The writing prompt for this was to start the story with the sentence – ‘I have nothing to apologise for’.
This is where I went with it.
‘I have nothing to apologise for.’ Helen said, crossing her arms firmly across her chest.
‘Oh my God, you can’t be serious?’ I asked, watching her face for signs of a breaking smile, anything to signal that she might be joking.
‘I AM serious! The only way he’ll ever hear a sorry from me is if I accidentally say it with my dying breath and he happens to be there.” Helen snatched two glasses from the cupboard and sloshed red wine into them and onto the counter beneath them. “And I’ll be highly pissed off if that happens!” She added, handing me my glass and taking a large gulp of her own.
“Helen, you had his fucking Porsche crushed!”
“I know.” She shrugged.
“His new Porsche.” I reminded her.
“For no reason.” I added.
Helen nonchalantly sipped her wine and turned her attention to the small concrete yard outside my kitchen window. She had always been hotheaded but had gone further to prove her point this time than she had ever done before.
“Helen, are you listening to me? Andrew’s been reasonable so far but he’s made it clear he’ll prosecute you if you don’t apologise.”
Helen carried on watching nothing discernible in the courtyard, running her finger slowly around the rim of her glass.
“It wasn’t for no reason.” She said softly. I could hear, rather than see, the pout on her face. “He didn’t answer my texts for two whole days”
I sighed at my childhood friend, shaking my head as much to topple her words into a scenario that made sense as to show my exasperation. “He was working in a back of beyond village and had no signal, he didn’t know you’d been texting him.” I said, my arms raised in front of me, palms up, begging for common sense to to fall from above so I could throw it at her.
“I might have known you’d take his side, you always do.” She squeaked in an octave too high for the small kitchen. “They have pay phones in signal black spots you know. He could have called at some point over the weekend but he didn’t even try. I was worried sick, anything could have happened to him.”
I stared at Helen, she had a knack of saying the right words when they were required but it was very rare that they reached below her pampered skin. I had known Helen since the first day of primary school when we arrived in our red and white dresses and perfectly even pigtails. Even in those innocent days of dolls houses and dressing up, I’d never known Helen put anyone first but Helen.
“Worried?” I asked sceptically. “You were at the Country Club with Giles for half of the time and with Bitchy Bertie for the rest of it. When did you find time to worry?”
Helen turned and started to straighten the collection of storage tins and cooking implements that haphazardly lined the counter in front of her.
“I tried to call him on Saturday when my credit card was declined, Giles and I had a lovely lunch at the club and I offered to pay. I’d never been so embarrassed in my life, I made the waitress try again and then insisted that the manager try in case that incompetent girl didn’t know how to work the bloody machine. I tried to call Andrew a dozen times and his phone went straight to voicemail every time, in the end, Giles had to pay. I was mortified, you know how I like to pay my own way.”
I almost spat my mouthful of wine on the floor. “With the credit card that Andrew pays for?”
Helen ignored my question and began studiously tidying my cutlery drawer. “I sent him a furious text, which he also ignored.”
I opened my mouth to point out the signal issue again but she held up her hand to silence me. I watched my friend turning the knives, forks and spoons to align perfectly with each other in their trays for a few minutes before judging that it was safe to speak again.
“Then what happened Helen? I’m curious to know how this ended up with you having his car crushed.”
She took off her tailored pale pink jacket and hung it on the back of one of the mismatched chairs tucked under my ancient round dining table in the centre of the small kitchen. Her matching, made to measure dress complimenting the blonde hair falling in teased waves around her shoulders. She always looked immaculate, nothing less would do. I’m not certain how we remained friends all these years, we are complete opposites of each other in every way.
“After the credit card disaster, I sent him a few text messages asking him to get in touch.”
“Two hundred and twelve.” I said to her back. “That’s how many texts you sent him over the weekend.
“Like I said, I was worried.”
“He says they were quite threatening, that you were accusing him of being off on a dirty weekend.”
“Yes well, I was imaging the worst wasn’t I?” Helen had finished with the cutlery drawer and was now neatly lining up the mugs in my cupboard whilst I remained still, propped up against the counter where I’d been since she burst into my kitchen through the back door twenty minutes ago.
“And the worst you could think of was that he was cheating on you? You didn’t think that he might of had an accident or been in hospital or something?” Helen was showing no signs of answering. “So, then what happened?”
“Well, when he hadn’t replied by Sunday morning I went out for the day with Roberta.” She looked at me with the most innocent look she could muster. The only reason she would have phoned Bitchy Bertie was to find out if her gossip radar had Andrew on it. “Oh come on Bea, you know how easily I think the worst, I was looking for some reassurance that I was overreacting.”
“I’m assuming by the end result that you didn’t get any?”
“Quite the opposite actually.” Helen said, straightening her back. “Roberta told me that he’d been seen at the golf club meeting his wife! Of all the people he could be sneaking around with it was that cold, money grabbing bitch.”
“Ex-wife.” I corrected. “And there could have been any number of explanations for them having to meet. They do have children to discuss remember.”
“They have solicitors for that.” She spat. “And anyway, Roberta said that they looked pretty cosy together.”
“And you believed her?”
“Why would she lie?”
I could think of a dozen reasons why Bitchy Bertie would lie and they all revolved around comforting the newly single bachelor.
“Anyway, one thing let to another in my head and I could just see Andrew and his ex cosied up in some romantic little cottage somewhere, laughing at the gullible little girl he’d left at home and I just snapped.”
“Oh, Helen.” I never could resist consoling her, whatever she had done. It didn’t matter how insignificant the problem really was, to Helen, it was always as insurmountable as Everest. She reached for the roll of Christmas decorated kitchen roll that I was still using in June and blotted her tear-free eyes.
“He’d left his Porsche on my drive and it seemed like the perfect way to take my revenge. It was his pride and joy, he spent more time with that car than he did with me, honestly, it was ridiculous.” She used the square of kitchen roll to mop up the spilled wine from the counter, popped the lid of the pedal bin open with her Jimmy Choo and and threw it in.
“You have to apologise Helen, you can’t just destroy people’s property and expect them to be ok about it.”
She turned sharply to look me in the eye and planted her hands firmly on her hips.
“I have nothing to apologise for.”