She Will Never Learn
We’ve been best friends for seventeen years. Edith has been there for me in my darkest hours. She was there with me when I had my miscarriage and when I divorced Ray. But in recent months, I have begun to resent her. We disagree on most things. I used to relish in her visits and now I try and avoid them anyway I can. I guess people just grow apart.
I didn’t want to see her at all today, but she is so predictable. She turns up with the same overcooked apple pie and the cheapest red wine. Edith thinks she is better than me. She used to see me as an equal, but now I think she feels sorry for me. I think it would have been different if I had a stable marriage, with children. I cannot stand it. Me and Ray fell apart. He held me accountable for the loss of our unborn child and we were never the same again. She revels in all of this. She knocked on the door at exactly 6.29pm. I checked. It’s 7.54pm now. “Somewhere you got to be?” she asks “No” I reply. I have checked it about seven times so far. She has noticed that I’ve been checking it regularly. She doesn’t miss a thing.
I don’t even know what she is talking about now. Or who. She loves gossiping. “Winnie is pregnant again, for the fourth time, imagine” Edith says. I try desperately not to roll my eyes. “Where does she find the time?”. “Winnie always wanted a large family” I say, feigning interest. “Oh well, I guess without a Job or any hobby, she has all the time in the world, the devil” She says. “Henry and Peggy, across the road, have decided to sell their house, too”. She cannot finish another topic before starting a new one. I would love to know where she gets all her information. “I had words with the estate agent, and he assures me it will be shown to strictly families. God knows what will happen if the corporation get a hold of it. It would be such a shame if I had to put my house of up sale, so much work has been done on it”. I smile “Do you mind if I smoke?” I ask, in my own house. She would make a point of it if I didn’t. “It’s your house!” She laughs. I light up, take one long drag, and exhale. She’s coughing. “Oh, that’s very strong” she says as she walks over to the nearest window “May I?” There is no point in asking my permission! You always do what you want anyway! “Sure” I say calmly. I bet she’ll tell me to quit. “Have you been sleeping much?” She asks, I wait for the punchline and answer “A little”, “You look very tired. Cigarettes are not good for your skin you know”. There it is. Classic Edith. I stare at her while she talks about how Jennie’s son has been arrested for drug possession. I wonder if she has anything positive to say about anyone. She must be incapable of it. She would probably spontaneously combust. I smile at the thought of Edith engulfed in flames. She catches me and purses her lips. “I suppose you would find it funny. Then again, you always did have a sick sense of humour”. Ouch Edith!
I look out the window and reflect about how lovely the summer has been. She tries to get my attention. “Actually, do you mind, it’s irritating my sinuses”. I say “Sure, is that still bothering you?”. I ask her this to try and change the subject, as I can’t listen to her chat absolute drivel about anyone I could care less about. This should buy me a few minutes. She goes on about her surgery and how she was pronounced clinically dead for “a full three minutes”. BLAH, BLAH BLAH. I take a quick glance at myself in the mirror just to double check that I look relatively alive and have not slipped into a vegetative state. I’m all good. I am sweating, It’s a humid night tonight. I take my cardigan off. My blouse is yellow. Edith’s least favourite colour. I wear it out of pure spite now. She notices it but continues with her stream of consciousness. I know it got to her though, so it’s a small win for me.
Edith is talking about how her children have gotten into their first choices of college, but Lara, the oldest one, turned it down to focus on her life as an unwed mother. I wouldn’t mind but I happen to know that two of her daughters are reprobates and her other daughter doesn’t even talk to her anymore. “How is your little hobby?” she questions. Oh, my hobby. Nice to know you’re interested in my HOBBY. It’s very much a career Edith. “My bakery is going well, thanks for asking, you should visit” “Oh very good” I loathe how she says this, with long drawn out vowels. She sounds like a hoover. “Well, I would love to, but my dietician would kill me”. Edith retorts, in a very patronising voice. I bet there’s a long line of people that would marvel in killing you. “He says that salt is very good for the bones” Edith mentions.
