4thWrite Prize 2023: My Last Real Housewife by Melissa Gitari

Listen here, you rancid, buck-toothed beast: I’ve done nothing but love you!
I’d drive my rose gold Bentley off a cliff for you. Set my best wig ablaze and don it if you
asked. Rip off my acrylics, nails beds and all, and lay them at your feet like some unholy offering.
That’s the kind of friend I am.
But you – you totally snubbed me at Kendra’s seance. And don’t think I missed your little
video about marble tiles being ‘gauche’ after I’d just posted a triptych of my new bathroom.
Gauche – ha! From the woman who once wore leopard print to a country club luncheon. I’d love
to see you spell ‘gauche’. Your worst crime, however, was disinviting me from the Summer
Solstice Ayahuasca Spa Retreat when you knew I was dying to work with that shaman. I’ve been
absolutely bedevilled with grief since the burglary and you denied me chance at solace. Those
thieves took my late mother’s mink – you know nothing of that type of loss.
And all this because I mentioned your dalliance with the pool boy? We were at a party
celebrating Megan’s third divorce – everyone was so sodden with drink that night, I doubt they
even remember me recounting how you and young Greg liked to rut on all fours in the wine cellar,
where no one could hear your keening. And so what if they did? The women in our circle all bear
secrets beneath their monstrous bosoms. Farrah bought her baby! Kendra’s company is
bankrolling multiple wars! Megan, richer than God! That kind of wealth comes marred with its own
original sin. And wasn’t that the same night Shelby murmured something about her bestselling
velour sweatpants, with ‘FEMINIST’ emblazoned across the rear in diamantés, being made in a
sweatshop? Like, a truly horrible one, where they hire children? That’s a real secret. No one cares
about your bland little affair. Sleeping with the help is so 2004.
The nerve of you, trying to ice me out. Before you met me, you were just some delusional
rich bitch eating sushi with a fork. Your wig was so crooked, from afar it looked like a beret. The
day we met, when our husbands introduced us five years ago, I was worried you’d never fit in
around here. You had on this lurid imitation Versace blouse and kept blurting out that there’s
nothing wrong with knock-offs as they’re ‘just as good as the real thing but don’t cost a month’s
rent’. I mean, who says that sort of thing? Who rents?
You were a tragic case, desperate for my intervention. With the kids grown, moved out and
no longer speaking to me for reasons I cannot fathom, I needed a new project. And there you
were, in all your gum-snapping, blue eyeshadowed glory. All your husband’s money but not an
ounce of taste with which to spend it wisely. Honestly. I had no choice but to salvage you from the
mire of the costume-jewelled nouveau riche and introduce you to the devastating mystique of
luxury, to curating a life so enviable that onlookers break out in sores. I ushered you into my
exquisite coterie and spearheaded your metamorphosis. Your wardrobe, your etiquette, even the
timbre of your voice – all my design. It wasn’t easy, making you someone worth gossiping about.
But I take my philanthropy very seriously. And now you know which order to use your forks in and
how to laugh without exposing your molars. I still think about when I took you to buy your first
lace front. It brings a tear to my eye even now, how gorgeous you looked with 32 inches of wavy,
Malaysian tresses glistening down your back, sleek as an Amex card.
And didn’t we have fun? Oh, the VIP booths we turned to crime scenes with our drunken
debauchery! Remember Monaco? That bistro where we got on the bar and sung Whitney songs
acapella until the maitre d’ begged us to leave? The yacht we almost capsized in Barbados? How
we made chardonnay at lunch chic again? What perfect sisters we were: you the older, me the
wiser, our Louboutined feet click-clacking as one. It was nice, finally having another black woman
in the fold. I was so lonely before I met you, drowning in parties and gluttony and idle chatter
about cryptocurrency, but not a single real friend to lean on. Don’t get me wrong – I adore the
parties, but after a while you do start to crave something a bit more substantial. As much as I
enjoy the girls, you know as well as I that at their core, they’re simply a pack of vapid white
bitches. Farrah once asked me how the trains of the Underground Railroad were quiet enough to
evade detection. I’d never have the connection with them that I had with you, and not just
because they don’t know what edges are.
But then you spurned me, you you ungrateful witch. Like some malevolent surgeon, for
years you sliced me up and feasted on the fatty tissue of my wisdom, my connections. It wasn’t
enough that I moulded you from my own rib – you had to steal my skin and wear it as your own,
usurp me as the The Glamorous Black Girlfriend and toss my remains to the dogs. As if those
women would ever love you more than me. I taught Megan and Kendra the ‘Single Ladies’ dance,
for God’s sake, and you know how much white women love pre-self-titled Beyoncé.
To think, I would have lied under oath for you, if it came down to it. All it takes is three
glasses of wine and a benzo for you to start purging your secrets, and I, like an impeccably
dressed courtroom scribe, have kept record of them all. You really don’t want me being honest
about what I know. Continue trifling with me, trollop. I’ll start talking about the real reason you
started that megachurch. And where you were the night Bella’s beach house was mysteriously
engulfed in flames. Remember who helped you scrub the smoke off your skin? And yes, I know all
about you and your husband’s nefarious exploits in space. You’ve got a dossier of crimes as thick
as your ankles, enough to put you away for eons. At your age, you might not live to see parole.
You owe me a world of apologies – this whole debacle has restarted my menses. Phone
me back immediately. Then again, I suppose you can’t call me where you are. And I’m in no
position to receive your call, what with being in a maximum security prison, and all. I must truly be
in the throes of delirium, using my daily phone call to rant and rave on your voicemail. I suppose I
just miss my best friend. And desperately need a Xanax. I could probably get one if I asked
around but all of the girls in here are unseemly sorts, locked up for the crimes of ruffians like theft
and assault. They couldn’t even put me up with some nice tax evaders and wire fraudsters. That I
ended up here, amongst people with nicknames like ‘Brick Face’, when I don’t even technically
have any blood on my hands, is profoundly unfortunate, more unfortunate than your death, in fact.
Yes, I hired someone to cut the brakes of your car, and yes, you went careening into rush hour
traffic, perishing instantly and injuring five others, but at least you didn’t suffer! I’ll be suffering for
twenty to life! In a place that doesn’t even have San Pellegrino! Some ‘justice’ system this is.
If I’m being honest, it was probably a bit rash of me to have you offed for not being a good
friend to me any more. But you have to understand that it wasn’t my fault. My mother was very
withholding, so female friendships have always been very hard for me. As soon as I feel a pang of
rejection, I become lycanthropic with rage. I can’t control it and you can’t be mad at me. I don’t
think I actually came to until the cuffs were placed on my wrist and I saw Marvin through the cop
car window, the familiar warmth in his cartoonishly large brown eyes extinguished for the first time
since I’d met him. He hasn’t been to visit once.
Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re cackling at the state of me. Barefaced, lashless, with
four poorly parted braids on my head. I look like you before you hired a glam team. Anyway, I
suppose I must hang up now. I’ve only got a few seconds left and a woman with a face tattoo is
glaring at me. I’d rather not get shivved in the shower for hogging the phone. Oh, it really is hell in
here. Reminds me of the home we put mother in, all the wan, vacant faces of people the outside
world has given up on. Remember when we went––

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