My aunt lived in a beautiful old Victorian house. My Mom called it Aunt Helen’s mystery house. She said, “It’s a mystery where my sister gets her money. My sister never worked a day in her life.” My mother doesn’t really like Aunt Helen very much. Aunt Helen doesn’t like my mother much either.
As soon as the car stopped I jumped out and ran up the wooden steps. Aunt Helen was waiting on the porch. She was taller than my mother and really pretty. Aunt Helen kissed my cheek, held me against her, and stroked my hair. Her hug was like a waterfall running inside of me. I really needed a hug after being stuck in the car with good old mom for four hours. I could hardly wait to be away from my mother for the next two weeks. It could be the next twenty years for all I cared.
My mother gets mad about everything I do. She says she doesn’t understand me… I don’t understand me. I don’t understand the things I do or the way I feel. It’s like there’s a secret inside me that I don’t know how to tell.
She was going to Las Vegas for a week and then to Bahia del Rey…whatever… hotel, down in Cancun, Mexico with her latest boyfriend, Aaron. Goodie for them; like I could care.
Aunt Helen stepped back and took my hands. She smiled and shook her head in disbelief. “Oh Marcy, just look at you, you’re almost as tall as me. You really are a young woman. And so pretty; you have a beautiful figure like your mother.”
Her saying that gave me a thrill. I had grown up a lot since the last time I had seen her. My mother usually dumped me off at my grandmother’s when she wanted to do something without me. Grandma was sick, so Aunt Helen was my mother’s only choice. Even though we just lived in L.A., this was the first time I’d seen her in four years. It was such a relief to hear somebody say something nice about me for a change.
My mom started to say something but didn’t, only gave her sickeningly sweet and impatient smile. We followed Aunt Helen through the house and into the shady back yard. Aunt Helen had lemonade for me and daiquiris for them. They sat at the round lawn table and talked and drank. My mom is such a phony. She said she and her boyfriend were going on a spiritual retreat in Sedona. I don’t know why she lies.
I hate my mom for that, for lying and being phony, that, and having to get her own way all the time, no matter what. I took my lemonade and sat on the double seat glider. My mother told Aunt Helen how bad I was doing in school and how I tried to run away and how she caught me smoking pot and even about the guy who owned the tattoo parlor and how he called her up at midnight and told her to come get me, and of course how all those things were so embarrassing and how everyone must think she’s an awful mother. Maybe people should feel that way. When I swung the glider high enough, I could see the windows on the second floor of Aunt Helen’s house. The sun made them bright red.
“Dinner time, Marcy,” Aunt Helen and my mother started back to the house. I stopped by the table and drank the rest of my mother’s daiquiri. It made me shiver when I swallowed.
After dinner Aunt Helen and I stood on the porch and said goodbye to my mother.
“Don’t let her get away with anything,” said my mom. She gave Aunt Helen a very loose hug and me a little peck on the cheek. She looked at my aunt, sighed and raised her eyebrows, “I’m trusting you little sister. For the life of me…I don’t know what I ever did to deserve her,” my mom said and in a loud whisper to make sure I heard. Aunt Helen’s lips got tight and she took my hand. We waved as she drove away.
“I could never figure you out, sis.” Aunt Helen said softly. “Let’s tidy up.”
“You never, ever want to leave a mess for someone else to find.”
After we put everything away we went outside. It was cool and shadowy in the backyard. I was barefoot and I ran across the wet grass. I felt a tingle all the way up my legs and spine. We got in the glider. Aunt Helen sat across from me.
We started to swing a little bit.
“You’re so pretty, you must have a lot of boyfriends.”
The question made me smile. “Not really.Do you have a boyfriend, Aunt Helen?” I’d never seen her with a guy or heard her mention one.
“I tried it once. But it just wasn’t the right person. Hey, let’s take this thing for a ride,” she said with a playfully, wicked little smile.
