Debbie sits in her room.
She sits on the floor actually, next to the door. Because never let it be said that she doesn’t know how to hit all the tragedy tropes.
Okay, so. To review.
Ruth knows that Debbie didn’t make a deliberate and rational choice to break her leg. That’s good. That’s a solid positive.
However. Ruth does know that Debbie chose to get high before their wrestling match; not the safest choice she’s ever made and one that shows a significant lack of care for Ruth and her well-being. That’s not so good.
And, however number two, Sam also knows that Debbie was high, because uh, she told him, and so now Sam can legitimately ban Debbie from doing anything ever again in the wrestling ring, if he really put his mind to it. Which is another down side.
And, everyone else also knows all of this, and here’s where the list collapses and just becomes a roaring hole of shame in her chest, and frankly Debbie doesn’t feel like she has a chance of being normal ever again, with anyone.
Debbie cries for a bit, something that she doesn’t often do when she isn’t directly arguing with someone, but it sure as hell feels like she’s been arguing with herself for a while now.
And then, once the initial wave of misery passes, she just sits there, with her head against the door, trying to pick out any passing conversations from the others.
She imagines they’ll all be talking about her, how reckless she was, how stupid, how uncaring-
Debbie can’t make anything out though. There’s a few sets of footsteps, and some low murmuring, but nothing to satisfy her desperate, all consuming desire to hear people talking shit about her.
She almost falls asleep. In fact, maybe she was asleep, because she jerks her head away from the door with a start when someone knocks gently on it.
Go away she thinks, whilst her heart is aching oh please, oh please, oh please…”
The tap comes again. And then its Ruth’s voice, through the plywood.
“Debbie? Are you in there?”
She could pretend to be out. But what is she going to do, hide in her room forever?
“Hi” she whispers, but makes no effort to open the door.
There’s a pause, and then something about the way the door shifts in its frame suggests that Ruth is now leaning on it.
“I think the rest of the girls went out. Sheila suddenly remembered it was her birthday, they’re doing birthday drinks.”
Debbie raises her eyebrows, and wipes underneath her eyes.
“God, is it her birthday? I didn’t even… I should get her something.”
“Yeah, I think you have time, I’m pretty sure that her birthday isn’t for another three weeks, I think she was just, you know… getting everyone out of the corridor.”
Debbie bites her lip, and then says “I think Sheila is auditioning for the role of our Fairy Godmother.”
Ruth snorts, and says “Weirdest Disney movie ever.”
Debbie laughs a little despite herself, and then sighs, tipping her head back on the wall behind her.
Nobody says anything.
After a long pause, Ruth shifts against the door again.
“Do you think you could let me in? I mean, I could sit on the floor, but I’m not sure how often they clean this carpet, and-”
Debbie hesitates for a second, and then drags herself upright, stepping away from the door so she can open it.
Ruth leans on the door frame, hesitating.
“Can I come in?”
Debbie shrugs despondently.
“Sure. But I should warn you, I’m going to sit on the floor and mope around, it’s been that sort of day…”
They both end up sitting on the floor, backs pressed to the same side of wall between the bathroom and the window.
Ruth’s legs are stretched out in front of her. Debbie wonders if she is trying to subconsciously show Debbie that she still has two legs.
After what feels like a long time, Ruth sighs, and says “I knew you weren’t okay. When we were wrestling, that time. I knew you weren’t okay, I should have stopped the match, it’s my fault…”
Something inside Debbie flinches away from the notion of Ruth taking responsibility for this.
“No, it wasn’t… it was my fault. I tried for a long time to put the blame on Sam, because he saw what emotional state I was in, but it wasn’t him. Not really. It was me, I was…reckless and irresponsible and there’s no way I should have- I really could have- jesus Ruth I’m so sorry, maybe Sam should just ban me from wrestling full stop-”
Ruth silences her by reaching out, and resting one hand on top of her own. Debbie goes still.
After a moment Ruth says “It’s okay. God, it’s actually better this way than… I thought you’d just snapped my leg because you were pissed at me and didn’t like me-”
Debbie gulps, fighting off the tears again.
