As she drove away, along the wide dark streets, she could be heard asking - as if interrogating herself, or God: "what the fuck just happened?" As if she could know the answer - as if anyone could tell her - as if God would.
* * * * *
It was four hours earlier I had been trying to find myself a valid reason not to go to this joint birthday party - joint between a person I loathe and a person I actually like. "Don't be a freak" is what I told myself "you said 'yes' so, you go - don't give people at work a reason to talk about you more."
One outfit freak-out and I was teetering the edge of the line - something pulled me back, and I went.
Things progressed ok - I had exhausted chit-chat with the unfortunates sitting beside me - some laughs and awkward pauses - I wasn't up near the keg - I wasn't drinking, save for the half a glass of wine I took in an effort to blend - but I outed myself the moment I arrived; I always do.
After a long while someone decided we should move inside as the breeze was picking up. This could be an opportunity to sneak out? Blend with the natives - move in a pack. Once inside I fumbled with my bag - seeking out my phone ..the time...exactly how much time had I invested? But then she approached.
The new addition to our team 'C' - she'd been gentle and sweet since she started - but we'd barely gotten past pleasantries. I always thought we might get along - but never cared to chance such a risk. When thinking about trying to make friends with your potential work supervisor - it always paints a messy picture.
C had been enjoying herself - I had seen her through the window, chatting with people she knew and others she didn't with equal ease - it surprised me, and made me a little jealous that I didn't have the same qualities. She came up to me - asked me how I was going at work - admitted I didn't look so happy these days. I don't recall what came first, the hugs or the hard hitting questions - at first I thought she was one of these affectionate drunks - but then she hit a raw nerve, and despite my best efforts, my eyes teared up ever so slightly. "Yeah, I'm ok... you know.." verbal dot dot dot, I shrugged. In my head, I'd long been at the point where I couldn't lie about work anymore. She saw it. She kept going. She spoke about how she felt I was lovely and kind - part of the reason she had chosen to accept a permanent position. "You do so much, I wish other people would see that" she said to me. I tried to deflect - I too had been curious to know how she was handling work - being new to a profession and workplace is never easy - plus there is a fragility about C that I've always seen, wondered and worried about. Conversation stuck firmly on me. "I worry about you" she admitted - while casually leaning on the back of the suede lounge-chair. Surrounded by people.
It was getting too much and I said I wanted to go out the front. I cried and she hugged me - I apologised. She kept going on... "if you ever want to catch up - please let me know, I'm only a phone call away... I think you're such a beautiful person" hug, hug..."I tell my Mum about you... you remind me of my sister."
I'm not even sure what I said - shocked by the circumstance. How is it the one I had my eye on to protect was the one comforting me? Worst of all, I thought, she was obviously verging on drunk - would she even remember she'd drained my watery secrets, come day light? So many hugs, some initiated by me, most by her.
I told her I was going to go and I left - without thanking my hosts - I was shattered and I didn't really know why - what had this all meant? What would it mean on Monday? What's it going to mean inside that house, when a workmate might come to ask where I'd gone?
All this leaves me feeling a little uneasy and vulnerable. It feels like one of those crossroads moments - where either nothing could happen, or something brilliant could - depending on the direction. Those insecure thoughts rattle in my mind; is she trying to make a fool out of me - is she trying to get information from me for her own selfish use - is this her way of testing me - what if she told everyone what I said, after I'd gone - can she be trusted?
I just don't know.