Aunt Helen took my hands palm to palm and leaned in with her face in mine when the swing went my way. She leaned back and pulled me toward her so my elbows were on her thighs and our cheeks touched when the swing went her direction. At first we went slowly and the swing went higher only a little at a time. Aunt Helen pulled harder and the glider went higher. I started to pull her when the swing came my way. At the top of each swing we both squeezed each other’s hands a little tighter and let out little laughing moans. We kept it up until we were pulled out of our seats when the swing went in the opposite direction. The wood started to creak. The whole glider lifted up on my side and the seat slapped my butt. When the swing went in her direction the glider seat slapped Aunt Helen’s butt too. We didn’t say anything, we didn’t have to. It was like a silent dare to keep doing it. We went back and forth, harder and higher until I thought the glider might break. We went so high and fast that we were both finally lifted out of our seats at the same time and we crashed into each other. We started laughing. The glider slowed down. I was out of breath and dizzy, excited and happy. Aunt Helen wasn’t like any other grownup I knew.
“I changed seats and sat next to her. She put her arm around me. I closed my eyes and put my head on her shoulder. We didn’t say a word. It was so nice to really feel close to someone.
When I woke up the next morning it was still dark. Aunt Helen was asleep.
I was hungry and remembered seeing a plate of doughnuts on the kitchen counter. There were four raspberry jelly doughnuts with powdered sugar. I took one with me and decided to explore upstairs. The first bite I took, the jelly squished out. I licked off the jelly but my hands were pretty sticky. I went from door to door and tried each door knob. All of knobs turned, but all the doors were locked.
When I heard Aunt Helen yawn, I went back downstairs to the kitchen, and sat at the table. Aunt Helen came into the kitchen too. She looked sleepy. She only had on a light green, silk bathrobe that was loose around her shoulders. The belt was barely tied.
“Morning, Marcy. How did you sleep, honey?” Aunt Helen’s skin glowed. She gave me a big, long hug. I hugged her back. It felt nice. I put my cheek against her chest and closed my eyes. She was so warm and soft.
“I slept okay.” I didn't want to move.
“I see you found the doughnuts.” She licked her fingertips and brushed some powdered sugar from my lips and gave me a gentle tap on the end of my nose. We both giggled.
“Was it okay to have one?”
“Of course, Sugarlips, you can have anything you want.” She hugged me again and kissed my cheek.
We had scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. She made coffee for her and hot cocoa just for me.
“You want to know a secret?” asked Aunt Helen.
I took a sip of hot cocoa.
“I like you best of all my nieces and nephews. I just know you and I are the most alike.”
“Oh, Aunt Helen” was all I could say. It wasn’t much of a secret, but it still made me feel special.
“Well, you must have a secret or two?” She brushed the hair away from my face and gently stroked my cheek. It felt nice.
“Well, do you or don’t you?”
“What kind of secret?” I asked.
“Tell me about something bad you did.” Aunt Helen leaned in close. I could see into her bathrobe all the way to her stomach.
When she used the word bad, it just did something to me. Just the way she asked made me want to tell her. I pressed my legs together really tight and squirmed in my seat. “Once I found some money at school. It was fifty dollars, tied up with a pink ribbon. We figured the money was for our seventh grade field trip. It was the last day to turn it in. I showed the money to my best friends, Amy and Beth. We kinda knew who the money belonged to, Barbara Myers. No one liked her because she was kept behind a grade, and she was bigger than us and a terrible bully.
"On the day of the field trip, when Beth and Amy and I were going to the buses, we saw Barbara in Mrs. Henderson’s office. Barbara eyes were red and she was sobbing. We heard her tell Mrs. Henderson that she lost her money and now she couldn’t go. Amy and Beth and I knew right then that it was hers. I don’t know why, but we started laughing when we saw her crying. Barbara saw us and made a mean face.
“We spent the money on goodies on the field trip. The next day at recess Barbara accused us of finding her money. We told her she was crazy and to leave us alone. After she left, the three of us did the pinky shake and promised never to tell anyone what we did.”
“My oh my, you are a bad one. Anyway, who likes a bully?” She took my hands. “Marcy, that was a great secret. But more important, you’re loyal. And your ‘mommy-mom’ never found out?”
I shook my head, ‘no’.
“Good. Want some coffee?”