“No, I would never, I’m so sorry Ruth, I’m so-”
Ruth shushes her, and then grips at bit more firmly at the back of Debbie’s hand. Debbie sniffs, and allows herself to take Ruth’s hand, smiling when Ruth squeezes slightly.
“Look-“ and this time Ruth does actually gesture at both her legs “It still works. It’s still attached. And now I know that you were just… you were high. And it won’t happen again.”
“Never” Debbie mutters. Ruth nudges at her with her shoulder.
“See? No drama. It was a mistake. And it’s over.”
Debbie nods slightly, but then says “Not for Sam it isn’t.”
Ruth sighs, and then starts levering herself upwards. “Well, we’ll figure out Sam later. But you and I are good, that’s what’s important. Here-” and Ruth offers Debbie her hand to help her up. “Come on, we have to get ready and you have to look less like you’ve been sobbing.”
Debbie gives a little half laugh, and wipes away a stray tear.
“Why, where are we going?”
Ruth gives her a look.
“To Sheila’s not birthday drinks? Come on, it’ll be fun, and it’ll show Sheila our appreciation for her fairy godmother tactics…”
When Debbie and Ruth arrive, thirty minutes later, in the hotel bar, they are greeted with cheers and whoops and cries of “Debbie!” and “Liberty Belle!” by the awaiting crowd of girls. Dawn and Stacey are drumming their hands on the table in front of them. Melrose performs a small jig, before ushering Debbie into the booth with warm hands. Jenny snuggles into her side, and gives her a little squeeze. Sheila grins at her.
Debbie’s heart feels so full, she thinks it might burst. Because none of these girls are that good at acting, which means that they all do genuinely like her. The drugs revelation has not lost Debbie the place in the family.
“Guys…” Melrose half drawls, half sings, taking charge of the moment as she usually does “Look, it’s Debbie and Ruth, together at last… Ruth has both her legs, Debbie’s pupils are the normal size, this is a great moment…”
Ruth laughs at this, and sits on the edge of the other side of the booth, next to Bash, who Debbie just notices is there as well. Bash meets Debbie’s eye, and smiles a knowing smile that has Debbie rolling her eyes away from him, towards Sheila.
“Happy birthday Sheila.”
They’ve not just been drinking, Debbie discovers.They’ve been plotting as well.
Bash taps the table in front of him with a coaster, calling the meeting to order.
“So, we have a plan. A great plan. For this emergency.”
Ruth clears her throat.
“Uh, what emergency?”
Carmen sighs. “Sam banning you from the next show? Remember?”
Debbie does, vaguely. Ruth nods. Bash continues.
“Okay, so, it was Sheila’s idea, mainly-”
Sheila interrupts, just to say “I’m sneaky.” Debbie snorts, and then motions for Bash to continue, curious. He grins.
“Yes. So! Sam has banned you, but we all want you to wrestle because frankly it’s going to be incredible, so…we are going to pretend that you are not going to wrestle. But then…. ha ha! Rhonda is going to have to pull out of her match with Dawn and Stacey, and then you two will have to wrestle to fill the slot last minute! I mean, what’s Sam going to do, finish the show without a finale?”
It’s a ridiculous plan, one that is cut straight from a comic book. But Bash looks so delighted with himself… all the girls look so excited about it, that Debbie suddenly doesn’t want to be the one to inject to reality into the situation.
So thank god for Ruth.
“Oh, guys…Sam will see through it. He’ll know that Rhonda’s just pretending. And I don’t want anyone to get fired over this.”
Rhonda clears her throat pointedly.
“Um…I’m a great actress though, plus there’s no way Sam would dare say that I’m not telling the truth. I have the best plan.”
There’s a pause, whilst everyone retunes to Radio Rhonda. And then Melrose asks “And what is that plan, hun?”
Rhonda shrugs. “I’m going to pretend that Bash just asked me for a divorce. And I’m really upset about it.”
