Seduce Me

By: Georgia Le Carre


On the other side of the table Billie is waving to a waitress. I know what she wants. The waitress comes and Billie points to her empty glass.

‘So,’ I say casually. ‘Who do we know that are coming for the wedding?’

‘Well, a few of our school friends, Amanda, Nina, Sylvia, Jodie—’

‘No, what I meant is who is coming from our neighborhood?’

‘Oh! Uh… Mary—’

‘Fat Mary?’ interjects Billie.

‘Yes.’

‘You invited Fat Mary?’ Billie repeats, shocked.

‘Yeah, I did.’

‘Why?’ both Billie and I ask in unison.

Lana takes a sip of tea and looks at Billie. ‘Sometimes on my way to visit you, I’d take the way past the flats where we used to live so I could look at our old homes. That one time Mary was coming up the street. I crossed the road to avoid her, but she then crossed the road to join me. She took my hand and said she’d heard that mother had died. “Sorrow is how we learn to love,” she told me.

‘I was shocked. Is this really the woman who tanks up on a bottle of Cava, squeezes into a Lycra dress every Saturday night and goes up the road to look for a stranger to have sex with? “I know what you’re thinking, but it is just something to do in this sad world,” she said. I realized that I had misjudged her. She was so much more. We became friends.’

I look at Lana and suppress the annoyance I feel. This conversation has gone askew. ‘So Fat Mary is coming. Who else from our neighborhood?’

‘Oh my God!’ Billie cries suddenly. She looks totally revolted.

‘What?’ Lana asks.

‘Is that woman eating a chicken foot?’

Lana and I turn in the direction of her gaze. Indeed something resembling a dark brown chicken foot with the claws still attached is dangling from the woman’s chopsticks. Sickened, I watch her delicately nibble at one end. What can be in a chicken foot? Skin, gristle, and in the pads—fat. Uh! yuck. The thought turns my stomach and I turn away.

‘For God’s sake don’t stare,’ Lana whispers.

‘I’d rather starve than eat one of those,’ Billie declares.

‘It’s meant to be a delicacy,’ Lana informs.

I feel like screaming with frustration. Once again the conversation is drifting away from what I want to talk about. I realize I have no choice but to reveal my hand. ‘What about Jack? Is he coming?’ I ask as casually as I can.

Both Lana and Billie look at each other.

‘Jack has been invited, but I don’t know if he will come.’

That look they exchanged. There is more to this and I know exactly what to do to find out. When at an impasse, leave.

‘I need to go to the toilet. Be back soon,’ I say, and smoothly slide off the chair. I make it around the wall, behind where our table is, and drop my purse. Then I crouch down and pretend to be picking up stuff that has rolled to the floor while I hear every word of their conversation.

‘Has he not been in touch then?’ Billie asks.

‘No. I really hoped he would come.’

‘He’s hurting, babe.’

‘I guess I always thought he would give me away at my wedding.’

‘It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t. You’re marrying the man of your dreams.’

‘I know, I know. I don’t want to be selfish, but I love him so much and I really thought he’d be there, forever. To be honest I even find it hard to imagine getting married without him. And… He promised he’d give me away.’ Her voice breaks, and she says something else, but I am interrupted by a stupid woman who has squatted down beside me.

‘Here, let me help you,’ the do-gooder says cheerfully, picking up my mobile phone and lipstick. I could have hit her. Because of her meddling I didn’t hear the rest of Lana’s words or Billie’s reply. I snatch my phone and lipstick out of her hand and she shakes her head, surprised and disgusted by my rude behavior.

She stands up in a huff. ‘Whatever,’ she says, and marches away.

Two more women talking loudly in Chinese come towards me, and I have no choice but to stuff my things into my bag and stand. Irritated that I missed the most important part of the conversation, I head in the direction of the Ladies. I stand in front of the mirror and look at my reflection for a minute, my brain working frantically. Have Lana and Jack fallen out? My heart bursts with joy at the thought. I check my teeth for lipstick and then I go back to the table.

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