Saturday 26 June 2010

A tale of a frightened Princess

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.  This princess would sit in her room, staring down at her humble kingdom, twirling her hair and sighing at the heavens, "Oh, when will my Prince arrive?"
Just when she was giving up hope, the drumming sounds of a horse's gallop is heard in the distance.  The Princess leans out in curiosity, her eyes wide in awe, watching a handsome Prince stride towards her kingdom.  Innocently she smiled and clasped a hand to her chest, looking up at the bluest of skies and thanked whoever was watching.  Excitedly she ran downstairs reaching the front port just as the Prince arrived. 
    The Prince jumps off his horse and bows down to the Princess.  "You are the most beautiful creature I have ever beheld," she states.
    The Princess courtses and clutches on to her Galliano gown (or whatever the Medieval version was) and blushes like a summer rose.  She smiles at her Prince and knows that her long days of waiting have finally ended and she will spend the rest of her life it utter bliss.
    The Prince puts his hand to the small of her back.  With the other he gently brushes her (expensively cut, coloured and blow-dried) locks off her face and caresses his lips with hers until finally kissing her so passionately that a maid watching in the distance faints.  He then pulls away and says, "We shall go on the best date ever.  I will take you to the most amazing restaurant in Paris.  And even to the cinema afterwards.  You may choose whatever you want to watch,"
    The Princess' eyes form tears of happiness that the Prince kisses away...

    ...And then she wakes up. 

    "Shit!  I fell asleep!"  I curse loudly as I move myself off the bed.  What was supposed to be half an hour of reading, turned into three hours of sleeping and it is now 5 o' clock and I'm supposed to be meeting Carl at the cinema in exactly one hour.
    I scramble to my feet and search my room hurriedly.  I'm taking hold of clothes but nothing is registering in my head as a wearable outfit. 
    "Jeans!" I yell at myself.  "Oh where the bloody hell are those bloody jeans!" I search my chest of drawers, throwing stuff behind me in a desperate search.  "Aha!" I say when I finally find a decent pair, and then turn around noticing the clothes covered floor of my room for the first time. 
    That's odd.  That was tidy a minute ago. 
    I barely have time to re-touch my make-up so I just powder my cheeks and hope that the eyelashes-stuck-together look is in season.  I crumple my hair a bit telling myself that I'm going for that Kate Moss messy look (as if I really have any other choices), and finally spritz myself with a perfume.  And then choke because the nozzle is aimed at my face. 
    I avert my eyes to the clock.  It screams 5:15 at me and I panic as I realise that it's going to take me another 50 minutes to get to the cinema.  "Crap!" I say and run outside, grabbing my bag in the process.  I look like a loon trying to put my Converse on whilst hopping, but I'm past caring.  I phone Carl to tell him that I'm on my way, but it's just going straight to voicemail. 
    So I run.
    And run.
   And finally make it there fifteen minutes early.  "Oh," I sigh in disappointment as I spot the time.  I could have walked.

Carl shows up ten minutes later, and smiles when he sees me.  "You look...nice," he says eyeing up my hair, which by now looks more Amy Winehouse than Kate Moss.
    I attempt to smooth it out with my hands as I explain to him the fact that I dosed off. 
    "Shall we go in?" he asks waving a hand towards the cinema.  I nod in agreement and let him lead the way.  I catch sight of my reflection as we walk past the door.  I look like a grungy sixteen year old - my hair is indescribable, my outfit reeks 'teenager', and whenever I blink my eyelashes clump together.
    Beautiful.  Just beautiful. 
    "Hmm, what shall we see?" Carl asks as he scans the films. 
    "I don't mind.  Whatever you want," I say politely, but secretly I'm hoping that he'll either pick a comedy or an action adventure. 
    I glance at him as he's deciding.  I suppose he's good looking, in that not very obvious sort of way.  But you can't fault the guy on having an amazing personality.  His jokes and stories have me in stitches and for once I was really looking forward to this date because I knew that even if it doesn't lead to a second one, we would have a damn good time. 
    "Fancy watching Saw?" he says, his eyes looking at me in anticipation. 
   "I'm not very good with gory, scary stuff," I tell him, scanning the latest Saw movie.  I shiver just at the thought of it.
    "You'll be fine.  It's not like it's real.  Plus, I'll be here to hold your hand," he says, winking at me.  I suppose all guys want to show off on the first date.  They always pick the most scary film to show off how brave they are. 
    "Fine," I agree lacking enthusiasm ever so slightly. 

Halfway through the film and I believe I have watched a total of five minutes.  The remainder of the time I have shut my eyes and blocked my ears.  I squirm in my seat at the odd violent sounds I hear, and scream out loud when my eyes open to be greeted with horrific scenes. 
    This. Is. Horrible. 
   I have already knocked my popcorn over and my drink has rolled to the other side of the cinema as I accidentally kicked it out of fright (I thought something was grabbing my leg), and all this time, Carl has not reassured me once.  I look over at him, completely content in his seat, watching the movie like he's watching a sitcom.  Meanwhile, I just want to throw up. 
    I nudge him to grab his attention.  He tears himself away from the screen and looks at me annoyed.  "Can we leave?" I ask him. 
    "No," he says, and I'm left taken aback.  Any fool could see that I'm incredibly uncomfortable. 
    "Please," I say again.  "I'm really not enjoying this," I tug at his sleeve and wince at the sounds I'm hearing in the background.  But Carl is too enthralled by the movie.  He's paying no attention to me.  I attempt again.  "Look, I can't watch this," I'm hoping he'll understand.   But he just turns to me, a look of anger sweeping across his face. 
    "I paid to see this movie.  So I'm going to see it.  Understand?" he snaps quietly and I sink in my seat like a scolded child, fingers still in my ears.  I think I've just seen a side to him that I haven't noticed before.  I'm too scared to interrupt him again, so quietly and carefully I leave.  He's barely noticed.
    I walk out of the cinema feeling a little confused and wondering desperately where all the gentlemen are.  I wanted a date with the Prince, not with the dragon. 

