angels a novel marian keyes For Tony Contents E-book Extra: The Seven Deadlies: A “Shortly we will be landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Please. Angels Marian Keyes PDF - Angels ela descobre que seu marido está tendo um caso ela vai para Los Angeles passar um tempo com sua amiga, Emily. She decides, for the first time in her life, to do something daring -- and flees to her best friend, Emily, in the faraway wonderland of Los Angeles. In this mecca of.
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Download Los Angeles - Marian Keyes em ePUB mobi e PDF. Read “Angels”, by Marian Keyes online on Bookmate – After catching her and flees to her best friend, Emily, in the faraway wonderland of Los Angeles. Marian keyes los angeles pdf download November 14,Alan Keyes and Markham Robinson, chairman of the American Independent Party and a.
First, though, I have to tell them why and I'm dreading it. Even I joined in, getting carried away in the heat of the moment. Then less than four weeks before we returned to Ireland, Emily departed for Los Angeles. I had even begun to think it was a good one. And I didn't bother to elucidate.
Stunned and stricken and shocked beyond belief. False hope was worse than no hope. He appeared reluctantly from behind the newspaper shield. His eyes were petrified. We can all name Marilyn Monroe films, but how does it help? He meant well. She'd always thought my Garv was sweet, especially since he'd fixed her tape deck for her. You wouldn't want to get her on the subject of the elder Garv, mind. But despite Claire's stamp of approval, my Garv had somehow—through no fault of his own—acquired a reputation for tightfistedness.
The stinginess allegation had raised its ugly head the first night I'd ever officially taken him out with my family. He'd been knocking around on the fringes for a good while before that, but I'd realized I was serious about him and that it was time he met my family properly. With a sense of occasion we repaired to Phelan's, the local pub, and the salient fact is that Garv didn't stand his round.
Hand-to-hand combat almost breaks out as people try to be the first to get to the bar. On the night in question, Garv was more than willing to buy drinks for my family, but he was nervous and way too mildmannered to stand up to them.
Even I joined in, getting carried away in the heat of the moment. Beaten back by a hail of words, Garv reluctantly lowered himself back onto his bar stool. The net result of the evening was that Dad bought a round, Rachel bought a round, I bought a round, Anna bought a round, then Dad bought another round.
And Garv gained a reputation as a tightwad. Hot on the heels of that miscarriage of justice came the polo-shirt incident. A story that begins happily and ends tragically. Because Garv had just bought a car, money was tight, so we were on the lookout for bargains.
Free things, preferably. Then, by pure chance, we found a polo shirt in the bottom of a clearance bin. In fact, it was perfect—the right size, the right price, and a pale icy color that made his normally gray eyes look blue.
It was only when we got it home that we realized there was a small logo above the breast pocket. A tiny outline of a man swinging a golf club, which somehow in the euphoria of the garment having only two sleeves, we'd missed. Naturally enough, we were both dismayed but concluded that it was so small it was barely visible. So he wore it. And the next thing I hear is that Garv wears the same kind of sweaters as Dad.
Then a rumor started that he played golf, which was not only untrue but very, very unfair. Garv is no fool and he was aware of my family's antipathy.
And he could have—he had a nice, easy manner most of the time. And responded with standoffishness or downright hostility. Wretchedly, I shook my head. Did she think I hadn't thought of that? Did she think that I hadn't clung to that, hoping with gritted teeth that this was all that was wrong? It was a symptom of what was wrong.
Perhaps you need a vacation? It was a disaster; it did more harm than good. Scornfully Helen flicked her eyes upward. The bitterness still ran deep. When I was twenty-one I took driving lessons, then took my test and passed it. Only then did I tell any of my family, and, instead of being delighted for me, they were hurt and confused. Which was precisely the kind of thing I'd wanted to avoid. Doing my driving test was just something I'd wanted to do on my own. I didn't think it was anyone else's business.
And if I was being brutally honest, I'd have to acknowledge the issue of failure—if I'd failed my test, I'd never have been allowed to forget about it. Finally Dad spoke. And all the subsequent nights, but first things first. I was sure I wouldn't sleep, because wasn't that what happened to people in distress? But I needn't have worried.
I slept as if I was dead and woke up in a bed and a room that I didn't recognize. Where's this? For a moment my curiosity was almost pleasant, then reality tumbled down onto me. That day was one of the most dislocated of my life.
With no job to show up at, my time was spent mostly in my bedroom, keeping out of Mum's way. Even though she was very vocal about how this was just a phase I was going through and that I'd be back with Garv in no time, my popularity with her was enjoying an all-time low. Helen, on the other hand, was treating me like a visiting freak show and dropped by to torment me before she went to work.
Anna came too, in an attempt to protect me. But this is all wrong, Maggie, you don't do this sort of thing. It cut me deep, and even when Claire said that Helen was a human durian fruit because she was offensive and banned in several countries, it wasn't enough to lift my spirits. Back in the present, Helen continued gibing me. Anna got into bed beside me and linked her arm through mine.
