“Red…..Red…..open the fuckin door I know your in there I can hear the tv.”
Franky banged on the door again.
“Fucks sake Red come on I've got to get to work sometime today we can't all take time off.”
Bea slowly opened the front door.
“What do you want Franky?”
“To make sure your alright, no one has seen ya for two fuckin days.”
“I'm fine Franky, you've seen me now so you can go to work.”
“Oh no, I'm not leaving until ya let me in, it's not good for ya shuttin ya self away like this every year.”
“Fine,” she huffed yanking the door wider and allowing Franky in.
“It's been ten fuckin years why do ya keep doin this to ya Self?”
“I can't help it Franky, every year I can't get it out of my head, you know what happened, you found me…..I just…..fuck…..I don't know anymore.” She sniffled.
“Hey, hey, don't ya start crying, the bastards gone, he's dead I know there was no body….”
“Yer exactly there was no body, I know he's still out there. I know you don't buy it but I just know he's still out there.”
“I give up, look your my friend first and my boss second, so I'm making an executive decision here and as soon as I get into the office I'm calling Liz, you're coming out tonight and I'm not talking no for an answer.”
“I'm not taking no for an answer ya hear me? It's Friday night and you've hardly left the house all week so I'm gonna ask Liz to watch Deb for a little longer today, we both know she won't mind. Now I'm going to get myself to work before the boss decides to give me the bullet so get ya self upstairs and find the sexiest outfit ya can, I'll be back for ya at seven, not a second later, ya got it?”
“The boss might give you the bullet for dragging her out of the house more than for being late for work.”
“Yer well it's a risk I'll have to take ain't it?” Franky grinned.
“Ok, but I'm not staying out late.”
“Yer whateva Red, I'll see ya later.
When Bea first met Harry he had been so charming, he had followed her around school like a lost puppy always trying to find an excuse to speak to her, not that Bea was interested, she had plans, knew what direction she wanted her life to go in. Franky had a feeling about Harry but she could never quite put her finger on it. Franky had been moved once again to yet another foster home a few months before and had taken an instant liking to Bea on her first day at her new school, she was smart and funny and it didn't hurt that Franky though she was probably one of the most attractive girls in the whole school, not that she was going to tell her that, more than anything she just wanted a friend and Bea never judged her even when she had finally told her about herself. As their friendship developed Franky found herself spending more and more time with Bea often spending the night at her house until a new foster kid arrived and Franky took her under her wing, she was younger than Bea and Franky and eventually Franky spent less and less time with Bea leaving her alone and at the mercy of Harry's attentions. Bea missed the times her and Franky shared and eventually gave into Harry's frequent requests to go on a date with him, there was a party that weekend and knowing that she would only be spending the whole weekend at home alone agreed to go with him. The first two hours had gone surprisingly well although Bea had stuck pretty close to Harry, she felt out of place and wished Franky was there, she didn't know anyone except Harry.
As Franky and Bea became more distant Harry was the constant in Beas life, one night they were walking back through the park after seeing a movie and he asked her to go over to his house for a while, it was still early and she had agreed thinking that his parents would be at home, not that it mattered much if they weren't she had grown to trust him more than she usually did. The second he had closed the door he grabbed her and dragged her up to his bedroom, that had been the beginning of a nightmare that was to become her life for just over two years.
Franky missed her friend and planned to try and spend a little more time with her, the new addition to her foster family had settled in well and had made friends at her new school and now Franky was feeling guilty for spending so little time with Bea. Arriving at school on Monday morning Franky had been puzzled when Bea didn't show up, when she didn't show up the rest of the week she was really worried, skipping her last two classes on Friday she had gone over to find out what was wrong with her best friend finding her out in the garden crying. When Bea had finally managed to tell Franky what had happened with Harry she was so angry she said she was going to go over and kill him but seeing how upset Bea was the thought soon left her head. Franky stood by her, she was there when she found out she was pregnant, she was there when she had to tell her parents and she had been by her side when her dad had dragged her over to Harry's house to confront him.