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Prince Oh So Charming

I'm sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by clothes thrown all over the place.  I'm wearing two dresses at once because I cannot decide which one I like best, and my hair is half up half down, golden brown tendrils of it occasionally clashing with my face, which only makes me angry. 
    "I have no clothes!" I confirm to my flatmate, Lisa, who has come into my room tip toeing around the clothes and places herself on the bed.  She rolls her eyes at me and looks around sarcastically.
    "Cup of tea?" she asks joyfully and I turn and glare at her.  "I'll take that as a no then" she whispers and tip toes her way back out. 
    A few seconds later she pokes her head around the door, "You know," she begins, "you shouldn't be this picky about what to wear.  He has seen you in your most casual clothes with vomit down your top," she grins childishly and runs away when I attempt to throw a boot at her.
    "Thanks, that really helps!" I yell after her, but all I hear are her muffled giggles coming from the kitchen. 
    Oh, I give up on clothes.  Lisa's right (as much as it pains me to admit it).  Derren has indeed seen me with puke all down my clothes.  It was actually on the night we met; I had been dragged out (and I actually mean, dragged) by Lisa and Josie who fancied a girls night out.  The only problem was that I was feeling a little bit ill and drinking masses of alcohol does not make tummy aches go away - no matter how much Josie insists on this - they are in fact a horrible combination.  So I found myself running desperately through the crowded room to make it to the toilets.
    But I didn't quite make it to the toilets.
    Instead my body thought it would be more appropriate to be sick right in the middle of a crowded club.
    But that's enough about my stomach contents. 
    Derren's the one who found me huddled in a corner whilst I was singing the alphabet song (although I don't believe him).  Since that day he's been popping up all over the place.
    He asked me out a week prior to the date whilst I was trying to swallow a gulp of water, which as you can imagine, led to most of the water being spewed out and a slight spell of choking.  Clearly, he's seen me at my worst - which dress I wear shouldn't really matter.
    But it does, and two hours later I'm exactly where I was.  The only difference is that my right foot now contains a pink shoe. 
    "Wear that white Topshop dress and those black shoes," Lisa comes in impatiently. 
    I look over at the two apparels she's pointed out and now it seems like the choice was simple all along.  I quietly rise from the floor and make my way to pick up the white dress.  Without saying a word I motion for her to leave.  She doesn't do it gracefully - she laughs the whole way out. 

Derren's already at the restaurant, sitting at a table waiting for me.  He waves me over and kisses my cheek when I reach him.
    "You look lovely," he states while scanning my outfit.
    "Yes, no puke this time," the words roll out before I get a chance to stop them.  He's chosen a very simple, French restaurant in West London.  The perfect wooing place. 
    A blonde waitress walks over to us, throwing her most dashing smile.  "Good evening," she managed to move her lips without altering her smile.  "May I get you some drinks?"
    I quickly scan the wine list.  Nodding casually at the foreign French names as if I know what they mean.  My knowledge of wine stretches as far as 'There is red wine, pink wine and white wine', and of course, the legendary motto 'Wine before beer makes you feel queer, but beer before wine makes you feel fine'.
I'm about to ask Derren to choose but as I look up I see him ogling the waitress.  He's not even being subtle about it - his eyes are stuck to her chest with no sign of averting any time soon. 
    "What would you recommend?" he asks the waitress, a seductive smile creeping up on his face as his blue eyes sparkle upon her.  They keep each other's gaze for a few seconds, their eyes dancing with flirtation.
    "I think you'll find the chardonnay most to your liking," the waitress giggles annoyingly. "It's our most popular wine,"
    Derren has not stopped staring at her and I have the strongest urge to kick him from under the table.  But I don't.  I just sit there in confusion, not quite believing that he's flirting with the waitress whilst on a date with me.
    "We'll get that then," I say rather quickly just to make Little Miss Sunshine here go away. 
    "Excellent choice," she beams, even though I know she has no clue.  Chardonnay is probably the only wine name she remembers.  "By the way, my name is Becky and I will be your waitress this evening," she dashes us another smile and disappears.
    Derren carries on chatting away as if his head wasn't practically in the waitresses' chest (OK, I may be exaggerating a little bit).  He asks me about my day and I'm just about to tell him a rather hilarious story concerning a dog and a chase through the park, but Becky's back with the bottle of wine. 
    "Here you are," she plonks the glasses down, looking straight at Derren and not once at me.  "Would you like to try the wine?" she asks Derren.
    "No!" I cut her short then realise that perhaps it sounded harsh.  "I'm sure it'll be fine,"
    She starts pouring the wine, leaning towards the table a little bit, giving Derren a nice, juicy view of her front. 
    All class is our Becky.
    Derren isn't even pretending not to notice it.  His eyes have once again landed on her cleavage.  With no shame at all he allows himself a little smile. 
    Are you serious?
    "Are you ready to order?" she asks and finally acknowledges me as I say yes.  "What would you like?"
    Another waitress, please.
    "Umm, I'll have the duck confit," I say not raising my head from the menu.  She scribbled it down and averts back to Derren.  He pretends to be scanning the menu. 
    "I'm torn between the salmon and the beef," he says and lifts his head up delicately.  That seductive smile aiming itself at Becky.  "Which would you order?" he asks, white teeth gleaming.
    Becky releases a little giggle and blushes.  Her cheeks have turned a rosy pink that is visible even in the dim lighting. 
    "Well, I'd probably have the beef," she giggles again and chews a strand of her hair whilst swaying on the spot. 
    "A girl after my own heart," Derren declares, "Beef it is,"
    Becky smiles again, jotting his choice down.  "That's an excellent choice, Sir," she says and turns to leave.  
    Wait, did she just courtesy at Derren?  Does she think he's some sort of lord?  He may have the accent, but trust me, he does not have the money.  And as of today, he's lacking the etiquette too. 

