I hiss under my breath but it was too late. She lurches up from her chair and makes a mad dash over to the two women before they could get away. I watch in horror as I see her tap Elizabeth on the shoulder, and my stomach drops as Elizabeth turns around and P begins to speak. Suddenly I am standing and moving over toward them but I feel like everything is happening in slow motion. I can’t hear what they are saying, I feel dizzy and my knees are weak. Even later, I cannot recall the five second walk over to join the three of them. But suddenly–I am just there.
“P!,” I say as I reach out with my arm, prepared to hook it through her elbow-on-hip stance and haul her away like a double parked car. I cannot even look at her…IT, and her friend is nothing but a blur. Just as I am about to complete my maneuver I look up and find myself in a locked stare with the devil herself. I stop, My knees tighten, and I muster out a shaky “hi.”
“Hi,” she repeats back in a smug condescending tone, her lips pursed, her eyes squinted, her manner as if I—we, P and I, were the ones that were the scum of the earth. I pull my arms down to my sides in an effort to hide my trembling hands. Even in flats I am nearly 6 inches taller than she. Her long red-ish stringy hair hangs limply over her shoulders and runs down the front of her sloppy frame. Her rumpled, striped blouse, even tucked-in, cannot contain her stomach from bulging over the top of her faded black skirt. I am instantly disgusted.
“You came into my home. You slept with my boyfriend in MY bed,” I begin, softly. “Wwwhat’s going on,” I hear someone say. I turn my head and suddenly her friend comes into focus. I did not even realize she was still standing there, on my left, silent. “Well,” I begin in the soft, detached, matter of fact tone I have come to perfect, “Elizabeth had an affair. She cheated on her husband with my boyfriend and would come over to my home before work and have sex with him in my bed.” The friend’s eyes widen and her mouth gapes open. She says nothing.
“Ummm this is awkward, I am going to go,” Elizabeth exclaims in what I can only imagine she believes to be a bitchy-better-than-us tone. In actuality it comes across as laughably pathetic—like a pre-teen performing a one-woman, home play production, of Mean Girls for the only audience she can find—her mother and a couple of raggedy Cabbage Patch dolls. She swerves past P and tries to leave.
“Are you serious?” P asks, giving her a tutorial on proper bitch-voice. For a brief moment she nearly falters, her faux-poker face dropping to reveal the sad girl underneath. But, just as quickly as it happens it fades and she is once again attempting to maintain the illusion of control. “I’m not even going to discuss this,” she says in the same aforementioned tone as she motions for her friend to follow behind.
“That’s all you have to say,” I hear myself almost-shout, actually startled by my own voice.
“You can’t even say you are sorry!?” P yells. We are making a scene and I don’t even care. Her friend scampers past me and over to Elizabeth. They walk two feet away to the corner, but have to wait for the light to change on the busy street.
As they approach the curb, I find myself hoping she’d try to make a run for it across the intersection and get mowed down by a group of bicyclists—yes bicyclists—not cars or a giant semi- truck, because that way it would be both entertaining and humiliating. The thought of her having to peel herself off of the cement, human road kill covered in tire marks, and gimp away mortified is far superior to her getting carted away by ambulance. She does not need to be handed the opportunity to play the victim.
“Can you at the very least apologize,” I ask incredulously, my words aimed at her back because she refuses to turn around.
“Say you are sorry! She deserves to hear that,” P snipes over in their direction. Still the lumpy frame will not budge. Her accomplice, an obvious casualty to the situation turns and glances back at us, somewhat shocked, somewhat sympathetic. The light changes and they march off together, Elizabeth clinging so close they could pass as conjoined twins. She does not look back. P and I stand on the corner of the patio in silence and watch them go.
We don’t retreat until they are out of sight.