In case you wondered who rang Selina while she was bawling on her parents’ couch…
Banging on the door pulls me out of my slumber and it takes me a few moments to work out why the room looks different. I’m still at Mum and Dad’s and the duvet is keeping me nice and warm and safe.
There is no other noise in the house which makes me wonder what the time actually is. And why someone is banging on the front door.
I extract myself from my warm cocoon and get the fluffy dressing gown Mum left on the bed for me. My head feels all foggy and I do a double take when I see the time on the clock in the kitchen as I walk past.
What the hell?
I finally make it to the door and open it. Lacey and London look less surprised to see me than I am to see them.
“What’s going on?” I ask them, still trying to wake up as they push past me and come inside.
“What’s going on with you, going off the grid like that for no apparent reason?” Lacey asks and I have no idea what she is talking about.
“Is it really after one?”
“You bet your sweet ass it is. Why aren’t you answering your phone?” London replies and I’m still confused. I head to the kitchen because I really need a cup of tea and try to recall what I did with my phone.
Then I remember.
Donovan at my house. Our fight. Me asking him to leave. The tears. Arriving at my parents’ and Mum hugging me while I cried. Her turning my phone off because it kept ringing and it was mostly Donovan and an unknown number and I didn’t feel like answering either one. More tears.
I stop in my tracks, a cup of tea suddenly that last thing on my mind, as it takes me back to yesterday in my kitchen once more.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?” Lacey asks, as one of them fills the jug and the other gets mugs from the cupboard. I’m glad they have been to my parents’ house enough times to know where things are.
“I need my phone. Where did Mum put my phone?” I’m talking to myself more than anything and decide to check the lounge. My bag is still on the coffee table where my dad put it and my phone is right next to it, still off.
I push the power button and take my phone back to the kitchen. There’s a cup of tea on the table and my friends are sitting down, watching me, worry on their faces. My phone starts beeping as it picks up the Wi-Fi signal and the notifications come in.
A great number of them, apparently.
“Ok, what’s going on?” London asks and I look up at her. “You’re acting really weird.”
“You never replied last night,” Lacey takes over. “And you didn’t go to work. You never not go to work.”
“Especially when there’s no one else there,” London adds. “So what happened?”
“And don’t bother saying nothing did, cos I call bullshit,” Lacey said with her resolve face on.
I sigh. My phone can wait. I wrap my hands around my mug, hoping it will warm me on the inside too.
“When I got home after lunch yesterday I went in my office and got stuck into some designs. First time I had free time in ages. I had fun and started cutting, then Donovan showed up.”
I close my eyes and take a second to remember how good he looked. Dark jeans. White button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up a bit, top two buttons open. The tattoos down his arms. The watch I bought him for his birthday 5 years ago.
“Can’t have gone well or you wouldn’t be here hiding from the world,” Lacey says and London agrees.
“I didn’t mean to be hiding,” I tell them, taking a sip of my tea. It’s hot and just what I need. “And I certainly didn’t have plans to miss work today! Mum must have turned my alarm off when it went and decided I should have the day off.”
“Ok, back to Donovan showing up. Spill,” London presses me on.
“He showed up, around 5.30pm I think. He gave me this huge hug and said he missed me, then complained we never hang out anymore. I told him that was because his girlfriend hates me and he was all, she doesn’t hate you!”
“I know, right? Oh, you know how we’ve been wondering how they met? Yeah, she’s Jordan’s cousin, she was Donovan’s +1 at Jordan’s sister’s wedding last month when I was busy with the wedding expo.”
“Oh my god!”
“No wonder she hates you, if she’s that dick’s cousin!” London says and I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that way.
“Uh huh. I told him as much, well, I called her a skank. He took offence to that and I lost it.”
“Can’t blame you, really.”
“What did you say?”
“Something along the lines of, did you really take her to that wedding, then later showed up at my house and fucked me in the shower and the next day asked that bitch out?”
“Yeah, I didn’t let him explain that particular gem and I told him to leave.”
Both Lacey and London gasp.
“You’ve never told him to leave.”
“After he got over the shock, he did. By then I was locked in my office bawling my eyes out.”
I never cry, and I just admitted to bawling after arguing with Donovan, something else I never do. Now they know what I had carefully left out of my retelling because I wasn’t quite ready to tell them.
“Oh my god!” Lacey says again, her hand flying to her mouth in shock. “You finally worked it out!”
“About fucking time! Except, you know, for the crappy timing,” London adds and they both get off their chair and hug me.
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry” Lacey says and I am so glad it’s not ‘I told you so’.
“Too bad that skank has her claws in him but don’t worry, you’ll win him back,” London assures me and I wish I could believe that.
“I don’t know about that,” I say, hating the wobble in my voice and wishing they’d stop hugging now or I’m going to start crying again. “Before I asked him to leave, I told him it was obvious he’d chosen who he wanted in his life and it wasn’t me.”
The hug ends and they get back in their chairs. I realise I’m starving and go looking in the pantry for something. I find a packet of TimTams. That’ll have to do.
“So,” London starts as I sit back down and slam the first TimTam of many. “When did you work out that you’re in love with him like we’ve been telling you for ever?”
