Regret by Heiða
- “Would you like a bag for that?”
A bag? For one milk, a packet of bog roll and a few apples. Had this person not heard about climate change? Sure, it would have been handy not to forget the bag for life at home. Again.
The moustached lady on the till asked again but this time in one word:
- “BAG?” She raised one hairy eyebrow and pointed at the bag stand.
- “Ugh, no. No, thank you. That will be all.”
Diane rushed home with her hands full and placed the toilet paper under her right arm. This would do.
As she turned into her street curly Cat was outside number 42 sunbathing and reading a book. Maybe she would not notice her. She considered crossing the street but that felt a little over the top and to be honest she would have to cross back over to get to her house and she was not really one to take unnecessary steps. She knew the lack of exercise was visible as she had a bit of padding on her, she however, did not consider herself fat, she was feminine.
Cat was never called Cat to her face. Diane and her friends however called her curly Cat as she had annoyingly beautiful head of burgundy coloured curly hair. Cat worked both due to the fact her name was Catherine and also because her voice sounded like the cry of a cat in heat! The fact she was married to Josh could have landed her the title curly Bitch, however, it did not ring as well and if it would accidentally slip while talking to someone outside Diane’s closest circle of friends it would be harder to explain.
- “HIYA DIIIIIANEE!!”
There is the cry, in full blast! Damn, she had to be polite.
- “Hi Catherine…”
- “How are you? Still seeing that handsome plumber you were getting visits from last month? Or was that the IT guy? Gosh, I don’t know how you keep tabs on these fellas! Must be fun.”
What a condescending little…cat! If it had not been for her, Diane was convinced she would be living in Cats house with the man of her dreams!
- “No, I am not, not anymore.” She forced a smile as she had to play a strong card against curly Cats sympathetic face.
- “Aww! That’s too bad Diane!”
- “Yeah, no really it is fine.”
- “Of course! You are so strong! I am sure the right man is just around the corner!”
Not even a corner, he is next door. He is just married to the wrong woman!
Before Cat entered the scene, Josh and Diane had been on a few dates. They had been friends for years and enjoyed each other’s company. Diane had been a little reluctant in taking things to the next level. She felt like she was too young and she had to have a little more fun before she would get settled. She liked Josh and knew if she would have escalated it then that would have been that, they would have bought a house, planned a wedding the whole shebang. Therefore, she was playing the field before they would do that. She was honest about it with him as well. Relatively honest any way. He knew she was seeing other people and that she did not expect him to be exclusive either. At the same time she knew how loyal he was, he would never see more than one woman at a time. Therefore, she had her cake and ate it too.
But then bloody Catherine entered! She was a barista at a niche little coffee house in the same building as Josh’s office. Diane had never anticipated that!
Apparently, she had just sent him a message and told him she had to bail on their plans that evening as she had accidentally double booked. The other guy had booked a table at the new Italian in town, which took ages to get a table at. Could they reschedule for later? As he read it, at the café, Cat approached him with the heart shaped cupcake he had just ordered to take with him on the date with Diane. The rest was history. Cat did not get tired of telling this story, especially when Diane was around. Or in her garden and they were on the other side of the hedge. She was a bitch. A very beautiful one, who had just finished her masters in English literature. Yep of course her brain had to be just as sharp as her looks were stunning!
- “Well…anyway.. I better get going..” Diane hissed as nicely as she could through the strained smile.
- “Yes of course you must be busy on a Saturday! Any dates tonight?”
- “Nope, no dates. Just going out with Jack and Gem.”
- “Oh, how wonderful! We don’t go that much out at the moment, with me being 12 weeks pregnant and all.”
WHAT! This was just too much. Diane’s biological clock had been ticking the last year or so. When she felt down, she would torture herself with the fact she was sure if it had not been for curly Cat she and Josh would have had a baby together by now. Maybe even twins as she was a twin and so was her mum.
The worst part about it all was that Josh knew as well, and he had told her! Four years ago at a party at Jacks they had had a little too many and wondered into the garden for a chat. They talked and laughed for about an hour. She loved it, it felt like Cat did not exist and for that hour everything felt like it used to. Then his bloody phone beeped. It was the young barista, sending him a photo from Italy, where she was on a weekend graduation bash with her mates from school. She was standing in front of the leaning tower, blowing him a kiss. He got all soppy and showed Diane the picture. She answered by standing up and getting annoyed.