I let telly programs wash over me: How have I ended up back here? I felt like such a failure that I was afraid to leave the house. And I thought about Garv and the girl—a lot. So much that I'd had to go back to using my much-hated steroid cream on my unbearably itchy arm. I was tormented by her identity. Who was she, anyway? How long had it been going on? And—God forbid—was it serious? The questions scurried around incessantly; even as I watched two obese girls punching each other and Jerry Springer pretending to be appalled, another part of my brain was poring over the past few months with a magnifying glass, searching for clues and discovering nothing.
But I felt I'd no right to mind about the girl and that it didn't make any difference anyway. With or without her, the game was up. I'd been back at my parents' about twenty-four hours when the reaction set in. As I listlessly watched telly, my temperature abruptly plummeted. Though the room was warm far too warm , the skin on my arms had contracted like plastic wrap before heat and the hairs were standing to attention from goose-pimpled follicles.
I blinked—only to discover that my eyes hurt. Then I noticed that my head was packed tight with cotton wool, my bones ached, and I was unable to find enough energy to even pick up the remote control.
Muzzy and spaced, I watched Animal Hospital, wishing I could do something to make whatever this was stop. What was wrong with me? What are they doing to that poor Alsatian? Finally I had her attention. She looked concerned. Almost as concerned as she had been about the Alsatian. She placed her hand on my forehead. An energetic throw, as if they're about to fling the glass stick across the room, but change their mind at the last minute.
But despite her adherence to protocol, my temperature was normal. I was lying in exactly the same position I'd been in before I went to sleep, as though I hadn't moved once in any of that time. Instead of feeling better, I actually felt worse, lethargic and hopeless. And I continued to feel wretched. I'd never believed it was possible to become sick from sadness. That it was a nonsense concept confined to melodramatic Victorian novels. My temperature was normal, and how come no one else had caught my flu?
Whatever was wrong with me, it was emotional. Mourning sickness. My body was fighting my separation from Garv as though it was a hostile organism. I couldn't stop sleeping. Deep, druggy sleeps from which I never fully woke up. Once conscious, I could barely manage the smallest things. Getting another job. Tidying up the loose ends of my old life. Sorting out my new one.
But I felt as though I was walking underwater. Moving too slowly though an unwieldy world. When I got beneath the shower, the water felt like a hail of sharp gravel being hurled at my tender skin. The house was too noisy—every time a door slammed, my heart pumped too hard.
When Dad dropped a saucepan with a clatter on the floor, I got such a fright my eyes filled with tears. I continued to perform poorly in the opinion polls. I wasn't getting the same degree of grief from Dad, but then again, I've always been his pet. What with my once having played team sports and going to the snooker championship with him, he's nearly managed to convince himself that I'm his son.
Outside of my immediate family, I spoke to no one. People were eager to speak to me, however. Nothing like a disaster to get those phone lines a-hopping. Coffin chasers like Elaine also called. Rachel rang from New York and we had much the same conversation, but there wasn't a hope of my visiting either of them—walking from the telly to the kettle was about the only journey I could manage.
I didn't call Garv—and to the great disappointment and confusion of my parents, he didn't call me either. In a way it was a relief, but a relief that somehow managed to be an unpleasant one.
Anna was also in the house a lot—she was devastated about Shane. What had happened with her was that Shane had set up a computer business making on-line music, and from out of nowhere he had become ambitious. At a hairdresser's. Then I knew it was all over.
So what about you and Garv? Whatever energy was required to pull those words out of my gut and into the open just wasn't there. Shouldn't I be making plans to cut off the arms and legs of all Garv's clothes? It was as if a door into a noisy room opened and immediately slammed shut again. Is it any surprise after all you've been through? And Garv probably is too.
Unlike me, Anna couldn't sleep—at least not in her own bed. So she wandered the house at night, moving from bed to bed. It was like being haunted by a benign ghost. Occasionally she was still there when I woke up. One morning I came to, to find one of her feet resting on my ear and the other in my mouth; for reasons best known to herself, Anna had decided to get into bed upside down. Another night I emerged from sleep feeling absurdly happy: Sometimes Anna and I could provide comfort for each other, especially when she developed a theory that our lives were so awful because our guardian angels had gone on sabbaticals, and that currently we were being minded by temps who took no pride in their work.
We won't get our hands caught in a mincing machine, but that's all they'll do for us. What's mine called? What's Clive's best bit? One bad morning she got in beside me and we both lay on our backs, staring miserably at the ceiling.
That's what's happened the last three times. It gets my hopes up, then leaves me feeling even worse. Mind you, it was barely nine-fifteen and she'd been gone only half an hour.
Some unknown time that night, I woke in darkness. I wondered what had disturbed me—and then I heard it, a noise I remembered well from my teenage years: One of my sisters—Anna, in this case—was having trouble getting her key in the lock. Just like the old days, I thought dreamily as I sank back into sleep. It's yesterday once more… Some time later I jumped awake again; the fire alarm was beeping in a fussy frenzy and Dad was hopping about the landing in a wildeyed, pajamaed panic.
We put her to bed, but some time later she got in beside me, reeking so strongly of alcohol that if I'd been awake, I'd have passed out. As it was, her incendiary breath had the effect of smelling salts, and woke me up.
