by Jennifer Walmsley
In the beginning, Envis tasted a strange metallic taste in her mouth and, as the taste sharpened to acidic lime, the silver jewellery she loved to wear, turned a smelly, pewter green.
by Christine Cartwright
Her friend Jasmine, who’d dropped by, waited for Envis to finish her inspection and Envis realised, not for the first time, that beneath Jasmine’s cool mask of beauty and concern lay a demon of treachery.
As days turned to months, the taste in Envis’s mouth became fetid, like rotting vegetation; and, as that taste grew, her dislike for her Jasmine turned to envy and pure hate.
Despite her many warnings of Jasmine’s stealthy duplicity, mutual friends withdrew from Envis as if she was the pariah and not the recently crowned Beauty Queen of Dunely High School.
Couldn’t they see through that angelic façade? Envis kept asking herself. Couldn’t they understand that Jasmine took hold of their hearts? Claimed them as her own? And those tormented questions haunted her by both day and night until that metallic taste thickened, threatening to stifle her.
* * *
On this warm, early sunny morning, Envis feels a lot better as she waits in the park for Jasmine’s daily appearance. Then, at the corner of her eye, she catches a flash of white shorts and T-shirt and hears her friend’s easy-paced strides heading towards her.
Finally, Jasmine reaches the bench where Envis sits. She inquires, a little breathlessly, if Envis is all right. Envis nods and that metallic taste seems to hinge her jaw shut and hold her tongue rigid. Despite the sound of blood pounding in her ears, she hears Jasmine ask in her familiar condescending tone if Envis, too, has taken up jogging. Forcing her mouth open, Envis explains that she’s out for a stroll, though her coherent reply churns like a miasma of bitter fury inside her head.
Then, noticing Jasmine glance at her watch, Envis gives her friend a pleading smile. Pats the bench in a silent invitation to sit. Sighing, Jasmine sinks down onto the edge of the seat, mentioning a hair appointment she must keep at nine thirty.
Envis nods, takes out two small brown bread rolls from a plastic bag, offering one to Jasmine. At first, Jasmine shakes her head but, as if not wanting to cause offence, accepts the proffered roll.
Taking a bite, Jasmine winces and Envis, putting on a needy expression, openly wonders if maybe she could sell her newly created conserve in the local organic shop.
Jasmine asks what sort of conserve it is before gulping down the rest in an attempt, Envis believes, to get rid of the foul flavour as quickly as possible.
Envis gets up from the bench and throws her own uneaten bread roll into a waste bin close by. ‘Poison Ivy Conserve,’ she says and walks away, ignoring her friend’s terrified screams.
Leaving the park, smiling at a man walking his cute little spaniel, Envis begins to plan the outfit she’ll wear to Jasmine’s funeral, happy that the awful taste in her mouth has vanished and her skin tone is now a light tan.
Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Walmsley