“I don’t know, I never get coffee at home.”
“Aw, pish-posh, ‘mommy-mom’s’ not here. I won’t tattle if you don’t.” Aunt Helen poured some coffee in my cup. There was enough cocoa left to make the coffee sweet. I liked it a lot. “What about your secrets, Aunt Helen?”
Aunt Helen smiled and winked, “I might have a few.”
After breakfast we went grocery shopping. She asked me what I wanted. We got everything my mom never buys: potato chips, hot dogs and buns, these really expensive ice cream sandwiches, a four pack of coffee mocha just for me, and a big package of red vines.
After that we went to a young misses’ store. Aunt Helen told me to get anything I wanted. I picked out some red leather shoes with low heels and straps, some red super shorts that I’d never be allowed to wear, and a bright pink tank top with “Too Hot to Handle” made out of sequins. The tank top didn’t quite cover my belly button. I left my old clothes in the dressing room and wore the new ones out of the store.
Out on the street Aunt Helen gave me a hug. “You look so luscious; I could eat you up right here and now.”
We had lunch out at a real restaurant and then walked around on the Embarcadero. All the boys and even these two sailors were looking at me and smiling. I didn’t care about them. I was with Aunt Helen. When we got home, we were both tired. Being outside by the ocean and in the sun was nice. Aunt Helen said she was going to take a little nap and said I could lie down next to her if I wanted to. I was tired but not at all sleepy. When I told her no, she looked a little disappointed.
After she was asleep, I went to the kitchen to get my red vines. They weren’t where I left them. They were at the end of the counter, next to the pantry. The pantry door was wide open.I saw a key ring with keys and a tag that had ’second floor,’ printed on it, hanging on a nail.
I stood in front of the door at the top of the stairs and tried every key until I found the right one. The lock clicked open. I went in. The room was dark and musty. When I opened the curtain, dust swirled in the air. I saw a dresser and a bed. The dresser drawers were full of women’s clothes. There was a purse in the bottom drawer with a wallet in it. The wallet was empty except for some expired credit cards and a driver’s license that belonged to some lady named Alison Palmer. I put everything back. I was about to open the closet door when Aunt Helen called me. I got out of there fast and when I was half way down the stairs, I sat down, crossed my legs at the ankles, leaned back on my elbows and put my head back.
Aunt Helen came out of the kitchen and saw me there. “What cha’doing, Sugarlips?”
“Nothing.” I sat up and stretched. I looked over my shoulder up to the second floor. “What’s in those rooms?” I said and yawned like I was bored.
“You haven’t been up there?”
I shook my head in such a way it could have been yes or no.
I met Aunt Helen at the bottom of the stairs. She put her arm around my shoulder and we went into the kitchen.
“Help me make dinner. Go in the pantry and get me a nice size pot and that package of buns. We can have your hot dogs.”
I was happy to help. I opened the pantry door, slipped the keys back on the nail and grabbed a pot.
We sat and waited for the water to boil. Aunt Helen looked me in the eyes. “So, how did you like those jelly doughnuts this morning?”
“They’re my favorites.”
Aunt Helen opened the package of hot dog buns. I took out a bun for me and one for her and put them on our paper plates, along with a big handful of potato chips.
“Marcy, how do you think raspberry jam and powdered sugar got on every upstairs door knob?”
I had to look away. “Don’t know.” I felt bad I didn’t come out and just tell her about being upstairs.
“Come on, Marcy, who else could it be?” Aunt Helen said with a coaxing smile.
“Yeah, it was me.” I was so relieved she wasn’t mad.
“Well sweetheart, if we’re going to be together, we have to be able to trust each other. You wouldn’t want me blabbing to your mother about you and your friends finding Barbara’s money and not giving it back. Would you?”
“You wouldn’t do that, would you?” I hoped she was joking.
“Of course not, you can trust me with your secrets. Bad girls like us have to stick together.” She offered me her pinky and we shook.
After dinner we sat on the love seat together. Aunt Helen was reading. I looked over at her, she was so pretty. She looked up from her book, “Do you like poetry?”
