My arrival at the Dumpling eatery was a memorable one. The overheated unit I call my body gave the scent of vinegar, soya sauce and coriander a run for its money. A shade of rosé flushed over my face and microbeads of sweat dribbled from every pore of my body, l felt like an overworked Chux cloth ready for the bin. A stubborn tram refusing to transport ungrateful and grumpy passengers was the sole culprit. Rarely does the mercury peak over the early 30’s during a Melbourne summer so if it flies past 34˚C, we Melburnians are counting on the rest of the country to send us an ambulance because heat stroke emits us to bat shit cranky so I advise calling the police and the armed artillery too.
Overanalysing a meeting I was about be in distracted me from my feet groaning in pain, slammed repeatedly against tough soles and solidified cement. Cameron, my ex capsicum, called earlier that afternoon in a tizz, insisting that we needed to talk in person. His voice hinted our date may end with my belly encasing flames and a possibility of a flare up with pieces of me ending up all over the restaurant, mistaken for food and dipped in chilli. My highly imaginative mind and I daydreamed a few scenarios to bail me out of this. Informing Cameron I’d liquefied into a puddle on a perfectly level concrete path having me unable to move until July and ‘could it be possible to catch up then, once I’d thickened’ was my favourite lie.
Forcing the door open an air conditioner whooshed over me, drying off damp crevasses instantly and in that moment I felt the sparkle and shine a vehicle feels after a pampering in those lazy car washes at the servo (minus the waxing and bubbles). Retrieving my phone to message Cameron about my arrival I saw he’d beaten me to it, in fact he let me know he’d changed tables four times. My eyes took their time to wander the restaurant and located Cameron seated in a booth at the very back corner, arms folded and hunched over his phone lying on the table waiting for my reply, I’m assuming.
“I thought you didn’t have my number anymore?” I greeted him sourcing extra crankiness from my tortured feet. He jumped at the sound of my voice. Woah! It appeared Cameron fought wild animals on his journey here, blood shot eyes looked back at mine and it was clear as day he hadn’t eaten recently. His clothes looked as though they’d been worn, thrown on a floor overnight, picked up and worn again repeatedly all week. A small crack snuck across my heart. One side of his mouth managed to curve upwards.
“Of all the dates on the calendar, I found an old birthday card my ex gave me.”
Here we go, painstakingly floating toward the abyss of guilt when I was hoping we’d go for a cannon approach.
“Happy Birthday?” I was taking a stab here since I’m certain it wasn’t Cameron’s birthday I had no idea what occasion he was alluding too.
“It’s Valentine’s Day. And you scrubbed out my ex’s name on that birthday card and scribbled your phone number.” He pulled the card out from under the table and slid it over to me but since I was determined to continue a frosty queen front, I tended to the drinks menu instead.
“I remember. Your phone died as did your affections for your ex. Or so you thought.”
Cameron always flittered back to his ex as soon as she snapped her fingers. Like watching a puppy at obedience school only Cameron wasn’t distracted by sticks and tennis balls, she was his only hindrance. Remaining silent he vacuumed a lot of air up his nostrils.
“So, what must we discuss in my favourite restaurant on Valentine’s Day?” I slashed the bullshit as neatly as I could.
“We’re not getting back together.” Cameron sniggered.
“I don’t recall us being exclusive in the first place.” I reminded up without lifting my head from the menu.
Tension rapidly boiling between us briefly simmered when a young waitress silenced our bickering, “Would you like to order starters? A drink may-.” She cheerfully began to offer before Cameron rudely cut her off.
“I’ve got chlamydia.” Was the verbal vomit that had to sprint out his mouth in that very moment and for the first time that night, surrounded by cardboard love hearts and roses attached to the merlot painted walls, the perfect surrounding for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t take our eyes off each other. A Lucky Bamboo plant sitting at the wall end of the table was evidently slacking off and I suddenly remembered the hospitable waitress, mouth opened her chin practically resting on her chest but pen and note pad still in hand.
I cleared my throat. “I’ll have a double whiskey and dry.”
“Huh-uh,” she jolted, nodding her head scribbling on the notepad and bravely turned to Cameron. “Sir?” Was all she could ask, unsure if she should be staring at a man in Cameron’s condition.
He looked up at her. “I’ll have what she’s got but on the rocks.”
The waitress nodded to him as well.
