The bollocking door wouldn't open. That was it, Debs decided: she'd had enough bollocks for one day. Work, her iPhone, Rasha - oh God, Rasha - and now the bollocking door. This was the last bollock.
She gave in to gin, disappointment, wine, exhaustion and gin, collapsing gracelessly against the front door. She tried very hard to stop herself thinking the word “bollocks”, which of course didn't help. Stars twinkled innocently overhead.
She stared out across the wide stillness of Partridge Street, its terraced houses watching moodily, perhaps even judgily, from darkened windows. Well, it was her street, now, and they’d all just have to get used to it. Her street, her house, her front door, her key. Two days and she'd already locked herself out. This was one of her crowning glories - right up there with inventing that thing. The dance. The... for heaven's sake, she'd invented the bollocking thing and now she couldn't even remember what it was called.
Debs took a deep breath and arranged herself a touch more comfortably.
Still, at least she'd managed to finally see Rasha. Which had been a trial, predictably. It was always good to see old friends, but Debs always forgot how much work Rasha could be. Goodness, didn’t she moan? Things used to be so different.
Maybe she'd used the wrong key. That must be it: she wasn't familiar with these keys yet. They give you so many, don’t they? And the door had had a knack to it. Hadn't the estate agent struggled to open it? Yes. She should try again - she couldn't lie crumpled up on the step all night.
She shuffled to her feet, swirled the keys, dropped the keys, picked up the keys, and put what she was absolutely certain was the right key into what she was absolutely certain was the right lock.
It still didn't fit.
But maybe the back door!
Energized, Debs tottered on her heels across the paving stones - except the side gate wasn’t there. She tottered back to the other side a little embarrassedly and there it was, just where she’d left it: a red-painted, quite charming, wrought iron gate, padlock and all.
Padlock? She didn’t remember a…
Debs flicked through the keys. There was nothing here to fit a padlock. What idiot had put that on, then?
She sighed heavily. She needed a drink - but the nearest mini-bar was at least a locked door away, so a cigarette would have to suffice. She’d quit again tomorrow.
She breathed the smoke in deeply: close but, well, no cigar. Nothing helped like a tipple in these little crisises. Crisi. Situations. It didn’t do to get dramatic, did it? A little energizer had got her through dinner with Rasha. An array of Merlots had got her through the award-winning, deposit-earning contract with the Brownsdale client. Ever-faithful gin had got her through her marriage AND her divorce.
The Macarena! That was it. She'd invented the Macarena. The dance, obviously, not the song. Or at least, she was pretty sure she had. With Rasha, Ciao and Shell. The girls.
Seville: their first holiday out of school, nineteen-ninety whatever. Rum and cokes by the pool. A band playing on the stage. She wanted to imagine a disco ball but there was probably no disco ball. Just the open sky and the thrum thrum thrum of music.
She’d started stepping and waving her arms, a strange sort of jerky walk, all hips and elbows. Shell had joined in, parroting her movements, and before long Rasha and Ciao were doing it too. The four of them, line dancing by the pool to some random Europop, the hotel otherwise deserted.
It was a story she told time and again: her hit. Imagine her surprise, she’d say - holding court with a gin and tonic (or whatever was good) held aloft - when she saw the band the very next night, the dancers now imitating her precise movements. Down to the last thrust. And did she receive any royalties? Did she bollocks.
It was a fine party piece. She was even reasonably sure it was true - which is more than you can say for most stories you hear at parties.
In fact it had actually saved her a few years later, holidaying again with the girls in Turkey. After refusing to leave a restaurant, a little past way-too-late o’clock, the Turkish police had been called. They’d been trying to talk the girls down when Deb had proclaimed:
“I invented the Macarena, you know!”
And as unlikely as it sounds, the local constabulary were so impressed by this - and the subsequent rendition of the dance upon the restaurant table - that they were let off scot-free.
She didn’t see much of the girls these days. Everything had changed since those years under the bright lights.
Well, there was nothing for it. She was going to have to climb over the gate.
She slipped her handbag through the rails, then clung on to the iron bars and shook the gate a little. This afforded little joy. She tried to find a foothold but and couldn’t get a purchase on anything useful. She stepped back gave the gate a good swearing.
She looked around and, struck by inspiration, grinned. She dragged the wheelie bin over, wincing at the noise and apologising to no-one in particular. She pushed it against the gate for purchase, then huffed and puffed and somehow managed to climb up onto it.
