Suze considered herself an intelligent woman. She would describe herself as wise. She also had a great deal of emotional intelligence. These were the reasons, she told herself, that other people kept coming to her for relationship advice. It stung a little bit, considering her own relationship had fallen to pieces, but as that wasn’t technically through any fault of her own, she figured she was still entitled to calling herself a relationship expert. She was, of course, by no means a relationship expert, but people were treating her as one so she was choosing to blindly accept it. If she was going to be forced to care about other people’s relationships, she was at least going to get something out of it, even if it was only pride.
The first person that came to her was Wes. That one made the most sense. He was concerned about his relationship with Sybil and since Suze was Sybil’s close friend and roommate, she seemed an obvious choice. Also, she happened to be home at the apartment when Sybil left Wes there to run to the grocery store and pick up pasta for dinner so Suze was certain convenience had a lot to do with it as well. She was sitting on the couch in the living room, watching Degrassi, when Wes came to join her. He didn’t say anything for a while, which was odd because most people were quite vocal with their opinions on Degrassi. Sybil, for instance, never stopped talking about how much she hated it. Chris, on the other hand, was a surprisingly big fan. Apparently, he loved a good teen pregnancy plotline. The man was an enigma.
After a few more minutes of steadily rising awkwardness, Wes cleared his throat and said what he’d clearly been hoping to say. He spoke quickly, likely to get it out before Sybil returned home from the grocery store.
“So how long have Sybil and Chris been friends?” He asked with forced casualness. Suze already dreaded the rest of the conversation. It would almost be better if he stopped trying to disguise his true feelings.
“Umm, I’m not sure exactly,” Suze answered, adopting her own air of casualness, eyes trained on the television. “Well, since they started working together. A year maybe. Year and a half.”
Wes hummed and nodded. Suze saw him shift in his seat with her peripheral vision.
“And he stays over sometimes?” Wes checked after a short while. Suze had expected he might ask, but she’d been praying he wouldn’t. It was an uncomfortable question for her to have to answer. He stayed over more often than just sometimes and before they’d moved to their new place, he used to sleep in Sybil’s bed with her because Suze was on the couch. Suze assumed that was not the answer Wes was hoping to hear. He was being pretty chill about the whole thing, but he really only knew the half of it. He didn’t even know he had more of a right to be angry. Suze definitely didn’t want be the one to enlighten him.
“Yeah, sometimes,” she agreed. He looked like he wanted to say something else, but he hesitated and then he lost his chance because Sybil returned with a bag of pasta, complaining about moody cashiers and the elderly.
Suze told Priscilla and Helen about it two nights later. She went over specifically to speak to someone about it because she had very few other options. Her innermost social circle was pretty much limited to Sybil and Chris, both of whom featured heavily in the conversation at hand. Other than that, she had Frank, who was going through something way more important than this.
“It was so awkward,” Suze said, sitting at Priscilla’s kitchen table in front of a mug of tea Priscilla had made her. “I didn’t know what to say.”
Priscilla gave her a sympathetic pat on the arm.
“Sybil used to have a crush on Chris,” she told Suze, who snorted.
“Used to?” She repeated incredulously.
“You think she still does?” Helen asked, intrigued. She was fascinated by other people’s problems. Suze assumed this was because she was unemployed, dating a man who wore nothing but turtlenecks, and shared an apartment with her eighty year old grandfather. Other people’s problems were probably very appealing in comparison.
“I think if he could sort his life out, they would be perfect together,” Suze answered.
“Yes!” Priscilla exclaimed in agreeance. “He is so apathetic! It’s perfect! He would never pay attention to her. Man, she would love that.”
Suze nodded solemnly.
“She would love that,” she agreed.
The next day, after finishing her shift on air at work, Suze was cornered in the bathroom by Piper. She’d had nightmares that began that way. In these recurring night terrors, Piper would pull a heavy, blunt instrument from her abnormally large purse and beat Suze with it. Suze eyed Piper’s purse suspiciously. Piper was standing bizarrely close to her. She had Suze pinned between the sink counter and the hand dryers. There was no way Suze would be able to get to the exit without literally pushing Piper out of the way. Suze’s life was about to end as the summation of a game of Clue; murdered with a lead pipe in the bathroom by Colonel Resting Bitch Face.
“I need to talk to you about something,” Piper told Suze, looking down at her hands. Suze looked at her hands as well, primarily to check if she was already holding a weapon. Piper seemed like the kind of woman who had concealed blades on her at all times. She’d be a great person to have on your side in a dark alley. It was less great while you were standing in a bathroom, watching your life flash before your eyes. Suze had wasted a lot of time watching Degrassi.
“About Frank,” Piper continued. Suze wondered if she would be able to drown Piper in one of the sinks. It would probably take too long for the sink to fill up.
“I think he’s upset with me,” Piper added. Suze looked up at her face in shock. She definitely hadn’t been expecting that. She really would need to make business cards declaring her a Relationship Expert now if even Piper was turning to her for guidance. Unfortunately, as Suze wasn’t actually a Relationship Expert, she had little to no guidance to offer. All she really had was the truth and, since she cared very little about Piper, the truth was far easier to provide than it was to Wes. Wes was a nice person. Suze didn’t actively wish him ill. Piper, on the other, could go die in a ditch for all Suze cared.
“Well, you skipped his grandfather’s funeral,” Suze pointed out bluntly.
“I covered his shift for him!” Piper protested petulantly.
“Uh huh, yeah. I hear you, but again, you skipped his grandfather’s funeral,” Suze repeated, emphasizing every word. Piper gave her a sorry look indeed.
“I didn’t know he would be this upset,” she admitted sheepishly. It was the most human Suze had ever seen her. It was a shame it all over something shitty had done to the man she supposedly loved.
“Surely that’s not true, though,” Suze retorted, giving Piper a skeptical look. “It was his grandfather’s funeral.”
Piper sighed aggressively in frustration. Suze flinched toward the wall, afraid this was the moment the lead pipe appeared. There was something too uncomfortably ironic about being clubbed to death with a pipe by a woman named Piper for Suze’s liking. She wanted to go at the ripe age of at least eighty, happy and fat in her own bed, gorged on cheese as the good Lord intended.
“I don’t know how to make him not mad at me,” Piper whined.
“I don’t know, man,” Suze shrugged. “Short of time travel, I think you’re kind of fucked.”
Piper glared at her.
“That was really unhelpful,” she said, eyes narrowed. Suze shrugged again.
“Yeah, well,” she said dismissively. “I don’t actually like you so my desire to help you is pretty much nonexistent.”
And then she charged for the door, sidestepping Piper, and fleeing from the bathroom at a fairly fast clip, slightly concerned Piper would follow after her with her pipe. The newspaper would brand her the Roehampton Pipe Cleaner and Suze vindictively didn’t want her to have that kind of notoriety.