Back On The Beach – by: Jake

It was strange to be back in St. Augustine and to know that I wouldn’t be seeing Odette. It had been a pretty awesome few days. Rissa and I just spent the whole time either holed up in our small hotel room on the beach, at some cafe’ where she knew every damn person that worked there, or out on the sand surrounded by a continued ebb and flow of her endless admirers / friends. They just ate up her stories and her laughter. But even though I was with the cutest and best surfer girl on the beach and in the South…for real, I still found myself keeping my eyes peeled everywhere, for Odette. Not seeing her at all during this trip would be like eating a whole ice-cream sundae with hot fudge and sprinkles, but no whipped cream.

So I sat on the sand under the blazing sun. It kept me warm through the cool winter breeze coming off the water and I watched Rissa in her cotton-candy-pink wetsuit, (I’m not joking, it’s seriously fucking pink) tear up the waves. I looked around to see other people, other guys watching her surf and I decided to go for a walk down the beach. I would just walk far enough to come to Luna’s house then back again. I wouldn’t go in or anything of course, just walk past it then turn around and come back.

It was kind of a long walk down the beach. I didn’t remember that. I started to jog a little and thought about my board just sitting on the sand back there with no one watching it. I finally got close and all the memories came flooding back. I looked at the deck where Chris kicked my ass and remembered feeling my ribs crack underneath him. I could sense the exact level of his anger with each blow upon my chest and that made me smile now. Perhaps I was a sick bastard for remembering it fondly, but the fact remained that every punch was because Odette wanted me more than him. And no matter how many times or how hard he plowed his fist into my chest,nothing was going to change that fact. That felt good, like the sun warm on my bare back.

I absentmindedly rubbed my rib that had only just finally healed. Then I jumped a little as I saw Odette, Chris and Zoe come walking out of Luna’s kitchen door onto the porch deck. I was far enough away that they probably wouldn’t notice me right away so I turned and walked away slowly, then found a dune to sit behind for a little while. Then after a couple of minutes I looked out from behind the dune and saw the three of them on the beach. Chris was throwing Zoe up in the air and catching her and then when he put her down she would go running off as Odette chased after her then carried her back to their stunningly sweet family unit. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. When did she get this happy with Chris? I really thought he wouldn’t be able to handle her shit and would be long gone by now. But there they were. I saw her look in my direction then look again and she seemed to freeze so I walked slowly behind the dune and sat down back there. I felt my heart pumping and I felt a bit slimy, like some weird stalker or something. I wondered if I should trample over the dunes and mess of sand-spurs and vines and flowers, and hopefully not rattle snakes, until I got to the road. That way she wouldn’t see me again. But instead I just sat there and waited. I guess I know her well enough that she can’t stay away from me and sure enough, about 45 minutes later she came looking for me and stopped and looked down at my pitiful ass, sitting there behind the dune, waiting for her to appear.

“Hi” I said.

“Hi.”

I stood up and brushed the sand off my shorts and my back. “What the fuck was that little scene I just witnessed? When did you turn into Mary Poppins or some shit?”

She looked a little amused. “Mary Poppins was a NANNY. I am Zoe’s MOTHER. But I think I get that you are trying to say that we look happy, right?”

“Right” I smiled at her. I wanted to hug her. She was so comfortable around me and her hair blew in this amazing way in the wind, like it knew how to dance out there or something. “God, I’ve missed you.” I said, surprising myself at the emotion in my voice. I think I surprised her too because she suddenly looked uncomfortable.

“How are things with Rissa?” she said, a little briskly.

“They’re awesome.”

“Good!” She said, like a sorority girl who was good at giving really warm feedback.

I nodded at her.

“I have to go.” she said. “Luna’s making dinner and I promised I would put the salad together.”

“I just wanted to see you” I said, a little weirdly-emotional again with my voice unexpectedly shaking. But this time she looked like she understood.

“I’m glad you, came.” She looked around her. “Where did you come from?”

“Rissa and I are staying down the beach at a little hotel. She got the room for free somehow. I don’t even bother to ask anymore. People just do anything for that girl. All she has to do is smile at them.”

Odette nodded, frowning at me with this intense interest like she was trying to figure me out. “Cool” she said, as if she knew she had to say something and that was the most benign thing she could throw at me.

“Goodbye Silver Swann” I said. I did some awkward, gentle, punch-her-in-the-shoulder move. She knew me well enough to know I was dying to touch her and that was the only way I could do it.

“Bye Jake,” she said and smoothed some of that long, light hair behind her ear. Then she just turned and hurried off. I watched her white skirt catch her ankles as she strode gracefully across the sand. Her white sweater was a bit long at her wrists and she curled her fingers over it and I saw her wipe her face. Was she wiping her eye? Was she crying? I sure hoped so.

I turned and started to walk back down the beach to find Rissa. I knew she wouldn’t be mad at my unexplained absence. Even if she suspected I went to see Odette, she knows I would never purposely do anything to hurt her. Also that girl never keeps track of time, or score. But it was likely she left my board on the beach, and hopefully I wasn’t locked out of the hotel room that for some reason only she had a card-key for. I felt good though, like I had just stuck my tongue out and filled my whole mouth with sweet whipped cream. Now I just had to be sure not to start craving it again.

