Frankie was sad. She was curled up in the foetal position on her bedroom floor, dressed in her long-sleeved, sequined, shoulder-padded dress and quietly weeping. From her laptop ‘Islands In The Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers was playing, set on repeat.
I sat down on the bed and looked down at her. “Why are you on the floor?’
She sniffed. Her whole body shook as she quietly sobbed. I waited for her to pull herself together enough to answer my question. Meanwhile the melodies of Dolly and Kenny filled the room.
Islands in the stream, that is what we are
No one in between, how can we be wrong?
I thought the song was an odd choice to cry to, especially as the country sound clashed with her disco garment.
“I left my wallet at Anna’s place.”
“Then why don’t you call and ask her to drop it off? Or just go back yourself and get it?”
Frankie heaved in a big, shaky breath and croaked out, “we broke up.”
Ah. That explained the lying-on-the-floor-crying-and-listening-to-Dolly-and-Kenny-on-repeat situation.
“Fuck. What happened?”
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure if you could call it a break up. The two had only been dating for three weeks, though in Frankie’s defence they had been basically inseparable during this time. Maybe that was their downfall.
“I don’t know! She just sent me a text saying she’d prefer to be friends.”
She shot up into a sitting position, legs crossed and back straight as she faced me. Her eyes were wide with disbelief. “Friends, Kathy! We made out every day for a month” – it wasn’t a month, it was definitely only three weeks, technically two weeks and five days – “and now she wants to be platonic fucking buddies??”
“I don’t think you can be platonic and fuck buddies at the same time,” I said, smirking. “The two contradict one another.”
Frankie glared, obviously too tragically affected by heartache to appreciate my wit.
We ride it together, uh huh
Making love with each other, uh huh
I glanced at the laptop. “How many times have you listened to this song now?”
She shrugged and pulled her knees up to her chest. “I don’t know. I haven’t been counting.”
“Okay, so how long have you been listening to it?”
She scoffed. “I’m in pain. Time is incomprehensible to me right now. It could have been days, it could have been five seconds.” After a moment’s consideration she added, “But I think it’s been about two hours.”
I did the maths in my head. She had listened to the song almost thirty times.
“Christ. Can I turn it off?”
“No! It’s part of the healing process.”
I stood up. “Fuck, Frankie, okay. This is what you’re going to do.” I walked over to the desk and closed her laptop, killing the music. Frankie let out a gasp of horror.
“You’re gonna get off the floor, change into something more comfortable – seriously, where the fuck have you been in that thing?”
I stared at her for a moment. She held my eye contact.
“Whatever. Get out of it, sit outside in the sun and drink the loose-leaf tea I’m going to make for you right now.”
I gave her my hand and pulled her up. She threw her arms around my neck and buried her face into my shoulder. I awkwardly patted her on the back.
“It’s okay. There’s always Tinder.”
“I thought we were going to be cute girlfriends forever,” she whispered, voice muffled by my shoulder. She sniffed again and I became conscious of the snot that was undeniably seeping into my shirt.
Frankie pulled out of the hug and wiped her face with the back of her hand. She smiled weakly at me, and I smiled back, happy to see her off the floor and already looking a little better.
“After you make my tea can you please go get my wallet from Anna?”
I tried not to show how much I hated that request, possibly straining my smile to the point of suspicion.
“Is that such a good idea? What if I start making out with her?”
A flash of disgust crossed over Frankie’s face.
“I’m joking. Of course I’ll go.”
Confession: I didn’t like Anna. I met her twice during Frankie’s ‘relationship’ and she rubbed me the wrong way each time. The reasons were kind of petty – she wouldn’t share her hot chips with me one night while we were queuing for Thursgay, and she announced in a room of about a dozen people that ABBA were an overrated band whose songs all sound the same. This was immediately after I proudly presented to these people the Frida Lyngstad costume I’d spent three months working on for three months.
Anna was a bitch.
Frankie wrote down the address on the back of a K-mart receipt and I stuffed it in my back pocket.
“Anna won’t deny she has the wallet, will she? She’s not going to steal your cards and identity, yeah?”
“Of course not. She wouldn’t do that.”
I didn’t answer. We didn’t know what this girl was capable of.
Frankie continued, “the wallet will be on her bedside table, next to a stack of books. I left it there before we had sex.” Her eyes widened. “For the last time.”
The look in her eyes told me that she was about to drop to the floor and start sobbing again – by look, I mean the obvious welling tears moments away from breaking the surface – and I knew I couldn’t deal with that again. I quickly said, “I’m going to make your tea and get going!” and shot out of the room.
As I closed the door the opening chords to ‘Islands In The Stream’ began to play. I signed.