I met AWS1 at a night out. She was invited by other members of the group we hung out in. Although we had attended the same school, we had never really spoken.
I remember one morning logging onto Facebook to see photos from an event the night before, which I had been too ill to attend. There was this girl in all these brightly coloured clothes jumping around in a few of them. “She looks crazy” I thought, admiringly. She reminded me of how I’d been a few years back before Mr Weirdo had infiltrated the group.
You know when you’re at school and you see another kid you like, and you want to be friends, but aren’t sure what to say? That was pretty much how it was with AWS1. Eventually I blurted out that I’d like her to come out for my birthday in a weeks time and she agreed.
We clicked pretty much straight away. AWS1 was (still is!) smart, creative, a little bit quirky and wore her heart on her sleeve. She seemed to make choices based on what she felt in her heart. I admired her greatly for all these qualities. Mr Weirdo, of course, did not.
“She’s a bad influence on you,” he sneered, “She forgets that just because she’s single, you’re not. I don’t want you hanging around her whilst she’s out looking for men”
So, much like an affair in itself, we used to sneak out on nights out. It wasn’t so much about looking for guys either. We abandoned the other group and just went out dancing and joking with (or about) the strange people we’d meet in the city.
Mr Weirdo became increasingly irate until eventually he demanded to be guest to one of these nights out, as proof of my loyalty. AWS1, not knowing really what he was like at this stage, invited him to a Halloween fancy dress party.
I’d kept Mr Weirdo at arms length a bit with AWS1. She had met him a few times, but I was embarrassed to disclose how the relationship truly was, and was already edgy by the time it came round.
Mr Weirdo was wealthy and loved to show this off. He paid a local tailor to handsew him a complete Sherlock Holmes outfit. He made disparaging remarks about me and AWS1s store bought costumes.
At the event, the co-ordinater asked me if I knew Mr Weirdo. I said yes, and the co-ordinater grinned apologetically.
“That’s a shame! You would have won the females best costume otherwise!”
Mr Weirdo won best male costume. He spent the whole evening glaring at all the other guests, grimacing when they asked to pose with him, and sniffing at the bottle of wine he won as a prize. The photographer tried to take a photo of the three of us, but Mr Weirdo pushed me away savagely.
“It isn’t your competition” he snarled.
At one point I lost sight of AWS1 where she’d gone to the toilets. I went to sit with Mr Weirdo, who began lecturing me to pick better friends, as this one had clearly gone off to find men and just left me alone. Only he was here to look after me, he said, and sighed at the weight of this burden.
AWS1 of course returned and eventually we drove home. We were all dead silent in the car. As soon as she pulled up outside my house, before AWS1 had even turned the ignition off, Mr Weirdo was out of the vehicle.
“Give me your keys. Don’t take forever.” He snapped, and stormed inside.
I was horrified because it was like having to show a friend a vulnerability you aren’t ready to show them. I was terrified AWS1 really would dissappear, disgusted by how horrible he was, and surely by extension, how pathetic I was.
Instead, AWS1 looked at me kindly and said, “Don’t worry. We’re never inviting him again”
In my relief I became very tearful. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her about Rome, or the affairs, or the whole unconcious rape thing, but I expressed how lonely and trapped I felt.
The whole time, my phone was buzzing with furious messages; WHERE R U? HURRY UP. TELL HER YOU NEED TO GO TO BED.
AWS1 said to me, just before she drove away, “I’m making a wish for you that you’ll find someone better, who treats you how you deserve”
That wish was truly a lifeline.