Interview Number I – by: Odette

I thought I was going to get back the usual, “That’s Ok that your project is late, we are just happy to finally have it and it looks great,” email. But instead it said, “This one was too late. Your final paycheck will be mailed out to you this Friday.”

And so I put the most B.S. resume’ together about how experienced and amazing I was at everything and within days, ended up with an interview at a company in town who created websites for small businesses. It was like what I had been doing before, but for the little guys instead of the big guys.

I had no idea what to wear to the interview. Chris said to wear a suit but I didn’t think that was the right thing for a web company where people most likely wore flip-flops to work. So I pulled out my black boots and a cute yellow dress with black lining on it, then pulled my hair in to a ponytail that I gathered to the side so it draped over one shoulder. I walked out into the living room and Chris said that I looked too cute and to go back and change. I laughed and kissed Luna and Zoe on the cheek and headed out to our new, silver Honda Pilot that Chris bought for me. I think the fact that I didn’t really need a job made everything way easier. When I needed a job in the past I didn’t fudge my resume’ or wear cute dresses, I did everything by the book and it took ages to get a job and I was completely beat down by the humiliating process. This time it was kind of a fun challenge and I wasn’t even nervous to meet these people.

But then I got to the offices, the large glass doors seemed a bit intimidating. My boots clicked loudly against the tile floors to the reception area and I even considered taking them of and tiptoeing through this oddly large office for a web company. Usually it was such a small intimate atmosphere. The guy there told me to sit in a lone, plastic chair next to a big wooden door, and that I would be seen shortly. So I sat, and rubbed my feet nervously on the rug placed in front of the chair. The air-conditioning was COLD in there and I started to think that maybe I would just leave and go to the beach. Then the big door flew open and a guy dressed too nicely for a web company, thrust his hand out for me to shake while barely looking at me. I took his hand firmly and completely zapped him and realized I had probably been rubbing my feet to hard on the rug. He jumped back in surprise and I said, “Sorry, I guess I’m electric.”
He looked at me a little confused and I blurted out, “and I have a family full of eccentrics.”
“What?” he said. “You have a family of what?”
“Eccentrics…It’s a song…Oasis.”
“Oasis?”
My cheeks started to burn at this ridiculous beginning to my interview. I couldn’t even walk in the door without crashing and burning in the first few seconds.
“That’s the name of the group…nevermind.” I shook my head while he was just standing there staring at me like I was some kind of creature he had never seen before in his life.
Then he started to sing in an embarrassingly good voice, “She’s electric, she’s got a family full of eccentrics. She’s done things I’ve never expected.”
He stopped so I finished for him in my sub-par voice, “And I neeeed more time.”
“And your name?” he said.
I thought that was odd he didn’t even look to see who the heck he was interviewing. “Odette”, I said.
“As in, the swan?”
“The good one” I smiled.
“Well that’s a relief” he said, laughing at me, and I felt my cheeks flush again.

And that is how the interview started and at the end he said that he would love to have me but when he told me the ridiculously small salary I balked. I could babysit for that much.
“I’ll have to think about it,” I said.
“How much do you want?” he asked.
When I told him I could tell he was trying again, not to smile. “That is certainly not in our budget right now, Odette, but I will look closely at the writing samples you emailed me and get back with you.”

Then I decided he wasn’t taking me seriously enough. And since I didn’t really care that much about the position I added, “I’m here because I got fired from my last job that paid twice what I’m even asking from you. They kept me on for years longer than they should have because I’m good at this stuff. I’m a professional and for sure better at this job than anyone in this small town.”

He looked utterly turned off. “Why would I want someone who had just been fired?”
“Because that means I’m available, but probably not for long.”

He nodded thoughtfully and said, “OK! Thanks for the interview, Odette.”
I stood up and offered my hand but he kept his arms by his side.
“I think I’ve been shocked enough by you for one day.”

I nodded, my cheeks flushed again and I brushed out of there. “Bye” I mumbled to the front desk guy. He looked up smiling brightly at me this time and I thought, at least I mixed up their boring morning a little.

Worth Something? – by: Odette

I took my hands away from my face and looked up to see Chris peering over me. “What’s up?”

“I totally blew it,” I said. “Why do you even let me out in public?”

He looked confused, but amused. “What happened?”

“I just can’t seem to act like a normal human being. I can’t help but say things because I think it would be interesting if I actually said them.”

“You leave your filter at home?”

“You think I have a filter?”

“Actually, you are right. You don’t have a filter at home either. Listen, who cares about that job. You don’t even need one.”

“I just don’t like relying completley on you. I like feeling like I am buying myself stuff with my own money.”

“You don’t need a job for that.”

“If you are thinking of my parent’s money, that doesn’t feel great either. I really want to do something where I feel like I’m worth something.”

He sat down next to me and I put my legs over his lap. He reached over for my foot and began to rub it and I lay back with my head on the armrest of the couch and closed my eyes.

He said, “You don’t think that being home with Zoe is worth something?”

