Polly Gillespie faces the ghosts of horror boyfriends past – here’s what happened

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1 January 1970

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A Ghost of Boyfriends Past paid a visit to Polly Gillespie and despite her best intentions she welcomed him back. She relives her battle between Naughty Polly and Sensible Polly.

Watching Little Women on Neon, I was indulging in comparing myself to Jo March, the rebellious sister in the story. She was outspoken, fearless, ahead of her times and a writer about to publish her first novel. She didn’t need men. She was a strong independent… My phoned buzzed.

“What’s your number?” read a message from a man from an old life.

My heart started beating madly and I felt a surge of instant emotion – fear, anger, confusion, panic and shock all stirred together with a weird electricity. Why did he want my number? The last time we saw each other turned into a catastrophic nightmare. Not entirely a nightmare he had directed, might I add. We were both struck down with regret and resentment. And yet…

I had to know why he wanted to talk to me. Surely it was to say sorry for some of the pain. Was it to make good, or ask if he could pick up an old surfboard from under my house? Did he need money or some new age hippie style “closure”?

I tried to resist, but my ego won out.

“Why?” I asked. “If it’s to say sorry, I’m not ready yet.”

“It’s not that,” he replied

In my head, Sensible Polly was reasoned and cold: this man ran off with someone else; this man is engaged; this man is a recipe for extended pain. Do not speak with him.

Also inside my head was an even louder voice that coaxed, “Oh, come on Pol. Maybe he is desperately in love with you. Maybe he’s changed. Maybe he’ll beg you to take him back. Maybe you can reject him and conjure up some feminist speech that will make him wilt like a weed hammered with Roundup.”

Naughty Polly sent the number and took the call. Silly Polly.

I heard his voice and he started to spin a tale of woe. His new partner was out of the picture. Not quite out of the house, but out of the picture. Hmm.. should’ve been the end of the conversation right there, but I stayed on the line. It was an amicable break-up, and she wasn’t crazy. No, she was just wrong for him, and I was right for him, and… and…

Like some strange leading lady in someone else’s fairy tale, I suddenly saw myself riding off into the sunset with the flawed but changed hero.

I took myself to a place where somehow – miraculously, perhaps, after all the drama, pain and mutual torture – we would live happily ever after. I entertained the idea of announcing to family and friends, who, by the way, would never speak to me again if I did it, but would all agree that “the heart wants what the heart wants”.

“Will you meet me to talk about us?” he asked in his charming, charismatic voice.

“Sure, OK.” I said, much to the disgust of Sensible Polly, who now seemed paralysed in a far corner of my mind.

“Great,” he said, after making some comment about how boring my conversation still was. Oh that’s right, he found me boring and inane. I forget that part of the classic fairy tale. Too much “witty banter” tired him.

“I’ll call you in the morning. I love you, Polly.”

I didn’t say it back. Clearly smart Sensible Polly in the back room still had a tiny say. I slept badly. I missed him, or the best parts of him, but I knew I didn’t want him back.

I waited for his call. I tried calling him, but it was, well… it was like I was blocked. Surely not. Surely he wouldn’t come riding back into my life on his white horse, only to gallop away again? Oh, that such wickedness could be!

Finally he called. “Well, I’ve been thinking this is not a good idea, so let’s just leave things eh?” he spoke like a stranger I’d never engaged with before.

“Um, OK then,” I said with not a lot of emotion.

Well that was a brief affair. What had I been thinking? I wanted to bang my head against the wall. I wanted to slap myself silly and whip myself with my iPhone cable. I had allowed my ego and my curiosity to make me feel like a complete twat.

As I sat on the edge of my bed chiding myself and feeling so annoyed for being so silly, Sensible Polly marched up to the front of my brain in her Doc Martens and fancy top hat, and yelled, “Block him on Messenger and mobile immediately. Lie down and put on a hydrating face mask!” And so I did.

Don’t take calls from ghosts. Ever.

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