“I am disappointed in you taking the easy way out. Having a meltdown over the phone just because I was sharp with you is not going to solve anything. You asked me to come for the weekend to talk through your predicament which I am beginning to think could have been avoided,” said Sandy, sensing that it may not have been such a good idea to come in person.
“I don’t need a lecture, Sandy. Now that Godfrey has left us alone, I will fill you in. You are supposed to be here to help me out as my friend. Like old times! At least give me some advice. Best friends forever? BFFs?”
“Jessie! Whatever it is, just spit it out!”
Sandy sensed a hidden strain. There was an air of neglect around the flat with Jessie sitting opposite; oblivious in her radiance and still in her dressing-gown while nursing a half-empty coffee cup. Sandy had arrived the night before, into the chaos in her friend’s flat, which spoke volumes-a sink full of dirty dishes, reading material and comfort rugs strewn around, a pervading visible layer of dust and crumbs ground into the carpet. The on-going tension between Jessie and Godfrey, over breakfast, had been difficult to conceal. Sandy resolved to bite her tongue till Jessie told her the full story, although the temptation was still lingering; to be unsympathetic and say ‘Jessie, Pull yourself together!’
The small talk with her friend had begun to wear Sandy down. “For goodness sake, Jessie, tell me what’s going on. Let’s get this conversation over with! My sixth sense tells me I am not going to like what I am about to hear.”
“It’s partly your fault, you know. You are the one who encouraged me.”
“What do you mean? Whatever it is, it’s my fault?”
“Well, remember when we had a heart to heart about my marital boredom and your cousin Godfrey coming and going as he pleases. I told you about his late nights since his promotion and my being left alone in this godforsaken place. You then said I shouldn’t be so wet and instead find something to occupy myself; take up a hobby or something and I did. I joined a book club!”
“Good for you. Godfrey should be happy. At least he doesn’t have to worry about you when he is working late. So what’s the problem? Where is this story going? Let me guess, are you going to tell me you joined my book club which I haven’t been attending for a while? The one run by Bailey across town? No! No! No! Why do I feel as if this story isn’t going to end well?
“Yes, that’s the book club. The one you spoke glowingly about. I thought you would be pleased since I have got myself out of a rut. If I don’t share with you this exciting news, who else can I share with? You are my best friend!”
“Yes. Yes. But why are you telling me this? Is there a problem because I can sense the tension in this place, between you and Godfrey. He and I are close, you know that!''
" Let me get a word in edgeways Sandy. I thought I was the one supposed to be filling you in!''
" Fine. You know he phoned me recently, being rather cryptic and asking about the book club? Godfrey couldn’t understand your sudden literary interest. He says you are such a regular at the weekly meetings. Always on the phone texting and in conversations with your group."
"It's a lively crowd and entertaining."
''Did you tell him that Bailey is the convener?''
" Jessie, I take it your silence means No. You do realise that we are talking about Godfrey, my cousin, who's known you since high school and your ex-boyfriends?”
“Sandy, you agreed that I was stuck in a rut. It’s alright for you. You have a social life.”
“So is this what you call getting out of a rut and spicing up your marriage? I hope you are not about to embroil me in sordid secrets. Am I the one who said you should get married so young?”
“Now you are being both catty and unfair. My marriage was wonderful at the beginning. We used to have fun and date nights. Your cousin only had eyes for me. With this recent promotion, all he does is work. Are you are blaming me because I want to do something different; spread my wings and meet like-minded people?”
“What do you expect me from me? To be one of your cheerleaders, encouraging you to risk your marriage? I don’t want to be part of this subterfuge, Jessie. You and I know that Bailey has never got over you?”
“I know. How can I forget since you keep reminding me? I haven’t done anything except attend a few book club meetings. Anyway, what's wrong with still having feelings for an old flame? I haven’t acted on them, so far!”
“Is that true, Jessie? Knowing you, you have been texting Bailey on the sly. Hang on! The after-work drinks when you stood me up. Were you with Bailey? OMG, I can’t believe you think I am so naïve! If my cousin ever finds out, how do you think he will respond? He'll think I encouraged you. Who doesn't know your past with Bailey?''
“Don’t be so melodramatic, Sandy. You really are making such a big deal out of some harmless catching up drinks and a few text messages. It’s only a bit of fun! God knows I could do with some!”
“Jessy, I can’t believe I am hearing this from you? A bit of fun? Leading the poor guy on! Don’t tell me you don’t see how Bailey looks at you whenever we are in his company.”
“That’s part of the fun and excitement!”
“I am not joking Jessie. What about Godfrey? I don’t want to be part of this drama!”
“OK, OK. Let’s discuss this ‘drama’ like responsible adults! You and I know I have some unfinished business with Bailey. He is the one who left me high and dry, the time when I virtually moved into your flat because I was so distraught. You were sympathetic then.”
“Jessie, you are married now! I had hoped we had moved on from those days when we were melodramatic, whenever we got dumped. I honestly thought we are now more mature. All I am saying is that you are acting like an impressionable schoolgirl. Anyone can tell that something is up. It won’t take long for Godfrey to twig on that your pleasure in books is more than attending the book club. Look at you! You are glowing and looking happier than you have been for ages. However, I have to say your flat is a mess! It’s so unlike you! I am not begrudging your newly found happiness. It’s just that you have found it in the wrong place.’’
“So now you are telling me I should stay miserable or what? I am getting confused.’’
“You are taking advantage of our friendship. Can’t you see that? Are you also trying to buy my silence?
‘’Alright, alright! There is no need to burst a blood vessel. I know how close you are to my husband. I am not asking you to lie or cover for me.’’
‘’Really! He is bound to ask me again what’s going on. He trusts me. I can’t believe that what started off as an innocent suggestion is now morphing into a nightmare. Grow up, Jessie! You are putting me in a very awkward position. My advice for what it’s worth-drop the book club. Find something else to do and contact me when this madness is over! I need some air.”
Sandy got up and slammed the front door as she left.