This here was another assignment written a few years back for a university writing project. It’s the first couple of chapters to a novel that for the life of me I can’t remember how it was going to turn out. I wrote a blurb with it but not sure where any of my notes for it went. I’m not sure if I’ll ever try to develop this further but I like the writing style of it and wanted to share it.
Being broke has, for the most part, kept Adriana’s life in perfect balance. So when unfortunate events become financially fortuitous for Adriana, the fuse is lit on a regime of self-indulgent hedonism. These sad circumstances leave this free spirit fragile, filthy rich and liable to do anything. Childhood friend Matthew Harris is just getting his life together when things start to kick off and it’s up to him to keep Adriana grounded in the real world without getting sucked into her anarchy himself.
Adriana once called me blunt. I guess I liked that. And hence I came to define myself as blunt. A self-image can be so fragile at times, so much so that giving one’s self a single word to live by can be greatly internally stabilising. For me, it was both stabilising and numbing. I had previously flirted with the personas of the rebellious teen, the studious student and the troubled inner artist, but only in bluntness was I ever secure.
A person, such as myself, will search for a logic behind everything. Yet to do so becomes unfulfilling quickly. In being blunt this was what I learnt. Adriana always used to romanticise about art, literature and music. The power of sentiment. Logic was just never enough seeing as to be logical would be to deny one’s self many of life’s pleasures in the hope of self-preservation. A logical thinker is seldom a risk taker. He avoids danger in order to journey to death safely. It is those who stake themselves on spontaneity and whimsy who enjoy more happiness. At least that’s what Adriana believed.
I never knew quite what to make of that. I just tried to make life as easy as possible for myself. Some would accuse me of having a lack of motivation although I never put it in those terms. A smart gambler never chooses the underdog at the races and so to aspire to something with the odds stacked against you, well, I saw that to be counter-productive. Which is why if you ever were to meet me ten years from now, you would probably notice very little different in terms of my work and my lifestyle.
I could never claim to having been truly happy. The cynic in me believes that true happiness is an impossibility, although I know Adriana would dispute this right up to her grave. She believes in the importance of those small day-to-day joys. The smell of freshly cut grass. A summer shower on a hot day. The taste of a home cooked meal. She lived simply and in simple terms. She would sing when she wanted to sing and dance when she wanted to dance. It was her life to live. Her life, and she could do with it whatever she wanted to. I remember once, after a tiring and stressful day of work, she hopped on a plane and went to Italy without telling anyone. A month later she returned broke, red with sunburn and with the most innocent and jubilant of all smiles spread across her cheeks.
And what was I doing during those two weeks? I ate and worked and slept and realised that life was a lot less interesting without Adriana around. She came back with such stories of how she was thrown out of a winery in Tuscany for “abusing the free samples” and of the people she met when in Rome and of the time she joyrode a gondola in Venice. She invited me round to hers a couple of nights after she got back. I had to get off of work for it but she was dying to show off her new recipe for Chicken Arabiatta, a recipe she learned while away. It has never ceased to amaze me how a girl like her could have such a thirst for adventure, could cause so much chaos and still take pride in simple displays of domesticity. The food was good, the wine was better, and we sat there at her dining room table until three the next morning reminiscing about times past as if we had not seen each other in years. Just like old friends.
And there’s not a better name to give us than old friends. For as long as there has been a Matthew Harris, there has been an Adriana Stevenson. Born on the same day, not quite thirty years ago, in the same town and in the same hospital. We grew up just two streets from each other and from nursery to university and now to life in the real world, we’ve been friends. We still live just two streets from each other but just on two different streets to the ones we began on.
I remember one night, just before it all started, she came into the bar. I start my shift most days at about five and most days at about five Adriana walks in. It’s the closest Adriana comes to predictability. There was nothing distinctly special about that one night but for some reason I remember it. She was her same old self and as per tradition, she came and sat herself on the stool at the end of the bar. I walked over already with a Dark and Stormy, and as per tradition I joked with her that her drink of choice matched her personality perfectly. We sat and talked.
They say conversation is an art. If that is in fact the case, then Adriana is Picasso. Or Gaudi. Or Buñuel. The notion of regular conversation has never crossed her mind. She speaks in snowflake soliloquies, which is to say that no two dialogues with her are ever the same. One moment she’ll talk with the utmost eloquence and sophistication and instantaneously descend to taboo topics, creating awkward situations for her own amusement. That night she was telling me of a dream she had had the night before. She was getting chased through an Ikea by someone but kept ending up in the home office section of the store. I wasn’t really paying attention to it but she spent quite some time trying to remember exactly what had happened.
