It’d been two weeks and three days since Jess heard nothing but radio silence from her flame, Chris James: the same silence that haunted their meals together the last few weeks of their relationship.
But Jess didn’t know it was over, really over until now.
After neurotically analyzing every inch of his profile while twisting in the agony of her unrequited love, Jess finally got her answer. Not from a phone call or a response to her regrettably meek texts asking when she would see him again, but from an updated status confirming Jess’ worst fear.
And now Jess wasn’t preoccupied with his updates anymore- she was consumed with hers.
According to her page, Tara Tally was a lively, curvaceous, California blonde who gallivanted around in nothing but a tiny bikini while earning her law school degree. Jess was scrawny, aimless, riddled in tattoos. Jersey trash. Her underling criminal justice degree functioned as a paperweight while she served tables alongside her roommates at Johnny Blasters.
Jess shoved a handful of chips into her mouth while glaring at the full, voluptuous breasts that stared right back at her. When did curves come back into style anyway? It didn’t seem that long ago when Jess was a preteen watching her mother vigorously squeezing her ThighMaster as she complained about models’ cocaine-only diet.
Feeling the self-imposed sting of salt in an open wound with every click, Jess couldn’t help but compulsively scroll through each nauseatingly blithe, happy-go-lucky photo; meticulously analyzing hundreds of pictures with the scrutiny of a rogue CIA agent trying to crack the case of their murdered partner.
The research was overwhelming conclusive: Tara Tally was literally the antithesis of Jess White. The photos, overused emoji and endless positivity in her updates all boasted that the blonde bombshell – who won the elusive title of ‘girlfriend’ – was the first sunny day of spring.
And if Tara’s atmosphere was one that ignited sprouts to burst happily from their seeds, than Jess’ was the nuclear winter that killed all it touched. But there was an allure to a fatalistic aura too, wasn’t there?
But there was an allure to a fatalistic aura too, wasn’t there?
Jess didn’t notice Katie leaning on her doorframe until she coughed. Strong, square jaw. Broad shoulders. Rugged half-shaved, half-ashy blue pixie cut. Jess always imagined that Katie would have made an excellent shield-maiden in a past life, especially now, with her inscrutable expression and large, shrewd eyes.
Eyes that surveyed Jess.
The powerful gaze made Jess shift uncomfortably, causing chips to spill over into one of the many deep gorges in her unmade comforter.
“Okay, this isn’t healthy,” Katie finally commented, “You need to shut that computer off and come hangout in the living room with us. We’re going to order pizza, have a few drinks, and watch a movie.”
Jess looked up at Katie with a puppy pout.
“Com’on, let’s go,” Katie responded, not engaging Jess in her plea for pity.
“If you had to pick a season to describe me, what season would you choose?”
Jess knew her question made no sense and would cause an epic eye roll from her roommate who found small talk insufferable and mindless chatter intolerable, but she asked the question anyway. Perhaps Jess’ self-evaluation was tainted by heartbreak. Perhaps she was some other season. Any other season would do. Fall with its soft, comforting sweaters and pumpkin-spiced lattes that you couldn’t help but crave. Buzzing with life summer. Even winter had been described in songs as a beautiful, snowy wonderland. Who knew, maybe in the mirror of her peers, Jess too had the invitingly-warm and radiant atmosphere of springtime.
Katie considered the question with more interest than Jess anticipated.
The moment Katie’s lips curled, Jess knew she landed on her answer.
“You’re winter in Russia.”
“You’re winter in Russia.”
Jess stared blankly back at Katie- it was not the answer she was hoping for.
“You know, because you have that ‘life is hard and then we die’ way about you.”
It was a brutally honest assessment. “Welp, I guess that’s better than my answer,” Jess said reluctantly, slamming the laptop closed on her lap.
Katie flashed her a quizzical look.
“I thought ‘nuclear winter’,” Jess confessed, “But a nuclear winter kills everything it touches, while millions of people survive the winter in Russia every year. So, technically, that’s a step up.”
