She Prefers Cunning Kindness To The Over trustful Kind
Hi Jess! It’s Celeste here. I know things didn’t end well and I don’t know what you think of me, but I think you’re a beautiful person and I’m so glad your transplant went well. And that Leong is there for you- he loves you a lot. You make getting your arm penetrated with a ‘reed’ beautiful and kind of erotic! You shouldn’t say anything, just know I love you and have only good memories of you. Take care. X Celeste
It was 9:30PM on a Sunday night in May when she texted me so unexpectedly. My first thought to struggle into form above the thumping of my heart was annoyance that she still insisted on going by the name Celeste. The annoyance was replaced by rage and a strong desire to respond with something that perfectly articulated my rage and rejection on her over affectionate message. She always did use the love word too much. She is also very wrong about me being a beautiful person, I think. A beautiful person would not have acted the way I did.
When she first walked into the house on Brunswick rd, to interview for the spare bedroom that had no proper door, I was over the whole interviewing strangers thing. It was a hot day and I was sweaty and tired of asking the same questions. It was not until Swilliams took her out the back to show her the backyard that something began to happen. ‘’I think you will really like her.’’ Swilliams whispered to me, while the lady in question was still outside admiring the expanse of green. That statement turned out to not even begin to encapsulate how I ended up feeling about Celeste.
She moved in without telling us anything about her previous living arrangements. She only made sure that her old housemate was not home when she and Sojo went to collect all her belongings to bring to our new girl gang of a share house. I had never had a best frind slash soulmate live just across the hall from me before. Not a soulmate who had an entire wardrobe that was my size. ‘’Here, take this.’’ She would tell me, showing me a cute as a bug’s ear cardigan or dress. ‘’I’m cleaning out my belongings.’’
Her love of Woody Allen did trouble me. Whenever I saw her with her tote bag emblazoned with his face, I inwardly cringed. She was my tiny and delicate bone structured champion. When she found out I was only getting paid 50$ to be on a feminist panel. She emailed the organizer with a wonderfully worded defence of my talents and how I was worth so much more. It made me uncomfortable but I loved that she did that for me.
It was a week after L and I had broken up. A week since I had woken up to find a gift left outside my bedroom door. A gift left by Celeste. A package of my most favorite biscuits; the hobnob. When I walked into the kitchen with the biscuits. Celeste was making a cup of tea. I hugged her and exclaimed, ‘’How did you know I loved them.’’
‘’Oh, I have my ways.’’ She said with a smile. I thought nothing of it at the time. I figured she must have simply seen them on my shelf from time to time.
It was a week afterwards that L texted me asking if it would be possible to have dinner. He said he would understand if it was too soon after a break up for this to happen. I texted back an excited Yes to dinner and an excited no to the too soon.
It was a cold evening in September on a thursday night that was our planned ctach up. When I told Celeste this information her face grew concerned. ‘’Its too soon for that.’’ She told me. ‘’Are you sure you will be OK. It might be quite painful.’’ It was so touching how she worried about me. I thought. What a caring loyal friend.
‘’I feel fine about it.’’ I said. ‘’He is the one who suggested it and so I don’t see any problem. Thanks for being so worried about me, though.’’ As usual her feathery bob was sitting perfectly and framing her perfectly made up face. Her olive skin was blemish free even without make up, but I had given up telling her she needed no embellishment. ‘What are you doing tonight?’’ I said.
‘’I am meeting Ryan and we are going to a lecture at Melbourne Uni.’’
She was off on her canary yellow bike by the time Leong arrived. When I heard the knock on the front door, I ran down the narrow and dimly lit hallway to open the door. He stood in the doorway with his tweed guitar case in one hand. He always liked to keep his guitar in my bedroom instead of in his car, when we would hang out. It was safer. This house had been broken into before. Once his guitar case was safe inside and on the floor, we hugged whilst standing in the middle of my room. He smelt so familiar and I did nearly cry with my face in his chest. I battled the salty sea of tears from exiting my eye balls and looked up into his face. We break apart and he holds each of my hands in one of his. ‘’its good to see you Im so glag we could hang out.’’
‘’Me too.’’ I exclaimed.
We walk out of the house and make our way towards Sydney rd. It is just starting to get dark. Day light savings will start soon. The weather is yet to feel like spring. A young woman in jogging clothes with complete tattoo sleeves on both her arms, walks a dog. She stops with us at the traffic lights on the corner of Royal parade and Sydney rd. There are a couple of guys hanging out the front of the 7/11. Leong tells me about the band he has joined. It still has no name. He has practice after we hang out. We start walking up on the lright side of Sydney road. Past the small store that seems to be going out of business.
