Authors: Rose Ann Bridges
Rose Ann Bridges
Knotted Up Collection:
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Knot a Liar
Copyright (c) 2016 by Rose Ann Bridges
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This book is a work of fiction; its contents are wholly imagined. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
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On bridges in the wind
Love’s a thief without a voice
And men with brown eyes.
One Bad Decision
“Ah hell, married? How is she married? Who did she marry? Her Facebook page said nothing about relationships recently. You know how she is, Alex, she lives life online. So tell me: how, when, who?”
“Look, Sandra, I don’t know what to tell you. I can only say what I heard.” The sound of papers shuffling on the other end sounds as if Alex is still going through assignments.
A deep sigh escapes me as I contemplate my oh-so-brightly-lit future looking more comparable to a candle sitting alone on a football field at midnight. Not the blazing sun I imagined it five minutes ago.
Rubbing my temple, I groan. “How am I going to top this? I have no one; Peter broke up with me five months ago. I’m just a pathetic mess. I can’t go. Patricia will win this time. I don’t have it in me to create a dramatic story explaining why I’m alone, lonely, on the verge of being fired and living in the dumps right now. Help. Please.”
“Just go by yourself, Sandra. No big deal.”
“Really, Alex? Really, Alexandra. Really? After the débâcle with Peter proposing at Sheryl’s wedding only to back out a couple hours later when he found ‘Miss Right’, you’re still saying that? Or how about the fact that Liz the nun and I are now the only members of ‘The Single, Unmated Club?’” I try to count past two, willing myself to find a third member. Even a fictional one would improve my mood.
“Single and unmated are synonyms, Sandra.”
“It’s supposed to stress our unwedded and matchless state.” Grabbing my auburn hair, I run the strands between my fingers when I notice breakage. Split ends again. Whoop de doo.
The hesitation in her voice comes clear through the line. “And, umm, Liz left the convent and is dating again. We met a conference last week. I forgot. Sorry.”
I can’t even find the energy to respond to that.
“You know what, who cares? So what? You’re free, unentangled, disengaged, you answer to no one, yo–”
“So what? Who cares? I do, Alex! I care. And so does everyone else. Especially with that troll leading the way. I rack my brain, desperate to come up an idea of the fool to tie down Patricia. “Lek the Shrek! He’s desperate enough. Lek has been hounding her from high school.”
Alex sighs. “I don’t know. Didn’t care to ask either.”
I surround myself with all eight throw pillows while hugging two. “What is so bad and uninteresting about me, Alex? Peter was the fifth break up–
“–Sixth break up in the last two years. And I’m always the dumpee. Are my conversations and personality that boring that no man wants to stay?”
“With this topic, yes. But usually, no.”
“I can’t stand to listen to another ‘If only her mother was still alive, maybe she’d be married by now’ comment. Why do I feel as if I’m failing an exam there are no classes or notes for? What is so wrong with me?”
“If we didn’t keep running into her every other month, I bet it wouldn’t bother you this much. I swear, the people from your town are the most fertile and lucky in love bunch I’ve ever come across.”
Head cradled in my hands, I let loose an unnatural growl.
“Oh, didn’t think that one through. Sandra, some people find their other halves at forty, fifty and beyond. Don’t sweat it. Remember, Grace and I aren’t married either.”
“That’s because, you’re not from Small Minds, USA.”
“Okay, then. Here’s an idea: Don’t go!”
“Are you crazy? And then have Patricia spurting all sorts of wild stories about me? There are still some people who believe I got knocked up and the lost a baby when I skipped out on the graduation party. And I was still a virgin then!”
“Sandra, you are 28 years old! This has to stop, it’s been ten years!”
Alex only uses her stern tone when really irritated, annoyed, pissed or in teacher mode. So yes, that tone gets frequent use with me.
“You’ve gone through high school and college with her, you’re no longer juvenile. You are more mature than this. I’ve only seen you behave like an irresponsible, teenage delinquent when you’re around Patricia. You are above this, Sandra. Who cares if she’s married and you’re not? You’re not living in the dumps and I would leave my job for yours any day. Come on, Sandra, be the brilliant, sweet, sexy woman I know you are.”
Shifting, I move from lying down to sitting on my legs, rearranging the couch cushions to support my back. “Okay.”
Being scolded by my best friend is not how I saw this phone conversation going. She’s right though, I am above this behaviour. Patricia’s not better than me and I’m certainly not below her. We are two very different people who dislike each other. Strongly. I am better than this.
“Okay,” I repeat, confidence embracing my words as I continue. “I’ll going to my reunion, not caring about what’s going with you-know-who. I’ll enjoy myself, catch up with people who I’ve not seen since college or high school and keep my sanity intact. Tha–”
Again Alex mutters. “What’s left of it.”
Ignoring the comment, I say, “Thank you, I needed that.”
“Good, I was getting annoyed with you.”
I could tell. “Don’t worry, you’ve set me straight once again, Alex.”
“Good, I’ll see you at dinner tomorrow. What should I bring anyway?”
“Umm, how about… a sangria this time?”
“Okay, bye sweetie. Remember what I said.”
“No voy a olvidar. ¡Adiós!”
"Oi, the one Spanish sentence you can say without speaking crap. All those years wasted. Get off the phone."
Sitting back on the couch, I embrace its velvety softness. The warm vanilla springing from the scented candle wafts through my nose creates a soothing and lulling effect.
