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The Girl Who Lied

By:Sue Fortin

PART 1


‘I can’t go back to yesterday – I was a different person then.’

Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER 1


London, England

This is the moment I’ve been dreading. It’s time for me to go back. I play with the Triskelion pendant around my neck, my finger rubbing each of the three edges in turn. Father. Mother. Child. I read the email once again.

From: Roisin Marshall

To: Erin Hurley

Subject: Meeting Up

Hello Erin

You can’t keep ignoring me. I’m sure you never really thought you could walk away from everyone and everything.

I have something that might interest you.

Call me.

Roisin



My finger hovers over the reply key. For a fleeting moment I consider deleting the message. If I ignore it, she may go away. She may give up. I sit back in my chair and let out a long, slow breath. The anxiety that has lain dormant for all this time, having now been stirred, stretches its hand, grips tightly and twists my stomach. No matter how many times I have anticipated this moment, prepared myself to confront my past, right now, it’s insufficient.

‘Aha! Caught you.’ A voice from behind startles me. Somehow I manage to click on the inbox icon, clearing the screen of the email. I plaster on a smile and spin round in my chair to face Ed.

‘You made me jump,’ I say, noting that I sound overly cheerful. ‘How long have you been there?’ My mind replays the last few minutes. How long had I been staring at the email? How long was it visible on the screen? Could Ed have read it from where he was standing?

Ed gives a small laugh. ‘What are you trying to hide?’

I know he’s only joking but he has no idea how true his words are.

‘Now, it wouldn’t do for a girl to tell her boss and her boyfriend all her secrets, would it?’ My turn to laugh. It sounds forced. Ed cocks his head to one side, weighing me up.

The phone on my desk rings and I offer a silent prayer of thanks that I am saved from having to continue the conversation.

‘Good afternoon, Hamilton’s Health and Beauty Spa.’ I glance back up at Ed, who winks before returning to his office.

The immediate danger has passed, but the ever-present fear remains, which only serves to convince me I must do something about it. I cannot afford to let chance or luck, bad luck even, take control. I can afford even less to let my old school friend be in charge.

I turn my attention to the call and quickly deal with booking an appointment for a back massage. Replacing the phone in its cradle, I peek back through to Ed’s office.

He’s busy looking at his computer screen. I return to mine, calling up Roisin’s email again. Instead of replying, I forward it onto my own private email address. One I will have to sacrifice giving to her. I don’t want her trying to contact me at work again. I check my phone and see the email has been received. Next job is to delete the email coming in and going out of the work computer. I know there will be some sort of cyber-footprint, but no one will be looking for that.

It takes less than a minute to carry out, just in time as my next client arrives for her full leg wax. ‘I won’t be a moment,’ I tell her as I double-check that all traces of the email have been eradicated.

For the rest of the day, try as I might, I can’t put the email and Roisin out of my mind. Up until now, I’ve been pretty good at ignoring her. Naively, knowing Roisin, I had hoped she would go away if I didn’t reply. That she would give up. Her first email had been unthreatening. The sort you’d send to someone you hadn’t been in contact with for a long time. The second, thinking back, had a more insistent tone. And now the third, well, she’s certainly not going away and the bait she’s dangling, the something that might interest me, how can I ignore that? Not after what I’ve done.

The day slowly comes to a close and as I’m tidying up and checking the diary for tomorrow’s clients, the telephone rings. I let out a sigh, hoping it’s a straightforward query.

‘Good afternoon, Hamilton’s Health and Beauty Spa,’ I reel off automatically. ‘How can I help you?’ There’s silence, but I know someone is there. I can hear their breath. ‘Hello,’ I repeat. ‘Can I help you?’ A bead of sweat pricks the skin at the back of my neck and my mouth dries. I know who it is before they speak.

‘Hello, Erin,’ she says. ‘It’s me. Roisin.’ The soft roll of her country accent seeps out of the receiver, winding itself into my ear.

I haven’t much of my Irish accent left any more. Ten years has seen it dwindle and I’ve never had any particular desire to hang onto it. In the early days of our relationship, Ed used to mock it, which just served as another reason to leave it behind. Another connection with my past that I don’t want. I adopt my best English accent as I reply.

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