It took me forever to get home to Brazil, and I was exhausted and drained by the time I landed in São Paulo. My mum was waiting at the airport for me.
I was so relieved to see her standing there. I fell into her arms in the heap of mess that I was. She didn’t ask anything. She just held me and stroked my hair, soothing me.
I haven’t really talked to Mum—or with anyone for that matter—about what happened. All she knows is that I broke things off with Carrick, and I left the team.
I have spoken to Petra and Uncle John. I called them my first day back in Brazil after I’d cried a river to my mum. I didn’t expand on anything that had happened. I just told them that I couldn’t be with Carrick anymore. That it wasn’t working for me. I think they both knew the real reason, but they didn’t question me on it, which I was grateful for.
I apologized profusely to Uncle John for just leaving him in the lurch like that.
He told me to stop being daft, and then he asked when I was coming back.
I told him that I wouldn’t be returning.
He won’t have it though. He won’t fill my job. He’s hired a temporary mechanic, some guy called Pete, to cover my work until I do come back.
But how can I?
Carrick said if I left he wouldn’t chase me. He meant that.
There’s been nothing. No calls or texts. Not that I expected there to be. But I guess…I don’t know. I don’t know what I expected.
But it’s right this way. Clean break.
You think it’d make things easier. It doesn’t. It makes them harder somehow.
Not being with Carrick, I feel like I’ve lost a limb. Nothing could ever have prepared me for how badly I feel at not being with him.
I thought living with the fear over his races was bad. It was child’s play compared to how I feel now.
So, why don’t I go back? Why don’t I call him up and tell him I’m sorry and beg him to take me back?
Because nothing’s changed. I’m still me. I’m still not good enough for him. I walked away from him, and I hurt him.
And he’s moved on now anyway.
Not with anyone else—well, not that I know of. But after I left, I couldn’t help myself from looking for news of him.
In the beginning, there wasn’t much. News on how his poles had been slipping back. I felt the blame for that immensely. And there was a photo of him taken a few weeks after we’d broken up. He didn’t look good. He was pictured leaving a sponsor dinner with his dad. He was dressed in jeans and a shirt, unshaven. He looked tired.
It hurt me that he looked bad, that he was clearly hurting, but a dark part of me was relieved to know that he wasn’t over me.
But then a few weeks ago, I saw news that his poles were picking up and that he’d taken first place in both his American and Mexican races.
I was happy for that.
Then, yesterday, I saw a picture of him here in Brazil. He’s in São Paulo for the penultimate leg of the tour. He was at some event, surrounded by models, and it knocked me off-kilter.
He looked better. He looked like Carrick. He was smiling. He was happy.
It felt like a punch in the gut, seeing that picture, knowing that he’s over me now. I know it’s hurt that I deserve, but that doesn’t make me feel any less shitty.
I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know how hard it would be to know he was over me. And I guess just knowing that he’s here, only an hour’s drive away from me, is making things hurt more.
Even more so right now because I’m on my way into São Paulo to have dinner with Uncle John, Petra, and Ben. I’m driving in. I borrowed my mum’s car to save me from having to take the train. Mum was invited tonight, but she already had plans. So, we’re going to have dinner another night with Uncle John before he leaves.
I’m meeting them at a restaurant called Pizzaria Speranza. It’s a great place with amazing pizza. I’m trying not to think about how much Carrick would love it there.
I’m so looking forward to seeing the three of them. It’ll be nice to see them, catch up. I’ve talked to them on the phone, but it’s not the same. I miss them.
It’s funny how I got so attached so soon—well, I mean, with Petra and Ben. I was already attached to my Uncle John. I guess it’s from being on the road together. You spend way more time together than you normally would.
I’ve resolved myself not to ask how Carrick is. I’ve refrained from mentioning him when I speak to them on the phone. But there has been the odd occasion when his name has come up with Petra. Especially in the beginning after I left, she would tell me how much he was missing me.
It was hard to hear. And it made it even harder to stay away.
But I’m poison to Carrick. He doesn’t need me in his life. He’s better off without me, and I think he’s realized that now.
I park in front of the restaurant. They’re already here, seated outside. So, the moment I’m there, they’re on me.
Petra is the first to reach me, and she hugs the life out of me. “Bloody hell! I’ve missed you!”
“Missed you, too, Pet,” I say, feeling a rush of emotion.
Holding me back by the shoulders, she stares into my face. “Not saying that you look like shit, but you look tired, and you’ve definitely lost weight, and there wasn’t much there to lose. You doing okay?”
“I’m doing fine.” I brush her off with a smile.
I’m not fine. She knows that. I know that. And she’s right. I have lost weight. When I’m down, I’m one of those people who loses their appetite.