There Are Things You Can Do When You Know It’s Too Late

By Mary Thompson

You can feel happy for your friend, a girl you’ve known for years but never really known as she used to do so much speed at parties that whenever you tried to talk to her, she’d float up and up and way above your best mate’s balcony, where she’d just that minute been standing awkwardly smoking a joint with you. 

You can remember the days when this restless spirit couldn’t settle. When she dated Tom, Dick and many other Dicks, while you cradled your Malbec and mused on your solid-as-a-rock Ed, who never made it to these parties due to his excruciating migraines, but wanted exactly what you wanted, and how happy you both would be when this finally happened. You can think of how your friend would just nod and giggle and disappear into the bedroom for yet another cheeky line. And how you kept on talking about Ed at every barbecue and every party until one day this girl took a gulp of vodka straight from the bottle and slurred, ‘sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you want, does it?’ and how you leant over the balcony and stared across at the primary school opposite, all dark, silent and strangely distant.

You can stop looking at photos of Ed on Facebook and accept that his life has turned out the way he wanted, and that if you ever loved him, you should be happy about that. And you can feel happy for your friend when you hear she is pregnant at the age of 49, that she wasn’t planning or expecting to be pregnant at this age, but now that she is, how she might as well go for it. You can nod and say how nice it is for her that this beautiful thing has happened, and isn’t it Pavel that she’s seeing now? And you can smile sweetly when your mate says, no, the father’s name is Jasper, a nomadic Aussie who was just passing through, and how he wasn’t keen at first but is gradually warming to the idea. And when you bump into your friend three months later and she’s wearing a pretty cobalt smock, sipping on a kale juice and surveying the scene serene, you can marvel at her turquoise shoes that make her legs so lean and you can hug her and wish her well.


Mary Thompson works as an Academic English tutor in London. Her work has been published in various places including Ellipsis Zine, Retreat West, Ghost Parachute, LISP, Literary Orphans, New Flash Fiction Review and Pidgeonholes, Elephants Never and Low Light Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital)

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