“Lovely place Marley. Very sweet. I see you decided against the Butler’s Pantry?”
We were gathered around my coffee table in our newly furnished open plan kitchen. I was quite pleased with the result – it was airy and bright, not too over the top. Marta was not quite so enamoured, though I had a feeling she was more hurt that I hadn’t taken her styling tips on board than anything else.
She was hovering behind us inspecting the kitchen, eying a huge bowl of Mandarins Sharon had put in a crisp white bowl on the kitchen bench.
She sighed, fingering the skin of one of the pieces of fruit. “Marley you must inform your house manager that mandarins should never be used in styling a kitchen.”
Brita’s ears pricked up from the couch. “Really? Why is that?”
“Well dear, Manadarins are a poor man’s orange. Smaller, not as juicy, less vitamin C…the original is always the more classic choice.”
“Oh. I didn’t think you ate fruit?”
“Oh no dear. It can look lovely as an ornament, but I’d never eat fruit. Unless its sugar and carb free.”
The doorbell rang before I could respond, but I allowed myself a tiny eye roll as I made my way to the front door. As I got closer I thought I could see Kristy’s silhouette through the opaque glass panel. Only she was wearing what looked to be Snobsville uniform – high heeled boots, designer looking jeans and a puffa vest. Kristy usually looked more at home in leggings and a t-shirt when we had been friends in Neplebean Heights.
To my surprise when I opened the door, there she was. A figment of my former life coated in the uniform of my new life. Bubbly and friendly as ever, she bounded inside as I stared after her.
“So good to see you! I’ve got huge news.”
“Oh, yes, it is great to see you, it’s just we’re having a fundraiser meeting…”
Before I finished the sentence, my old world collided once again with the new. In previous encounters, this collision had never ended well.
“Hi hi! You’re Caroline, right? I think we’ve met before. And Brenda?”
Brita smiled kindly. “Brita. And you’re Kristy. I remember.”
An awkward silence followed. And followed some more.
“So, who’s this?”
“Oh, sorry this is Marta.”
“Yes. Nice to meet you Kristal. I’m a home and lifestyle blogger. And I’m the class parent. This is our fundraising meeting.”
“Wow, what charity are you raising funds for?”
“Oh no, not a charity. It’s our school swimming pool. They want to make it into an indoor pool.”
Marta smiled blandly as she cut in. “Actually Caroline, the plan is to fill in the current pool and put up a new technology building there. Then build a new pool on a block of land adjacent to the pool indoors, with full aqua sport facilities.”
“Oh. We hadn’t gotten that far yet.” I was embarrassed that Kristy was hearing this from Marta without my caveat that I was pretty sure the head of the Building Committee wanted his son to take a more active and keen interest in Water Polo. Hence the large donation and direction of the funds.
Brita smiled. “I suppose it must seem like a world war problem to you Kristy. No pool for the as yet non existent water polo team!”
Kristy frowned a little. “Do you mean first world problem?”
“Oh, whichever. First War, Second War. They were all a bit sad weren’t they?”
“Yes, I suppose it is a world war problem. But still a great cause.”
I looked at Marta out of the corner of her eyes. I can only imagine the process Marta’s face went through trying desperately not to frown and increase her likelihood of early onset wrinklage. Unless she’d seen her aesthetic enhancement specialist recently, in which case she wouldn’t be able to frown any way.
Kristy turned and stared at me. “Marley, I really need to talk to you. Can you take a five minute break?”
“Sure. I’ll make coffee.” I waited for Marta’s jibe about not having a house manager, or getting the governess to do it, but she was preoccupied with fundraising notes.
“Okay, I have to tell you. I’m about to burst!” She held out her hand with a neatly placed diamond ring on her fourth finger sporting an obscenely large rock.
“Oh my! Congratulations! I didn’t know you were seeing anyone.”
“Oh, its all happened very quickly.”
“God, I hope you don’t walk around Neplebean with that! Is he from the pub?”
“No, not from Neplebean Heights. You know how I’ve been doing a bit of extra catering work on weekends? Well, I took a job with a company that organises retreats for executives. It’s just once in a while, you know, until I get a bit of extra cash to put a deposit down on something. Anyway, a couple of months ago I was asked to do a job about an hour north of Snobsville for a long weekend. It was this massive country retreat with yurts on the premises so executives could, you know, ‘get in touch with nature’.”
She was taking very quickly and gesturing wildly. I could see Caroline listening intently to her story while flipping through the Fundraiser’s Digest Brita had brought around.
“Oh. Yes I’ve heard of those. Jason kind of laughed when I suggested it.”
“Well, there was this older man, I served him herbal tea in the pore cleansing yurt and the rest is history!”
“So why haven’t you told anyone about him?” I wondered if I was so out of touch with my old friends that in fact she had just not told me.
“Oh I couldn’t. You see, he was still married until a week ago. Well, I mean he is still married technically. Its a formality really.”
“His second wife died tragically on a trip to Thailand, then he married his secretary kind of on a whim – you know, like a rebound.”
“Oh. Was her name Paisley?”
“Yes! Do you know her?”
“A little. Ainsley is the husband, right?” I felt sorry for Paisley and wondered if Kristy would suffer the same fate. And I thought of Paisley’s little daughter. Kristy hadn’t mentioned her at all.
“Well, ex husband. Sort of. Anyway, I’m moving in next week – we’re going to be neighbours again!”
“Doesn’t he live in Lower Snobsville?”
“Yes, I suppose its not as close as we used to be, but still – aren’t you excited?” I could feel the rumble of future collisions clouding my future.
I smiled at Kristy. “Yes dear. I’m so happy for you.”
“You know Kristal-“
“Marta. She said her name was Kristy. And I’ve been calling her Kristy. Please call my friend by her name.”
Marta shot me a look. She was not used to being called out on her passive aggressive jibes. “Yes. Kristy. You know Ainsley’s sons are at Grammar. Paisley was on the Building Committee. I don’t suppose you a re going to take her place are you?”
“Wait, are they? I haven’t met them yet. But yes, I suppose I could do that. I don’t think I’ll be catering any more. Of course, we were thinking maybe about boarding school…”
Caroline was smirking into her magazine, and I knew exactly what she was thinking. Some people, like me, never really fit into Snobsville. If Caroline was honest she’d probably fit into that category too. But some people really surprise you. The most down to earth people can very quickly be corrupted by the allure of everything in Snobsville that seems so shiny. Like huge diamond rings. I wasn’t sure if Kristy would be an ally or not, or if she knew what she was in for.
Marta smiled. “Well dear. There’ll be room for you on the committee. Don’t you worry.”