The day they had got married Franky had the worst feeling about the whole thing, no one liked Harry and Franky held a special hatred for him, especially as she was the only one Bea had ever told what had happened. Bea was broken when she knew all her plans and ambitions would never come to fruition, any love Harry held for her died almost as soon as Debbie was born and he embraced his love of power that he had over her instead. He no longer listened to anything she had to say, nor did he want to be around her yet he claimed to love Debbie. He no longer had the life he wanted, having to work day and night in a job he detested to pay the bills and put food on the table only left him full of anger and rage and the only person he could take it out on was Bea. The first few times he had hit her he had genuinely felt remorse and apologised saying it wouldn't happen again but he soon gave way to his anger again and he quickly realized that he enjoyed beating her with his fists.
When he insisted that she get a job she had no clue what she was going to do, she had a six month old to look after, Franky would sneak over to the house when she knew Harry was at work, one day she told her she knew someone who owned a salon and was looking for a new receptionist, Bea had doubted that she would be able to do the job but agreed to go and meet Liz the next day after Franky had called her. It had worked well since it was only part time and even though Franky was working hard on a law degree she looked after Debbie for her while she was at work.
Right before Debbie's second birthday Debbie was with Franky while Bea was out shopping for her birthday presents, she'd lied to Harry saying that she was working a few extra hours something he would never mind if she was bringing in extra money to him that just meant extra beer money. At lunch time Harry had gone to the pub with his mates for a bite to eat and one pint was never enough for him, he returned to work drunk and was sacked on the spot, his anger exploded and he attacked his boss before taking off in his van crashing into a tree a few streets from their house. He stumbled the rest of the way home and continued drinking, Bea wasn't expecting him to be home when she entered the house bags in hand the second he saw her his temper exploded for the second time that day. The bags hit the floor as a sudden rush of pain jolted through her body, her arms lost their tension and her legs weakened before she dropped to the ground as he continued to punch and kick until she lay unconscious, a broken, bruised a bleeding mess. As he stood over her his fists still clenched he couldn't tell if she was breathing and a sudden panic ran through his body before he ran out of the house. Franky arrived at the house with Debbie at the time they had arranged when she got no answer she knew something was wrong so she let herself in with the spare key that Bea had given her, ‘just in case,’ some time ago. Seeing Bea on the floor she had run to the next door neighbour asking if they could watch Debbie for a while before running back into the house, she called an ambulance in a complete panic before calling Liz and asking if she could pick Debbie up. In a few short hours Harry had cleaned out his bank account and hired a boat, he had no idea where he was headed but he was determined not to be found, he was certain this time Bea was dead. A day later Harry's face had been all over the news and the guy at Melbourne Boat Hire had recognised him as the same person he'd hired the boat to the day before, the boat he needed to report as stolen. The police and coastguard searched for the boat, when it had eventually been spotted drifting out at sea they had bordered it finding it empty except for the empty beer bottles that were scattered around. It had eventually been concluded that he was drunk, fallen overboard and drowned. Bea never believed that, she needed proof that he was actually dead and until she had that she would always be afraid that he would return to finish her off.
Franky walked into Liberty Brown, the small investment bank where she worked as head of the legal department, deciding to head up the five floors to let Maxine know that she had seen Bea before heading back down to her office on the fourth floor.
“It's a good thing Beas not here you know, what time do you call this?”
“Cool it Maxi, our malingering CEO already knows I'm late I've just come from hers.”
“Physically yer, not sure she's got her head on straight though, anyway why are ya looking so stressed?”
“Oh where do I start, it appears the IT department has messed up the new system, actually I'm thankful Beas not here, heads would be rolling.”
“Yer, no doubt, ya coming out tonight? Convinced the boss to join us.”
Maxine looked at Franky with a questioning look. “Would that be convinced or issued an ultimatum to?”
“Ya mean there's a difference?” Franky shrugged and chuckled.
“Well I told old grumpy that I'd pick her up at seven, and that reminds me I gotta call Liz, I'll see ya at lunch?”
“Depends, if the IT department get a move on I may have to skip lunch if they don't.”