She went to the bookcase and came back with a book of poems. “I read these poems when I was your age. They helped me understand a lot of things.” She brushed back some hair away from my eyes.
The poems were a little hard to read and didn’t make sense until I figured out that one lady was writing love poems to another lady. I read about the poet on the back cover. She was really famous. Her name was Sappho and she lived in ancient Greece. It was pretty cool that Aunt Helen thought I was grown up enough to read these poems. I guess some girls just like girls better than boys, even back then. I read a few more poems and thought about my friend Beth. I don’t know why, but it was like all of a sudden my pants felt too tight.
Aunt Helen gave me a sideways glance. “You can’t read too much of her poetry at once,” she said. She put both of our books on the coffee table. “Well, what do you want to do now?”
Our knees were touching. “You owe me a secret,” I said hoping she would tell me one.
“I guess I do. Let’s see…”
“Tell me something bad you did.”
“I kept money that wasn’t mine,” she said and made a funny face until I smiled.
“Did you know whose money it was?”
“Oh yeah, and they keep right on sending it.” Her eyes brightened.
“What do you mean?”
“I used to rent out rooms. I liked one of my renters a lot. She was a sweet, little old lady. Poor Alison didn’t have any family or friends. She was always forgetting to pay her bills or to keep appointments so, she suggested we share a bank account and left it to me to keep her affairs current. I didn’t mind. I did that for almost four years.
“One morning she didn’t come down for coffee. So I went up to see if she was alright. I found her in bed; she died in her sleep.”
I didn’t know what to say so I just looked sad and nodded.
“That was five years ago.”
“Is that whose money you kept?”
“Oh yeah. Like I said, she insisted we share a bank account; every first of the month, four thousand smackaroonies, just like clockwork.”
I was confused, “But you said she died.”
“That’s the secret, Marcy. Now only you and I know she’s dead.”
I didn’t know what to say. I must have looked worried because Aunt Helen pulled me next to her. She draped my leg over hers and I rested my head on her shoulder. Sitting like that felt the same as being in a warm, soapy bath.
“What about you getting caught?”
“All we have to do is keep our secret. I know you can keep our secret.”
I kept my eyes closed. I never felt closer to anyone as I did to Aunt Helen.
I didn’t sleep well that night and I was up before dawn again. I went to the refrigerator and got my bottle of coffee mocha. I ate my doughnut and wondered what happened to Aunt Helen’s dead, old lady, friend.
I tidied up and I went into the front room and looked up at the doors on the second floor landing. The second door was barely open. I went up the stairs but stopped myself before I went in. My heart started beating fast. I made myself push the door open. The room was dark. The dull morning light shone through the curtain and over the headboard and onto the pillows and blankets. I stepped closer. That’s when I saw her. It had to be Alison Palmer.
She was small. She still had her hair in curlers. Her face looked like it was painted gray with little splotches of white. Her skin was tight with really deep wrinkles. It shrunk and pulled her lips away from her teeth and gave her this creepy smile. When I was just about to touch her lips, two silverfish, ran out of her nose, up her cheek, across her wrinkled forehead and into her hair. I freaked and pulled my hand back and ran out of the room and slammed the door.
Aunt Helen was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. I ran straight for her arms and pressed against her.
“It’s alright, my little Sugarlips.” I looked up and she gave me a couple of pecks on the cheek. “I guess you met Alison.”
I could only nod.
“Pretty cool secret, don’t you think,” she said with a smile. “She was a lot more fun when she was alive. Now, I don’t know what it is laying there in that bed.”
Her smile made me relax, but I still stood there hugging her. She had on her silky, green bathrobe and this wonderful perfume.
“Put on those sexy new shorts and I’ll take you to breakfast.” She stepped back and ran her fingertip down my cheek and gently ran it around my lips and tapped the end of my nose. There was something about the way she touched me that I just loved. I wanted her to touch me more. The only time ‘mommy-mom’ touched me was to squeeze my arm when she was mad and yelling at me. I hoped she would never come back.
After breakfast we went to the bank. I was so excited when Aunt Helen opened a joint account for me. She put in two thousand dollars. And I got this money card so I could buy things all by myself. I was so happy I couldn’t stop hugging her.