“Nuclear winter! Yes, that’s it!” Katie said with entirely too much enthusiasm. “That’s the season I was looking for. I switch my answer to that.”
Jess hung her head while she listlessly slid her computer onto the bed, making a crunching sound as it landed on top of the runaway chips.
“Buck up kiddo, you’re being too hard on yourself. Nuclear winters don’t kill off everything. Tardigrades can survive it. Apparently, those little buggers can survive anything.”
Appearing to grow weary of their conversation, Katie abruptly ended their banter by pointing towards the door, an indication that it was time for Jess to climb out of her cloud of filth and rejoin humanity. As Jess walked towards the living room, she saw Cathy and Zooey sitting on perpendicular sofas, scrolling through their online movie selection in the futile search for something they’ve both heard of, but have yet to watch.
“What are you feeling? Comedy, drama, horror?” Zooey asked Cathy as she pushed a button on the remote.
“I think it feels like a good night for some cheesy horror,” Cathy answered.
Hearing the shuffling of feet behind them, Zooey turned around in her seat to watch Katie and Jess walk down the hall. Unlike Jess, Zooey was meticulously dressed with her voluminous coal-black hair perfectly sculpted into the hairstyle of a winning show horse. Despite being sisters, the only thing warrior Katie and dainty Zooey had in common was their dewy olive skin.
After grabbing something off of the table in front of her, Zooey turned around and extended her arm out towards Jess. She was holding a bottle of whiskey, but it looked more like she was offering Jess a sippy cup to nurse on.
Jess took a swig straight from the bottle.
“You’ve got to forget about this guy, Jess. You’re bumming me out the way you keep moping around the house,” Katie said, taking a seat next to Cathy. “Not to mention you look terrible. Like you’ve just been mauled by a horde of zombies and are about to turn.”
“Not to mention you look terrible. Like you’ve just been mauled by a horde of zombies and are about to turn.”
Katie flashed Cathy a sardonic smile.
Cathy drew in her own smile the moment she locked eyes with Jess.
Jess took a second swig from the bottle.
Zooey chimed in, “Seriously Jess, you’re verging on obsessive-compulsive behavior the way you stalk this guy online.”
Jess’ face flushed beet red. She didn’t realize anyone noticed what she was doing on her computer.
“I would say it’s more like an addiction that she has for this guy and she’s going through withdrawal. Look, she’s even kinda sweaty,” Katie countered.
Jess didn’t respond, knowing that they were both right. She took a third swig and walked in front of the pair of hand-me-down red suede couches, flopping down next to Zooey. She held her bottle with two hands on her lap, resisting the urge to check her phone for a text from Chris James that was never going to come. Another drink dulled the impulse. And another made it almost bearable. Jess laid her head down on Zooey’s shoulder and closed her eyes when she felt light, circular scratches on her back. The motherly brand of comfort and support that Zooey provided in the apartment was always preferable to Katie’s savagely candid approach to addressing any problem.
Ignoring the pity party, Cathy shuffled into the kitchen to grab a bottle of vanilla vodka. When she returned, she knelt down in front of the glass coffee table between the couches and filled four shot glasses to the brim. While doing so, her swollen breasts briefly spilled out of her lacey corset top before being covered by the modesty curtain of her long, blonde hair.
“Why are you wearing that top anyway? You don’t have a show tonight,” Jess said with more bite than she meant to.
“Because she thinks pairing a corset with jeans gives it a more ‘casual’ look,” Zooey answered for Cathy.
“Don’t worry Jess, I know how to make you forget this guy,” Cathy said as she poured, ignoring them both.