On her way back down to her office she pulled her phone from her pocket placing a call to the salon, she knew Liz wouldn't mind sitting with Debbie, Beas parents had moved back to New Zealand when Debbie was one for a short time and Liz had always been there for both of them. Franky's last foster family had been the best family she'd ever been placed with but after her foster mother passed away during her second year at university Liz was always the one she went to. Liz answered her phone after a few seconds pleased as always to hear from Franky, after their usual pleasantries Franky asked if she would watch Debbie for a while that evening while she took Bea out for a few drinks, naturally Liz was more than happy to help out, she loved spending time with Debbie and said she would take Debbie straight home instead of to her house.
Reaching her office she was frustrated to find that the IT problems seemed to extend to all departments, what was she meant to do without access to the file she had been working on? When the phone sitting on her desk rang she picked it up straight away.
“Franky, that must be the fastest you've ever answered the phone.”
“Allie…..now since when do ya call me at this time of day?”
“Well since I'm in town I was wondering if ya wanted to catch up tonight, it been ages since I saw ya.”
“Ya don't say, but what do ya expect ya went running off to Sydney got a great job and a bitch for a girlfriend.”
“Yer, yer ok, suppose ya could come out with us tonight, ya remember Red don't ya?”
“Bea….how would I ever forget her?”
Carrying on their conversation for another 20 minutes Franky reminding Allie that she hadn't even see Bea since she was 15, just a few days before everything turned to shit. Franky wasn't even sure it was the best idea but told her where to meet them after a little encouragement.
By one minute past seven Bea found herself being ushered out of the house by a grinning Franky in the direction of the waiting taxi, Debbie and Liz waving to them from the door. The twenty minute ride over to the bar did nothing to calm Beas nerves, she hated going out at the best of times preferring to stay home with Debbie but sometimes Franky wouldn't take no for an answer and she ended up finding herself being dragged to some bar that she had no desire to be in. The second they walked through the door to the bar Beas eyes scanned the room relief washing over her when there was no sign of Harry.
“Ya gotta stop doing that Red, the fuckers not coming back, he's been gone ten years don't ya think if he was we would have seen him by now?”
Bea didn't answer, she wanted to believe Franky wanted her to be right but she still had the feeling that he was still out there, she'd never known why but she was certain Harry was still alive. Following Franky over to the bar they got a beer before making their way over to a table in a quiet corner. It was still quite quiet for a Friday night and Bea was pleased about that, she wasn't planning on staying more than a couple of hours anyway.
“Hey I forgot to tell ya Allies back, don't know how long for but I told her to meet us here.”
Bea sat studying Franky for a few moments, she remembered Allie but only vaguely, she couldn't even quite remember what happened to her, she was sure Franky had told her something but for the life of her she couldn't remember what it was. Franky could tell that she was trying to place Allie and while she was thinking of something else at least the dick head wasn't on her mind.
“Ya remember her, that annoying kid that I kinda ditched ya for….ya know I regret that don't ya?”
“Yes Franky I know, you did what you thought was right, and she needed you at the time it wasn't your fault…I…I could have done things differently.”
Before they could carry on their conversation Franky spotted Maxine and Boomer walking into the bar, Boomer went straight to the bar while Maxine made her way over to the table.
“Bea love it's so good to see you out of the house, how are you?”
“I'm fine Maxi, it's not like I had a choice anyway this one didn't give me a chance to say no.”
Thirty minutes later Doreen had finally arrived, Boomer was on her way back from the bar with a tray full of beers and shots and there was still no sign of Allie, not that Franky was surprised, Allie was always late for everything. Putting the tray down on the table Booms picked up a shot and handed it to Bea.
“Here ya borin fucker get that down ya!”
Bea obliged not wanting to offend her friend, she downed the contents before grabbing a beer and drinking half of it in one go trying to erase the taste of whatever had been in the glass. Franky suddenly jumped up out of her seat and waved to someone, Bea guessed it must be Allie and her eyes followed Franky as she crossed the bar watching her pull someone into a hug. Even though she had once known Allie she was still a kid the last time she saw her and she started to feel nervous, taking another sip from her bottle she found it almost impossible to swallow, she hadn't seen Allie in ten years and had no idea what to expect. She suddenly remembered something Franky had told her when she'd gotten out of hospital, Allie had gone back to live with her parents, why she couldn't remember the details was beyond her but she was sure that was what Franky had said. She was so lost in her own thoughts trying to remember any detail no matter how small that she hadn't even seem them walking back over to the table.
