The Frenemy – Flash Fiction
We all have one. You know, a frenemy. Mine was Natasha or Na-taaar-sha. The middle syllable is an elongated ‘ta’, as in ‘ta, ta, dahling,’ air kiss, air kiss. It’s not to be confused with the sound, ‘tash’, like ‘pash’, and you are to never call her just ‘Tash’.
I called her that once in fourth grade and she ghosted me for two weeks. A sucky punishment considering there were a total of 11 kids in the grade and we were the only two girls.
Natasha invites me and my husband, Tom, a couple of times a year to her sprawling, architecturally-designed house with city views, just to remind us how amazingly successful and rich she is.
Natasha greets us at the door in a full-length, green silk gown. I’m blinded momentarily by her Swarovski swan crystal earrings.
I feel dowdy in my jeans and T-shirt. I should have known casual BBQ meant a fully-catered, four-course teppanyaki dinner. Natasha’s husband, Greg, shakes my hand formally, his grip as stiff as his starched dinner-suit collar.
Over dinner Natasha bemoans the difficult decision of whether to spend Christmas at Aspen or Whistler. Even Greg stifles a yawn, prompting Tom to keep both their glasses of single malt whisky topped up.
After dinner Natasha suggests a game of charades. I suppress a groan remembering the last time we played. Like everything else, Natasha and Greg are ridiculously good at charades. In one round, Greg merely indicates zipping up his lips and Natasha immediately guesses – correctly – ‘The Secret of My Success’.
Not so for us. I mime ‘Edward Scissorhands’ by making scissor-like motions with my hands. ‘Alien?’ Tom suggests. I gesticulate big hair and cutting.
I then produce a real pair of scissors, to which Tom offers ‘The Dressmaker’.
We run out of time.
Sensing my frustration Natasha suggests we switch up the teams, ‘Boys against girls.’
Tom is first up. He points at Natasha.
‘Pretty Woman?’ Greg says enthusiastically though his words are a little slurred.
Tom points again at Natasha and indicates ‘smaller’ with his thumb and forefinger.
Tom shakes his head and makes a series of wild gestures, pointing at Natasha, then the night sky and moon out the window, then his ears and back to Natasha. He is truly terrible at charades.
Greg rattles off movie titles in quick succession.
‘The Stepford Wives. Clueless. Mean Girls.’
‘Greg,’ Natasha squawks.
‘Lighten up, Tash,’ Greg says. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish but Greg is undeterred. ‘The Witches of Eastwick. Fatal Attraction.’
‘Greg!’ Natasha’s shrill voice slices through the air.
We make our goodbyes, with me smothering a smile, and get out of there faster than Greg’s Maserati GranTurismo. In the Uber home, I ask Tom, ‘So what was your movie?’
‘The Dark Crystal. Didn’t you see me pointing to her earrings?’ he sighs. ‘I was pretty bad, wasn’t I? It would be good just to win once.’
‘But this time, hon, you did win. We well and truly won.’
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