Juliet awoke to make out three pairs of curious eyes gazing down at her. Her head was heavy and her memories even hazier, reduced to a foggy semblance. With her body akin to a bulky log, she felt like Sleeping Beauty waking up after a seeming lifetime, to a shattered vision of her elusive Prince Charming.
‘Guys…What happened?’ she managed to whisper, trying to sit up
‘We were hoping you’d tell us’, Jane chimed in, knowingly ignoring Gina’s elbowing nudge.
Pam, seated at the edge of her bed was trying to help her to sit up. ‘You had a fainting episode. Here, have some water. I’ve laid out some fruit for you too’. There were enough fruits on her dressing table to feed an entire hospital ward.
Turned out that was exactly what she needed. Her foggy perspective started clearing as Pam stuffed her with more than enough oranges, mangoes and water-melons.
‘Honestly, we had to drop by to find out how your “date” turned out. Imagine our shock when Richard appeared with you cradled in his arms.’ Gina, never one to openly pry, offered in gentle probe.
‘He was here?’ Juliet screeched in panic. Her preceding words were reduced to incomprehensible grumbling mumbles.
Pam squeezed her hand in benign reassurance. ‘Do you wanna talk about it Jules?’
So I guess tea-time is how we are spending Boxing Day, Juliet mused in knowing silence. Out loud she muttered, ‘First tell me how everybody spent their Christmas’
Right away they knew, could read between the lines that she was buying time to evade talking about it and ideally facing the music. That whatever happened with Richard had served to re-hash the scar that had taken ages to clear. But they obliged her all the same, because they trusted her to come to when she was well and ready.
‘Well, I dropped the kids off at their daddy’s…’, Pam started off.
‘Which zaddy?’ always one to be inappropriate Jane drawled, earning her a grimacing frown from both Pam and Gina. Jane lifted her hands in dramatic feigned innocence, took the moment and made her exit. ‘We need wine.’ She was a girl on a mission, banging cupboards and drawers in the kitchen insearch for her liquid gold, for the whole neighborhood to hear. Never mind that it was only 10 am.
‘Well, I’m dying to tell somebody!’, Gina was beside herself. ‘Dru proposed!’ Everything else was forgotten as the girls screamed and rushed to smother and hug on her.
‘How utterly romantic, and on Christmas too,’ Juliet was saying amidst glistening eyes.
‘What did I miss? Jane emerged at the doorway with two bottles of wine in hand
‘You are now looking at the soon to be Mrs Andrew Shaka!’ Gina was excitedly hailing as she waved her blinding engagement ring. Dru definitely had an eye for the right kind of stone to make a woman swoon.
‘A decade later…About time,’ Jane was devilishly grinning even as she distractedly struggled with the corkscrew. With the dawning of the loud silence, she seemed compelled to add, ‘Silly me—I was just trying to be friendly. Congratulations ma!’
‘Wow. Your definition of friendly is…insane.’ Gina responded albeit chilly. ‘You need to look it up when you get a dictionary..if ever!’
Pam exchanged furtive glances with Juliet as if to say, The gloves are coming off.
‘And you need to look up the definitions of uptight, friendly banter and wit. What’s gotten your panties all in a twist, any way?’ Jane threw back.
Damn it. She shouldn’t have brought up Gina’s reclusive panties. Lawd, Juliet could feel her migraine resurfacing.
‘The condition of my panties is none of your concern.’ the lucid verbal spur was continuing.
‘I remember a moment in time when they very much were. Bet Dru doesn’t know how adventurous you really were’ Jane sput out and continued. ‘You know, it wouldn’t kill you to loosen up some. Relax a little. Here, have some wine.’
‘You’re giving me advice?’ Gina scoffed even as she reached out to accept the glass of wine handed to her. ‘You’re supposed to be my role model for lifestyle choices?’ With a laugh and a snort that could only be described as disdainful, she added, ‘You need more than a dictionary for help. You need Jesus!’
Jane shrugged in nonchalance, yet determined to have the last word, ‘Hi Pot, I’m Kettle’
‘Ladies, this is getting out of hand…Jane be nice,’ Pam, the self-proclaimed Kofi Annan, was scolding them like her very own kids. To Gina she said, ‘you and Dru are such a perfect fit, almost like a Disney couple. I’m almost expecting you to burst into song while woodland creatures clean the house and make you a dress for the wedding.’
That elicited some stifled giggles from all of them. Alas, Pam had worked her astute magic as usual. They were already on their second bottle of wine. Not a wonder emotions were flaring high.
Juliet couldn’t help the shiver as her memories of her damned dinner were triggered. ‘I need another drink,’ she stuttered. She schooled her features and got ready to spill the beans. Voicing it out loud might help her see things a tad clearer. She took advantage of the softened mood to blurt out, coinciding with the ringing bell at her door. ‘Richard proposed.’
All at the same time, they were exclaiming;
‘Like, proposed marriage?’
‘He did what?’
‘Richard’s back in town?’
‘No, that nigga did not!’
Juliet hopped out of bed and headed to see to the uninvited guest, now incessantly knocking at the door. All three of the chatty Cathys were hot on her heels, babbling and hassling. We need more wine, she thought as she reached for her doorknob.