I love the way you lie.
The echo of clinking glasses, idle chit chat, and laughter filled the garden and kitchen, making the cheery background music barely audible.
It was a little warmer than normal for a Saturday evening in mid May, Kat was escorting the newest arrivals through her modest London home and into the back garden as the doorbell chimed again.
"We're sorry we're so late Kat." The heavily tanned man placed his hand on Kats lower back, making her shift uncomfortably as his oblivious wife stood huffing and puffing at a wayward strand from her immaculate bouncy blow dried hair.
"We've just had the worst luck with childcare recently, it's so difficult to find someone reliable these days." He towered above Kat, flashing a mouthful of intense white teeth.
"You're so lucky you don't have to worry about that stuff." The wife interrupted as she continued to fiddle with her hair.
"Don't worry about it at all." Kat dutifully smiled, beckoning them through the back door and out into the lively yard. "You're here and that's the main thing."
"Oh-" The wife paused from her preening. "-your garden looks... cute." Her mouth twitched into an awkward grimacing smile.
Kat sighed heavily as she glanced down the narrow garden that stretched further back than the eye could see. The corner of her mouth twitched as she proudly assessed her decorative handiwork. The pretty fairy lights that were pinned to the wooden fences were now beginning to illuminate the makeshift 30th bunting that was hanging between them, and the pastel coloured paper lanterns hanging from the washing line swayed almost in time with the thumping beat of her husband's playlist.
"That's very kind of you, thank you." She finally spoke after a prolonged silence. "We were not quite sure what to do but it all came together nicely in the end." Kat rambled away as she eyed her handiwork again and now proudly smiled.
The new guests continued with their polite small talk, occasionally nodding to people they spotted in the crowd. Kat looked around the sea of nameless faces occupying her backyard and her heart felt heavy. Apart from the few family members that had made the trip down to London from Birmingham, she actually didn't have many of her own friends, other than a couple of women she worked with, but they didn't feel like friends and were only there out of politeness. Everyone at her birthday party was actually a friend or an acquaintance of her husband.
The chiming of the doorbell pulled her from her thoughts, as it repeatedly went again.
"You want me to get that?" Her husbands broad cockney accent bellowed over the buzz of the music and the multiple conversations filling the small space around her.
Kat watched as David smoothly manoeuvred through the crowd, repeatedly tapping people on the arm or back, and flashing his £4000 charismatic grin at them in acknowledgment.
The doorbell echoed through the house again, Kat grinned at her husband before gently shaking her head.
"I'll get it, it's fine."
She stepped aside and signalled to her most recent guests where they could find food and drinks, and pointed to a group of people towards the rear of the garden who were mutual friends of theirs. She thanked them again for coming before leaving them with David and headed back into the house, towards the relentlessly chiming doorbell.
"OK, I'm coming!" She called out as the sound of the bell echoed through the narrow hallway again and again.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the large silver framed mirror hanging beside the door and paused to readjust a unruly strand of her jet black poker straight hair. The muggy English weather had caused her eyeliner to smudge in the corners of her eyes, so she tried to wipe it off with her little finger and smudged it even more. An exasperated sigh escaped her dry red lips. She hardly recognised the the sight of the washed out 30 year old woman in her knee length floral dress staring back at her.
"Jesus Christ, I'm coming." She shouted as the bell echoed in her ears. A little too hastily she reached out for the door handle, causing it to swing open so rapidly that it nearly hit her in the face.
"Can I help you?" She sharply asked as she eyed the stranger harassing her doorbell.
As her eyes met the well dressed blonde stood in her doorway, a strange sense of uneasiness swept over her.
They were of similar height but absolute opposites in appearance, the woman looked a little younger than Kat, she was stylish and immaculately dressed in wide leg trousers and matching calf length white coat. Her glossy blonde hair was wavy and sat perfectly at her shoulders, whilst her piercing blue eyes quickly began to water as Kat held her gaze.
"Can I help you?" Kat repeated herself as her eyes moved from the woman's face down to her heavily pregnant stomach.
The woman followed Kats gaze and she uncomfortably shifted on her feet before placing a protective hand on her bump.
"So... Can I help you?" Kat impatiently asked again.
The woman nervously cleared her throat and pushed her shoulders back, making herself look a little taller than Kat had originally suspected. "I need to speak with David." she firmly announced.
"And you are?" Kat hesitatingly queried, as her eyes narrowed in confusion.
"I'm really sorry to do this to you Kat, but I have to speak to David." The woman's voice was now sharp and authoritative, causing Kat to retreat slightly.
"Who are you? How do you know my name? What do you want with my husband?" Kat fired each question in rapid succession, stumbling over her words as she did.
The noise from the garden broke through the tension and both women instantly turned to find David standing in the kitchen doorway looking a peculiar shade of greyish green. The look of fear didn't last long, as David's face began to turn red as if he were about to explode with temper.
Kats forehead creased into deep lines as she spotted the nervous red blotchy patches scatter up his neck, the sight of which she hadn't seen since he sat through the best man speech at their wedding.
"What are you doing Isabelle?" David barked at the now sobbing woman in the doorway.
Kat took a small nervous step back, cornering herself between the door and the radiator as David prowled forward. Everything was happening so quickly, yet they all looked like they were moving in slow motion. Kat threw her hand to her mouth as she felt the bile rising in her throat, and her head began to pound. Every time she tried to swallow her mouth got drier as she knew what was about to happen but couldn't do anything to stop it.
