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.

by Jake: Dancing With Odette

And to think, I almost didn’t get in my truck to go see the big game between the Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs because I had just rented a video game from the Box on my way out of the grocery store from getting the kind of peanut butter that they pull the real peanut oil out of and mix in the soy oil-crap and corn syrup so it tastes good. (It was for my dog, not me, because that is the only kind he will take his flea pills with). But my roommate had these prime football tickets and was very proud of his generosity to offer me a free one. So since Rissa was waiting tables at the chain restaurant from hell all weekend and she wouldn’t be bringing me home any steaks since she was closing or some shit, I figured I may as well go and drive 6 hours down to G-ville with the guys instead of putting holes in the enemy on the couch by myself until I beat the whole game. And to think that I almost just stayed at our friend’s Gainesville apartment to smoke weed, and almost didn’t go to that stupid club and only went because I was starving and we were supposed to go to get a sandwich at Flacos afterwards because that little late-night hole-in-the-wall has the best Cubans with cream cheese and in-house strawberry jelly in the south.

It was one of those dance club nights where I seriously wondered again if I needed glasses it was so dark with laser lights searing from behind shit in this unnerving way. Drunk girls kept coming up and talking to me, eyelashes and straw-sipping and I really didn’t want to deal with it. I thought uneasily of Rissa working her cute butt off in that unoriginal, dimly-lit and secretly-dirty restaurant. And these sorority girls here tonight, they all had that look…clingy dress, so short you hope they are wearing shorts underneath…or nothing; heels awkwardly high and obviously, fucking-ridiculously uncomfortable so that you wonder if they are gifted athletes to move in those things or just fools to bother. Sometimes I like that look. Not tonight. The chatter around me was long-straight-blonde-haired giggles and “oh my gawds!” and dudes stressfully amped about the game the next morning at 10:00 am, more drinking tomorrow, kegs and beer pong to set up after the club so they didn’t have to get up early. Sure I like football, especially when I played quarterback before I busted my knee. But win or loose, each game doesn’t either make me want to do monkey back flips or else freak out and look for a fight like my roommate likes to which has been come boringly frequent since Georgia’s not doing so well this season.

But when I was sitting there on the dark velvet couch, trying to take up all the space so no one could try and sit down and spill their drink on me, it was like through my utter irritation at life and the smoke from the damn black box on the DJ booth, everything changed when I saw her. She lit up the entire room gold and I swear the smoke even cleared for a moment. What the hell was she doing here in Gainesville, right there in front of my velvet couch? She didn’t give a shit about sports. She probably didn’t even know who was playing this weekend. When she looked over at me from the dance floor the bass shook my whole body and I wasn’t even sure if it was the bass. Then her sudden, sweet, bright, smile when she realized it was me sent this funny feeling all up my arms and into my chest.  I don’t remember even getting up and moving over to her. I just remember how it felt when my bare arm touched the skin on her back and I wanted to just take her out to my truck right then and there and zip her out of that sweet little blue dress. But we both knew that this was it. This was as far as it was going to go right here on the dance floor like everyone else. She seemed perfect to me, the epitome of what every girl here should aspire to dress like, arrange their hair and makeup, how they should smell and dance and breathe and blink, jingle their bracelet on their wrist. This was it. This was what I wanted now more than anything else in the world and I couldn’t breathe her in enough. When I touched her hair I could barely keep my shit together and yet I had to. How much had I had to drink? Nothing yet? Jesus. I just pressed my hand on her back and she laughed and danced so close to me and could feel her body brush against me. I had to close my eyes so I wouldn’t kiss her. I glanced over at who we were dancing next to.  Her hot friend looked like an Egyptian queen or something.  Then when Odette moved her fingers down my arm I got that God-awful gnawing in my chest. This pain for her was nothing I had known before and I found myself silently gasping, almost panicking to have the opportunity to satiate it. But this was it and all I could do was fight with myself about doing the right thing for Rissa, and not completely loosing myself in this girl that I was never going to stop loving, ever.

Shattered Windshield

We pulled up to the house and my friend jumped out of the truck declaring she was going to puke and ran into her house and slammed her door. Jake and I looked at each other and laughed. “She had a few  more than I did” I said.

