Monday, August 8, 2011

Chapter 25: In which friendships are mended!

What Katie wanted more than anything was to call her sister and ask her what the hell she should do about Melissa’s birthday. David and Georgina were invited. What should she do? What would Anne have advised, five years, four years, three years ago, before she lost it? Katie tried to remember her sister as she’d been then. She continued sketching various versions of the drink. It was making her so thirsty. She sipped her tea.

Katie didn’t sleep much that night. It wasn’t that she wasn’t tired, because she was. She was, in fact, exhausted. Her life was kind of overwhelming. Not only was she dealing with the usual issues that single 33-year-old women in Toronto have to deal with on a regular basis, like a new relationship, friendship-dramas, unresolved boyfriend issues, a leaking basement that had let in nearly an inch of water during a crazy almost-Tornado, and a mother who kept texting weird, mom-texts (R yu cming to supr?) to see if she’d like to come for dinner,, but she also had deal with a lot of stuff she felt pretty sure were exceptional to people in her circumstances, like surviving said crazy almost-Tornado, an alcoholic homeless sister, a full-time job that she was completely confused by -- seriously, she did a lot of “fake it til you make it” in that place -- and a whole lot of failed dreams. (Actually, scratch that. Failed dreams are actually pretty universal, no matter your age or circumstance. Sorry, Katie. Nothing exceptional about those).

These were the things that kept her up at night, tossing, turning, too far inside her own head to find peace. It was like a million almost-tornadoes were brewing, and she needed one of them to come to life. Even if it destroyed everything it its path, at least something would have happened.

So Katie decided to talk to Melissa. She would warn her about David and Georgina coming to her party. Melissa might appreciate the gesture, or she might only get angrier, but at least Katie would know where she stood with her friend.

Katie dressed carefully the next day, giving herself an extra half-hour to do her hair and makeup (as in, finally wearing some). She wanted Melissa to see her as an adult, as a responsible, mature person. She wore a charcoal Banana Republic pencil skirt (purchased on sale with Melissa earlier in the year when she had been impressing upon Katie the importance of corporate camouflage) with a pink cashmere sweater and black heels. With her low bun and subtle makeup she looked like a Melissa-in-training (albeit a scrawny, white-girl version) and it was just perfect.


“Laundry day?” Melissa smiled as she eyed Katie from tidy bun to stylish shoes. Katie smiled back, relief flooding her veins. This was good. Melissa could have sneered at her costume, and “laundry day” would not have had the comforting lilt that it did.

“What? You don’t like my outfit?” Katie was teasing, elated. Melissa was thawing. Thank goodness. It had been nearly two weeks since the fight. A long time for them.

“It’s just unexpected, that’s all.” Melissa leaned across her desk, her voice low. “You better watch out, Katie. You look like you know what you’re doing.”

Katie didn’t know what to say next. Her feet pinched in her heels. She remembered now why they lived at the back of her closet under her winter sweaters.

She took a deep breath. “Listen, Melissa. I’m … sorry. About being a freak. About being a mess. I’m just...”

“Katie, this really isn’t the time.” Melissa’s voice wasn’t teasing anymore. She sounded so tired.

“I know. Okay. I was wondering if you want to go to lunch?” Katie rushed the words, held her breath.

“Sure. It has to be quick, though. I’ve got stuff to do.” Melissa glanced at her watch. “Is 1 okay for you?”

“Absolutely,” Katie nodded. “I’ll meet you at the elevators.” She gave Melissa a little wave and walked back to her desk, trying not to limp in her two-small Steve Maddens. And the damn things had even been full-price.

Step one accomplished, thought Katie as she slid into her own desk chair. But she and Melissa were still on shaky ground, and she wasn’t sure how Melissa would feel about her getting involved in this whole David situation. After all, David was kind of the reason they were in this not-talking-mess in the first place. Well, actually, it was probably fairer to blame alcohol and Katie’s own unresolved issues with her own failed relationship with Bobby,, but David had been the catalyst. David and alcohol. Right. No alcohol at lunch.

“So should we get a drink?” Melissa picked up the cocktail list from the table at Chez Che, a French-Cuban fusion place that was big with the more artistic among the suit-and-briefcase crowd.

“Err....” Katie frowned at the menu. “No, we’ve got to go back to work, and I want to keep my head straight.” Though there was something on the list called a Dark and Stormy that sounded just heavenly. (It also fit the tornado-metaphor quite nicely).  But alcohol was a catalyst! Must not start a fight!

“Right. Good girl”. For the second time that day, Katie and Melissa were across from one another, staring at one another.. Katie knew Melissa was going to make her speak first. Melissa was nice, but no pushover. Katie took a deep breath.

“I need to talk to you about....” She heard the words: David and Georgina, Nora invited them, blah blah blah and it all sounded so childish, so spiteful, she didn’t know how to formulate the sentences to have them make sense, to have them sound like she was caring, not jealous of Nora.  Melissa was her best friend, but she was also kind of scary.

“...Anne.” Katie knew the minute she started talking that Anne was exactly what she needed to talk about. Wanted to talk about. Her breakthrough with Anne was something Melissa would celebrate.  “Eoin and I think we found her. Well, we are finding her.”

“Wait a minute. Who’s Eoin?”

Katie blushed. Of course. Melissa didn’t know about her and Eoin. “Oh, he’s...It’s a long story. He’s this artist that I met and we’ve kind of been seeing one another. We’ve only been out a few times but he’s...nice. He’s really great.”

