He said, She said, He said.
Her words have lost all meaning. A concerned, pained expression is painted across my features, my mouth forming faint words of comfort. But all I can think of is how much I want her to leave so my night can begin. It won't happen any time soon though. Even now her voice is becoming more and more frantic,
"He's going to leave me isn't he? Isn't he?!"
I force a smile and take her hands in my own, making vague reassurances.
We are both as bad as each other. I stopped listening to her words an age ago and I know she doesn't hear my soothing comforts. We, who were once the best of friends, now trapped in the unending cycle of her blind stupidity.
"He loves you," I say. I must have said it a thousand times and I'll say it a thousand more all the while my mind is screaming at her, 'Of course he won't leave you! Not while you give yourself to him on a plate night after night.'
It's a classic case really. She could not have been more innocent when she came to this place. She'd been to an all girls school, didn't really have male friends, never had a boyfriend, never had her first kiss. Then she met him, the player, the one who never had a girlfriend but always had a girl on his arm.
It was an accident waiting to happen.
Oh they were happy for a while. He took her out to all the best places, always bought her flowers and everyday told her that she had changed him and that he would love her forever. And she who had never so much as held another man's hand had lapped it all up like fresh cream and convinced herself that she could never love another man and that this was a love that would outlast the ages. When the deed was finally done she walked round with a smug glow about her as if she held some secret wonder that the rest of us could only imagine. He on the other hand seemed far more interested in catching someone else's eye.
They lasted longer than any of us thought, but when it wrong…oh how it went wrong. At first it was just little things like he couldn't afford to keep buying her flowers, then he couldn't come over that night until soon he was making excuses not to see her.
She didn't exactly help the situation. Any time that he spent apart from her she would bombard him with text messages, phone calls even emails, demanding his attention. She starting spending more time at mine. She would sit on my sofa and rail against him. I don't even have to listen to her anymore, it's all the same. 'He's going to leave me, he's seeing someone else, I'll never be happy again!'
At first I cared. Of course I did, she was my best friend, but I soon realised that my words of comfort were wasted on her. She was absorbed in her own tragedy and had no wish to escape it. She was content to be the tragic heroine of a doomed love story. So I stopped caring. I stopped telling her that she should just let him have space and maybe, just maybe, she should consider that it was her that was driving him away.
I was surprised to see him on my doorstep one day. He was staring at his feet, looking utterly defeated and the pouring rain just made him look even more pathetic. He dropped onto my sofa and wordlessly accepted the steaming tea I offered. There was no point in small talk, it seems I was to become his shoulder too. Before either of us could speak the toneless beep of his phone told him that he was not getting peace tonight. His anger was almost palpable. I edged away from his trembling hands and black eyes as in one swift move he threw his phone across the room against the wall. It didn't break but clattered to the floor leaving us in silence.
"She doesn't trust me," he said shortly, starting to drink his tea.
Part of me found it vaguely ironic how she would sit on my sofa rocked by her own tears, raging against how unfair her love life was and now he was here, staring blankly at the floor, allowing all his misgivings to softly pour forth.
"She's just so…consuming!" he breathed, "I can't have any time for myself. If I want to go out with friends she thinks I'm seeing someone else, if I want to be on my own she wants to know why and every time I tell her I need space she thinks I'm with another woman." From the corner of the room, his battered phone beeped again, confirming everything he had just said.
I sat in silence. There was nothing I could say. I had thought she needed to back off from him, but I knew nothing of the effect she was having on him.
3 cups of tea later he was ready to leave. His phone had beeped continuously every five or six minutes while he was with me,
'where r u?' 'call me' 'luv u' 'y wnt u call me?' He tapped a scant reply back and stuffed it back into his pocket.
"Thank you," he said, facing me on my doorstep. He touched my hand gently, "We're lucky to have a friend like you. Thanks." As he stepped into the darkening night I found that for the first time since this all began, I was smiling.
He stopped by quite regularly after that. She did too, of course. Every other night or so she would find her way to my sofa and weep for the love she was losing. I would sit there, stock still like a statue, nursing my tea rather than tell her that I thought all this was her fault. Every time he visited it became more and more obvious that she had become a total control freak, unable to bear any time away from him and slowly convincing herself that every time he wasn't with her he was with another woman.
He would sit beside me on the sofa, regaling me of her most recent, crazed exploits. He never failed to have me in stitches even though I tried to suppress my guilty laughter. It was refreshing to have him visit, a nice change to the demented ramblings of his girlfriend. I asked him once why he didn't just leave her. He'd almost choked on his tea at that. "She won't let me!" he cried out. I didn't doubt him for a moment. Every time she spoke to me she ended up telling me how she couldn't lose the man she loved. He cared about her still, obviously and he worried about how badly she would take him leaving her. I said nothing about his methods; I kept quiet about how when he was with her he promised her eternal love and maintained silence about his inability to stay away from her bed.
His concern for her was touching. Even though she refused to give him a moment's peace and was slowly making his life a misery he was determined not to hurt her unnecessarily. He would talk for hours about how much he still cared for her but how he was finding it difficult to love her. Most men I know would have walked away from her but he feared for her, she threatened suicide and even though he could never love her he would never leave her. While he tried to accept that she was obsessed and would never let him go, she convinced herself that the only time she was happy was with him and she could never ever, ever find happiness anywhere else.
I told him once that I admired him and that she did not know how good a man she was driving away. I did not doubt that he would leave her one day and I encouraged her to either leave him or enjoy the time they had together. Part of me...a large part of me wanted her to leave him so he could live without his phone blaring at him every half hour like clockwork.
I think I fell for him then.
He was sitting with me telling me about all the things he would like to do with his life but couldn't because she would not let him out of her sight. He had so many dreams he wanted to pursue, so many ambitions he wished to fulfil, but she was determined to keep him here, where he was, where she liked him. I told him he should find himself someone who would appreciate him and help him achieve all he wanted from life. He caught my eye and said ever so softly, "someone like you?"
My heart melted and he leaned in and kissed me. We made love on the carpet right in front of the seat she had occupied just an hour or so ago, telling me how she thought his protestations of love were a lie and all along he was seeing someone else.
"He's going to leave me isn't he? Isn't he?!"
After that it was harder to see her and feign sympathy. Every time she came around I just wanted to shake her, force her to leave him and let him get on with his life; a life that would be spent with me. He continued to come round after she had left. We would watch movies, eat pizza and ultimately find ourselves in the bedroom expressing the love we had found in such bizarre circumstance. I suppose I should have felt guilty, but how could I when I knew she had driven him to sneaking around, that he and I would have had a normal relationship if she could just let him go. I knew he still slept with her and it made me angry, but I knew he was only doing it for her sake and the only time he ever enjoyed himself was with me.
Slowly (and I mean ever so slowly) she started accepting the way of things. She stopped calling him so often and told herself that she didn't care anymore. She would still see him when he came round, and yes she would still sleep with him. But she started going out with other friends, got a hobby and found that her entire day didn't have to be spent waiting for him to call her. She came around less and less, which suited me as I could spend my evenings with him, just the way he wanted. He had more freedom now and I thought that he could wean her off him and have a normal life with me.
Of course now that he has more freedom he spends it doing all the things he's missed out on. He likes to go clubbing and likes to dance with pretty girls, but I know there's never anything in it. Boys will be boys. Still, he said he would come over tonight and he's running a little late. I don't mind of course, he doesn't have to be dead on time, if I was her I would have phoned him a dozen times already, but I don't because I know he will be here soon. Oh well... ...if he isn't here in ten minutes I might call...maybe drop him a text.