jacket over it. She was wide eyed as she took in all the pictures on the walls. She was looking at a black and white christening photo when she felt a hand slide around her waist.
“What do you think of Mum?” A deep voice caressed her ear, and she shivered.
“From the two-minute conversation, she seems lovely.” She spun to face him and rest her hands on his broad chest. “Your sister has a lovely house.”
“Yes. It’s quite nice that Maryanne lives in Oxford and lets us stay over when we want,” he teased before leaning into kiss her briefly. His hand cupped her face, brushing the soft brown curls back before running his thumb over her lip.
You almost ran the red 'cause you were lookin' over at me
She smiled up at him. “This doesn’t make up for the fact you nearly killed us earlier. I will expect a marvelous dinner out one night.”
Chuckling, Jacob pulled her closer. “Your wish is my command, but it was fun. You can’t say the adrenaline rush wasn’t amazing.”
Staring into his dark eyes, she turned to kiss his palm. “You will be the death of me.”
“I think Mum has the tea ready.”
Nodding, Theresa leaned in for another brief kiss before walking towards the kitchen.
Photo album on the counter
Your cheeks were turning red
You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-sized bed
And your mother's telling stories 'bout you on the tee-ball team
You told me 'bout your past thinking your future was me
Theresa all but snorted into her tea as she listened. Jacob looked as though he was going to faint from embarrassment as his mother finished the story of how he shaved off half an eyebrow as a youngster. “I am very glad it grew back, love,” Theresa teased.
“Yeah, yeah.” He stood quickly, slipping on his coat. “I need to pick Maryanne up from the train station. I’ll be back soon.”
His mother smiled as she watched him lean down and kiss Theresa gently on the head. “I think he’s in love with you,” she said softly.
Theresa blushed furiously, hands smoothing out invisible wrinkles in the skirt of her dress. “I don’t know about that. We’ve barely been together two months.”
“He’s never acted this way with other girls. He’s completely besotted with you,” Mrs. Rucker told her, patting her on the leg gently. “I will admit the age gap is new.”
“Yes,” Theresa said softly, embarrassment coloring her cheeks even more. She had met Jacob right before the beginning of the school year. It was her last year at Oxford, and he was an assistant professor for the anthropology department who spent most of his time researching in the library. They had causally flirted for weeks in the summer before he had asked her to go to lunch with him. She had been hesitant. He was faculty, after all, but after asking one of her tutors several specific hypotheticals, she had discovered that as long as he wasn’t actively teaching her it didn’t really matter. Later that day, she had surprised him with sandwiches that they had taken to a park to eat. He had held her hand, and she had immediately fallen under his spell. He seemed so much more mature, and he was easier to talk to than most boys her age. She had briefly mentioned it to her mother, who wasn’t exactly pleased about the near decade long difference in age. “Does it bother you?”
Mrs. Rucker shook her head. “Not really. You seem like you are more than capable of holding your own, and like I said, I’ve never seen him this way before you. I think you are quite special.”
And you were tossing me the car keys, "fuck the patriarchy"
Key chain on the ground, we were always skipping town
And I was thinking on the drive down, any time now
He's gonna say it's love, you never called it what it was
Oxford, Mid-September 1976
She smiled as she felt the car roar. Her hands were gripping the steering wheel rather hard, and it made her feel alive. Jacob had a Roadster with a convertible top, and he would often take her on midnight drives, allowing her to speed down some of the older roads that he knew of around the university. They had shared their first kiss on one of these drives, and it always made her feel closer to him in a sense. She was slowing down as she looked over at him, dark hair fluttering in the night breeze. “I think I might like your car more than you,” she said with a smirk as she pulled the car over. They would always switch places so he could drop her off at her dormitory.
Jacob grabbed her waist, pulling her in for a deep kiss in front of the headlights. “That might be a problem, Ms. Brasier.”
Grinning, she slipped into the passenger seat before immediately reaching over to hold his hand as he drove. “Your mum mentioned something a few weeks ago…when we were at your sister’s house.”
“And what was that, love?” He asked, bringing her hand up so he could kiss the back of it.
“She said that she thought you were falling in love with me,” Theresa told him, voice quaking with hope that he would say those three little words. She certainly felt it, but she didn’t want to scare him off by saying it too soon.
He smiled at her. “Maybe.”