“Of course it is” I snapped. But I don’t know how do do anything like cook good meals or clean the house.”

“Well, why don’t you take cooking lessons?”

“That doesn’t sound fun.”

I opened my eyes and he looked a little dismayed. “I’m no house wife,” I said.

“I’m not asking you to be,” he said. “I just don’t like it when you complain about something but don’t have the desire or motivation to take any actions to fix it.”

We were quiet for a minute and he rubbed my other foot.

“I got that guy to sing to me though.”

“What guy?”

“The guy who was interviewing me.”

“I don’t know how you get people to do the things they do around you, Odette,” he said. “Who cares if you blew the interview. I bet that guy does’t sing to people every morning. It is refreshing to be surprised by people every now and then.”

I nodded, I was starting to feel a little less humiliated. Then I remembered how much he offered me. “He wanted to pay me $9 per hour.”

“Well, it’s better than nothing” Chris said.

“It is a complete insult, as if I were a college student scrambling to make enough money to buy pizza and cute dress for Saturday night.”

“Some people live off that,” he said.

I nodded and felt kind of bad. “I know.”

“Weren’t you going to teach dance a while ago, for Evan’s sister?”

“Yeah, that never seemed to pan out,” I said. I sat up and sat next to him, feeling a bit dejected.

“Why don’t you open up your own studio on the beach?” he said.

“Do you realize how much work that would take?” I said. “I want something like my last job, where I wrote a few silly things about clothes and got paid tons of money for it.”

He sighed. “Well, ask them for your job back,” he said.

That hadn’t even occurred to me and I suddenly brightened up.

“I’m gonna try that!” I jumped up and hurried to my room to pull my laptop out onto my bed. Everything in life was like a relationship. If you get ditched because you acted badly, you apologize and ask to be taken back. Now…the best way to apologize without sounding like I couldn’t live without them…

Not Running Away – by: Odette

I drove the van to where Jake and I sat a few months earlier, where we ate our fast food and talked for hours looking at the ocean. There had to be a way to enjoy things now, with all its perfection, if not for myself, then at least for the people I loved.

Perhaps I just needed some me-time. I realized with mild surprise that my face was wet with tears but I also noticed happily that I felt good at the same time, good to be away, good to be looking at the dark ocean that probably had Great Whites secretly gliding close to the shore. Good to remember there was a time not long ago that I lived on my own terms. I wanted to keep driving away from the house, but I knew that as a mother and a wife I was supposed to be good and go home and say I was sorry for storming out and that everything was going to be OK.

It was time to go back. I held tight on to the large steering wheel like a bus driver, and didn’t start the van.  Maybe I didn’t have to go back. I mean, Chris could leave for months, and so why couldn’t I even leave for an hour without someone being annoyed at my absence? Just the idea of just driving off down the road to wherever the heck I wanted to go made me laugh with happiness. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and with my heart beating wildly, I called Chris.

“Hey” he said. “We can work this whole thing out, we always do. Where are you?”
“I’m just looking at the ocean.”
“Did you go for a walk?”
“I took Bob’s van.”
He was quiet for a few seconds…”His old bus? Why?”
“For fun.”
“Yeah, that thing is pretty fun if you can get it to start.”
“Um, I was thinking…I’d like to have a little vacation.”
“Ok.”
“I think I want to go now.”
“Ok.”
“like, right now. Like I am going to drive around for a few days.”

I heard him sigh, “Oh, Odette. You are running away from me.”

“No, no, no, not at all. I just haven’t been on a little vacation since that time I visited you in New York. I just want to go away by myself for a couple of days. I can’t be away from Zoe for longer than that anyway, you know that.”

“I hope you are going to come and say goodbye to her at least, right?”

Chris’s voice was shaking a little. I wondered if he was angry. I felt awful that this fun idea was somehow hurting him when it had nothing even to do with him. “I just, I don’t think I need to” I said. I wondered why I couldn’t just drive back to the house, say a quick goodbye and then go. Maybe I would.

“What about the beach house?” he managed to squeak over the phone, “Do you still want to get it?”

“Yes, of course.”

“I thought we were going to do this together.”

“I’ll be back in time for the closing.”

He sighed again, then his tone suddenly changed and he spoke quickly, “You know, Odette, I am going to be busy with promotional crap all around town all week. It isn’t me you are dumping Zoe on, It’s Luna. Maybe you should talk to her.”

“I don’t want to.”

“She’s right here.”

“Oh. OK.”

I could hear Luna’s big breath as she took the phone from Chris, “Just go honey,” she said. “Go find yourself.”

“I’m not lost” I said, aggravated. “This isn’t some huge spiritual trip to India I’m taking, I just want to drive around Florida for a couple of days. Can you watch Zoe?”

“Yes, of course. You know I will.”

“Thanks Luna.”

Chris got back on the phone. “OK, have fun” he said. “Hope I see you again. When am I going to hear from you again?”

“I’ll call you in ten minutes if you want. Don’t be so dramatic. I just want to go for a drive.”

“You, Odette are being dramatic, by not even coming home to get some clothes.”

