We both grew up in the same small town, we went to school together, we even studied literature at the same university in London. But that’s about all Katie and I have in common. Our relationship is a complicated one, I suppose you can say that we are friends. She probably is the person who understands me best in the world. But she is also the most annoying person I've ever known. She loves to be right, sometimes I think she just enjoys disagreeing with me.
Last night when I got home she sat in the living-room and just when I had said how tired I was and how much I hated my job, well, the usual evening talk as you can see, she started to pick on me.
“You love complaining, don’t you?” she said. I just rolled my eyes. Bad idea, as it just encouraged her to continue talking.
“You could be writing books, as you had always planned. But instead there you are, a waitress, throwing your talent away.” She pointed at me to make me feel even smaller than I already felt.
“Stop judging me, it’s not like you have done a great successful career.” I said.
“Not yet. But I am working on it, I might start freelance writing for some magazines.” She said, holding up one that she had been reading. How much I hated this extremely small apartment in that very moment. It barely consisted of one room, a shower and a big living-room with a build-in kitchen. There was no way to escape her.
“If you weren’t so scared of failing you probably would have published a few things already by now.” She said, turning her attention back to the magazine in her lap. I started to feel a headache rising. I really didn’t need to listen to her. I got up and closed myself up in my room. I got rid of my working clothes and changed into my comfortable home clothes: an over sized grey sweater and a pair of old blue trainers. I switched on the radio and listened to the traffic news. It was going to be a busy weekend. What does it matter, I thought, I won’t be on the road, going anywhere, as always. When I lay down on my bed, I noticed how much my muscles hurt. How tired I really was. While the voices from the radio babbled on I looked at the blank walls and at the boxes that stood in the corners, still unpacked. I had moved here almost two years ago. I should finally find a moment to decorate the room. After all, this little flat here in London had become my home.
Suddenly the door opened. I didn’t even bother telling Katie she should knock before entering, she always does what ever she pleases, whether I like it or not.
“Are you depressed?” she asked and sat down on the edge of my small bed. I shook my head.
“Good.” She said and got out a cigarette.
“Don’t smoke in here please!” I begged. She didn’t listen. My headache got even worse with the cigarette smell.
“If it disturbs you, why don’t you do something about it?” she said provokingly, and she turned to face me directly now.
I tried to meet her eyes, but I felt uncomfortable, I concentrated on the little freckles on her nose, on her black hair, but I couldn’t hold the look and I dropped my eyes to the freckles on my hand.
“Typical.” She said.
“What? What is typical?” I asked irritated.
“You don’t like the way things are but you don’t do anything about them either.” She said reluctantly.
Tears began to find their ways to my eyes.
“Well, at least now she is reacting.” She said, as if she was narrating the scene.
“Oh, why don’t you go and leave me?” I yelled. She drew closer to me. I couldn’t stand her so close to me. Why was she with me anyway? I felt like her only point in life was to torture me.
“Go, get lost, Katie.” I pushed her away from me. But she just continued to invade my space. I started to panic; I thought she was either going to burn me with her cigarette or to suffocate me with the smoke. For a moment I even thought she had gone crazy and I felt even more scared. But then, she threw the magazine onto the bed. I hadn’t seen her carry it into the room.
“I think I might send some of my stuff to them. What do you think?" she asked with a laugh, which to me sounded sinister, but still it eased a little bit the tension I was feeling.
“Good for you.” I said.
“You should do the same.” She said. I got up, I had forgotten about the radio and now that the sound was back in my ears it was too much and too loud for me.
I switched it off.
“Did you hear what I said?” she asked.
“Of course I did.” I yelled suddenly.
“I hear everything you say, all the time. You never stop talking. I know you think I have given up. I need time, ok? But I don’t need you to torture me as if I was a complete failure in life.” Tears of anger were running down my cheeks.
“Aren’t you?” she asked, she had got up as well and stood straight in front of me, confronting me.
“I am not.” I noticed suddenly that my hands had formed into fists. The room seemed much bigger now than it really was.
“Are you saying, you didn’t choose to work as a waitress to hide behind a job you don’t like in order not to face the hard work and commitment it takes to write? You mean you’re not cowardly avoiding responsibility?” she asked, her eyes locked on mine. And that’s when I noticed she wasn’t smoking anymore. In fact, I didn’t know what she had done with that cigarette. My tears had dried and my body relaxed.
“Ok.” She finally said. I was still staring at my own reflection in the mirror when I noticed what had happened.
- Isabel Meine F. Vigil