They’d arrived early that morning and Katrien had been taken up with the preparations for her brother’s party later that night. Diane had tried to help, but spent a lot of time watching the interplay between the two of them, the ease with which they got on with each other. Diane wondered about that, about what it would be like to have a brother or sister. It seemed idyllic, like having people who were automatically friends. Katrien had disabused her of this, telling her of the many arguments and fights they’d had whilst growing up but Diane could see that she loved her brothers, both of them, and was a little envious of her for having that.
Eventually, Katrien had gone out with Wietse to buy some stuff and probably have lunch. Diane had been invited but had cried off, figuring Katrien might want to spend some time alone with her brother. It was one of those situations she could never judge―did Katrien want her with her, to allow her brother and girlfriend to get to know each other and spend time together as a trio or did she want to be alone with her brother (and maybe talk about Diane with him)? She didn’t know and Katrien was always going to invite her along, no matter what she wanted, because NT people always did. She wondered whether or not she’d upset Katrien by not going and how she could find out.
“Diane! Diane Fletcher!” Surprised at hearing her name called by an unfamiliar voice, she looked towards the source. A party of three women around Diane’s age were at one of the tables and one of them was beckoning her over. She looked vaguely familiar.
She took her drink and went over. “Excuse me, but I’m not sure exactly who you are.” she said.
“That’s alright, we’ve only met once, briefly at that” said the vaguely familiar woman. “I’m Truus. A friend of Katrien’s from school. We met once when you were up here visiting her parents.”
Diane had a vague memory of bumping into an old school friend of Katrien’s last time she’d been here. But they’d not talked long, she was sure of that.
“I’m surprised you remember me.” she said, “we didn’t talk for long.”
“Any friend of Katrien’s. Besides, you’ve been in the papers. You’re her special friend, aren’t you?”
Diane didn’t like the way Truus said ‘special’. She was starting to take a dislike to the other woman. “I’m her girlfriend, yes” she replied, daring her to make an issue of it.
“Oh, don’t take offence,” Truus responded, “I’m OK with it. In fact, there was a time she wanted me to be her ‘special’ friend, if you can believe that.”
I’m disappointed she didn’t have better taste, Diane thought, but I guess she was just a teenager, and we all make mistakes at that age.
“We used to be inseparable” Truus continued, “Me, Katrien and Sanne. We were quite the clique.” she sighed, wistfully, as if recalling better times.
Diane was a little surprised to find that Katrien had been part of a clique. Not like the ones we had, surely, she thought, remembering taunts and insults, fear and misery. “How did you lose touch?” she asked.
“Ah, well, we kind of drifted apart after the suspension.” Truus replied.
“Suspension? Katrien was suspended?” Diane was surprised again. Given the liberal nature of the Dutch school system, it took a lot to be suspended. She felt a cold dread gnawing at her vitals. A clique and then a suspension… A horrible, unspeakable suspicion started to form in her mind. “How did you get suspended?” she asked, hoping the answer wasn’t what she suspected.
What she feared…