I was expecting that question and I’m glad the melting chocolate in my mouth gives me extra time before I answer.
“Pretty much when he came in and hugged me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s when I told him it was his fault we never hung out anymore, because I was quite happy with the way things were but clearly I must have been the only one since he went and got himself a real girlfriend.”
“I did. I’m not proud of it but I was hurting and it pissed me off.” I’m on my fourth TimTam by now and I don’t care. In the space of ten minutes yesterday I realised I was in love with my best friend then lost him forever. I’m allowed chocolate.
“We need a plan,” Lacey says, and I shake my head.
“Unless it’s a plan to help me forget all about him and move on, I don’t want to hear it.”
“No. It’s over. I just need to learn to accept it and hope one day the hurting will stop.” I pick up my phone and start looking at those messages.
Voicemails. From Donovan, London, Lacey and that unknown number. I’ll delete them later.
Whatsapp messages from the girls that can wait since they found me.
Text messages. London. Lace. Donovan asking me to answer my phone and wanting to explain. Unknown numb–
“Keep ur slutty hands of my boyfriend u bitch. Donovan is mine now!”
“How did that skank get my number?” I say, holding my phone to the girls so they can see the lovely text she sent me.
“She probably asked him for your number so she could apologise for what she said to you yesterday,” Lacey says and she’s probably right.
I save the number under “skinny blonde skank” in my phone because you never know, I might need it one day, then delete the message and the other four in the same vein.
“What now?” London asks.
“Now I’m gonna have a shower and go to work and I’m guessing you two should get back before you get in trouble for your extra long lunch hour.”
“No, that’s ok,” London replies, and she looks shifty. I know something’s up when she won’t look at me.
“What happened at work, Lace?” I ask Lacey while London blushes and looks at her very fancy nails. Lacey giggles.
“New guy. Photographer. Tall. British.”
“Say no more!” I’m laughing now and it feels good. “How long until you get him to ask you out?”
“It’s not like that!” London protests. “Yes, he’s just my type but we have to work together so it would be a bad idea anyway.”
“You’re right. Keep telling yourself that because you’ll think it’s all fine then before you realise it he’ll catch skinnyblondeskank-itis and your sexy black ass will be left heartbroken, counting the what ifs.”
Though how a guy could pick a stick insect over the gorgeous woman my friend is, I don’t know, but it’s happened before. I guess some men don’t like a woman full of confidence and love for her curves.
“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience, lady,” Lacey throws at me.
“No idea what you’re talking about. I’m single, fancy free and late for work,” I reply, getting out of my chair. “Have you asked for next Monday off yet?” I ask Lacey and she nods.
“Got the afternoon off. Chris is picking me up from my house and we’re going for late lunch.”
London and I look at each other knowingly and try not to laugh, and fail.
“He’s coming to your house?”
“Better get your good sheets on the bed then!”
Lacey blushes. “Shut up. Both of you. It’s not like that.”
These two have been crushing on each other for way too long and there’s no way they’ll make it to lunch.
“Sure. You won’t feel like climbing him like a tree the second he walks inside your house, all scruffy and inked up?” I ask, knowing her weakness where that man is concerned.
“Bitch please!” London adds.
God I’ve missed the banter with my friends. It takes my mind of other things.
“We need to go back to work,” Lacey says, leading the way to the door. Not for the first time I feel a pang of jealousy that they get to spend time together at work.
London is the fashion editor at Curvalicious and Lacey writes the sex and advice column for the same magazine. I really do love my job but I get a bit lonely at times.
We make plans to meet for dinner later that week at my house and they leave. I get dressed in yesterday’s clothes, go home for a quick shower then head to work for the afternoon.
For the next couple of days I throw myself into work, only going home to sleep and shower.
Everything at my house reminds me of Donovan and by the time Friday arrives I can’t take it anymore. I stop at the supermarket and pick up an empty box with my groceries. While I can’t afford a new bed (or couch, shower, kitchen bench, table, desk, sideboard…), I can take the little things that remind me of him and put them in a box.
I get out of my work clothes and put on trackies and a hoodie, before going around my bedroom collecting a book here, a CD there, a pair of earrings he got me for my birthday last year. I love them but I can’t bear to look at them.
I gather all the photos lying around in frames and albums and I’m so glad that most of the recent ones are on my laptop, where I can’t see them unless I go looking. I’ll have to change my wallpaper on my laptop later because it’s a photo of us on the beach in Fiji last year when we all went for a week.
It’s getting close to the time the girls are due for dinner so I put the box down and go turn the oven on. I made lasagna last night and it just needs reheating. London said she’d bring a salad, which, really, means garlic and herb bread, and Lacey was in charge of pudding.
I pour myself a glass of wine and get back to that box. The front door is unlocked so the girls can just come in when they get there.
I open the top drawer of my dresser and a whiff of Donovan’s aftershave hits me. I had forgotten he’d left a bottle of one of them here a while back. The heartbreak is back in full swing and I crumple on the floor, leaning against the side of my bed, once again bawling.
That’s how the girls find me, on the floor in my room, hugging myself, tears streaming down my face.
*On to Part 5, That damn hoodie! this way*