After all the girls partook in their ritualistic Saturday night shots, Cathy stumbled back over to the kitchen to grab her cellphone and order pizza, knocking into the side of the couch on her way over. Fascinatedly, Cathy was only elegant and graceful when she danced, and the other ninety-five percent of the time she was ferociously clumsy. A bungling mess. Surprising most people when she informed them that she was a Zumba instructor and a poplar dancer at the local burlesque club. But Cathy’s roommates were intimately familiar with the duality of her persona, so it didn’t shock them when they heard Cathy make a mistake fifteen seconds into her phone call while ordering pizza.
The error was a Freudian slip that sounded like the opening of a seventies porno flick: Cathy ordered a 14” deep-dick instead of a 14” deep-dish, and froze like a deer in the headlights the moment she realized her error.
Not the sort of friends to judge each other’s’ flaws, but certainly quick to poke fun of them, Jess, Zooey, and Katie all broke into a roaring laughter. The tickle of pain in Jess’ ribcage was a welcomed sensation.
Cathy turned her back towards her roommates to hide her ruddy face. “Dish! I mean dish! Pizza!” Another awkward pause. “Four girls,” Cathy finally said.
Jess, Zooey, and Katie all looked at each other suspiciously, as this is also not a common thing to say when ordering pizza. Another pause. Cathy bent over the counter and appeared to be scribbling something down while saying “uh-huh” a lot. She ended the conversation with, “Okay, good, we’ll be there. You still put in the order for the pizza though, right? Okay, good. Yup, we’ll pay when you get here. See you soon!”
Cathy hung up the phone and turned with a devilish grin.
“What did you just do?” Katie asked suspiciously.
“I just got us an invite to a party tonight. That’s what I did. It’s at ten, so better grab your heels and put on your faces, ladies, because we’re going out tonight!” Cathy stood in the kitchen with her hands on her hips and her legs spread wide open, a power pose she was likely imitating from some social media “influencer” or another she followed. Charming. Attractive. Self-absorbed. Cathy voyeuristically followed these Instagram celebrities the same way an unemployed anti-vaxxer with six kids plus one on the teat fanatically followed a rich, untalented, unjustifiably famous televangelist.
“Cathy, why on earth would you think that would be a good idea?” Zooey asked from the living room. Her nose crinkled, her head shaking.
“Um, why wouldn’t that be a good idea?”
“Because we don’t know who this guy is,” Zooey fired back, her face still pinched.
“Right, but we will as soon as he comes to drop off the pizza. I’m not dumb, guys. I have a plan. When we see him, we’ll know if he’s cute or not, and if he’s not, then we don’t go to the party. Simple as that.
A STRANGER’S PARTY
All the roommates were topsy-turvy drunk by the time the doorbell rang. Katie grabbed Zooey in a bear hug from behind, lifted her up, and dragged her towards the door. Cathy ran in front of the duo and opened the door for them, standing behind it once it open.
“I present to you your prize,” Katie announced as she held Zooey in the doorway.
Zooey dropped to the floor.
Katie and Cathy seemed to be frozen in place.
Sensing a strange tension in the air, Jess hopped over the back of the couch and ran towards the door to see what was going on. Looking over her roommates shoulders, Jess found an acne-riddled twig with glasses holding a pizza.
“Are you…are you the guy I talked to on the phone? Are you, um, Joe?” Cathy asked the gawking teen in an uncertain tone.
“No, I’m Stu. I was sent by Joe to deliver your pizza, and um, check you guys out.” The delivery boy’s voice cracked, a telltale sign that the pubescent adolescent was in way over his head.
“That fucker sent a drone to recon us,” Katie said, glowering at Cathy.
“That fucker sent a drone to recon us”
“Oh, no, don’t worry, Joe’s going to be very happy!” The dorky pizza boy confirmed.
Cathy smiled her devilish grin, Zooey rolled her eyes, and Katie yanked the pizza from the boy’s hand. “He better be happy,” Katie said before closing the door behind her.
All four roommates stood in a circle in the foyer, communicating without comment to each other the question: what did we get ourselves into?