“Save a little of that for latter. Now, let’s go have some fun. “
That’s what we did for the rest of the day. I felt like I was in a movie. I bought so many clothes. Everyone was so nice.
The minute we got home, Aunt Helen plopped down on the sofa. She looked so happy. I lay down with my legs dangling over the sofa arm and my head on Aunt Helen’s lap, looking up at her. “Thank you so much, Aunt Helen. I love you.” I reached up.
“I love you too, sweetheart.” She leaned down. My heart started to race, I didn’t mean to, but I pulled back. I wanted to kiss her, but I was afraid I’d do it wrong.
“Haven’t you ever kissed anyone before on the lips?” Aunt Helen had such a soft look in her eyes.
“Did you ever make out?” She brushed her lips over my cheek and and under my ear. That made me tremble.
“Well did you or not? Or is this going to be another secret?”
I felt kind of silly, “With my girlfriends.”
“Do tell, my little Sugarlips.”
“Amy and I went swimming at Beth’s house. Her mom and dad were at work. We were in the living room, sitting on our towels in our wet Bikinis. We started talking about boys and we wondered what it would be like, you know, to make out…and, you know, other things. ”
“Amy told us again how she made out with this guy who was a sophomore. Beth wanted to make out with Amy to see what it was like. Amy wouldn’t. Beth was the prettiest of us three. She had long brown hair, a wonderful tan, and deep blue eyes. I didn’t…or… couldn’t admit it, but I always liked her a lot. I had a crush on her since I was ten. I wanted to be kissed too, and I wanted to be kissed by Beth. I tried not to sound too eager when I said, ‘I’ll practice with you, Beth.’
“We giggled a little at first. I closed my eyes and we kissed. It was wonderful and so nice. Her lips were soft, and she did this thing with her tongue on mine and then on my lips that made my heart beat so fast. I kissed her back just like she did me and put my hand on her breast. When I did that, Beth stopped and pulled back. Amy and she said, ‘Whoa, girl.’ When I opened my eyes she and Amy both gave me the same weird look. I felt so awful and stupid.”
“You’re not awful or stupid. You’re a beautiful young woman. Marcy, we are what we are. There is no sense trying to be what other people think we should be. You should be glad you found yourself now, instead of later.”
I looked up at her; it was like I was meeting her for the first time. She looked beautiful and she was strong and clever. Her eyes were as blue as the ocean and her smile warmed me like the sun. I loved the way she smiled. I never wanted to kiss anyone more than I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to kiss her like I kissed Beth. My heart raced as I pulled her face close to mine. When our lips touched, everything around me disappeared. Something happened between us, and something happened inside of me. I was so relaxed and happy. I felt like I was floating and she was the ocean. I kept my eyes closed and didn’t want this moment ever to end. We kissed each other a little while longer.
When I did finally open my eyes, Aunt Helen sat back and helped me sit up next to her. I put my head on her shoulder.
“I guess that answers any questions about the both of us,” she said softly.
“I’m glad you’re the answer.”
“And one other thing, Marcy, just call me Helen.”
I wanted to sleep with Helen that night just to be next to her. When I asked, she smiled and patted me on the knee, and said, “Let’s take things one day at a time. Now, you go to bed and we’ll have all day tomorrow to be together, and the day after and the day after…”
I didn’t sleep so well. All I could think of was Helen. I thought of Helen in bed, maybe turning in her sleep, and letting out a little sigh. I could smell her perfume. I imagined putting my arms around her. But, the minute I stopped thinking about her all I could think about was the dead lady in the upstairs bedroom. It was like that all night.
I finally got out of bed and put on my new light green, silk bathrobe. I went to the kitchen and got my bottle of coffee mocha. Helen got us éclairs. I ate one. I wished Helen was awake so we could eat our éclairs together. For a second I thought of just crawling in bed next to her, but I thought better of it. It seems when I want something to happen really bad, there’s always something that goes wrong.