Later that same night the whole house was once again awakened—this time by an almighty thump; it sounded as if a ceiling had fallen in. Closer investigation revealed that it was nothing quite so exciting. At some stage during the second dreadful week, I needed something, but there were so few options open to me.
And not even at my sportiest did I get the appeal of Going for a Walk in suburbia. But I was bad enough off to give it a try. I was afraid to go there in case he'd moved the girl in. Perhaps that sounds like a wild overreaction, but my instinct was warning me that anything was possible. Off I went. Nothing too ambitious. I walked a couple of hundred yards to the park and sat on a wall, watching some teenagers do whatever teenagers do in parks: I felt horrible.
The sky was mushroom gray and stagnant, even the parts that weren't directly over me. After a while, when I didn't feel any better, I decided I might as well go home again.
I was traipsing back down the hill when someone flickered across my vision and vaguely alerted me. I looked properly. It was a man about fifty yards away, lifting things out of a car trunk. Oh my…God. Shay Delaney. Well, for a second I thought it was him, then it was clear that it wasn't. There was just something about the man that reminded me slightly of Shay and even that was enough to make me unsteady. But as I continued, with a whoosh of dizziness, I saw that it was him.
Different, but still the same. The change was that he looked older; this gave me some pleasure until it dawned on me that if he looked older, then so would I. He was lifting stuff from the trunk of the car and stacking it at the gate of his mother's house. How could I not have instantly known it was him—he was outside his own house. Well, the house he'd lived in until he'd left to go away to college fifteen years ago. Fifteen years. I'm young now and I was grown up then, there isn't room for fifteen years.
Dizziness again. I couldn't meet him. Not now, not with all this shame. But of all the times to bump into him, I thought wildly. Why couldn't I have met him when I'd had a marriage I was proud of, when I'd been happy? Of course, I didn't have to tell him how wrong everything had gone. But wouldn't he guess, wasn't it obvious… My hollow legs continued leading me down the hill, straight into his path.
For several years I used to fantasize about meeting him again. Time after time I comforted myself with meticulous plans. I'd be thin, beautiful, trendily dressed, expertly lit. I'd be poised, confident, on top of my game. And he'd have lost his appeal. Somehow he'd have shrunk to about five-five, his dark-blond hair would have fallen out, and he'd have put on a ton of weight.
Meanwhile, look at me—the sweatpants, the air of failure, the way my face had gone a bit funny and immobile.
It was nearly laughable. The only thing I had going for me were the highlights in my hair—I'd been uncertain when the hairdresser first suggested it, but now it was clear it was a godsend. Closer I got. He'd no interest in me, not at all. It seemed as if I could escape with my raw, white face, my dad's anorak, my recently separated bleakness. Then I was right up beside him, passing him by, and still he wasn't looking. And with a strange defiance I decided that if he wasn't going to speak, then I would.
So, ah, how's Garv? All was still—and mildly uncomfortable, then he rolled his eyes to playfully indicate shock. Long time.
Little monkeys. He was either blind or insane, but such was his affection that I tentatively began to half believe him. Still driven mad by the lot of you? I looked dumbly at it—only for a second; he was expecting me to shake it. As if we were business colleagues. As I rubbed my palm against his, I remembered that he used to hold that hand over my mouth. To muffle the sounds I was making. When we were having sex. How weird life is. And Garv. I couldn't believe it. I'd finally met him, and spoken to him, and I was fine.
All those years wondering about it and I was fine. On a huge high, I danced toward home. The minute I was inside the house I started to shake. Too late, I remembered that I shouldn't have been nice to him. I should have been cold and unpleasant after the way he'd treated me. Mum appeared in the hall. This she put down to the fact that Shay's father had left them, and Shay had to be the man of the house.
The other lads in the gang—Micko, Macker, Toolser, even Garv—were sullen around adults; they found it impossible to maintain eye contact with anyone more than a year older than they were. But Shay, the only one of his contemporaries to be called by his real name, as I recall, was perpetually good-humored. Almost, at times, flirtatious. He'd seemed to float between several factions and was welcomed by all.
He was just one of those people who had—although I wouldn't have known the word for it in those days—charisma. And, of course, the tragedy of his father having walked out on the family generated a lot of sympathy for him. Because he looked older and had the confidence and charm to smooth-talk his way past doormen, he went places that we didn't and inhabited worlds different from ours. Of course, he'd always had lots of girlfriends; they'd usually left school and were either working or in college, which impressed the other lads no end.
Anyway, I'd been going out with Garv for about six months and I was perfectly happy with him—then Shay Delaney began to pay attention to me. And it seemed as if he was always watching me. We'd all be there, hanging around a wall, smoking, pushing each other—the usual messing around—and I'd look up to find his gaze upon me. If he'd been anyone else, I'd have assumed that he was flirting, but this was Shay Delaney and he was way out of my price range.
And then, after a week when he'd cranked up the intensity of his smiles and intimate conversations, there was a party. Squashed up against his bigness in the dark, confined space, finally knowing that I hadn't imagined his interest in me, I felt him move his face down to mine and it was as if every dream I'd ever had had come true.
Surely it was obvious? I never really got to the bottom of why he wanted me. The best I could come up with myself was that as his father had left them and his home life was a bit chaotic, I represented stability.