That was true. I guess that meant he was cool with me not coming home though. This was going to be exciting. But I really didn’t want to feel guilty about it. “Can I please just do something minuscule for myself without alarming everyone or being judged or criticized? Don’t you think a totally spontaneous trip sounds really fun? You should love me even more for this!”

“Are you going to go see Jake?” he said.

This shocked me for some reason. Was I? “No, of course not,” I said, my heart starting to pound again at even the thought of that. “I’m going to Clearwater or Tampa I think. Or I might go visit Kat in Gainesville…you know, since I don’t have much time to go very far, since I have to be back in 3 days for the closing.”

“OK, bye. Be careful, please don’t break down in the middle of nowhere. Jesus, Odette, why don’t you just take your new car that won’t die in the night while you are in the middle of the woods somewhere?”

“Not as fun. Bye Chris,” I said. He hung up quite loudly and I wondered if he slammed his phone on the counter. For some reason this made me smile, then I felt guilty for enjoying that lovely smidgen of pleasure I found in his frustration. But didn’t slamming his phone just mean he totally loved me? There could never be enough reassurance.

Now it was time to clear my head. The pink and gold had faded to black and now the stars were trying to shine through the lights of the beach town. I pulled backwards out of the ocean-view parking spot and began to drive past orange headlights of the other cars with their windows open to also enjoy this perfect evening. The van roared at the traffic light while with one hand I yanked and pulled back the weird make-shift sunroof Bob had made with apparently a chainsaw and duct tape. I hoped I would be able to put it back together properly later. Then I drove off slowly down A1A to somewhere…I wasn’t sure where, but I kind of felt like going out dancing. Gosh it had been so long.

Running Down the Road – by: Odette

It should have only taken 2 hours to get to Gainesville, but when I got out on to the open 2-lane road, I discovered the VW Bus didn’t like to go over 50mph.  I felt a little like the Pied Piper, playing my music while being the accidental leader of a sorrowful trail of cars, minus the few maniacs who sped past, risking numerous head on collisions. I simply ignored the trail and listened happily to the cassette tape of Chet Baker’s Jazz until it was eaten in a spectacular ending to “Let’s Get Lost”. But after fumbling around in a large tin can that Bob had somehow gerry-rigged to the dash, I found yet more tapes. And without looking at any labels, since it was too dark to see them anyway, I tried to first pull out the old, now broken one to make way for the next. After yanking it out there was still a bit of tape left tangled in one of the turning things. Damn it.

I thought that maybe if I pulled over at this Jiffy Mart, I could park right in front of the lit store and try to fix the tape player. There were a few trucks in the parking lot. It looked pretty tame, I felt safe. In the dim glow from the store I couldn’t see well enough to un-jam the tape player. I sat there feeling defeated. So I simply gave up and rummaged around in the ash tray to find a $20 bill, leaving me as giddy as if I had discovered gold. I pocketed the money and hopped out of the van, slamming the door behind me with such unintentional vigor, that a couple of people coming out of the store looked over in surprise.

As I walked up to the double glass doors with ads plastered all over them, I past a hunched woman, sitting on the curb. She said, “Oh, you dropped something!”

I walked back to see what she was talking about and she had her hand cupped. I reached out to take whatever it was that she was holding and as she opened her empty hand into mine she said, “Here’s your smile”.

I laughed with surprise.

“There now you see,” she said, “I gave it back to you!”

“Thank you,” I said.

She pushed some wild hair behind her ear that had a large scar on it, like an earring had been ripped all the way out at one time in her past. I was frozen, staring horrified with the thought of how that must have felt. How old was she when that happened? She said, “Can you spare some change? I’m not gonna lie, I’m a jonsing for a cigarette. I’ll tell you your fortune in return.”

“You don’t need to do that,” I managed to say, looking at her teeth that were mostly missing. She seemed young in a way, her dark hair, thick and silky like she was my age. But her skin was brown and weathered like a sack, her lips cracked and her voice raspy. “I just need a ciggy” she said and grinned at me in an alarming way, thick eyebrows raised with expectancy. She had me. I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice but to do as she asked all curled over on the curb.

“I’ll buy you a pack” I said. “What kind do you want?”

“Virginia Slims Menthol lights 100’s.”

What? I got out my phone to type that into the notes because I knew I would forget that as soon as I got up to the counter. Inside I tossed a couple of Snickers bars onto the counter and asked for her cigarettes. Then I got a good idea, “Give me two packs” I said. Then I thought that menthol sounded gross so I said, “No, give me one pack of Marlboros”. I remembered seeing ads for Marlboros in LIFE magazine as a kid, the cowboy sitting by the golden bonfire with a cigarette dangling from his lips. That would be me in a few minutes, minus the bonfire.

I handed the Virginia Slims and a Snickers bar to my friend on the curb and she said, “sit down and I’ll tell you your fortune.”

“I don’t believe in that stuff” I said, sitting down next to her anyway, knowing I was going to get my skirt dirty on the curb.