Instead, I went into the front room and sat on the sofa. My leg jiggles when I’m restless. I thought how weird it was sleeping in a house with a dead lady upstairs. I wanted to look at her again. I wanted to be in the same room and not be scared. It doesn’t seem to bother Aunt Helen. It shouldn’t bother me.
I went upstairs. I still had to make myself open the door though. I turned on the light and knelt by the bed. I held out my fingers and just barely touched her cheek. Her skin was so dry, it felt like paper. Her hair was dusty and brittle. Her eye lids were barely open and the sockets were dark and empty. I touched her nose and her shriveled lips, her teeth and then her hands. She wasn’t a person anymore. She wasn’t anything. I understood why it didn’t bother Helen. I even smiled at how silly I was the day before…being scared…the dead lady might as well been a pile of rags. I shrugged and left the room.
I tried the next room over. I opened the door and I put on the light. I had never seen a room like this one before. There were a lot of overstuffed pillows on the floor around a big brass bed. There was a mirror on the ceiling. I could smell Helen’s perfume. I let my robe slide off my shoulders and stood there in my night shirt. I pulled back the comforter. The bed clothes were gold colored silk. I slipped under the covers. The sheets were so cool against my legs it gave me goose bumps. I pulled the pillow over me and hugged it and pretended it was Helen. I closed my eyes, and I don’t know how long I lay there.
I must have dozed off. I woke when I felt Helen’s hand on my shoulder gently shaking me.
“Hey, sleepy head, I see you found the fun room, what are you doing up here?” Helen sat next to me.
Seeing her made me happy and excited inside. I pushed the pillow away and put my hands around Helen’s neck and pulled her down on top of me. Helen didn’t really resist, but she made me feel strange when she asked with a little laugh in her voice, “Marcy, what are you doing?”
I kissed her cheek and then her
lips. I stopped when she didn’t kiss back. “I knew it, I did something wrong.”
I thought to myself. “What’s…what’s the matter?” I felt like I was choking.
Helen pushed herself up a little bit, but I still clung to her. She brushed the hair away from my face and ran her fingertips down my cheek, my neck and stopped at the collar on my night shirt. She twisted the hem around her finger and tugged, pulling me closer to her face. She licked her lips, my heart pounded as she drew me closer and at the last instant she slowly set me back down on the mattress.
“Sweetheart, I don’t know if you are ready.”
My throat was dry, I was panting. “I want to kiss you like we did last night.”
A concerned look crossed her face. “I don’t know if that was a mistake,” she said in a kind way.
“No...no…it wasn’t a mistake.” I pleaded. I sounded so desperate and stupid. Tears came to my eyes.
“Sweetheart, don’t cry.” Helen sat up and put her arm around my shoulder. “Now, pumpkin, it’s a big step to be in love. It’s a big commitment. Especially with us, we’d have a big secret to keep. Marcy, you’re so young,” she said.
“I’m not that young. Can’t somebody who is young be in love?”
Helen kissed my cheek. “Of course,” but she said it like I couldn’t possibly know what it was like. “I’ve had lovers before, and it always started off with, ‘Oh Helen, I’ll love you forever.’ ...Yeah, right, forever. Marcy, I’m almost twice your age.”
It was almost as if Helen was trying to come up with an excuse. I know what I felt from her last night. “I don’t care.” I took her hand and held it against my cheek. “I love you, isn’t that enough?”
“If we become lovers we can never, and I mean never, tell another soul. Ever.”
I held her hand tighter and shook my head yes.
“How do I know you can keep a secret?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you remember? You promised your friends Amy and Beth not to tell. You told me exactly what you three did.”
My lips began to quiver. Tears came to my eyes again. “I promise not to tell anyone, I promise.”
Helen stroked my hair. I didn’t wait. I pulled her face close to mine, closed my eyes and kissed her lips. This time she kissed back. I couldn’t stop kissing her lips and her cheeks and her neck. We lay next to each other and she slipped her hands under my night shirt and ran them up and down my back. My legs began to shake and I began to shiver. Everything was so crazy. I was out of breath and my heart was pounding. She brushed her cheek against my stomach and I felt her hot, wet breath on my skin. She kissed me from the bottom of my belly, all the way up to under my chin and then finally on my lips. I felt like I was melting into her.
