Chapter 28:

She wants something from me

The Sequence of Kai

Trish loves knocking on doors. There are people behind doors. People she can talk to. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

I stay back on the path, outside the reach of the garden, with my hood up and wait for them to finish.Bookmark here

“No way! She did not!”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“Ow!”Bookmark here

“Yo, Trish, are you, like, ok???”Bookmark here

“I’m fine!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Oh, I came here to give you something.”Bookmark here

She puts the bag down and starts searching for the right letter.Bookmark here

“Ah-ha! Here you go, party at mine Saturday.”Bookmark here

“Will there be beer?”Bookmark here

“Tonnes.”Bookmark here

“I’ll, like, totally be there!”Bookmark here

“Yay! OK, I’ve got to go deliver the rest of these, but I’ll see you Saturday ok?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, absolutely, I’ll see you then.”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

This is where phase two begins, we make our start towards the next address, and she turns her talking towards me.Bookmark here

“Oh my god… Becky is cheating on her boyfriend! Susie just told me, just now.”Bookmark here

“Who’s Becky again?”Bookmark here

“The blonde one, you know, with the ponytail.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, of course, how could I forget?”Bookmark here

Do you know how many blonde friends you have Trish? You show me a selfie you took with a new one every other day.Bookmark here

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this buttt…. Promise not to tell anyone?”Bookmark here

“I’ll promise you I won’t speak to anyone who would care. At all. Ever.”Bookmark here

“But I care.”Bookmark here

“Then except you.”Bookmark here

“OK cool, so I heard that she’s not cheating on her boyfriend with another guy…”Bookmark here

“Multiple guys, is it? Typical blondes.”Bookmark here

“No! Think outside the box, think better.”Bookmark here

“Better than cheating on your boyfriend with multiple guys? Not having a boyfriend in the first place.”Bookmark here

“Exactly! A girlfriend is better, exactly.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s what I said, very outside the box.”Bookmark here

“Isn’t that crazy though? It’s like something out of a seedy romance novel.”Bookmark here

“You haven’t read a single novel in your life, do not lie to me.”Bookmark here

“No, but it’s, like, the idea I have of a seedy romance novel.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Yeah? You assume?”Bookmark here

“What’s so shocking about it anyway? If you’re bi and you want to cheat, heads says it’s a girl.”Bookmark here

“It’s not like that. You don’t decide you want to cheat; you meet someone who makes you cheat. I would assume.”Bookmark here

“Yeah?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I think this is other Trish’s house, are you staying here again?”Bookmark here

“I’m staying here again.”Bookmark here

“Alright, I’ll only be a minute.”Bookmark here

That lie ends phase two, returning us to phase one. Bookmark here

There are only two phases.Bookmark here

“Trish!”Bookmark here

“Trish!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

She hands other Trish her invite and then skips back to me, dropping the bag at my feet. Bookmark here

Phase two. Bookmark here

“You won’t believe it, you won’t.”Bookmark here

“Believe what?”Bookmark here

“I think I know who Becky is cheating with!”Bookmark here

“Who’s Becky again?”Bookmark here

“The blonde one, we were talking about her just now.”Bookmark here

“Ah yeah, the blonde one, from just now.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Who’s Chelsea again? She sounds familiar.”Bookmark here

“Have I ever talked to you about Chels?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, just sounds sort of familiar.”Bookmark here

Trish whips out her phone and with lightning-quick fingers, opens the insta app and navigates to this girls page.Bookmark here

“Here, she’s the girl on the right.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s Chelsea.”Bookmark here

“That’s what I just said.”Bookmark here

“No, I mean, that’s a Chelsea I know. Used to know.”Bookmark here

“From where?”Bookmark here

“School.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“School? How come I never met her?”Bookmark here

“She transferred to another school before our final year.”Bookmark here

“That’s such a shame, she’s cool, would’ve made that year a lot more fun.”Bookmark here

“Why were we talking about her again?”Bookmark here

“Because she and Becky are…”Bookmark here

Trish makes a sexual gesture with her hands, her right index finger going through a hole she’s made with her left.Bookmark here

“Isn’t it more of a..”Bookmark here

I make a scissoring motion with my hands.Bookmark here

“…well, I don’t know. May…maybe they have acessor-“Bookmark here

“Doesn’t matter, there’s no way it’s true.”Bookmark here

“Eh? How would you know?”Bookmark here

“Chelsea isn’t bi, there’s no way.”Bookmark here

“You don’t know that, people change a lot in a couple of years, discover new parts of themselves.”Bookmark here

“There’s no way she’s changed that much. She still looks the same.”Bookmark here

“What makes you think that?”Bookmark here

“My eyes.”Bookmark here

“I meant what makes you think she hasn’t changed… asshole…”Bookmark here

She gives me a light punch on the shoulder, it’s nice that this conversation is so playful to her.Bookmark here

“Look we’re coming up on another one of your addresses, right?”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, I guess we are, back in a second.”Bookmark here

Phase two, phase two.Bookmark here

“Heyyyyy!”Bookmark here

“Heyyyyyyy!”Bookmark here

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Trish has a hundred best friends or a hundred people she’s pretending to like.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Another one of these gossipy conversations is being bookended with Trish rooting through her bag for the right invitation.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Wait here for a second.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I can’t find her invite, you must have it.”Bookmark here

“I don’t, I put them all in the one bag.”Bookmark here

“Well can’t you check? Maybe you missed one.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t, the bag is empty.”Bookmark here