"It's the baby David, I tried to call but you wouldn't answer." The woman sobbed in the doorway and David instinctively moved towards her, his eyes were now filled with panic and concern.
Kat stayed fixated on the expensively dressed woman, she studied every inch of her line free face and dewy glow, as the words kept coming out of her mouth, shattering Kats whole life right before her eyes.
"They think she may have a hole in her heart David, our baby might not make it David." Isabelle wept as David took another step towards, her closing the gap between them both.
Kat held onto the radiator for support and watched in terror as Isabelle's words swarmed around her head. She couldn't speak, she couldn't move, she couldn't unhear the words 'our baby', as it repeatedly zoomed and swirled around her, leaving her in an almost catatonic like state.
The women from Kats work had heard the commotion and came to her aid, screaming at David as soon as they figured out what was happening. Suddenly there were people everywhere and the air was thick with chaos, as angry words and confused glances were being thrown around the compact hallway. Kats brother arrived on the scene and before anyone could stop him, he punched David square in the face resulting in an argument erupting between both their parents.
The next thing Kat knew, she was in the upstairs bathroom clinging to the toilet as she threw up. Her head pounded as the muffled sound of angry voices continued to thud against the bathroom door, she carefully perched on the edge of the bath and counted the white shiny floor tiles, trying anything to regulate her breathing and regain some form of control over herself.
"Come on Kathleen, come on." She muttered to herself as she rocked back and forth on the edge of the bath, tightening her grip so her knuckles were white.
A gentle tap at the door startled her. "Kat are you ok?"
The sound of her fathers deep Birmingham accent ignited the tears to fall quickly from her bloodshot eyes once again. Shakily she rose to her feet, opened the door, and instantly threw herself into her fathers large bulky frame, as he protectively wrapped his heavy bear like arms around his little girl.
Kat hadn't noticed her mother standing behind them but felt her presence as she too wrapped her arms around Kat and began to cry.
"Kathleen pack a bag and come home with us." Her mother whispered still clinging onto her daughter.
"Marie." Her fathers voice was deep and husky from all the cigarettes he had smoked over the years. "Just let her be, she'll figure out what she wants to do when she's ready."
"I'm not pushing, I'm just making sure she knows she can do that." Her mother snapped through her tears. "She needs to know she has options."
Her mom had never really liked David and even though she always supported her daughters choices, she couldn't help but take any opportunity to tell Kat that there was something off about him, or something she couldn't quite put her finger on as she would nonchalantly put it.
"Here, let me get you a tissue." Her mother moved into the bathroom and her Dad began to loosen his grip but still held onto her as she wobbled.
"There you go sweetheart." Her Mom pushed crumpled tissues into Kats hand, and then proceeded to dab at her nose with her own.
Kat forced the corner of her mouth to turn up for a brief second as she accepted the tissue and blew her nose, then wiped under her eyes.
Her Dad's mouth screwed up in disgust. "You probably should have done the eyes first, then blew the nose... but it's ok, we're still learning I guess."
He always had a knack for managing to find a joke or silly comment in any situation, Kat welcomed the break in the mood and let out a soft sigh.
"What do you want to do Kat?" Her mother's soft tone was full of concern as she brushed the hair back off Kats face.
"Marie!" Her Dad muttered again.
"It's ok Dad." Kat wiped under her nose again and turned to her mother. "I don't know Mum, but I do need to hear what they have to say and just try to make some sense of the situation."
"You don't need to give that arsehole the satisfaction of trying to explain himself, it's pretty simple he's a cu..."
"Marie!" Her father sternly interjected before she could finish the sentence.
"I'm just saying." She quipped back.
"Not now, we follow Kats lead on this Maz."
Her mother had always appeared to call the shots and rule the roost in their family, so it caught Kat by surprise to see her father finally steering the ship after all those years of his happy wife, happy life mantra.
"Ok, I'm going to do this, I have to." Kat took a deep steadying breath. "I love you guys." She painfully smiled at her parents but quickly looked away as she felt the sharp sting return to her eyes.
"We got you Kat." Her younger brother Konor appeared at the top of the stairs and gave her a reassuring nod.
"Thank you." she mouthed, noticing his bloody knuckles as she squeezed his arm on passing.
She headed back downstairs to find most of the guests had left, apart from a few gossip mongers relishing in the drama. The living room door was wide open, as she passed she could feel her blood begin to boil in seeing David sitting on the chair nursing a bloody nose looking sorry for himself and his flawless baby mama sitting opposite him dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
Kat walked straight passed the room and into the kitchen to get a glass of water, as those hanging around for the second show avoided eye contact with her and whispered in their little huddles.
Her head began to pound again as she positioned herself in the doorway so those inside and outside of the house could hear her.
"Thank you all for coming." Every ounce of energy she had left was channeled into holding herself together for the next few moments. "I'm sorry we have to cut the entertainment short, but due to some technical difficulties the show is now over, so can you please get out!" Her voice broke as she spewed her final word.
"Kat, don't do this tonight." Her colleague from work pleaded with her to give it some time.
"When will there ever be a good time?" Kat sarcastically air quoted as she forcefully stepped past her. "If you want to support me then please get the rest of these people out of my house."
The bumbling woman tried to offer Kat a sympathetic hug but Kat stepped out of the way and headed back towards the living room. She paused to take a deep calming breath before joining David and Isabelle in the living room, calmly shutting the door behind her.