It wobbled something awful - but she pulled herself to her feet, standing atop the bin like a well-dressed but very lost surfer. She clung to the top of the gate and swung a leg over. And then-
Oh, she hadn’t thought this bit through. It suddenly looked a long way down and she wasn’t quite sure how to get her other leg over. She shuffled one foot across the bin and tried a few experimental swings to figure out the movement.
Luckily, the bin toppled to the ground with an almighty crash, tumbling her sideways over the gate.
The landing hurt an awful lot: Debs counted herself lucky she’d had all that gin earlier. She wouldn’t feel the worst of it until the morning: imagine the state she’d be in were she sober! She eased herself upright, reached for the handbag, and lit another cigarette.
Well, she definitely deserved this one.
She really needed a drink, now. She found herself thinking about Rasha’s husband, that awful alcoholic. What a waste of space he was. Debs spent a few minutes fuming - literally, actually - over not just the times he’d let Rasha or her children down, but the times she’d had to sit and listen to Rasha moan about it.
Some people were just useless when it came to drink. Couldn’t handle it. Completely dependent on it. Or they just erupted into flames over the slightest of things, like Shell had done in Lisbon last year. It was sad, really.
Of course Debs was a bit dependent on it. She enjoyed a drink. Goodness knows she had enough stress in her life, and booze didn’t half help get through it. It wasn’t like it was affecting her life or anything. And even if it was - it was only her life. There was no-one else around these days to get too upset about it.
The cigarette burned down and so Debs gingerly pulled herself to her feet. She walked carefully around the back of the house. It was a lot darker here, away from the streetlights. A good thing, she supposed: she wouldn’t want to make life easy for burglars.
Reaching the back door, she fished the keys from her handbag, picked the right one with a squint, and pushed it into the slot.
It wouldn’t turn. Wouldn’t budge. Not even a little bit. She rattled the door in a frustrated rage and kicked at it, which hurt her foot quite a lot.
“Bollocks!” she shouted, before pushing over a plant pot. It shattered on the paving stones with a half-arsed crash, soil spilling out amongst the shadows.
She instantly felt bad about the plant pot.
Debs sighed. She was running out of options and she seriously started to wonder what she was going to do. She might as well try to get in through the cat flap.
Well. She’d had worse ideas this evening.
She carefully got to her knees and pushed an arm through the flap - thank goodness that wasn’t locked! - and tried to reach up and around to get to the lock. This of course was impossible, but she still twisted and tried to get hold of the door handle.
Maybe it was desperate and stupid, but she’d never been much for planning. She chose instead to live for the moment, to revel in the surprise and mystery of life. Who cared that grumpy old Ciao didn’t approve of that: more often than not, things worked out for the best.
It was at that precise moment, however, that Debs remembered her new house didn't actually have a cat flap. This gave her tremendous pause for concern - but not half so much as the cat did when it pounced upon her arm. The cat - well, she assumed it was a cat, it might just as well have been a leopard or a velociraptor - dug its claws or teeth, or maybe claws and teeth, deep into her arm.
Debs panicked and flailed around, trying to detach the angry feline and escape the clutches of the cat flap. She came back to herself some moments later, gazing at the starry skies above - which were having none of it. Her hands clutched tightly onto the grey plastic of the cat flap’s flap, now forcibly removed from the cat flap’s frame. As she angled her head, she saw the brief, malevolent shine of the cat’s eyes as it retreated into the house.
She groggily sat upright (again). She rubbed her arm, which stung terribly but actually, she was forced to admit, was OK really. She pulled herself to her feet and thought about giving the stars a piece of her mind.
Then the door opened with a crack and a sort of whoosh. Debs leapt to her feet to see an elderly, bedressingowned couple peering nervously around the door. They looked at her as if she was trying to break into their house or something.
"What?" she said defensively, then realised that, actually, she had the moral high ground here.
"What on Earth are you doing in my house?!" she added, seizing the offensive and shaking the cat flap's flap for emphasis.
"Um, are you the lady who just moved into number twenty-two?" the man asked, opening the door a little wider.
“What about it?”
"It's just that, well, this is number twenty."
"Oh?" Debs said, puzzled.
"This is where we live," the man prompted.
"Oh," she said again, suddenly dejected. "That explains the cat flap, doesn't it?"
Three pairs of eyes flicked to the cat flap, still held aloft in Debs' hand.
"And the locks. Ha ha."
Two pairs of eyes flicked quite crossly back to Debs.
"Er, sorry," Debs replied, handing over the hapless flap. She began to wonder just how much trouble she might be in. Especially once they found out about the plant pot.
"Did you know,” she said cheerfully, “that I invented the Macarena?"