“It doesn’t take much for you though” he smiled, looking down. Then he looked back up at my face. “So why do you think we keep running into each other? Do you think it means something?”

I thought about this and shook my head, dismissing his remark. “I think it means that you came to town for the game and I came here to dance.”

He nodded. “What if it is more? What if someone is trying to tell us something?” He looked unusually ernest and worried.

“Like what? And who? God, an angel? And what are they trying to tell us…that we are meant to be together? I seriously doubt it.”

“Maybe its a test” he said.

“That we keep failing” I smirked.

“We haven’t failed anything yet he said and looked over with that look that I knew very well and my heart started to beat fast.”And we are not going to,” He said.

“Do you want to fail?”

He shook his head. “No, I’m good. Rissa is my whole world now.” He leaned back and put his hands behind his head. I was thinking about asking her to marry me.

I immediately felt sick. “Marry you?” I sputtered. I couldn’t contain my disgust.

“I want to, and I’m going to,” he said. “But I worry sometimes about, how can you marry someone when you are still in love with someone else? I don’t want to be an asshole to her in any way at all.”

I thought it was very strange how he threw the love word around.  If he thought that what we had was love, then he had no idea what love was.  “Listen,” I said. “If you love someone, that never goes away, even if that person isn’t right for you. Love means that the person has changed who you are for the rest of your life. They have become a part of your soul. So even when they are gone, weather it be a breakup or a death, they will always be a part of you. So you can’t NOT marry someone because you love someone else,  because, well, then you’ll never get married.” I pulled my hand away and rubbed it slowly. He took it back into his and cupped it with his other hand.

“You have definitely changed me,” he said. “But, I don’t know about Rissa. She makes me feel really good and I laugh all the time with her. But I don’t’ talk to her like I do with you. With you, our conversations feel more important, more intense and real. I can say anything and you won’t just laugh. You think about what I said and figure out a meaningful answer, rather than a witty joke. You ‘get’ me. Isn’t that just what anyone wants, to be understood? I mean, I don’t want you back, of course, but I miss…just fuckin talking to you.”

It was strange to see him like this, so vulnerable and trusting. Was this girl changing him?His softness for her was starting to wear on me. “I’m sorry but the truth is that marriage is not all its cracked up to be. In the end It just restricts you from doing what you want to do…makes you feel guilty for being human. Like, imagine if I wasn’t married right now, we could totally make out and not have to worry about the repercussions.” I laughed.

“It wasn’t long ago that you were married and we totally made out all the time anyway, remember.”

“I remember” I said, looking at him, remembering. I bit my lip and smiled, and he shook his head and looked down. I could tell this was killing him and I wanted to push him even further. Would he cheat on Rissa? I said, quietly, “No one would know”

“Know what?”

“Know if we made out right now.” I flickered my eyes up to his and was a little surprised at the anguish I saw.

He shook his head. He was silent and his face started to turn a bit red. “Jesus, Odette. How many times are yo going to fuck over Chris?”

“What are you talking about? Why do you suddenly care about what Chris thinks?”

“Ok,” he ran his hands through his hair, exasperated. “You are right. I don’t give a fuck about Chris. But I do care about about Rissa more than I care about you and your fucking tempting bullshit.”

“Then what was all this stuff about how you can talk to me about more important things than with her? That I ‘get’ you and she doesn’t?”

He shrugged. I stared hard at him. He was trying to control himself. I was in awe at his conflicting emotions. It was like a science experiment watching him. He folded his arms and was breathing heavily. “No one would know” I whispered. “We are completely alone.” I wasn’t even sure if I wanted him to kiss me at this point, or if I just was dying to see if he would.

I would know” he said.

I stared at him and he said louder. “I would know, Odette. I would!” He pointed his finger at his ribcage with anger.

I felt a deep ache in my chest. He had always been so easy before and now he was the one fending me off. I could feel my breathing getting heavier, the back of my head was stinging a little and was almost surprised to hear myself hiss at him, “I’m starting to hate you.”