By the end of the meal, Becky has come over to our table about fifteen times.  Three of those times have been because Derren has called her over for her expertise on cattle farming, the capital of Finland and her advice on the best place for highlights.  I actually felt like a third wheel. I might as well have offered her my seat and gone around the restaurant playing waitress.
    "Desert?" Becky asks.
    "Definitely not!" I say quickly before Derren gets a chance to even speak.  "Just the bill, please," I just want to get out of here.  I can't believe it took me all those hours just to choose my dress.  I should have just worn pyjamas, because let's face it, there's no way Derren would have even noticed. 
    We stand up to leave the restaurant.  Becky comes over picking up the money (plus her incredibly generous tip).  "Hope you have a nice evening," she says.  I thank her even though I know it was only aimed at Derren.
    We walk outside. 
    "Oh, I've forgotten something," Derren says.  "Wait right here," and he disappears back into the restaurant.
    I'm left outside wondering about his sudden departure, so I walk over the the window of the restaurant.  I see Derren catching Becky's attention.  It's like watching some sort of animal mating ritual.  She turns and smiles completely ignoring the customers she's serving.  Derren gets out his phone and Becky is saying something to him, followed by a laugh.  Becky then sets down the plate she's holding and gets out her own phone.
    Oh my gosh!!!
    They're swapping numbers!!!
    I actually feel sick, and this time around I'll be aiming directly for him. 

Sunday 20 June 2010

If you can't be with him, be Cupid

 I have to admit that I'm rather a nice girl.  I have never pushed my way through just to get what I want, nor have I ever hurt someone on purpose just because they were standing in the way to where I wanted to get to.
    Although this 'diplomatic' approach wins you friends and makes you trustworthy and loved, it does hurt someone.
    I adore being 'the nice girl' - I wouldn't have it any other way, but in retrospect I've noticed that whilst I try to help others, I seriously damage myself in the process.  I'm not saying that I condone selfishness, but in some cases it does have its advantages.
    Let me explain...

I was half an hour late for work.  This was insanely bad especially since that day a selected few of us were supposed to be going to a conference in the outskirts of London.  Which meant that when I finally arrived at my place of work, everyone was standing outside next to the taxis, arms crossed and tapping their feet impatiently.
    "I'm SO sorry," I say running towards everyone.  "It's a long story which involves my landlady, a spatula and an electric toothbrush," I stop speaking to take in some air, "I know that's no excuse but I'm really really really sorry,"  I smile angelically hoping I'll still be entitled to a Christmas bonus. 
    "That sounds like a perfectly legitimate excuse," Luke mocks with a lopsided smile.
    I melt as I see him.
    Let me introduce you to Luke.  Hmm, where do I begin?  Well, he's perfect.  And that's pretty much the end of the story too.  You ask any girl in the office to describe Luke and it all begins with a girly 'far off look into the distance' sigh followed by "He's yummy," and ending with, "He's coming this way.  Don't make it look obvious that we're staring!"
    I can safely say that I had been in love with Luke for about three months. (And yes, at the time I did think it was proper love.  I even had Mrs Luke Heath written on occasional post-it notes hidden in folders).  Three lovely months of work being a joy to come into every day.  Three lovely months of having the most envied desk in the world - it was right opposite his - and three lovely months of having no confidence or courage whatsoever to ask him out.  

Hannah dragged me into a taxi with her without me even getting a chance to catch my breath from my little sprint. 
    "In here, now!" she yells at me, her surprisingly strong arm pulling me towards the vehicle. 
    "What are you doing?" I ask once I'm seated.
    Hannah's face turns into a childish grin.  She's slapping her hands against her legs and is jumping up and down on her seat like a giddy teenager. 
    "Do you need the loo?" I ask cautiously.  She ignores me with a wave of her hand and a look on her face that says "Stop being silly". 
    "I think Luke might like me," she says.  The words don't register straight away so for about three seconds I just stare at her with a blank look.  But once they're finally digested...I still stare at her with a blank look.
   "Umm...what?" I ask, unsure as of what to do.  I desperately don't want her to know that I may have planned the names of my future children with this man. 
    "Last night at work after you left, Donna was joking around about 'office crushes' and Luke said that when he first started working here he liked three girls," she jumps up and down in her seat again, her black, short hair static now.  "He said," she pauses and swallows followed by an enormous grin, "that he liked Natalie for a bit, Faye and ME," she then starts clapping like some hyperactive seal. 
    My heart sinks a little when I hear that I'm not on his list.
    But then I realise that I started working here after he did so instantly this makes me feel a teeny bit better.
    "I just really like him," Hannah continues.  I follow her gaze out the window where we see Luke walking past us and getting into the other taxi.  He flashes a smile our way and I capture it, even though I now know it's all lost hope.  I look over at Hannah who is still looking out of the window despite the fact that he is nowhere in view. 
    "I really like him," she repeats again with a hazy smile.  It's almost a hurtful smile - as if she likes him so much that her life would shatter without him. 
    Oh dear. 
    I may have planned my wedding with this man, but Hannah has probably already booked the church. 
    The taxi starts moving and I stare out, seeing London roll by. 
    "You have to help me get him," she demands like she's starved for so long.  "You're good at all this manipulation stuff,"
    "Manipulation?!?" I shockingly reply.
    "Persuasion," she corrects herself.  "I meant persuasion,"
    But somehow I don't believe her. 

