Sunday, May 15, 2011

Part Thirteen: In which Katie's friends decide to organize an art show, and then author pleads for your help.

"There never was a show." Katie shrugged. She felt Melissa squeeze her hand under the table. “Whatever. It just didn’t pan out.” She tried to be nonchalant about it. “Life happened.” Heartbreak happened. Anne happened. Excuses. The art just dried up. “You were going to be fantastic” pressing heavy in her pocket. Oh, Annie. Weren’t we all?

"So what's stopping you from having another one?" Nora asked. Katie turned to look at her, with her cute smile and her cute gamine haircut. What was that in her voice? Was she being genuine? Was she laughing at her? Katie couldn't tell. Perhaps they were frenemies! Katie had heard about frenemies. She wondered if having one made her suddenly more relevant to today's youth culture.

"Well, for one thing I don't really have any art." Katie shrugged. "So I doubt I could put one together."

"If there's enough lead time you could do it." Paul's voice was all excited. "We could all help!"

"What? Paint her paintings?" Mike elbowed Paul flirtatiously. 

"No, I mean we could, like, help with promotions and stealing her office supplies for her projects," Paul defended himself.

Melissa cleared her throat, raised an eyebrow at the two of them. "There will be no stealing of office supplies, gentlemen. But we could help.  My dad's company just bought a storefront on College. We could do a pop-up gallery there, I bet. Probably rent free, or at least pretty cheap, since my dad's business doesn't move in until September. I bet he'd be more than happy to have us take it over for a while."

All of this was happening around her, and Katie felt her heart get light, her cheeks flush. Could this be true?  Or was the cheap gin causing her to halucinate?

She looked at her friends' smiles. Nope, this was real. She felt a bit sick, suddenly, but she knew it wasn't the gin. She thought about the last time, of the promise she'd made to the gallery and then how it fell apart, she'd been a failure. She'd come home to Toronto to make things better and she had not. Truth be told, Katie had only just gotten her life on track. The job, the house, cheeks free of tear stains and pillow-streaks, hair basically decent. She was wearing lipgloss on a regular basis, and this she considered a victory. How could she possibly put together an art show? And what if she fell apart again?

She looked around the table at her friends' faces. All of them, including her frenemy, were smiling encouragingly at her. They believed in her. They wanted to do this. "Fine!" Katie flung her hands in the air, dramatically, artistically. She wished were wearing a pashmina to unfurl. "Let's do it!"

"Okay!" Mike hoisted a drink aloft. "A toast for our little artiste!" The others raised their glasses and clinked, but Melissa, curiously, was not joining in.

"Just a sec--" she said, not looking at them, but staring at her phone. She walked away from the table, texting furiously.

"What's up with her?" Mike forked in a mouthful of Ritz Cracker pie. Melissa had made her way out to the sidewalk.

"I'm going to go check," said Katie at the same time as Nora said, "I'll just go see."

The two of them, both rising from their chairs, froze, looking at one another across the flowered tablecloth. "Dancing Cheek to Cheek" was playing quietly in the background as they stared one another down. Nora was tall, like Melissa, broad shouldered, stately, muscled and tone. You'd think that short red hair on a big woman would look butchy, but Nora wore it like a sophisticated sleek cap. In her 3-inch heels she stood nearly a foot above Katie, but Katie was Melissa's friend. Sure, Melissa and Nora had known one another longer, but Katie and Melissa's friendship had been forged in the furnace of their early 20s, their lives fused together on late night subway rides and in all-night diners, at roof-top parties and while peeing in alleyways. They'd ridden out Y2K together -- that meant something.  

She knew that Nora and Melissa had been hanging out while she'd been with Bobby in Vancouver but Katie was back now, Katie was no longer lying in a pool of sadness, those Terrible Four Months had been over for nearly twice as long as they'd lasted and she was back. And she was ready. Nora blinked and Katie took her chance; she pushed her chair back so hard it landed on the wooden floor as she hurried towards Melissa who was standing, on the sidewalk, staring into space.

"Melissa? What's up?"

"I got a text. From David's sister."

"I didn't know you two were still talking."

"We're not. Well, kind of. Sometimes we send texts. Like when their grandmother died, she wanted me to know."

That made sense. Even Katie had loved David's grandmother, a nearly-deaf Ukrainian lady whose two chief joys in life were making perogies and watching people consume them. "That must have been some funeral," murmured Katie, imagining the spread of cabbage rolls, borscht, and sausage. Not to mention all the perogies they'd have had to eat in her memory.

"Did you say something?" Melissa asked.

"Oh, just that it's a shame you had to miss the funeral." Katie was covering, but she also meant it. Not only because of the food. Because she and David had been family once, and one of the worst things about a breakup is the loss of that family.  Once Katie had gotten over missing Bobby, she had to grieve all over again about losing his parents, too.

"I know." Melissa sighed. "I would have liked to go."

"So what was the text this time?"

"She wanted me to know...." Melissa took a deep, ragged breath, and handed Katie the phone. "Just look."

Mel--D married G. Both will b @ wed sat. xox Elaine

"What?" Katie's voice rose about fifteen octaves.

"I know. Apparently he married that Georgina person."

"The one he...." left you for, the morning of your wedding? Katie said the rest of the sentence in her head.

"Yes. That same one. I texted her back for details but all I got was this." She handed Katie the phone again.

Las Vegas on wknd. Surprz to all. Still cmng 2 wdng? -E

"Katie, what am I going to do?"

"I know. I know exactly what you're going to do." Katie took her friend's hand in hers, warming it. "You're going to --"

You decide! 

Okay. This is a first in Choose Your Own Adventure History -- I don't have any ideas.

So -- it is up to you guys to find one for me. Keep in mind:

1. the wedding is a week away,
2. Katie is Melissa's date, and
3. Melissa already has a killer dress.

So what should Katie's advice be? What is the plan? Katie and I leave it in your hands!


  1. This is a tough one. But I think she'd say something like, "we are going to go to the wedding, we are going to wear fabulous shoes, we are going to get extremely drunk and we are going to have a great time!"

  2. I agree with Ann. And as she's saying it, a cell phone should ring from a nearby garbage can...
    Oh, and congrats on working in that Ritz cracker pie!

  3. Absolutely going to the wedding and being fabulous. it would be funny if the wedding were at some neat downtown reception hall and the cellphone is there.... or if the Eoin is there as a guest (Toronto is a small town really)


  5. They couldn't not go!

    Remind me...whose wedding are they attending? Would Bobby be there? I agree that Eoin could put in an appearance.

  6. Of course they will go to the wedding, there will be something wrong the food and everyone will get food poisoning except for Katie, because she is too nervous too eat. Jesse

  7. Well, of course they are going to the wedding where they will be either fabulous or drunk as two skunks and very, very indiscreet (I'm far too old to imagine how).