I take a swig from my can of Stella.
Helena’s eyes are like saucers and I can’t tell if she feels anything for me other than friendship.
See, that’s the problem when you’re trying to flirt with someone who has done a pill, the usual signs which indicate attraction are distorted or completely invalid.
I could say something, the music is loud and chat vibrant enough for me to tell Helena exactly how I feel without the danger of being overheard.
That is assuming she does not become deeply offended that I would betray our friendship with such a juvenile declaration, especially considering her boyfriend is no more than two metres from where we sit.
I can’t do it, I simply can’t. What does it matter anyway? She won’t feel the same way, she’ll say I’m sweet and if things were different (meaning if I was better looking, smarter, had more money and a more positive mental attitude) then maybe…
Thing is, people will always tell you that you will find the right one just as soon as you stop looking. Just like magic, it will all fall into place, you just have to stop looking and you’ll find someone, when you least expect it.
I stopped looking two year ago and nothing.
Not for me drunken conversations in the pub that lead to friendship and then love;
“Oh it’s such an interesting story, we just happened to be sitting next to one another and Martin over heard me say that I’d been to Prague. Martin was at the time about to go so we started to chat and here we are five years later; I’m pregnant and Martin’s just left me for my younger, better looking sister”.
No bumping into each other in Waitrose leading to Sushi and cunnilingus;
“I was after lemon grass and low fat humus and Elliott was after sub-dom and strangulation”.
You just don’t hire a car and fall in love with the… erm… whatever you call the person who sorts that out, or the hotel receptionist, or the barman or barmaid or bank teller or postman or temporary secretary or the person doing your BCS or any of these people.
It does not happen and if anyone tells you anything to contrary, they are lying to make themselves feel better.
“What was that you said, Ged?” ask Helena as she shifts forward to hear me over the beautifully rhythmic beats of whatever the name is of this French electronic band she was telling me about earlier.
“I can’t believe you’ve got a kid,”
“Well I have” she says as she rubs her eye, “What do you mean by that anyway?”
“Well I’ve never seen her, what’s her name?”
“Lilly”. Helena nods gesturing to the photo behind me, I turn and take it from the shelf. The photo sits within a patchwork heart shaped frame and is of Lilly sitting in Helena’s lap on a beach somewhere sunny.
“Is it pebbles or sand?” I ask absentmindedly.
Helena snatches the picture away from me and holds it face out against her chest. She jabs at the image of her jubilant daughter; “That’s Lilly, see, she looks just like me”
“What about the father?”
“Fucking idiot,” She says angrily, “He and Lilly share the same mental age, that of a six year old”
“How old is Lilly?”
“Oh I see what you mean.”
Helena turns the photo back round and stares at it intently. After a few moments, she looks up and then smiles at me. It is without doubt the warmest smile I have ever seen from her in all the years we have been friends. I smile back and try to put in as much feeling as she did in hers. As soon as I do, she frowns at me and leans toward me, I skip a beat thinking this could be it but it immediately appears she was only putting the photo back where it came from.
“Ged, how is it you haven’t met her?”
“Dunno, she’s never around when I come here, do you think she’d like me?”
“What do you think?”
“Probably not, she’d think you were weird, she looks like smart kid.”
“Helena frowns at me, disapprovingly, “Why do you do that?”
“What?” I ask.
“Put yourself down all the time?”
“To get in there first,” I say in a much rehearsed and often delivered response.
“That’s such bollocks, you’ve got loads going for you.”
I don’t like this; I don’t want to have this conversation. I’ve had versions of this conversation so many times over the years and it always ends up with me getting a series of backhand compliments which make me feel worse about myself than I already do, so I ask Helena what it is she wants, what she ultimately wants for Lilly and for herself.
Helena doesn’t even pause to think, “I’ve got to get out of this city; I don’t want Lilly growing up here”
I think come live with me, but I don’t say it.
Helena gets up and walks into the kitchen. Her boyfriend follows her in and although I can’t hear what they’re saying I think they’re having an argument.
I take another swig from my can of Stella.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I take a swig from my can of Stella.