At the conference I spend the entire time with Hannah jabbing my arm and asking me whether Luke is looking at her.  He doesn't once glance her way but her puppy-dog eyes look so eager that I cannot say no.   "He did about five minutes ago," I whisper a lie hoping that she will leave it alone for a while.  But she doesn't.  In the 1 hour and a half that we are seated in the meeting, I have made two lines worth of notes and most are worthless.  Added with the lateness in the morning, my future at this company was not looking particularly bright.
    I was thankful for the twenty minute break we were given but I barely had any time to take a sip of water before Hannah's tight claw found its away around my arm. 
    "Come with me," she whispers and drags me past everyone. 
    "If you come back late, don't bother coming back at all to the meeting.  Twenty minutes, understand?" the assistant manager yells our way.  I try my best to nod in agreement but Hannah is far too quick and before I could even turn around, I was already around the corner. 

    "I don't want to get fired, Han," I tell her.
    "Oh don't be silly.  You'd never get fired," she pokes her head out to see if anyone is within earshot.  Once she's inspected she leans in,  "I need you to talk to him.  Pretty please can you find out if he actually likes me?" her eyes widen as she pleads and I can't say no.
    I mean, what exactly am I supposed to say - Sorry Hannah but I'm sort of in love with him too so it would be too bizarre to set him up with my friend.
    But I can't say this.
    So I agree.
    Like the idiot that I am.

Back in the meeting room and Luke is talking to Donna and the boss of the company.  I don't want to interrupt so I skirt my way around them hoping that they'll notice me and invite me in the conversation.          
    Hannah has completely disappeared.
    Traitor, I think. 
    The threesome are far too engrossed in an article they read in the paper that morning.  I can hear the words 'fiscal' and 'corruption' but cannot for the life of me work out which topic they're speculating about.  I knew I should have bought The Times instead of Elle that morning.
    "Anyway, I'll leave you to it," the boss says and walks away. 
    Donna turns and notices me loitering like a loner.   "What are you doing?" she demands, eyeing me up and down as if I'm a reckless child who's been playing out for too long. 
    "Nothing!" I shout back rather too quickly. 
    "...right.  Well, I better get the laptops set up.  Fifteen minutes to go," she smiles at the two of us and leaves. 
    Luke moves towards me, that sly smile sweeping my rational thoughts away.  "So," be begins.  "What have you learnt today apart from the fact that 'advertising is good' and 'we should do more of it'?
    I cringe.  "You saw my notes?"
    He nods.  "Fancy getting a coffee?  It doesn't appear to be your day today, does it?"
    I just smile and follow him out into the corridor. 
    "You dashed out quickly last night," he states as we scan the building for coffee machines. 
    "Did I?" I try to think back to the previous night.  Why did I dash out?  And then I remember.  "Oh, my flatmate angered the landlady again.  I had to go and sort it out before we were homeless," I tell him. 
    "Hence the landlady, the spatula and the electric toothbrush this morning?"
    "Oh no.  Today was unrelated to that,"
    He turns his head around and gives me a quizzical look.  "You're a strange little thing, aren't you?" he smiles.  I can feel my cheeks turning a rosy red so I look away, telling myself off for feeling like a lovestruck teenager. 
    Hannah.  I must talk to him about Hannah.
    "It's a shame I left quickly because apparently I missed out on the fun conversations," I smile.
    He raises an eyebrow. 
    "I hear that when you first started to work here you had your eye on three ladies," I nudge him with my elbow. 
    "Can no one keep things to themselves at that bloody place?  Did Donna tell you?  That girl has a big gob,"
    I laugh at his annoyance. 
    "You know, Hannah is a lovely girl," I blurt out hoping it's subtle enough. 
    "She is," his expression gives me nothing.
    "I can't believe you were brave enough to blurt out that you fancied someone right in front of them,"
    He just shrugs and carries on walking.
    "Do you still like her?" I throw at him because there's nothing else I can say.
    "Well," he begins, "I don't think you can truly get over someone completely," he gives me a lopsided smile and we walk on.  "I think she's smart, funny, great company to be around," then turns towards me, "also very attractive.  So I suppose there will always be this magnetism with us,"
    Hearing this does hurt.  I have to admit that.  I'm so happy for Hannah and the fact that the guy she adores seems to adore her back, but listening to this is rather painful.  I have no idea why but I push it further.
    "Wow," I say, swallowing as if I'm trying to keep down the pain of it all.  "I think you and her would make a lovely couple," I smile sweetly, but my mouth is filled with a bitter taste. 
    He says nothing more apart from, "Oh look, coffee," and casually we walk back to the conference room. 

