“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I mumbled as I stumbled on my way to the front door in the dark. “I’m aw-” I groaned as I stubbed my toe trying to avoid stepping on my cat, but that didn’t stop her from hissing at me threateningly, her mood just as bad as mine at being awoken by the insistent knocking at such a late hour. “What?” I pulled the door open without even looking through the peephole, angry enough to face a potential murderer straight on.
“Well, hello to you, too.” My potential murderer beamed at me and raised a bottle.
“Ivy,” I glared at my best friend. “It’s three in the morning.”
“It’s three in my relationship, but you don’t hear me complaining.” She pushed her way inside.
“That’s all I ever hear you do.” I sighed tiredly as I closed the door and followed her into my kitchen. “Are you sleeping here tonight?” I rubbed my eyes drowsily, wanting to get her settled so I could settle back in my bed, but she seemed to have other plans.
“Nope, I’m here to party.” She was practically bouncing as she reached for the glass cups at the top of my cabinet that she knew I left untouched and reserved for special occasions.
“Hey, careful with those.” I quickly ran to her side, getting annoyed. But, standing so close to her, I could see the dark circles of smeared mascara and eyeliner rounding her eyes and I knew that she’d been crying again. “Maybe we should just go to bed.” I looked away from her. It was getting harder and harder to look at her as the days went on, as I saw her breaking and hurting and coming to me to help keep her together when I was the one breaking and hurting her.
“But it’s a special occasion.” She gave me a dazed smile.
Drunk Ivy was the worst to look at. Drunk Ivy was sad and pathetic and holding on to anything to hide how sad and pathetic she felt. Drunk Ivy was the hardest consequence.
“What’s the special occasion?” Drunk Ivy was also the easiest to get rid of if just humored for a bit.
“I finally know everything.” She whispered so slowly that my heart started beating so quickly to keep things evenly balanced.
“Wh-what do you mean?”
“I mean that I know everything.” She repeated just as slowly. “I know why my boss is so mean, I know what’s wrong with my car, and I know who Ethan is cheating on me with.” She smiled a sober smile and I nearly broke my own expensive glass cups before putting them back in their place.
“Oh?” I didn’t know what to say. “Why is your boss so mean?”
“Because I’m bad at my job.” She chuckled. “And my brakes aren’t properly working.” Did she know that Ethan was the one who tampered with them in hopes of getting the insurance money off her life? I looked at her while asking myself that, and she nodded like she could hear my thoughts and my accelerating heart.
“You’re as good as anybody at your job.” I tried to shrug, but it was so forced it looked like there was something wrong with my shoulder. “We’ll get your car fixed tomorrow when we wake up. Let’s just sleep for a bit.” I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep anymore that night, but I just wanted her eyes to close and to stop looking at me like she really did know everything.
“Don’t you want to know who Ethan is cheating on me with?” She sounded playful, almost teasing.
“N-no,” I stammered and had to clear my throat a couple of times before I could proceed. “You keep suspecting everyone, it’s not funny anymore.” I turned my back to her so she wouldn’t see the blatant fear on my face.
“What’s not funny anymore?” She asked, her voice on the verge of tears. “I keep making a joke out of myself every single day. Anybody not involved should find this hilarious. Don’t you?”
“No,” I snapped. “I don’t think there’s anything funny about your paranoia. You’re pretty and smart and you’ve been together for so long, why would Ethan even want to cheat on you?”
“Well, according to our last fight, I’m selfish and annoying and a burden that he’s had to live with for so long.”
“He said that?” My eyes widened.
Everybody knew that Ivy only ever thought about herself and always picked fights over nothing with everyone around her just to make herself feel something in that cold heart of hers, but I doubted anybody had ever said that to her face, I’d never heard my own thoughts voiced aloud so perfectly.
“Yeah,” she chuckled bitterly. “And she’s prettier and smarter and everything he’d been wanting me to be for so long.”
“He said that?” I felt the heat spread to my cheeks.
“The way he keeps turning away from me in bed did.”
“Oh,” I looked away again, not wanting her to see the smile I couldn’t force down at the thought of him turning away from her, wanting to be and being away from her, finally free from someone as manipulative as her. Ethan deserved better, he deserved so much better.
“So, should we celebrate?” She asked as she pulled the glass cups back down. “It took a long time, such a long, long time, but I finally found out who it is.” Her lips rose up in a smile and my heart rose up to my throat.
