Story by Kerry Campbell of Larne Writer’s Group

Breaking Up with Tom Browne

By Kerry Campbell

On the way to the cinema, we broke up.

Tom was driving and I was in the passenger seat, watching nervously through the cracks in my fingers, as he ran a red light, clipped the wing-mirror of a parked car and then narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a deadly-looking Henderson’s truck.

‘I’m leaving babe’ he said to me. He said it in a kind of 007 way; rolled up his sleeves, snapped open his lighter and then stared suspiciously at his Marlborough Light, as if it was some sort of clever tracking device.

Tom appeared cool and calm; completely unscathed after our near death experience. He had passed his driving test a few months before, but still hadn’t got to grips with things. There were roundabouts to negotiate, the mirror-signal-manoeuvre thing still to master and worst of all, the dreaded hill start.

‘I thought we could celebrate tonight’ he said loudly, fumbling a bit with the gear stick, the car jousting back and forth. ‘Crack open the champagne. Celebrate me leaving!’

Last night on the phone we had talked about nonsense stuff, teenage stuff, the movie of course, but nothing was mentioned about leaving. I shrugged my shoulders like I just didn’t care and said ‘really’ in a sarcastic kind of voice. I could never believe a word that came out of Tom’s mouth.

Tom had dressed especially for the occasion tonight. He looked smooth and suave in his black pin-stripe suit, though just a little bit overdressed for the cinema. He wore a white oxford shirt and a matt black tie, which he probably used for job interviews and funerals and had told me earlier on the phone, to dress up too. I had ignored him of course; after all, it was just another James Bond movie.

I said for him to pull over for everyone’s sake, after he stalled twice at the traffic lights and then gave the fingers, out to the window, to the White Van Man behind us.

‘So you’re leaving’ I said casually, thinking it was another one of his spoofs. He had told me before that he and his friend Squirrel were off to find themselves in the French Foreign Legion and that once he had travelled to India, to audition for a part in a Bollywood Movie called Tomorrow Always Flies.

‘So where are you off to then’ I asked him.

‘That’s classified information ma’am’, he said in his best Sean Connery voice, pulling the trigger on his imaginary gun and smiling to himself as if he’d been building up to that one punch line all night. Tom and I had been going out for almost a year and I still didn’t have a clue about him ...

(To be continued – see )