I managed to avoid Hannah's eager prods through the remainder of the meeting and just kept turning around and whispering, "I'll tell you later,"
    Once we were safely cocooned in the taxi, she wasted no time at all in interrogating me. 
    "What did you talk about?  Where did you go?  Was it just the two of you or did Donna come as well?  Did you manage to find out whether he still likes me?  Oh gosh, you didn't tell him I like him, did you?  How long did you talk for?  Will he be working tomorrow?  Can we swap desks just for tomorrow?"
    "Hannah, stop!"
    "Sorry," her mouth has stopped moving, but it's like I can hear her brain working away, asking all these questions and waiting impatiently for answers.
    "He said that he doesn't believe that you can truly get over someone,"
    Hannah's eyes widen further - a feat I didn't think possible. 
    "He said he thinks you're attractive, smart and funny, and he likes your company," I tell her. 
    She lets out a happy yelp and starts jumping in her seat again, although much more this time and is making the taxi sway.
    "Careful, they're going to think we're doing something dodgy in here," I say looking outside to see if anyone has noticed. 
    "I can't believe he likes me," she whispers to herself and sinks in her seat. 

No landlady debacles get in the way the next day so I manage to get to work on time.  I've only seated myself down for two seconds, when again the Hannah claw comes out from nowhere and drags me with full force to the other side of the office. 
    For a second I panic and fear that I may have got the whole conversation with Luke wrong and Hannah has found out that he doesn't like her, but one look at her beaming face erases that thought from my mind.
    "You will never believe what happened last night,"
    I wince at the idea. "I think I can guess.  Please, no details," and I start to walk back to my desk. 
    "Oh, it's nothing like that," she slaps me playfully on the arm (the same arm that has a team of bruises from her inhuman grip).  "We met up for a drink and got talking.  And now we're sort of dating,"
    Her words swirl in my head, washing away any ideas I may have had about Luke and me.  And it hurts. A numbing pain ripples its way through my body - as if my blood has drained away from every organ and is only focussing on cushioning the cracks of my heart.  Everything has changed - I now don't come into work with a crush on someone I work with; I come in every morning with a crush on my best friends' boyfriend.
    "That's fantastic," I say aloud, maybe a tad too enthusiastic.
    "We have you to thank.  You little matchmaker,"
    "Well, I had to be good at something," I joke.  "I'm really happy for you," and that's no lie.  I truly am.    But I can't stop the the niggling feeling deep inside me that's mocking me, "Well done, genius! You just matched your best friend and the guy you're in love with.  Now deal with the pain!"  I could have avoided this entire thing.  I could have kept my mouth shut and just let them find their way naturally.  And here I was, coming to work everyday seeing the guy I liked with another girl.  The girl that I helped him get. 

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Lord of the Lies

I had not seen one of my childhood friends, Daisy, in about 5 years so when she invited me to stay with her in Cardiff for a weekend, I was thrilled. We had so much catching up to do and I was excited to see her penthouse apartment in the middle of the Welsh capital and to get a glimpse of her glamorous life.
    Daisy had always been one of those girls you just knew would end up doing well. Even as a child she had the adults wrapped around her little finger, and her charming words would sway anyone to think twice about scolding her. As a teenager she stood out above the rest with her amazing looks and her even more astounding sense of fashion - it was of no surprise when at only the age of eighteen she had managed to land an internship with one of the biggest magazines in the country.
    Now at the age of 23 (three years older than me) she was living in Cardiff and finishing off her masters in Bristol.  Out of all my friends, Daisy had to be the one I aspired to be the most - and how could anyone not?

The train ride from London to Cardiff was a long (and expensive) one. When the journey finally ended I wheeled my luggage outside and breathed in the Welsh air.
    I have to admit that I was rather disappointed at the lack of sheep Cardiff seemed to contain. I had always thought that Wales was just countryside - outstretched from corner to corner. But what emerged before me as I stepped out of the station was a huge, bustling city.
    In the far distance I could see a short, brunette waving at me and even though I had not seen her since I was fifteen, I immediately recognised her as Daisy. So I started walking, excited at seeing my friend and spend the weekend with her.
    It was only as I started getting closer that I realised there was a guy standing next to her.
    He looks familiar, I thought to myself as I got nearer, but I still couldn't quite place the face with a name. Still quite a distance ahead of me Daisy was now jumping up and down, waving her arms in the air. The guy next to her just stood still with his hands in his pocket and a rather befuddled expression on his face.
    I definitely recognise him, I began to tell myself. Ten feet away from them and it hit me.
    He was Kevin - someone I knew very well a few years ago at the end of school. Someone I would hang out with everyday who had made it very clear that he liked me. Someone who I had kissed on many occasions. But someone who I had never, truly gone out with.
    As I got nearer and hugged Daisy, I was about to say, "Oh Kevin! What are you going here?" but he started to shake his head furiously as if to tell me, "Please, don't recognise me. Pretend that you don't know me,"
    By this point I'm rather confused. I'm standing there with a friend I have not seen in ages and behind her is another friend I have not seen in ages, asking me to pretend I don't know him.
    Daisy finally pulls away from the embrace, her perfect lipsticked lips spread into happy smile as she grabs my hand and pulls me toward Kevin.
    "Let me introduce you to my boyfriend," she says, her eyes gleaming in excitement. "This is Kevin." And without even thinking, my hand reaches out to shake his. It's like my body was on autopilot because my mind certainly wasn't controlling what I was doing.
    "Lovely to meet you," I manage to mouth with a forced smile. Why did he not want me to recognise him? What was going on?

