'You know, you should find someone for yourself at some point,' Helen said looking at her friend while stirring the clothes submerged in blue water with soap in the container on her crossed legs.
Angelica smiled back at her, 'I don't feel the need to. Frankly speaking I don't need another burden other than you,' she joked.
'Hey, I didn't know you saw me like that. My apologies, I'll try to be less of a burden on you in the future,' Helen replied with a mischievous smile splashing her friend with water.
The other girl instinctively rose her right arm to protect her fair hair from getting wet. 'You can be a burden all you want,' she stated using her hand to defend her hazel eyes from the shining sun. Then, she leaned in and gave her friend a light kiss on the cheek.
'Thank you,' Helen replied before hugging her.
'Ok, but you're getting my clothes wet with washing soap now…'
'Ahahah…sorry'. Helen leaned back, 'Here, let me just help you take them off'. The dark haired girl grabbed the hem of Angelica's shirt and pulled it up.
'The pervert!' Angelica said, though she was laughing. She wrapped her arms around her body in an attempt to cover her exposed skin.
'What are you being so prude for?' Helen asked while stretching her friend's shirt open in the sun.
'We are on the roof of your house. Not really the best place to get me naked'.
'Ahaha…I am sure no one would pay attention to it. Not after your earlier declaration, "I wish to remain a virgin…" '
'Shut up, will you' Angelica suddenly jumped forward to cover Helen's mouth with her hand before she could finish her sentence. Her friend's dark eyes narrowed and she bit Angelica's hand. 'Ouch!'
'Serves you right, you made me spill all of the water onto the floor,' Helen said getting up.
'It was your fault for bringing that topic up,' Angelica replied in a falsely pissed tone. 'Besides, who said I want to be a virgin? I just do not wish to start a relationship right now'.
'I know, but having someone there for you when you grow older it's useful'.
'I thought you'd be there for me once I am old and I can't do my laundry anymore, Miss Laundress'. As soon as the last word left her mouth, Angelica felt something wet, white and sticky hit her in the face. A very much pissed Helen had just thrown the shirt she was washing at her.
'Now you've done it. I am leaving you out here without food'.
'What? No, please, your Highness I never meant to upset you. Please, forgive me!' Angelica threw herself at her friend's feet, in a burlesque imitation of a beggar.
Helen looked at her from above, her severe eyes not softening one bit even as Angelica kept pleading for her life. 'Mmm, it's passable,' she finally said, 'Your sincerely contrite words have touched my kind heart and I will turn a blind eye on your misconduct this time' she finished in a solemn tone. 'Now, let's clean up this mess and go inside'.
The house where Helen lived had two floors and a flat roof, which could be used as a terrace in the summer. The kitchen was on the ground floor and, as the girl liked to cook, it was big and well furbished. A marble table occupied most of the room with six wooden chairs around it. There was a fridge in the corner with a freezer on top of it. Next to the fridge, there was a white cupboard with several dishes and glasses. Below, there was a sink and another cupboard where she stored cooking utensils and tools. Pots, pans, woks of all sizes and shapes were spread around the room, in perfect order as well. Garlic and chillies hanged from the walls, vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and onions were stored in corner while in the other corner bottles of water and wine were arranged in an apparently scattered manner.
The kitchen joined a larger main room where there was a cosy couch with a tea table and a television. Angelica, still missing her shirt, stopped by the azure bathroom to dry her skin and put something on. Meanwhile, Helen started up the fire under a pot filled with salted water.
'Is there anything in particular that you want for lunch?' she asked the other girl.
'I don't mind, as long as it's nothing too sophisticated, with this hot weather I'd rather have a light lunch,' Angelica replied from the bathroom.
'Okay,' came the short reply.
Helen shared the house with her current boyfriend, Marcus, who was often out for work and so Angelica came to visit quite a lot, sometimes staying over for the night. She was familiar with the building, which almost felt like a second house to her. Even though she was younger, she and Helen had build a solid friendship over the years. Angelica still remembered the first time she had seen the other girl; she was sitting on the last row at the theatre and Angelica had to gently make her notice that she was on the wrong seat. After that, they had a nice chat in the bar downstairs and quickly became friends.
Once she had finished rinsing her hair from the water, Angelica exited the bathroom, headed for the kitchen. She let herself fall on the sofa and crossed her legs assuming a comfortable position. Helen glanced at her and let out a sigh. 'You could at least offer to help me…'
'Oh, but I know how much you enjoy doing everything all by yourself. I'll just lie down over here until lunch is ready'.
'Lunch,' Helen said, deliberately dropping a chest of potatoes on Angelica, 'it's not going to get ready by itself'.
'Ahh, I thought we were meant to have a small meal…?' the younger one enquired staring at the potatoes.
'Marcus called; he is going to stop by and asked me to cook roast potatoes and sausages'.
'And of course you'd rush to follow his orders as a dutiful wife,' Angelica sarcastically remarked.
'Just cooking some food for him isn't too demanding,' Helen said pinching her friend on the upper arm, 'I am making a salad for us, by the way'.
