2: there was a man
Remember when you dropped your package of overnight pads at the feet of two strangers?
Not only that, but you managed to trip and fall right after that.
In front of not one, but two people!
So...do you remember?
I groaned and laid face down on my pillows, muffling my voice with the fluffy surface.
That encounter had been stuck in my head for three weeks.
For why you ask?
Because my brain was incapable of burying an embarrassing event just for future occasions of bringing it up at random moments.
But my mind didn’t just occasionally resurface old memories, it replayed them every day like clockwork.
It was so ready to ruin my day with a thought from twelve years ago, one month ago, or even three weeks.
I sat on the side of my bed and grabbed my glasses from the nightstand, holding my phone in my hand and staring at the black screen blankly. Glancing down at my shirt, I frowned and pulled out stretches it out, hiding the prominent pudge of my stomach.
The screen of my phone illuminated and before the first ring of my alarm could go off, I shut it down, disconnecting it from the charger.
A yawn slipped from my mouth as I entered my bathroom, the light turning on the moment my foot met the cool black marble floor.
I reached into the shower and turned the knob until it reached the normal temperature I always made it. I lifted my glasses, rubbing my eyes tiredly and set my phone down, smacking my lips repeatedly scrolling down my playlist and blindly picking out a song, waiting until the music beats came through the speakers above me.
Gripping the edge of my t-shirt, I stripped myself of the old material, flinging it into the hamper beside the door. I set my glasses down next to the sink, mumbling the words of the song to myself.
My eyes avoided the mirror as I got rid of my underwear, pulling on the shower cap that was hanging near the shower door.
The water rained down on me warmly, wetting my skin in seconds. I rolled my neck and looked up, closing my eyes to let the water stream down my face.
The song easily transitioned into another, an expression of contentment slipping onto my face.
Remember? Sixth grade. They told you your taste in music was weird, just like you.
A frown quickly replaced the small smile on my face and I grabbed my sponge, lathering the black soap into it before scrubbing down my body harsher than needed.
Trying to wash those memories away?
It’s been fifteen years. Give it up.
Shutting off the water, I climbed out the shower and grabbed the towel that was folded on the countertop. I tied it around my chest, patting my face dry with a smaller towel hanging next to the sink.
The phone started to ring as I picked up my toothbrush, my finger sliding over the button to answer the call once I saw the name that came on the screen.
“It’s only 8am and I’ve already got hold of my vibrator twice,” Melia blurted, her voice boomed through the speakers.
I choked on the toothpaste I had managed to lather up in my mouth when she spoke. “For gosh sake Melia!”
“Mhm?” she hummed in response, sizzling and the clattering of pans in the background of her phone while she cooked.
“It’s too early,” I mumbled, wiping the mirror with a paper towel. I bared my teeth and continued brushing, glancing down at my silent phone.
“It’s never too early to talk about pussy, my good friend,” Melia snapped into the phone. “And you know what else it isn’t too early to talk about?”
I rolled my eyes, shaking my head. My response came out gargled as I tried to keep the toothpaste saliva mixture in my mouth.
I spit into the sink and sighed, rinsing my mouth the my toothbrush.
“Or ass,” Melia rambled on. “I’m versatile like that.”
“Melia I love our talks in the morning–”
“You do?” she chirped.
“...no. I’m lying. My head has too much going on to be talking about...penis and vagina at–” I checked the time on my phone, “–9am.”
“You sound jealous,” Melia retorted, her words muffled as she ate.
“Oh, I am everything but,” I smiled, my finger hovering over the end call button. “I’ll see you later Mel.”
“M’kay. I love you!” she exclaimed, blowing a kiss over the phone dramatically.
“Love you too,” I responded, ending the call with a chuckle.
Everyday I ask how I ended up being friends with someone who is total polar opposite of me.
But I guess fate had a mysterious way of working.
I had met Melia my freshman year of high school. That day, everyone decided that I looked just perfect for their insults and snide remarks.
At thirteen, I was at my lowest, already self conscious about how I looked. People didn’t care.
