true tales from the gates of the underworld

August 11, 2011, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have known her for years. Sometimes we are friends. Sometimes we can not bear the sight of each other. These days, nobody is quite as skilled at inciting my anger.
But let me start at the beginning.

A loud party. A group of heavily intoxicated teenagers. The band’s equipment in the corner. She sits at the table, quietly, next to the guy who, to everyone, calls himself her partner. The guy who put that ring on her finger. The guy who is responsible for all the bruises and scars hidden underneath her long sleeved top. The guy who has been sleeping with her best friend for the past two years.
I wander over, plop down on my chair. My tongue slips and stumbles over her name, my mind slow, but it recognises her name. I make a comment that the guy is going to make her regret.

“I need a job.”, she says.
So we find her one, in the restaurant where we both work. She doesn’t like waitressing. She knows what to say to be allowed to work in the kitchens instead. Gets to tell everyone else what to do, where to go. It looks like she enjoys it. Superiority. Not surprising, considering how the guy treats her. Cut.

“I got arrested last night.”, she says. She finally found out. Assaulted the other girl. Left him. She is devastated. We have drinks. Cut.

We go on holiday, to see my parents. She has been left in charge of the restaurant. It’s the first week of August, high tourist season. Upon our return, we discover she had set the kitchen on fire. A night in the fat landlord’s bed, and she still had her job. We, on the other hand, appeared to be dispensible. Cut.

“I am pregnant.”, she says. Barely 18, and with a guy she’s known for three months. She doesn’t know what to do, is looking for advice. From me. What do I know about babies? But I know a few things about life. You need money to survive. A roof over your head. Food. Not a baby with some no-good-junkie. Being a friend, I tell her this. The next time I see her, the birth is imminent. This is our last contact for a few years. Cut.

I walk down the street, heavily pregnant, as she comes down the hill, baby in the pushchair, and her little toddler waddling along beside her. We exchange niceties. Promise to keep in touch. We do. She has decided to take me under her wing, introduce me to the local mothers and kids, be the one who is knowledgable about all things baby, because, having done it twice, she knows it all, af course. Cut.

“I need a job.”, I say. She gives me one, working for her. Assistant translates to cleaner, gofer and general personal slave. Not much childminding going on there. We work together for a year. Frustration builds as she makes promises she never keeps. We get to know each other better than anyone else. She calls me her best friend. Cut.

“He left me.”, she says. And in a flash, I am there again. Pick up the pieces. Crawl around on my hands and knees to clean up the mess he left behind. Clean up her life. We start to cook healthily. Go swimming. I ask her to be my maid of honour. She cries. Says she will give me the perfect wedding day. Cut.

“I won’t be able to make it.”, she texts. It’s the day before my wedding. We are twohundred miles away, already at our wedding location. She has the cake, the dress, the flowers, the food. Was going to give Lucy a lift. Everything needs to be re-organised. No  apologies. He wanted her back. He didn’t want her to go away, so she didn’t go. I had the perfect wedding day, without her. Without Lucy. Cut.

“Are you pregnant yet?”, she asks, on my first day back at work after my honeymoon. I bite my tongue, wanting to tell, but hesitating. “You are!”, she says. “She’s pregnant!”, she announces to our friends. Here follow exhausting seven months. She works me as hard as ever, even harder, in her frustration that I am pregnant and she is not. She says as much. When it comes to planning my maternity leave, I have to fight to get her to sign my paperwork. I beg, I remind her. In the end I don’t get it until I start legal procedures, and even so, on the last day of her deadline. She is seething. I have almost had my fill. She enjoys winding me up. Smiles. More empty promises.  Cut.

It carries on like this, ad nauseam.

Maybe it’s time to go.


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