‘’Where should we eat?’ Leong asks me. ‘’How about that place we only eat at when feeling fancy?’’ I knew the place he meant. The place he got his meal for free once because he found a bit of glass in his meal.
We continued walking and chatting happily. The difference I felt from before breaking up and after, was that now we walked alongside each other but did not hold hands. Outside the restaurant people were sitting at tables with glasses of wine and plates of food of the Asian fusion variety. We were seated at one of the tables for two that lined the wall opposite the bar and chash register. Leong let me sit on the side of the table that had the booth type seat. I liked the faux leather. He sat on the less comfortable chair. I remove my leather jacket and zip up hoodie before sitting down. We ordered a bunch of small but delicious thins as well as mains and drinks.
‘’How’s the house going?’’ Leong asked me. I sighed a bit dramatically before answering. ‘’Celeste does my head in but she did the sweetest thing the other day. It was the morning after you and I broke up. She left a packet of Hobnobs outside my bedroom door.’’
‘’I told her to do that when she texted me.’’ Leong said.
‘’What.’’ I felt strange and jittery all of a sudden.
‘’She texted me asking me out for coffee.’’ Leong explained.
The jittery feeling melted into hot red rage. A feeling of total betrayal.
‘’I didn’t.’’ Leong told me. I veered back and gripped the edge of the table with my hands. I felt dizzy. ‘’What the hell would you talk about? You only have me in common.’’ I said.
‘’That’s why I told her it would be weird.’’
‘’Doo you have the text messages to show me?’’
He gets his phone out and looks for the texts in question. He hands me his phone and I read with growing anger and sadness.
Celeste: Hey hon, if you need to talk or want to get coffee then just let me know…Hope you’re alright. Be kind to yourself.
Leong: Thanks. That’s sweet of you but It’ll prolly be a bit awkward. Last thing I need is a coffee and chat with a pretty girl. Especially someone who is friends with and lives with Jess, when I’m at my most vulnerable. Haha. It’s really ok. I’m quite good and I think Jess is too. Well I hope she is. I’m glad we can do it this way cuz I value her friendship too much. Please bring her tea and granita biscuits. HobNobs if available!
Celeste: I will do that. Leon: we all love you so much here. I’m happy that this means that the two of you can find what you deserve- you know that you’re both incredible, amazing, beautiful people- I know what loss is like- its always different, of course, but you know that all the hard bits that you have to deal with now will make possible more beautiful and rewarding experiences. It wouldn’t be awkward- I love you both and am always, always here for you. You had better come and visit when you can- I’m going to buy some hobnobs and lemonade. You nurse yourself better for me, okay. As many of your gin cocktails as necessary. All my love- really- this makes me so sad. Celeste. X
I finish reading and look at him. He gets his phone back. After putting it away he reaches across the table and puts his hand over my my hand that is bripping the table. How the hell could she love us both? Leong was not her special friend. She was meant to love only me!! What the fuck did she want to chat about with him other than me. He does not read books or care about philosophy. How the hell could she do this and think it was OK? She did not tell me about this so a part of her must have known it was strange. She did not tell me how she knew to get me the particular biscuits. This was why she did not want me catching up with Leong. She knew it would come out. The thoughts and sudden flashbacks were giving me a head ache. I would have trusted her with my life. I thought we were intellectually and emotionally connected somehow. If she broke up with Ryan I would never want to catch up with him behind her back. I thought. I would not feel right about it. It was difficult to speak more then a few sentences to him without Celeste making awkward insecure jokes about me ‘’trying to steal her man.’’ He is 21 for goodness sake! I do not even have Ryan’s number. Even if he was awesome and I thought he was the greates, I would not ever think my friendship with him was as important as his relationship with his girlfriend. He made her so happy and this pleased me.
I try to eat more of my meal but the yum green curry tastes similar to how I am feeling; black bubbles of rage and disappointment. It was not the first time Celeste overstepped boundaries. Sojo had had to talk to her a few months back about constantly texting Tom, Sojo’s boyfriend. When Sojo had kindly told Celeste how it made her feel to have Celeste constantly Texting Tom. Celeste had responded by texting Tom an angry and rather abusive text about how she wished he would refrain from leaving his bike at the house when he visited Sojo. I hoped she would understand my sadness and feeling of betrayal when I confronted her, I thought. Celeste and I have such wonderful chats. Surely she will understand my perspective on this.
‘’I would never go out for coffee with one of your friends behind your back.’’ I say to Leong.
‘’Yeah, that would upset me.’’ He says.
I take a deep breath and move the conversation to other things. When all that is left is a table full of empty plates. ‘’I think we over ordered.’’ Leong says.
‘’I feel sort of sick.’’ I laugh.
‘’I will pay and then I have to go.’’
‘’Hang on, you don’t have to pay for me now.’’ I say.
