The Girlfriend

3 Dec

My friend moved into my house while her apartment was getting fumigated. The stay was going to be anywhere from two weeks to indefinite, as these things go. It was a cold winter and all the outdoor critters found cracks in the concrete to squeeze through, entrances into her old, crumbly building. The live traps I gave her worked for the mice, but she’d set them free outside and they’d find the cracks in anew. The fumigators promised to seal the cracks as part of their plan. Please don’t kill anyone, she asked them. I told her not to think about it.

A few days after my friend’s arrival, her new girlfriend spent the night. I liked her girlfriend. She was nice enough, if not a bit overly friendly, a suburban girl still living with her parents, though trying to find a way to live in the city with the minimal money she made at her fast food restaurant job. I heard the giggles rise up from the basement into the kitchen. I smiled. I was happy that my friend had found love.

The next night, the girlfriend stayed over again. She stayed the night after that, and the following night, and the next night. It soon became clear she had found her new home in the city. I wasn’t pleased, but I was that bothered either. We have to lean in to people, to meet them where they are, to accept and support our friends. I already had good boundaries. Now I needed to soften around them.

On the evening of the fourteenth day, I was in the kitchen making tea when I heard the stairs creak. The stair always creaked, but the sound was unusually long, as though someone was trying to be quiet. Her shadow appeared first. The house was dark, lit only by the small light above the stove. She rounded the corner and I offered her some tea. No, she said, sliding the chef’s knife from the knife block and holding it up to her face. Our faces reflected in long slivers, side by side in the knife’s mirror. She grabbed another knife, then another, until her hands were full. What are you doing, I asked. My heart started pounding. She looked into my eyes and smiled. I yelled out my friends name. I yelled it again and again, louder and louder. The girlfriend continued to smile. She aimed the knife tips toward me. I took hold of her wrists and yelled my friend’s name again, then yelled, no! I managed to push her arms down and grab my hot tea. I splashed it in her face and heard the sound of knives clinking on linoleum. She fell to the floor with the knives and I ran out the door.


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