Knot a Liar
One Bad Decision
“Ah hell, married? How is she married? Who did she marry? Her Facebook status didn’t change, so when did she get into a relationship? You know how she is, Alex, she lives life online. So tell me: how, when, who?”
“Look, Jodi, I don’t know what to tell you. I can only say what I heard.” The sound of papers shuffling over the line told me that Alex was still grading assignments.
A deep sigh escaped me as I contemplated my oh-so-brightly lit future looking more comparable to a candle sitting alone on a football field at midnight. Not the blazing sun I imagined it five minutes ago.
Rubbing my temple, I groaned. “How am I going to top this?”
“Fine. Measure up, then?”
A noncommittal grunt was her response.
I ignored it and continued. “Alex, I have no one; Peter broke up with me five months ago. I’m mess. I don’t see how I can go. But not going means handing over the crown to Patricia while waving a white flag and licking her feet. The-”
“Hold on. What crown?”
“The crown. Yes, that clears it up.”
“The crown. The Queen Bee crown.”
“Oh. My. Damn. How old are you, woman?! Do you think you’re still in high school?”
“Alex, Patricia uses every weapon to pry and dig and carve into my skin even when I don’t retaliate. So what do you expect me to do? Lay on an altar like some stupid sacrifice for that devil?”
“Being the bigger person never hurts a soul.”
“You have no idea what I’m up against with that woman, Alex. Four years in college with her didn’t open you up to her true devilry. There’s no winning with her. Or losing because even when I bow out she still finds a way to press my buttons. I just don’t have it in me to create a dramatic story explaining why I’m alone, lonely, on the verge of being fired and living in the dumps right now. Help. Please.”
“Just go by yourself, Jodi. No big deal.”
“Really, Alex? Really, Alexandra? Go by myself? After the débâcle with Peter’s proposal at my cousin’s wedding only to back out a couple hours later when he found ‘Miss Right’ that sounds wise? Or how about the fact that Liz the nun and I are now the only members of ‘The Single, Unmated Club?’” I tried to count past two, willing myself to find a third member. Even a fictional one would improve my mood.
“Single and unmated are synonyms, Jodi.”
“It’s supposed to stress our unwedded and matchless state.” Grabbing my auburn hair, I ran the strands between my fingers when I noticed breakage. Split ends again. Just the thing to accentuate my day.
The hesitation in her voice came clear through the line. “And, um, Liz left the convent and is dating again. We met a conference last week. I forgot. Sorry.”
I couldn’t even find the energy to respond to that.
“You know what, who cares? So what? You’re free, unentangled, disengaged, you answer to no one, yo–”
“So what? Who cares? I do, Alex! I care. And so does everyone else. Especially with that troll leading the way.” I racked my brain, desperate to come up an idea of the fool to tie down Patricia. “Lek the Shrek! He’s desperate enough. Lek has been hounding her from high school. It’s Lek, right?”
Alex sighs. “I don’t know. Didn’t care to ask either.”
I surrounded myself with all eight throw pillows while hugging two. “What is so bad and uninteresting about me, Alex? Peter was the fifth break up–
“–Sixth break up in the last two years. And I’m always the dumpee. Are my conversations and personality that boring that no man wants to stay?”
“With this topic, yes. But usually, no.”
“I can’t stand to listen to another ‘If only her mother was still alive, maybe she’d be married by now’ comment. Why do I feel as if I’m failing an exam there are no classes or notes for? What is so wrong with me?”
“If we didn’t keep running into her every other month, I bet it wouldn’t bother you this much. I swear, the people from your town are the most fertile and lucky in love bunch I’ve ever come across.”
Head cradled in my hands, I let loose an unnatural growl.
“Oh, didn’t think that one through. Jodi, some people find their other halves at forty, fifty and beyond. Don’t sweat it. It’s not big a deal. You’ll find who you’re looking for.”
“But that’s it. I’m not really looking for someone. I just hate being looked down on.”
“Remember, Selene and I aren’t married either. So you’re in good company.”
“That’s because, you’re not from Small Minds, USA.”
“Okay, then. Here’s an idea: Don’t go!”
“Are you crazy? And have Patricia spurting wild stories about me? There are still people who believe I got knocked up and then lost a baby when I skipped out on the graduation party. And I was still a virgin back then!”
“Listen. Jodi, you are 28 years old! This has to stop, it’s been ten years!”
Alex only used her stern tone when irritated, annoyed, pissed or in teacher mode. And yes, that tone got frequent use with me.
“You’ve gone through high school and college with her, you’re no longer juvenile. You are more mature than this. I’ve only seen you behave like an irresponsible, teenage delinquent when you’re around Patricia. You are above this, Jodi. Who cares if she’s married and you’re not? You’re not living in the dumps and I would leave my job for yours any day. This whiny, grovelling person you reduce yourself to, I don’t like her. So come on, Jodi, be the brilliant, sweet, sexy woman I know. “
Shifting, I moved from lying down to sitting on my legs, rearranging the couch cushions to support my back. “Okay.”
Being scolded by my best friend was not how I pictured this phone conversation going. She’s right though, I was above this behaviour. Patricia wasn’t better than me and I wasn’t below her. We were two people who disliked each other. Strongly.
“Okay,” I repeated, confidence embracing my words as I continued. “I’ll go to the reunion, not caring about what’s going with you-know-who. I’ll enjoy myself, catch up with people who I’ve not seen since college or high school and keep my sanity intact. Tha–”
Again Alex muttered. “What’s left of it.”
Ignoring the comment, I said, “Thank you, I needed that.”
“Good. You were annoying me.”
I could tell. “Don’t worry, you’ve set me straight once again, Alex.”
“Good, I’ll see you at dinner tomorrow. What should I bring anyway?”
