“Thanks, Johnny,” said Frannie’s mum as she touched his hand. Johnny felt bad because he’d always liked her Mum. By contrast, her Dad took his tea with a look of pure disappointment. There was a knock on the door and glad to get away from the disapproving old Bastard, Johnny rushed to open it. His relief was short lived as he was greeted by Frannie’s sister, Julie.
“Johnny,” she said. “You look awful.” Julie didn’t wait for an invitation and marched into the living room as if she owned the place.
“I told you this was going to happen,” she said to her parents. “I knew Frannie couldn’t stay clean.”
“You and me both,” replied her Father who had placed his tea, untouched, on the coffee table.
Johnny had never understood why Frannie put up with her Dad and Sister who’d never offered a single word of encouragement through her drug rehab.
“Frannie needs our help and support,” said her Mum.
“And, if she doesn’t come?” asked Julie.
“Then I’ll wait here until she does come,” she replied with quiet dignity.
Julie raised her eyes at her father who, a man of few words, simply shook his head.
Johnny’s instinct to protect Frannie rose up involuntarily, and he had to remind himself that she was now a complete bitch who deserved everything that was in store for her. “Don’t worry, she’ll come,” he said. Of course, she’d come. He’d told her he was planning a small get together for her birthday.
Another knock at the door heralded the arrival of Frannie’s two closest Triathlon buddies. They’d been unaware of Frannie’s unhealthy past as an addict until Johnny had brought them up to speed earlier that day. He still got the impression they didn’t entirely trust him. Who knows what Frannie had told them about her deadbeat boyfriend. He introduced them to Julie who would do a much better job at convincing them that Frannie was a mess.
“The worst thing is,” said Julie. “She’ll probably deny the whole thing.”
The triathlon buddies looked suitably shocked, but let’s face it, obsessing about swimming, cycling and running was hardly normal behaviour either. Sometimes, Johnny thought that Frannie was just channelling her addictive nature in a different, and quite frankly, boring direction. He, by contrast, still liked to have fun, and while he would have preferred to have fun with Frannie, he would make do with whoever was around. That wasn’t why she was kicking him out though.
“I still love you, but I’m not in love with you,” she’d said. Drunk, high Frannie had never spoken in pathetic cliches like that.
“Are you sleeping with your boss?” he’d asked.
“No. I just think we want different things from life now.”
Johnny just wanted their old life back.
“Stay in the spare room until you sort out a new place.” She was so fucking reasonable and seemed oblivious to his rage at being so easily discarded.
One more knock and Johnny admitted the boss on whom he’d focussed his jealousy. It was gratifying to see him devoid of his customary confidence as he moved awkwardly among the other guests. He owned the restaurant where Frannie worked as a chef, and somehow, she was unable to see that the creep just wanted to get into her pants. Well, perhaps he wasn’t so keen now.
“I can’t believe that Frannie would …” he seemed unable to finish the sentence, but luckily Julie was there to help.
“You better believe it. Same old, same old with Frannie.”
Everyone but Frannie had arrived. The general hum of judgmental, pseudo caring conversation stopped abruptly when they heard her key in the lock. She smiled at the sight of her friends and family, and this triggered a feeling of deep regret in Johnny. He wanted to stop this now and tell the truth, but he felt like he was choking. He hadn’t suffered a panic attack like this since his unsuccessful attempt to kick the drugs. To his dismay, the lies had developed a momentum of their own. Julie, of course, was first to speak.
“Frannie, we’re here to stage an intervention.”

6 thoughts on “Clean

  1. I thought this did a great job conveying the main character’s complicated feelings about Frannie. I was a bit confused by this sentence, does “she” refer to Julie or Frannie? >> “Johnny’s instinct to protect Frannie rose up involuntarily, and he had to remind himself that she was now a complete bitch who deserved everything that was in store for her.” Since that sentence appears early on, I didn’t know yet that she’d broken up with him, so I didn’t know why he’d think she was a bitch. By the end it made total sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You did a really nice job of pacing this and building the tension. The main character’s motivations were clear and this was a good example (poor Frannie) of vengeance. Nice job having someone other than the main character use the line of dialogue meaningfully too.


  3. Poor Frannie! I hope at least one person in that room is actually on her side – they all seem, as Johnny observes, pretty judgmental. It was nice to see a little compassion (okay, guilt) in Johnny at the very end. The way you continually unfolded details of Frannie’s character beyond someone who’s relapsed worked well for revealing her and her relationships beyond just what Johnny thinks of her.

    Liked by 1 person

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