“Okay. A double Whiskey and dry and a double whiskey on the rocks.” She abruptly turned around and hastily scurried to the counter.
My face heated up after Cameron’s little dig, he ribbed me constantly for mixing whiskey however his jab wasn’t about dry ginger!
“What was that supposed to mean?” I hissed.
“I wanted to thank you in person for the Valentine’s present.” he grunted, his upper half now perfectly poised.
“Excuse me?” The vitriol in Cameron’s voice just as contagious as the STD he’d been impregnated with, a deposit that I was certain I didn’t father. “You’ve contaminated me with the charms if I’m in possession of it.”
“That old guy probably gave it to you,” Cameron suggested passively as the waitress timed serving our drinks perfectly.
My jaw tightened it, he was lucky the limbs below my neck were napping otherwise I guarantee a pair of chop sticks may have ended up jabbing out of an eyeball. “I only slept with Alex once and it was hours after you.”
I was thankful my reminiscence slapped that smirk from his face, although sculling a double whiskey wasn’t one of my most brilliant moments. My eyes burnt from forcing extra amount of whiskey down my throat in a miniscule amount of time and I had to escape before Cameron thought actual tears were sliding down my cheeks. Slamming my siphoned glass down so hard a few blocks of ice flew over the edges, my exit was going to be just as grand as my entrance. Grabbing my handbag, I figured I had every right to sidekick Cameron again with my glossary.
“Why is it single women are still having to justify our sex lives and men don’t have to explain a thing? Our libidos are just as needy.” I didn’t wait for his next facial expression by hook or crook my trembling legs hurriedly walked me out the door and it wasn’t until I boarded the tram I recalled not paying for my drink! I think it’s only fair that he shouted tonight.
Unlocking the front door, it was evident Corey was home and the memorizing wafts of chilli, salsa and cooked mince told me he’d made his signature dish of nachos and would complement the goon box of Sangria I’d been holding like a travel bag. Corey was spread on the couch carefully selecting what corn chip was headed down his gullet. He was mid chew when he looked at up me gazing lovingly at his plate of nachos through a face of thunder.
“There’s left over garnish still in the Pan, corn chips in the cupboard and cheese in the fridge.” He sighed offering me his left overs for lunch the next day. “Help yourself then come tell me what’s happened.”
I changed into my comforting pyjama pants and an old Magic Dirt t-shirt that appeared in my wardrobe. I assume I’d claimed it from an ex-boyfriend. Must have be at least 10 years old, but it fit and looked fabulous so survived eviction. The Sangria had laid about in the freezer long enough to re-chill and pour, I wondered if it was holy enough to suffocate sexually transmitted germs? Corey’s uncertain gaze followed me to the opposite end of the three-seating couch and thanks to the double whiskey and few mouthfuls of sweet sangria waltzing in my head, I decided to dive right in and tell Corey my news.
“Cameron is up the spout with the clap,” I proclaimed and promptly shovelled a pile of corn chips, cheese and avocado into my mouth.
Corey reacted by covering his plate and staring back at me. I wasn’t sure why he felt the need to shelter his lap.
I threw my head back and rolled my eyes, “You can’t contract it verbally,” I reminded him. “You can expose your groin now.”
“Cheese doesn’t need to be exposed to this sort of banter!” His eyes widened, proving he was serious.
“So you’ve got it?” He quizzed, still one hand protecting the melted cheese.
“No!” I assured him “Maybe! I don’t know?” I relinquished to confusion as the chips became limp and lifeless under the weight of garnish.
“Guess who’s off for an etching at that special place for individuals who enjoy intercourse of the unprotected kind?” He lectured me.
“I’m trying to work out when.” I grimaced at the thought of sitting in a sad waiting room full of boring pamphlets about contraception as opposed to the tabloid blasphemy that was available at the GP. By this stage I’d hoovered the plate and hardly touched the sangria.
“Um. At once would be your best bet!” Corey ordered licking his fingers. “Go Saturday.”
“Can’t. Grace’s baby shower is on Saturday.” My tongue made out with that plate, collecting left overs, it proved difficult during a conversation.
“That’s not until the afternoon.” He pushed.
“Mum needs me to decorate the house.”
“No point having decorations unless the baby has x-ray vision.” He laughed.
“Grace is far from thrilled about this.” I shook my head at the thought of my poor sister struggling not groan at the umpteenth designer item bought for a new born who’ll outgrow in no time.