'Yeah, salad is fine,' Angelica picked up the knife and started peeling a potato. 'How many do you want?'
'Let's say three for now, do you want some too?'
Angelica took a moment to reply, 'I like roast potatoes but they don't exactly fit in my diet'.
'You can always make them fit'.
'And then it will be me who doesn't fit into my swimming suit. No, I'd rather skip the potatoes'.
'As you wish'. Helen turned on the oven and took the sausages out of the fridge, while Angelica kept peeling potatoes in silence for a while. 'Should we put on some music' one of the girls asked at some point.
'Ok'. The sound of the radio filled the room accompanying the creeping noise of frying oil.
'Does the fact that he is coming back mean that I cannot stay over tonight?' Angelica asked after a bit.
'You are welcome to sleep with us if you want to. I am not throwing you out,' Helen replied glancing at her from below her long eyelashes.
'Nah, I'll pass, thank you'.
'Yeah, I'll catch the last train home at about ten o'clock if you don't mind having me around until then'.
'Who would mind such a cute presence around their house?' Helen said smiling.
The younger girl smiled back in reply to that comment and focused on her task. Not too long after that, the doorbell rang and Helen went to open the door. The sound of greetings and kisses reached Angelica's ears who promptly got up from her place and washed her hands. Raising her eyes from the sink, she gave Marcus a brief nod. The man didn't reply, instead he sat on one of the chairs dragging Helen along and, making her sit on his legs, he kissed her a bit forcefully.
Angelica averted her eyes and busied herself with the potatoes, which had been in the oven for 15 minutes already.
'So, how's life?' Marcus asked her, finally detaching himself from Helen's mouth. He did not, however, let go of her.
'Life's good', Angelica replied a bit too harshly, 'Could you lend me your girlfriend for a minute? I am not exactly too sure of what I am doing with these potatoes'.
'They will be fine, just let them roast some more,' he replied tightening the grip on Helen's hip. The girl turned around and quickly glanced at the oven, her eyes resting on her friend for a brief moment. 'Honey, it'll take just a minute, I can't let the potatoes burn after all the effort Angelica put in peeling them,' she said kissing him while disentangling herself from his hold. 'Why don't you go put some clean clothes on you?'
Marcus grunted but got up and walked out of the room, possibly headed for their bedroom.
'Seriously, Helen, you should have found someone less possessive'.
'It's fine, he is just a bit overly-jealous,' she defended him while spreading the potatoes on a new tray to serve them on the table.
Angelica rose an eyebrow, but didn't question her friend's choice any further. Soon, they were all seated at the table and eating. Both Helen and Angelica had plates filled with green leaves and tomatoes in front of them while Marcus was devouring the sausages with tons of ketchup.
'When someone is lucky to have a fast metabolism…' Helen commented.
'I do work out a lot to keep my physique, though,' he replied.
'You do. Maybe I should sign up for one of those summer crash-courses at the gym to get fitter. What do you think about it, Angelica?'
'Oh, I think it's a good idea, I'd join you for that'. As she said so, she could feel Marcus' silent stare on her before he changed the topic.
'How are your studies going? I am told you are close to finalising your thesis and should graduate soon,' his blue eyes pierced through her like blades through skin.
'Yeah, I am reading about Victorian novels and hopefully should have all done by next fall'.
'Angelica aspires to be a writer in the future; it'd be great if your book got published as well'.
'Oh you wrote a book?'
'It's more like a childish story coming out of my fantasy when I was bored over last Christmas break…I don't think other people should read that'.
'You are too modest. I liked it quite a lot,' Helen said with a reassuring smile.
'That's because you're my best friend. No, actually I am working on another story right now; I might look into how to self-publish it once it's finished'.
'Sounds cool, what is it about?' Marcus asked.
'A cat-obsessed woman falling in love with her employer and starting a secret affair on an online dating site to relieve her needs,' she replied taking a sip of water.
'Wait what? Why would she not just date her employer?'
'It's because her employer is a classy person who wouldn't bother to look at a nerdy employee like her. Besides, office love affairs are too cliché and she would be discovered instantly by her very jealous husband, that's why she uses a fake online profile to find dates which she then meets in a hotel on a solitary road'.
'That sounds twisted'.
'It's intriguing!' Helen objected.
'What sort of warped minds you girls have, to even imagine such scenarios'.
'I think it makes for a less conventional story,' Angelica stated.
'Do you want some more potatoes,' Helen offered him, in an attempt to divert his attention.
'Yes, thanks. So, how does she find relief in fucking other men other than the one she wants? At this point wouldn't her husband suffice?'
'It's not men she is dating…'
Helen smiled hearing her sentence, but Marcus paled. 'In short, you are encouraging married women to cheat on their husbands with other females with the help of internet?'
'Come on, Marcus, she surely isn't encouraging illicit behaviour. She just wishes to write an original and piquant story,' Helen defended her.
'Who knows, someone said that what comes out of the pen of a writer is just the distorted reality they wish for'.
A long silence followed his remark as they kept eating, occasionally glancing at each other. 'There is cake in the fridge if any of you wants some,' Helen suggested to lighten the mood.
