“So what colour is it?”
“What colour is what?”
“The new car!”
“Elizabeth, I thought you just bought a new Mercedes? Linda was going to take you shopping after your BM broke down?”
“Yes. I didn’t care for the Merc. Not enough…I don’t know. Just a bit blah really.”
“So which one did you get?”
“We didn’t get one.”
“No. We got two. I’ve always wanted a Ferrari. To answer your question, mine’s yellow. His is red.”
“Yellow? That’s a bit gauche isn’t it?” Caroline was unimpressed.
“Caroline it’s a Ferrari. Of course it’s gauche.” Elizabeth revelled for just a moment in the tiny trace of envy Caroline had left in her almost perfectly bored façade.
She rolled her eyes impatiently. “Where’s Linda anyway? Kristen has given me three jugs worth of cocktails with instructions for how to serve them. I’d like to get stuck in.”
“Caroline, really, you can’t wait just a few more minutes? We’re here for a whole weekend.”
“Yes, but the manicurist will be ready any moment, and I’d like to have a quick cosmo before she gets to work on my hands.”
I was listening to the bickering with amusement. Being on a girls’ weekend with five Snobbies was quite the spectator sport. “And that my friends is the definition of a first world problem. How to hold a cocktail and get a manicure simultaneously.”
Did I say that out loud?
“What does first world problem mean?” Brita narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously.
“It means Marley thinks that sarcasm is funny. It’s not dear”
“Sorry, I was kidding.”
I turned back to my Vogue and lay further into the lounge chair. Suddenly the new chignon trend on Milan’s runway seemed very interesting.
“Why couldn’t we have flown to Fiji for a girls’ weekend instead of staying in a health retreat? We could have had a private pool in Fiji too you know. And someone to actually make our cocktails for us.”
“Sarah, the cocktails are made for us. We just have to serve them. And Fiji is where I take my kids. Now Tahiti – I could get behind a girls week in Tahiti.”
“Sarah’s just missing the concierge at the Sheraton. Don’t worry dear. This cottage comes with a butler. And a pool guy.”
The manicurist had subsequently arrived and was preparing a foot bath at Caroline’s feet. Without warning, the conversation turned interesting.
“Oh.” Elizabeth looked down at her phone with a scowl.
“What is it Elizabeth?”
“It’s Linda. She’s not coming.”
“Righto. I’ll grab the cosmos then.” Caroline turned to the manicurist. “Can you start with my feet?”
Brita looked worried. And confused. “Why Elizabeth? What’s happened?”
“She doesn’t say. Just that Kingston’s not well. But that doesn’t make sense – her nanny is a qualified nurse. I can’t believe Linda would miss out on tomorrow’s two hour massage and reflexology session. Or the seminar about eating macro.”
“She has her own masseuse Elizabeth.”
“Hmmmm. I suppose.”
The therapist looked up. “You look worried madame. Perhaps I can organise some reiki for you tonight? Or hot stones?”
“Yes, thank you. That would be perfect.”
Caroline was reading Kristen’s instructions. “Okay. Serve chilled. Let’s have that one, it looks easy.”
“Not for me. I’m off for a shower before hot stone therapy.”
“Okay then. More for me.”
“Indeed.” Elizabeth’s face was stern, but Caroline was concentrating on pouring her cocktail.
As she walked off, curiosity got the better of me, and I peeked my head out from behind George Clooney’s wedding photos. “Caroline, what do you think is really going on?”
“Don’t know dear. The manicurist is meant to be starting on my feet, not organising Elizabeth’s leisure time.”
“No, I mean with Linda.”
“You mean the breakdown she’s clearly about to have?” Sarah didn’t even open her eyes as she spoke from her lounge chair.
I stared into the pool in front of us. I was dangerously close to a tasteless level of intrigue.
“Not sure. But I hope I’m around to see it!”
“Caroline!” Brita looked genuinely shocked.
“Please Brita. She’d happily watch my life self destruct if she could. In slow motion.”
“Keep drinking cocktails like sparkling water and she may yet get her chance.” Sarah was still motionless as she spoke.
“You know, Linda works part time. Her life isn’t all manicures and cocktails.”
I suddenly felt ashamed of my part in the gossip mongering. “You’re right Brita. Sorry I brought it up.”
“Oh please. She barely volunteers at all anymore, and she has two nannies!”
“Maybe it’s something else then?”
“I heard her surgeon’s retiring. That’s got to hurt. She’ll age 5 years before she can even find another one!”
All of us turned and stared at Caroline. Even Sarah finally came out from behind her oversized sun glasses.
“What? We haven’t had a good melt down in a while, have we?”
Elizabeth returned looking pale.
“Elizabeth? What is it dear? You look positively anaemic! Should we organise a spray tan for tonight as well?” Brita is one of those creature’s that has endlessly good intentions, particularly when it came to her friends, so I found myself increasingly forgiving of her less than optimal ability to comprehend…well, most things really.
“No. I have to go.”
“Why? What is it?” Caroline’s response on the other hand, was a little too eager.
“It’s Linda. You’d better come with me Caroline.”
“Why on earth would I leave this place?” The manicurist had begun work on her hands leaving them cocktail free, and Caroline was sinking slowly into her beach chair.
“Because you know way more about this stuff than I do.”
Her interest peaked, Caroline turned and looked directly at Elizabeth. Her voice was serious. “What stuff?”
“You know. Drugs and alcohol.”
“Why would I know about that?” We exchanged guilty looks. Our previous indulgence with Kristen’s herbal brownies was something I didn’t want to share with the group.
“Give me a break. We have to go. Linda’s second nanny just called worried out of her mind.”
“And she texted me when Linda uploaded this onto her Social media page.”
Caroline stared at the phone, then looked at Elizabeth.
“We’d better go. Get your keys.” She pulled her hand away from the therapist and looked directly at her as if her next instructions may just hold a solution to world hunger. “Marley can have my manicure, and we’ll need to cancel the reiki for tonight.”
After Elizabeth ran into the house, Caroline turned to us.
“Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to leave you guys out of the loop.” She passed me the phone. There on social media, for everyone to peruse, was a picture of Linda with a rolled cigarette and a bottle of vodka dancing on the moonlit beach with a man 20 years younger than her husband, in what looked to be her underwear. The caption read ‘Fast times with Snobsville’s finest Life Guards. Anyone care to join us?’
“So Kingston’s not sick?” Brita furrowed her brow.
“Hmmmm.” Sarah turned back to her lounge chair, obviously out out. “Well, the La Perla looks fabulous. But why on earth is she drinking that rubbish? We have Prosecco here chilled and waiting. And I doubt that life guard is a match for the masseuse I’ve booked.”
“And cigarette’s? Forget about losing her surgeon, those cigarettes will age her overnight!”
“Yeah, I’m not sure that’s a cigarette Brita.” I said it quietly so as not to draw Sarah’s ire.
As Caroline and Elizabeth rushed off in the car, (with Elizabeth driving), it occurred to me that the tightly plaited world which Linda had woven for herself was no longer holding her together, and though the thought of her having less to be smug about at prep school pick up floated in and out of my thoughts, what I really felt was pity. All this time I had seen Linda as the pinnacle of togetherness, of success, and of winning at life. And pretty soon, if the other Snobbies had anything to do with it, she would be losing big.
In the meantime, there was no sense letting a good manicure go to waste.
“Brita, love, can you pass me another cocktail? I’ll hold it in my left.”