“Why is she having it then?” Corey queried confused.
“Technically it’s Mum’s shindig, all about Mum needing appraisals being a pro at this Grannie Caper.”
“Are flaming wees flowing out of ya?” Corey asked tapping away at his laptop.
“Nope.” Cold Chisel lyrics began swimming about the sangria pool that filled my brain.
“Rank discharge?” Corey continued relishing in researching symptoms.
“Apart from ovum suicide, nope.” I answered in between softly humming the melody of Flame Trees and gulping sangria.
“How would you know the difference between ovulation suicide and Chlamydia?” Corey questioned with a tinge of accusation.
“I’d imagine Chlamydia discharge to smell worse than cat piss.”
“I reckon it would look similar to Jelly Fish. Those assholes look like discharge and sting.”
“Discharge with tentacles? Perfect description of Chlamydia but I’m afraid my undies haven’t trapped goo resembling Jelly Fish.”
“Your results are in and I can confirm you may or may not have a smack of chlamydia floating about your insides.” Corey confirmed.
My cervix got the pleasure of double swabbing by a gynaecologist, who reminded me I was overdue a pap smear. She offered both services while she was ‘down there.’ Once my date her dealt with. I was on a train to my parent’s place in Brighton. Brighton only got an occasional visit from me to assure the folks their youngest daughter is still alive. I was admiring the ocean through the window of the train when my message tone went off. I winced wondering what list of suspects it could be: My Mother pestering for my current location, Grace scorning me for leaving her alone with our Mother all morning, Corey making sure I didn’t avoid the gynaecologist or Cameron wanting to know if I was the co-parent of what he was terminating.
“Where are you? Mum’s wits are escalating rapidly!” Grace’s desperate SOS read. I knew I was going to be late and I’d planned on giving Grace the heads up but that plan evaporated from my do to list whilst working myself up about contracting Chlamydia! I’ve never paid extra attention to my wee, other fluids, body temperature or abdomen before.
“Typical you appear right when I put the food out.” Was my Mother’s greeting as I tip toed through their front door.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, a habit I’d taken up all the week, picturing Edina Monsoon with a champagne glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other telling me, “Just do your best, darling.”
“You once expressed to your class you wanted to be a cat when you grew up.” Mother’s voice travelled around the table like an irritating fly swanning about, pretending to fix up the table of triangle sandwiches, teeny tiny quiches, micro macaroons and more food that reduced in size. I don’t think I’ll ever grasp how pizza, pies or pasties never made it to a high tea menu.
“Where’s Grace?” I asked ignoring my Mother’s tone.
“Upstairs getting ready.” She admired her table with crossed arms. I’d left the room unnoticed.
I let myself into the bedroom Grace had confined herself to. She wasn’t getting ready. She’d stolen a plate of pin wheels from a fridge, seated upright on the humongous double bed being supported by enormous pillows. Mango had quite a growth spurt since I’d seen them last, suitcases under Graces eyes gave away that she and sleep were now strangers. This bed was where she wanted to spend her day rather than the lounge room endeavouring to be social.
“Look who finally showed up!” Grace scowled.
Oops, I was hoping the pin wheels had distracted her from me being a shit sister.
“My morning hasn’t been smooth, hell doesn’t just come in the form of our Mother.” I explained slipping my shoes off and joining her on the bed.
“Go on plead your case.” Grace forced a smile and one that told you pregnancy is hell so no sympathy is going to be granted.
“My gap has been violated twice this morning.” I moaned.
“It’s not violation of you’ve given consent.” Grace argued.
“A Gyno etched my gap. Cameron’s got the charms and convinced I gave it to him.” Grace looked mortified with my admission.
“You’ve bought chlamydia to my baby shower?” She gasped.
“No!” I replied just as horrified. “I’m certain I don’t have it!”
“Certain?” She echoed in disbelief.
“Trust me, I’ve been on guard for symptoms and nada,” I shrugged.
“I don’t understand your hostility with contraception?” Grace shook her head.
I patted her swollen stomach. “I’m married!” She laughed throwing a pin wheel at me.
“I recall you peeing on a magnitude of plastic sticks with your fingers crossed behind your back before you were married,” I brought Grace’s lack contraceptive sessions back to light on the morning of her baby shower. “Anyway, I shouldn’t be judged while in this condition.”