“What? How could you not tell me about this?” Melissa grabbed her friend’s hand, her fingers squeezing with excitement. And then the light went out of her eyes. “Oh, yeah. I wasn’t talking to you.”

“Yeah.” Katie watched as Melissa’s hand dropped away from hers. She took a sip from her water glass. “I wanted to tell you everything. But....”

“Tell me now.” Melissa took Katie’s hand again. “Who is he? Where did you meet him?”

“Well, kind of at that wedding.....You know. The one where I acted like a freak and caused you to tell me you never wanted to speak to me again?” Katie tried for humour.

“I never said that!” Melissa protested, but she was joking, this was jokey, this was fine.

“No, not in so many words. I just extrapolated meaning.” Katie winked.

“Oh, you and your drama.” Melissa rolled her eyes. “Okay, so what’s happening with Anne?”

And Katie told her everything. Over Katie’s croque-monsieur sandwich and Melissa’s bowl of  black bean soup, the two friends caught up. Katie filled her in on everything, from the art project to the night on the fire escape, to the near-tornado and the fact that they were on their way to finding Anne. And then the cheque was arriving, and Katie got the bill and as she was slipping a tip under her water glass she realized that she hadn’t yet told Melissa about Nora and the surprise party guests.

“Melissa.” Katie tugged on her friend’s sleeve. They were standing on the sidewalk, and Melissa was shading her eyes from the bright sun. “I need to tell you something.”

“What now? Ooh, let me guess. You’ve been promoted to the head of Marketing. You were abducted by aliens. You’re moving to South Dakota.”

Katie shook her head. “No, Melissa, I --”

“Please don’t tell me you’re getting married. I couldn’t stand it if you were.”

“No. It’s....” Katie took a deep breath. “Melissa, Nora is throwing you a surprise party.”

“That’s it?” Melissa wrinkled up her nose.  “You made it sound really --”

“And she invited David and Georgina. And according to Facebook both are attending.” Katie shut her eyes tight. Like she thought a bomb was about to go off.

“I know.”

“What?” Katie opened her eyes. Apparently the bomb was a dud.

“Yeah. Well, I kind of know. I’m not surprised, anyway.  See, Nora was talking about my birthday, what I was doing, what I wanted to plan, you know. And I said, nothing, I don’t really want to do anything. And she was all, oh, it’s 34, you have to make a fuss, but since when is 34 a thing?”

Katie shrugged. “I’m pretty sure 34 isn’t a thing.”

“I know. Right? Anyway, I told Nora that I didn’t want to plan anything, and then she said she would just do it. And then she was all, I’ll make it a surprise! And I told her, do whatever. Just tell me where to be and I’ll be there.”

“So how did you know about David?”

“Well, she asked me how things were with David and Georgina when I saw them at the wedding, and I said we’d kind of made peace. Like, we were civil, we were friendly, and I told her how we’d kind of left it at, “let’s be friends! let’s hang out!” “

Melissa rolled her eyes, and Katie felt a sadness when she realized that she was only hearing these details about the meeting with David and his new wife now, so long after the fact. She should have heard this all the next day, over breakfast with her friends. Instead she’d been lying on her aunt’s couch, feeling sorry for herself. “So what did she say to that?”

“Wel, Nora was all, “How about I invite them to your party?” And I said, “Fine, whatever. But I didn’t really think she’d actually do it.” Melissa threw her beautifully manicured hands in the air. “But she did it!” Melissa leaned against the outside wall of restaurant.

Katie leaned into the wall next to her, the bricks warm through her pink sweater. “Is Nora crazy?”

“My theory is that Nora has been with the same guy since her freshman year of University. She doesn’t understand heartbreak. She’s never been dumped. She doesn’t get it.” Melissa wrapped her arm around Katie. “Not like you.”

“So you’re not okay?”

“Oh, I have to be okay. I’ve got too much shit going on at work to dwell on this. But if I was reluctant to attend this party before, I am really dreading it now. Please tell me you’re coming? You’ll bring Eoin.”

“I’ll ask him,” Katie hugged her friend back, just as she heard a deep voice behind her.

“Well. Miss Williams. It’s no wonder you couldn’t make our lunch meeting. Too busy with your afternoon delight?”

Katie felt her friend freeze in her arms. “Fuck, Katie. I forgot about the meeting.” Melissa whispered nearly indecipherable words into her ear.

You Decide!

It turns out that the voice belongs to the head of the company that Melissa’s department has been trying to snare, but Melissa missed an important lunch meeting.  Katie has to cover for her friend so that Melissa doesn't get in trouble with Don "Juan" Ambrose, their boss!

So, knowing that, you have to decide between these two things: 

1. In order to help cover for her friend, Katie pretends that she is a client who is hoping to hire Melissa for a big, important project

2. In order to help cover for her friend, Katie pretends to be a heartbroken friend who needed consoling from her old Sorority Sister.


  1. @annabelle--the boss is in both scenarios. i have clarified the choices a bit -- can you vote again? sorry for the confusion.

  2. Katie pretends to be a client (which will be v. embarrassing if he shows up and sees her at the office at a later date - fun, fun, fun!!!).

  3. Client! And she doesn't stop pretending after a few seconds, like when she put on a face accent to talk to Eoin. She commits to it.

  4. client .....way more fun

  5. Keri says Client! (She couldn't make comments work).

  6. client and wonders be! I agree with Annabelle's 'accent' idea.