The bar soon began to fill up. A group of twenty year old girls had just come in. They were all dressed up, ironically or otherwise, in eighties clothing and were already a little tipsy, but still they came up to get their drinks. They spent a couple of minutes flicking through the cocktail menu until one of them ordered a Mint Julep.
“Ooh, I’ll have a Mint Julep,” she said, “Gatsby was always drinking Mint Juleps”. She enjoyed the moment as a rare one in which literary knowledge and alcoholic knowledge fused together to provide a culturally stimulating beverage order. Two of the others then proceeded to order Mint Juleps, both fascinated by the same rarity. I don’t recall what the others ordered, but once they’d gotten their drinks they found themselves a booth to sit at and from the bar, we could hear them discussing literature and music with moments of perfect pretention and others of pure dim wittedness.
“We were like that once Mattie.”
“You still are like that,” I replied only to be scowled back at by Adriana. “Makes you feel old, doesn’t it?”
“Speak for yourself”, she said picking up her drink and sipping it as she spun around on her barstool. She stopped and gave me a look that said I think I’ve made my point.
“I guess it wasn’t that long ago.” Her face returned to its regular look.
Adriana finished off her drink, slammed the glass down on the counter and said “I’ll have another one of those barkeep.”
I sighed and made her another. She enjoyed being able to rub it in that she could drink and I couldn’t and that I had to wait on her when she was at my bar. She always got a real kick out of that.
“You gotta love this place,” she said as a bunch of stuffy business types shuffled through the door and found a table, “It’s a veritable tapestry of human society. Every day, all types of people roll through that door going about their daily lives.”
“We don’t get many kids,” I chimed in. It was a bad joke but offered mild self-amusement. It was clear that Adriana was reaching the enlightenment stage of mild inebriation and if I’ve learnt one thing from my job, it’s that people at that stage are seldom as beguiling as they believe themselves to be. Shitty little jokes make it slightly more bearable to pay attention to their ramblings. She continued, making a point of ignoring what I was saying.
“People from all walks of life, each one with a different job, a different family and different stories to tell. And this place is the intersection of all their little lives. They’ll come in here, sit down get a drink, talk about their troubles, about their dreams, get pissed then bugger off home.” It was always intriguing how unrefined she could be when trying to be profound, granted on this occasion she was not successful in her profundity. But you could tell from her face that the idea was fascinating to her, and that she was just imagining the lives of each individual customer as her eyes scoured the room. She took a big sip and another drunken thought came to her. One of the business types was approaching the bar as she turned to me and asked me “Do you think you can tell a lot from someone from the drink they order? Like if I ordered a vodka Martini, what would that tell you about me?”
The businessman looked impatient and I was feeling the same about Adriana’s ramblings. “It tells me that you must have eight quid in your pocket or you’re not gonna get served,” I said bluntly to her as I turned to the businessman. “What can I do you for, sir?”
He placed his order and paid without saying thanks just as more people were approaching the bar. Adriana took this as her cue to head to the dance floor. She instantly found some strangers to befriend and they talked and laughed, drank and danced for the next hour or so. I remember being particularly intolerant of Adriana that night, but the truth is she can be utterly exhausting as a friend and she entertains herself by irritating me sometimes.
When she came back to the bar she told me, in very slurred speech, that she was heading to a party with “um, I didn’t catch their names” and like that she was gone into the night. The place got quite packed that night and her presence wasn’t in any way missed as it sometimes is on the quiet nights or at the start of a shift. It was a good night for the Blue Moon, profitable and uneventful. The crowds started to thin out and I left Hattie and James to look after the bar while I went up to the office to do some finances. I helped to run the bar, in an unofficial capacity, but thankfully with a slightly more official pay raise, for the manager. She had recently had a kid and was working significantly less now.
We closed up at two and after they’d wiped down the counters and left the place ready for the cleaners to sort out the next day, I let Hattie, James and the others go. I stayed to finish my work and left an hour later. The doors were locked so I left through the back and walked along the alley to get to the main road.
As I got there, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Adriana banging on the Blue Moon’s front door. She was in a right state so I hurried over there to see what she was up to.
“Matt, Matt, let me in,” she was screaming, completely oblivious to the fact that I was standing next to her.
“What is it?” I asked.