That my normalness was the most attractive thing about me. So, shallow cow that I was, I broke it off with poor Garv. We kind of pretended that it was a mutual thing and insisted that we'd stay friends and all that other crap you talk when you're a teenager, but the truth of the matter was that I dumped Garv for Shay.
Garv knew it as much as I did, and from the moment Shay had decided he wanted me, Garv hadn't stood a chance.
Later that evening Dad sidled into my room, a brown paper bag under his arm. But this evening I was going to have to try because as well as the chicken nuggets, Dad had also gotten me a large fries and a Coke, and by the look of things, a happy meal for himself. It came with a free robot. The chip or fry, if you prefer sat in my mouth like a foreign body. He watched me anxiously and I attempted to choke it down my closed throat. That was one of the strangest questions I've ever been asked in my entire life, bar none.
The only time my family ever has a drink with their meals is on Christmas Day when the bottle of warm Blue Nun is wheeled out—always assuming that it hasn't been discovered by one of my sisters and drunk the night before.
Besides, there wasn't any—what had he suggested? Then I realized that Dad wasn't offering me a drink. He was simply curious, trying to gauge how bad off I was. I shook my head. When I was depressed, alcohol never cheered me up; in fact, it probably made me worse—maudlin and self-pitying. A few minutes later he was back. Best girlfriend, that is, and actually since Garv and I have gone weird on each other, probably best friend.
Gawky twelve-year-olds, we met at secondary school and instantly recognized in each other a kindred spirit. We were outsiders. Not total pariahs, but we were a long way from being the most popular girls in the class. Part of the problem was that we were both good at sports: Another black mark against us was that we'd no interest in the usual teenage experimentation with cigarettes and alcohol. I was too terrified of getting into trouble and Emily said it was a waste of money.
A far cry from how she looks today. She's still small and skinny, which we now know to be a Good Thing, right? Especially the skinny part. But the bad perm which wasn't a perm at all, but the real thing is just a distant memory. Her hair is now swishy and glossy—very, very impressive—even though she says that in its natural state she could still double for a member of the Jackson Five.
To get her hair fully frizz-free, her hairdresser sometimes has to put his foot on her chest and tug hard. Her look is very pulled together and confident. But not Emily. Emily, however, appeared in bandage-tight snakeskin jeans, purple stiletto-heeled cowboy boots, and a pink leather Stetson.
But instead of looking preposterous, she made me want to applaud. She's also a woman who knows how to accessorize. Colored shoes a color other than black, that is , handbags shaped like flowerpots, kooky barrettes in her hair if the occasion demands it.
I'm not a total klutz. I read magazines, I'm an enthusiastic shopper, and I take a keen interest in skirt lengths, heel shapes, and the light-diffusing qualities of foundation.
But you only have to look at my single friends to see that they're all thinner and more glamorous than me and their makeup bags are cornucopias of breaking-news wondrousness. Do you know how long it took me to realize that blue shimmer shadow was back in? We E-mailed each other two or three times a week. It was a great source of sadness to me that we couldn't seem to manage to live on the same continent. Garv and I had been married only a few months before we moved to Chicago for five years.
Then less than four weeks before we returned to Ireland, Emily departed for Los Angeles. What happened was, Emily had always wanted to be a writer. Her stuff always seemed good to me, but what would I know? Like Helen says, I've no imagination. Then, five or so years ago Emily wrote a short film called A perfect Day, which was picked up by an Irish production company and gotten shown on television.
It was whimsical and charming, but what normally happens with a short is that it gets shown once, then disappears. But something unprecedented happened with A Perfect Day, all because it was a very odd length: Whenever Ireland had some sort of corruption scandal every other week , the nine o'clock news would run long and a filler item would be needed to occupy the airwaves until ten o'clock, when things could get back on schedule.
Three times over a fourmonth period A Perfect Day was that filler, and it began to work its way beneath the skin of the nation. She could have made a decent enough living in Ireland. If she'd been prepared to be flexible, and do sitcoms, plays, ads—apparently they pay very handsomely—as well as films. But she decided to go for broke, left her dreary day job, and departed for Los Angeles.
Time passed, then news came back that she'd been taken on by one of the big Hollywood agencies. Not long after that came the announcement that she'd sold a full-length script to DreamWorks. Or was it Miramax? One of the big ones, anyway. The film was called Hostage or it might be Hostage! She got it on sale, at 40 percent off, but it was still fairly pricey. More time passed, and not much happened. Eventually Emily's mother called her and asked Emily would she mind if she wore the long, navy, spangly dress to Mr.
Emily's Christmas work do. Only it was nearly a year since she'd bought it, and though it had been on sale, at 40 percent off, it had still been fairly pricey. She'd like to get some use out of it. Go ahead, Emily advised. Then, lo and behold, a rival studio brought out a film. It was about a group of eight couples who go on a golfing holiday on a tiny island off Fiji. The island is invaded by terrorists who kill the few locals and take several of the golfers hostage. Some escape into the undergrowth, survive castaway style on twigs, etc.
