The Sequence of Kai
Trish loves knocking on doors. There are people behind doors. People she can talk to.
Delivering her party invites is a process you’d think she’d already concentrated down to a fine art. Knock on a door, hug if it’s a guy that answers, kisses on the cheeks if it’s a girl. Option three is a visibly disappointed wave if it’s a parent.
Once the greetings are done, she chats away at them like they haven’t seen each other for years, when they only haven’t seen each other since last Friday.
I stay back on the path, outside the reach of the garden, with my hood up and wait for them to finish.
“No way! She did not!”
I look around to make sure no one is nearby and then kick myself (lightly) in the shin to let her know I’m losing my patience.
“Yo, Trish, are you, like, ok???”
She nervously scratches the back of her head, though that’s just a feint so she can give me the middle finger while hiding it from her friend.
“Oh, I came here to give you something.”
She puts the bag down and starts searching for the right letter.
“Ah-ha! Here you go, party at mine Saturday.”
“Will there be beer?”
“I’ll, like, totally be there!”
“Yay! OK, I’ve got to go deliver the rest of these, but I’ll see you Saturday ok?”
“Yeah, absolutely, I’ll see you then.”
The door closes over, and Trish skips happily down the garden towards me and hands me the bag full of invites. We put them all in one bag because I don’t want to go up to the door and I’m the one carrying them because Trish kept complaining it was too heavy for her.
This is where phase two begins, we make our start towards the next address, and she turns her talking towards me.
“Oh my god… Becky is cheating on her boyfriend! Susie just told me, just now.”
“Who’s Becky again?”
“The blonde one, you know, with the ponytail.”
“Yeah, of course, how could I forget?”
Do you know how many blonde friends you have Trish? You show me a selfie you took with a new one every other day.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you this buttt…. Promise not to tell anyone?”
“I’ll promise you I won’t speak to anyone who would care. At all. Ever.”
“But I care.”
“Then except you.”
“OK cool, so I heard that she’s not cheating on her boyfriend with another guy…”
“Multiple guys, is it? Typical blondes.”
“No! Think outside the box, think better.”
“Better than cheating on your boyfriend with multiple guys? Not having a boyfriend in the first place.”
“Exactly! A girlfriend is better, exactly.”
“Yeah, that’s what I said, very outside the box.”
“Isn’t that crazy though? It’s like something out of a seedy romance novel.”
“You haven’t read a single novel in your life, do not lie to me.”
“No, but it’s, like, the idea I have of a seedy romance novel.”
“Let’s not go too far into your misconceptions about what a romance novel is, some of them don’t involve cheating. I would assume.”
“Yeah? You assume?”
“What’s so shocking about it anyway? If you’re bi and you want to cheat, heads says it’s a girl.”
“It’s not like that. You don’t decide you want to cheat; you meet someone who makes you cheat. I would assume.”
She asserts that like someone who knows. I’d love to say Trish would never cheat on someone, but when I imagine little teenage Trish, the second thing I imagine her doing is finding a second boyfriend.
She gestures for us to stop outside a rather nice-looking house a bit down the road. We stop outside it, and she takes the bag off my shoulder.
“I think this is other Trish’s house, are you staying here again?”
“I’m staying here again.”
“Alright, I’ll only be a minute.”
That lie ends phase two, returning us to phase one.
There are only two phases.
As the girl apparently also named Trish opens the door, my Trish screams at her and she in return. Her voice is shrill and as for her appearance…. Let’s just say I can see why she’s the other Trish.
The two of them talk for a little while, I can tell Becky is the topic of conversation from the bits that are loud enough for me to overhear. I suppose that’s part of phase one, mining for stuff to talk about in other phase ones.
Thankfully this particular version of events doesn’t go on too long, I’d hate for Trish to have bruised legs at a pool party.
She hands other Trish her invite and then skips back to me, dropping the bag at my feet.
“You won’t believe it, you won’t.”
“I think I know who Becky is cheating with!”
“Who’s Becky again?”
“The blonde one, we were talking about her just now.”
“Ah yeah, the blonde one, from just now.”
“Yeah her, other Trish just told me she’s been spending a lot of time with Chelsea McGuire lately, a suspicious amount of insta stories together I’m told.”
“Who’s Chelsea again? She sounds familiar.”
“Have I ever talked to you about Chels?”