Zooey was the first to break the silence, “I don’t want to go to some party with a nerdy kid. We’re like that kid’s dream come true. It’s gross. And this whole thing is like the plot of some bad movie. I’m out.” Although she seemed to be resolved to spend the night on the couch, Zooey checked her hair for any loose strands in a large mirror hanging in the foyer, gently patting the thick braid across the top of her head that fed into a high, teased ponytail.
“No, you can’t be out,” Cathy whined. “That wasn’t even the guy we’re going to party with. That wasn’t Joe. That was just some kid they sent to see what we look like.”
Before Zooey had a chance to reply, K-Pop began playing in the kitchen. The ringtone belonged to only one possible party. Cathy ran over to the phone, limbs flailing, and answered it. After a brief conversation, Cathy put the phone on mute.
“Okay, this is Joe confirming the details for the party. Are you guys in or out?”
“I’m in. I’ve never been to a stranger’s party before, let alone the pizza guy’s party. I’d like to ride this out and see where it goes,” Jess said, taking another swig of her whiskey.
“In,” Katie said.Cathy looked over at Zooey, who was mid-theatrical eye roll. “Ugh, okay, if everyone else is going, then I’ll go.” Katie gave Zooey a that-a-girl smile and punched her hard on the shoulder.
After being dropped off by their ride at the address that Cathy wrote down – fashionably late by forty minutes – the girls debated whether or not to knock on the door.
“It’s so quiet. It doesn’t look like much of a party,” Zooey said as the girls stood on the eerily noiseless, shadowy street in front of a house that was only lit by one sad porch light. Even Cathy was nervously biting her nails, hesitant about going in.
Katie shrugged off their concerns and punched a silently deliberating Zooey on her arm. “Let’s go check this out,” she said, marching towards the door. The rest of the crew fell in line behind her, following like ducklings.
When Katie rang the doorbell, a shirtless, twentyish male with an obsessively maintained six pack opened the door. He was attractive everywhere except his face. Chewing on a toothpick and leaning against the doorway, the stranger looked the girls up and down without even so much as a ‘hello’.
“Joe?” Cathy chirped from behind Katie, who she used as a human shield.
“Yup,” Joe answered, still uncouthly chewing on the toothpick.
“Oh, good,” Cathy said as she proceeded to barrel past her roommates and walk through the open door.
Katie shrugged her shoulders and walked through next, followed by Zooey.
Jess lingered in the doorway, craning her neck to see what was going on inside. And what she saw wasn’t exactly an inviting scene: an overweight male with a long, scraggy beard playing video games on a seventies-era, mustard yellow couch; his orangutan nipples poking through his stained tank top; and a lanky, chinless fellow with hunched shoulders sitting next to him, watching the screen.
“Are you a narc?” Joe asked, pulling out the tooth pick to inspect her.
“Nope, not a narc. Coming in,” Jess took a wide step through the doorway before he could shut it on her.
Once inside, Jess huddled with the other girls in the musty living room. Joe moved some clothes off the couch and onto the floor to sit next to his two other 20-something-year-old friends.
“I thought you guys were having a party?” Zooey asked, reading Jess’ mind.
“This is it,” Joe responded, watching aliens explode on the screen. The large, sweaty guy next to Joe used a virtual shotgun to hunt them down. “This guy playing the video game is Gary and this handsome gent is Matt,” Joe said unenthusiastically, pointing his thumb at his friends when he introduced them.
Seconds later, in a sudden burst of inspiration, Joe leapt off the couch and turned off the T.V., ignoring his friends’ complaints.
“This is boring, let’s show the girls the pool out back. Matt, grab the drinks.”
Joe walked out the back sliding screen door and flicked on the porch light, exposing a gem of a pool in the yard. A skimpy selection of warped stars wavered in the Jersey suburban skyline. Or maybe those were planes? Tall bushes surrounding the yard tastefully created a natural barrier for privacy. The elegance of the freshly-cut lawn and surprisingly clean pool were a stark contrast to the neglected insides of the bachelor pad. There was no question what part of the home the boys consider their pride and joy.
