Sunday, 1 September 2013

Midsummer Night's Nightmare

Continuation of The Scary Wives of Windsor

Why did I get so brave? Where on earth did that come from?  I've never had enemies before and now the Queen Bee and her simple minded minions are staring at me like in some sort of Italian Mafia film.  I bet they're planning on how best to get rid of me.  A faint smile forms on my lips as I start to imagine their thought process.  They'll probably strangle me with a neck chain made entirely of Swarovski crystals.  Then dump the evidence because they can easily get ten other ones.
    I take another sip of champagne and try to look for Clara.  She hasn't been seen since the dancing incident and now I'm worried that these Scary Wives of Windsor have got to her.
    And where the hell is Chloe?  Shouldn't she be here by now?  I've heard of fashionably late but it's almost midnight and this is her boyfriends' birthday party, for goodness sake.  Not that I care what he's doing or how he's feeling at the moment. 
    My eyes wander over to his direction.  He's talking to an elderly gentleman who actually looks a lot like him.  Probably his father.  He does look good, doesn't he.  Anthony I mean, not his ageing father.  He looks so smart in black tie - like some sort of leader.  And his hair.  I love his hair.  I want to touch his hair. 
    In that instant he looks in my direction, then averts his eyes quickly.  Fine!  Play games if you want to.  See if I care.  Urgh, this is stupid.  What point am I making by being here?  I'm standing like a lone moron against the wall with no one to talk to.  My champagne is getting ever lower and I'm feeling too scared to even move.  Clearly, I'm not cut out for this.  They can play their Gossip Girl melodramas as much as they want, but I'm outta here! 
    My concentration is broken by a sharp "Woooo!" and the grandest entrance Clara has ever made.  With a can of beer in her hand she breaks through the patio doors with the chubby, short, balding guy holding on to her hips right behind her.
    "Hello, Gorgeous!" she greets before landing a big, fat sloppy kiss on my cheek. 
    "Where did you get that from?"  I point to the Heineken held tightly in her hand.
    "We popped over to the corner shop,"
    "The corner shop?  We're surrounded by fields!"
    "Yeah, but Geoffrey here," she pats the man's tummy, "was very kind and paid for a taxi to town,"
    "I'm well and truly sloshed!"  Geoffrey pipes in.  Tall, willowy Clara is now leaning her arm on his head.  "My wife is going to kill me when she finds out I'm drinking," he puts a finger up to his lips and spits everywhere as he tries to shush.
    "She'll probably kill you for a lot more than that," I say as I catch him grope Clara's bottom, and then her left breast.
    Clara is completely oblivious to it.  Not even a flinch as he moves closer and starts sniffing her.  Without thinking I pull a disgusted look and move away.
    Right, it's definitely time to get out of here. I place the glass down and make a dash for the door before anyone has a chance to spot me.  But just as I reach the wondrous outside, I see Chloe strolling up the stairs with a beaming smile.  Instinctively, I hide behind a flowerpot pulling in as much of my dress as I can. 
    "As the doors open, I want you to introduce me at the top of the stairs, OK Uncle?"
    "Ok, my sweet," the man responds.  I see them walk through the door straight past me.  I breathe out a sigh of relief thinking I'm on the home stretch, but Chloe stops to inspect her dress.  Her peachy skin illuminates in the iridescent light.  She smiles again like in some cheesy toothpaste commercial. Her blonde hair has been twisted and curled into a high chignon, all finished off with luminous diamonds.  Even her dress, which to anyone else who would wear it would be a simple baby pink, somehow has developed a pearlescent sheen.  She's a real life Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz - you know, if the Good Witch was a complete crazy pyscho!  That actually reminds me, I must get Jo to come and watch Wicked with me sometime soon.
    "Do you think tonight's the night?"  She asks her uncle like a small child seeking reassurance.  But reassurance is something Chloe is not short of.  Without even saying a word, her uncles' nod is simply enough for her self confidence to be back in tact.  "Do you really think he's going to propose?"  Her words leave her mouth and hit me like bullets through my skin.  Surely, I didn't hear that right?  Chloe is barely nineteen, and Anthony, well, isn't he in his early twenties? Why would he propose?     
    Completely dumbfounded, I stand behind the flowerpot wondering what her words could really mean.  She obviously means some other kind of proposal, like maybe a business proposal.  Maybe Anthony is going to propose that she works for him.  Or, another kind...like...like clothing.  Maybe she's hoping that he'll propose a whole new wardrobe for himself and would really love Chloe to go fetch.  Or...or...
    "Ladies and gentlemen, Chloe Deloris Oceana Wilson," the announcement chimes followed by the loudest applause I have ever heard.  It sounds like Katy Perry just walked on stage, rather than a nobody teenage girl.   But I still stand there behind this jade plant unable to move. 
    "Ella, what are you doing?" Anthony.  He looks mad, which I don't particularly care for, so I step out from behind the bushy plant and scowl at him. 
    "What does it look like I'm doing?"  But that's probably not the best response as it looks like I'm hiding behind a flowerpot.
    His hands are in his pocket and he steps closer, still mad.  Why is he mad at me?  What have I done now?
    "Don't you have somewhere to be, Anthony?  Like clapping at your girlfriends spectacularly idiotic entrance?"
    "Oh, is she here?"
    I raise an eyebrow.  "What did you think that noise was all about?  The Duchess of Cambridge didn't just turn up to your birthday party!"
    "Stop being an idiot, Ella,"  He moves closer and leans on the window sill next to me.
    I don't even want to respond.  I just want to go home.  I want to get into my Minnie Mouse pyjamas and watch Hollyoaks whilst gorging myself on full fat cheese.  Straight out of the packet.