“Oh, ah, how about… a sangria?”
“Okay, bye sweetie. Remember what I said.”
“No voy a olvidar. ¡Adiós!”
“Ugh, the one Spanish sentence you can say without sounding like a blubbering idiot. All those years wasted. Get off the phone.”
Sitting back on the couch, I embraced its velvety softness. The warm vanilla springing from the scented candle wafted through my air to create a soothing and lulling effect.
Personally, this was an ideal environment for comfort writing. So I picked up the laptop to take advantage of the atmosphere. And somehow an hour and fifteen minutes went missing and nothing was typed. Not a single word. Not in Celtx, not in Plume, not in Scrivener and not even in Word. I glared and cursed at the cursor instead that mocked my presence. Flashing and dancing on the screen, it kept taunting me to move it. Except I couldn’t.
Well, that wasn’t true. So far for the novel I had a completed sentence: ‘She did’. But I deleted that and went with ‘He said’. Then deleted that and was now at, ‘Come here’. Who called and who was going? Of that, I had no clue.
Closing the laptop, I put it beside me and instead ruminated on all the things that were going right in my life. I was a creative copywriter. Even found success after biting the bullet and publishing a novel I had locked up for years. I owned my home– well the bank did– but it wasn’t the time to count coins. I was beautiful and attractive– so beautiful and attractive Peter dumped my ass– but again this wasn’t the time. With nine weeks left in the deadline, I was so dumb I couldn’t start the second book. I was alone with no one to love me. And above all, I was a clingy, needy and pathetic mess.
Wow, that was a quick unravelling.
Ah crap, who was I trying to convince? It seemed as though that confidence was attached to the conversation with Alex. I was terrified of standing like an idiot in front of Patricia, if I were to be honest. No matter what I tell people, high school left indelible scars.
Alex should’ve offered to drop work and accompany me. It wasn’t like she liked her job anyway. So what if she missed chaperoning a school dance? Teaching high school and ‘moulding the minds of our younger generation’ didn’t turn out to be the job she’d dreamed. She’d been saving since high school, tutoring jocks and lazy rich kids. So, who cared if she lost that crappy job? Well I would, since it was her dream and passion, but that’s a moot point.
Go it alone? No. I’d fall flat on my face swathed in embarrassment if I turned up alone. Not single, but alone while Patricia and our entire graduating class was now married. Sans two. Well, one and half since Liz had dates lined up again.
Ah, hell. If I couldn’t convince myself to stand up and be proud of my station in life, who could I convince? I had to get a boyfriend at minimum. But what should I do? Nine days was too short a time to find suitable boyfriend material. It was far too late now.
Nine days. Would the seams of my perfected armour unravel in front of Patricia in such a short time? Would the calloused skin of my determination be buffered and smoothed forcing me to accept the inevitable doom that loomed over my life? But this sounded as if I was preparing myself to accept imminent disaster. Was I embracing the eminence of being the girl who found herself seated beneath the throne of supremacy and power? The one who after wielding her words unsheathed was rendered mortified in the face of the one debunked her mercilessly?
There was only so much power my words would hold when we’d face off this time. I could spin girl power and feminism at all different angles and it still wouldn’t amount to much in a place where marriage and babies in one’s prime was the focus. And I could guarantee that there was nowhere else on God’s green earth where ‘in one’s prime’ meant before twenty-five.
Would I be forced to Selene Patricia’s head with the crown for which we have so long battled? The title of ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘Head Poncho’ that many people considered as asinine and vacuous, but still held a significance that no one else embraced or recognised except for us.
As if. This battle would only be one of the many we’ve already fought and won. Each side staking claim to the triumphs apparent in this singular war that was fought so many times. Neither side yielding to the repeated blows from the words spun into battering rams. At eleven, from the moment, Patricia moved into the neighbourhood, my debating and linguistic skills became sharper than a Samurai warrior’s sword.
I should be somewhat grateful for her, I guessed. Patricia was the reason I pushed and excelled at school and the reason my book did so well. But I’d sooner drop a guillotine on my tongue, centimetre by centimetre, before I admitted that to anyone.
Was this mentally healthy for me– worrying about Patricia to the point of a stupid, pointless, unjustified obsession? Alex was right; such obsessive, compulsive behaviour warranted a therapist.
What, was Patricia a god and I was scum? She wasn’t my superior. Never was. But if she wasn’t, then what was all this about? Ah, whatever! Add that to the list of ‘Things to worry about later ‘cause I’m too busy now and I can’t be bothered’.
So that was the decision. The adage ‘no retreat, no surrender’ fashioned the impenetrable shield that would form the forefront of my defences. I would not bow out.
Sorry, Alexandra, but your advice just lost the meaningful impact you created mere minutes ago. Although, thinking about it now, it couldn’t be all that meaningful if its full potency and impact dissolved in just minutes.
I needed to find a way out of this predicament. This would not be how I lost the war. Patricia thought she could catch me off-guard by not posting about her wedding on Facebook, but I had no intentions of losing the battle.
If only I had friends of the opposite sex. Ah! Selene. There was my deliverance. If I disclosed my plans to Alex, she’d just hammer it in my head that ‘you’re above this, Jodi’. I didn’t need that. I needed an accomplice. Selene could help me find what I want. I wanted, no needed, to hire a boyfriend. Tomorrow I shall take the first step in getting just that.
Stretching over the couch to the coffee table, I again picked up the phone to dial my other best friend.
“Hey, what’s up, girlie? Finally changed your mind? I can be there in ten.”
The loud, techno beat echoed through the speakers, making me shift the phone from my ear. The beat was strong enough to cause slight vibrations on the phone. I didn’t how she wasn’t deaf yet.
To make sure she heard me, I raised my voice. “No! I’m calling to ask a favour.”