That seemed to relax him for some weird Jake-reason. Maybe he knew that you don’t hate someone unless you care about them a little too much. He unfolded his arms and laughed and shook his head. “Well I still love you, Odette, but I’m not going to fuck up my life again because of you. I finally have something good going.” Then he said, “Fuck it” and leaned over and kissed me.

His lips were soft, even sweet like his last whisky and Coke. I could feel his smooth shaved chin and smell the smoky club in his hair. I wanted to run my fingers through it but all I could see was Chris and Zoe playing on the beach. Through my gin and tonic haze, I knew that this was the wrong direction, this was not what I wanted or what he wanted, and I wasn’t going to risk losing everything again by making stupid decisions after a few drinks.

I pushed him away. “You were right” I said.

“About what?” he gasped quietly, still hovering near me caught up in our moment.

“About knowing.  The reality of it all is that every time I think that Chris isn’t going to find out, he does. He can feel my guilt from 10 feet away, as soon as I walk in the door. There is no keeping anything from him. We are too close.”

Jake shook his head, as if to shake my words away. “You’ll be fine this time” he said quickly and pulled me in closer, his lips were practically touching mine, I could feel their warmth. But I was pulling away against his hands wrapped tightly around my arms. He murmured, “Its too late. There’s no going back or fixing this. You may as well kiss me again, right? Don’t waste this, Odette.”

He put his lips on mine again. They didn’t seem sweet or soft this time and I pushed him away hard and held him at bay with my hand forceful against his chest. “You’re wrong. It’s not too late for me. You kissed me and I didn’t even kiss you back.”

He let go of me abruptly and watched me move away. His expression changed to utter disbelief. “What? You didn’t what?” He was slowly realizing my plan was to try to absolve myself from any wrong doing here. “Are you serious Odette? Are you seriously going to pretend like this is all me? Are you seriously going to fucking do this to me?”

I didn’t know what else to do but nod, my heart was beating, his anger was exhilarating to soak in. Anyway, it was true. I could even tell Chris about this…Jake kissed me, but I pushed him away and told him I wasn’t going to ruin things again.

Jake was getting redder in the face, a vein was popping out of his neck a little. His anger was more than I had seen before in him and it made me nervous so I laughed a little. Then he punched his windshield so hard it shattered from end to end.

I screamed and he looked at me incredulously.

“Get out of my truck” he said.

I grabbed the handle for a quick exit but turned and looked at him, seething with anger that he scared me with breaking his windshield. “I can’t believe you tried to cheat on Rissa with me” I hissed at him.

“Get the fuck out.”

“You cheated on Clarissa with me!” I shouted at him. “You can’t marry her now that you’ve done that to her. If I didn’t stop you, I wonder how far you would have taken things? How far would you have gone Jake?”

I thought he was going to yell back, or do something drastic but instead he sat there and calmly said, “I forgot about this side to you, Odette. It isn’t pretty.”

“Everybody has a side to them that isn’t pretty, even you.”

“Yeah well I don’t fucking pretend do I? Now do I have to throw you out of my truck? Because I will.”

I knew he wouldn’t. But I was starting to panic. This was really bad. With his unexpected calmness, I was instantly regretting all the dumb things I had just said and turned and held onto his arm. “I’m sorry. I’ve had too much to drink. I get very emotional around you and make bad decisions. I was trying to hurt you because you love someone besides me. I’m sorry, I’m horrible sometimes.”

“No shit.”

We sat there silent for a minute, looking at his shattered windshield as I held on to his arm. “Rissa doesn’t to this shit to me,” he said.

“Then she’s perfect for you.”

He nodded “I know.” Then he looked over at me and said, “And when you do this to me I can’t help but think of Chris and feel sorry for him that he has to deal with this for the rest of his life.”

“I don’t do this shit to Chris” I said.

“Ohhh…..yes you do.” He laughed cynically.  I was quiet. I guessed I did put Chris through some stress sometimes.

“Are you staying at this zombie girls house tonight? How do you even know her?”

“I’ll tell you that story another day” I said, finally opening his truck door and sliding out. “Can you see through this window?”

He nodded, and shrugged. I looked down at his fist that was bleeding a little. Oh well, he did that to himself, idiot. I slammed the door and walked towards the front door of the little house. The door was unlocked and the couch still had neat piles of her laundry stacked up on one of the cushions. There was a blanket and a pillow there now too.  I didn’t look back at Jake. I just walked in and shut the door quietly behind me and hoped I hadn’t ruined too much of my life in 10 minutes.

