Someone Like You

By: Victoria Purman

‘I warned you it was a terrible idea to send me,’ Lizzie said.

There was a none-too-subtle exchange of glances between Julia and Ry.

‘I still don’t agree with you on that,’ Ry said.

‘I told you this morning. He’s your friend, not mine. You’re his best mate Ry, and Julia, you spent all that time with him when he was in hospital. I don’t know why you think he’d want an almost complete stranger turning up on his doorstep.’

‘A complete stranger?’ Julia asked with raised eyebrows.

‘Well, a distant acquaintance. I barely know the bloke.’

‘We’ve tried everything else, Lizzie,’ Julia said softly.

‘Well, thanks,’ Lizzie replied. ‘You’re saying I’m your only hope?’

‘Yeah,’ Ry grinned. ‘You’re like our Obi-Wan Kenobi.’

‘I think that makes me Princess Leia,’ Julia grinned. They laughed. They needed to. The three of them sat in silence, each wondering how to help a friend who didn’t seem to want any help.

‘So, what did you do with the food?’ Julia asked.

‘I left it on the front door mat. I was under strict instructions from my boss.’ Lizzie winked at Julia. ‘He’s such a tyrant.’

Ry gave her the smallest hint of a smile. ‘Lizzie, you know why we sent you.’

‘What, my charming bedside manner?’ Behind the flippancy, there was a strange tightening in her chest. She tried to keep her face a blank. She didn’t want to understand what Ry was talking about, didn’t want to remember flirting with Dan, just twenty steps from where she was now sitting, on the night of his accident. Whatever had been flickering in the air between them had been extinguished in the car wreck. She hadn’t seen him since that night.

Julia reached for the bottle and refilled their glasses. ‘You know why. When he regained consciousness, his first words were “pub” and “Elizabeth”. You’re the one he asked after. Not me or Ry.’

‘Well.’ Lizzie blew out a sigh. ‘Take note of the order. “Pub” came first because I was the last person he talked to that night. Right over there.’ Lizzie pointed to the wooden bar. ‘It’s a trick of memory, Jools, that’s all. You’re making something out of nothing.’

Lizzie would never tell them that she remembered every word of the last conversation she’d had with Dan before he drove off that terrible night and was almost killed. It had been her last week pulling beers before Ry had promoted her to manager and Dan McSwaine had walked in, all sexy swagger and confident charm. They’d met before that, as the best friends of lovers invariably do, but something about him had been different that particular night. Yes, they’d shared a moment, a flirting, promising moment. And then, for the thousandth time since, she asked herself the same relentless questions. Why hadn’t she made him stay for one more minute? Why hadn’t she cracked one more joke, teased him one more time, so that he left one minute later, so he would have been driving up Flagstaff Hill Road one minute too late for the truck that careened out of control and smashed into him?

She turned to face her friends, and a cold shiver moved across her shoulders. ‘Dan would rather slam the door in my face than open it and invite me in. I’m sure I’m the last thing on his mind. And frankly,’ she added, straightening her back, ‘he’s the last thing on mine.’ Lizzie hoped that if she said it enough times, it might turn out to be true.

‘What can we do to help him?’ Ry asked, looking from Julia to Lizzie and back.

Lizzie patted Ry’s shoulder. ‘He’s your best friend. Don’t give up on him, no matter how much of a pain in the arse he is.’

‘Of course I’m not bloody well giving up on him.’ Dan said, his blue eyes flaming.

‘Pushing him won’t help, you know that,’ Lizzie said.

‘You think I’ve been pushing him?’ Ry’s eyebrows shot up. ‘I’ve just been trying to get him to man up and snap out of it.’

The two women turned to him in disbelief.

‘You told him to man up?’ Julia’s voice was a shocked whisper.

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