She watched him turn his attention back to the road and felt deflated. Maybe…maybe…maybe…
And then you wondered where it went to as I reached for you
She could feel him shift behind her, and she blinked her eyes open. It was still early, and very little light was coming through the window. Wincing, she curled into herself a little bit more. Last night hadn’t gone the way she thought it would at all. They had gone out for dinner before going back to Jacob’s flat. Their kissing had quickly turned into something much more heated, and she had hesitated before he had whispered how if she really loved him, she should trust him. And now she was waking up in his bed.
Rolling over, she felt for him but was met with nothing but cool sheets. Opening her eyes fully, she felt herself tear up. She pulled the sheet tighter and sat up, feeling sore in the most peculiar places. She was attempting to pull the sheet even tighter, attempting to cover her body the most she could when she caught a glimpse of red on the white bedding beneath her. Pulling the covers back, she gasped when she saw a small patch of blood staining underneath her.
“It happens sometimes for your first time,” Jacob said, resting against the door of the bedroom.
She jerked the blankets back to cover herself again. Theresa eyed him suspiciously. “Just how many times has this happened for you to know that?” She almost snapped.
“Don’t be like that. It was a fact I learned in some book years ago.” He said it so nonchalantly, and it made her angry. “I brought you breakfast, love.”
She noticed the tray in his hands for the first time and relaxed a little against the headboard. Her eyes followed him as he sat the tray in her lap before sliding next to her. His arm wrapped around her shoulders, and it immediately made her want to crawl in a bath full of scorching hot water. “Are you not eating?” She was attempting to be polite.
“I’m not that hungry,” he told her, eyes never leaving the morning paper.
But all I felt was shame and you held my lifeless frame
And there we are again when nobody had to know
Theresa looked over at him as he sat his bag down on the kitchen table. “How was dinner?” She asked, voice attempting to stay steady.
“Fine. It was fine,” Jacob answered. His hands fiddled with his bag before he reached for a wine glass.
Nodding, she downed the rest of her glass. She had been drinking since he left around six. It was nearing nine now. “I think I’m going to sleep at my place tonight.”
“Don’t do this, Theresa.”
“Don’t do what exactly?”
“This,” Jacob said frustratedly. “You know why I couldn’t take you! We discussed this.”
“No,” Theresa spat, standing up to match his height. “You told me, and I had to accept it. You didn’t give me a choice, did you?”
Jacob sighed. “Do you know what they would’ve said?! I would be a laughingstock! Or worse, I could lose the research grant!”
“They all know already for God’s sake! Do you honestly think they don’t?”
He came to stand directly in front of her, face inches from hers. “That doesn’t mean we have to rub their noses in it. You graduate at the end of this year. We don’t have to wait that long!”
You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath
“Are you ashamed of me?” She asked, tears coming to her eyes. “Why don’t you want your friends to know? I’ve met your family! You’ve met mine! What makes them so special?”
“That isn’t what this is about!”
“Sure, Jacob. Whatever you say.” Snatching her coat off of the chair, she headed towards the door. “Goodnight.” The slamming of the door behind her made her jump.
And you call me up again just to break me like a promise
Theresa could feel the hurt in her chest. She was tensing up, and it was getting harder to breathe. “What do you mean?” She whispered into the telephone. She was propped up against the counter in Alicia’s kitchen. Many of her friends were just a room away, and she was trying her hardest not to cry.
“I can’t get out of this meeting-”
“You promised me that you would be here. It’s my birthday, Jacob. We’ve been planning it for weeks.” She was trying to keep her voice even, but she knew he could hear the tears.
His sigh made her angrier. He had no right to be frustrated with her in this situation. None at all. “I don’t have a choice in this.”
“You do have a choice, Jacob, and you aren’t choosing me. You never choose me.”
You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine
And that made me want to die
“You’re right, Theresa. I am not choosing you. I’m choosing my career. Something that you obviously don’t understand due to your naivety and lack of maturity,” he snapped at her, voice almost growling. “Maybe the mistake in this relationship was dating someone who is so much younger.”
Theresa grabbed the sink, attempting to stop her legs from giving out.
The idea you had of me, who was she?
A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you
It seemed once he started, he couldn’t stop. “You are so whiney and needy. It is always about you in this relationship. The world doesn’t revolve around just you, Theresa. It isn’t my fault that I have work.”
