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DANCING BEFORE A FALL

  • 31

Her life hadn’t exactly been pirouettes on a rainbow. More an attempt to skateboard without body pads! But just watch her now.

‘Aren’t you joining us on Saturday? Aw. Again!’

We girls were perhaps a bit put out. She began to turn down the boozey nights of raucous laughter and tears that had sustained us all for a decade or two. Were we hurt? Jealous? Angry that he was taking her away?

‘Come on, honey. Tell us about Mr Mysterious.’

She was what we described as all loved up. She’d lost loads of weight and was dressing in really tight stuff and even walking differently. We were thrilled for her, but it was weird that she never brought him to any of our gatherings. Was something wrong?

‘No. I’ve never been happier in my life! He tells me every day that I’m beautiful and I almost believe it. No one ever made me feel like this. Girls, I am so lucky I found him.’

‘Why not bring him on Friday? Jake and Phil are coming, so he won’t be the only bloke.’

But he was always busy - until he wasn’t invited. When one of us found his name on a website, we, perhaps mistakenly, over enthusiastically, cruelly, drew our conclusions. This guy had been accused of assault at work in a big department store. Does she know? How do we ask? How do we stop her?

These questions were answered as so many in life are: through alcohol. With misplaced confidence in our subtlety, we moved far too quickly from how’s it going? through do you really know him? to you do know he’s been done for assault, don’t you?

After that, what choice had she but defensiveness?

‘Of course, he told me about that. And it was a charge, not a conviction. It was nonsense and the case was dismissed. You lot don’t know what you are talking about, snooping into his affairs and not checking out the full story.’

Had he told her? Was this story for us or for her? Whatever, we had created a cloud in our friendship which none of us wanted. There are things we can’t talk about anymore. So, he wasn’t mentioned for about three months. Until she dropped a whopper.

‘He’s had a great idea. I’m so excited. We are going to move over the border into the middle of nowhere.’

‘Why?’

‘A new start together.’

‘What about the kids?’

‘He says they’re old enough and their Dad is around.’

They took a trip to look at properties over nine hours' drive away, where they knew nobody.

When she left we knew we’d been too critical. We hadn’t left room for her to come back and share that it hadn’t worked. She couldn’t ever now say that she had fallen from a rainbow. Nor add that at least the hard ground was familiar; she knew how to lie on it.

© Peppy 2021-07-28

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