Get a Life…Yours, Not Mine

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

I don’t understand why this woman is so obsessed with me, and it’s really getting on my nerves. You’d think she has a life of her own, but no…she’s totally focused on me and on what’s going on in my life, even when she really has no idea what’s going on in my life. That doesn’t stop her—she just makes something up or expounds on a long-past tidbit until it seems fresh and delicious.

Flying By Night novelI’m in the midst of running errands when I hear her, almost like a voice in my head, and I instinctively duck. It’s not the first time. I recognize the voice, the sarcasm, the laugh. I can’t see her, only hear her, somewhere off to the side, behind a veil of sorts. She doesn’t know I can hear her, and I don’t mean to be listening. Her voice carries and I hear my name and stop on a dime. I’d prefer not to be hearing her conversation, but I stand still and listen anyway. I guess that’s human nature or maybe just a character flaw on my part.

What’s she doing here? I wonder. And why is she talking about me? Again.

“I’m really worried about Lorna,” she says, and there’s something that resembles concern in her voice but feels more like control. “We used to be so close, and I don’t know what’s wrong with her. We’ve got to do something, though. An intervention.”

“Have you spoken to her recently?”
I can’t tell who she’s talking to. (Is the name Shaman? Sharmaine? Sharmeen?) I vaguely recognize the voice. Someone I don’t talk to often or haven’t spoken with in a long time.

“No. She won’t talk to me. She just cut me off.”

“And you have no idea why?” the other woman asks.

“None.” There’s a slight lilt in the way she answers. She knows what she’s done, whether she’ll admit it to someone else or even to herself. Regardless, she’s long ago rationalized away her involvement in my life. But she doesn’t let on that she has any idea. “I think she’s gone off the deep end,” she adds, then gives a few examples that, well, aren’t true or are only kernels of the truth, but I’m sure she sees them as absolutes, especially when retold through her own filters.

The other woman expresses genuine concern. She says she hasn’t seen me or heard from me in a long time and is saddened by the news of my irrational and bizarre behavior. Yes, maybe something does need to be done. She, too, doesn’t understand what’s happened to me. But she’ll try to contact me and find out and then discreetly let this woman know.

Great, I think. An unwitting co-conspirator. Got sucked in, didn’t you? Heh.

“That would be great,” the woman says to the co-conspirator. “Because I can’t get a fix on what’s happening with her if she won’t talk to me, and you’ll stand a better chance of finding out.”

She proceeds to tell this woman various things I’ve said in confidence over the years. Small things. Big things. Things that hurt to hear them told because I shared them with her and they were no one else’s business and if I’d wanted them to know, I would have told them myself. She says these things with a twist to her tone, as if punching the blade in a little deeper and rotating her wrist sharply.

“You told me that before,” the other woman says, confirming my suspicion that anything I might have said over the course of our friendship has been common knowledge among her social circle, though it was said then with amusement and now it’s derision and anger.

The two continue to talk, and eventually, their conversation fades, as if they’re moving away—or I am. They are totally proprietary when it comes to my thoughts and actions, and they insist to each other how things should be and what I should be doing.

By the last of their words, still hanging in the air, they have decided that they know better than I how to live my life and that they’ve got to do something before I live my life in a different way than they are certain I should.

That takes a lot of arrogance to play God. Either that or their own lives are perfect.