It was an action movie, with—you'll never guess—a love story. And even, would you believe, one or two laughs. She was crying. Soon afterward she came home to Ireland for Christmas and persuaded me to go out on the town with her, just the two of us. She was right: It was the pink Stetson night: But it hadn't happened yet and she looked sensational. I jumped all over her, so happy to see her, but despite our delight in each other's company, it was a strange night.
At the time I thought I was having the time of my life, but in retrospect I'm not so sure. Emily drank an awful lot at high speed—since she'd started drinking, she'd become very good at it. Obviously I got very drunk, but strangely I didn't realize it.
I felt perfectly sober. The only indication that anything was amiss was the fact that everyone I came into contact with seemed to do something to insult or annoy me. It never occurred to me that the fault might be mine. I'd heard about the place—it had been all over the papers, not least the fact that most of its objects were for sale—but had never been there, whereas Emily had been home only three days and had already been there twice.
We settled down at a corner table, ordered a bottle of wine, and Emily launched into the story of her life since we'd last seen each other. The dates she'd gone on with the gay man who insisted he wasn't and the straight man who insisted he was gay. No broad brushstrokes. Gripping stuff. But then again she had a lot more to talk about. By the time we were finally up to speed on her life, we had almost finished our second bottle of wine.
Then she saw Emily and understood. She spent a bit of time chatting with us, then noticed the people she was meant to be meeting, so off she went. At her arrival it had blown up with laughter and talk. I'd taken agin' them. We managed to procure another bottle of wine, then decided to go somewhere else where the people weren't quite so annoying. As we beat our way out, we passed Claire and her friends. In the hotel lobby, by the front door, we decided to have a little dance before we left.
I'm not sure whose idea it was, but we both agreed that it was a good one. We actually put our handbags down and had a brief dance around them before cackling off into the night.
To this day I can still see the astonished expressions of the three considerably more sober men standing near us. Outside we hailed a taxi and asked—demanded, more likely—to be taken to Grafton Street. Within seconds we'd taken agin' the driver, paranoid that he was taking the long and lucrative way round. If I remembered correctly, it had carried a price tag of thirty pounds. When Emily is under stress she steals things and I hate it. Why can't she be more like me? My way of dealing with stress is to get an outbreak of eczema on my right arm.
I'm not saying it's pleasant, but at least you can't get arrested for it. He speedily vacated the bathroom when I had to vomit, and stood patiently on the landing, his face covered in shaving cream, his razor in his hand. By six that evening I was well enough to talk, so I rang Emily.
And wasn't it great the way we took agin' all those people? A whimper crossed with a groan. It was great. Whoever has taken over from you will have gotten the finer details of Brett and his penis enlargement. I haven't really been in touch with anyone. That she was only saying it because she felt she had to, that it was what a good friend should say. Los Angeles. City of Angels. I wanted to go.
From far away in the distance came the diamond glint of the ocean. It was barely a week since the phone call from Emily and I could hardly believe I was here.
Almost here—were we ever going to land? There had been strong opposition to my making the journey. Especially from my mother. Why Los Angeles? And didn't Claire say you could go to London and live with her for as long as you wanted? And what if there's an earthquake in that Los Angeles place? And it wasn't just me, the whole seven of us got our necks dislocated.
The missing rings the engagement ring went too left a very obvious indent and a circle of white skin like uncooked dough. I don't think in the nine years I'd been married I'd ever taken them off. Being without them felt strange and bad. But so did wearing them. At least this way was more honest. Next to register his displeasure at my departure was Garv.
I phoned to tell him I was off for a month or so and he'd come hotfooting it to the house. Mum ushered him into the sitting room. Maybe that's what you do when you split up with someone: He'd gone slightly raggedy and unkempt. Even though he was in his work clothes, he was wearing his off-duty hair, and his expression was grim—unless it was always grim? Maybe I was reading more into this than I should. But they were all I could manage—why?
Shock, maybe? Emily's there. In about a month. Rancor mushroomed between us like a cloud of poison. He looked at me without expression. Some of my friends—specifically, Donna—wondered how I'd conned Garv into agreeing to it, but in fact it had been his idea and he was the one who'd come up with the jokey name. You'll need your Ladies' Nice Things money to buy ladies' nice things.
And I didn't bother to elucidate. There was a funny complicity between us, and an awful lot not being said. It was the way I wanted it: The mist cleared and my future unspooled like a film. Selling the house, having nowhere to live, searching for somewhere else, trying to make a new life, being alone.
And who would I be? So much of my sense of self was tied up in my marriage that, without it, I hadn't a clue as to who I was. I felt dislocated from everything, floating in empty time and space, but I couldn't think about it now. Are you okay? It began as a hug, but ended up being a pat on my shoulder. I didn't want to get too near him. We said good-bye like strangers.
Through the window, I watched him leave. That's my husband, I told myself, marveling at how unreal it seemed. Soon to be ex-husband, and more than a decade of my life is going with him. As he walked out the short driveway and became hidden by the hedge, I was ambushed by an inferno of white-hot fury.
As quickly as it had appeared, the rush of rage receded, and once again I felt heavy and kind of dead. Helen was the only one who approved of my going to L. Lovely sexy surfy types. I was single. I was a single woman in my thirties. I'd spent my twenties in the safe cocoon of a marriage and I had no idea what it was like to be on my own. Of course I knew about singletons, about the culture of the thirty-something single person.