‘’What can you afford to contribute?’’ He says.
I think hard whilst trying to look calm. There is a 20 dollar note in my wallet. It was meant to be for food and a new pack of antidepressants. I take the twenty from my wallet and hand it over with a smile.
When we arrive back at my house. Celeste arrives with her bike. She sees Leong’s car in the driveway. With the car there there is no room to wheel a bike past. There is rarely a car there, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.
‘’Sorry.’’ Leong says to her. ‘’I will be gone soon. Just getting my guitar.’’
‘’You can come in through the back.’’ I say. My voice is not without tremor. I was meant to sound neutral through my rage. Leong and I walk inside and go to my room. We hug again and he pick his guitar case up. ‘’I will see you soon.’’ He says.
‘’Have fun at practice.’’ I say. I give him one last hug before he leaves.
It’s chilly so I turn on my heater and get under my doona. I start trying to read as a way to level all my systems. There is only the sound of traffic and my own breathing. I turn a page. There is a timid knock on my door.
‘’Yeah?’’ It’s a question but I know who it is before she speaks.
‘’Can I come in?’’ Her voice sounds fake to me now. How dare she speak like an innocent child. She is 27 years old. I wont be swayed by her façade of fragility. I think.
‘’No, actually you can’t.’’ I say. ‘’Why did you ask Leong out for coffee? Why did you do that behind my back?’’
There was a pause. ‘’Because I care about him and wanted him to feel loved.’’
I throw my book across the room and it slams against the closed door. I hope it makes her flinch. I think.
I get up and open the door to look at her. ‘’It is not up to you. It is not your responsibility to look out for him.’’ He is the now ex boyfriend of one of your housemates. He is not your special friend. I was meant to be that to you.’’
‘’I don’t think you should be upset about this.’’
‘’Learn some fucking boundaries.’’ I shout. ‘’Not every man around has to need you. Do not contact Leong again please.’’
I shut my door in her face. She was supposed to be worried about me. I pick up my book and throw it again before picking it up.
Another flash back to when Leong and I were having a fight. I go to his plae to sort it out. After it has been sorted. Leong’s phone beeps. It is Celeste asking him if he is ok. I said nothing to her about it. But my heart did twist when Leong read it out to me. It would have made no difference. I think. I go out to make myself a cup of tea. I would have preferred something stronger like red wine or straight gin. It was not to be.
Celeste walks into the small kitchen as I am waiting for the kettle to boil. She is smiling and poised. ‘’I have texted Leong.’’ She tells me still smiling. ‘’I have told him to not park in the driveway in future as it is selfish and thoughtless.’’
‘’I TOLD YOU NOT TO CONTACT HIM AGAIN.’’ I am nearly crying.
‘’Well its not cool of him to be so thoughtless.’’ She says calm and softly spoken. Once she has gone back to her room ( she only came out to tell me the plot development) my phone beeped. It was celeste she had texted me what she had just texted Leong.
Celeste; Way to fucking go, Leon. I didn’t want to date you or see you behind Jess’ back- I merely wanted to make sure you were okay. Way to throw a friendship in your fucking face. Thanks. And Jess’ narration if what’s happened is probably very different from my own. Thanks for seasoning the whole event with that. Nice work.
I finish reading it and then go to her bedroom door. It is not a door at all it’s a broken sliding door with a tea towel poked through the hole where a door -knob should be.
‘’Nice work yourself! You spelt his name wrong.’’ I take a breath and then shout one more time. ‘’ TAMMY!’’ I was so angry I was using her given name, and I would continue to do so for the few months left of us living together. ‘’ IM TAKING SWILLIAMS TO THE GIG AT THE CORNER, NOW.’’ She had texted me to confirm the date of that gig only yesterday. So I knew she had been excited about it.
She says nothing in response. I go back into my bedroom and try to slam my door behind me, but it stops just shy of shutting and I have to push it shut with all my might.
All that was a year ago now. I wonder why she felt the need to contact me again. The last time I saw her was at a meeting where we tried to sort out all the loose ends of share house bills and stuff. It came to light that she had never paid her share of the bond to the previous tenant of her room. When pressed about it she refused to pay it. Her text message showed she had not changed. She still used words like ”love” and ”beautiful person” like that was all you needed to tell a person in order to absolve yourself from any bad behaviour or mistake. I do not believe she still loves me. I do believe however, that I did love her. I was in love with her in a way. I can sit here and say that I may have overreacted and that perhaps she didn’t mean anything by it. But, the fact remains that she never tried to understand why i was so upset. It is for this reason, I cannot text her back. Everything I think to text back is angry and mean. I want to say that it is all forgotten and forgiven, that I wish her happiness and so on.
But, Im not there, yet.
She is wrong about me.