I curled my bottom lip hoping specks of sympathy would float my way. How wrong I was.
“You’ll earn compassion once you’ve conveyed a bowling ball inside you for months.”
“Wishing tumours on your baby sister isn’t very maternal of you.” I finally got a chortle out of her, neither of us having any inkling we’d been busted by our Mother now standing in the doorway, her fists resting on her hips her head agitating from side to side.
“Will you two get yourselves ready, our guests arrive any minute,” She huffed. “And those pin wheels were meant to be for those guests I speak of!”
“My party my pin wheels!” Grace retorted with half a pin wheel in her mouth.
“Baby showers are about the baby, otherwise they’d be called Mother’s showers and speaking of, you should consider one before everyone gets here!” Mum stationed herself under the door way perfecting a glamorous prison guard armed with a frightening glare.
“Mum!” I scoffed almost choking on the pastry wheel slamming into the wall of my throat.
“Mango is refuelling.” Grace protested biting into another pin wheel and I was wrapped that my nickname was catching on.
A saintly chime of a door bell was my cue, I’d never sprung from a bed so quickly as the combat erupting between Grace and Mum got too intense for a small room. Dad lucked out by making himself scarce attending his Saturday morning ritual of lawn bowls, snags and beer.
“I’ll end up burnt at the stake or worse in a confession booth if I skip bowls!” He reasoned with Mum.
I swung the door open and three women of perfection I recalled from Grace’s wedding greeted me with a harmonious with a “Hey, Jess.”
Flashbacks of my survival being Grace’s maid of honour and in the company of these three nearly had me lying on the couch calling for a therapist. Grace nor I had an inkling that it was a sister’s duty to be lead bridesmaid, a rule Mum made us aware of after Grace and her fiancé announced their engagement. A bridezilla and her squad of equally maddening zillas is equally debilitating as an ex infected with chlamydia! Meltdowns over outfits, accessories, hairstyles, make up colour swatches and a hen’s night was the reason my mouth ended up attached to a bottle, guzzling booze from it for a temporary taping of my shattered mind and soul every night. Meditating that lot was traumatic and I never want anyone to experience that. Thankfully when Grace became a Mum she comprehended that her son was the only one who had the right to raise her blood pressure and distanced herself from the brats she’d been friends with since high school and I was ecstatic to finally get a sister.
Being the attentive person that I am, their names fled my head, mainly because my ears and mind shut down once their mouths opened but somehow the tags Beetroot, Hummus and Tzatziki stuck and I’m baffled to why they thought it was hilarious and continue to play along. I politely let them in and hurriedly hatching an emergency escape when a choir of crickets began chirping from my bra. I’d forgotten that A) I’d stuffed my phone down my bra when I left my handbag upstairs in the spare room and B) During the Sangria and Nachos session, Corey and I found chirping crickets made a hilarious ringtone to warn that Cameron was trying to command my attention. Regrettably the dips were still walking past me during this and were fascinated by my trilling cleavage. Down my hand dove, under my top and retrieved my phone. I had a choice of talking to him or the dips. Capsicum wasn’t my favourite garnish but he won over Hummus and the gang. I excused myself and answered it hiding laundry.
“Make it quick, I’m at my sister’s baby shower.” I informed him.
“So you didn’t make it to the clinic?” He grunted.
I sighed, my eyeballs rolled back into my lids because this nonstop waltz was becoming weary. Unplanned whoopsie daisies aren’t pleasant but surely a pinch of drama was all that was needed, not the entire shaker Cameron was grinding at.
“I saw a gynaecologist this morning, did two tests and boarded a train to Brighton violated, hormonal and tender.” Last bit was a fib but it was my turn to be moody.
“It’s not my fault we’re in this!” He reminded me.
“We’re both to blame for this predicament. I’ve should have stuck to intercourse with myself!” I snapped at him.
I was on fire but interrupted by Hummus who’d been instructed by my Mother the fridge in the laundry could house a bottle of champagne gripped in her hand.
“Look I’ll be in touch,” I whispered. “I really can’t talk right now!”
I swiftly swiped the end button before he had a chance to hurl back.
“Everything okay?” Hummus cheerfully asked shutting the fridge door.
“Dandy!” I beamed.