The question threw her and she stumbled back as she turned to see me and it took a second or two before she realised that I was Matt. She tried to compose herself but just drew attention to her drunkenness. She reached her arm out and pointed at me, her hand swaying in mid-air.
“It’s John, John left me,” she said, crying without tears.
“John, it’s John…” She raised her hand gesturing a height of a person. “Y’know John, he’s…”
I did not know John.
“He’s the guy, who…” she tailed off, stumbled forward and stood, silently repressing a hiccup.
I decided to walk her home and tried to find out what had happened. From what I could piece together there was something about a taxi, Adriana’s shoe and the infamous John. Adriana did not feel compelled to use coherence to tell her story and so that’s about all I can tell you about the incident. I just walked her home.
When we arrived at her flat it took her about ten minutes to find her keys in her handbag; they were in her coat pocket all along. We got in and she collapsed on her sofa straight away. I flicked the light on, poured a glass of water and left it by her side. She was passed out so I emptied a bin onto the floor and placed it beside her head in case she needed to use it in the night. I pulled a blanket over her, turned the light off and headed back to my own flat. It was five by the time I got to sleep. As I said earlier there was nothing distinctly special about that night but for some reason I remember it.
That’s the Adriana effect. For better or for worse, whenever Adriana’s involved in something it will always be memorable, and after memorable night upon memorable night, it becomes difficult to remember which one was which, and so most nights later find themselves forgotten. The great irony of it all though is that Adriana herself had no recollection of that one night. I asked her about it the next time I saw her and she did not remember anything. Not the taxi. Not her shoe and she especially did not remember John.
“Who’s John?” she asked me when I brought it up.
Over the years the truths behind those little mysteries have grown not to interest me and it’s probably for the better. My sanity can thank my apathy and sleep well tonight because of it.
I got a call from Adriana a couple of days after that night. She said she needed money desperately and after avoiding the subject of the size of her bar tab I reluctantly agreed to meet up with her. I lent her a little cash and didn’t ask why. It’s best not to. She thanked me for not asking and praised me for being the type of friend not to ask and not to lecture about her lifestyle. She suggested we go out to a meal to celebrate, what exactly I do not know, and after a mental sigh I reminded her of the current situation and suggested that it probably wasn’t the best of ideas given the circumstances.
Money has always been an interesting issue for Adriana. In all the years I’ve known her, which is pretty much all the years I’ve lived, I’ve never known her to have a steady job. In a way she treats them like books in a library. She’ll work at a hair salon for a couple of months until she decides she wants to work at a restaurant. When she gets bored of that, she’ll move on to something else, and then something else, and then another something else. The day she settles down for good at a real job is the day I decide to be a country music star. And because of her and her job loaning ways, she rarely has much money, which given her and her personality isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, being broke has kept Adriana’s life in perfect balance. Whenever she gets any money, she blows through it before you can say the word “bank”. It’s like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite. The more money she has, the more she has to burn through, but the end result is always the same. It all blows up in her face. Like the time that she shelled out on a brand new car only to crash it into a tree just days later. Or when she gambled away a whole month’s worth of wages on one spin of a roulette wheel. She bet it all on twenty-one, only to win big. “I’m feeling lucky” is what she said just before betting it all again on the same number. The taxi ride home was too expensive for her and she broke a heel on the walk back.
I could tell countless tales of a similar ilk, of the strange times, of the fun times, of the bad and the good, and there were many more good times than all other times combined, but to do so would take an eternity. It would also be a rather pointless exercise seeing as all I’m trying to say is that Adriana was one of a kind. Eccentric is probably the polite way to put it. Captivatingly crazy is another way to put it but the words of Jack Kerouac’s Sal Paradise probably sum her up best
the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time
At the very least those words help me understand why out of the hundreds and the thousands of people that I’ve known in my lifetime, she’s been the one person who I’ve stuck around with for the longest.
But this is not just the recitation of the adventures of Adriana Stevenson and a marvelling at the nature of her character. This is the story of a person with a unique ability to defy the laws and restrictions of reality. A person who lives in a world free of consequence for her and her alone. It’s a story of a cat, with nine lives to live, only the number of lives she has to live matters not, for no matter how many times she falls, or how far, she’ll always lands on her feet. And this is the story of the one landing that probably hit the hardest.
Like any story, it has to start somewhere.
For me it began on a Wednesday in October.