“Red ya remember Allie right?”
Bea lifted her head to look at the new addition to their small group and locked eyes with the most perfect blue eyes that radiated with mischief just like they always had, “Hi,” was all she could manage to get out before dropping her eyes back down to the table. Allie looked at Franky with a puzzled expression, she didn't remember Bea ever being that shy before, she'd always been quiet she knew that, she'd noticed everything about her when she was younger and she was so different now. Franky nudged Allie before sitting down leaving the chair next to Bea empty, the one Franky had occupied since they had arrived. The second Allie sat down Bea immediately started to feel uncomfortable and it didn't go unnoticed by Allie, picking up another bottle of Beer Bea downed it in one go. Why Franky had changed seats she didn't know and she really wished she hadn't. Everyone else around her were chatting quite happily amongst themselves but Bea just sat there only speaking when it was absolutely necessary.
Allie left the table a while later saying she was going to get more drinks and gestured to Franky to follow her which she did.
“The fuck Franky, I know ya said she'd changed but really this much?”
“And I told ya some of what happened, she's not usually this quiet though.”
“Maybe I should leave after this drink and we can catch up another day.”
“Come on Al we both know ya don't wanna do that, ya always liked her.”
“What? H…how do ya know that?”
“I'm not blind….and.”
“And nothing Franky, that was a long time ago, besides I'm with Jess now you know that.”
“Yer, what did the bitch say when ya told her ya had to come to Melbourne?”
“Franky! There was nothing she could say, I'm here because of work.”
“Ya gonna tell me the truth anytime soon? I know ya not happy, shit if I call the house she always tells me ya not there even when ya are, what the fuck is going on?”
“Nothing….its complicated, she's stressed and…”
“Fine….I’ll still be here when ya ready to tell me, ya already know what I think, she's no good for ya and one day ya gonna wake up.”
Allie paid for the drinks, grabbed two and left the other three for Franky. Placing one of the bottles down on the table in front of Bea she sat down again her leg accidentally brushing against Beas, Bea froze for a second before turning her head slightly to look at Allie who was talking to Boomer over the table. Franky noticed the passing glance Bea had shot in Allies direction and just smiled to herself, thirty minutes later Boomer, Maxine, Franky and Doreen were on the dance floor leaving Bea and Allie sitting in silence for a couple of minutes before Allie spoke.
“So do you come here often?” Realizing how that just sounded she burst out laughing. “Shit I'm sorry, that sounded like some cheesy chat up line, I meant does Franky drag you here often?”
“Don't think I've been here before, the others might have, I don't go out much, I have Debbie to think about.”
“Yer sorry, I forgot…..she's what…twelve now right?”
“Yes, twelve going on thirty, sometimes I wonder which one of us is the parent.”
Silence descended between them again and Bea found an interesting spot on the wall that seemed to be holding her attention, Allie chose that time to really study her, and even from the dance floor it didn't go unnoticed by Franky. Allie couldn't deny that she still felt the same attraction to her that she always had, she was just as beautiful as she remembered her, but she'd never know much about her the few times she'd met her she'd always been quiet but hadn't refused to speak to her. Other than knowing that her and Franky were friends and that she'd got married and had a daughter she knew very little. Franky told her something about Harry being dead but she'd never gone into details. Franky hadn't said a great deal when she'd invited her to join them but Allie doubted that Bea would be single, there had to be someone waiting at home for her. She knew she shouldn't even be thinking about it, she had someone waiting for her back in Sydney even though things were for the most part crap. She couldn't bring herself to look away, dragging her eyes from her face and over as much of her body as she could see she watched her as she picked her almost empty bottle up with her left hand, there was no wedding ring so she hadn't remarried, suddenly realizing that Bea was speaking to her she dragged her eyes away from her hand.