Could she have really found out? How could she have possibly found out? She was too stupid to appreciate him, too stupid to know how to keep him, too stupid to realize that her pushing him away was actually pushing him away, too stupid to notice that he stopped loving her until it was too late, too stupid to see that we kept directing her suspicion at so many people around her while we grew closer than ever right next to her.
“Is it one of his coworkers again?” I tried to steer her doubts. “He was assigned a really hot new assistant.”
“No,” she looked straight into my eyes as she poured the liquor into the glass. “It’s someone so much closer.”
“Oh,” my eyebrows rose on their own. “Is it one of his friends?”
“No,” she kept looking straight at me as she pushed a full glass in my direction. “It’s one of mine.” I could no longer feel my heart beat, I could no longer force myself to breathe, let alone think and speak. “A very, very, close friend,” she continued as she picked up her glass and looked at me to do the same, but I couldn’t move. “The closest there could be.”
“Uh…ah…” Strange sounds came out of my throat, but I couldn’t shape them into words.
“Right next door,” she shook her head, finally releasing me from her gripping eyes.
“Our next-door neighbor,” she sighed. “I can’t believe I made her cookies when she first moved in. We became friends so quickly and I let her into my house, and she let him into hers. But now I finally know everything.” She beamed.
“Wow,” I gasped, filling my body with air again. I knew she was too stupid to have really found out. “I’ll drink to that!”
Taking my hand to my face, I wiped the last of my tears as I walked up the stairs to avoid the camera in the elevator. I wondered if Ethan would have believed that I’d cried so hard at the realization of having lost him. I wondered if she would have believed that I’d cried so hard at the realization of having lost her.
I could have waited for the following day, I could have waited a couple more hours till morning, but I really couldn’t, I couldn’t risk changing my mind. At least, now, it would be done with guilt, with a justifiable feeling of loss, by morning there would be no emotion left to spare either.
“I’m coming,” I heard her try to yell from inside as I continued to pound on her door, imagining it to be his face, imagining it to be her face. “What?” Taleen pulled the door open angrily, as if she had the right to be angry at anything that I did after what she’d done.
“Well, hello to you, too.” I clenched my teeth as I smiled at her.
“Ivy,” my best friend glared at me. “It’s three in the morning.”
“It’s three in my relationship, but you don’t hear me complaining.” I pushed my way inside her house, the house I always came to when I needed a friend so late at night, but, apparently, I hadn’t been the only one needing her friendliness so late at night.
“That’s all I ever hear you do.” She sighed as she followed me in. “Are you sleeping here tonight?” She sounded annoyed, had she made plans with somebody else to sleep over there tonight but he couldn’t make it?
“Nope, I’m here to party.” I reached for the fancy glass cups she had reserved for special occasions. Well, what could be more special than tonight for her?
“Hey, careful with those.” She was instantly by my side, more worried about stupid cups breaking than our friendship or my life. “Maybe we should just go to bed.” She looked away from me, almost as if she could read the blame in my eyes and didn’t know how defend herself against it.
“But it’s a special occasion.” I slurred, pretending to be drunk, she always humored me and went along with whatever I said when I was drunk.
“What’s the special occasion?” She gave in.
“I finally know everything.” I spoke slowly so she would know that I was sober, that I was deliberate, that I really did know everything.
“Wh-what do you mean?”
“I mean that I know everything.” I repeated. “I know why my boss is so mean, I know what’s wrong with my car, and I know who Ethan is cheating on me with.” I looked at her knowingly.
“Oh?” She blinked at me and remained silent, but I refused to ease the awkwardness, so she spoke again; “Why is your boss so mean?”
“Because I’m bad at my job.” I chuckled truthfully. “And my brakes aren’t properly working.” And according to the security cameras I secretly hid in front of our house to see who was coming in, my loving husband had been on his knees by my car recently.
“You’re as good as anybody at your job.” Taleen’s shoulder seemed to hurt as she moved around awkwardly, was it from the weight of all the lies? “We’ll get your car fixed tomorrow when we wake up. Let’s just sleep for a bit.”
“Don’t you want to know who Ethan is cheating on me with?” Was she really just going to ignore that?
“N-no,” she stuttered and cleared her throat. “You keep suspecting everyone, it’s not funny anymore.” She turned her back to me and it took everything not to grab the nearest knife and stab her in the back the way she had stabbed me.
“What’s not funny anymore?” I demanded. “I keep making a joke out of myself every single day. Anybody not involved should find this hilarious. Don’t you?” How often had they laughed about me? Did he tell her how I begged him to stay? Did she tell him how I cried in her arms at the thought of losing him?