I had to get up early that day. I say early, it was really only seven, but I was still waking up about five hours earlier than most days. My heating had turned itself off in the night, which made getting up out of a nice warm bed a lot harder than it should have been. And given that it was early and all, I was not happy. A shower woke me up. A coffee kept me awake. And a slice of toast, burnt on one side, barely warm on the other, buttered on the burnt side, kept my stomach from growling at me. I drew back the curtains mid breakfast and looked out over a sea of umbrellas on the pavement. Rain was pelting the window. Cars below had their lights on and their wipers gliding side-to-side, spraying water off of them as they stood, waiting for the lights to change.
Well, today’s going to be fun I thought to myself, without realising how lost the point of sarcasm is, when you’re effectively talking to yourself. A few mouthfuls of coffee later and I was ready to go. I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. The rain was heavy and I pulled the collar of my coat up to keep the rain off my neck. A couple of minutes later and my hair was already soaked, as were my jeans, and I was becoming more and more aware of how my shoes were not waterproof. I kept walking and a little while later the Blue Moon came into sight. We were closed for business that day, but we were having decorators in and Katherine, the manager, had asked me to open up.
The decorators said eight and it was about ten past when I got there. There was no sign of them. My coffee was wearing off and so them being later than I annoyed me slightly. I spent a few minutes looking around the office for a coffee machine but couldn’t find one. I was sure Katherine kept one there somewhere but I couldn’t find it, so I went back down to the bar, found a stool and sat and read a newspaper that I had picked up on the way over. It took a further hour for the decorators to turn up, by which point I had read most of the paper and was already on the Sudokus.
They knocked on the back door, but I waved them round to the front because it would be easier there for them to get their equipment in. The guy in charge was called Jim and after he’d gotten in he turned to me and said “Lovely day, innit? D’you have any coffee in ‘ere?” I broke the news to him gently but offered to make an espresso martini instead. I’m not sure he understood I was joking since in my tiredness I sometimes forget to emphasise my sarcasm. He just stood and gave me a funny look. I took that as my cue to leave, so I headed up to the office to do a bit of work.
As the morning grew old, the idea of an espresso martini did nothing but grow on me and by about half eleven I had just finished my second. By this point Katherine was just showing up. I caught her up with what I had been doing while she pulled a coffee maker out of a cupboard and made herself a cappuccino.
I left about an hour later, just after handing a black coffee, three sugars, to Jim who once again gave me a funny look. It was still cold but it had stopped raining, which I was thankful for since I was supposed to be meeting Adriana for lunch a few streets away and didn’t want to turn up all wet. The restaurant was a nice place and I had eaten there before. They took my coat when I got in and I asked for a table in the name of Stevenson. The place was fairly empty and they seated me at a table for four seats. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and for the second time that day I sat and waited for someone who would turn up considerably late.
I was quite surprised, though, when two familiar faces walked into the restaurant following a waiter, more or less, to where I was. I stood up to greet them.
“Mr and Mrs Stevenson? How are you? Funny seeing you here.”
As the name suggests, they were Adriana’s parents. They lived in Sheffield, hence the surprise on my part. But, surprise or no surprise, hindsight tells me I should have solved the mystery of their presence much, much sooner.
“Funny? Adriana told us you were looking forward to seeing us again. Where is she anyhow?”
That was Robert, her father. The guy hated me, which was something I always found strange. When I was a kid and used to play with Adriana he always seemed happy to see me, but then I, along with the rest of the my year at school, hit puberty and from then on, I think, to him, every boy who hung around with Adriana was the enemy. Even though she and I never dated, he still bore me a grudge. He was overprotective like that and because he was so overprotective, Adriana, and her lack of ambition, turned out to be something of a disappointment to him. But I’m getting away from myself.
“Oh …” at this moment I sensed that Adriana had neglected to tell me something. “I was making a joke sir … of course it’s not funny to see you … and I don’t know where Adriana is. She must be running late.”
“Well I can bloody well see that myself, can’t I?” the old man snapped.
“Oh calm down Robert, I’m sure she just missed her bus or something.”
That was Andrea, Adriana’s mother, who like Robert, was not particularly fond of me but she didn’t like seeing Robert angry, thankfully.
The table silenced, I not wanting to say anything to enrage, infuriate or irritate them, which, were I to open my mouth, I inevitably would have done, and Robert not wanting to talk to me. Andrea, though was clearly uncomfortable with the lack of dialogue. She subtly nudged him in the ribs. He coughed a couple of times and then addressed me.
“Still a bartender, then, Matthew?” He was a judge by profession and his judgement was coming through loud and clear. When he was my age, he was already a partner at a law firm, a partner with his name on the company, and I can bet you that that was exactly what was going through his head at the time he asked the question.
