Family, Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Music, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Writing

The truth of the evening

I’ll tell you the truth. The others won’t, but you can count on me. Sit awhile, take a moment to relax, make a cuppa perhaps, while I give you the whole story.

We were at the soiree. You know, the annual fundraiser for the footy club. Oh, and I guess you need to know who makes up the ‘we’? All of us, the usual suspects: Barry and me, George and Hannah, Beth and Mike, Jason and Sarah and a few stragglers. Newcomers to the club. Parasites, really. Correctly deduced we are the power group of the club and became our barnacles for the evening.

About halfway through the night, Hannah and I left Beth and Sarah on the dance floor. The men were all gathered at the bar, slapping each other’s backs while necking beers and probably talking about meeting up for golf the next day. The two of us sneaked to the bathroom. We checked under the cubicle doors. We were alone. She opened her handbag and pulled out the small plastic bag. She waved it in my face with a smile.

Are you wondering why I’m admitting to this part? Why aren’t I withholding it? I told you I’d tell the truth, didn’t I.

‘Every mumma’s best friend,’ she said, and gave me a wink. We giggled and said something that I now don’t remember, while she tipped the white substance onto the bathroom bench. She used her gold Amex card to line it up. She snorted; she came up with a flick of her blonde hair and a wipe of her nose. Her eyes were bright, pupils already dilating.

‘Go on, Tully,’ she said. It was my turn. I felt her hands on my bare back as I bent forwards. I flicked my head up and gazed at myself in the mirror. Hannah turned me to face her. As her lips covered my own, she pulled the shoestring strap of my dress off my shoulder so that my breast was exposed. I felt it rub against her own.

No, it’s not the first time Hannah and I have done this. I know you’re wondering that. Sometimes we’re high on coke; other times, just bored. But it’s the first time we were caught.

‘Oh, excuse me. I’m so sorry,’ the woman said. She retreated into a cubicle as Hannah and I broke apart, straightened our dresses and fixed our hair. We hurried out to join the others. The DJ was pumping out a dance tune; the bass line vibrated through the floorboards. Hannah and I grabbed a champagne flute each from a waiter and stood in a shadowy corner of the room.

‘Where you two luscious ladies been?’ Barry asked. He kissed my cheek and whispered in my ear. Something about how great I looked. Hannah and I exchanged a smile before she walked off.

‘Doing the rounds,’ I answered. ‘You know how it goes.’ I watched her, admiring everything about her: the way her hips moved, her hair, the nape of her neck. I thought our secret would live on forever.

Barry’s fingers caressed my cheek. He deftly held my chin, tipped my face upwards to his.

‘Kiss for the president before I give the speech?’ he asked. I obliged.

I heard the scream. And then a sickening thud. I looked over to the balcony. Everyone had abandoned the dance floor and were looking over the railing. George was standing there, head in his hands, wailing, keening.

I knew. Before I even reached the balcony and looked over to see her twisted body on the ground below. She’d hit the retaining wall first, before falling another ten feet onto the paving bricks at the entrance to the club. Dark liquid pooled around her head.

‘Hannah! NOOOO!’ I screamed. I ran to the stairwell to make my way to her.

‘Stay here, Tully,’ Barry said, holding my arm, stopping me from moving. I punched against his chest with my hands. He let me.

The police came. Took interviews. Turns out the woman who saw Hannah and me in the bathroom was having an affair with George. I don’t even know her name; she was one of those barnacles. She reported back to George what she’d seen his wife doing in the bathroom with the wife of the club president. George confronted Hannah. It’s not clear yet if he pushed her over the balcony or she jumped.

But I know he pushed her.



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