“No,” she retorted. “I don’t think there’s anything funny about your paranoia. You’re pretty and smart and you’ve been together for so long, why would Ethan even want to cheat on you?”
“Well, according to our last fight, I’m selfish and annoying and a burden that he’s had to live with for so long.” I confessed, nearly crying into her arms again.
“He said that?” She looked shocked. Had they not planned his little outrage together to finally get me out of the way?
“Yeah,” I chuckled. “And she’s prettier and smarter and everything he’d been wanting me to be for so long.”
Taleen was always the one men wanted. Taleen was smart enough to take him and keep me from finding out for so long. Taleen had always been prettier than I could fake being, even more so with the blush covering her cheeks at the prospect of how highly he thought of her.
“He said that?”
“The way he keeps turning away from me in bed did.”
“Oh,” she looked away, but not before I caught the beginning of a smile on her face.
“So, should we celebrate?” I was getting bored, so I pulled the glass cups back down. “It took a long time, such a long, long time, but I finally found out who it is.” I smiled at her, I’d always wanted to be able to smile at the face of the woman who ruined my life. She looked terrified, the way I’d always wanted to terrify the woman who ruined my life, but never my best friend.
“Is it one of his coworkers again?” How often had she made me question and suspect and spy on everyone but her? “He was assigned a really hot new assistant.”
“No,” I looked straight into her eyes as I poured the drink I’d brought with me into the glass. “It’s someone so much closer.”
“Oh,” she looked stunned, desperate. “Is it one of his friends?”
“No,” I pushed a full glass in her direction. “It’s one of mine.” I deadpanned. I could’ve said that I knew it was her, but I wanted her to confess, I wanted her to respect me enough to no longer lie to me, to try to salvage our friendship, to let me know that I meant to her at least as much as he apparently did. “A very, very, close friend,” I picked up my glass and looked at her, prompting her to do the same. “The closest there could be.”
“Right next door,” she wasn’t going to say anything, and I wanted to get out of there, so I lied to her to get what I wanted, the same way she’d been lying to me to get all I had.
“Our next-door neighbor,” I sighed exaggeratedly. “I can’t believe I made her cookies when she first moved in. We became friends so quickly and I let her into my house, and she let him into hers. But now I finally know everything.”
“Wow,” she looked satisfied. “I’ll drink to that!” She swallowed her drink in one gulp, too relieved to notice that I didn’t take a sip.
She offered to share her bed with me, the same one I knew she’d shared with my husband, and that insult wiped away any traces of regret I might’ve felt after what I’d just done to her.
I told her that I had to go back to Ethan to confront him, reminding her that he was my husband, and nobody else’s.
I took the stairs again so as not to be seen and went back to the party a friend of mine was having. I mingled with a lot of people before going to see Taleen, I just had to let them see me again so they could state that I’d always been at the party and be my perfect alibi.
The Cat’s P.O.V:
Couldn’t humans just sleep when it was dark and make noise when it was light just like the rest of us? There was always music or honking or yelling or whispering, all night long, but that night was the worst.
There was a very loud noise coming from the door. I jumped up with my eyes still closed, too tired because mama had made us stay up too late pacing the room while talking on the phone with that man who came around often but never brought me anything or tried to hold me, he always took mama into our room and closed the door in my face. I hated that man.
My eyes opened tiredly, but it was so dark and mama almost stepped on me, again with her pacing! She opened the door and I smelled the horrible man, but it was only mama’s friend who the man always smelled like – which was weird because I never saw them together.
Mama’s friend walked in and scratched my head nicely, the way mama had been neglecting to because she couldn’t stop touching that man. I purred contently and went back to my little bed. But the humans kept making so much noise. Mama and her friend kept talking, and, if mama was going to keep talking to her the way she always did with the man, I knew they were going to keep talking all night, so I tried to ignore them.
A little while later, I smelled poison. I got up, but mama and her friend were still talking. The smell must’ve come from the street.
Before I could doze off again, mama’s friend walked by me and scratched me again. I smiled and purred, glad to be scratched, but mostly glad that she was leaving.
Mama went to bed, and so did I, the way we all should when it’s dark. When it was light again, I woke up and stretched, but there was no food in my bowl. I wasn’t going to let mama get away with neglecting me so much. I ran into her room, ready to start a fight, but it was quiet, too quiet. I approached mama, but she wasn’t breathing, and I could smell the poison in her mouth from which she would never again talk to that man or me, kiss that man or me, or breathe.