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My mother used to tell me, “Beauty can get you anything and everything.” Does that mean it can get me homeless, unemployed, and with a broken engagement? I never imagined this could happen to me, I mean I’m so-
“Milk or cream,” Anna interrupted my thoughts, peeking her head around the kitchen door.
“Neither, I can’t gain weight; you should probably do the same.” We had been best friends since the eighth grade where we met at Kensington Prep; so it was okay to say this. I mean, she had to know right? She’d always been bigger than me; taller and not as slim. But this was getting ridiculous, she had to be nearly 120 lbs. I’d never been a pound of 100 and I intend to keep it that way. All I had left were my looks and I was certainly not planning to mess that up too.
Losing myself in my thoughts, I was startled when Anna emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray complete with two mugs of coffee, and a few pieces of toast. I looked down at it, and back up at her, confused.
“Do you need help carrying the rest,” I asked, sure there had to be more in the kitchen.
She started at me blankly and replied, “This is everything.” Seemingly unbothered by my comment she proceeded to place her thin napkin on her lap and sip her steaming coffee. Unsure of what to do or say next, I did the same. For a moment I couldn’t help but wish I were back in my luxurious East End apartment with Max, drinking our gourmet coffee and eating our freshly baked muffins from the café down the block. I had never had store bought toast before, but I guess there’s a first for everything. These paper napkins were a first too, and I can’t say I liked them.
In a way, sitting here reminds me of how I felt while planning my wedding. In both, a new beginning was starting. Only this time, I didn’t have the same excited feeling. This time I wasn’t sitting on a while leather couch in my living room looking through magazines complete with pages and pages of wedding veils. I wasn’t deciding if I wanted my hair up or down, or if I wanted pink or red nail polish. Instead I was sitting on a worn brown cloth couch, looking through the classifieds for jobs. I had never been on a job interview, or even put in an application for one. I never needed to; I always had someone who would provide me with anything I could ever want. First it was my dad, then it was Max, but now I had no one. How hard could an interview be anyway?
-The next day-
Letting the sunlight in the room and pulling back the curtains, I could already hear the Saturday rush. Tapping Maddie on the shoulder I shook her softly, “Get up,” I whispered. She rolled over, sitting up sleepily.
“Ready to go job hunting,” I asked almost sarcastically. I knew Madison had never had a job before or even searched for one at that. This was definitely going to be an interesting day to say the last, but I was excited. Though, as fun as it might be, she had to find something, and soon, because I wasn’t going to be able to baby-sit her all day long. I go back to school on Monday, meaning she needs to get out of her apartment. I know her, and I know that sitting around thinking about what happened will only make her go crazy.
I never knew it could possibly take someone so long to get ready. She had always taken longer than me in High School, but I guess she got slower as she got older. I waited an hour and a half for her to shower, dry and style her hair, apply her makeup, and try on about 10 outfits.
This should be an interesting bathroom situation in the morning was all I could think. Eventually she was ready and looked as if she should be on the cover of an “In Style” magazine. She would never leave the house looking any other way.
“712 Fifth Avenue please,” I instructed the driver, climbing into the bright yellow taxicab waiting for us at the curb. As we neared the famous Tiffany’s Jewelry store it almost looked like a movie set. Everyone was dressed in their finest clothes and had a wealthy look about them. In almost every hand passing by, there was a bright green bag with the words “Tiffany & Co” printed in black on the side.
“Thank you,” I said handing the driver the cash I owed him. Stepping out onto the street and glancing up at the large stone building, I felt a sense that I didn’t belong here. Paradoxically, Madison’s eyes gleamed with delight. I thought she might burst into tears if we didn’t go inside soon. This was typical of her, however. Madison was not one to cry, unless it had to do with a new pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, or a Gucci handbag. The only breakup tears she even cried were those of the breakup between her and the apartment. Regardless, we walked into the spacious, artificially lit store and the saleswoman immediately migrated over to her, complimenting her shoes, her sundress, and anything else she could possibly think of. All I could think was how pushing sales people were. They would do almost anything to make a profit. She would never notice this. She is too happy receiving compliments. Offered a job on the spotm she happily accepted, her first day being scheduled for Monday.
-2 days later-
Accidentally sleeping in late, I woke up with only a few minutes to spare. This was usually the start of a bad day. Starved and planning to grab cereal to eat on my way to work, I was shocked when I saw what she had done. On the kitchen table was a plateful of scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon accompanied by a glad of orange juice. Next to the food was a note that read, “Thanks for everything, see you after work. Love you!- Maddie.” I had never been more flattered or surprised in our entire friendship. It was so unlike her to do anything that didn’t benefit herself. All I could hope for was that maybe, just maybe she was changing. Maybe this day wouldn’t turn out so terrible after all.