During the walk to the apartment, Daisy was doing most of the talking, but I wasn't doing much listening. I was focusing entirely on Kevin who was walking a couple of steps ahead of us. My mind began to wonder at this peculiar secrecy.
    Perhaps he was a spy and needed to keep his past a complete secret.
    Or maybe he's a bad guy - some fashion insider from another magazine trying to get information from Daisy.
    He could be lying to her. I mean, we all do it, don't we - little white lies here and there at the start of relationships. Perhaps he forgot to mention the fact that he spent the summer of 2006 with a rather pleasant young lady. I suppose, it's not exactly important. It's not like I'm an ex-girlfriend. Just a friend.
    Am I even his friend now? I began to think. He seems to have erased me completely from his past. So how on earth do I act around him?
    Before I get a chance to answer these floating questions, we arrive at Daisy's flat. Just as I thought it would be, this place is majestic. Huge and spacious, modern and innovative, decorated in such a Daisy fashion. So prim, proper and lady-like I immediately wish this place were mine.
    "Fancy swapping?" I ask looking around the living room in awe. "You can have my Guildford dump," but she just laughs.
    "I better get ready," she states.
    I turn to her in a bemused fashion. "Ready for what?"
    "For drinks with a few others and then dinner," she walks away and disappears into some room. "I won't be long," I hear her shout.
    I'm left in the living room with Kevin and he's pacing up and down near the kitchen, occasionally stopping and putting one hand on his hips, only to immediately take his hand off and resume with the pace.
    Anyone can tell he is agitated but I don't particularly want to be the one to start the conversation, even though I would love to know why I have to pretend I don't know him.
    I sit down on the lavender sofa (and get a little startled by the fact that it's so cushiony and comfortable that it's practically swallowing me up).
    I can't exactly start making polite conversation and ask him where he's from and what he's been studying at university, because I know this stuff. And more importantly he knows that I know this stuff. So we both remain there silent, ignoring each other. Ignoring the veil of history looming over the two of us.
    Finally, Daisy emerges from her room in an incredibly elegant black dress. Her hair somehow looks even glossier than it was earlier, and her feet are now sporting an amazing pair of 6 inch heels. She stumbles a bit as she walks towards me, giggles and then claims, "I'm fine,"

It took an hour for me to get ready. Purely because every time I would come out to the living room Daisy would analyse my outfit and then suggest something that would make it 'better'. This happened five times.
    "I knew there was a reason why I haven't seen you in five years," I joked and she just giggled as she shoved a couple of wooden bangles on my left wrist.
    "Shall we get going?" she asked the room. Kevin rolled his eyes and opened the door for her. I followed and gave him a friendly smile as I walked past. But he just looked at me and quickly averted his gaze away.
    Does he hate me?

The bar is insanely busy and Daisy introduces me to her university friends, each one looking more fashionable than the previous. I feel like I've just walked into a scene from The Hills.
    Kevin stays shockingly quiet for the entire duration, sipping at his beer and occasionally laughing at a joke here and there.
    I lean in to the girl to my right. "Is he always this quiet?" I ask her looking at Kevin.
    Her golden locks sway as she swings her head towards him, then back at me. "He's always a bit quiet around us. I just don't think we're quite his scene," she says pulling a funny face. "He doesn't particularly care for fashion marketing or fabrics," she lets out a little chuckle. "But Daisy always speaks so highly of him. He's studying law you know,"
    I know.
    I know because three years ago I told him he should.
    "He started his law conversation course last year. Apparently it's something he's wanted to do for a while. Lawyers and future fashion designers don't necessarily mix together," she laughs again and averts her head to the happy couple. Daisy is whispering something to Kevin and it looks like she's telling him off. His only reply is a curt nod.
    The golden locks girl turns back to me. "They argue a lot though," she tells me.
    "Oh?" I lean in intrigued.
    She nods her head. "Daisy is more of a free spirit. She likes her plans but she also adores to be spontaneous. I think Kev likes structure,"
    I'm about to say 'He doesn't like being called Kev!', but stop myself just in time.
    "He's always so organised, and frankly I think he gets bored around us," a sympathetic look sweeps across her face as she says it. "Not that we're not incredibly interesting," she laughs, "but I can understand getting a bit frustrated if you have to listen to a topic day in day out that you're not interested in,"
    My attention makes its way to Kevin who is looking at his drink in utter boredom. Daisy whispers something to him again and he immediately perks up. She's clearly told him to pay more attention and not look so desperately miserable.
    For a split second as our eyes meet I feel for him and I remember how charismatic he used to be. So loud and so determined, and now it's like I'm looking at a different man. An introvert who lost his way a while ago, stuck in a situation he does not want to be in.

    "Would you mind if I invited Sarah to dinner as well?" Daisy asks me as we leave the bar.
    "Of course not," I reply even though I can't quite remember which one Sarah is. It turns out it's golden locks girl.
    The dinner rolls by smoothly and the table is bouncing with stories and laughter. Even Kevin seems more relaxed now that he's not surrounded by 'divas'.
    I excuse myself to go to the loo, but Kevin seems to have intercepted me. Out of nowhere he appears in front of me in the long hallway.
    "Where did you come from...this quickly?" I ask him inspecting the surrounding.
    "There's another entrance to here from the other end of the restaurant," he tells me. "Look, I have to apologise," he begins. "It's quite silly actually. Daisy told me that her friend was coming to visit and when she mentioned your name, I froze. Instead of saying that I knew you I just acted as if I didn't. So I had to play along with it. I'm really sorry. I should have said I knew you and made up some story as to how we knew each other," He breathed out as if he's been holding it in for this long.
    "Why would you need to make up a story? You could have just told her the truth. It's not like we did anything apart from a couple of kisses here and there," I let out a laugh, "Kevin, I was seventeen. You were nineteen. She wouldn't have held that against you,"
    He looked away and I immediately knew he was holding something back.
    "What's wrong?" I asked.
    "If I had told her the complete truth, I would not have a girlfriend anymore,"
    I say nothing so he continues. "She knows that back in 2006 I really liked someone. Someone who I occasionally bring up in arguments," his voice trails off. "You see, if I told her that I knew you at that time, she would have put two and two together and would have realised that that girl who I bring up all the time, is in fact a friend she adores,"
    I look at him like he's just hit me, but I still say nothing. After a couple of seconds I digest everything, and my voice finally remembers how to function. "What do you mean by you bring me up in arguments?" I ask although I do dread the answer.
    He looks down at me like I should already know. "I loved you," he practically shouts. "I know I shouldn't compare two women, but when Daisy annoys me you pop in my head and I can't help but bring up the fact that I loved someone before her just to spite her,"
    I want to shout at him and tell him that he sounds like a moron. An idiot. Someone who does not deserve Daisy, but I get the feeling he already knows this.
    "I can't help it," his voice almost a whisper. "You were the only one I never really...had,"
    Come on ground. Open and swallow me up!
    I should really say something but I don't know what.
    "We should get back," is all I manage.