There’s another pause, and then everyone turns to look at Bash, who has gone a peculiar shade of pink. After a moment, Rhonda turns to him as well.
“I mean… you are going to ask me for a divorce, aren’t you? Might as well make use of the drama.”
After one, agonising second, Bash nods.
“Yes! Okay. Great plan. Okay.”
Rhonda smiles at him, looking relieved, and then says “Okay, so, I’ll go to Sam and be all ‘my life is over’, and talk to him forever about my immigration status and, you know, cry a lot and be incapable of wrestling, and that means that Ruth and Debbie will have to wrestle to save the show!”
Debbie smiles, and then tries to speak gently.
“This… I mean, whilst this is a good idea, this also really isn’t a good idea, and if Sam figures out, then we’ve all made an enemy for life.”
Debbie doesn’t say anything about the extremely high likelihood of Sam guessing the truth, because he is not stupid and Rhonda is not Meryl Streep, but she’s pretty sure that Ruth can read her thoughts in her eyes.
“Aww, but it’d be exciting! I’ve already been practicing crying on demand, I just think about the coal miners stuck down there, no lights-”
Debbie clears her throat hurriedly, and then says “Yeah, exciting, but… I don’t know, potentially devastating as well. I don’t want to carry on having to yell at Sam for all eternity. And I’m pretty sure that he’s sick of yelling at me.”
“Yes…” says Ruth slowly, probably because she’s surprised that Debbie is backing away from a confrontation. “Yeah, I think… that maybe if we look like we agree with Sam on this, then it would, he would, I don’t know, be slightly more relaxed about Debbie and I fighting in the following week.”
There’s a couple of solemn nods around the table. Bash looks disappointed.
“Yeah, but why is he acting like this? I am missing some kind of… why does he think you are constantly about to try and murder Ruth?” It’s Yolanda who asks this. Debbie meets her eye, surprised.
“Well, because of… you know. Our… history.”
Yolanda’s eyebrows rise in a question.
“Yeah? I knew that you two knew each other before the show, but…. sorry, I’ve not been paying much attention to all the drama.”
Jenny nudges Artie, who is sitting next to Yolanda.
“Have you not told her?”
Artie shrugs, and then says “No, I’m not a gossip. Also-”
“Also, we haven’t had much time for talking” Yolanda grins. There are a couple of barely contained snorts, and then Tammé says, “Yeah, and side note - I need thicker walls.”
Debbie clears her throat. “Well, we - um, it’s pretty complicated, actually, but-”
“I can simplify” says Melrose, authoritatively. “Debbie and Ruth, best friends forever, until, whoops, Ruth fucks Debbie’s husband a couple of times, for reasons completely fucking lost on everyone including Ruth, but probably something to do with a deep seated inferiority complex that Ruth has about how she stacks up compared to Debbie, and then Debbie finds out, and then, powered by righteous anger, she crashes the auditions for Glow, basically ends up brawling with Ruth in the ring, and then Sam hires Debbie because she’s clearly got some inner rage that needs a constructive outlet for the sake of the city’s safety, and then these two end up as face and heel because of all of that simmering chemistry etc etc, and then fast forward one year and Debbie’s divorced, Ruth’s dating Camera Guy and somehow still has two functioning legs, and they either love each other or hate each other depending on what minute of the week it is. Got it?”
There is a deathly silence.
Eventually, Yolanda says, “Okay. Cool. Got it.”
Debbie turns her head, to gaze blankly at Melrose, who shrugs after a moment. “Look, I’m like, the edited version of your life. We haven’t got time for the eighty five thousand word thesis on ‘the Debbie and Ruth story’, so I just hit you with the headlines.”
Ruth drags it back to normality, and thank god, because otherwise Debbie might have offered Melrose up for an even more extreme editing.
“Okay, anyway, I think we’ll just… lie low, for a bit. Roll with Sam’s plan in an effort to show him that we can be professional. But thank you, guys, for your commitment to the more dramatic options.”
“Oh, but…can I, like, go and cry at Sam anyway? I’m getting really good at it, I can make my lips wobble and everything.”