    "Happy Birthday," I say and go to leave.  I manage to make it to the bottom of the stairs, breathing the midsummer night air before I'm stopped.
    "Seriously, why won't anyone let me leave this place?"  But my words are cut short with Anthony swooping in with one short, perfect kiss.    "Umm, what are you doing?" I whisper trying to break free from his arms. Thoughts whirring inside my head - none of which manage to form a grammatically correct sentence.
    "Home. Must get home, " I say pulling myself away from his magnetising grip.
    "Please don't go. He pulls me into him again and I'm utterly lost for words, because despite everything I cannot seem to break away.  He goes in for another kiss.  Right, this time I'll let him. This time I have to let him. But the moment's stolen with an ear-piercing scream.
     We both look up to find that the thunderous noise came from Chloe.  She screams again, although this time it isn't as ladylike. 
     Oh god, this is bad.  This is very very bad, because right by her side are all the other party guests.
Chloe is stomping down the stairs pushing me away from Anthony and I stumble backwards, almost toppling over. 
    "What are you doing?" She screams at Anthony, but he has nothing to say.
    Her attention then turns to me.  "And you!  What are you doing here!  Who invited you, because I made damn sure I ripped up Anthony's invitation to you!"
    My eyes flick towards Jens, but he just looks away completely innocently.
    "Slut!" the Queen Bee shouts from her throne.  The minions just nod in agreement.
    "She's not a slut!" Anthony steps in.  "I tried to kiss her.  She was pushing me away,"
But silence fills the garden like I've never seen before.  This is deeply embarrassing.  I can just about make the faint murmuring of crickets somewhere in the distance. 
    "I'm so sorry," I manage wanting to run home.  I knew I should have never come. 
    "Maybe it is time everyone goes home.  This misunderstanding can all be sorted tomorrow with a fresh perspective.  We're all too merry and too tired to deal with this right now," The Anthony look-alike steps in.
    "No, dad its fine," Anthony responds.  At least I was right about this being his father. 
    Chloe's earlier radiance has now vanished.  She represents more an infuriated Medusa than a gentle Aphrodite.  Any second now she'll grow serpents out of her scalp and I'll be left as a startled stone statue, forever stuck in the most humiliating experience of my life.
    "Urgh!"  She screams again.  "Fucking hell, Anthony!"
    "Language, poppet," her uncle chimes in.
    "I thought you were going to propose tonight!"
    Anthony takes a massive step back.  "Wait, what?"  He asks confused.  "Why did you think I would propose?"
    "Oh, I don't know!" She screams.  "Perhaps because I was telling you a couple of weeks ago that my father proposed to my mother on his twenty fifth birthday and you said, 'that sounds good.'"
But that explanation seems to have no effect on Anthony.  Still completely perplexed, he edges slightly backward as if he wants to hide in the safe, dark covering of the garden.
     "I'm sorry," his apology a child's whisper in the midnight air and my heart completely goes out to him.  If I had just stayed away, none of this would have happened. 
    "I NEVER want to see your face again!"  the Queen Bee spits from the top of the stairs.  She's pointing at me like a Wicked Witch about to cast a spell.  But her pathetic threat does nothing but irritate me.
    "It's alright, Sierra.  She's nothing but a daughter of the Great Unwashed who works part time at a middle-of-the-range clothing store going nowhere in life," Chloe chimes in.
    To my complete surprise, it is not shouting or swearing that comes out of my mouth, but laughter.  Loud chuckling that at this precise moment even I do not understand.
    "Firstly," I begin, "not a daughter of the Great Unwashed.  My parent's are rich.  Filthy rich in fact.  Simon Cowell kind of rich!" OK, a massive exaggeration, but confidence starts booming through my veins and I'm not about to stop now.  "And they certainly had more sense than to call me after a night club, Oceana!"  she gasps. 
     "Secondly, I don't have to work at Delilah Dales, I choose to.  And if it's so 'middle-of-the-range', why are you and your Scary Wives of Windsor wearing dresses from there?"  Someone repeats 'Scary wives of Windsor' in the crowd and all I hear is Jens' awkward laugh.  I'm guessing he didn't want me to reveal his little pet name for them.
    "Thirdly, going nowhere?  I'm at university studying Economics.  The world's my oyster.  But you." I walk towards her like I've seen in the movies a million time - the beaten down girl now the top of the pack having no mercy, "You, well, there are only so many years before the amount of antidepressants you take outnumber your clothes,"
    Chloe narrows her eyes about to bite back, but I desperately don't want to let her. " And lastly, your boyfriend seems to prefer a daughter of the Great Unwashed than the simple minded idiot of fake aristocracy," and that should just about seal the deal.
    I step back expecting wild applause, but nothing.  There is nothing by eerie silence and the faces of strangers weighing down their disapproval on me.  Even Anthony looks embarrassed.  I'm now starting to regret every single word.
    Breaking the quiet night, the bushes behind Anthony start to rustle and suddenly all attention is torn away from me.  Some grunts and groans emerge from the emerald leaves and two figures step into the light. 
    Clara.
    Acting like her usual self, she straightens her dress and smiles at everyone.  "Have you all met my new boyfriend?" she announces, kissing the short, old, chubby man from before as he starts tucking his shirt in, lipstick marks all around his mouth. 
    "Splendid night, isn't it?" the man bellows and the crowd, completely in unison, look on in amazement, then whisper to one another like gossiping busy bees.
    "Daddy?" and then Chloe faints.

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