- “What’s going on? Did I say something?” He asked confused.
- “No.. Well.. No not really.. but…” Her annoyance was completely justified in her drunken state. However, she thought it might sound silly to him if she explained it out loud. He should just understand.
- “But what?”
- “Well, it’s typical isn’t it? We are here, having fun and your phone pings and all of a sudden that’s priority!” She was not sure how that was typical but nonetheless she was very satisfied with her argument.
- “We can’t have fun if I look at my phone? It was just a message from my girlfriend. Come on! Tell me more about your dads birthday and how your sister sang to him!”
- “That’s the thing! Your girlfriend!” She may have acted a tad to childish when she said the word girlfriend in a mock voice.
- “What on earth is going on with you? Don’t you like Catherine?”
- “It’s hard not to. She’s fucking perfect, isn’t she??” Her voice was now high pitched and her arms were very animated.
- “Di, what the hell is going on?”
- “Come on Josh, you know! I liked you! I liked you so much! I knew you were the one. I just wanted to have some fun and THEN settle down with you. In fact, I liked you so much I would have settled on moving to Sheffield with you. She wouldn’t do that, would she? But no you chose her!” She may have blurted a little too much out at the same time. His face looked a little like the face of her niece when she told her there was a town called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales. He stared at her for a moment.
- “Are you joking me Diane? You got to be kidding, right?” He was not angry he just seemed genuinely surprised by her speech and at the same time there was sympathy in his voice.
She did not really care for that. It felt like he might be taking pity on her. She definitely did not need him to do that as at least she had kept her dignity for this long.
- “No. I really did think me and you would end up together, get married and all…” She was now looking down at her feet as she was kicking a little pebble back and forth with the pointy shaped toes of her shoes.
- “Diane.. Di… I am so sorry. Really. I felt the same. I was head over heels. I had no idea. You never indicated that you felt like that. And you were seeing those other guys and when I made romantic gestures I never really knew whether you liked it or not as you would make fun of me…”
- “Well, I DID like it! And I wanted more, just not yet. But then she ruined it!”
- “She didn’t ruin it. I had waited for so long. You had been stringing me along for almost a year. How long was I supposed to let you treat me like that? I have heard how you talk about the guys that do this to you and the girls! They are all bastards and deserve to be castrated, with a spoon!” Damn, he was too good of a listener, he was quoting her own words exactly! It was not the same though as she had every intention of stopping this nonsense and settling down with him. Those guys were simply treating women like dirt and playing the field because they could! Scumbags!
- “That’s not fair. You know I am not like them…”
- “I know you are not. That’s why I was in love with you! That’s why I had pictured us living together in a house in frigging Sheffield with a baby and a dog! But I had to protect myself. You didn’t seem to be on the same page as I.. I am sorry…” Now it was Diane that had a look of utter surprise on her face. What the hell? What had she done?
- “Well, you would have known if she wouldn’t have come along with her ridiculous laughter and bloody heart shaped cupcakes!!” She stormed back into the house and their friendship had never been the same.
- “12 weeks pregnant? Wow, I didn’t know. Congratulations!” She just wanted to get back to the safety of her flat and crack open a bottle of gin and forget all about this conversation for the time being.
- “Thank you! I’m due around his belated mums birthday, it would be perfect if it was a girl and we could honour his mum by naming her after her.”
- “Yes, Catherine, it would be fucking fantastic! Have a happy motherfucking life! I’m off now as I need to swipe Tinder for the next knob I can pretend to fall for!” She put her chin up and stormed off as dignified as one could be with a packed of bog roll under their arm.
She let herself in and took the steps up to her second-floor apartment two at a time. When she reached the third last step one of the apples flew out of the bag and reached it before she did. Her foot was already on its way to land on the step, but instead it hit the apple and she swung backwards.
As she flew through the air, head first, she thought to herself “Who would have thought my biggest regret today was to turn down the bloody bag at the store?”