By the time you get to the station you feel as calm as you can under the given circumstances. You think of apologising to John. You were unfair. You want to choke it off on the stress, but then you tell yourself to shut the fuck up. Nothing you say or do these days seems right.
You need to learn to face the fucking facts and stop pussytoeing around the truth. And the fact is that you feel so violated, because you did feel there was something wrong in the way Phil shagged you in the morning. He was almost cold, detached, bent on a particular result. But you told yourself that it was about the last night. You ignored it.
It seems to have been your overall motto in that relationship. You ignored your feelings, his feelings, John; you just hopped on the train, and hoped you’d catch up with Phil, and then the two of you would ride happily into the sunset. Fucking coward.
You lift your eyes. You’re at the station. John is scrutinizing you again.
“I’m alright. I am sorry I lashed out on you. Thank you for the lift.” Your voice is hollow. You jerk the door, but it’s locked.
“We need to talk before you go.”
No, no, no, you are not talking any more, not saying a single word. You aren’t doing anything, not making any decisions right now. You feel so raw that, it seems, one hit, and you’ll shatter. You nod. There is no fight left in you.
“Firstly, I am not certain you should be on your own right now. But since you insist, do you have a good friend, Wren? A person you can talk to right now?”
Thea… Warmth flickers in your chest. You’ll take the bus and will see Thea soon. You nod.
“Alright. Wren, if anything happens, give me a ring. Right away, without any doubt.” He hands you his card, and you passively put it into your handbag. He sighs again, and you feel his remarkable cold eyes scanning you again.
“And secondly, there’s something you have to promise me.”
You don’t have to promise him anything! A spark of old feistiness stirs in you. But you squash it down and nod again.
“Under no circumstances you are to have any personal relationship with Maya Claufield.” You lift your eyes at him. That is the last thing you expected. “I was hoping to have this conversation in a cozy armchair by a fireplace…” He smiles coldly, spitefully. “But difficult times… You can work with her, learn from her, but you will not go for lunches with her, she will not take you shopping, no visits to operas or museums.”
You feel absolutely out of your fucking depth. What kind of bloody knot of dirty secrets and old damages is there? How did you end up sucked into this?
“Is she the one who did a number on your emotions?” At this stage the previously mentioned non-existent filter between your brain and your mouth is but a forgotten hope.
He looks at you with pity. That’s the worst. You shrink in your seat.
“She’s gay, Wren.” He looks at you as if you’re a child that put its palm on a burning stove after being repeatedly told not to do it. Fucking brainless Wren. Quite right. “And a predator. She will feed on your insecurity and desire to be cared for and will destroy you. It happened to a friend’s daughter.” You swallow.
“Wren, you just went through a nasty break up, and I am really not sure how traumatized you are right now. That’d be the perfect opportunity for her to convince you to question your sexuality, and get you addicted to her. She’s good at that.”
All you can do is nod. He unlocks the door, and you crawl out of the car. You clutch the bag to your chest and hobble to the station. Behind you the engine purrs tenderly, and it’s over.
You walk in the dorm and sit in the kitchenette. Thea’s out, and you stay at the same chair for two hours. You sort and organise. You imagine a chest of drawers in your head, and you compartmentalise. You go through each and every day after the night at the swamp. You put the blame at yourself most of the time, but you also try to see Phil and John unemotionally.
Thea comes in and whatever she sees in your face makes her drop her bags and run to you.
“Wren! Wrennie, what happened? What’s wrong?! Did he hurt you?!” Thea tends to scream. And those glorious boobs are not just for decoration, they adorn a chest of a jazz singer.
“Thea, I’m fine. A bit deaf now, probably. I think my ears literally bled a little… but I’m OK.”
She’s staring at you. You know you sound dead and hollow, but you just need her to listen. She nods and switches the kettle on. Then she sits in front of you.
“Shoot, Wren.” You flinch from the memory of Phil saying it, and start talking.
You two are drunk. Very, very drunk. Arsed up. Bladdered. Yep. You personally had two glasses of wine, which is twice as much as you can handle. Thea had the rest of the bottle.
“Wren, you don’t understand… It’s not just The Dick and Dr. Sexy!” Somewhere on her fifth glass Thea came up with monikers.
“Dr. Grumpy,” you correct her, and the room sways.
“He is still fit as fuck, whatever happened, Wren.” She points at you with her glass. You nod and sniffle.
“Yes, he is… but you know what’s the worst, Thea?” Hot drunk tears are running down your cheeks. “I stopped noticing after a while. I just cared too much. I wanted to know what was going on in his head, you know, like how he is all hurt and soft under this whole exterior…”
You fall face down on the sofa. You are not sure it’s from emotions. Maybe you just can’t sit straight any more. Wow, the upholstery is so soft…
“You don’t know it, Wren! Maybe under his cold crust he is like the same all the way through… like… like a Gobstopper.” You giggle.
“Have you ever tried biting a Gobstopper, Thea?” Thea looks haughty.
“I can take it whole in my mouth, Wren. Why would I bite something I can suck?”
You both roar with laughter, but then she is suddenly serious.
“I was saying, Wren, and it was important…” She freezes and stares at a wall. You sit up and wait. “Yes, I remember!” she yells triumphantly, and you cover your ears with your palms. “It’s not just about those tossers, Wren. It’s about you getting sucked into the whole family thing.”
“Why do you think Dr. Sexy was so arsed about you shagging Dicky?” Although she has seen many of those, Thea is apparently still impressed by Phil’s cock. Who wouldn’t… “Because he is his older nephew, the whole alpha versus beta thing, peeing on trees, who’s got the chick thing…” She gestures violently with her empty glass. “And their mother…”
“Oh, please, not Deadre…” you moan. Don’t touch her!
“What? Are you going to tell me she wasn’t messing with this whole story? Tell me she didn’t want you to hook up with Dicky, so he stops fucking everything that walks!”
You press your hands to your ears again and shake you head. You don’t want to hear that, not Deadre, please!
“Wren, you have abandonment issues. She was the perfect substitute mother for you! You are quick to get attached, and you crave love! Believe me, I know how you feel! I know you!” You’ve been friends since you were five. Of course, she does. “You were perfect for her. You are strong, smart, attractive. To marry her favourite son to you would be perfect!” You press your face in the back of the sofa and moan again. “And you know he’s her favourite. He’s the copy of her brother. For her, the sun shines through his arse.”
The mental image of sun shining through John’s arse is the last drop. You fall on the floor and wail. It is laughter and crying at the same time, and after a few minutes you curl into a tight ball. Thea sinks near you on the floor. She’s rubbing your back.
“You need to remember who you are, Wren. You wanted me to honestly say what I think, and I’m telling you. None of the decisions you made recently is you. Not the Wren I know.”
You’re crying in her arms, but you know she is right.