“Nobody believes in the truth,” she said, “especially when it is staring them right smack in the face.”  A little spit came out of her mouth when she said the word, “smack”. She leaned forward a little, prompting me to lean back so I wouldn’t ever have to know what her breath smelled like. She looked into me with her bright blue, piercing eyes and frightened me for a second. I looked away and opened up my own packet of cigarettes. She took out a lighter and was immediately puffing away, then she handed it to me and I tried to light mine. She looked at me in amazement as I puffed away, trying to make a few sparks, then handed her lighter back and blew the smoke out into the night so I could watch it swirl in the light of the street lamp.

“You didn’t even inhale, honey” she said.

“I didn’t really want to,” I said, watching the smoke wind magically into itself.

She smiled and shook her head. “You are like a little lamb” she said, “headed for a slaughter.”

“Is that my fortune?” I looked at her with alarm and she shook her head.

“No. I see you in blue. Blue will save you my child. Just remember, blue.”

I looked at my van. That was blue. “Save me from what?”

“I can’t tell you everything” she said, “or then I would be steeling your free will, and God won’t let me do that. But I can tell you, that you are like the moon, but the moon mustn’t stay out in the day time.”

That was enough for me. I stood up, “It was nice to meet you, thanks for the fortune” I said while brushing off my skirt.

“Remember, blue!” She said.

“Blue.” I got in my blue van which was difficult to do while holding a lit cigarette and then as I reached over to pull on my seatbelt I dropped it on my lap and screamed as it burnt a hole in my skirt. “Shit!!” I picked it up and stamped it out in the open ash tray. Blue, I thought to myself as I backed out then pulled forward on to the now barren road to Gainesville. The van was loud as ever and trees now engulfed the little road on either side. The moon shone above so brightly it drowned out all the stars.  I pulled at the coiled tape again and to my delight it finally came free, so easily I was baffled that it had ever been a problem. I popped in a random tape. When the song, “Blue” by the Jayhawks began to play I gasped with amazement at the coincidence. So I just sang with the joy of a kid on a swing with her eyes closed, or like when I dance at a club when the music fills me up and the flashing lights are blinding…or when I am on a raft in a swimming pool and I am so relaxed that I think that if I give in completely to accepting the expansive joy of the gentle motion, the water lapping my feet and my skin soaking up the warm sunlight on my bare belly, that I will surely drown.

Then as I listened to each word I belted from my throat I realized what I was saying and I suddenly wondered if this was not a huge coincidence. Perhaps this was somehow Chris sending me a message, and that perhaps I should turn around and go home. I suddenly missed Chris really, really badly and felt awful for ditching him. I started to slow down, wondering if maybe I should just make a u-turn. I could turn around right here if I wanted to. I slowed right down to just 5mph, then changed my mind. I was going dancing damn-it. But right as I pushed down on the gas pedal, a young deer sprang out in front of the van like an angel. Her eyes sparkled in the headlights and as I skidded to a halt she leapt high out of harms way into the trees. The van utterly conked out in the road. It was suddenly deafeningly silent. I tried to start it back up again and the engine turned over and over like a coughing old man. I sat there again in the quiet, with the moon flashing from above, with the trees and all her deer friends staring at me with their glassy eyes from the blackness of the woods of endless, unanswered questions.

Chris told me this would happen. “Please start” I whispered. I imagined a car zooming up behind me at the speed limit which was 65. “Please start for me, blue…will that help if I say blue? Please, please.” I turned the key, but nothing.

I really didn’t want to get out of the car, but I wanted to sit there in the middle of the road waiting to be nailed by an oncoming car, even less. So I put the van in neutral and hopped out into the dark night. I left my door open and pushed as hard as I could. I heaved with my whole body and being, and cried out like a tennis player in the Wimbledon finals. The van finally began to roll slowly. I was terrified of everything around me, of criminals coming out of the woods to murder me, and my adrenaline made me stronger than I had ever been. My sweat was wet on my forehead and the van began to roll faster and faster. Soon I was running, almost gliding and leaping down the black road pushing the van along with me. And just when it seemed like it was going to race off away into the future without me, I hopped into the drivers seat, stomped on the clutch, shoved it into 2nd gear and popped the clutch. It started with such a roar that I screamed. I pressed my foot down on the gas, hung on to the steering wheel and leaned out of the van to grab and pull my door shut. Success. I couldn’t believe I was moving along down the road again like nothing ever happened. So I got the van going up to almost 55. It rattled like cattle stomping across a metal bridge, but I didn’t care. As long as it would hold together till Gainesville it could clang about as much as it wanted to. My heart was still racing and I was still heaving for breath after that insane sprint. But I let myself take in a large breath and relax a tiny little bit and I thought to myself that I really still did want to go dancing.

Arriving

When I got there it was late and Kat wasn’t answering her texts or her phone. So I drove to her house and parked illegally on her street then made my way through her screened-in front porch to knock on her front door. There was a note attached to it so I immediately, thinking it must be for me, pulled it from the door and opened the folds to read it. It said, “I can’t do this anymore hon. We are over, for good. Stop calling me, it’s pitiful.”

