It’s my great pleasure today to welcome to the chaise longue a man who wears many hats. Jeff Gardiner is a writer of short stories, novels and non-fiction works. He’s also an editor and performer.
His novels have been published by Crooked Cat Publishing and by Tirgearr Publishing. Jeff published Treading on Dreams with the latter last year, which deals with romantic rejection, the subject of Jeff’s post today. He’s included an excerpt to whet your appetite.
It’s the worst thing in the world: being in love, or even obsessed with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you.
“Let’s just be friends” or “I don’t feel the same way about you” are terrible phrases to hear. There’s very little you can do about it whilst clinging on to your dignity, unless you plan to provoke or bore them into eventual submission. The message is pretty clear.
It’s not easy to then ignore the images, emotions, thoughts and fantasies dominating your mind, as those cruel words echo through it (usually when you wake up at 3am). But just for your own sanity you’ve got to decide whether to continue with the friendship and hope – risking serious hurt as you watch them get involved in other relationships; or to give up on them entirely.
In Treading On Dreams, Donny is obsessed with Selena who is engaged to the perfect man. But Donny refuses to give up, and he bides his time. It’s a risky strategy, which is very likely to go horribly wrong.
I wrote Treading On Dreams in an attempt to explore how those feelings of hope and desire mix with the jealousy and anger rising from romantic and sexual rejection. Donny attempts to distract himself from his obsession by enjoying other sensual and sometimes overwhelming new experiences, guided by his dubious friend, Jaz. It’s contemporary fiction, with twenty-something characters learning about love (or not).
Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.
Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.
Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.
Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.
Extract from TREADING ON DREAMS
Donny sat in his room reading, until interrupted by a light tap on his door.
‘Is it okay if I come in?’
He jumped up and opened the door. ‘Of course. I always allow beautiful women into my bedroom.’ She didn’t respond with her usual coy smile.
‘I need to have a chat with you, Donny. Is now a good time?’ She sat on the corner of the bed and he sat next to her, carefully cradling his drink.
‘Donny, I get this feeling you and I have been getting quite close recently and I’ve really enjoyed your company and friendship.’
Donny’s face went hot.
‘Yes, it’s been wonderful. I love being with you.’
‘Well, I don’t think we should spend so much time together.’
Blood pumped in his ears and it almost deafened him. ‘Sorry?’
‘I only want us to be friends. I don’t want any more than that, Donny.’
‘Oh… no, okay.’ However, it wasn’t him speaking; he was a character in a corny film.
She walked out without looking at him or saying another word.
The phrase haunted Donny’s mind, echoing through the lonely darkness of each night: ‘I only want us to be friends.’ He imagined Selena saying it to him with her face warped into a mocking snarl.
After a while, the tablets started to lose their effect and waiting to drift into sleep was a tortured agony, but the more he thought about sleep, the more awake he felt.
How stupid he was to believe he ever had a chance with Selena. Scared of bursting into tears when meeting her, he avoided her for a few days, until one day he walked in on her making a cup of tea.
They both smiled politely but managed to avoid a conversation. Once Selena had made her drink, she quickly scuttled off to her room for the evening.
Donny struggled to put his thoughts together with his mind a jumble of loss, vulnerability, and dismay.
Jeff is a British author and editor, born in Nigeria, now living in West Sussex. His other novels are Myopia and Igboland (both published by Crooked Cat), and he also has a collection of short stories and a non-fiction work to his name. Jeff recently gave up teaching to concentrate on writing, editing and performing.
TREADING ON DREAMS is currently only 99p/99c from:
Copyright © Jeff Gardiner, Vanessa Couchman 2015. All rights reserved.