'No, thank you,' Angelica immediately replied.
'I'll leave the cake for later, sweetheart,' Marcus said getting up and straightening his back, 'When do you have to go back home?' he asked Angelica.
'I don't have a set time yet…I was planning on catching the 10pm train'.
'Isn't that the last one? You should at least attempt to get on an earlier train. What if you're a bit late and miss it?'
'Then she can sleep here, it's not a problem,' Helen replied for Angelica.
Marcus glanced at her, not too happy about her suggestion.
'It's fine I won't miss it,' she tried to reassure him. 'In fact since I know the road, you don't have to worry about accompanying me to the station either'.
'No sense, we are taking you to the station and waiting until you get on the train. Who knows what might happen in this darkness,' Helen said.
'Yeah, alright,' Marcus agreed, relaxing is muscles. 'I have to go see Marios to get some spares for the car and then head back to work. I'll see you at six,' he told Helen before kissing her and leaving the house.
The two girls finished cleaning the table in silence and Helen washed the dishes.
'You should get a dishwasher,' Angelica commented.
'It isn't worth for just the two of us'.
'Three today,' Angelica pointed out.
'Well yeah, maybe you're right. I guess it would be useful in the future,' the older girl agreed.
'In the future…?' Angelica looked at her with a lost gaze.
'You know, if things keep going well with Marcus...Of course, you're still welcome to stay over; we could add a proper guest's room and repair the bathroom as well…'
'Oh. I didn't think you'd be dreaming of getting married so soon,' her friend said.
'It's never too soon'.
'You're 25!' Angelica objected.
'Exactly. I need to find a groom soon or I'll be left a lonely widow'.
'As if that could even happen. No, you need to find someone you really want to spend your life with, until death do you apart'.
'That someone is Marcus. Even though he might be jealous at times, he still is a sweetie when he wants to and he loves me. Plus he is good in bed,' she said with a thoughtful expression.
'Yeah, yeah and that's the main reason you have for marrying him'. Angelica waved her hand in annoyance. She might have been her best friend, but sometimes she just couldn't agree with her way of reasoning.
'Something wrong with that?' the dark-haired girl asked with a coy smile.
'Everything!' Angelica sighed, 'Look I am not going to tell you how to live your life, but make sure you know what you want before you go and get the wrong parcel at the post office. You could probably have anyone else, if you wanted to'.
'I want him'. Her tone was devoid of any doubt, as if stating the unavoidable.
'If you're so sure…'
'Do you want to watch a movie?' she asked with a wide smile.
'Why not…which one?' the younger girl agreed sitting on the sofa.
'Let's see what's on the TV right now. If nothing good comes up I have some DVDs upstairs'. Helen followed her on the couch and picked up the remote. The screen lighted up and images started playing on it. After a while of random zapping, they settled for a standard comedy movie with more sex in it than needed.
'Why don't we make some pop-corn?' Angelica suggested.
Helen gave her a stare, which clearly read "What about your diet?" in capitals.
'A bag of pop-corn is just 89 calories and they take ages to consume,' Angelica replied defending her position.
'89 calories of carbs'.
'And starting tomorrow we go running,' she proposed.
'Ahahah…ok'. Helen got up and grabbed a ready-to-make bag of corn and in 45 seconds they were both eating junk food.
The atmosphere was considerately lighter now and Angelica allowed herself to relax and lean her head on her friend's shoulder. The clock kept ticking the time forward as hours passed and she slowly fell asleep, despite the noise of the television. Dreams mixed up with the outside sounds and she found herself being chased by blue beings with flurry tails and pink heads. All of them equipped with giant chainsaws. A headless knight on a dark stallion led them as they jumped through the bushes of a grey field.
The girl was abruptly woken up by the sound of a door closing and opened her eyes to see Marcus entering the room and stopping by the couch to kiss Helen. Stretching her arms, she got up into a seated position, noticing that the television was switched off and that there was a wool cover above her shoulders. Her eyes met with Helen's ones and she got up to go clear her mind in the bathroom.
'Hey, are you alright?' Her friend's voice reached her from behind the door.
'Yeah, I just…had a nightmare earlier'. Angelica washed her face and went out. Opening the door all of a sudden, she almost hit Helen with it. 'I'm sorry. It might be better if I left earlier, I am feeling quite tired'.
'Are you sure you don't want to have dinner with us at least,' her friend asked concerned about her health.
'No, I am not very hungry,' she replied and walked past her.
'Hey'. Helen stopped her, her hand on her cheek. 'Is everything fine?'
'Yes, I told you it was just that nightmare and…I feel like Marcus wants you for himself tonight, so I'd better leave,' she said subconsciously removing her friend's hand.
'You don't have to go, if you don't want to,' Helen remarked.
'It's alright. I have things to do at home as well'. With that said, Angelica went upstairs to gather her clothes and other things while Helen went back to the kitchen. Half an hour later she was onto a fast train headed back home. She plugged her earphones into her IPod and played her week-favourite playlist while her thoughts wandered into the darkness.