    "Oh, there you two are," Sarah calls as she sees us coming back.
    "There was a long queue," I lie and sit down. Kevin right behind me.
    "Well, we were just talking about driving tests," Sarah informs, her face in a wide smile. "I think I win with mine. I crashed into a fence, you see," she laughs again and turns to me. "Have you passed your driving test?" she asks me and I nod with a smile.
    "Yes, although I have no idea how. I had four different instructors,"
    "Four??" both Daisy and Sarah echo back.
    I nod with a smile. "I had a varied bunch, you see. One had a fascination with naked motorbike drivers. Another loved to shout at me and, oh gosh, the worst one," I laugh before I continue, "really wanted to see girls wash his car in a bikini. Kevin, do you remember how creepy he used to be-"
    Uh oh!
    There it was. I had just slipped.
    Kevin glared at me in amazement that I could trip up so stupidly.
    I attempted to recover as Daisy and Sarah looked at me confused.
    "Did I just say Kevin? Oops. I meant you Daisy. I think I must have told you about him," I act as if everything is normal and I truly have just messed up on a name.
    But it hasn't washed. Not with Daisy anyway. A few days later Kevin tells her the truth, which eventually led to a break-up.
    Thankfully, Daisy and I are still friends. Although sadly, not quite as close.

Thursday 10 June 2010

The Bunny Boiler - Chapter 3

We're all aware of a 'Nairtini'.  We've all seen Gossip Girl and we've all seen that young ladies can be incredibly vicious to one another especially over a guy - so much so, that they're willing to sink so low as to singe another girls' hair out of spite.  It appears funny when it's part of a make-belief story line on TV, but it does not compare to anything when it happens to you.  
    Now, I have to say.  It has never happened to me.  Fortunately for me (and very unfortunately for my friend) the carelessly and angrily thrown dollop of the hair-removal cream targeted for me, landed on Tia's golden hair.  She was oblivious to what this cold cream actually was to begin with, but once it's familiar fumes fused into her nose, sheer panic took over and she ran to the bathroom screaming.  Despite it only being in contact with her hair for less than a minute, the results were still devastating and she emerged from the bathroom her hair wispy and thin, sobbing her heart out. 

And the perpetrator?  Who else but Psycho-Kate!

The end of February was marked with an incredibly (and unlikely) warm day.  Daffodils had emerged early that year signifying the arrival of Spring, and with the sunny weather came sunny smiles.  Everyone seemed so content and at ease with the world.  
    Well, everyone apart from Kate who seemed to stand in every corridor corner that I would pass with arms crossed like a petulant child with a miserable smile on her face.  You'd think that a couple of months on and she'd be over it, but apparently not. 
    I ignored her, despite the fact that it was getting harder and harder to do so.  The evil glares and petty whispers when I walked past were getting old, and it took a lot of my self-control not to reach for her throat and squeeze.  Hard. 
    But I had promised Jamie I would behave myself and since he now seemed to cope with ignoring her so marvelously well, I thought I would have no problem doing the same thing. 

That evening was my friend Mikey's birthday party.  Considering his birthday was set at his lavish house, there weren't that many people that declined the invitation and pretty soon the entire house was filled with what appeared to be hundreds of people. 
   The party was amazing, and after we shooed out everyone we weren't particularly close to, the party truly started as we hung around the living room drinking and chatting. 
    "You're my bestest ever friend," Mikey swirled his words as he hugged me.  The intoxicating smell of Malibu was surrounding me so I gently pushed him away.
    "You too," I replied as he fell like a heavy heap on the sofa and seconds later fell asleep. 
    The rest mocked him for a while at his light-headedness and then resumed with the chatting. 
    "Umm, I don't think you're going to like this," Sofia came running into the living room.  All eyes averted to her.  "I'm afraid Kate's here," she said cautiously, scanning my expression. 
    "Why?  She wasn't even invited!  Mikey hates her!" Jamie pointed out looking concerned.  His gaze turned to me expecting me to say something, but I wasn't too sure what to say.  I just looked at Sofia and shrugged indicating that I didn't care. 
     But I did care.
    I hated the fact that she had thrown herself yet again into another moment of my life - one that I should have been enjoying with my friends and my boyfriend. 
    "Would you like me to tell her to go?" Mikey's older sister spoke.  "After all, this is my house," she laughed lifting her glass of red wine, spilling it slightly on her sleeping brother. 
    "No, I'll tell her," I said, lifting myself up off the floor.  "Who's she here with?"
    "I think Danielle must have brought her and it looks like neither of them left," Sofia sat down next to her boyfriend and huddled herself in his arms, a loud yawn escaping her mouth. 
    "Perhaps you should just leave it," Jamie rose from his seat clasping my hand in his.  "I don't think we need another scene.  If she joins us here we'll just ignore her.  And plus, Danielle's a sensible girl.  She wouldn't want to be in anyone's way,"
     His words made sense so I sat back down. 

