I cut quite a bit from the first draft of After Wimbledon, so I thought I would post one of the missing scenes. In this one, Lucy is helping her cousin Maddy get ready for her date with Sam – the man Lucy dreams of for herself.
Maddy’s bedroom looks like a tornado has been through it. There are clothes everywhere. On the bed, over the chest of drawers, across the chair and on the floor. Various sparkly accessories hang from doorknobs, off mirrors and under the lampshade.
All this for a drink? She must really like him.
‘Lucy,’ she says, flopping backwards onto the bed, ‘I’m having a crisis. What in the world do I wear?’
I look at her. She’s wearing black underwear with pink ribbons threaded through it, black high heels and a look of utter dejection.
‘Well, more than that,’ I advise, sitting beside her on the daisy chain duvet cover. ‘Although you’d definitely get his attention.’
An image of Sam eyeing her slides in front of my eyes, like in one of those pairs of fake binoculars with the pictures. I close my eyes and will it away.
What I need to do is to forget who she’s going out with. Just focus on supporting her. Then everything will be fine.
‘You know him better than me,’ Maddy says anxiously. ‘What do you think Sam would like?’
It was good in theory.
‘Oh, you know,’ I say, waving my hands around. ‘You should just be yourself. Wear what you want to wear.’
‘But which me should I be?’ she asks, sitting up and clenching her hair in her hands. ‘Sophisticated me? Smart casual me? Girly me? Or sporty?’
I am so not cut out for this.
‘Smart casual you,’ I say, picking one at random. I wrack my brain for what little I know of fashion. ‘Something that emphasises your best features.’
Maddy looks worried and goes over to her wardrobe. I’m astonished to find that it’s still full of clothes. She turns back to me. ‘What are my best features?’ she asks, biting her lip.
‘Legs,’ I say confidently. All the Bennetts have good legs, even me. Which is fortunate, since no tennis outfit will hide them. ‘Wear a dress.’
That should narrow it down.
Maddy pulls a little black number out of the wardrobe and holds it against herself. She looks questioningly at me.
‘Great,’ I say, giving her a thumbs up. ‘And it matches your shoes.’
She doesn’t look convinced. She puts it back and gets out another. Dark blue lace.
‘That’s nice too,’ I say, nodding. I bounce on the bed a little. This is a really springy mattress. Will Sam end up jumping on it?
I’d give anything not to have thought that.
Another dress is produced. Pink cotton.
‘Also… good,’ I say.
I get the impression that this could take a while.
Maddy has 27 dresses in her wardrobe. I know, because I’ve seen all of them. And which one has she decided on? Yup, you guessed it, the original little black one. The dress is on, her hair and makeup are done, a handbag has been selected and her taxi is here.
‘Do I really look okay?’ she asks, as she puts on her coat.
‘Gorgeous.’ And she does. Already the best looking of all of us, she really knows how to make the best of herself. Christ knows what she wanted my help for.
‘Have a great time,’ I say, as she climbs into the taxi.
‘Are you sure you don’t want a lift home?’ she calls out the window. ‘We’re going that way.’
‘I’m sure,’ I call back, already a step away. ‘I want to stretch my legs. Bye.’
‘I’ll call and tell you all about it when I get home,’ she says and blows me a kiss as the taxi drives off.
Wonderful. Then my life will be complete.
I trudge off in the direction of home. The heartache starts after one step, the tears after two.
What’s wrong with me? I’m behaving like some love-sick teenager.
Except I wasn’t like that when I was a teenager, because then all I cared about was tennis.
Maybe adolescence has finally caught up with me. Maybe I’ll break out in acne and get into alternative dressing. I could become an EMO, although I’m still not entirely clear what they are.
Right now I just need to get back home, get some dinner and forget all about this.