“You’re right. It isn’t your fault you have work. Just like it isn’t my fault that you decided to date me when it’s abundantly clear that you are ashamed to be seen with me. You have treated me like such a nuisance these last few weeks when I have done nothing to you. I,” her voice was rising, and she quickly brought it back down to nearly a whisper, “I have given you everything, and you disregard me like I’m just another student that you’re disappointed in.”
“Maybe I wouldn’t treat you like that if you didn’t act like a hormonal teenager when you are a grown woman.” He paused, and she drew a breath at his words, attempting to digest them. “I have to go. I’ll call you later.”
Before she could speak, he hung up the phone. Stumbling to put the phone on the hook, she fell back against the kitchen wall and sliding down before bringing her knees up to her chest. She tucked her face against her knees, sobbing silently.
Not weeping in a party bathroom
Philip May, one of her closest friends, had just rounded the corner looking for her. “Theresa, are you ok-”
She tried to wipe her face quickly, but he was already by her side on the floor. “I’m fine. I’m fine, Philip. Go back to the others.”
“What happened?” His voice was soft and sincere, and the look on his face made her want to cry even more. “Did Jacob say something?”
That question is what made her crack, and she leaned into his side, allowing herself to sob into his neck. “He,” she hiccupped, “he isn’t coming to my party, and we had a fight.”
“Oh, Tess, I’m so sorry,” he squeezed her closer.
Pulling back, she wiped her face again. “I just don’t know what’s happened. He’s changed so much recently.”
“I’m sure it’s just stress. He might surprise you and come to the party after all.” She smiled at his sweetness, but she was sure the hope of that would kill her.
Oxford, October 1, 1976
Theresa smiled as she sipped the champagne. After the small dinner party they had held at Alicia’s apartment, their group had gone to a local club to dance, and in Alicia’s words, “get her drunk enough to forget.” Theresa had hoped that she would be able to do just that and forget, but she had been sneaking glances at the door the whole night.
Philip slid a shot glass across the table. “It’s vodka,” he said with a wink before throwing his back. He chuckled when he saw her wince after she did the same. “Having fun?”
She nodded but could tell he knew she was fibbing. “Can I be honest?”
He leaned in to hear her over the music. “Go ahead while everyone else is dancing.”
“I miss him, but I know I shouldn’t.”
But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come
And he said, "It's supposed to be fun turning twenty-one"
Holding out his hand, Philip nodded his hand. “Come on. I’m not going to let you sit here and mope.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“We are going to dance, and you are going to have fun with me,” he told her, grabbing her hand and pulling her onto the dancefloor. She laughed as they spun around to the music. Her mind cleared from the Jacob-induced fog, and she was having the time of her life, swinging her hips to the beat of the music. She even ignored the fact that her feet were killing her and that she was sweating profusely.
The mood shifted as the track changed to a much slower song, and she blushed as Philip took her in his arms. “Thank you for this…for getting my mind off of him. It means a lot.”
“Of course,” he spun them around. “I couldn’t let you be sad on your birthday. I would be the world’s worst friend if I had.”
The alcohol was setting in and making her very sleepy, so it made all the sense in the world to her that she should lean in and rest her head on his shoulder. “You smell good,” she said lazily.
He chuckled. “You sound sleepy, Tess. We should get you back to Alicia’s.”
“No, I want to keep dancing,” she pouted, bringing herself to her full height. “I never realized I was so much taller than you in heels. Or that your eyes were so blue,” she was practically whispering as she leaned into look at his eyes. She didn’t quite know what made her do it, but she leaned closer and hesitantly pressed her lips to his. It was like everyone around them melted away for the brief moments they were locked together.
She felt him slowly pull back, and she blinked her eyes open. Staring at his face, she realized what she had just done. “Philip, I am so sorry. I-”
“No. No. It’s my fault,” he said, stepping back immediately. “You are far from sober, and I shouldn’t have let you do that.”
“No. That’s not-”
He stopped her by holding up a hand. “We should you probably head back to the table.” He held an arm out, motioning for her to go ahead of him, and as she did, she couldn’t bring herself to feel guilty about what had just conspired.
Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone
Oxford, Mid-October 1976
It had been two and a half weeks since she had spoken to Jacob, and it had been eating at her slowly and surely. She had been picking at her meals, and her mother had taken notice when she had visited. She had brushed her off, saying it was stress from school, but the lie was easy to see through. She had been avoiding the library, and she couldn’t even bring herself to see her friends. After the little incident with Philip, she had locked herself away, attempting to lick her wounds in private, but it just made her more depressed.
She was exhausted from the emotion from it all, and she had decided before classes were over to get takeout. She had just gotten to the door to her dorm, and then she saw what she had been dreading. There was a box marked with her name in front of her door, and she knew in that moment that her relationship with Jacob was over. Tears filled her eyes as she opened the door and pushed the box in her room with her foot. She didn’t want to look in the box; it would make it all more real to her. Scarfing her food down, she grimaced at how the food she usually relished was tasteless. She collapsed into the floor, hands reaching for the box. She was pulling things out, tears coming easily, and when she pulled a polaroid of them out, her small tears turned to sobs. It wasn’t a particularly important photo; it was just them sitting on his couch with her kissing his cheek, but it was enough.
There was a sudden knock at the door, and she jumped, attempting to wipe the traces of sadness away. It was a futile attempt, and she knew as soon as she caught a glimpse of herself in the small mirror on her wall. “Coming,” she called as she straightened her clothing out. Pulling the door open, she stalled.
Philip was standing there, holding a small bouquet of daisies and roses and staring at his feet. “I wanted to bring these by as an apology for the other…” He trailed off as he finally glanced at her. “What happened? Was it Jacob?”
She was caught off guard by the almost angry way he asked that. Honestly, she was touched that he cared so much. She couldn’t speak, so she nodded, tearing up even more as she took the flowers from him. “He…he sent my things back.”
“Oh, come here.” He wrapped her up in his arms, allowing her to sob against him as they stood just inside her room. His hand made soothing passes up and down her back, and he felt her breaths begin to even out again. He pulled back, keeping his hands on her elbows. “Feel better?”
She nodded. “Thanks for letting me cry on you…again.”
“Anytime. I have two available shoulders.”
Giggling, she eased herself down on her bed. “Thank you for the flowers even though it should be me apologizing. I was drunk, and I crossed a line.”
“No. I should have never let you. I feel terrible because I feel like I took advantage of you.”
“No!” She turned to face him completely. “You didn’t at all! Please don’t feel bad about it.”
He nodded. “I,” he blushed, “I shouldn’t admit to it, but I rather liked kissing you. That’s why I feel so bad I guess.”
She paused. She quite liked kissing him too. He made her feel so…calm in the best way, and she was almost ashamed to admit that she hadn’t wanted to pull away from him. The feel of his hands on her hips and her body against his. It gave her the sense of belonging that she had searched for. But she was in love with Jacob. And she didn’t want to ruin her friendship with Philip. “It was rather nice. I guess it was what we both needed at the time.”
“Did he send everything back?” He asked lightly, attempting to change the subject.
But you keep my old scarf from that very first week
“I think so.”
“That’s good at least.”
He stood with his hands in his pockets for a few moments, refusing to look up at her. “Is something wrong, Philip?” His uneasiness was obvious. “Just tell me if there is.”
Sighing, she could see pain flicker in his eyes. “I don’t want to hurt you, but Alicia thought you should know.”
“Know what?” There was a knot forming in her stomach as she sat in suspense.
He opened his mouth to speak before closing it again. He did it several times before facing her head on. “Alicia saw Jacob with Madame Rowland, the French professor,” he said softly. “She said they were holding hands, and that Jacob…Jacob leaned into kiss her.”
“Oh.” It was a simple syllable that broke Philip when he heard it. It held so much sadness, and Philip reached out to hug her again. But she put her hand up. “I’m fine. I’m fine. Good for him,” she attempted to smile, but it seemed more heartbreaking than the one syllable word.
“Tess, I’m sor-”
“No, it’s fine, but you should go. I need to clean all this up and get everything put away.” She was gently pushing him towards the door. She was trying to get him out before she had another embarrassing breakdown.
“I can stay if you want me to.”
“Thank you, but no. I’ll be fine. Thank you for the flowers. It was very thoughtful of you. I’ll talk to you later.” Before he could say anything else, she closed the door in his face, sinking down to the floor as she felt a tightness overtake her chest. She shut her eyes tightly, remembering how he promised he wouldn’t hurt her that way. He had sworn it. She could still see them sitting in a swing outside, stars glimmering above, and he had promised to never hurt her. She could see it all. Remember it all.