Joe lit bamboo torches that lined the pool while Gary pulled back the pool cover. Within a few short moments, Matt appeared with a stack of shot glasses and bottle of rum under his arm.
“So, are we getting in or what?” Joe asked the girls who were once again huddled together, but this time for body warmth.
Unprepared for a spontaneous pool party, Cathy was the first to undress down to her skivvies, pulling down her pants to reveal a thong buried in cellulite. Her corset top magically turned back into lingerie. Cathy gave Joe a provocative sidelong glance before leaping into the air – grasping her legs to form a cannon ball – and landing with a loud splash into the pool. Katie flashed a look at Jess, who smiled back in approval.
Zooey accepted a shot from Matt and sat down on one of the plastic chairs on the side of the pool. It was clear she had no intentions of getting in the water or undressing, but looked content to enjoy the show. Gary eagerly sat down next to her, perhaps because he was excited to talk to a girl, perhaps because it gave him an excuse not to undress. Probably both.
Matt continued passing out shots- Jess, Katie, and Cathy all taking one. Joe, having joined Cathy in the pool, thrusted himself halfway out of the water to grab a shot by doing a one-handed pushup off of the cement edge. Joe motioned for Matt to give him another. And another. A dipsomaniac, but that didn’t stop the girls from watching his glistening tense triceps.
Jess dipped her toe into the pool, testing the water.
“How is it?” Katie asked.
“Just as you would imagine, ice cold,” Jess answered honestly.
“Guys, it’s not that bad once you start swimming around. Get in here!” Cathy shouted as she swam up next to Joe, who, in one swift motion, plummeted back into the pool and draped his arm around her. Knowing there was only one right way to get into cold water, Jess and Katie nodded at each other and jumped simultaneously.
Plunging back to the surface, both girls gasped for air, then frantically doggy-paddled in circles around each other to warm themselves up.
“You know what will really help you guys out? Body heat,” Joe offered with a suggestive smirk. A delayed reaction- Cathy fluttered her big eyelashes at Joe.
“Did we tell you, Joe, that we do lesbian flicks? Uh…oh, I mean are lesbian chicks?” Cathy stumbled through her drunken idea. He nodded his head ‘no’ while grinning like a fifth grade boy. Cathy swam over to Jess, as boldly as she performed at her shows, and pushed Jess onto the steps of the pool, climbing on top of her. Jess didn’t resist, but embraced Cathy with an open thigh.
“Did we tell you, Joe, that we do lesbian flicks? Uh…oh, I mean are lesbian chicks?”
A fistful of blonde hair. Tender kisses turned to lips firmly pressed together. Nibbling on the lower lip every so often. Jess didn’t feel a thing when she kissed Cathy, but she liked the rush of the crowd watching- the same way she liked dimly lit bars and six inch heels.
Giving a crooked smile and a wink, Jess peeled herself off of Cathy. Not yet satisfied, Cathy turned towards Katie, completely oblivious to the unsettled look on Katie’s face.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about Cathy,” Katie said, firing a warning shot into the air. Cathy continued swimming, looking like a helpless baby fawn trying to cross a stream. And yet, Katie had no problem grabbing her by the head and shoulders and dunking her into the water.
Katie let Cathy come up for air.
Cathy lunged at Katie with her mouth agape, trying to get a smooch.
Katie resisted her easily. “Are you going to calm down or what?” Katie said, dunking Cathy back into the pool.
Cathy answered by reaching her hands out of the water and grabbing Katie’s tits.
Katie dunked Cathy a third time. A fourth. A fifth. Until Cathy finally pushed herself off of Katie’s arm and gasped for air as she swam to the other side of the pool. Jess looked over at Joe and Matt who were watching the spectacle, their ape brains turned on by the two girls wrestling.