Helen rolled to her side and propped her chin in the palm of her hand. “I just don’t know about this, Marcy.” She shook her head and made a little pout and looked off to the side.
“I do, I want to kiss you some more. I love you,” I said hoping and wanting her to say the same thing to me. Before I could reach out to her she sat up and was just out of reach. She pulled her robe around her shoulders and tied it tight. Then she stood up.
“You say you love me?” Helen said almost as if it were a challenge. She went to the door, turned back and crossed her arms, “Come with me.”
The excitement I felt just a minute ago was gone. I got out of bed and followed Helen to the last room on the landing. She opened the door. The room was empty except for a blanket in the middle of the floor that covered something up. Helen took my hand and knelt; she pulled me down next to her and guided my hand to the corner of the blanket. “Grab it,” she said. I did and she pulled my hand back along with the blanket.
I gasped. It was a young woman. Helen let go of my hand and we both sat back on our heels.
“Marcy, meet Anita… Anita, meet Marcy.”
I pulled my hand away and scrambled backwards away from the dead girl and wound up sitting with my back against the door.
Helen covered up the dead girl, “Don’t be so upset, come here,” she reached out and offered me her hand.
I took it. “What happened to her?”
“Oh, I’ll tell you, but first there’s something we have to take care of.” She helped me to my feet and when we were on the landing she picked me up and carried me into her fun room and gently set me down. “Still love me?” She undid her robe and let it fall to the floor. Helen stood there naked. My heart started to pound. She smiled and raised her eyebrows. I pulled my night shirt over my head and dropped it. I put my arms around her and I kissed her on the mouth the same way I kissed Beth.
She pulled her head back, “Well, do you still love me?”
I nodded and closed my eyes and kissed her again. We fell on the bed. I felt every part of her against me. Her hands and lips were magic. I got lost in her perfume and all of those wonderful kisses. She taught me so many things, so many ways to please each other. And when we were done, I felt so relaxed and so satisfied, I wanted to stay in Helen’s arms forever.
While we lay there, Helen told me about Anita. She came from Mexico. Her family had money, a lot of money. Helen was sure they were part of some drug cartel. Her dad owned two hotels in Cancun. Anita was a student at San Diego State College. She saw an old ad for Helen’s room posted on the bulletin board. When they met, it was one of those whirlwind things. When Helen told me about how attracted they were to each other she snuggled a little bit closer. She doing that, made me feel better. I smiled and we kissed. At this point, how could I be jealous? She said everything went fine until Anita wanted one of her girlfriends to stay the weekend. Helen heard them and peeked into the fun room. They were making love.
After the girlfriend left, Helen and Anita started to argue. Things got out of hand and there was some yelling and pushing, and on accident Anita fell down the stairs. Helen said she couldn’t go to the police. They were sure to find Alison in the other bedroom. So she carried Anita up the stairs and put her in the empty room. She put some heat lamps on her and three fans to blow the smell out of the opened windows . It took three weeks for Anita to get all dried up like Alison.
“What can we do?” I asked as I rubbed my forehead against her cheek and kissed just below her ear.
“This happened about a month ago, right after the semester was over. Everyone probably thinks she went home.”
I nodded. “Did anyone know she was here?”
“Sure, but they’ll only know what I tell them... ‘She left when the semester was over.’”
Our cuddling was interrupted by the telephone. It was my mother. She was really upset. She told me Aaron won a huge jackpot. He gave my mother five thousand dollars and left town with another woman. She was going to come by and pick me up tomorrow afternoon and take me with her for a week to Cancun. She said she needed me to keep her company. She said she didn’t know what she’d do. I held my hand over the mouthpiece and told Helen everything.
“Cancun?” said Helen.
“Yes at the Bahia del Rey Hotel.”
Helen burst out laughing. “When are you supposed to leave?”
“Don’t argue. Tell her we’ll meet her at the airport, and you’ll be already to go.”
I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know why Helen would want me to say something like that. But, I did.
