Running in Heels: A Novelby Anna Maxted
To say that Babs has been my closest friend for sixteen years is rather like saying that Einstein was good at sums. We were blood sisters from the age of eleven (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's, But now Babs, noisy and as fun as a day at the beach, is getting married. And Natalie Miller, twenty-seven, senior press officer for the London Ballet,… See more details below
To say that Babs has been my closest friend for sixteen years is rather like saying that Einstein was good at sums. We were blood sisters from the age of eleven (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's, But now Babs, noisy and as fun as a day at the beach, is getting married. And Natalie Miller, twenty-seven, senior press officer for the London Ballet, panics. What happens when your best friend pledges everlasting love to someone else?
It doesn't help that Nat is dating a guy named Saul Bowcock. As the confetti flutters, her good-girl veneer cracks, and she falls into an alluringly unsuitable affair that spins her crazily out of control. Nat is on the rebound and allergic to the truth-about Babs's relationship, her boyfriend's ambition, her parents' divorce, and her golden-boy brother's little Australian secret. Her mother's lasagna and her roommate Andy's fuzzy slippers are also monstrous affronts. But what Nat really needs to face is the mirror-and herself....
Wickedly witty and refreshingly honest, Running in Heels is a hilarious look at the lies we tell ourselves-and the unwanted truths that only our best friends can tell us.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.33(d)
Read an Excerpt
Chapter OneThe bride is climbing a tree.
"Babs, that branch looks unsafe, are you sure . . ."Crash. Splash.
"Oh well," she says, squelching from the pond, a happy green and brown mud monster. "At least I got the ball down."
A tut! of wonder drags me from my thoughts and I realize that the bride is no longer twelve years old and soggy. She is all grown up and gorgeous, a Botticelli come to life. There is a swish of silk and a rustle of taffeta as my best friend halts and turns to face her groom. Her gaze is so intimate that I look away. A goose honks or, possibly, my mother blows her nose. The vicar smiles crossly until there is quiet, then compares marriage to building a house.
I'm craning over the rows of prettily feathered hats, when my brother digs a sharp elbow into my ribs and says, "There's nothing like a big bride. Always reminds me to lay off the cake."
I blush. "Please, Tony!" I whisper, "Babs is Amazonian."
My brother needs attention like other people need to breathe, but despite his ungracious presence, this day is a perfect day for Babs. It is her own personal fairy tale made real in a haze of confetti and lace. She looks radiant. And I know as I sit here, sighing and cooing with the rest of the crowd, that I'll never forget her wedding as long as I live. It is the beginning, and the end. The start of a marriage and the end of a beautiful relationship. Ours.
To say that Babs is my closest friend is like saying that Einstein was good at sums. Babs and I know each other like we know ourselves. We were blood sisters from the age of twelve (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's hand). And if you've ever had a best friend, you'll know what I mean. If you've ever had a best friend, I don't need to tell you about making blackberry wine in the garden and being rushed to the hospital, puking majestic purple all the way. Or about our secret language (which is lucky, because I'd have to kill you). Or when we touched tongues to freak ourselves out. Or about our Spanish holiday, age sixteen. Or when Babs dated the coolest, tallest, blondest guy in school and set me up with his wetter, shorter, prematurely balding friend. (He wasn't keen on me either.) Or when Babs thought she was pregnant and we bunked biology to beg the morning-after pill from her GP.
I don't need to tell you of the endless talk about details'the use of toothpaste to zap spots, the way some dads suddenly bolt to L.A. with their secretaries (adultery is rarely original), being fitted for a first bra in a shop where rude old ladies roar out your chest size, the odds of marrying Matt Dillon, wearing an orthodontic brace that Hannibal would reject as unflattering, mothers who collect you from parties with their nightie showing under their coat'so much talk, we talked ourselves into our twenties.
Even when our ambitions defined us, we couldn't bear to be apart. I chose a London college to be near Babs. We shared a flat, we shared lives. No man could hurt us like we could hurt each other. Blokes came and went'and feel free to take that literally. There were a few serious boyfriends, and a lot of jokers. We weren't too bothered. There was always next Saturday night and anyhow, we were in love with our careers. Babs and I had such a beautiful relationship, no man could better it. And then she met Simon.
Iwatch him slip the ring on her finger and see his hand tremble. What do I know? Is this love, or a hangover? Dubious thoughts to be having in church, so I file them under "envy," kiss and hug the happy couple, and when Tony mutters, "I've counted seventeen strings of pearls," I ignore him.
I squeeze through the perfumed crush of guests to where the table plan is mounted on a large easel. I'm hoping to be sat next to at least one of Babs's Italian male relatives (her mother, Jackie, is from Palladio, a small town near Vicenza, and its entire population -- seemingly composed of film stars'appears to be present). I scan the M's until I see Miss Miller, Natalie. Table 3. There is a disappointing dearth of Cirellis and Barbieris on this table, but it's a nice distance from Mrs. Miller, Sheila (Table 14).
That's the trouble with close friendships formed in early adolescence. Your families see it as their divine right to muscle in, and before you can say "interparental surveillance," the lot of them are as enmeshed as the jaws of a zipper. Having been shadowed by my mother throughout the service, I'm pleased that we're dining apart. She'd have tried to cut up my poached salmon for me.
I jump as someone smacks me on the bottom.
"Fluff," trills my mother. She gazes at me, licks her finger, and rubs it around my cheek.
"Mum!" I feel like an extra in Gorillas in the Mist. "What are you doing?"
"You've got red lipstick all over your face, dear," she explains.
"Oh. Thanks." (It would be cheeky to suggest that lipstick is preferable to spit.)
"So who've you been put with?" she demands, peering at the board.
"Ah! He wears a tux beautifully!"
"Frances Crump! A dot of blusher would make all the difference. She looks like a Gypsy in that purple skirt. I don't know what Babs sees in her, yes, who else?"
"Er, some guy called Chris Pomeroy'"
"Sounds like a poodle, who else?"
"The brother of the bride? The brother of the bride! What an honor! I must go and say hello, haven't seen him for years what with all that fianc�e business, terrible shame, and leaving his job like that. Apparently he only got back last week, darling, you must remember to thank Jackie, a note and a telephone call I think would be appropriate, not tomorrow though, she'll be inundated, leave it till Monday, would Monday be best? Yes, I'm sure Monday would be best, the day after your daughter's wedding is always fraught, although saying that, what would I know'"
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