The most damaging relationship of all

Lauren leaned over the table and whispered “the food isn’t all that great, but the waiters are cute.” She smiled and leaned back in her chair taking in the view.

“Does that mean you’re ready to date again?” Amy asked, grinning.

“Maybe,” played Lauren.

She looked a lot happier now, Amy noticed. The friend she had known for so long had disappeared into a shell of her former self for the past few years. Now it seemed, she was back. Amy was glad. She couldn’t stand seeing Lauren so depressed. In fact, it had put a big gap in their friendship, one that was now just beginning to close.

Amy tilted back her champagne glass and drank the last of her mimosa. Setting it back down on the table, she looked up at Lauren, wanting to know but being afraid to ask.

“Do you still talk to him at all?” She tried to be careful.

Lauren’s face got serious, “hell no. No way. Never again.”

“Good,” Amy said fast and decisively, as if putting an abrupt end on it could cut off any chance that Lauren could again talk to him.

Lauren shook her head as she played with the sweat beads dripping down her glass. “I can’t believe I put up with that, you know? It feels like it happened to someone else.”

Amy nodded, even though Lauren wasn’t looking at her.

“Sometimes, at first, when he’d make comments about me needing to eat less or work out more, I’d just ignore it, tell myself that it was his insecurities.” She sent a nervous smile up at Amy and quickly returned her gaze back to the table. She was twisting the stem of her glass between her fingers, creating a water circle on the white tablecloth. She sighed heavily, “At the end though, I was out of excuses. He’d just tell me how worthless I was, how fat I was, how my make up looked bad or how he hated my clothes. I’d tell myself that at least he wasn’t hitting me. How sad is that?”

Amy knew she wasn’t really asking. She just sat there trying to sympathize with her friend, not really knowing what to say. She had hated Sam all along, knew he was a jerk, but Lauren never listened. She didn’t want to rub it in, Lauren had experienced enough misery.

“Anyway,” Lauren continued, “it’s just really embarrassing now. I’m really ashamed that I let it go on for so long.” She looked up at Amy, but this time held eye contact. “It’s especially embarrassing telling you.”

Amy’s face flashed surprise, “me? why?”

“I don’t know, I guess because you told me from the beginning that you didn’t like him. And because I know you’d never let someone treat you like that.”

Trying not to be self-righteous, Amy leaned in and said “And you never will again either.”

Lauren smiled and sat back, “nope,” she paused, looking around, “you want another mimosa?”

“Sure,” said Amy, “but I have to go to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.” She pushed herself back and stood up. These mimosas were going right through her. She made her way across the restaurant, thinking of Lauren, watching the brunch class of Chicago talking excitedly and happily over their mimosas and eggs. She had hoped that she hadn’t come across as arrogant, but Amy still had a twinge of superiority when she heard Lauren talk about her last relationship. She had tried to understand how someone would stay with someone so awful, but she knew she would never find herself there.

She pulled open the bathroom door and saw that there was no line. At the far end of the bathroom was a full length mirror. Ugh, she thought, now she had to look at her entire self. She walked over to the mirror to analyze how she looked. She leaned forward to get a closer look at how her make up was holding up in this Summer humidity. Make up isn’t doing too bad, but then she turned to the side, I hate my nose. I wish I could get a nose job, she thought, touching the bump on her nose. She straightened out the back of her dress and sucked in her stomach, trying to flatten it with her hands, this dress was a bad idea, I look pregnant. She ran her fingers through her hair, feeling a little less confident about herself. I should work out this afternoon, she decided, lose that last five pounds I keep telling myself I will. And maybe get some different bronzer, I look like I’m trying to be a munchkin from Wizard of Oz. She felt a pang of guilt, but I can’t spend anymore money, I don’t work hard enough to be spending money on make-up. Sometimes I’m so worthless. I have no ambition. She felt defeated, and kind of silly for feeling so confident when she got to the restaurant- she didn’t really look very good at all.

After she had used the bathroom and washed her hands, analyzing herself in the mirror one last time as she did, she walked back to the table. She saw Lauren sitting there with two fresh glasses of mimosa. She smiled, even though she knew she really shouldn’t be drinking more calories. As she sat back down in her chair, she thought, no way, I’d never let someone talk to me like that. 

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