Goodnight My Love

I took off the smokey blue dress in the dark and slowly put on my clothes from the day before, then curled up on the couch and pulled the blanket up to my neck. I held the bright light of my phone in front of my face, then called Chris’s number, put it to my ear and waited breathlessly for him to answer.

“Are you OK?” he said into the phone.

“Yes”

“Then why are you calling me at 2:30am?”

“I just wanted to hear your voice,” I whispered.

He was quiet for a minute. Then he said, “why?”

“Because I love you and I wanted to make sure you knew that.”

“I love you too, Odette. Are you enjoying your….break?”

“It’s not as fun as I had hoped. I wish you and Zoe were here with me.”

“I thought the point was to get away.”

I looked around the stranger’s dark living room. “You don’t miss your water” I whispered,

“Till your well runs dry,” he finished for me.

“I’m going to see Kat tomorrow morning.”

“Where are you tonight? When I tracked your phone it looked like you were at her house.”

“Its a long story, you are going to laugh at me when I tell you.”

“You’re not at a guy’s house?”

“Of course not” I whispered harshly, annoyed. “Why would you say something like that?”

“I really hope not.” He said.

I was quiet. He still didn’t trust me. I supposed I needed to earn that back…well, at some point anyway.

“Goodnight my love” I said. “Don’t be mad at me. I’ll be home soon, in a couple of days for the closing.”

“Goodnight, Odette. Just come back to me safe.” He hung up.

When I hung my arm back so that my phone dropped gently onto my purse on the floor, the tears ran down the side of my face into my ears and my hair, soaking this girls pillow. Chris was my everything. But Jake was right about how we ‘got’ each other, when I wasn’t torturing him I suppose. But isn’t that what everyone wants…to be understood in that deep, magical way? I thought about his bloody fist and wished I had at least brought him out a bandaid. Would he ever think favorably of me again? Probably not. I looked at my phone again. He was only about ten minutes away from me by now. A quick phone call could bring him right back. “Have some self control” I whispered at myself. I closed my eyes, furious with myself for being so weak and drifted off to sleep with images of Jake and me under white sheets, laughing because we were in my room at the beach with the breeze coming through the windows…the only two people in the universe, no commitments, no cleaning the house, no grief…just us and a little bit of perfection, like a pearl tossing around at the bottom of the ocean.

By, Kat: Coffee Shop

“Hey Ian, what’s up?” I plopped my ass down on the counter stool and fiddled with the straws as I waited for my bud to begin to fill my coffee cup.

Ian came over to the counter smiling, “Hey gorgeous, ready for some decaf?” we both laughed at that thought and I reminded him that I’ve only had three cups this morning, but who’s counting?

“Hey, so listen. My friend is coming to town. You are going to love her. Odette. Did I tell you about her before? She’s really cute and sweet and everybody loves her. Does my ass look big to you? I want a chocolate shake but I shouldn’t. I am going to totally go anorexic after Odette leaves.”

Ian laughed, “Listen girl, you have got to slow down. No, your ass isn’t any bigger than when you asked me yesterday, and it still looks pretty damn good in those shorty shorts. So have your damn chocolate breakfast-shake and relax. And by the way, this better not be some kind of weird fix-up. I don’t need to meet any more of your psycho friends.”

“Shut up. No, Odette is married and has a kid. She’s totally off the market. I want to get her drunk tonight. Where should we go? Oh God this is a good shake. Did you put Slim Fast in it for me again this time? She’s like a really good dancer. Or, she was. Do people with kids still go dancing? Oh my God, did I tell you that Paul called me again? This sugar-caffine overload is blowing my mind.”

Ian signed as he took my shake away from me and placed a glass of water down in its’ place. “Kat, lets just do water for now. Did you work an all-nighter again? I can’t believe the way you nurses destroy your own bodies….. So, do you want to come to a party with Shelby and me? It’s out in the woods, should be fun. Would your friend like that? What is she like?”

