The door opened, showing Genevieve Schooneglass, risking an early death on her shiny lilac heels, clashing with the aquamarine stockings. She smiled around the room, patting her fluffed up hair down to make it look less like she had been the sole survivor of a localised hurricane.
I groaned to myself, and shuffled sideways like a drunken crab, till I was hidden by the tall plant in the corner, wondering how the thing had survived me feeding it vodka last week. I peeked past the leather leaf and stared at Genevieve. I couldn’t believe it. What mophead had invited her? Genevieve was laughing her silly laugh, seconds after entering the full room. It was going to be a long afternoon. “Hello,” she gushed, her pale eyes too wide, “How are you all?” Who talks like that?
The two girls nearest to the door nodded, and Sally, who is kindness personified, even smiled and said, “Hello Genevieve, I hadn’t expected you here, but of course, you live quite close by.” Not quite true seeing that Genevieve would have had to walk all the way, and on those heels too. No wonder she was standing as if she could do with last week’s wasted vodka.
Genevieve laughed again, “Oh, yes dear, well, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s so important to make every effort to support friends and their social endearments… No, not endearments, now what’s the word I’m looking for,” and she giggled longer than ever, her powdered cheeks glowing, contrasting with the tint she had applied. “Oh, well, I meant effort, you know, social get-togethers. Although get-togethers are social already. Oh look, there’s Jill!” And Genevieve was off, tottering across the room, fingering those pearls around her neck, head held high. I had visions of the string snapping, and Genevieve skidding along on her towering heels. “Jill darling…”
I released my breath, feeling I had survived a storm of some kind too. I decided that the safest place in the sunlit room would be at Sally’s side. Sally had had the Genevieve treatment already, and with at least 12 of us girls here, it would be a while before Genevieve would start on her second round. There would be a second round.
“It’s important that one works a room,” Genevieve had explained to me one day, “you know, speak to each person one by one. It makes people feel seen and appreciated.” I had nodded, not really listening. I was trying to devise a way of escape. “You see,” Genevieve had half closed her eyes, which tended to turn my stomach. “You see, talking to people individually helps with their sense of indemnity.” All plans to escape screeched to a halt.
Even Genevieve had recognised my expression, and she did her laugh, making escape feel necessary once more. “Oh, haha, I didn’t mean that, of course. I meant, individuality, internally…no no, well, I mean people realising they’re important on their own.”
I wondered if being kind would be rewarded by being provided with a means of escape, so I said, “I think you meant the word identity. Well, it’s a lovely way of looking at conversations with friends. It’s very kind of you.” I had added, feeling my face warm up. There would be no escape now, not after fibbing. My kindness must have outweighed the rest of my comment, for Genevieve’s phone rang.
I had muttered an excuse, and slipped away, hearing her voice say, “Hello?” I had forced myself to look ahead, for her voice hadn’t had the usual long drawn loops and curls. I must admit, I did wonder too who would be brave enough to call Genevieve.