Get a Lifeâ€¦Yours, Not Mine
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.
I donâ€™t understand why this woman is so obsessed with me, and itâ€™s really getting on my nerves. Youâ€™d think she has a life of her own, but noâ€¦sheâ€™s totally focused on me and on whatâ€™s going on in my life, even when she really has no idea whatâ€™s going on in my life. That doesnâ€™t stop herâ€”she just makes something up or expounds on a long-past tidbit until it seems fresh and delicious.
Iâ€™m in the midst of running errands when I hear her, almost like a voice in my head, and I instinctively duck. Itâ€™s not the first time. I recognize the voice, the sarcasm, the laugh. I canâ€™t see her, only hear her, somewhere off to the side, behind a veil of sorts. She doesnâ€™t know I can hear her, and I donâ€™t mean to be listening. Her voice carries and I hear my name and stop on a dime. Iâ€™d prefer not to be hearing her conversation, but I stand still and listen anyway. I guess thatâ€™s human nature or maybe just a character flaw on my part.
Whatâ€™s she doing here? I wonder. And why is she talking about me? Again.
â€œIâ€™m really worried about Lorna,â€ she says, and thereâ€™s something that resembles concern in her voice but feels more like control. â€œWe used to be so close, and I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s wrong with her. Weâ€™ve got to do something, though. An intervention.â€
â€œHave you spoken to her recently?â€
I canâ€™t tell who sheâ€™s talking to. (Is the name Shaman? Sharmaine? Sharmeen?) I vaguely recognize the voice. Someone I donâ€™t talk to often or havenâ€™t spoken with in a long time.
â€œNo. She wonâ€™t talk to me. She just cut me off.â€
â€œAnd you have no idea why?â€ the other woman asks.
â€œNone.â€ Thereâ€™s a slight lilt in the way she answers. She knows what sheâ€™s done, whether sheâ€™ll admit it to someone else or even to herself. Regardless, sheâ€™s long ago rationalized away her involvement in my life. But she doesnâ€™t let on that she has any idea. â€œI think sheâ€™s gone off the deep end,â€ she adds, then gives a few examples that, well, arenâ€™t true or are only kernels of the truth, but Iâ€™m sure she sees them as absolutes, especially when retold through her own filters.
The other woman expresses genuine concern. She says she hasnâ€™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, doesnâ€™t understand whatâ€™s happened to me. But sheâ€™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, didnâ€™t you? Heh.
â€œThat would be great,â€ the woman says to the co-conspirator. â€œBecause I canâ€™t get a fix on whatâ€™s happening with her if she wonâ€™t talk to me, and youâ€™ll stand a better chance of finding out.â€
She proceeds to tell this woman various things Iâ€™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 elseâ€™s business and if Iâ€™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.
â€œYou told me that before,â€ 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 itâ€™s derision and anger.
The two continue to talk, and eventually, their conversation fades, as if theyâ€™re moving awayâ€”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 theyâ€™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.