Miscellaneous · PhD · Short Stories

Love and hate – a short story

It is the strangest thing to watch someone work a crowd who hates you… You see them mingling with your mutual friends, and you see her talk. She whispers into one ear and then another and suddenly you are watching people turn away red faced and embarrassed. How can someone change like that? What makes a friend turn on you so badly that they will sprout lies?

I must admit though, as I watch her weave between people, she is very good at the banter. A hello here and a how are you there, and then a sneak look back at me to see if I have seen. I want to stand up and yell that I have seen but that I don’t care. That some have come over to me and apologised for the hard stares and disapproving frowns. I want to tell her that none of it sticks. It just washes away, slipping slowly back toward her as if she were the magnet. I don’t though. I don’t make waves. Instead, I sit and watch.

There was a time I tried to make her life easier. I knew she was saying something, but I would smile and try to give an open body language. Not any longer. I now know what particular evil comes out of her pretty face and I have no wish to allow her time to affect me. Although that is amusing in itself… I think about her a lot. I don’t want to but, you see, she has become like a drug. Got to find out what she has said and what she is doing in order to make myself feel bad. I’m not worth anything because she is like a stone. She weighs me down and makes me feel alone and vulnerable.

But you see, here’s the thing, I give her that power. Does it matter what lies she says as they never last long…? In fact, the only thing I ought to wonder is why she continues with the deception. I think that she has painted herself into a corner. That she is uncertain how to get out. Lie on lie… Now there is no way she can be anything other than what she has created because it would mean abolishing the very foundation that all her friendships are made. There is no way out. So, instead she continues to laugh and mutter evil strains of music only she can hear. I feel sorry for her.

I know that under the dress is a body ravaged by yo-yo dieting, a form that has become malnourished due to wanting to be perfect for others. I know that in her head she is judging herself and finding it lacking and I know that at the end of her hand is a strike waiting to land on the ones she loves the most because she doesn’t understand that love does not mean a strangle hold. I see behind the surface smile to the ugly truth and for that reason I say nothing.

A friend leans over and tells a joke and I laugh. Not a hold-tight-to-your-humour laugh but a big braying neigh that makes everyone turn. For a moment her face is not smiling but lost, her eyes are alone and they scream at me to help, but then the banter is back and another almost friends glares and turns their back.

I sigh. It’s like having a really annoying but evil puppy. You can’t cure it, all you can do is wait for it to bite its own tail. And she will. She can’t hold all the lies for too long. I notice a face in the crowd. Another like me. Once receptive to the lies but now on the black list. I wave and there is a tentative one back. 

She lets out a tinkling laugh that you only hear in movies but all I can hear is crying. So, I turn and stop watching. The laugh hitches and then is no more. I wonder if she is still there without me watching. Should I turn round? But then I realise I just don’t care. And like that she is gone, shrugged from my shoulders like an unwanted scarf.

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