Last night’s fight with Ellie kept me awake all night. I’m really struggling this morning and I don’t think my coffee is strong enough. The dim lighting in my apartment is easy on my waking eyes, but it makes my internal struggle to get ready for work even harder. I drag myself to the shower and after my shower, I make myself up for the day. A text comes in on my phone and I hope to see Ellie’s name, but instead it’s from Dominic.
Good morning beautiful, I can’t wait to see you tonight.
Damnit! I completely forgot about tonight. I need to tell Cora that I cannot make happy hour, by far our favorite ritual. I hope she understands, especially after I tell her about my fight with Ellie. I’ll need to tread lightly with my details as I don’t want to cause more harm to my friendships with them both. Ellie and I will eventually bury the hatchet. I just know it. The more I think about it, the more I believe I reacted strongly to Ellie’s accusation because I was stressed yesterday. This whole week has been long. It’s not an excuse for my behavior, but it’s at least an explanation. Then again, why am I allowing myself to take the burden of all the blame? Ellie played her part, too. She was way too sensitive about my questions.
I scurry to my desk and log in to my computer. I’m thinking about getting a second cup of coffee already. This is going to be a long day. To my surprise, Cora walks in the office. She looks awake and well put together. She must sense me staring at her. We catch eyes and she smiles and waves. This is great news for me, because it hopefully means she will accept my apology for bailing on tonight and not make me beg for her forgiveness. The last thing I need this morning is another friend who is upset with me. I take a deep breath and walk over to her desk. “Good morning, Lucy Goosey,” she smiles brightly.
“Top of the morning to you!” I say in hopes that she doesn’t pick up any inflection in my tone, “Do you want to grab a coffee from the break room with me?” She nods and we walk together to the break room, smiling and greeting everyone we pass by.
“Spill, what happened?” Cora says when we are finally alone.
“What? What do you mean?” Can she read my mind?
“You look like you were hit by a bus. Did you have to drag yourself in? Looks like you didn’t sleep at all last night.”
Well, that confirms it, she can definitely read my mind. I have to tell her about my fight with Ellie and work in that I won’t be making it to happy hour tonight. Damnit again! I never texted Dominic back this morning. I am truly losing my marbles. I say my words gingerly, “Is it that obvious? I got in another fight with Ellie last night and I took it pretty hard. I barely slept.”
“Again? What is she crying about this time?” Cora shows no empathy to my situation with Ellie.
A part of me wants to come to Ellie’s defense, but I remember how that very thing played out for me last night and I do not want to lose Cora at a time like this. “I started to think about the day Ellie snuck into my apartment and wondered what the gift was, so I asked her. She said it was a plant, but when she dropped it, it broke and she understandably did not want to give me a broken gift.”
“I’m not getting it, where’s the issue?”
“Um, well, she said that it wasn’t like me to ask about the gift and thought there was a motive behind my question,” I say in hopes that I can avoid telling her that her name came up in the conversation.
“Motive? You’ve got to be kidding me. This girl, I swear. I say good riddance. Let her go and move on. Something isn’t right about her and you know it. What motive did she think you could possibly have?”
Feeling a bit cornered, I confess that Ellie accused Cora of putting me up to asking. I watch as Cora’s face goes from bemused to annoyed to angry. I understand her anger. She and Ellie have their history and it has been a bumpy road. They have put up with each other for me, but now, I am not enough of a reason for them to get along anymore. She looks me square in the eye and says, “Ellie is a psycho. Stay away from her because I think she will hurt you. Keep her the hell away from me, too.”
I’m not sure when I can broach the fact that I’m not able to go out tonight, but right now is not the right moment. I acknowledge Cora’s request with a silent nod in agreeance and turn to go to my desk. I need to give her some time to cool off. Hopefully I can tell her at lunch later. I pick up my cell phone to text Dominic back, but my desk phone rings and I take the call.
Hours fly by before I look up at the clock. It’s noon, Cora is heading over to my desk so we can head out to Benni’s Bistro. I have been surprisingly busy today and realize again, I forgot to text Dominic back. I am not earning the girlfriend of the year award today. I try to sneak in a quick text back to Dominic, but Cora reaches my desk and continues walking on by as she says, “Let’s go.” And something in me tells me I should not linger any longer because she is still upset from this morning.
We sit at our favorite table and this time, we have a waiter who knows our orders by heart. He confirms our orders and promises to have our food out in a jiffy. We sit in silence until Cora breaks the ice, “I’ve been thinking about this morning and I think I overreacted. I never asked how you’re handling everything between you and Ellie. It must be very difficult for you to fight with her, huh?”
I’m a bit taken back, but finally, Cora shows some compassion for my situation. “You know me, I’m a peacekeeper. I wish more than anything that my two best friends could get along, but it feels like a fantasy.”
“It’s fine, I’m over it. Let’s just enjoy our lunch and we can blow off some steam later with our cocktails,” she shrugs and smiles at me. I aspire to be more like her, able to let things roll off my back and move on quickly.
I gulp and begin to tell her, “About tonight, I actually can’t make it. Dominic is planning to take me out tonight and I think it’s a much-needed date for the two of us. I hope you understand.” I sit and wait, watching her facial expression change from happy to bummed out.
“I see, you’re ditching me for a rendezvous with your boyfriend. Pigs must be flying because I never thought I’d see the day when you would choose a boy over our friendship.”
Is she joking right now? I shift uncomfortably in my seat. I didn’t expect her to attack me. “First, Dominic is hardly a boy, he is a full grown man who has his own house and runs his own business. He’s a veteran and helps his sister raise his nephew. He volunteers with at-risk youth.”
“Sheesh, slow down a moment, Luce. I didn’t intend to insult you. Stop being so sensitive.”
I feel my face flush,. Have I been the one overreacting this whole time? Is Ellie right? Have I not been myself lately? “I apologize if I overreacted. I am protective over those I love, which is the main reason Ellie and I had a bit of a falling out. I defended you. Also, I didn’t see it as choosing my relationship over our friendship when I agreed to a date night with Dominic. Honestly, I gave it thought before I accepted his invitation.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it,” she looks away and then back at me. “What I’m about to say is going to be straightforward and you should not shoot the messenger. Please take that into consideration before I say it, promise me.”
Already feeling my defenses go up, I make the promise, “Scout’s honor.” She takes a deep breath, but pauses as the waiter brings us our soup and sandwiches. We politely say thank you and when he is out of earshot, Cora drops a bombshell on me.