"Don't be scared".
"What if she's there?"
"What if she is?"
"I don't want to go. Don't look at me like that".
"You think I'm paranoid".
"You have no idea."
But I knew I couldn't tell him the truth, I knew he'd been driven too far in the lies to believe me. I wouldn't feel so bad about if I could understand why she did the things she did and said the things she said about me. The problem was that at first I'd fallen for her dopey hippy facade the same as everyone else. I didn't know why then , but I'd never fully trusted her, there was something too calculating about her glib ignorance, her frivolous comments. There was a twisted bitterness in her face that dispelled the relaxed, easy-going persona she strived to project.
I soon realized that she didn't like me, and assumed she fancied him. She would persuade him to go out with her and her poor man without telling me. She would phrase her insults so subtly that nobody realized how much she was manipulating them. She began with random references to possessive people, then she'd twist comments she'd heard me make jokingly, and repeat them until he believed I was trying to control him, then persuade him to "escape" my clutches by lying to me. I couldn't fight against her poison because I had no idea she was doing it. The more time he spent with her the crueler he became to me. He believed her when she told him I was possessive, to the extent that if I called in or phoned him on impulse he would accuse me of checking up on him, of wanting to keep a diary of his movements, of being incapable of surviving without having power of control over someone. I knew he was changing, and I knew we were growing apart, but I still didn't realize that it was organised, orchestrated by her.
By the time he dumped me I had realised that she was involved somehow. I assumed he was sleeping with her - I could have understood that - but it was nothing so simple as lust. We had been shopping in the afternoon and everything had been fine between us. We parted for no more than three hours, and when we met again he was almost another person, accusing me of fabricating family catastrophes to lure him away from his friends. He freely admitted that she was the only person he had seen in the intervening time, but he could see no connection between her visit and his change in attitude. I could. I was furious that she'd destroyed us, but my one consoling thought was that now she'd achieved her goal, and separated us, she might leave me alone.
Her continued verbal assaults showed me that I had misjudged her motives. She dropped all pretence of being polite to me, and the continued devotion of her poor man convinced me that it had not been my him she wanted. She wanted to destroy me. Once again though I had found out too late.
As soon as myself and him had separated she had begun to spread her lies. She told all our mutual friends that the break up had been caused by my "mental problems". Again she was subtle, phrasing cruel insults as caring concern - "I felt so sorry for him" she'd been heard to say "its sad, but he couldn't have coped with it forever. Do you know, the poor girls suffering from such paranoid delusions that she's blaming me? Seeing conspiracies everywhere. Of course I just ignore it, she can't help being ill".
I was at a loss - everything I tried to do to combat her poison seemed to the people weaned on her lies to further prove their truth. Far worse than my friends abandoning me, they offered sympathy and blatantly treaded carefully around me. Whenever I protested that there was nothing wrong with me I saw the glances they exchanged - "to deny mental illness is a sure sign its serious. How kind of her to warn us, how would we have coped otherwise?". I retreated into my shell, and nursed my hatred, the only friend I had when all older friends were under its founders spell.
Eventually she began to make mistakes. My complete lack of reaction to her made her continued comments about me seem suspicious even to her earliest innocent conspirators. She ceased to be the centre of their attention, they did not yet dislike, but they began to feel the doubts I'd felt a year before. In her desperation to regain their esteem she lost her subtlety - beginning to openly insult me. The tables were turning, although, again, I was slow to discover it.
Friends I had seen rarely since the break up began to re-emerge into my life. Gradually they confided to me the things she'd said about me. The indestructible wall of my hatred grew stronger every day, I could no longer be hurt by her petty comments - but I would have revenge.
Eight months after the break up he spoke to me, tentatively, and monosyllablicly at first. I do not know if he had begun to doubt her, but he appeared to see me without the veneer of her lies. More months passed, and we became friends again. This made her furious. Her control was slipping through her fingers. I did nothing to her, I never saw her, but I heard from the mutual friends of her increasingly uncontrollable anger with me. Anger which could have no other cause than her realization that she was losing.
One night myself and him were walking together. She walked past, I had not seen or spoken to her for months. Her ever bitter face contorted even more when she saw us together, and she began to shout and scream at me. I would not be lowered to her level, and continued walking. He stayed to calm her down, and I felt my hatred's low flame within me, the happy knowledge that my enemy was destroying herself, without my needing to do anything. That night I told him all the things mutual friends had repeated to me from her mouth, and he told me of his gradual realisation of the sad truth of her. He still could not accept that his decision about us had been anything other than his own, but he had been deeper into her conniving spell than most. I had my hatred for company now and no longer needed him, no longer needed anyone so gullible as to trust her, whether or not they later realized their mistake.
She dropped any pretence of manners, and reverted almost to a wild creature whenever she saw me, screaming and clawing while her poor man dragged her away. I never reacted. I knew I did not need to.
But I began to grow afraid. It had become obvious, to myself and the mutual friends, that she herself suffered from the illnesses she had accused me of so many months before. And if she was mad she could become violent. Even when her assaults had remained purely verbal she had limited herself to battlefields where I could not react - behind my back, in my workplace, in front of friends who I respected too much to involve in her poisonous games. If she physically attacked me the mutual friends would support my self defence, but tonight myself and him were going to a party at my workplace, which she could well attend. The small part of me not completely encased by my hatred knew that through my inaction I'd pushed her a long way. It was that part which told him, who still did not appreciate the extent of her poison, that I was scared. But the part of me which relaxed, warm and contented and secure in my hatred, soon regained control.
"Lets go. You're right, I'm paranoid, after all what can she do in front of all those people?"
We arrived late. The party was warming up and drinks were flowing. She was there, sitting with her poor man in a corner, her twisted face as bitter as ever, watching the people around her but not joining in, watching me, in platonic merriment with him. After the first half hour I ceased to worry, ceased to check her movements, concentrated on my own enjoyment. Drink flowed and, unnoticed, contorted her bitter features even further.
It was nearly the end of the evening, and we were preparing to leave. He, ever chivalrous, helped me into my coat, when suddenly she switched into her wild animal personality, and leaped at me, my arms unable to act in my defence, pinned as they were by my coat.
I can see the blood, it was a pint glass - she was never a lady. I can hear the strange sputtering of air through my torn and ragged throat. But it doesn't hurt. Within the sweet cocoon of my hatred as I watch my blood through dimming eyes, I know that this is the best thing.
In death, by murder I shall have victory absolute, and she will live her lifetime known as the loser.
And I have my revenge.