It was rare, I was there
I remember it all too well
Oxford, Early November 1976
Theresa smiled, watching her friends glide across the dance floor. They had come out to a party thrown by the local Conservative Party, and it was desperately needed for Theresa. She felt she had done nothing but cry for weeks and weeks. Alicia had eventually talked her into coming out, stating that she was losing herself in grief for someone who wouldn’t do the same for her. She had agreed and even gone out to buy a new dress for the event. “Thank you so much for this, Alicia. I really needed it.”
“Anytime, love. Just drink up and have a good time.” Alicia winked, downing her drink before going to find Damien.
Waving a waiter over, she grabbed another glass of champagne. She finally felt free after so much heartbreak, and she was hoping Philip would show up. She wanted to thank him again after having been there for her so much, and she wanted to apologize properly for kicking him out of her room when all he was trying to do was help. Scanning the room, she felt her shoulders drop a bit when she realized that he wasn’t there.
“If you’re looking for Philip, he won’t be here until later. He had some history society to attend before this,” Alicia said as she slid beside her friend again. “You two have gotten quite close in recent weeks. I think he might like you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Theresa scoffed, cheeks turning red. “He could do so much better.”
“Tess, you are a catch. God, you’re one of the most attractive women on campus.”
“I wish that was true, Ali.”
Alicia punched her arm. “It is! That boy is head over heels for you, and don’t think I haven’t seen how you look at him.”
“He deserves someone better than me.” Theresa took a deep breath. “I’m used goods at this point.”
“Tess, I get that your virginity was important to you, but I don’t think you are unlovable because you didn’t wait until marriage,” Alicia huffed.
Setting her drink down, Theresa sighed. “That isn’t it. Philip is just so…” She trailed off as her eyes took in the couple who had just entered.
And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes
I'll get older, but your lovers stay my age
“What an absolute fucking prick,” Alicia growled, “and I always had reservations about Sarah.”
She felt numb as she watched Jacob and a student that she recognized from one of his classes smile and make their way around the room, hands clasped together tightly. “He said I was too young. He said I was too immature, and he brings a…a fucking teenager.”
“Tess, we can leave. You don’t have to put yourself through this.”
“He isn’t taking this night from me,” she said defiantly, tossing her champagne back in one go. She watched as Sarah walked away from him and towards the loo. “I’ll be right back.”
She could hear Alicia protesting as she stormed towards him. “You,” she growled as she got closer.
His face betrayed the absolute fear. His dark eyes were wide, and his mouth opened and closed again as he felt her hand grab his shoulder. “Theresa,” he started, but he was quickly silenced as she pushed him out of the door.
“How dare you?! How dare you do this to me?” She huffed, pushing her curls out of her face. “You hurt me over and over again, and you made me feel like it was all my fault! God, you made me cry on my birthday.”
“I never meant to hurt you-”
“Oh, bullshit!” She spat. The alcohol was mixing with the anger, making a deadly combination. “You saw me as a conquest. The uptight vicar’s daughter with the squeaky-clean record, and you took that as a challenge. And the thing is, you couldn’t care less. You moved on without a second thought…on to your next victim. I don’t like Sarah, but she doesn’t deserve the punishment of you!”
He stepped closer to her, hands up in defeat. “I’m sorry that I hurt you, but that is uncalled for.”
She spun around, eyes blazing with fury. “Uncalled for?! You pressured me into sleeping with you knowing that I wanted to wait. You made me feel I had no choice, and it wasn’t even good sex! I cared about you. I loved you! I thought you were going to be it for me; I met your mother, and you left me when our relationship got just a little difficult. You gave up on me, and all I am left with is the memories of what I thought love was. I get the hurt and the crying, and you get to walk away with no consequences. Did I mean so little that you feel nothing?!”
He held a hand up to her. “I am sorry that you are upset, but I am not doing this. Our relationship is over, and this is very inappropriate.”
She let out a mirthless cackle. “This is inappropriate?” She watched as he began to walk back towards the door. “At least I don’t need a babysitter!” Watching him enter the building, she fell back against one of the cars parked outside and sighed. She was right back where she started, left with nothing but the wreckage of the mess he had made. But damn did she feel better.
Just between us, did the love affair maim you all too well?
Just between us, do you remember it all too well?