This story is by Joya Williams and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“You’re a bad person,” the woman in black said to me.
“Excuse me?” I was surprised, of course.
“You’re a bad person,” she repeated unapologetic.
Why did she think she could speak to me this way? I looked around the dimly lit waiting room for someone to claim her. She was obviously crazy. But we were the only two there. I didn’t see her come in. She must have gotten there before me. I had walked in looking for a seat as I waited for my best friend to pick up her wedding dress.
“You don’t even know me,” I said to her. I leaned back in my chair and tried to look calmer than I felt. She didn’t know me. Did she?
“I know that you don’t really want to be here,” she said. “I also know that you’re not happy for your friend out there,” she continued. “But I bet she doesn’t know that, does she?” She smiled but it didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“How dare you!” I leaned forward, prepared to defend myself. Bianca and I had been friends for more than ten years, we had been through more than this woman could ever imagine. I said as much to her now.
“You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know anything about me or my friend.” My voice was firm and I gave her a look that any person would recognize as a warning.
The woman leaned forward and smirked. A sign that she was far from intimidated.
“So why are you sleeping with her fiancé?” Boom. Just like that, my world went into a tailspin.
I opened my mouth to deny what I knew to be true. I wanted to explain, or maybe to justify actions that really had no excuse. It took a minute to realize that I’d made no sound.
I felt hot. Was it hot? I had to get out of this waiting room. I chose to ignore the woman and go find Bianca. I got up from the padded chair and brushed past her.
“You’re not going to answer me?” she said, but without surprise. Her attitude made me angry. Her questions made me nervous, scared actually. How did she know? How much did she know?
“Who are you?” I finally asked her. There was a moment of silence before she answered.
“A better person than you,” she answered. “I’ve seen you around but you’ve never bothered to notice me.”
I didn’t know what that meant. She must be a family friend of Bianca’s. But that still didn’t explain how she knew about me and Trey. Had we done something to give ourselves away? There had been so many family gatherings in the past few months…was it possible that she’d seen us?
Fear made me lunge toward her, ending almost nose to nose with this stranger.
“Who the hell do you think you are? You don’t even know me!” I told her again. “I don’t understand why you feel the need to talk to me. I’ve never even met you before today!” I was breathing heavily. But I was faintly aware that although the door to the waiting room was closed, there was a chance that someone could hear us.
The woman looked at me with a dry smile.
“You know she’s going to find out sooner or later don’t you?”
She was calm, while I panicked in silence. She knew that she had me. I studied her in her stylish black blouse and black jeans. Her black heels looked expensive. Hair pulled tightly away from her face in a severe ponytail. She had a look of complete confidence, but there was also something cold and unfeeling about her. Instinctively, I lifted a hand to my own face to feel the warmth of my skin and the softness of my expression.
“It just happened,” I mumbled to myself. It just happened…a few times. It wasn’t my fault. Bianca had everything. She always got whatever she wanted. Smart, talented and beautiful. People went out of their way to do things for her or just be around her. But Trey had wanted to be around me…
“But you could have stopped it,” she said.
“I did. I mean we did. We knew it was wrong,” I argued feeling horrible.
“You could have told her before now,” she said disgusted, “how could you do that to your best friend?”
I shook my head as if to block out her voice. She was right. We waited until a week before the wedding to call it off. We both realized that we weren’t interested in taking it further than a physical connection. Plus, we both loved Bianca too much to try to make more out of it. For Trey, it was about that last fling before settling down and for me…jealousy. I had always wanted what Bianca had. Popularity, adoration and more. But I wouldn’t admit that to a total stranger. I had already said too much. If Bianca found out what I had done, what I’d been doing, she would never forgive me. It would ruin everything. Our friendship, our families, her wedding.
“I never meant to hurt anyone,” I said sounding pathetic.
The woman laughed. A cold and hollow sound. She shook her head and looked at me with pity.
“You’re a bad person,” she told me one more time.
She was right.
“I feel…I need some air,” I lurched towards the door. The room was spinning. The door opened just as I reached for the handle. Bianca walked in and looked at me with a strange expression. Did she know something? Had she heard our conversation?
“Macy, are you okay?” she asked, “I thought I heard you yelling. Who were you talking to?”
I couldn’t speak. I just shook my head and pointed to the woman standing behind me. I waited for everything to fall apart. For the woman to blow up my whole world. But there was only silence. I looked at Bianca but her expression was that of confusion. I turned to face the woman that was about to reveal my sins and tried to prepare myself for what I knew was coming.
The room was dimly lit and the chairs were well padded. The bottled water sat on a tray on top of a sleek marble table. But there was no one there. I stood looking at a full-length mirror. I faced my reflection, dressed fully in black.