Sarah knew how to make someone jealous. It was deliberate, it always was. She knew what she was doing when she invited us all around to her house, showing off, setting us all off against each other.
Of course, I smiled throughout. It’s what we do, isn’t it? Sarah and Wendy had just been on holiday together. Morocco, and Sarah brought out all the holiday snaps on her phone as well as in an album. She said to me, later in the kitchen, that she knew I couldn’t afford to go, that’s why she hadn’t asked me. She went to touch my arm, but I moved away. I pointed at the new, obscure picture her young niece had drawn that was held to the refrigerator by two magnets. Yes, Sarah had said, Gracey had drawn what she thought Aunty Sarah looked like on a camel as the safari group trekked south into the Sahara.
‘Nice,’ I smiled bravely, and I went to join the others in the living room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the willow pattern ornament had been glued back together successfully. I had told Sarah so. The others were pouring over pictures of the interior of a Bedouin tent. It looks musty to me.
‘It was,’ Sarah said. I didn’t realise I’d spoken out loud. Sarah passed me a drink of sparkling soda water. ‘We kept our clothes on when we went to bed. Goodness knows when the blankets were lash washed.’
‘They smelled a bit,’ Wendy interrupted.
‘A bit?!’ Sarah laughed. ‘They reeked!’
There they were, giggling together like hyenas. What’s worse is the others joined in. Why, I do not know. Pack mentality I suppose. I didn’t want the others to think I was rude or unsociable, so I stayed and I smiled and I sipped my lemonade, eyeing the other glasses. All the other glasses in the room looked identical to mine, but I knew they weren’t. I could smell it, of course I could. And I knew where Sarah hid the bottles. She thought I didn’t, but of course I did. Last year, I’d pretended to go to the toilet when she went to pour herself another drink. She’d had quite a collection, so she didn’t miss two bottles I’d managed to sneak into my bag when she went to the toilet. I’d needed consoling after losing my job that morning, and chit chat just didn’t cut it.
Chit chat was all I was left with now. Crumbs. A remnant now that Wendy had come along. Perfect Wendy with her office job and perfect hair and perfect dog. Sarah said that she and Wendy have stuff in common. I’d asked what stuff. Sarah couldn’t really answer, but that was where the line was. I’d crossed it, and now I was only invited around when other people were there. I suppose some people just can’t handle having a normal friend and normal friendship.
I was a bit distracted when I was at writing group and wrote this. Still, it’s the start of something.