Personally, this is an ideal environment for comfort writing. So I pick up the laptop to take advantage of the atmosphere. And somehow an hour and fifteen minutes go missing and nothing is being typed. Not a single word. Not in Celtx, not in Plume, not in Scrivener and certainly not in Word. I glare and curse at the cursor instead that chooses to mock my presence. Flashing and dancing on the screen, it keeps taunting me to move it. Except I can’t.
Well, that’s not true. So far for the novel I’ve almost completed a sentence: ‘She did’. But then I deleted that and went with ‘He said’. Then deleted that and I’m now at, ‘Come here’. Who’s calling and who’s going? I don’t know.
Closing the laptop, I put it beside me and instead choose to ruminate on all the things that are going right in my life. I am a creative copywriter, I’ve written my own successful novel. I own my own home– well the bank does– but it’s not the time to count coins. I am beautiful and attractive– so beautiful and attractive Peter dumped my ass– but again not the time. I’m so dumb I can’t start the second book even with seven weeks left in the deadline. I’m lonely with no one to love me, I’m clingy, I’m needy and a pathetic mess.
Wow, that is a quick unravelling.
Ah crap, who am I trying to convince? It seems as though that confidence was tied straight to speaking with Alex. I’m now feeling terrified of looking like an idiot in front of Patricia as soon as Alex hangs up her phone.
Alex should drop work and accompany me to this thing. It’s not like she likes her job anyway. So what if she misses chaperoning a school dance? Teaching high school and ‘moulding the minds of our younger generation’ didn’t turn out to be the job she’d dreamed it would be. She’s been saving since high school, tutoring jocks and lazy ass rich kids. So, who cares if she loses that crappy job? Well I would, since it’s her dream and passion, but that’s a moot point.
I will fall on my face wrapped in embarrassment if I turn up alone. Not single, but alone while Patricia and our entire graduating class is married. Sans two. Well, one and half since Liz has dates lined up again.
Ah, hell. If I’m not even buying what I’m selling, no one else will. I have to get a boyfriend at minimum, but it’s too late now. What will I do? Nine days is too short a time to find suitable boyfriend material.
Nine days. Will the seams of my perfected armour unravel in front of Patricia in such a short time? Will the calloused skin of my determination be buffered and smoothed forcing me to accept the inevitable doom that looms over my life? Ah, but this already sounds as if I’m preparing myself to accept imminent disaster. Am I embracing the eminence of being the girl who finds herself seated beneath the throne of supremacy and power? The one who after wielding her words unsheathed is rendered mortified in the face of the one debunks her mercilessly?
There’s only so much power my words will hold when we face off this time. I could spin girl power and feminism all different angles and it still won’t amount to much in a place where marriage and babies in your prime is the main focus. And I can guarantee there’s nowhere else on God’s green earth where ‘in your prime’ means before twenty-five.
Will I be forced to grace Patricia’s head with the crown for which we have so long battled? The title of ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘Head Poncho’ that many people may consider as asinine and vacuous, but still holds a significance that no one else will embrace or recognise except for us.
Ha! As if. This battle will only be one of the many we’ve already fought and won. Each side staking claim to the triumphs apparent in this singular war that has been fought so many times. Neither side yielding to the repeated blows from the words spun into battering rams. At thirteen, from the moment, Patricia moved into the neighbourhood, my debating and linguistic skills became sharper than a Samurai warrior’s sword.
I should be somewhat grateful for her, I guess. Patricia’s the reason I pushed and excelled at school and ultimately the reason my book did so well. But I’d drop a guillotine on my tongue, centimetre by centimetre, before I admit that to anyone else.
Is this mentally healthy for me– worrying about Patricia to the point of a stupid, pointless, unjustified obsession? Alex is right; a therapist is warranted with such obsessive, compulsive behaviour.
What, is Patricia a god and I’m scum? She’s not superior to me. Ah, whatever! Add that to the list of ‘Things to worry about later ‘cause I’m too busy now and I can't be bothered’.
So it’s decided. The old adage ‘no retreat, no surrender’ fashioning the impenetrable shield that will become the forefront of my defences. I will not bow out.
Sorry Alexandra, but your advice just lost its meaningful impact you created mere minutes ago. Although, thinking about it now, it couldn’t be all that meaningful to me if its full potency and impact has dissolved in just minutes, right?
I need to find a way out of this predicament. This will not be how I lose the war. Patricia may think she can catch me off-guard with not posting her marriage on Facebook, but I have no intentions of losing the battle either. If only I had friends of the opposite sex.
Aha! Grace. She’ll help. If I disclose my plans to Alex, she’ll just hammer it in my head that ‘you’re above this, Sandra’. I don’t need that. I need an accomplice to this plan. Grace can help me find what I want, now realising what I seek. I want, no need to hire a boyfriend. Tomorrow I shall take the first step in getting just that.
Stretching over the couch to the coffee table, I again pick up the phone to dial my other best friend.
“Hey, what’s up, girlie? Finally changed your mind? I can be there in ten.”
The loud, techno beat echoes through the speakers, making me shift the phone from my ear. The beat is strong enough to cause slight vibrations on the phone. I don’t how she isn’t deaf yet.
To make sure she hears me, I raise my voice. “No! I’m calling to ask a favour.”