“Allie…..Allie, is everything ok?”
“What, um, sorry I was miles away.”
“I know the feeling, I have a tendency to zone out, I just wondered if you wanted another drink.”
“Errr, yer why not?”
Allie wanted to follow her across the bar with her eyes but she was aware that Franky was most likely watching her and she knew she'd call her out on it and she'd do it in front of Bea and that was the last thing she wanted to happen. Franky was never subtle about anything, she would always be direct and to the point and she'd even managed to embarrass her on more than one occasion. Bea returned to the table placing two bottles down on the table before resuming her seat, looking over at Allie who was watching Franky and Boomer on the dance floor she decided that she may as well try and speak to Allie a little more, what was the worst thing that could happen? She could make an idiot if herself or maybe they could be friends, the latter was preferable. Allie slowly tore her eyes away from the dance floor and turned her attention back to Bea.
“You live in Sydney now? What do you do?”
“Yer, for the last five years, i work for a finance company, not exactly where I once thought I'd end up, but….well, things change don't they?”
“They do, never thought I'd end up working for an investment bank, I was like Franky wasn't I? Wanted to become a lawyer, things just changed.” Bea sighed.
“Change isn't always a bad thing is it?”
Bea just shook her head, change wasn't a bad thing, but how Bea got her change wasn't something she'd want to repeat in a hundred lifetimes. They continued to talk and Bea for once found she felt quite relaxed, it had been a long time that she was able to relax in the company of someone she hardly knew. Allie excused herself from the conversation needing the bathroom, of course Franky had seen where she was headed and followed her leaning against the wall while she waited for her.
“Knew ya still liked her.”
“For fucks sake Franky can we drop this now?”
“Not gonna happen till ya admit it, I've been watching ya and ya still look at her the same way ya did when ya were a teenager.”
“I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about, we were talking or would you rather we sat in silence?”
“No….but how the fuck did ya get her to talk to ya? I mean trust me sometimes she won't even speak to me and she's my best friend.”
“And that surprises you? Sometimes I wonder why I talk to you! And if you really must know she spoke to me first.”
“Well shit, ya gettin her pissed?”
“No I'm not, but tell me something, I know she's not married, but she's got a boyfriend right?”
“Red! Fuck no, she's sworn off men for life…..don't remember her ever saying the same about women though.” Franky grinned, “ya never know ya still might get a chance with her.”
Allie shook her head and left the bathroom making her way back to the table that was now occupied by Boomer, Maxine and Doreen again. Allie felt a little sad, Franky was right she did still like her and she wanted to spend a little more time alone with her but that wasn't possible now. The bar was more crowded and the music louder, taking her seat next to Bea she gave her a small smile, what she never imagined would ever happen did, Bea leaned in closer to her, her lips right next to her ear, “I thought you'd got lost, everything ok?”
Allies breath got caught in her throat and she couldn't speak so she just nodded. They didn't speak to each other after that until they all decided to leave. Once outside the bar Bea agreed to share a taxi with Maxine and Doreen as they lived close to each other and Boomer was going home with Franky since she was very drunk and Franky didn't want to leave her on her own, who knew where she'd end up if left unsupervised? Allie called a taxi to take her back to her hotel but she couldn't help glancing over at Bea who was trying to help Franky keep Boomer upright. Allie was only going to be in Sydney for another two days and most of her remaining time was going to be taken up by meetings, not something she was looking forward to but she didn't have a choice. Maxine noticed Allies glances over at Bea and went over to talk to her.
“You like her don't you?”
“Who Bea? I knew her when I was younger, I used to live in the same foster home as Franky that's all.”
“Sure hun whatever you say, she's been through a lot, give her time.”
Allie wasn't sure if she had meant that to sound as it had, Maxine proceeded to rummage around in her bag, just as their taxi arrived she found what she was looking for, slipping a card into Allies hand she left. When Franky finally managed to get Boomer in their taxi Allie found herself alone, looking down at her hand she looked at what Maxine had given her. It was one of Beas business cards, she slipped it into her bag not really thinking about it.