The doorbell rings, thank goodness. “I’ll be back in a minute Edith”. I go to answer it. It’s only the next-door neighbour’s son, Ben, picking up his money for cutting the grass this morning. I give him a 10 euro note and ask him about school to keep me talking as much as possible. But he is so conscious of the time and tells me he is going to meet his friends, he leaves. I close the door and when I make my way back to the kitchen, Edith is spying. She scuttles back to her chair and pretends she hasn’t moved. 8.29pm. I sigh. Edith asks me what’s wrong, hoping to gather more information. “Let’s get some music on. I wander over to my record player and my pristine record collection. I finger the records. Edith’s neck cranes as she tries to look out the window. I retrieve my Frank Sinatra vinyl. When I place the needle on the record, ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ plays. Edith hates ole’ blue eyes. She winces at his voice. “I feel like wine” I say. I go to the fridge and take out a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio. Two glasses. I pour a large one for Edith. And place it in her hands. “Get that down you” I say. Edith giggles. “Oh, that’s too much. I couldn’t drink all of this”. I go and retrieve a bottle of red wine for myself. The one that Edith brought is still sitting on the shelf. “Why don’t you try the New Zealand wine”. Edith asks, knowing full well that it has been sitting in her house as a bad Christmas present for over four years. “I’ll use it in a stew” I say. Her eyes widen. She didn’t like that. Another win.
Edith asks for another glass. “Jesus” I say. “You’re putting that away”. Edith eyes up the bottle “Oh I am terrible, I’ll have another – I’m not driving”, She laughs at her lame attempt at a generic joke. I react as if I have never heard that one before, good one Edith. I ask her “Did they ever find out who vandalised your house?”. Edith instantly turns from giddy to upset. She’s an actress. “No, we’ve installed CCTV cameras on the house outside. I haven’t slept a wink since. You know they slashed the tyres on the range rover. The paint is completely ruined”. I also know that that’s a big fat lie. I know exactly who did it. I paid Ben and his friends 20 Euro each to tee-pee the house and throw a few measly eggs. The boys came up with a stellar idea of putting dog shit under the handles, they didn’t touch the car. She adds something new each time when she tells the story to a group. The newest addition being the tyre slashing. She likes to play the victim. I light up a cigarette again. Edith is less cognitive. Slurring. She’s inaudible now. She can’t keep her head up. She asks, “What’s in this?”. I smile at her. Edith is out cold. Her head hits the marble counter.
I hum along to Frank as he croons. I push her head back. I seep an old rag in her wine and stuff it down her throat. I fetch some TCP and dab it on her mouth. I go under the sink and get my sewing kit. I put on rubber gloves. I place super glue on her lips and hold them together for a few minutes My large needle is sanitised by dipping it in to her wine. I thread a thick piece of suture through the needle and pierce the needle through the edge of her top lip. I pull the thread. It feels sturdy. I stab the needle through bottom lip and pull. back through the lip on the other side and out the skin. Small beads of blood seep from the piercings. I dab them with cotton buds. Her eyelids are fluttering. She’s stirring. Her fingers twitch. I continue to thread and weave and pull. It’s as easy as threading a lace through a shoe, when you get the rhythm. Her eye lids twitch more. They are slightly open. I am fairly sure she can see me above her, but she is too drugged up to do anything about it. She tries to move her arm, but it falls limp. I place her arms on her lap and say “shush” in a calming voice. She begins to gag. I hear her stomach slightly rumble. She gags more. She must have vomited in her mouth. She’s choking. I finish the last few stitches and clip the excess suture. I pull on it tightly and secure it and tie it off with a basic double knot. “Now that wasn’t so bad was it?” I ask. Tears stream down her face. I wish she would stop her blubbering. She’s always been a bit of a drama queen.
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