I love the way you lie.
Cheers! 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 her latest arrivals through her modest London home and into the back garden as the doorbell chimed once more.
"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 immaculately styled 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." She continued, pausing for a moment as they passed her.
"Oh-" The wife paused from her preening. "- your garden looks... cute." Her mouth twitched under the strain of all the Botox keeping it in place. Finally managed to form an awkward grimacing smile.
Kat sighed heavily as she glanced down the narrow garden that stretched back and 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 hung 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 as Kat looked around the sea of faces occupying her backyard with a heavy heart. Apart from the few family members that had made the trip to London from Stafford, she actually didn't have many of her own friends. A couple of women she worked with, who were really only there out of politeness were the closest she had to friends, but everyone else 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 sounded again and again.
"You want me to get that?" Her husband's broad cockney accent bellowed over the buzz of the music and 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 acknowledgement.
The doorbell echoed through the house again as Kat grinned at her husband before gently shaking her head.
"No it's fine, I'll get it."
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.
"Alright, alright, I'm coming!" She called out as the sound of the bell rang through the narrow hallway again.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the large silver framed mirror hanging beside the door and paused to re-adjust an 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 and an exasperated sigh escaped her dry cherry red lips as she tried to wipe it off with her little finger but just smudged it even more.
She stood back, hardly recognising the sight of the washed-out 30-year-old woman in the knee-length floral dress staring back at her.
"Jesus Christ, I'm coming." She almost shouted as the bell reverberated through her ears again.
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.
Her eyes met with a well dressed woman, and instantly a strange sense of uneasiness swept over her.
They were of similar height but opposite in appearance, the woman looked a little younger than her, and was stylish with her wide-leg trousers and matching calf-length white coat. Her glossy blonde hair was wavy and sat perfectly at her shoulders, accentuating her piercing blue eyes which 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 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.
"W-who are you? How do you know my name? W-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 grey. The look of fear didn't last long, as David's face began to turn red with temper.
Kat's 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 stood 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, studying 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 two women from Kats work had been in the kitchen getting ready to leave when they 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 squarely in the face resulting in an argument erupting between both of 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 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 Midland accent ignited 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. 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 father's 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 on her unsteady legs.
"There you go, sweetheart." Her Mom pushed crumpled tissues into Kat's hand and then proceeded to dab at her nose with the extra she brought.
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 damped strands of hair 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 Konnor 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 and looking sorry for himself as his flawless baby mama sat opposite him dabbing at her eyes and being consoled by Davids Mother. Kat paused to take a deep calming breath before joining David and Isabelle in the living room, calmly shutting the door behind her.