After she hacked out all of the water in her lungs, Cathy looked coyly over at Joe, who returned her gaze and signaled for Cathy to swim over to him. Matt, wearing only heart-dotted boxers, did a belly flop into the pool, only to be scolded by Joe who told him to cool it so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. Catching a beach ball that Gary tossed into the pool, Jess batted the ball towards Katie. Katie batted the ball to Matt, who batted it back to Katie, who batted it to Jess. Jess turned to bat the ball to Cathy, but Cathy was too busy being nailed into the lining of the pool by the pizza guy to play along.
Grabbing the ball from Jess’ hands, Katie slapped it hard at Cathy anyway, sending the ball spiraling until it bounced off Joe’s ass, which was exposed thanks to his ability to hold himself up by the same pushup as earlier. The ball bounced between Cathy’s legs like a pinball, bounding back and forth until it ultimately fell into the water, locked in orbit around the copulating couple.
Taking their cue when they heard Cathy’s blissful moan, Jess, Katie, and Matt expeditiously climbed out of the pool.
The air almost froze the water on Jess’ skin, but she was happy to be in a towel and out of the pool. Zooey was still lounging in her chair, cringing as she watched Cathy and Joe. A hard slap on Zooey’s arm from Katie knocked her out of her trance and got her to move back inside. Gary and Matt took one last look at the humping couple before following the girls into the century-old bachelor pad.
In their drunken haze, coordination diminished but confidence flourished. Jess, Katie, and Zooey all struggled to learn the functions on their controllers. Gary tried his best to teach the girls the rules of the game, but winced every time one of them shot the other in the back of the head. Jess and Katie’s clothes clung awkwardly to their still damp bodies, suctioned onto them the way Cat Woman’s latex onesie clung to her body. This only added to Gary’s frustration, who watched the girls use one hand to work their remote and the other to continuously tug at their clothes.
Just shy of fifteen minutes into their game, the heavy base beats of dubstep began vibrating the floor boards. Joe and Cathy made their appearance back into the living room; Joe fiddled with the remote to the in-wall speakers while Cathy tried to convince one of the girls to give up their controller to her. Matt, doing god-knew-what, paraded around the house in a fresh set of dry, clean clothes.
It took one sip of the strong mixed drink that Matt handed to her to push Jess over the edge of coherent thought. The room whirled around her like she was in the cockpit of a stalled plane going down for a crash landing. What came next was what Jess had been waiting for- a series of drunken flashes of consciousness as her baser instincts took over.
The room whirled around her like she was in the cockpit of a stalled plane going down for a crash landing.
Transported upstairs, Jess was smacked in the face by a pit-stained t-shirt while Katie manically dug through a messy pile of clothes on Matt’s floor, searching for an acceptable dry top. Taking a fierce beating, Matt attempted to pull a hopelessly stuck Cathy out of an oversized beanbag chair in the living room, only to be slapped repeatedly by Cathy’s spaghetti noodle arms. Gary put a controller in Jess’ hands, but that was a body part she apparently no longer had control over. The comfort of a hard laminate floor in the kitchen and the bolstering laughter of people crowded around a tall table above her. Puke rolled down the stairs. Puke covered the bushes outside. Jess hid in those same bushes from the men who were trying to find her. A glance from Zooey over Joe’s shoulder. Cathy’s sensual strip tease for Joe in an adjacent room. Joe laughing as he ran down the stairs, holding up a squealing nude Cathy in a laundry basket above his head. Fat rails of cocaine snorted off a repurposed picnic table. Joe yelled to Zooey that Jess was a narc, he could see it in her eyes. Though she couldn’t feel her lips forming the words, Jess watched herself respond that she was a criminal justice major, not a narc. Joe yelled back that she was basically a cop and slammed the door in her face. Zooey was suddenly in the yard with half-dollar black pupils, meowing and rolling in the grass like a cat. Katie jumped out the sliding back door wearing a construction hat she found; she begged Matt to give her a sledge hammer to destroy their mystery-stained corduroy couch, a favor she’d be happy to do for them. Apparently having found a large orange construction cone out on the street, Cathy jumped back into the pool, appearing to believe the cone would act as a flotation device; but the cone rapidly dragged her down, and Cathy bailed on her failed plan almost instantly. The cone now sat on the floor of the pool. The backseat of the car Jess piled into with her roommates had cigarette burns speckled across it; she was uncertain who requested the ride and who was driving.