I'd heard the statistics: I had watched my single sisters and friends pursue true love and had joined in wondering where all the good men were when things didn't work out for them.
But the interest I'd taken had been purely theoretical. I'd wondered where all the good men were, but I hadn't really cared. I hadn't been smug—at least not consciously—but there's no doubt that pride comes before a fall. I had no man now. I was no different than Emily or Sinead or anyone else. Although, in fairness, I didn't want a man. I no longer wanted to be with Garv, but I was blocked. I couldn't make the necessary leap of imagination to being with anyone else.
It was then that I had my second normal thought: I clung to this knowledge because, strangely, it gave me comfort. Immigration took forever. And it made no difference which desk you picked; somewhere there must be a factory where they manufacture these men. As he ran a disgusted eye over me, I found myself wondering if he was married or divorced.
Not—let me hasten to add—because I fancied him. I'd wondered it about the woman I was sitting next to on the plane too, and I'm fairly sure I didn't fancy her.
What does he do? Mean changed before my eyes. Someone buy her script? Only thing is, I'm not sure he was joking. I was in! God, it was so good to see her. Psychotic with jet lag? I believe I watched three films on the plane and I couldn't tell you the first thing about any of them. One of them might have been about a dog. The heat hit like God had opened a huge oven door.
Emily was unimpressed. It was all so familiar—the sixteen-lane freeways, the tall, skinny palm trees, the adobe-style houses. The skyline was low and extended forever—it was nothing at all like Chicago. It was the jet lag. I was a bit mental from it. Emily had no time for such nonsense. There was a story and she wanted to hear it. You're just taking a break from each other? Why would nobody accept that it was finished?
We're waiting until I get back. Did he end it or did you…? I wanted to forget it and enjoy myself. Both of us, I mean. I thought he was one of the few good ones out there. Maggie, I'm devastated. Someone he works with. Or Sinead. He gets on well with both of them.
They wouldn't do that. And if they had, I'd have heard. The few brains they have are in their dicks. How much do you hate him? When I have the energy. Emily gave me a sharp look. She knows me very well, I have no secrets from her. But before she initiated further exploration, I tried to head her off at the pass. Garv is nothing if not decent.
It wasn't really, but I wasn't going to think about it. So what road is this we're on? When I'd been sixteen I'd slipped coming down the stairs and my knee had accidentally gone through the glass front door. I'd ended up with hundreds of silvers of glass embedded in my knee, each one having to be removed individually with tweezers. For some reason the doctor wouldn't give me painkillers and I'd been rigid and sweating with pain and the anticipation of more to come.
Every word about me and Garv was like another sliver being picked from my raw flesh. Each house was unique—some adobe style, some New England, some deco. Painted in low-key pastel shades, there was a general air of tidiness. Everywhere there were flowers. Nice, isn't it? I had to live in a rotting—literally, it was rotting in the heat—apartment building in East L.
We pulled up outside a white clapboard bungalow with a small lawn edging the pavement. And keep an eye out for the neighbors on that side, they're the kind of people who give L. The neighbors on the other side aren't much better. They're handy if you ever want to buy drugs, not that you'd want to, I know. Flowers blazed shocking pink against the dazzling white of Emily's house. It was all very pretty. What happened around here that an armed response was necessary?
We dragged my stuff into the cool, shady house. While I oohed and ahed over the hardwood floors, white blinds, and pretty back garden, Emily made straight for her answering machine. Emily sighed, then unraveled her whole sorry story. After the studio had passed on Hostage or was it Hostage!?
Every day literally thousands of screenplays arrived in the mailrooms of the big agencies and had to go through a savage screening process. If the mailroom kids didn't like it, it was out. If it made it past them, it had to pass muster with a reader. In the unlikely event of that happening, it got read by an agent's assistant.
And only if they raved about it would an agent deign to look at it. Emily had spent the past year and a half writing several new scripts, and every time she tried to get an agent, she got rejected. I'm in a worse position than a total newcomer.
It's an unforgiving town. Too ashamed. Me, the big success story. And I kept hoping things would improve. You know? Only ten days ago Emily had managed to place her most recent script with a new agent.
He's trying to get a buzz going and see if he can kick-start a bidding war. Oh, Rachel? Hold on till I get your mother. Then there was nothing except banging as he dropped the phone and ran to get Mum. That I could grudgingly admit by the time I was twenty-seven and had lived away from home for eight years. Not unless I wanted to talk about golf. I was having none of it either.
But it did matter. I felt the way I had twenty years earlier when he and Mum were called up to the school to account for my ongoing dearth of completed homework.
This is awful, I said to Dad. What did you have to go calling my office for? Everything was fine at work until you called them, I lied frantically. Dad sighed heavily. I barely said a thing to this Eric; he did all the talking and he seemed delighted to let you go. OK, what about my apartment? I challenged.
Settle it? I had expected the question of my apartment would totally stump Dad. They were acting as if something really was wrong with me. Dad sounded awkward. He was right. I was furious with her and for some reason she seemed to be furious with me too.
