Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

Content Notes apply to this chapter.

Alan Sebastian

Mani has known known the mechanics of sex and the facts about his conception for a long time, but I suppose knowing something is different from understanding it.

I know that Mani felt lied to about Scott and my relationship not being the way he’d assumed, but I’m pretty sure that what he’s actually upset about is Cello.

I’m trying not to admit that I still feel weird about Cello being back too. I think Mani would probably feel better if she went away again, but as uncomfortable and unbalanced as I feel about her being here, I don’t think I will cope very well at all if she disappears again. This is a problem that is being made worse by not properly addressing it, and I am not very good at those.

I hadn’t realised that all of the things that happened between Scott and I before I moved in were those sorts of problems too. I thought they were the sorts of problems that can’t be solved by thinking about them and feeling bad. The ones you can just stop thinking about, until they go away on their own.

“I didn’t realise that I still felt so guilty about Jazz,” Scott had said, after Mani went to bed.

I don’t know if it was reassuring to realise that Scott thought they were those kinds of problems too. Because the kind you need to work through by thinking and talking about them are usually the problems that Scott is good at.

“The worst part is I think you’d really like her. I always thought you’d probably be friends if I hadn’t been… trying to date her. And failing at it and treating you both very badly. I’m sorry. But I don’t even want you to say it’s okay. Because it wasn’t. It’s not.”

“I forgive you,” I said. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Michael’s Brother.”

“I did have a girlfriend at the time so I am pretty sure that really is okay. It’s not comparable at all. I don’t deserve you,” he said.

“I don’t know what it means to deserve someone. And I don’t think we should keep score. Just based on other people that we had sex with when we weren’t admitting to being together, I definitely win. Or lose. I am not sure if it is scored like golf or not.”

“Do you ever worry that I’ll change my mind again?” asked Scott.

“About what?”

“About… how I feel about you.”

“Did you do that? I think you just changed your mind about how you felt about you.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

The dinner with Jazz had obviously been a total disaster. She is back in town to visit her parents, and it turns out she found some stuff of Scott’s that she’d never given back to him. So she came over again the next afternoon and she stayed for a while… just chatting and the day sort of got away from us.

Gillian came over and we tried the dinner again, and it was fun. Still a little awkward. But fun.

Scott was right. I do like her. She is a good person. I don’t think we’ll be close friends or anything – she doesn’t live around here anymore. But I add her on Facebook, which I don’t do with everyone I know, like Scott does.

After dinner Scott looks through a backpack which Jazz had brought over. He finds a library book which was due back to the library about 13 years ago, receipts for things he didn’t remember ever buying, a Tupperware container we didn’t dare open, and a letter addressed to me.

Scott says he doesn’t remember writing it. But Mani thinks we should read it. My name is on the envelope so I open it.

I read the first line and I think I might throw up. And thinking about throwing up often makes me throw up so I have to concentrate pretty hard on not doing that.

I curl my legs against my chest, heart racing and skin all clammy. I don’t feel like I can control my body very well, and when Scott asks me if I am okay I can’t speak and I just shake my head.

He takes the letter from my hand and when he looks at it, he sighs.

“Oh,” he says, “I do remember this.”

He sits down on the floor right next to me and pulls my head against his chest.

“So… It’s a suicide note,” he says to the others, “So that’s not fun.”

I breathe in and out and squeeze my eyes tight… and I can hear his heart beating and mine starts to slow down.

Dear Alan Sebastian,” he reads.

And I shake my head against his chest but he rubs my shoulder and says he won’t read any of the parts where he talks about wanting to not be alive anymore.

By the time you read this… etc. Skipping that whole thing. I just… I want to read this part to you. I’m scared. I’m scared about what people would think if they knew, and I’m scared of what it all means, and I’m scared about the future.

I sit back up and he takes my hand and squeezes it. I close my eyes to listen.

And so when I try and talk to you about us the fear takes over. But right now as I am writing this letter I am not scared at all. Because nobody will think anything and nothing means anything and right in this moment where I am there is no future. So I want you to know that when I kissed you it was never a lie. And when I touch you it is never a lie. And when we are together and it’s just us it always means the things I know you want it to mean. There follows a poem which I will not read. Alan Sebastian may read it if he wishes but I don’t recommend it honestly. It is… remarkably bad. Like. Wow.”

He hands the page to me and I can’t help but burst into laughter.

“Do you still feel this way about my penis, Scott?”

“Oh my god!” says Mani.

Scott says, “…yeah.”

“Please don’t write any more poems about it.”

“Oh my God! Stop!” says Mani.

“Definitely not. Okay skipping most of this it is… wow very horny and very sad. Okay. Here we go…I think you are the coolest and most interesting person in the world and…actually no I’m not going to read this right now. I’m going to save it.”

Please don’t read any of the horny parts,” says Mani.

“Okay boring boring boring Jesus that is very explicit and somehow still boring… oh here we go. In a few months Michelle’s baby will be born. Woah that is… a long time ago. And in a few years the baby may be curious about me. I feel like I’m a different person depending on where I am and who I’m with. I’m not the same person when I’m at my Mum’s as I am at my Dad’s. I’m not the same person at my new school as I was at my old one. I’ve been faking it so much and for so long that I don’t know what’s even real. And sometimes I hate myself so much that I think its better that I don’t find out. But when I am with you I don’t have to try so hard. I think maybe you see the real me. I think maybe if I could see that too I might even like who I am. So when my son wants to know about me, I hope that you will be the one to tell him. And when he is old enough, I want you to tell him how much we loved each other. Will you marry me?”

“Is that part of the letter?”

He shakes his head, “Um, no. That would be a really weird way to end a suicide note.”

“That’s true. Also, Yes.” I tell him. Even though he asked me in front of all of these people, and I’ve mentioned before that I think marriage proposals should be private, and also agreed to beforehand.

“Sorry sorry,” he says, “I’ll ask you again when there is nobody else around.”

“I will say yes again then too.”

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One response to “7 We’re a Moment Away”

  1. Diane Avatar

    Aw. Poor Mani, though, there are some things a child does NOT want to know about their parents. Boy howdy.

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