It takes me a while to adjust to the pristine, early-morning silence all around me. All I hear is the chirping of birds and the lapping of the lake’s waves against the water and the couple of boats that are banging up against the makeshift pier a few metres away from us.
In contrast, the noise in my head is the equivalent of six marching bands, a rock star and his entourage, a kindergarten full of rowdy tots and bleating goat thrown in for good measure. It’s all I can do not to throw up continuously as Jo and Mariam cook bacon and eggs over the camping gas stove they brought while I sit in a chair next to them, rubbing my temples with my hands and feeling sorrier for myself than a broke dude at an empty ATM.
“Hehe,” Jo chuckles as she glances my way. “So now that you were the ninja who decided to polish off two bottles of wine on her own, how are you feeling today?” She and Mariam start laughing and high-fiving each other.
“And you know how much I needed that wine yesterday and I could have used some myself – but lo! Madam here decided she was the only one who would enjoy herself,” Mariam quips.
“Good morning!” Fatma emerges from the other tent, looking fresh as a daisy in her jeans and khaki travel jacket, face done up to look ‘natural’ even though any woman worth her salt will tell you she is wearing a ton of make-up. “And how are we all today?”
“Apart from that one over there?” Mariam cocks an eyebrow in my direction as she handles a couple of fried eggs off the pan and onto a plate which she gives to Fatma. “The rest of us are just fine and refreshed!” Everyone laughs. Fatma high-fives Mariam – and that there is enough to take my mind off my royal hangover for a few seconds as I frown in their direction.
“When did you two feuding sisters become such good friends?” I ask.
“Who, me and Mariam?” Fatma feigns innocence. “Darling I don’t know how much you remember about last night but Mariam and I were never enemies,” she grins.
“Eh?” I frown. It dawns on me that I do not have much memory of last night, either – at least not from the point at which Jo asked me to explain my issues.
“You don’t remember, do you?!” Fatma exclaims as they all fall about laughing.
“Would you like some breakfast?” Mariam asks, thrusting a plate of chicken ovaries and crispy pig my way. The aroma hits my nose and I immediately fast-pedal my way over to the loo again where, once again, I evacuate the contents of my stomach via my mouth and eventually emerge from the cubicle hoping I don’t look as messy as I feel.
Fatma, Jo and Mariam, all now sitting in a semi-circle in their camping chairs and happily munching on their breakfast, pause to stare at me – Jo even leaves her fork suspended halfway between her mouth and her plate as she stares at me in wonder.
“I have never seen you like this though,” she finally gasps. “Oh my goodness, you look like a warmed-over zombie!” They all start laughing again as I take my seat gingerly.
“Those eyes are pure, unadulterated bloodshot,” Mariam guffaws.
“Ha. Ha. Ha,” I say drily. “One day all of you people will be in my shoes and I will laugh and point fingers and I will not ease up,” I say to them. “So exactly what happened last night?”
“Well, besides you telling us about Chris breaking up with you and all your drama with Frank the Factory Guy?” Jo says those last two words as if they are proper nouns. “You also ran over to the large group of guys camping next door and mooned them with your behind because they were making so much noise.”
“WHAT?!” I yelp and stand up, mortified, while the girls roll around in fits of laughter.
“I’m joking,” Jo says as she wipes tears from her eyes. “You just got really candid about your life,” she says gently.
“Yea, I am so sorry I was so hard on you,” Mariam says as she leans over in my direction and gives my knee an affectionate pat.
“Heh, we even hugged out all the tension amongst us,” Fatma adds. “I don’t know if I have ever told you girls this, but I love you all so, so much. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you lot to support me.”
“Aww,” Mariam gushes, standing up to reach her arms out, and I watch with eyes wide open as Fatma steps into them and is enveloped in Mariam’s warm bosom.
“Someone tell me exactly what happened last night!” I say loudly. And then I sit back and wait for the resolution.