“I don’t know, just sounds sort of familiar.”
Trish whips out her phone and with lightning-quick fingers, opens the insta app and navigates to this girls page.
“Here, she’s the girl on the right.”
She shows me a close-up picture of two girls holding cans of beer, posing for the camera as if they weren’t. After a couple of seconds with my eyes on the cans, I suddenly recognise the face of the girl on the left.
“Oh, that’s Chelsea.”
“That’s what I just said.”
“No, I mean, that’s a Chelsea I know. Used to know.”
We were in school together from when we were young, ended up in the same class in secondary. We might’ve been friends, depends who you ask. I can’t believe I’d forgotten her name, although, it is a bit of a relief to know I can still remember faces.
“School? How come I never met her?”
“She transferred to another school before our final year.”
“That’s such a shame, she’s cool, would’ve made that year a lot more fun.”
“Why were we talking about her again?”
“Because she and Becky are…”
Trish makes a sexual gesture with her hands, her right index finger going through a hole she’s made with her left.
“Isn’t it more of a..”
I make a scissoring motion with my hands.
“…well, I don’t know. May…maybe they have acessor-“
“Doesn’t matter, there’s no way it’s true.”
“Eh? How would you know?”
“Chelsea isn’t bi, there’s no way.”
“You don’t know that, people change a lot in a couple of years, discover new parts of themselves.”
“There’s no way she’s changed that much. She still looks the same.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I meant what makes you think she hasn’t changed… asshole…”
She gives me a light punch on the shoulder, it’s nice that this conversation is so playful to her.
“Look we’re coming up on another one of your addresses, right?”
“Oh yeah, I guess we are, back in a second.”
Phase two, phase two.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Trish has a hundred best friends or a hundred people she’s pretending to like.
I hope Trish doesn’t try and bring the conversation back to Chelsea again, I don’t like talking about Kai from back when she had a second name.
Another one of these gossipy conversations is being bookended with Trish rooting through her bag for the right invitation.
This time though she’s having trouble. She keeps shifting around in the bag but can’t find what she’s looking for. She dumps out all the invitations on the ground and looks again but nothing. She even sticks her head inside the bag for good measure.
“Wait here for a second.”
Without putting any of the letters back in the bag, she tells the girl she’s talking with to wait and rushes over to me.
“I can’t find her invite, you must have it.”
“I don’t, I put them all in the one bag.”
“Well can’t you check? Maybe you missed one.”
“I didn’t, the bag is empty.”
“How will you know unless you check it?”
“I checked it when I emptied it.”
“Oh my god Kai, is that you?”
While me and Trish were arguing, the person she was meant to be inviting to her party snuck up on me. Her voice sounds vaguely familiar, but I turned away as soon as I heard it, and I can’t see her face through my hood.
“Trish, you didn’t tell me you were friends with Kai.”
“I didn’t think to mention it….”
She did, I just asked her not to. I don’t want people to think I’m a person they can reach again.
The girl moves around Trish to right in front of me, I can’t turn my head again, so I avert my gaze. I don’t recognize her face in my peripheral vision.
“I love what you’ve done with your hair, white really suits you!”
“Is something wrong?”
The girl leans down to try and look me in the eyes, I shift my eyes away from her.
“No, I’m fine.”
“She’s just being a bit shy, right Kai?”
Trish elbows me in the ribs, forgetting which one of us it’s going to hurt before gritting her teeth to hide the pain.
“I’m not being shy; I just didn’t come out prepared to talk.”
Trish tries to pull down my hood from behind, but I grab it with both hands to stop her.
“Knock it off.”
“Take it off.”
The girl whose name I don’t care to remember looks at our little show suspiciously.
“How do you two know each other anyway?”
“For her father.”
“You mean my uncle.”
“Yeah, her uncle, that’s what I meant.”
She tells people Paul is her uncle? If that’s what she’s into, I guess.
“I thought your uncle was retired?”
“She does some work around the house, cleaning and cooking, stuff like that.”
A wry smile crawls across the girls face.
“Oh, so she’s sort of like a maid.”
“I’m no one’s fucking maid.”
“Can you stop being difficult for like, two minutes?”
Trish has to awkwardly wrap her arm around my neck to drag me closer to her. She’s tried pulling me down by the ear one too many times and finally got it in her head not to do that.
