Thief of my heartAfter we had broken apart I told Steve to tell Summer I was feeling sick and couldn’t face the humiliation of seeing Justin again after my strop. True, I never wanted to set eyes on Justin the giant squid again, but it was Summer I truly couldn’t face knowing what I’d done. I couldn’t seem to help myself destroying my best friend’s relationship. What if she found out about the kiss? Steve wouldn’t be so stupid as to blurt it all out in a moment of madness, surely? All I knew was I couldn’t rest until I knew Summer was still clueless. Though I can’t pretend for a second a tiny, selfish part of me didn’t long for Steve to declare his undying love to me and ditch Summer...oh god that sounds horrible. Maybe I was just a horrible relationship-wrecker slash the biggest bitch to hit London. Probably still am.
Summer called several times but I didn’t answer, willing for myself to turn invisible and blend in with my bedroom walls. Chameleons have it so easy; they can choose to be whoever they want to be. I wish I could be like that. I wondered what it would be like to trade places with Summer...life would be perfect, practical, and sweet as honey with Steve dripping off my tongue irresistibly. That was what he was. Irresistible.
Later that evening my parents argued. I couldn’t help thinking it was Karma. I was listening anxiously at the bedroom door, my heart thumping, my chest tight, my stomach aching. I hated it when they argued. They always seemed to now. It was usually about the amount of time Dad spent at work. My Dad works in a boring old office in a boring old building in a boring old part of central London. My Mum and Dad are so opposite I have often wondered how on earth they got together in the first place. Perhaps he used to be more ‘hippy’ in the good old days like Mum always assured me.
‘You never have time for me anymore!’ I heard Mum hurl at Dad.
‘You don’t complain about the fat wage packet I bring home, do you, eh?’ Dad yelled back.
‘Yeah, and I bet you spend it all with your mates drinking down the pub!’ Mum accused, quite accurately, I thought to myself.
‘Ha! Chance would be a fine thing! I’ll tell you what I spend it on: all your daft damn clubs: that bloomin’ meditating which you can do at home – closing your eyes and humming, I ask you! Oh, and there was the cookery class, which I seem to remember you giving up after twenty four hours because no one can stand you and now I understand why you stupid, useless GROUPIE!’ Dad rounded off, and I hated him for it. How dare – how dare he say those nasty things about Mum? He’s the useless one. Couldn’t even be bothered to pop in and say hi most days to me. He’s PATHETIC. I seem to remember bursting in and telling him so.
‘Now, now, Felicity, don’t talk about things you don’t understand,’ Snapped Dad, in his stop-talking-right-now-you-silly-little-girl sort of voice.
‘Now, now, Dad, don’t talk about Mum like that like you understand her!’ I cheeked in my stop-talking-right-now-you-silly-little-man sort of voice, admiring my nerve because boy was my Dad one scary man sometimes.
Dad’s face flooded purple. Mum made frantic signals at me to leave the room right now.
‘Yes, get out of my sight you stupid, stupid girl!’ Dad barked as I half-ran out of the room.
‘How dare you talk to our daughter like-’ I heard Mum start to say as I slammed my bedroom door shut and turned up the music on my laptop so I couldn’t hear them screaming at each other.
I remember wishing they would divorce, just so I didn’t have to bear all the arguments anymore and get caught up in them, like a fly caught on sticky paper. No escape – utterly helpless. On the other hand, I sometimes thought I deserved all I got. How could I do such a thing to my best friend? I kept on thinking: should I break her heart or learn to live with a lie? Should I stay away from Steve? Was he bad news? Nobody could have the answer except for me. And I didn’t even know.
Suddenly my phone started ringing its familiar tune. Oh no – Summer!
‘Fliss!’ Summer said in relief. ‘You didn’t call back – and you left poor little Justin hanging.’
‘I thought I made it obvious he’s not my type,’ I sighed irritably, then remembered it was not my place to be irritated at what she said when I was the one who’d secretly betrayed her. I just had to hope Steve would keep his mouth shut – to Summer and around me.
‘I know, but you should have seen how disappointed he was, poor little thing!’ Summer sympathized compassionately.
‘Maybe you should date him instead,’ I suggested half-heartedly.
‘What?’ Summer burst out. ‘As if! My heart belongs to another!’ she laughed lightly, and I mustered up all my strength to laugh with her.
The guilt was a great tidal wave of misery now, re-surfacing again and again and engulfing me with its resenting, regretful nature.
‘Listen, Sum, I – I’ve got to go,’ I lied. ‘My Mum’s calling me.’
That was a total lie, as she and Dad had now reached the stage of hissing at each other like little house snakes.
‘Oh. Ok,’ Summer said, and I could just imagine her shoulders drooping with disappointment.
She was probably hoping for a long lengthy chat about Steve and a good sob-comfort discussion involving Justin.
But I was too self-hating and really not in the mood.
I rang off abruptly, then felt guilty all over again, because she probably thought it was something she did. The idea was almost laughable, if she wasn’t my best friend for, like, ever.
What was I going to do on Monday? How could I face Steve? Surely even Summer, engrossed as she was with her boyfriend, would notice how I blushed and looked down at my shoes and totally ignored his presence? So I’d just have to act like I always did. I should win an Oscar for best villain, I thought wryly and harshly to myself.
Just then I heard the front door slam – code for: Dad’s off to the pub again. I thought I made out Mum’s sigh before she retreated to her solitary bedroom with the classic, lonely covers, concealing velvet curtains, the deceptive mirror with the studio lights, the jewellery box filled with beautiful, sparkly things that no one ever wore.
As I lay down for bed at night, try as I might, the only person I could think of was Steve, the smooth-talking thief of my heart.