Ten minutes later, two heavily 'make-uped' girls entered the living room.  Too much foundation and a serious lack of clothes made them both look hideous.  I wanted to grab a face wipe and run it  along their faces.
    "Hello Jamie," Kate spoke attempting her most charming smile. 
Jamie ignored her and poured himself another drink.  Awkwardness suddenly swept across the whole room,which was only interrupted but an unconscious hiccup escaping Mikey's mouth. 
    "Were you two invited?"  Mikey's sister crossed her arms defensively, her tough demeanor showing.  With her icey stare she actually made Danielle take two steps back. 
    "Oh, we're very good friends with Mikey, actually," Kate declared, her face inventing an innocent smile. 
    "You're really not.  In fact he hates you," I say, not lifting my head from the floor. 
   They both enter the room properly.  "Oh no.  We're rather close," Kate continues.  She sits opposite me as close to Jamie as she can possibly get.  "Perhaps the two of you aren't as close as you actually think,"
    Evil bitch, I think.  Mikey and I are inseparable.  I'd think I would know if he's suddenly taken a shine to the most psychotic girl on the planet.  
    "We've actually got some history," a sly smile sweeps across her face as she turns to Jamie.  What a cheap attempt to make him jealous.  And such a moronic attempt too - you'd be a fool not to realise that Mikey's taste isn' do I put this...feminine. 
    Everyone looks at the floor, trying to hold back their laughter.  Jamie mouths to me not to antagonise her.  But I can't help it.
    "Really?" I say pretending to be intrigued.  "And when was this?"
    "Quite recently actually.  He's really, rather good," she turns towards Jamie again when she says this. 
    "Wow!  I had no idea.  He never told me he had started a relationship," I say and look over to Tia who is nudging me with her elbow.  I ignore her. 
    Completely oblivious to the fact that everyone is laughing at her, Kate carries on, "I'm just as shocked as you about this.  But he just finds me irresistible," she sighs. 
    I'm so glad Mikey is unconscious for this because he would have a heart attack. 
    "Let me congratulate you then.  I didn't think it was possible,"
    "You didn't think what was possible?" she's eyeing me up and down - you can tell she hates me. 
    "Well, to turn someone straight," I don't know how I said this while keeping a straight face.  "I was pretty convinced he was gay.  In fact, it was just last week we were discussing the finer points of Orlando Bloom,"
    "He's NOT gay," Kate spits out.  Her face turning crimson from the rage.  "He's my boyfriend!"
    "Oh, well then my apologies.  I didn't realise you were a man!" I snap back. 
   Everyone's attempts to sustain their laughter fails.  Chants of giggles are heard around the living room.  Jamie probably laughing the loudest. 
    Kate gets up with force.  That trademark scowl once again glaring down at me.  Everyone flinches a bit - too scared to move incase she goes psychotic again.  But to everyone's surprise she just leaves.  Danielle following her. 

    "I have no idea how you put up with her and this whole situation," Tia states.
    "Hey!" Jamie chimes in, "She puts up with it because I'm so adorable," he smiles at me, that heavenly smile which made me realise all those months ago just how much I liked him. 
    "Well, I couldn't do it," Tia says.
    "That is why, my dear, I am sooo glad that I didn't take a shine to you," Jamie teased.  "Can you imagine?  I'd have been dumped on the first date,"
    My mind darts back to that first date I had with Jamie, with Kate marching over, tears spilling from her eyes and that alarmingly loud voice which is making me worry more and more that one day I may get tinnitus. 
    "I didn't realise she was that bad," I hear people saying this.  The conversation of Kate still a hot topic. 
    I want to change the subject.  I hate the fact that people may be feeling sorry for me, or worse feeling sorry for Jamie. 
    "What appalling taste you have," I say to him with a slight smile. 
    "I have amazing taste," he gently nudges my leg.  "She wasn't really 'taste' - more like temporary insanity on my part,"
    "Who knew it would lead to permanent insanity on her part," Sofia's boyfriend laughs. 
    As the laughter dies down, our attention is drawn to footsteps emerging from the hall.
    "Who's that?" I ask Mikey's sister.  "I thought your parents weren't back until tomorrow morning,"
    "That's what I thought too," she emerges from her seat and goes to inspect. 
From the living room we hear her say, "Oh, it's you two.  Can you please leave.  You weren't even -"
    But her words stopped short as Kate runs past her holding a bowlful of something.  Angrily she lunges it screaming:
    "I HATE YOU!!"
    Before anyone can realise what is happening, Tia is covered in the stuff and Kate and Danielle just run out of the house. 
    "Oh no," I say when I realise.
    "What is that stuff?" the boys ask in unison.
    Tia runs off screaming and I soon follow.  "It's OK.  We'll get it out," I say.        
    Sofia and I try to wash it off, but with the hair strands falling into the bath tub we know that some damage has already been done.  Mikey's sister hands us towels to dry her off.  Tia looks in the mirror, the colour in her cheeks draining completely as she sees her uneven hair, spiky in places and long in others. 
    "Bloody hell," she manages, rather calmly. 
   "Just you wait until I get her back for this," Sofia says.  "She's such an insane troll,"
    I feel a pang of guilt.  After all, the 'Nairtini' was meant for me.  "I'm so sorry," I tell her, trying to smooth down her hair so it doesn't look as obvious.
    "It's not your fault," she tells me.  Her eyes welling up a little as she scans the damage. 
    "Right, ladies.  I think it's time for a revenge plan," I inform. 
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