It was out of the question for someone else to move in with her. But, to tell the truth, my trip to the hospital had taken more out of me than just the contents of my stomach. Disagreeing with my father was something I did as instinctively as refusing to sleep with men with mustaches. And that seemed to be that.
Luckily I had taken a couple of Valium. Otherwise I might have been very upset indeed. Margaret was sitting beside me. In fact, she seemed to be constantly by my side, once I thought about it. After she finished talking to Dad, I decided to put a stop to all the nonsense.
It was time for me to grab back control of the reins of my life. It was unpleasant, and above all it was unnecessary. This is all a big, huge, terrible mistake.
Never mind what Brigit says, I interrupted. She used to be fun once. It might seem an awful lot to you, I explained gently. It was true that Margaret was a brown noser. I had four sisters, two older and two younger, and Margaret was the only well-behaved one.
Yes, Rachel. Paul had stepped forward to defend Margaret. Paul was obviously referring to my eldest sister, Claire, who managed to get ditched by her husband on the same day that she gave birth to their first child. And he hated me. He hated my entire family. And well he might, there was stiff competition among us for the position of black sheep.
There was Claire, thirty-one, the deserted wife.
Me, twenty-seven, allegedly a junkie. She liked to pretend that she liked everyone, in the hope that it might help her jump the line into Heaven. Paul was such a pompous know-it-all. He wore the same kind of sweaters as Dad did and bought his first house when he was thirteen or some such ridiculous age by saving up his First Communion money.
The stewardess tried to squeeze past Paul and me. Can you sit down, please? Still Paul and I lingered awkwardly. Margaret, good girl that she was, had already taken her allocated seat by the window. The air hostess looked at our boarding cards, then at the seat numbers.
That was the problem. The boarding-card numbers had me sitting beside Paul, and the thought of being next to him for the entire flight to Dublin revolted me.
Well, how about you? Have you any objections to who you sit beside? A man in the seat in front of the three of us twisted his neck for a good look. Do you mind me asking, he said, how old you are? Even though I had had absolutely no intention of doing so, a couple of things changed my mind. First, tall, dark and sexy Luke arrived at the apartment.
I was delighted to see him. Luke shook hands politely, but his expression was tight and tense. To put the smile back on his face, I launched into the story of my escapade in Mount Sinai. Puzzled, I left Margaret and Paul sitting in the front room and took Luke into my bedroom. In fact, he sounded disgusted. When did you lose your sense of humor?
I asked, bewildered. Then, to my utter horror, he proceeded to tell me our relationship was over. I went cold with shock. But why? I asked, as every cell in my body screamed " NO! Have you met someone else? He went on to viciously insult me, trying to make out it was my fault. That he had no choice but to end it with me. Oh no. Pausing only to throw a few more nasty comments my way, he slammed out of the apartment.
I was devastated. I had even begun to think it was a good one. I struggled to deflect waves of shock and grief and pretend to Margaret and Paul that everything was fine. Hundreds of rock stars had been admitted to the converted monastery in Wicklow no doubt tying in some handy tax deduction while they were at it and stayed the requisite couple of months.
There was no shame attached to that. On the contrary. And you never knew who you might meet. Especially as there seemed to be a move toward a ban on enjoying yourself there.
What harm could it do now that I had no job and no boyfriend to hold me? But to lose a boyfriend…well…. Naturally, I had to put up a bit of a protest. I made a show of resisting, but it was mere bravado, empty posturing. So by the time I got around to saying Margaret, how can your conscience let you do this to me? How can you sleep at night?
I could do with a rest, some peace and serenity. Somewhere to hide and lick my Luke-shaped wounds. We have tested and tasted too much lover, through a chink too wide, there comes in no wonder. I had visions of spending a lot of time sitting round wrapped in a big towel. Of steam rooms, saunas, massage, seaweed treatment, algae, that kind of thing.
To flush me out, to cleanse me. A whole month, I thought, clenched by sudden fear. Then the calming effect of the Valium soothed me.
Anyway, they probably had wine with the meals in the evenings. Slate floors, whitewashed walls, a narrow wooden bed, the faraway sound of Gregorian chant floating on the evening air. Everyone knows that exercise is the best cure for alcoholics.
Two hundred sit-ups a day. It would be great to have time to spend on myself. There was bound to be some kind of therapy, as well. Therapy therapy, I mean, not just cellulite therapy. The lie-down-on-the-couch-and-tell-me-about-your-father kind. Not to actually do, of course. But it would be very interesting to see the real drug addicts, the thin ones with the lank hair, nurturing themselves as five-year-olds.
I would emerge cleansed, whole, renewed, reborn. The old me would have gone, the new me ready to start all over again. Will she, er, be going, you know, cold turkey? Margaret tentatively asked Brigit as we prepared for the snowy drive to JFK. I laughed. Cold turkey, my foot.
You only get that with heroin. I reached it just before she did and slammed the door in her face. Get lost, I shouted from behind the locked bathroom door. I had the strange feeling that I was being airlifted to safety. I was suddenly very glad to be leaving New York. So little room to maneuver. I was low on cash, I owed money to nearly everyone. I laughed to myself because for a minute there I really did sound like a drug addict.
