General

Benji was my perfect employee but I'd sooner shoot him than leave him in charge of my kids. In the boardroom he was the finest diplomat I've ever seen. He put everyone at ease, drew them into liking him and wanting him to like them, before delivering the critical thing he needed them to sign off on. He got everything we wanted as a company, everything we needed. He got the sweetest deals, taking over our competitors for a song while they grinned and hung on his words. Once the ink was dry and we had the assets, all the promises he made died on the wind. An honest man would feel bad, they'd be terrible at his job, but he loved it. It was a thrill for him to turn them over while they gushed about what a great guy he was. He did the same to his women; no-one was indispensable to him and everyone in his life fulfilled a purpose. In the twenty years he worked for me I never saw a genuine emotion other than greed. I pitied him more than our "victims," other people were simply pawns to him...

General

Every time I was around Gary my head span faster than a helicopter blade. The person I saw depended on who he was talking to and what he wanted. He could be everything from bad-ass to vulnerable, albeit with a new story of each new situation. He had an infinite number of childhoods; his parents were happy, divorced, fighting, abusive or dead. His Dad had been a banker, a road digger, a burglar or unemployed. His mother had been a drunk, a politician, a Sally-home-baker or a tart. He was an only child, the last of eight, brought up in a foster home or the heir to a fortune. Part of me wanted to walk away, but I was the only one he could tolerate. Why? Because I never asked to see behind his ever changing disguise. Inside that body was a kid, a kid locked in at some emotional age far younger than his twenty-something exterior. I'll never know what happened to him, but whatever it was it just stopped his development at that age. It's a one-way friendship, I know, but he needs someone...

General

I fell for you harder than a slip on black ice; you were funny, always cracking jokes. You had me in stitches on every date. Friends flocked to you like you were the only light in the room, hanging on your words, buying you drinks and slapping your back. After a time I wanted more than the "happy guy" persona, I already loved you, I wanted to get to know the man behind the punch lines. At first you distracted me with jokes and I followed each one, laughing down every blind alley. Then one day Rachel asked me some things about you, where you grew up, what your parents are like, who your best friends were, and I froze. After six months I knew nothing about you other than your alcohol and bed preferences. I sat with you, reached out with my open heart and invited you to reciprocate, to make that connection. Why haven't I seen you since? Why won't you return a simple message. I miss you so much.

General

I don't think Clarissa ever meant to be selfish, I really don't. She was, of course, as self-centred as a child. For her the world that mattered stopped at the tip of her nose. I came to think of her as emotionally blind, she just couldn't see, couldn't empathize with what other people thought or felt. And isn't the unknown always a bit scary? She treated everyone like they were too frightening to get close to. She interacted of course, she laughed and joked, she would even make nice gestures from time to time. But ask her a personal question and she would recoil faster than a snapped high-tension spring. After that you'd be in her no-friend zone for a while, isolated until you learnt your lesson.

General

Steve was there like a shadow until you needed him. Then suddenly he was unavailable. His ready smile was only for those who gave freely and didn't require any help in return. Once the personal crisis was over he'd re-emerge from the crowds and re-insert himself into the group, cracking the jokes everyone loved and paying them for their company in his favourite “currency”- gossip. He knew the dirt on everyone, including you, and if you weren't his buddy he'd be free with that information to whoever his new friends were. With him or against him, it's how it was. I chose to hate him and keep him closer than a lover; the best friend I'd choose to eat first in any survival situation.

General

Lisa flicked through her messages. There was one from Maria again, asking how she was feeling about the break up with Todd. With one click she deleted it. It was none of her damn business how she felt. None. Just because Maria had been the one she'd gone crying to it didn't give her the right to keep on prying. Nosey parker. She was probably having a good old laugh about it with her friends. Well, she'd show her. Come exam day she'd get the top grade. If there was anything she didn't understand she'd have Maria explain it at school, then she'd go in and beat her. It worked like a charm every time. When Maria didn't understand something Lisa would just pretend she didn't get it either, even if she did. Her phone buzzed. It was Maria again, something about a family emergency and she needed to talk. Lisa logged off her social media and set her Maria to a new ring tone. The last thing she needed was some crying mess recking her day. There was shopping to do and concert tickets to buy.

General

They brought out the very worst in each other, each of them backing up the other's vices as if they were virtues. It was the "right" thing to spend all of their money on themselves, to not let others "push them around." And while I like to buy some nice things too, there's just nothing right with taking off for an expensive vacation when you "can't afford" to feed your daughter non-processed junk food or buy new clothes for her when she's outgrown the others. But that's just the way he was and there was nothing I could do. The court ruled I had to send you fifty percent of the time, so he and his "beautiful girlfriend" could ignore you and feed you hot-dogs and chips. I know they left you with the television while they went to the gym and sucked back nutri-shakes. I'm sorry. He wasn't like that when we were together, he had the selfish streak for sure, but he wanted me to like him then and, in hindsight, that was all that made him behave.

General

Carl had his legs crossed and was tapping his Ray-Bans on the coffee shop table, his hair was even neater than usual and his suit was new. Claire pulled out a chair and he looked up from his phone, smiling in that tense way he did when he was about to vent. She put her latte down gently and smiled just the same way she did for her patients at the hospital. They never knew the difference and neither did he.

"Did you hear about Rodger?" he began, his attempt to keep things light already waning.

"Oh, no. What about him?" Claire took another sip, trying not to loose all of her lipstick on the rim.

"He got his PhD last week, he called me, all excited. Those three letters just mean you wasted three years of your life and are massively in debt." Then despite the rising tension in his voice he snickered. "What a looser, eh?"

Claire pursed her lips. She'd known Rodger a good deal longer than Carl and he'd always been a sweetheart. Not her type, but as far as friends went, he was a keeper.