Looking in the mirror, Pedra took note of the little wrinkles around her eyes. Had they always been there? She sighed, applied some makeup and tried to smile. To her eyes it looked more like a grimace. Did she really have to go out today?
She did have to. It was her brother’s engagement dinner and he would never forgive her if she didn’t show up. Maybe that would be ok, she thought, pulling on her coat, Evan’s fiancee was… Ugh.
“Pedra, Daaarrrrrling, Evan and I are sooooooo pleased to see you.” Alione’s smile was plastered to her face like a mannaquin’s. “Oh, but you look so tired. Are you getting any rest since Mike left?”
Alione never had any tact for sensitive subjects. She patted Pedra on the head like a puppy with an expression, she clearly thought conveyed sympathy. Pedra dodged the petting, mustered up her own fake smile and replied, “Oh. I’m fine. I just worked late last night.”
“I just thought, maybe an engagement party might be too much for you right now. I’m glad you’re holding up ok and Evan and I are reaaaaallllly happy to see you.”
“Oh, yes. I’m fine. I’m already seeing someone.”
“Really, Darling. Well, I suppose it’s important to get back out there.” Alione waved her arms magnanimously as if to indicate the world at large. “I must say hi to the Hadleys, excuse me, Darling.” She drifted off into the crowd and Pedra turned to her brother.
“Evan, congratulations.” She hugged him more tightly than usual.
“Hey, Sis. Alione and I are really glad you’re here.”
“I know that look and I know how you feel about her but…”
“No, Evan, it’s ok. She’s fine. I’m just maybe not in the best place.”
“I don’t want to discuss it.”
“Ok. Ok. I get you but… You know I’m here for you, right?”
“Thanks, Little Brother, I’m good.”
A look passed between them. Pedra had always been his protector. They both knew she was incapable of leaning on him. He opened his mouth, as if to speak but was quickly interrupted by a new influx of guests. Pedra used the opportunity to head to the bar.
Three hours later, too drunk to drive home, Pedra reluctantly accepted as ride with Evan and Alione. She sat in the back seat behind Evan, mesmerized by the traffic lights, relaxing into the car’s steady warmth and the glow of her buzz.
“Pedra, Darling… ” Alione’s voice sliced through her calm like nails on a chalkboard. “My cousin Tad is single and he was really taken with you.”
“Oh. Ok. Well… I thought you might like to get back out there.”
Pedra’s chest was tight with rage. “Not with any cousin of yours.”
“Pedra… ” Evan’s tone held a warning.
“It’s ok, Evan,” Alione whispered, “I don’t mind. I’m sorry, Pedra, Darling. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Nooooo proooooblem, Alione, Daaaaaaaarllllllling. Set me up with one of your snooty friends and we’ll get married and join a fucking country club. Sounds like a fucking blast.”
“No, Evan! No! If you want to marry a snooty bitch it’s whatever but she can stop trying to interfere in my life!”
“Pedra! Enough! Alione is my fiancee and you are out of line!”
“Fuck!” Pedra kicked at the back of his seat without really making contact but settled back to silent pouting. She didn’t really like it when Evan was upset with her.
They pulled up to the dark house in silence. The inky blackness of the windows sent an icicle of loneliness into her heart. Why the fuck had he left her? She hadn’t had any closure. He didn’t even tell her why… He just left while she was at work.
Her cheeks were wet. She didn’t even realize she had been crying. Evan had turned in his seat and was looking at her with glistening eyes but she was still sore with him, so she opened the door and stumbled towards the porch. She almost made it but her stomach lurched as she reached the bushes and she had to lean over and throw up.
When she was finished she stood, swaying dangerously… And then there was a steadying hand on her elbow. It was Alione. Pedra was too tired to fight. She leaned into Alione’s solid steadiness and allowed her to lead them into the house.
“We’re going to stay here with you,” Alione stated blandly, “Evan and I don’t think you should be alone.”
Pedra nodded, falling back on the couch as Evan took off his coat and sat silently in the chair opposite.
“I’m sorry,” Pedra mumbled.
“Are you?” Alione asked.
“Don’t.” Pedra couldn’t argue anymore.
“No, Pedra, you’re angry with me. I get it. I interfere too much. I talk… Well, I talk like a snob a lot. It’s… It’s how I grew up… And… I set you up with Mike. He was MY college friend. Of course you hate me right now.”
“Not your fault… I don’t hate you. You’re just so… You’re a lot sometimes.”
Alione smiled slightly, “I’m going to get you some aspirin and water, Darling. You rest.” She disappeared into the kitchen.
“She’s good to me, you know.” Evan intoned from his chair. He looked exhausted and Pedra felt a pang of guilt. He probably needed to go home and rest but instead he was staying here with her drunken ass.
“I’m sorry, Evan.”
“If you’re really sorry you’ll make an effort with her.”
“I will. I promise.”
“Promise tomorrow when you’re sober.” Pedra nodded and closed her eyes. “And Pedra,” she opened them again but she could barely see Evan at this point, “You didn’t deserve what Mike did. He is a shitty person and I promise you, Alione was as pissed as anyone.”
Pedra nodded again as Alione came into the room with the aspirin. She put the pills into her mouth and let Alione hold the glass to her lips, drinking until it was empty.
“Better?” Alione asked.
Pedra nodded again. “Alione, will you help me to bed?”
“Will you stay until I’m asleep?”
“Yes, Darling. I’ll stay.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry I was mean.”
“You’re ok. We all get angry sometimes.”
“I’m gonna do better.”
“I know, Darling. You will.”