I carefully folded the note back into what I thought it had originally been and smoothed it as best as I could. What was I going to do with this? I tried to tape it back on to the door with the bit of tape it had stuck on it, but it immediately came loose and fell to the concrete by my feet. I looked at it, thought about it, then gently kicked it under the wicker couch that was right there by the door. If she saw this note, she would never go out and have fun dancing with me, she would just mope all weekend long. I sat down on the couch and wondered what to do. I could try and break into her house or I could just go and stay at a hotel. But how boring to stay at a hotel. I looked at the window that was next to the front door. I bet it wasn’t locked. Kat was always leaving her keys in her ignition and her doors unlocked. I put my fingers in the edges of the screen but they wouldn’t fit. So I took out my keys and the van key fit nicely in the edge of the screen and I was able to pop it out then put it carefully on the couch. I tugged at the window that came open easily and I laughed, Kat was so predictable. I climbed in, shut and locked the window then looked around me in disgust. The place was a dump. Well, the least I could do was clean it up for her since I had just broken in to her house.

Blue Dress

As I folded the last of her laundry in a neat pile in a hamper next to the couch, I held up a powder blue dress with a zipper up the front. I dangled it in front my chest at looked down at it. Gosh, Kat’s style had improved, and she must have lost a little weight in the past couple of years to be able to fit into this achingly cute dress. I thought about when she came to visit me in Athens and how she made herself so at home that Chris made several embarrassingly sarcastic comments about her being “like family”. So I figured she wouldn’t mind if I just tried it on, especially since I didn’t even pack any clothes. I stepped into it, zipped up the front so that it hugged my body nicely, but in a tasteful way, and looked at myself in the mirror in the hallway. It was perfect, wow, and hung like a tulip just above the knees. I pulled my hair into a high ponytail then let if fall back down around my shoulders and tucked it behind my ears. Down looked best. Now I really wanted to go dancing but it was almost midnight and in Gainesville the bars all shut down at 2am. What a disaster if I stayed in all evening just cleaning. I looked around her spotless house. I had even made her bed, scrubbed the bathroom, tidied up and dusted the office area and mopped the floors. I vacuumed the couch too even, since that was probably where I would be sleeping. She was going to faint when she saw this place.

Then I thought I heard her pull up in the driveway, thank goodness. I hoped she didn’t mind that I was wearing her clothes. I was about to open the front door to greet her when my phone buzzed and I looked down at my text. It was from Kat and said, “Can’t wait to see you. I don’t live at that house anymore though. Just meet me at our fav coffee shop tomorrow morning.”

Oh my God what had I done? Who the hell lived here? At least it was a girl. I heard the keys in the lock and wondered as I hyperventilated, if I should bolt for the back door or just stand there in this person’s dress, smile sweetly, and wait.

by Odette: What could be better?

The door flew open and I met eyes with the girl who lived here. She gasped and backed up.

“No, no, wait, wait!” I shouted at her.

She stumbled backwards some more and started to open her porch screen door as I hurried out with explanations tumbling out of my mouth as fast as I could form the words, “I thought this was my friend’s house. She used to live here but she just texted me a second ago and said this wasn’t her house but it was too late you were already coming in the door! I’m so sorry this was just a silly accident I promise!”

She stopped at the screen door looking terrified still. I was scared too, gasping for breath between my words, constatnly checking her hands… that they weren’t reaching for a weapon in her purse. She gazed at my face. She had black hair with thick bangs almost in her huge blue eyes.  Her skin was very pale and I wasn’t sure if that was usual or because she had just found a stranger in her house at midnight. Then I noticed that after staring at me for a second, she started to relax.

“Who the FUCK are you? And WHAT are you doing in my DRESS?” She suddenly brushed past me into her house. “You better not have stolen anything, bitch.”

I followed her back into her house to assure her that I didn’t and she was frozen there, gazing around. I realized she must be noticing that it was clean.

“What the fuck?” She whispered.

“I, I thought I was doing a favor for my friend” I stammered.

She peered around at me. “Wait a second. I read about this. I know what you are.”

“What am I?” My eyes widened as I soaked in her new, accusing demeanor.

“You’re one of those people who breaks into people’s houses and cleans them, then leaves a bill!  Aren’t you?”

“What? I’m not a, a cleaner! I’m just me and I don’t need any money, and I’m not stealing and I am really, really sorry about this bizarre and horrible mix up. I should go now.”

“My dress,” she said.

I looked down at the perfect little blue dress and thought about running. I peered out of the open door at the street. Bob’s van was parked under the street lamp. I looked back at her, and as if she could read my mind she stepped in front of the door to guard it.

“I, like, need to get my clothes” I said. “I guess they are still in your bedroom.”

“That is so creepy and werid that you have been hanging out in my house for hours” the girl said. Then to my relief she cracked a smile. “That is so, fucking WEIRD. Why did you think this was your friends house? Did you clean my whole entire house?”

“Yes, for hours. And I did all your laundry.” I looked up at her and she shook her head and laughed with utter amazement. I sat down on the couch. “My friend, Kat, used to live here the last time I visited her. She never mentioned anything about moving and I never heard back from her tonight so I thought I would just come here  and wait for her.”

“And so you broke in? Is that like, normal for you?”

“That window right there wasn’t locked or anything.”