I started to think about the last time I saw Odette and wondered if she has changed much. Would she even like to go out? Maybe she just wanted to sit up all night and talk? Should I be taking time off work while she was here?

Just then I heard a loud bang causing me to nearly fall off my stool. “Fuck, Ian what was that?” We both saw it at once and after I got over the shock of seeing a VW bus in working order come barreling towards the coffee shop, I realized who the blonde was behind the wheel.

Ian began to clear the customers away from the window seats for fear that she would crash right through the window and I started to laugh hysterically as I realized that Odette was still as weird and fabulous as ever.

“Ian, this is going to be a fucking brilliant weekend”

By, Odette: Meeting Kat

It was one of those morning where the birds were singing so loudly that you wake up and realize that other creatures live in this world besides yourself.

I snapped out of my trance to the buzzing of my phone and I grabbed it from the floor and silenced it quickly. I really wanted to just sneak out of that house and disappear. My host(ess) would think I was just a dream except for the solid proof of her clean house. I immediately thought about Jake, remembering last night with a wave of dismay. Well, I mused,  there was nothing that could be done about that now so there was no point in wasting a good day by worrying about it.

I clicked the door shut as quietly as I could behind me and hurried to the van. I stood and looked at it. This cute, old blue thing was so loud, there was no way that starting it wouldn’t wake up Zombie Girl. She was so lovely, why did Jake call her that? I hopped in and slammed the clunky old door. I started up the engine and it immediately misfired with a terrible bang. “Stupid car” I muttered as I heaved it into first gear, revved it up and puttered out of there, careful not to look over at the house incase she was peering out of a window or a door. I probably woke the whole street up. I looked only at the road in front of me and smiled that I had managed to escape from that whole business with little damage.

I was suddenly completely famished and when I realized I was going to see Kat in just a few minutes and probably get some breakfast too, I suddenly felt completely rejuvenated. The excitement that I had taken this trip in hope of finding, was finally filling me up. I grinned and popped in the next secret cassette, hoping this one wouldn’t be eaten too. Bob was going to kill me when I brought his VW back with all his beloved music in a pile of old black tape. “Happy Together” came on and I sang it as loudly as I could until I got the coffee shop. There was a spot right in front of the window so I pulled up right there, not quite finding the break right away but then stomping on it just in time as I hit the wheel-stop, which lifted and scraped up the bottom of the van. “Shit” I whispered. I backed up and it ground with an agonizing creek and squeak then the van thudded back down to the ground. “Shit” I whispered again.

I hopped out and slammed the door then lay on the ground to check if I had ruined the underside of Bob’s van. It all looked a mess under there. There was no way of telling that I had contributed to any of that. I got back up, brushed off my dirty clothes and pulled a leaf out of my hair, and saw Kat grinning at me through the window and people sitting down slowly, almost gingerly at the tables in front of the window. Had I scared them off with the van? Surely not. Gosh it was amazing to see Kat’s face. I hurried inside and hugged her. “Please tell me they serve eggs at this place…and hopefully bacon and home fries!!”

“We are at a coffee shop, Odette.” Kat said. “They sell COFFEE here. You could probably get a stale muffin or something if you are starving.”

“I am starving. Let’s go to Waffle House!!” I said. “I seriously need some cheese-grits like, right now.”

“OK, come on then.” She grabbed her bag, waved to her friend behind the coffee bar, “But they are not going to be organic or local at Waffle House, you do realize that, right?”

I laughed and we headed happily together out into the sunshine and the clunker, arm in arm.

Breakfast

The thing about Kat is that I knew I could tell her all of my indiscretions and she wouldn’t leave the room deciding she needed to de-freind me in the name of loyalty to Chris. She didn’t care about my mistakes. In fact, I got the weird feeling she actually enjoyed them a little.

“Girl, first I can’t believe you stayed at a strangers house last night. Secondly, you have no self control when it comes to that Jake guy!” she said, then laughed, spitting some egg out onto her lip them sucking it back in again.

“Gross.”

“Sorry! But you seriously, self control, on a one to ten with you is like, ZERO. You crack me up. And I can’t believe you just left him out there in his truck with a busted windshield and a freeking bloody fist. Jesus!” She laughed again, stuffing more egg in her mouth. She spoken loudly, announcing my indiscretions to the whole of Waffle House as if she thought her words made us the exciting ones in there instead of the idiots who couldn’t keep their shit together.