“How will you know unless you check it?”Bookmark here

“I checked it when I emptied it.”Bookmark here

Oh my god Kai, is that you?Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Trish, you didn’t tell me you were friends with Kai.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t think to mention it….”Bookmark here

She did, I just asked her not to. I don’t want people to think I’m a person they can reach again.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I love what you’ve done with your hair, white really suits you!”Bookmark here

“Thanks…”Bookmark here

“Is something wrong?”Bookmark here

The girl leans down to try and look me in the eyes, I shift my eyes away from her.Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine.”Bookmark here

“She’s just being a bit shy, right Kai?”Bookmark here

Trish elbows me in the ribs, forgetting which one of us it’s going to hurt before gritting her teeth to hide the pain. Bookmark here

“I’m not being shy; I just didn’t come out prepared to talk.”Bookmark here

Trish tries to pull down my hood from behind, but I grab it with both hands to stop her.Bookmark here

“Knock it off.”Bookmark here

“Take it off.”Bookmark here

The girl whose name I don’t care to remember looks at our little show suspiciously. Bookmark here

“How do you two know each other anyway?”Bookmark here

“Uhhhhh…”Bookmark here

“Well….”Bookmark here

“Kai works…”Bookmark here

“For her father.”Bookmark here

“You mean my uncle.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, her uncle, that’s what I meant.”Bookmark here

She tells people Paul is her uncle? If that’s what she’s into, I guess.Bookmark here

“I thought your uncle was retired?”Bookmark here

“She does some work around the house, cleaning and cooking, stuff like that.”Bookmark here

A wry smile crawls across the girls face.Bookmark here

“Oh, so she’s sort of like a maid.”Bookmark here

“I’m no one’s fucking maid.”Bookmark here

“Can you stop being difficult for like, two minutes?”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“That’s Annie, just stick with the maid thing so I don’t get any weird questions.”Bookmark here

“I’m not going to pretend to be your goddamn maid.”Bookmark here

“Not my maid, Paul’s maid.”Bookmark here

“That’s worse!”Bookmark here

“SO, you’d prefer to be my maid?”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to be anyone’s maid.”Bookmark here

While we’ve been whispering behind Trish’s hand Annie has started laughing to herself. It seems our little back and forth amused her.Bookmark here

“It’s good to see you having fun Kai, makes me feel like I’m 15 again.”Bookmark here

“This looks like fun to you?”Bookmark here

“You’re definitely having fun.”Bookmark here

“No-“Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I told you it wasn’t there.”Bookmark here

“But I didn’t believe you.”Bookmark here

“Am I not someone worth believing?”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“No??”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry Annie! I must’ve dropped your invite somewhere!”Bookmark here

“It’s OK Trish, just text me the details, I’ll be there.”Bookmark here

“Yay! One second, I need to find my phone.”Bookmark here

Trish puts her bag back on the ground and starts searching for her phone.Bookmark here

“What about you?”Bookmark here

The girl is speaking to me again.Bookmark here

“What about me?”Bookmark here

“You’re gonna be there, right? I’m sure the girls would all love to see you again.”Bookmark here

“Sure they would….”Bookmark here

“She’ll be there Annie, I guarantee it.”Bookmark here

As Trish says that, Annie’s phone buzzes in her pocket.Bookmark here

“Those are the details, make sure to save them.”Bookmark here

“I will, I will. So, we’ll see you Saturday?”Bookmark here

“Absolutely!”Bookmark here

She’s looking at me, but Trish is the one that answers. That seems to satisfy Annie who goes back inside.Bookmark here

“Thanks for getting me out of that situation.”Bookmark here

“Hmmm?”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Come on, it’s getting dark.”Bookmark here

“Kai, wait up!”Bookmark here

Trish rushes to scoop all the invites back into her bag as I march ahead.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Wait here, I’ll only be a second.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Aaron! What the fuck did you do with my door?!”Bookmark here

“It’s still there! Just feel around for the handle!”Bookmark here

A short while after Trish comes back down the stairs holding a single envelope.Bookmark here

“Aaron made my door invisible…..”Bookmark here

“Come on, let’s deliver this last letter, I want to go to bed.”Bookmark here

I’m not going to go to sleep of course but she doesn’t need to know that.Bookmark here

“OK then here.”Bookmark here

She holds out the invitation with two hands.Bookmark here

“You want me to deliver it by myself?”Bookmark here

“Just take it!”Bookmark here

She pushes it into my hands.Bookmark here

“Take it where? I need an address.”Bookmark here

“Take it with you.”Bookmark here

“Take it with me where?”Bookmark here

“It’s for you Kai. It’s your invitation.”Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“You’re going to come right?”Bookmark here

Her eyes are expectant. Some of it has to be put on, eyes don’t get that wide by themselves.Bookmark here

“Right?”Bookmark here

“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?”Bookmark here

“Because it’s you? Can’t I just want to have you at my birthday? Is that such a strange concept?”Bookmark here

She’s angry now. Her brow is furrowed as if I’m the one not getting something here.Bookmark here

“I’m going home.”Bookmark here

I hand the invite back to her and spin on my heel to leave but she grabs my wrist.Bookmark here

“Kai…. Come on… at least take the invite.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

She looks hurt, she must’ve known this would happen, why did she bother?Bookmark here

“I’ll see you tomorrow…..”Bookmark here

She closes the door without another word. It leaves me feeling the guilt she wants me to feel. Bookmark here

That’s not fair Trish.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.