A customary round of spit the dummy, lick the nappy and breaking through latex made the few hours in honour of Mango fly. Time came for Grace to unwrap gift hampers and for me to place the umpteenth nicotine lozenge under my tongue, sliding it all over my gums extracting chemicals to transmit me to my Zen bubble. Of all moments I couldn’t light up! A day involving scraping, an incision, pregnancies, clucky women and 12 hours with my mother. I massaged my gums like a junkie all the way back to the lounge where all eyes landed on me instead of the pregnant one who was sporting quite the beamer.
“What?” I ran my hand over my mouth and chin feeling for the crumb gaining an audience.
“You’re not smoking, talking on the phone about various symptoms, guzzling water and tea like anything, plus I’ve noticed the podge you proudly sport has grown a bit,’ Mother began and my head rotated at Hummus having my suspicions on who’s mouth had been working overtime. “Is there something you’d like to tell your Mother?”
Love and affection shone in my direction for the first time in years. I bit my lip letting them all dangle, losing control of the mischievous smile creating creases across my face.
“You’ve all figured it out.” I acted up.
“Oh my goodness!” My Mother began the chorus of excitable screams hugging me.
“I’m about 8 hours hungover and my gut is full of pin wheels!” I announced feeling fondness fade when her arms loosened round my shoulders.
“You’re not expecting?” She questioned her eyes narrowing in on Hummus.
“But I heard you on the phone talking about results and predicaments!” Hummus hushed confused.
“A bloke is accusing me of knocked him up with chlamydia.” I confessed only to teach her a thing or two on eavesdropping.
Mum leapt further away from me and Grace, bless her, let out ripper of a hoot.
“Did you?” Mum’s eyebrows were close to making out as she demanded to know if an STD was going to be her next grandchild.
“Supposedly,” I pointed out in defence, “I’m 98.99% certain Cameron’s trying to attach the blame to anyone but himself.”
“Cameron? The nice boy you brought around for my birthday?” Mum gasped in disbelief.
I’ll tell you a tale about Cameron being silly enough to think Australia would beat Fiji in the World Cup and because of this he got to spend an afternoon with my family. I surprised them with Cameron posing as a boyfriend so I didn’t have to put up with lectures about the body clock I was never blessed with. Cameron put on a Gold Logie worthy performance playing attentive partner/charming son in law my Mother ended up slightly crushing on him, enquiring how he was or what he was up to but I decided Cameron had to turn to dust when she began advising me on how to look after him. The standing ovation and applause came to an end when we split up amicably, letting another good man flutter away.
“He loved my tuna mornay and cabbage coleslaw.” Mum looked down, reminiscing of a long-lost son in law.
For the record, he didn’t love the tuna mornay but judged the coleslaw moderately digestible.
“Shall we start showering Grace with gifts?” Beetroot suggested trying to disintegrate the performance enthralling the attendees of a baby shower.
“Nah this is rivet-,“ Grace stopped herself thinking out aloud a little too late. “We should probably make a start.”
Rapidest change of heart I’ve witnessed.
Unwrapping every gift took quite the vigour out of Grace she opted staying in the same house as Mum that night. Her husband offered to race over and release her but left-over pin wheels waiting to be reheated and my parents place being child free persuaded her to hang around. I pondered staying but I’d eaten my weight in puff pastry I couldn’t look at coils of cheese anymore, nor be in the same room as the ‘the dips,’ making themselves at home. Time to haul myself and possible malady out of there and homeward bound taking a slight detour via a bottleo for discounted wine.
My eye lids lifted next morning with a view of Seagull’s bum almost touching my face. Shoulders deep in an open chip bag, he helped himself inhaling leftovers. My arms screamed at me reaching over for my phone to check the time. A drafted message waiting to be sent to Cameron forced me to spring up right ending with Seagull living up to his name sake, being airborne with chips for a few seconds. Boulders with in my head bumped into one another so I sat motionless until the rumbles came to a halt before reviewing every outbox, sent items and ‘oh shit’ folders I could think of, heaving a substantial sigh of relief when his name didn’t appear in any of them. For the odd occasion, the brain goes to sleep, stupidity clocks on and drunk dialling tops the list of tasks to complete. My hands caught my falling face, if don’t go looking for evidence it never happened.