I looked outside the greesy windows. Trucks lined the parking lot, lots of GATOR stickers plastered all over dented bumpers. A couple smoked outside of the door, leaning that relaxed way that smokers do with their cigarettes dangling…just about to fall from their long fingers, but not quite.

“Odette!” She said.

“Huh? Oh yeah, my indiscretions crack you up and I’m a horrible person for ditching Jake like that.” I took a sip of my orange juice.

She held up her coffee, “cheers” she said.  I wasn’t sure what we were cheering but I clinked plastic cups with her anyway. “It is so good to see you friend. You do realize I’m coming to the beach like, next weekend, right?”

“I’d love that” I said, whith a mouth full of grits. “You would be amazed at what Zoe can do now. She knows all the captials and all the states when we do her United States puzzle.” I pulled out my phone and held it over the table to show her a puzzled of Zoe, sitting on the wooden floor of Luna’s living room, working on the puzzle.

“She’s so beautiful  like her Mama. And she’s like a little autistic genius. Like a little Rain Man.”

I felt a bit of a sting in my gut. “She’s not like Rain Man,” I said. “She is completely her own little person. And don’t call her autistic, I hate that, as if she were a ‘type’ of something. She is not autistic, she is Zoe, and she happens to have autism too.” I took a big gulp of orange juice then looked over the plastic cup at Kat who was open-mouthed.

“Sorry” she said. “I was joking around a little, since you know, Rain Man was a genius. He was pretty cool. It’s not like an insult or anything. I said she was beautiful.”

“I know,” I said, shaking my head. “I’m not mad or anything. It is just everything gets confusing sometimes. I just don’t want her to be stuck in a box becuase of her diagnosis. I worry about her so much. I don’t know what her future is goning to be like, if she will ever make friends or ever, you know, drive or have a boyfriend…get married or even ever have a job. I just don’t know.” I gulped some more juice and realized that was the first time I had ever said that outloud. “Sometimes I have to get away to clear my head, so I can get back to her fresh and be a good mom.” I had to fight back tears.

I looked up at Kat who was enthusiastically finishing her eggs. She nodded. “These are really good eggs. They slather so much butter on here. How do they do it? How do they make EGGS taste so good?”

I looked at her with wonder. Hadn’t she heard anything I just said?

Then she put her fork down and looked at me inquisitively. “Sometimes I’m really glad I don’t have kids. It seems like way to much emotional crap for everyone. My brother is freaking out because his son is biting anything that moves and got kicked out of preschool. The parents there actually signed a petition to get rid of him! And now my brother has to stay home from work for two weeks while they find another preschool. I don’t know how you all deal with all that crap.”

I sighed a big sigh. “Your poor brother. That really sucks but it will be a story to laugh about in a couple of Christmas’s. Mine won’t be.” I felt a bit solemn.

“Maybe he’ll be done with biting, but he’ll probably being doing something else by then to terrorize his family.”

I nodded. “Everyone has kid issues I suppose.” I sighed. “I miss Zoe.”

“What about Chris, do you miss him?”

“Yeah.”

“Even though you are still lusting over college boy.”

I gave her a hard stare, but simply said, “Yeah.” Then I smiled. “I should introduce Jake to you…get you guys together. Then he would be even more inaccessible because he would be yours.”

“As if I would do that. Anyway, isn’t he getting engaged?”

“I seriously doubt that’s going to happen” I said, finishing up my grits. “Damn it, you are going to make my stomach hurt.”

Kat laughed. “Haven’t you heard the phrase, you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Well its because when you do eat it, your stomach hurts..”

I put my fork down and nodded. “I’ve had enough.”

“Let’s go see some alligators at Paynes Prarie. You can practically touch them there.”

“Really? I don’t know about that. I’d like to make it home alive, not all chewed up.”

“No, they are totally used to people. It is amazing to see them out in the wild and not all caged up like that Gator World of yours down in St. Augustine.”

“OK” I grinned while pulling out my wallet. “Let’s go.”

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