She looked over at it. “Yeah, I need to keep it locked I guess, incase crazy girls who like my clothes break in and clean my house like a fucking elf. What are you going to do next, sew me some shoes and leave them on the kitchen table for me to discover in the morning?”

I laughed at this, completely delighted that she knew the fairytale. “The Shoemaker and the Elves!” I said. “I’m totally like that aren’t I?” She grinned back at me. Then I realized that I had no place to go and I was not going to be going dancing tonight. I let out a huge miserable sigh.

“What’s wrong?” she said, looking confused.

“I just, I had a stressful trip and I wanted to go out dancing but now I have nowhere to go, nothing to wear and nothing to do.”

She smiled and bit her lip. “You know what, girl, I think you were sent her to me for a reason,” she said.

I looked up at her, feeling a little worried at that statement. “What do you mean?”

“On my way home here tonight I wished on a star for the first time since I was a little girl. I thought that my boyfriend was going to break up with me tonight so I wished, I wished that nothing bad would happen tonight and that instead, something really, really good would completely change my life. And now my house is clean and you want to go out dancing. What on Earth could be better than that?”

I smiled with delight, “seriously!” I said. “What could be?”

By, Odette: Dancing

She drove a tiny little black Jetta down Second Ave, taking the traffic circles like they were a spinning ride at Disney World, and I looked down happily at her blue dress that she let me wear. I smoothed the fabric on my legs. “Where are we going?”

“Well, there is a new club that my friend is DJ’ing at and she throws down some Old Wave and Goth sometimes. You ever heard of the song, Harley David, Son of a Bitch?”

“Um, no”

“You’ll love it.”

I thought that was an interesting declaration since she had known me for about 15 minutes. At her house, and after a short grilling session about who I was and who I “belonged to”, and who belonged to me…she was comfortable enough with my answers to disappear into her bedroom and pull on fishnet stockings and a black dress that I wasn’t sure if I should be seen out with her…in. But she looked amazing and I was almost giddy hurrying out with her to her car which was parked on the street. The cool spring air blew through our hair as we slammed the car doors and opened the windows and sunroof.

She pulled up in front of the club and got out to hand her keys to the valet. We could hear the music thudding and lights flashing around in the dark windows. She hurried me to the door and we walked right in as she kissed the door-guys on the cheek in the french “hello” style. I smiled and nodded at them. She was completely at home here and I stumbled after her wide-eyed as Alice in Wonderland.

I hurried behind her through the packed-out club with thudding R&B music, our black boots clicking loudly up a thin, wet staircase and we pushed open a heavy door to come upon a smaller room with a sparsely populated dance floor and a DJ playing what I supposed was “goth” music. It wasn’t exactly what I had imagined for my dance night and I thought about going back downstairs to the more familiar R&B. Up here I wasn’t sure I wanted to be so, er, visible on the dance floor with only about 15 other people on there. But my friend just walked right up and started to dance like an angel, a black angel and as I looked around I noticed the the other dancers were also in black and it looked like the music had lifted them up and they were directing the changes and beats with their own bodies. It could have been comical if it wasn’t so impressive. I watched in awe for a while, then wandered over to the bar and ordered a gin and tonic and sat down to watch from afar. It took about two minutes for a guy to come and sit near me. I looked at him to see if I needed to stealthily get up and move somewhere else. But he looked harmless so I sipped my drink and waited with amusement to see if he would get up the nerve to talk to me. He flickered his eyes over at me and I looked down in my drink. Then I looked up at him again and he was still looking and looked away. I could escape before he tried talking to me, and perhaps just try and navigate the dance floor. I could probably try to dance like the others, it looked pretty fun although I wondered if I was too colorful to be allowed to try to fit in there. I sucked down the last of my drink and looked up at the guy. He had moved now to only one barstool away from me. He looked over at me and smiled. I looked away without smiling back, then felt bad and looked back at him and caught his eye then smiled back. Suddenly there was a girl next to me with vampire teeth and her eyes were lined with thick black makeup. “If you look at him one more time I’m going to rip your blonde hair OUT of your head.”

I got up immediately, as if I hadn’t even heard a word she said and walked off to the dance floor. I closed my eyes out there and tried to dance to the music like I had seen the others do. It was quite easy to just go with the flow. Although the lyrics were angry, the beat was so heavy and methodical it was like it pulsated though my body. I barely had to try to dance I just had to move and the music just took me through the motions. My heart was beating hard from being hissed at by the wanna-be vampire girl, but dancing smoothed out my emotions and I realized with a kind of relief, why it had been so important for me to get out of the beach house and just melt for a while into the night and the music. I was remembering who I was, which sometimes was a just a little more than a wife and a mom. One day I was going to be too old to do this. I opened my eyes to see my friend dancing next to me. She grinned at me and I smiled back happily. Perhaps I wasn’t too blue to fit in here.

Post on how to go to a gothic club

by, Odette: Perhaps There Is A God

I was getting a little tired of the angry lyrics and growling over heavy thudding beats and walked breathlessly from the dance floor to slide onto a silver bar stool, making sure I wasn’t anywhere near the awful vampire girl. My friend came and sat on the stool next to me. “Are you having fun?” she yelled in my ear.