“That’s Annie, just stick with the maid thing so I don’t get any weird questions.”
“I’m not going to pretend to be your goddamn maid.”
“Not my maid, Paul’s maid.”
“SO, you’d prefer to be my maid?”
“I don’t want to be anyone’s maid.”
While we’ve been whispering behind Trish’s hand Annie has started laughing to herself. It seems our little back and forth amused her.
“It’s good to see you having fun Kai, makes me feel like I’m 15 again.”
“This looks like fun to you?”
“You’re definitely having fun.”
Trish sneaks behind me as I’m about to argue and dips her hand into the bag I’m carrying. She searches around for a second but comes up short.
“I told you it wasn’t there.”
“But I didn’t believe you.”
“Am I not someone worth believing?”
It clicks with me that this isn’t helping my case, so I shut up. Annie smirks at me knowingly, as if she thinks we’re close enough for her to do that.
“I’m so sorry Annie! I must’ve dropped your invite somewhere!”
“It’s OK Trish, just text me the details, I’ll be there.”
“Yay! One second, I need to find my phone.”
Trish puts her bag back on the ground and starts searching for her phone.
“What about you?”
The girl is speaking to me again.
“What about me?”
“You’re gonna be there, right? I’m sure the girls would all love to see you again.”
“Sure they would….”
“She’ll be there Annie, I guarantee it.”
As Trish says that, Annie’s phone buzzes in her pocket.
“Those are the details, make sure to save them.”
“I will, I will. So, we’ll see you Saturday?”
She’s looking at me, but Trish is the one that answers. That seems to satisfy Annie who goes back inside.
“Thanks for getting me out of that situation.”
She can pretend she didn’t know what she was doing if she wants, all I care is that I don’t have to talk to anyone like Annie again.
“Come on, it’s getting dark.”
“Kai, wait up!”
Trish rushes to scoop all the invites back into her bag as I march ahead.
By the time we’ve finished, it’s close to midnight. Even so, the last few recipients don’t seem surprised to get a call from Trish so late, they’ve learned.
I kept further away from the houses after that incident with Annie, which made things a little staler. I don’t get to overhear whatever it is she’s talking about, but it eliminates the risk of someone else recognizing me.
We’re nearly back at Paul’s now, Trish insists there’s one more invite that she left at home. I don’t know why she’s insisting on delivering it now but I’m not going to be the person to stop her.
“Wait here, I’ll only be a second.”
She stops me at the door to her house and runs upstairs to her bedroom. I thought she made them all in the front room.
“Aaron! What the fuck did you do with my door?!”
“It’s still there! Just feel around for the handle!”
A short while after Trish comes back down the stairs holding a single envelope.
“Aaron made my door invisible…..”
“Come on, let’s deliver this last letter, I want to go to bed.”
I’m not going to go to sleep of course but she doesn’t need to know that.
“OK then here.”
She holds out the invitation with two hands.
“You want me to deliver it by myself?”
“Just take it!”
She pushes it into my hands.
“Take it where? I need an address.”
“Take it with you.”
“Take it with me where?”
“It’s for you Kai. It’s your invitation.”
She really expects me to come to the party. She wants me to dress up in front of all her friends and pretend I’m part of the group.
“You’re going to come right?”
Her eyes are expectant. Some of it has to be put on, eyes don’t get that wide by themselves.
“What do you expect me to say, Trish? What would I do at your party? Do you want me to stand around pretending to listen to people? Sip at a drink that won’t get me drunk? Is there some guy you want to try and set me up with? I don’t want any of it, it doesn’t mean anything to me, I can’t look normal people in the eye anymore. Why would you want someone like me there?”
“Because it’s you? Can’t I just want to have you at my birthday? Is that such a strange concept?”
She’s angry now. Her brow is furrowed as if I’m the one not getting something here.
“I’m going home.”
I hand the invite back to her and spin on my heel to leave but she grabs my wrist.
“Kai…. Come on… at least take the invite.”
She places the envelope into my hand from behind. I rip my wrist away from her grasp and then flick the envelope past her head and into the hall behind her.
She looks hurt, she must’ve known this would happen, why did she bother?
“I’ll see you tomorrow…..”
She closes the door without another word. It leaves me feeling the guilt she wants me to feel.
That’s not fair Trish.