Work in the hotel where I was an assistant manager had become harder and harder to do. There were times when I walked through the revolving doors to start my shift and found myself wanting to scream. Eric, my boss, had been very bad-tempered and difficult.
I had been sick a lot and late a lot. Which made Eric more unpleasant. Which, naturally, made me take more time off sick. Until my life had shriveled down to two emotions. As the plane cut through the clouds over Long Island, I thought fiercely: I could be at work now.
I closed my eyes and unwelcome thoughts of Luke came barging in. The initial pain of rejection had shifted slightly to make room for the pain of missing him. He and I had practically been living together and I felt his absence like an ache.
I became seized by an almost uncontrollable compulsion to find him that very minute, tell him how wrong he was and beg him to take me back. To get such an uncontrollable compulsion on an airborne plane at the start of a seven-hour flight was a foolish thing to do. So I fought back the urge to pick up the telephone receiver built into the back of the seat.
Luckily the air hostess was on her way around with the drinks and I accepted a vodka and orange with the same gratitude that a drowning girl might accept a rope. Stop it, I muttered as Margaret and Paul stared at me with white, anxious faces. Apparently Mum took the news that I was a drug addict very badly. My youngest sister, Helen, had been watching daytime television with her when Dad broke the news.
Apparently after he had got off the phone from Brigit, he ran into the sitting room and, all of a dither, blurted out, That daughter of yours is a drug addict. All Mum said was Hmmm? Then, with Dad and Helen watching her—Dad nervously, Helen gleefully—she felt her way blindly into the kitchen and put her head on the kitchen table and started to cry.
Anna maybe, she wailed. But not Rachel. Mary, shut up about the tinfoil a minute, said Dad as he tried to formulate a plan for my rehabilitation. If she left the cardboard roll out I might remember to get more the next time I went to store…. No, said Dad. But they do a whole load of stuff in whatever the name of the place is.
Drink, drugs, gambling, food. You can get addicted to nearly anything these days. Ostensibly for Helen and Anna, but really for himself. So Mum got on the phone and made discreet enquiries. The Cloisters! Dad exclaimed in relief.
It was driving me mad not being able to remember. The Cloisters cost a fortune. I nearly said Thanks but remembered in time. The usual scenario was that I would say Really? Have I? Oh Christ, no, said Helen, still at the top of the stairs. How long are you staying for? Despite sleeping with all her professors or so she said , Helen had failed her first-year exams in university.
Instead she spent the time hanging around the house, annoying Mum, badgering her to play cards. And then she appeared at the top of the stairs beside Helen. I had the sensation that there was an elevator in my chest that had plummeted out of control to the pit of my stomach.
Faintly I could hear Helen complaining, But I hate him. So I figured she was dangerously angry. She gave me a sad, little, martyrish smile and I felt a violent pang of guilt that nearly sent me groping for my Valium bottle there and then. The elevator inside me was going haywire by then. I was getting the plummeting sensation so often that I felt sick.
Guilt and shame mingled with anger and resentment. Rachel, she said with an edge of hysteria to her voice, you were rushed to hospital in an ambulance and had your stomach pumped. It was not! And you have a drug problem, she said. Brigit said you do, and so did Margaret and Paul.
Yes, but… I tried to explain. While simultaneously feeling a burst of explosive rage at Brigit, which I had to file away for a later date. Except maybe to make me laugh. She looked stricken and I felt like slapping her. She was from a generation that went into spasms of horror at the mere mention of the word drugs.
I fought back the rage that filled me. My brush with death ensured that I had toppled Claire from her position and I now wore the crown. Well, no illegal ones anyway. Which was very adult and sensible of me. Now, there was a boy who knew how to enjoy himself! Shane, as they say, lived life to the full. To overflowing. To bursting point. It was Valium. I would have appreciated something to take the edge off it all. But I managed not to take any of my little magic white pills because I was really looking forward to going to the Cloisters.
I slept an awful lot in the two days.
It was the best thing to do because I was jetlagged and disoriented and everyone hated me. I tried to call Luke a couple of times. As it happened, I just got his answering machine and I had enough of a grip on myself not to leave a message.
I would have tried ringing him a lot more. I had compulsions to do so for most of my waking hours. But Dad had recently gotten a very large phone bill something to do with Helen and had mounted a twenty-four-hour guard around the phone. So any time I dialed a number, Dad tensed no matter where he was, even if he was four miles away playing golf, and cocked his ear intently.
If I dialed more than seven digits, I would barely be started on the eighth when he would come barreling into the hall to shout Get off the damn phone!
Which ruined my chances of talking to Luke but was worth its weight in gold in the nostalgia stakes. My teenage years came rushing back to me. All I needed was for him to say Not a minute past eleven, Rachel. Now, I mean it this time. Although why would I want to be that? You try being fourteen and five foot seven, with size-eight feet.
Relations were even more strained with my mother. Christ almighty. Her voice was shaking. Where did you get all those terrible bruises?
My stomach and arms and ribs were a mess of dark purple blotches. Oh, I said in a little voice. I suppose that must have been from having my stomach pumped. God above. She tried to take me in her arms. When I got dressed or undressed after that, I avoided looking in the mirror.