Desperately Seeking - By Evelyn Cosgrave


As soon as I heard myself say I would marry him, I knew I had hit rock bottom. I had seen it coming, I could have prepared an answer that declined his proposal absolutely but sweetly, yet still left him in no doubt of his worth as a person or in his ability to love again. I could have done it. I could do anything with this guy. But I had been lazy. I had become accustomed to him and I had forgotten what this was supposed to be. And now here I was telling him that I loved him too and of course I would marry him.

It was a lovely proposal. He didn’t buy me a ring because he didn’t trust himself to pick one without me. But he did take both of my hands in his and he looked at me so intently I had to turn away.

‘I love you,’ he said. ‘You are the most amazing person I have ever known. Just put me out of my misery and marry me.’ His gaze was still fast upon me when he added, ‘I promise to make you happy.’

When I looked up again I was so overcome there was nothing I could do. The moment seemed to demand it. Nothing but a resounding yes would satisfy the universe. Otherwise something catastrophic might happen elsewhere in the world, to a butterfly, maybe, in South America.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Yes, I’ll marry you.’

Then I said that I really had to go to the loo, which was the first true thing I had said to him all evening. I had been about to go when he appeared so unexpectedly at my door. He was supposed to be away for the entire weekend, at some work thing, and I had been looking forward to an all-me weekend of pyjamas and pottering about. Had he been ten minutes later I would probably have been in my pyjamas. And he probably wouldn’t have noticed. I can never work out whether that is something I hate about him, or love.

So I left my new fiancé in my neat beige living room and went off to think about what I had done. I stared at my surprisingly untroubled face in the mirror. What could I do? He was supposed to be my get-over guy, my feel-good fella, who was definitely not my type but would help me feel good about myself again while I got over one of the world’s biggest bastards. Nobody had been meant to fall in love, especially not the get-over guy. Surely he knew I was a mess and not responsible for any of my actions. The only person meant to get hurt here was me, so what could I do?

However, as I continued to look at myself in the harsh light of the bathroom mirror, I was suddenly overcome by a need to get out. Even though an intimate evening in with your new fiancé is probably customary, I needed the intimacy of a big crowd. So I hauled out my machinery and began a little touch-up, which quickly became a full-on party-time make-over. Surely a girl deserves a party.

The only problem was who to conjure up for this party. My parents were an absolute no-no. If I had to deal with my mother tonight someone would end up in Casualty. My sisters? All of them? The noise would be deafening and then there was the Casualty issue. It would just have to be friends, any friends. All my friends.

‘Keith, honey, I want to go out and celebrate!’

He had already poured champagne into the fabulous Waterford crystal flutes he had given me for Christmas.

‘Oh… Kate, sweetie, I thought we’d celebrate at home,’ he said, gazing at me sheepishly. It was his signature look – full of love and tenderness, but weak. ‘This is a wonderful moment, for both of us.’

The look remained.

‘Oh, Keith, I feel so excited! I just have to go out and tell people – I have to party!’

‘OK, honey, we’ll go out.’

I can be very mean when I want to be.

It was at somebody else’s engagement party that I met Keith. Or birthday, or house-warming, I wasn’t paying much attention. I think one of my sisters dragged me out, Lucy probably, but we were definitely locked deep in the heart of Limerick’s newest and hottest new and hot pub – O’Flaherty’s. I was still deep in the blues at this point, and getting pretty drunk, but I do remember noting that