Thursday, 23 June 2011
No one had spoken to Natasha at school. For two years she had lunched alone, skipped alone, learned to ride a bike alone. No one had told her myths about babies that would take years to unravel, or that Santa wasn't real. Genuine tears flowed from the eyes of girls and boys forced to hold her hand, or partner her in games.
She found out when she was twenty that her sister Sarah, then three, had told the other children in her class that next door's puppy had disappeared and Natasha carried a tiny collar and a hunting knife in her pocket. Sarah, who had been able to perform the splits since the age of four - the four year old equivalent of being able to print your own money, grew up to be popular and pretty, the kind of person who talks out loud during films.
Suffice to say Natasha wasn't overwhelmed to greet her sister at the front door.
"Don't you love it?" came the rhetorical question as a giant diamond ring eclipsed the paltry sunlight that filtered greyly into the street. Dave, first boy on their road to grow an ironic moustache, had popped the question in record time. Islington Town Hall had been booked, now all there was left to do was to rain down gifts of invitations to the roses of Shoreditch and to book a Phil Collins lookalike to cement the irony of the special day.
Marriage was a major step in Sarah's life. Soon she would never have to work in PR again. Everyone was very proud.
"We need to talk about dresses."
Natasha felt whiskey lemsip bubble up again. "Would you like a drink?" she offered, wobbling towards the fridge and finding a semi decomposed carton of value orange juice. "I don't think I've got anything with nutrasweet in it."
"I don’t touch that rubbish any more. I'm on a detox."
Sarah breezed into the kitchen, barely noting the icing stains on everything. "I'll have a hot water. Do you have any lemon?"
Natasha did not have any lemon. There was a discarded plum frozen to the back of the fridge, she didn't offer it up.
Sarah plonked a pile of glossy magazines on the table. "We have to pick you something" she barked. Natasha took a long, unhappy swig of water.
An hour later she was eighty quid worse off and terribly afraid of what would happen in two months time. Sarah swept out as she'd swept in, with a final flourish on the doorstep as she airkissed:
"You should let mum and dad know you're okay, they're terribly embarrassed by the whole failed suicide thing."
Natasha felt a bubble of acid creep up from below. "Wh….."
Sarah looked away in mock embarrassment. "Oh don't be coy Tash, If you don't want people to know your business, don't post it all online."
She waltzed out, a triumph as ever. She might as well have been riding a pony with wings.
Natasha dashed back to her laptop. Spew rising. What the fuck had she done?