Once the verbal rendezvous with my Doctor was over it was time to thump the final nail into the coffin with my Capsicum. We briefly exchanged words on the phone, surprisingly pleasant, to inform him my results were in but I refused to talk about it over the phone at work, with unsuspecting ears working overtime, the lessons you learn at a baby shower. By this point my temperament had cooled and thinking rationally for the first time during this ordeal. I genuinely wanted check-in to see how he was holding up. He was at home wallowing and said to swing by on the way home. Travelling along the hallway to his apartment, I was hastily partaking final rehearsals for my speech about my results, figuring out how I was going to let him down gently, when the door to his apartment flew open. Cameron looked like he’d been styled by yours truly. He stood in his doorway unusually dressed in a pair of tracksuit and t-shirt as opposed to crisp tops, smart jacket and a tidy pair of jeans he usually paraded in. His hair had been skimmed at least. I smiled at him as he wavered me into his abode and followed my stride into the lounge room separated from the kitchen by a breakfast bench. Evidently, he’d been using his time wisely with his x-box, the control lying on the sofa and game paused on the TV screen gave it away.
“Drink?” He offered leaning against the bench kitchen side.
All sorts of refreshments ran through my head, “Nah I’m fine thanks.” I just wanted to deal with the elephant strolling about in the room.
“What did your Doctor say?” He got straight to the point, the bench holding him up.
“It’s a big fat negative from me. I didn’t father your smack.” Whoops! Vastly unlike I’d rehearsed. Cameron’s upper half descended toward the bench, his forehead crashing into his folded arms. “Seems you’re going to have to make further phone calls.” I advised. He lifted his head up, looking at me expressionless before straightening himself.
“Cigarette?” He barely mustered retrieving a packet of tobacco, filters and papers from a draw he stood next to.
Cameron wasn’t a regular smoker, he inhaled tobacco twigs socially but rarely purchased them.
“Yes please.” I answered a little too eager.
We walked through the hole his sliding left letting fresh air weave its way inside, outside we took seats situated on the small rectangular balcony beholding a view of the sun lowering itself behind a silhouette of the city buildings.
“Sorry, Jess,” he bit his lip watching the sun painting the sky Fanta orange while his fingers constructed a rollie. “I’m not going try and excuse my behaviour, I shouldn’t have spoken to you the way I have been.”
He licked the glue sealing the paper wrapped around a slim line of tobacco. I thought about what I wanted to say to him and his a piss poor effort of an apology.
“I understand it was awkward seeing Alex in my bed.” I reasoned.
Cameron chuckled, “Awkward yes but I had no right to hold a grudge like that. You’re single, you have every right to see whoever you want.”
Holy hell I’d never seen this side of Cameron, considering someone else’s point of view wasn’t a skill he’d possessed. Someone had been doing some self-reflecting. I was blown away so all I could manage was “Thanks.”
“I was partly jealous too, he’s a very attractive man, I was tempted to jump his bones myself.” Cameron’s unexpected joke had me choking after taking a drag of my cigarette.
“Shit you okay?” Cameron attended to me sounding like a 70-year-old lady coughing a lung up while I located the bottle of water in my bag.
“I’m good,” I squeaked between breaths and sips of water. “I agree, he is excessively pretty to be partaking naked shenanigans with me.”
“I didn’t say that,” Cameron laughed.
“Trust me he is. Should be with some beach goddess, not a mediocre dag.” I pointed out.
“No one can argue with the dag part but you’re far from mediocre.” Cameron complimented me. Accepting a compliment was something I’d never mastered so I changed the subject.
“So, do you know who knocked you up?” I dared to ask him. He’s eyes shot to my direction without turning his head.
“My ex.” He confessed.
“Not the married one?”
“Yeah that one,” he leant towards a tomato tin in between us now filled with used slim filters. “What the hell is wrong with me?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you. We’ve all found ourselves starkers in thrust with an ex.” I assured him.
“She’s been my go to ex for 10 years.”
“10 years?” I scoffed and felt awful about it.
“Yep,” Cameron focused on the red light glowing behind the city. “The one that got away.”
My head whipped in surprise.
“The one that got away?” I echoed him, confused and horrified. “Cameron, you leapt away from a landmine! Multiple times. Stop now before she blows you to bits!” I pleaded expecting an accusation of being a kettle and pot the shade of midnight. All he did was shrug.
“She’s just got issues.” He defended her.