I nodded and replied “yes, still a bartender” while I stared at my cutlery. It was torture being there. What was only about fifteen more minutes in real time felt like a week and half of slow paced, mind numbing small talk between three people who would have all much preferred to be standing at the summit of an erupting volcano than sitting there at that table. But Adriana eventually showed up, sat down and the mood lightened slightly. The rest of the lunch consisted of me keeping quiet, Andrea interrogating Adriana about her life, Adriana lying about having a stable job and Robert repeatedly sending his steak back for being either too rare or not rare enough. When he did finally get his steak the way he wanted it his chips were too cold. Even Goldilocks would have found the nit-picking over his food too much.
I wanted to leave after we finished the main course but Andrea fancied a slice of the Cheesecake. We all ended up having a dessert and after finishing that too Adriana and her parents continued talking. I phased out completely and ending up drawing pictures in the remaining chocolate sauce on my plate using the back of a spoon. It took a while for the others to notice and it was only when Adriana looked over at the sight of a hanging man on my plate that they did. She burst out laughing and before the others saw it, I had balled up my napkin and thrown it over the picture. The incident only made things more uncomfortable for me. In some respects, I became envious of the hanging man.
The cheque came and Robert seemed offended that I did not reach for it. In the end I put down my share and paid the tip as well just to get him to shut up. I thought I was being generous too seeing as I had been misinformed and lured into a two-hour dinner in a land where time stands still. I haven’t eaten at that restaurant since, even though the food was really quite nice.
As we stood up, I hurried us to the door as quickly as I could. Adriana said goodbye to her parents who were parked in the opposite direction to the way we were going. They headed back to Sheffield, while Adriana and I started to walk home.
“Lovely meal, wasn’t it?” she exclaimed.
I stopped walking and stared at her with anger in my eyes. She turned, stared back for a few seconds, then a beaming bright smile spread across her face. Involuntarily, I chuckled, partly because it was amusing but mostly out of self-pity.
“You owe me for this.”
She nodded, the smile still as wide as before.
“You owe me big.”
We started walking again and though still annoyed, I decided not to dwell on it. Adriana knew I was not happy with her, but something told me that she needed me there. Growing up, we both seemed like such promising students. At some point, though, and for whatever reason, we both seemed to plummet from our upward trajectories. Mr and Mrs Stevenson were both proud, professional people and it shamed them, to a certain extent, that their daughter had not followed in their footsteps. I think having me there, someone else whose life still wasn’t on track, was in some ways comforting to her. I believe it also made her parents less hypercritical of her, since a lot of that criticism was directed at me. We got to Adriana’s building and she went home. I decided to go to the gym to clear my head. It was then a couple of hours before I returned to my flat.
I had just gotten in when the phone rang. It was Adriana. All she said was “we’re going out tonight, pick me up at eight” and then she hung up. I would have argued with her if she had stayed on the phone, especially after lunch that day, but on that night, I wouldn’t have needed much persuasion. The combination of a large pile of laundry, a microwavable chicken tikka masala for one in my fridge, and nothing else, and little on television besides programming designed to mentally deprive anyone with even the remotest trace of intelligence, meant that my decision was made pretty quickly.
I was slightly insulted by the fact that she just assumed that I would have nothing better to do that night. The fact that that was in fact the case was irrelevant and so in a typically British, mild mannered act of passive aggressive protest, I waited until nine to pick her up. It took her a further half hour to get ready and from what it seemed like, she had started the evening’s festivities without me. Her eyes were red when I got there and she was stumbling around the flat looking for her keys. At this point she had just one shoe on and was pulling up sofa cushions and throwing them across the room. It took her ten minutes to find them. They were in the bowl by the door where she always had kept them. She then proceeded to do her makeup and just as we were about to leave I noticed she still had just the one shoe on. It took a lot more excavating of her home to find her other shoe, a black stiletto with the heel missing. She changed her shoes then decided to change her top as well and finally we were off.
We met up with Hattie, from work, and a couple of Adriana’s friends, from God knows where, at a club called Dawn. Adriana immediately suggested shots and ran off to get them. She returned with a tray with twelve shots of Sambuca on it. “Three each, I had mine at the bar” she explained before she disappeared to the dance floor. Chris and Sam took their share and followed her. Hattie and I were left attempting to chat. I couldn’t tell you what we were trying to talk about, but my guess is we spent the time shouting “It’s really loud in here” to each other and pretending to hear what the other was saying. It was entirely possible that we were having two different conversations, but we were both tired, having worked long shifts the night before, and so we were content just relaxing on the sofas.