COFFEE & SMUDGED MASCARA
The next morning, Jess’ head felt like someone slammed an ax into it like a log, splitting it in two and leaving the ax in place. She pried one eye open- she was back in her own bed. The daylight pouring through her window caused a shock of pain to rattle around in her brain. She squeezed her eyes back shut and rolled over. Chips shattered underneath her.
Finally making her way into the kitchen, Katie handed her a steaming mug. Jess deeply inhaled the smell of freshly ground coffee and leaned against the counter along with all of her roommates, who were each sipping on their own drinks, trying to gain back the senses they lost from the night before.
Camaraderie from their shared misery filled the room like a sauna, breathing life back into Jess.
“So, did you even get that guy’s number or do you need to order pizza again if you want to call him?” Katie asked Cathy, only partially joking.
Cathy took a long sip of her coffee before answering, “I’d need to order pizza again.”
The deafening laughter finally woke Jess from her drunken stupor.
“Jess, have you never done coke before?” Zooey asked, pouring herself another cup of coffee from the glass pot.
“I’ve never even seen anyone snort coke before, let alone tried it. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what you guys were doing last night when I saw you,” Jess replied.
Zooey gave her a dubious look.
“What? You never took a Drug 101 course to teach you that sort of thing in college?” Katie asked.
Jess nodded her head ‘no’, surprised in retrospect that it wasn’t a course, especially considering all the boy scouts the major attracted.
“So, what drugs have you tried?” Steam whirled and rolled and curled as Zooey blew softly over her mug. When she took a sip, she looked up, waiting for Jess to answer.
“Drugs aren’t really my thing. I figure I have enough vices that I don’t need to pile that one on top of the bonfire.” Jess winced as a sudden shock of pain zig zagged across her brain again.
“Drugs aren’t really my thing. I figure I have enough vices that I don’t need to pile that one on top of the bonfire.”
Katie elbowed Jess to move out of her way so she could reach into the cabinet above her head. Grunts were Jess’ only reply. “I don’t think we can ever order pizza from that joint again, guys. There was a ton of puke on the stairs after we left. The whole house reeked of it,” Katie said, feeling around in the cabinet for something.
“Who puked?” Jess asked.
“You did!” Katie appeared stunned by Jess’ question. “You don’t remember last night? You were out of control.” Katie pulled out a bottle of aspirin and tossed it to Jess.
Jess popped a handful of pills like Tic Tacs in her mouth. “I was out of control?”
“Yes,” The chorus of roommates replied, slamming down her doubts.
Hiding her face in her mug, Jess took a sip of her coffee, embarrassed as the wreckage of the night’s events started to reveal themselves from behind the curtain of her lost memory.
Katie put down her empty coffee mug, then used the edge of the counter to pop the top off a bottle of beer. “So, where are we drinking tonight?” Katie asked as she guzzled down her morning boozy beverage.
Despite the mascara residue that still stained their puffy eyes, Zooey and Cathy began tossing out suggestions for another night of drinking. Jess, the weakest link of the group, gagged at even the mention of alcohol, let alone the sound of Katie’s beer fizzing. By the time the meds kicked in though, Jess knew she’d be good to go.
Queerly energized by the hair of the dog, Katie banged an elated fist on the counter in support of the seedier suggestions made.
Jess laughed into her mug, realizing that even though she, Zooey, and Cathy could all survive, and even laugh, in some of the same unsavory conditions as Katie – thriving in environments that would corrode the delicate sensibilities of the likes of the bubbly Tara Tally – they were mere fleas compared to Katie, the true Tardigrade.