There are some days when Joanne arrives unannounced on her doorstep.
Sometimes, she is asleep when the doorbell rings.
The same incessant sound that’s bound to drive her crazy, night after night – except she will always make an exception for Joanne, she knows that for certain.
Bobbie never asks her why she comes without so much as a word.
Today, she is here with a bottle of red wine nestled within her hands. Bobbie notices how it is already half empty – and her lipstick is smudged around the rim.
It is only half past two, she notes whilst looking at the clock. Cocktail hour was not till five, and on a usual day Joanne would be the one to invite her out for a round of drinks – and the night would end up with both shitfaced and barely able to stand.
Bobbie is the first one to break the silence and gently welcomes Joanne in. Her apartment was mediocre, having suffered at the hands of an owner who was barely home. It was so sparsely decorated and boring that PJ would always comment on her lack of style when it came down to the furniture.
Though something tells Bobbie that today's visit isn’t going to entail catalogue browsing and endless plant shopping at the local garden store.
Joanne sighs and takes a swig of wine as she sits herself down on the couch. It tastes bitter and sweeter than her usual vodka, but it’s alcohol, and lord knows she needs anything to drown out the thought of-
God, even the thought of being near him made her annoyed.
“I uh – would you like something to drink?”
Her reply is short and snappy. Bobbie watches as she takes another swig – this time a longer one. She wonders if Joanne is drunk, or on the verge of being drunk, but still, she smells vodka mixed with the familiar scent of her perfume. Vanilla, she guesses today; it’s sweet and pungent and all too Joanne-like.
Maybe this isn’t the first bottle she’s had today.
“Is it Larry again?”
Bobbie asks, gently. it almost always is, nowadays. Joanne comes around when they’ve fallen out and drinks herself into a quiet slumber on Bobbie’s red couch. It’s a cycle that she has grown slowly used to, and one she doesn’t think will stop unless they both see a marriage counsellor.
Nowadays though, Bobbie thinks she fits into the role particularly well, not that she minds.
“Of course it is, kiddo. No one plays the sweet, loving husband better than Larry.”
Joanne curses their differences. It’s a marriage that has lasted well over 10 years, some kind of record that she’s been counting for far too long. Where she is snappy and short-tempered, her husband is sweet, caring and patience – God be damned. She almost wishes for him to divorce her, just so she can escape the long and exhausting life of being a rich and very married socialite.
He reminds her of a loyal puppy, in some ways. Not that she’d ever say that to his face.
Joanne longs for someone like Bobbie, who is carefree, reckless and all too impulsive in her actions.
She stands suddenly, glancing at the younger woman who stares at her, blinking slowly.
“I should go. If Larry calls, tell him ...”
“Tell him I was never here.”
Her voice is slurred slightly when she speaks, and her mouth dry.
She doesn’t notice she’s trembling until Bobbie carefully points it out, with the bottle removed from her hand and placed carefully on the coffee table. Warm arms embrace her, and she feels herself melt in a pile of mush.
Bobbie’s hair tickles the skin of her neck. From here, she can smell the violet-scented fragrance that she had gifted to her as a present for Christmas; one that Jenny had recommended when she admitted she didn’t know what Bobbie had liked. Their conversations were mundane and unfulfilling, the type that college friends would have upon reunion, except she was on the verge of turning fifty-four and Bobbie was still young. As young as thirty-five was, anyways.
They stay like this for what feels like hours. No one says a word, and Bobbie only hums quietly under her breath, threading her hands carefully through Joanne’s hair like a comb. It’s only when they finally come apart that one of them manages to speak.
Bobbie whispers, breaking the silence. She wants Joanne to stay and talk to her, because she doesn’t like to admit that the days are lonely sometimes, in between the hectic work hours and the periods of time when her boyfriend’s come over. She wants her friends to come and stay whenever, and enjoys it when they offer a chance to get her back on her feet.
Some days it gets so bad that she begins to overthink, imagining events between her and her friends that are improbable and downright absurd. The voices that call her name over and over again.
When the pressure of marriage and kids is all Bobbie can think of, and how her life is just one giant big fucking mess-
“When are we going to make it?”
A voice briefly rouses her from her reverie and she blinks, looking down at Joanne’s firm expression. Her heart skips a beat but still she looks into the depths of her brown eyes, to search for any signs of sarcasm or humour – anything. She knows for a fact that Joanne is never one to be the joking kind, unless horribly drunk – but even through the thick layer of alcohol that is sure to be clouding her judgement – Bobbie knows, is certain, that she is serious.
“ I beg your pardon?”
She asks again, just in case.
“When. Are We. Going. To make it?”
Her words are clearly punctuated, a snappish staccato that reminds her too much of the Joanne she knows. Her heart flutters somewhere in her chest and for a moment Bobbie cannot breathe. Her crystal clear voice allows for there to be no room for error or misinterpretation.
She swallows, her mouth suddenly dry as she whispers.
“What’s wrong with now?”