“She’s an ongoing war zone,” I tried to stop there but my rant continued to spill. “Cheating on her husband who is most likely polluted too. Piercing vocal venom into the women she is threatened by but for some reason you blokes fall over each other like toddlers learning how to walk once she puckers her lips and starts purring.”
Another cigarette was needed after that long-winded speech and the notion of Cameron’s evil ex effortlessly being centre of the universe. Cameron smirked back at me, resetting the cable from brain to mouth, “Wipe that smirk off your face, you know I’m making sense for once!” I warned him refusing to end the eye contact sucking back my cigarette, my multitasking abilities improved instantly.
“Why do you keep going back to Alex?” He’d arrived, the Cameron I knew, bloody know it all.
“Alex isn’t a manipulative back stabber. He’s a welcoming man who talks to anyone he stands next to and the least judgemental person I know,” I snapped. “Leading anyone one on isn’t his game and I have to point out, Alex is very attentive in and out of bed.”
Pack that in your tally-ho and suck it. Cameron face turned sulky again. “Look, Alex is-,” my brain frantically scanned for a better word than a conquest. “Sentimental.” That’ll do, although it didn’t stop Cameron raising his eyebrow in disbelief. “He also taught me a few things about myself internally and externally.” I nudged his elbow off his arm rest.
“People usually travel to India or Thailand to discover themselves.” Cameron’s forehead creased even more but the tone of his voice bellowed mockery.
“Some just need the perfect tutor to awaken.” I wished I had a better reply. I decided to head off as the sky turned charcoal. Strolling through his small apartment I asked him when he was going to brave the call to his ex.
“I don’t know,” he groaned, folding his arms as he leant against his front door. “She’s going to deny it.”
“She can’t. You’ve got evidence, surely her husband knows he’s got jellyfish swimming about.”
“Why do you kept referring to it as Jellyfish?” Cameron probed.
“Corey envisions Chlamydia looking like Jellyfish. A gathering is called a bloom or smack. I think the latter is rather descriptive of what’s going on right now,” I was partly embarrassed but surprisingly Cameron burst into laughter.
“I’ve always wondered where these musings you both share come from?”
“The jungles in our heads.” I assured him on a serious note. He opened the door to release me back out into the public. I turned to him a final time and gave him a forgiving hug, he squeezed his arms around my shoulders.
“Don’t go back to her. An astonishing woman is out there looking for you.” Although I was mortified at sounding like a soapie cliché I meant every word I said and I’m hoping his nose wasn’t crumpling as I was saying it. He loosened his grip and pulled away.
“I’m feeling distant from Prince Charming,” He smirked. “Jess, an apology isn’t good enough for the way I treated you but-.”
“You were anxious, anyone would’ve been if-.”
“Nah there’s no excuse for the way I behaved,” He explained “I wish there was a way to make it up to you but-.”
“Stay away from your ex and take some time out for yourself.” It was soul warming seeing his cheeky grin reappear.
“That I can guarantee.” He promised as I wondered towards the lift.
Calling into the supermarket on my way home I wandered down the hygiene aisle in search of bubble bath and in mid reach of it, I decided it was time to examine the contraception display. In the eye of cyclone chlamydia, I made the decision being a celibate spinster was the only option for the future. Celibate from blokes, not myself or the power tools in my bedside drawers. I can’t recall how it came about but I found myself pondering as an adult and figured condoms would keep the tampons company in my handbag, bedside draw, jacket pockets, even the pantry in the case of an emergency shag if Gabriele Byrne or Jason Mantzoukas happen to be in Thornbury. Their DNA should probably stay on their side of the latex! I’m done wiping someone else’s mess from me and it’s not particularly hard flicking off a connie.
My night ended soaking in the tub, submerged in scolding hot water untying every limb in me from my neck right down to my toes. Draughts of lavender bubble bath travelled up my nostrils, erasing events from the past week stashed in my head. A pressurised caress of the clit and sips from a cup of black tea mixed with Bailey’s did wonders for an emotion reconstruction. Following the bath and in the comfort of my pyjamas I opened the fridge door to be greeted by bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese. On top of plastic wrap protecting the contents within was a note. ‘Thought you might need some carbs for recharge. Rocky Road ice cream also fell out of the freezer and into my basket while I was at the shops and it is multi orgasms in a tub. Help yourself my darling. X’
All a girl needs in life is Corey’s wisdom in comfort food.