overdose :: mither :: gloss over :: poach :: digest
‘Just hang on a bloody minute,’ said Katie. ‘You’re not telling me you feel sorry for her, are you?’
‘Oh, come on, Kates,’ I said. ‘She did take an overdose, after all.’
‘Overdose, my eye. I’d like to go in and give her a second helping,’ she muttered.
‘That’s an awful thing to say!’ Even for you, I didn’t add.
‘Grow up,’ she snapped, glaring at me. ‘She didn’t poach your boyfriend from out under your nose. All right?’ Her eyes filled. ‘Until you’re sitting where I am, you can just shut it.’ She squeezed her eyes closed and wiped her nose with the heel of her hand.
I bit my lip, deciding I’d gloss over the fact that Katie and Frank hadn’t really been going out. Not in the proper sense of the word. He’d told me they never made things exclusive, at least. Katie was just being dramatic, as usual. I began to stroke her arm in what I hoped was a comforting way.
‘Leave off,’ she told me after a few minutes. ‘You’re starting to mither me.’ I snapped my hand back like I’d been burned.
‘Sorry,’ I mumbled. I was useless in these sorts of situations. ‘Just trying to help.’ She sighed deeply and didn’t answer me for a few moments. Her fingers scrubbed at her forehead, her nails lightly scratching her skin. I watched the tiny pale tracings as they flared and faded, bright against the redness of her face. She always got a high colour when her temper spiked.
‘You know what we can do, though,’ she announced, suddenly. She flicked the last tears out of her eyes and fixed me with an intense stare. ‘We can go through his phone.’
‘We can what?’ A firework of nerves started to fizz inside me. Keep calm, Allie. Keep calm.
‘Go through his phone,’ she repeated, settling herself more comfortably in her seat. Her face started to return to its normal colour as she started to put her plan together. ‘For texts, and maybe even emails. See what he’s really been up to.’ She drummed her nails on the plastic tabletop as she thought. ‘He’s in work today, so his phone will be at home. I’m sure the lads will let me into the flat. I can say I want to cook him a fancy dinner, and you’re lending a hand.’ She sucked on her bottom lip, her eyes gleaming. I was doing my best to digest this, work through it to its logical conclusion. My throat started to burn.
‘But – look. Do you even have his code? For the phone, I mean?’ I tried to keep my voice calm. ‘This is crazy, Kate!’
‘Of course I have his code,’ she said, in a pitying tone. ‘It’s the first thing I made sure to find out! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t check your boyfriend’s phone?’ Her eyes took on a strange gleam. ‘Oh, but you’d have to get a boyfriend first, I suppose.’ She shot me a glacial grin, which I ignored.
‘What’s the point, though? What are you trying to prove?’ I said, hoping she wouldn’t hear the wobble in my words. I felt cold, suddenly, despite the warm sunshine pouring through the café window.
‘If he did it with one,’ she said, unfolding her legs and getting to her feet, ‘he’ll have done it with more.’ She started to pull her jacket on. ‘And I’m going to put every last one of them in the hospital.’ She laughed, mirthlessly, as she pulled her long hair free of her jacket, letting it stream down her back. It gleamed in the sunshine. ‘Maybe they’ll put ‘em all in the same ward. At least he won’t have to go far when he wants to visit his little harem.’
I didn’t move. My hands were wrapped, white-knuckled, around my cold cup of coffee. I was trying to imagine myself in traction, and not liking the thought.
‘Well?’ she said, looking down at me like a headmistress. Like a tombstone, from the point of view of the grave. ‘Are you coming, or aren’t you?’