Read by Nicky Diss
Buy a box of man-size tissues, the softest ones you can get to stop your nose from getting sore.
Make a wall chart, a huge one detailing every heat of every event of the Games, complete with tiny flags. Take special care to cover up all the photos of happier times stuck up there like blu-tacked evidence.
Exhibit A - a picture of you and Charles on Brighton beach last summer, licking ice creams in an ironic, postmodern way.
You like to tell people that you met at the gym, and it's almost true, except you both know it wasn't quite like that. He was picking up a watch for a work colleague who had sprained his ankle on the cross trainer, and you were just checking the place out. You were hoping that if you toned your upper arms you would find love, and then bam - there it was without lifting a single weight. Love on the stairs, love when you crashed into each other without looking where you were going, love of the best and most accidental kind.
'It’s not mine,' he said inexplicably, dangling an expensive watch under your nose.
'I don't really like gyms,' you confided back.
There was a bar, and then a restaurant, and then another bar, and the three date rule went to the dogs (again) when you ended up in bed together that same night.
Eat cake and chocolate to make yourself feel better. Pamper yourself. Get on your friend's scales and realise that if you were a wrestler, you would not compete in the lightweight class. Give up cake and chocolate for ever.
Right from the beginning, it was an Olympic relationship.
'I've got tickets,' he said as he came up for air like a synchronised swimmer, 'for the men's 100 metres next year. Come with me, please come.’ Choirs of angels led by Adele sang beautiful harmonies in your head. You didn't need to wait for the official opening ceremony. He was asking you to go out with him in a year's time, and it felt like an insurance policy, money in the bank, the top of the podium.
Blow your nose and dwell on the good parts for a while. You've got the photographs to help you, in your head and on Facebook if not on the wall.
Click - there you are on your first official date, all made up and sparkling as the waiter shows you to your table.
Click - on the London Eye, looking east to the Olympic village and west to a London that looks like a film set.
Click - shaking hands with his father the first time you met him. He's called Charles too, an older, twinkly eyed blueprint for a future version that isn't your future any more.
Try to get a ticket anyway. Try eBay and begging letters and fail. Think about inventing a dying sibling whose last wish is to see the diving or the table tennis. Decide that would be tempting fate, even though your sister gets on your nerves.
'To be fair,' she says when you cry on the phone and mention the men's 100 metres for the fourteenth time in three days, 'to be fair, he never mentioned the tickets after that first time, did he?'
Marvel at the perfect symmetry of your relationship. Ten months, ten days and nineteen hours only you tell everyone ten months, ten days and ten hours, to make it neater. He was the tenth man you had ever slept with but you keep that to yourself, not sure if it's a cool number or a stupid one.
Read everything you can about the one hundred metres men's race until you can recite countries, competitors and statistics. Resist the urge to ring him, email him, text him or Facebook him. He told you about another girlfriend who did that after they split up.
'She wouldn't leave me alone,' he said, 'it was a nightmare, in the end I had to change my number.'
You pretended to sympathise but in your heart you understood that girl as if she was your sister.
Delete his number from your phone and unfriend him to avoid temptation. Wonder if he used the same tired lines on her, and whether she had seen it coming, because you didn't.
'We need to talk,' he said that night in the new bar at the end of your road. It was part of a hotel that had been erected overnight where a laundrette used to stand and the sign in the window already read, 'NO VACANCIES SUMMER 2012'. You laughed, confident and happy.
'Fire away, ' you said, 'only remember that we've got Mad Men waiting at home.' it was a box set of DVDs, a present from your sister and your first and last jointly owned thing. There were three more series to get through so it was impossible to imagine a break up, even as it sprinted towards you.
Start a new relationship with Kurt from the office who has fancied you for ages. Try not to dwell on the fact that Kurt wears beige shoes and is several steps down the evolutionary ladder from Charles. Go out with him anyway and talk a little about Charles and the men's 100 metres. Think graciously that at least Kurt must be very happy, until he politely refuses a second date when you part at the end of the evening.
'I'm sorry,' he says, 'I don't think you're over your ex yet.'
Be mortified. Think to yourself, 'rejected by the office geek - no wonder Charles left'.
'I've been thinking,' Charles said that night in the bar that used to be a laundrette, the last time you saw him, 'I'm not sure if we're really, you know, going anywhere.'
It was a cold night, but you could feel little drops of sweat gather as you recognised the conversation and tried to shut the door in its face.
'Going anywhere?' you echoed, sounding stupid even to yourself, 'where would you like to go? Alaska? The Outer Hebrides?'
He smiled as if he was relieved and kissed you on the cheek as he left, checking the time on his iPhone like he had somewhere to go, anywhere that wasn't with you.
'I hope she enjoys the 100 metres,' you shouted at his back as he walked away. He didn't even flinch.
Go back to the gym where you met but this time go in. Run as if there's a medal waiting, and work on your upper arms until you sweat that man right out of your pores. Cut down your carbs and watch your body change shape.
Bump into Charles in the street the week before the race. Be glad that you're wearing running gear and flex those biceps in a nonchalant way.
Have a hot date on the day of the big race, with the weight trainer from the gym, perhaps or the new guy from your office. Say to him, 'race? What race? I'm afraid I haven't been following the Olympics,' when he tries to talk about it.
Shed a few tears as you watch the replay alone later and remember how boring Charles could be when he was on a roll, just like his ridiculous father.
Ring your sister and don't mention his name once.
Buy champagne and open it while you watch the closing ceremony. Raise a toast to Charles and to the closure of all things Olympic.
© Rosalind Stopps, 2012
Rosalind Stopps lives and works in South East London, where the mean streets and unexpected loveliness provide most of her inspiration. She has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster and is currently working on a novel (again). This week she has stories being read at Liars’ League in London and New York.