I wondered if I had enough time to cross the street before you saw me. Hide in that Off Ya Tree shop and pretend I was inspecting a bong, looking down the mouth-pieces and tubes and hoses. Checking for velocity and slurping power and god knows whatever else you look at in a bong. I would fit in too, with my red-rimmed eyes and grey trackies making me look like a legendary member of the club. Livin’ the dream man.
But you saw me and your face changed from that of a person pleasantly cruising down Swanston Street, to a face of surprise, shock and then awkwardness. Your smile drooping slightly like a stroke patient. It didn’t help that I was staring right at you, like that toy Furby we used to play with that had broken eyelids.
You said regaining movement in your mouth and giving me that trademark customer service smile that people get after working in the area for nearly ten years. The dimples rose like a soft bread but the eyes sat like two marbles in your sockets.
‘How the heck have you been?!’
I lie, because being honest would make my eyes change from weed-smoker to full on meth head red. I lie about my great job, my new fantastically shiny car in my drive-away, about my planned 10 day trip to South America.
It’s all bullshit and you know it. But you respond in the same bullshit way, you’re a manager now, engaged (shiny piece of rock that I have to compliment because that’s the rule isn’t it?) and your honeymoon to Fiji!
We already know all these things about each other, but we pretend that we don’t follow that silly Facebook site, that we haven’t zoomed on each others profile pictures and compared our figures, the creases around our eyes, analysed each other status updates.
We used to play barbie dolls and not much later share our Dolly magazines and all of the crushes and secrets we had. We wore those best-friend heart necklaces where I had one half and you had the other. We imagined ourselves old, wrinkly toes poking out of patchwork blankets as we both sat on our rocking chairs on a balcony in a house we shared, necklaces still hanging loose around our throats.
You smile wider and inspect my outfit, lingering over the cheese stains on my t-shirt, the holes in my pants.
‘Laundry day.’ I lie and you nod again, politely, even though laundry day is no excuse for my greasy hair, my body odour.
After a few minutes you excuse yourself, there’s so much to do for the wedding! And I say, oh yes of course! I’m so busy myself!
But I can’t move for a few minutes and need to lean against a pole. If we were twelve again you wouldn’t leave me here. You’d wrinkle up your nose and tell me I stink and I would cry and you’d hug me and let the tears and snot drip down your favourite Roxy t-shirt. Then after we would go back to your house and paint each others nails bright pink and forget about it all.