Madison and I were nothing like each other. But I guess opposites attract, huh? She was unorganized, selfish, and not at all responsible. Knowing this, I was surprised to hear how well her first day had gone. I had expected some sort of dramatic disaster or outrageous story. Instead, she was calm and collected all through our conversation. Once she just couldn’t handle it anymore she exclaimed, “I was asked out!” Of course, this was not surprising to me in the least. Without even having to ask she proceeded to tell me all about him. “His name is Alex,” she informed me. Not contrary to anyone else she’d ever dated he was tall, in great shape, successful and wealthy. He sounded just like the typical guy who would fall for her. In fact, he sounded just like Max.
“We’re going out on Saturday. I need a new dress and shoes,” she squealed.
“You could borrow one of mine if you want,” I offered, trying to save her any money I could but a look or pure shock and disgust crossed her face. I couldn’t help but think to myself that in reality, nothing had changed. She was still spoiled, popular Maddie and I was still boring, live in the backdrop, me. Clearly choosing not to save money, she decided to buy a little black dress and pair it with her favorite set of pearls. It looked just like all the other black dresses in her closet. Her usual first date attire.
Upset about losing her job, which wasn’t a complete shock to me, I have to admit, this date was supposed to be a burst of fresh air for her. Or so she thought.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I greeted Gavin for the first time. Madison had convinced me that Alex had a great friend that I just had to meet. And upon doing so I had to admit, he was good looking. He really was quite handsome actually, but in comparison to Alex he was not even on the charts. Maddie always had to have the cuter guy, or the richer guy. She had to be one step ahead of me, always. If things didn’t automatically work out that way, she would make sure it happened. She even went to the heights of stealing by boyfriend in High School. It didn’t matter much to me back then, I forgave her immediately. Mostly because I didn’t want to lose her as a friend. I was never as popular as her in High School, but people knew who I was, mostly because I was seen with her. I was known as “Maddie’s friend,” which made people want to be my friend. My entire life I was just the girl next to her and I’m beginning to think…maybe I want to be my own person.
Getting lost in all of my thoughts and memories, I come back to reality and see Alex and her chatting. Gavin is across the room, leaning over the bar ordering us our drinks. Absorbed in their own business, none of them notice when the heavy French Style doors swing open. Of course we are in one of the top rated restaurants in New York City; anything else would be purely unacceptable to her. Except that we are no longer here alone, Max just walked in. Noticing Maddie, he quickly migrates to the opposite side of the restaurant, his date trailing slightly behind. Glancing over for a second to look at his date, he noticed me. Flashing his brilliantly warm smile across the room, I give a slight nod back, not wanting Maddie to notice him and cause a scene. I can’t help but think that neither Gavin not Alex even come close when compared to Max. As the night progresses, they successfully avoid each other, in a rather childish way, in my opinion. However it is not my place to say this and I mind my own business.
“I couldn’t help but stare at you the other night. You lit up the entire room. I have to see you,” read the email I received from Max a few days after our unexpected encounter. My heart skipped a beat at the very thought of what he was implying. I had to read it multiple times just to believe it was really there in my inbox. How could this be happening? Maddie was my best friend, and Max was her ex fiancée for Christ’s sake!
Despite my opposing feelings, I met him at the diner a few nights later. He confessed that he had always had feelings for me, even leading him to call of the engagement. He thought for sure someone else could make him feeling the way I did, in turn ignoring the feelings. But none was quite as caring, and sweet as he says I am. Seeing me the other night reassured everything he had felt, it had to be fate that we were both there. But he understands if I don’t want to get involved. It’s a crazy situation and he’s sorry for throwing it at my unexpectedly. Unable to respond with an answer that night, I pondered it over the next few weeks. I went back and forth between my friendship and my heart. Which was more important? Finally coming to the realization that maybe the reason I haven’t had a boyfriend since they were together, or the reason I was always so jealous of them is because I had feelings for him too. I love my friend, but Maddie stabbed me in the back, many times for that matter. Perhaps it was turn to do the same. This wasn’t intentional, of course. That would make me just as bad as she. I had never planned this in my wildest dreams. I guess what goes around comes back around really is true after all. I never hoped for things to happen like this, they just fell into the palm of my hands. Patience truly is a virtue and greed really is the deadliest sin of all.