A short while later Adriana returned, dumped a few more shots in front of us and once again vanished. Hattie and I decided to attempt to enjoy the dance floor but it was crowded and neither of us really wanted to be there. I think we were both just counting the minutes before the club closed and we could go home. It was a short stint on the dance floor before I went out to the smoking area and Hattie went to the bathroom. I don’t smoke, but as ironic as it sounds, I enjoy the fresh air that the smoker’s area offers.
I took my phone out of my pocket and began pressing buttons on it just to make it look like I was doing something. When Hattie returned, I finished pretending to send a text before turning to talk to her. She was worried and told me that she had heard Adriana crying in the toilets so we went back inside to find her. It wasn’t a hard search since the first thing visible as we entered was the sight of her being wrestled off a guy about twice the size of her by two bouncers. She was kicking and screaming and swearing more than a Tarantino movie and once she was outside it took about ten minutes to calm her and the bouncers down. It wasn’t clear what had happened but I’m pretty sure she’s still not welcome there.
After walking down the road, out of sight of the club and its bouncers, we called for a cab and got in. Hattie got dropped off first. It then took about five minutes to get back to Adriana’s. She seemed to be in quite a state and had been stubbornly silent since we left the club. You could see the turmoil behind her eyes. I had never seen her like that before. There was a certain sober quality to her that I noticed for the first time that night. It also occurred to me I had not seen her drink all night, and if she really had drunk the same amount that she tried to make me drink, I would have been able to smell the alcohol on her breath a mile off.
I had been constantly talking to her since the club trying to keep her collected but her muteness was beginning to irritate me. We got to her door and she tried to unlock it and open it. The key turned but nothing happened. She jiggled it around but still nothing. She had not yet unlocked the bottom lock and when she noticed this, she looked down at it dejectedly. Then, in a fit of rage, she forced her shoulder into the edge of the door, barging it open. The wood of the doorframe splintered off in all directions, while the door itself was just barely hanging on.
“What the hell’s the matter with you?” I yelled in a cocktail of surprise, confusion, anger and concern. “You could have…” I was so taken aback, that that sentence was never completed. “You’ve been acting strange all night, even for you, and now…”
Her back was turned to me and there was still no response. She slammed the door in my face only to have it bounce open again. I stopped talking altogether. She then proceeded across the room to the answer phone. The green light was flashing. She turned to me. Her eyes were red. Tears were running down her face. She pressed play and then left the room.
“Message recorded at five, twelve p.m on Wednesday the twenty-fourth of October…”
I could hear the shower being turned on in the bathroom. A shrill voice, muffled and interrupted by sporadic sobs and whimpers, then began to talk from the answer phone.
“Adriana? This is Jean Sanders. I work for your Dad. I, I’m his secretary. We met once before.” She paused. “Um… I, I have some terrible news…” This pause was significantly longer. Then the glass shattered. “It’s your mother and father, they died. There was an accident, on the motorway. I’m so sorry.” By this point the woman’s crying was too much to hear over. The message carried on, but I didn’t need to listen anymore. Time stopped. Everything now made sense and I felt just awful.
There was a pit in my stomach They had been sitting across the table from me just hours earlier. He had the steak, she, the salmon. She had a glass of wine. He had mineral water because he was driving. The snide remarks they made earlier that day and the petty grudge they held against me seemed now utterly insignificant.
And then there was Adriana. From the moment that night had begun I knew it had been a mistake. It was only then that I knew why. If only I had known sooner. But that’s just how she dealt with things. She just ignored them. Not this though. Never this. She had tried just to sweep it under the rug but simply couldn’t. I thought of Adriana and soon the pitter of the shower returned to my conscious mind. Adriana.
I rushed to the bathroom where the door was left ajar. I called her name. No response. I pushed the door open fully and steam met my face. I drew back the shower curtain and there she was, fully clothed, sodden, and crouched into a ball. From her mouth came the saddest laughter I ever did hear. It echoed, if not through the flat then at least through my head. Formerly a siren of joy, now it haunted. Her eyes were tearful. Were it not for the water of the shower, her cheeks would have been too. I stepped into the shower, stooped down and embraced her. I held her head against my chest with one arm. The other rested on her shoulder and amidst the sound of running water
“It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay.”