“Go upstairs to Anita’s room. There are two big, brown, leather suitcases that are hers. Leave one in Anita’s room and take the other over to Alison’s room.”
Helen came back upstairs. She had a bread knife, and a hack saw.
Alison separated quite easily. With a little cutting with the bread knife first, we were able to snap her arms off at the elbows and legs at the knees. Her joints sounded like a bread stick snapping, and when the skin or muscle tore it was just like Velcro. First I would use the bread knife to cut through the bigger tendons and joints. And when I got tired, Helen took over. Alison only took about twenty minutes. The hardest was her head. The bread knife cut through her neck pretty good,but then it got really gross, so Helen put a pillowcase over Alison’s head and while I held her steady, Helen kinda twisted Alison’s head back and forth until it finally came off.
Anita wasn’t so easy. We had to cut through everything. She took forever, especially her thighs. She weighed a lot more than Alison, so we put half of each in both suitcases. We packed all my old clothes around the arms and legs, heads and torsos and zipped the suitcases closed and locked them.
Helen took the insert out of the name tags, turned them over and wrote in Leigh Ann Rolston L.A. Ca. I asked Helen what the big red and white stickers that were on the suitcases meant; they were in Spanish. She translated, “Property of Anita Gomez. If found, send to Bahia del Rey Hotel, Cancun, Mexico.”
The next morning after breakfast we made love in the shower. Afterwards, Helen cut my hair short like hers. I put on black nail polish and black lipstick, my sexy shorts and shoes and halter top. I borrowed Helen’s silver choker chain. We met my mother that afternoon at the airport. I saw her pacing back and forth. She looked right past me. When she finally did recognize me, her mouth fell open.
“Marcy! Helen, how could you? Look at her…her hair… you cut your hair, that lipstick, those clothes! My God.”
“Leigh Ann, Marcy said she needed some clothes, and these would be fine with you. All the kids are wearing crazy makeup these days.” Helen tried to sound innocent. My mother wouldn’t stand for it. Helen started to fake-scold me, “I told you, Marcy, your mom wouldn’t like that.”
Helen took a Kleenex out of her purse and started to wipe the lipstick off.
“You two, stop it. I’ve got to board in less than ten minutes.”
Helen handed me an empty straw tote, looked over her shoulder and said to my mother, “I wasn’t sure, so I brought her a change of clothes and some decent shoes.” She handed me the bag and pointed to the rest room. I went in and sneaked right back out again and stood half behind a pillar so I could watch.
“Here, Leigh Ann, you grab a suitcase, I’ll get the other one. Let’s hurry and get them checked in.”
“These aren’t Marcy’s bags.”
“No, they’re bigger and nicer. They cost about six hundred dollars apiece. Look they even have a guarantee they’ll get to the Hotel.” Helen pointed to the red and white sticker. "Make sure you point that sticker out to the hotel clerk so you can get your discount."
Helen pushed the suitcase along with her foot.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“I did something to my shoulder and it hurts too much to pick it up.”
“Always an excuse, when it comes to work.”
My mother had to use both hands, but she picked up the bags and set them on the moving luggage conveyor. She looked up at the clock.
“Go in the restroom and hurry that brat up.”
“Sis, let her stay for another week? Go on your vacation. Who knows what adventures you’ll have down there in Cancun? You might meet a nice guy. I can almost guarantee you’ll have a more memorable time by yourself.“
“I don’t know…”
“You know you’re going to make each other’s lives miserable…it’s just for a week more.”
My mother looked at the clock and nodded to Helen. “One week, but when I’m back, you tell her for me there’ll be hell to pay.”
“Oh yeah, there’ll be hell to pay.”
“I can’t wait anymore. Say good-bye to her.”
“I certainly will. Now, don’t forget to point out that sticker to the hotel clerk. You’re supposed to get a discount. Bye, have fun.”
After my mother entered the loading tunnel I went over to Helen. She slipped her hand in my back pocket and cradled my bottom.
“Hey sweetheart, what do you say to a nice juicy steak dinner?”
I slipped my hand into Helen’s back pocket and gave her a good pinch on the butt.
“Ouch, Marcy…you are a bad, bad girl.”
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