“Do you want to go downstairs and dance some hip-hop?” I asked. I glanced over at vampire-girl who was standing close to her dorky guy at the bar and shooting me evil looks. I smiled a little in spite of myself, careful not to laugh and make her more angry.

“Its too busy down there with the big game and all.”

“What big game?”

“The Bulldogs are playing the Gators tomorrow.”

“Really? Yeah, traffic was a little heavy coming in to Gainesville. “

“That’s why. And now all the Georgia rednecks are in town tonight…sure to be fights breaking out all over town.”

I nodded and thought about telling her I was originally from Athens and was technically a Georgia Bulldog myself. But instead I just handed my cash to the bartender and sipped at my third gin and tonic. I was feeling very tipsy and aching to dance downstairs to music I knew. “Come on, just for a few minutes” I said, also really wanting to get away from the negative energy that was radiating from only a few barstools away.

She shrugged and sucked down the rest of her drink. So I did too and we both stood up and wobbled a bit in our high-heels. We both laughed at our pitiful drunken state.

“Can you walk?” I asked. “How are you going to drive home?”

“I might called my boyfriend to come and pick us up.”

I felt a pang of guilt as I remembered kicking his breakup note under her wicker porch furniture.

“Oh, OK” I said, not sure of what else to say.

We clomped down the thin, dark winding staircase. I hung on tightly to the railing and we stepped out into Rihanna filling the room, apparently finding love in a hopeless place. We started to push through the crowd to find a dance spot in the middle and I looked over at the little lounge area off to the side of the dance floor. I don’t know what it was that made me look, perhaps some kind of force in the atmosphere…maybe the full moon. But I saw first, a breathtakingly beautiful guy there all sprawled out on one of the blue velvet couches. When he saw me looking at him his face changed a little. And even with my glasses off, when his grin spread across his face I knew it was Jake, my Jake, and my heart started to thud harder than the bass coming from the speakers. I could barely breath with excitement.

“Do you know him?” my friend asked in my ear, holding and peering over her straw in extreme interest.

I nodded, stunned. “He must be in town from Athens to watch the game, ” I whispered to the air.

“He’s really hot. If I didn’t have a boyfriend and if you weren’t married, we could both have some fun with him tonight.”

Was she kidding? I looked at her. She wasn’t. Did people like her really exist in this world? This was all too much. My heart felt like it was going to explode.

Jake stood up and started to walk towards me and I laughed with pure delight when he just wrapped his arm around my waist and started dancing with me. I could smell the alcohol on his breath and I was a bit dizzy from all my drinks so I rested my head on his shoulder. He was all cigarette smoke and Drakar Noir. He said into my ear, “What the hell are you doing here? Did I just dream you onto the dance floor?” He smoothed his hand over my hair on the back of my head and I bit my lip and looked up and smiled at him. His eyes glistened and in any other universe we would have kissed. Instead I put my head back on his shoulder and my hand on his arm. I ran my fingers over his muscles and took in a breath as he tugged me in closer. I probably needed to leave right now. I looked at my drunk friend who was dancing with a very grabby-guy so I left Jake’s grasp and hurried over there to her. I pushed frat-boy away from her and said, “leave her alone, idiot.” We turned and walked quickly out of the club before he could react, with Jake following. My friend was laughing “Oh my God!! Damn girl, you are lucky he didn’t push you back! Jesus!”

We stood out on the sidewalk in front of the club with the night air that perfect, Florida Spring temperature with a lovely breeze. The clubs were going to be closing soon so the sidewalks and streets were filling up with college kids.

Jake grabbed my hand and my friend looked down at our intertwined fingers. “I thought you were married,” she said, brushing past me. She went up to the wooden valet podium, long black little purse swinging from her elbow, and told the kid standing there to go get her car, “pronto”.

I was horrified. “You’re not driving home are you?” I said, marching up to her with Jake striding up behind me.

“No, I’m driving to Daniel’s house. I can’t get the fucker to call or text me back. It’s like he’s dead or something. ASSHOLE. I’m so tired of his shit.”

“You can’t drive like this. You are too drunk!” I wanted to say that he didn’t want her there, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell he about the note now. It wasn’t the right time and she needed to discover it on her own.

She shrugged, looking a little irritated. “I’m fine and…”

“Wait, Jake can drive us!” I put my hand on her arm and nodded enthusiastically at her, practically fluttering my eyelashes at her. I really needed to turn this around.

She looked at us both and smiled. She nodded, tucking her black hair behind her ear thoughtfully, and said, “Ohhh-kay! Let’s just go back to my house.”

Jake smiled to himself. “Fine. Come on girls” He took out his phone to text something, then put it away and held out his elbows for us to hold on to. Then we half-stumbled off to the parking garage where Jake had his truck.

The full moon glistened enormously in the night sky, and the red and gold lights shone in front the Hippodrome Theater while club music still filled the air. “Perhaps there is a God,” He said, as we hung ridiculously on his arms, and he grinned that evil, Jake grin that I knew all too well.

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