And all those words stuck.
They didn’t think how their words would affect the victim. Because here I am twelve years later, still thinking about how Ramona Lewis, a junior, laughed in my face when I had asked about joining the dance team.
"Lose about..." she had looked me up and down. ”Hmm about fifty pounds then I’ll see."
And everyone had heard.
And they laughed.
Because forget mental health right?
To escape the small snickers and pointed whispers, I wandered into the library and down the fiction aisle, my fingers tracing over a book about werewolves when I heard a low thud on the other side of the shelf.
Bending down, I looked through the space and saw a popular sophomore, James, being held up against a shelf, his hands bound by a familiar freshman as she attacked his neck, his face struggling to keep in the small noises that escaped his mouth. Her knee rubbed between his legs, her brown hair cascading to the side as she craned her neck.
My mouth had dropped open in a gasp, catching the girl’s attention. In attempt to provide some kind of privacy for the two, I covered my eyes, still peeking through my middle and ring finger.
She let go of James and jutted her chin towards the exit, promoting him to leave with a prominent erection and in a hurry.
Rather than follow James’ course and get out of there immediately, I gulped and stood still.
Suddenly she burst into laughter and waved. “Enjoy the show?”
And that would make twelve years spent with a sex-crazed mystical being.
As if our friendship couldn’t have gotten anymore peculiar, the first time I had slept over–just over a month later–Melia took off all her clothes in front of me, uncaring of my outburst, and turned into a wolf.
I had fainted, waking up and not believing it.
So being the person she was, Melia did it all over again.
And I fainted...again.
Nonetheless, we had grown closer and went everywhere together, talked about everything together.
I was there for her first win in the MMA club. For her first heartbreak. Her first relationship with a girl. Even the first time she came out as bisexual to her dad, which gave way for him to say, ”Lilya owes me twenty bucks.” Her first time–she burst into my room just twenty minutes after and announced to the whole house, ”guess who just rode the hell out of some dick?”
I earned a lengthy talk from my dad because of that.
I was there for her first relationship that ended so badly, the police had to get involved.
That was...something else.
And of course Melia was always there for me.
For my first B on a report–which still gets me upset to this day. The first time I had a crush. For the first time I was heartbroken over said crush because he went after a girl that was everything I wasn’t.
For the first time I approached a guy during senior year, after liking him for three years and staying silent finally deciding to speak up about my affections. Mustering up all the strength and minuscule confidence I had as a seventeen year old girl with major self esteem issues, pouring my heart out to him in a semi-private area.
I had practiced that confession speech for months.
All that for him to say, ”oh...I’m sorry. You’re not exactly my type and I’m not looking for anything right now.” He had looked me up and down, giving a sheepish smile, walking away right after.
The next day Ramona Lewis was in his lap and they were kissing right in the middle of the cafeteria.
So from then on, no crush was confessed to or talked about ever again.
My love life was in shambles and I made no attempt to fix it.
Another ring came from my phone and I looked down in exasperation to see Melia’s name again.
I answered while walking back into my bedroom, turning on the fan.
“My pussy is tingling,” Melia shouted excitedly and it sounded like a demon was lurking around in my air vents. “Something is going to happen soon!”
“And why did you call me for that?” I asked lightly, picking out my clothes for the day and laying them on my bed.
“Because I have your number and you gotta hear me say this shit so when something does happen, we can be like: ′wow Melia’s tingles were right yet again!’. Duh.”
I looked at my phone incredulously before hanging up without saying a word.
“She’s tainting my morning,” I muttered, pulling off my towel and hung it on the chair in front of the vanity.
I clicked the volume higher on my phone and switched the song, rubbing lotion into my skin and adding a different moisturizer to my face.
“You know I don’t appreciate being hung up on,” Melia’s voice popped out of nowhere, making me scramble for my towel, quickly wrapping around my body.
“Mel-what the freak! You can’t just come in here without knocking!” I breathed rapidly, anxious sweat forming on my forehead.
“Please.” Melia dismissed my words with a wave of her hand and walked into my bedroom, plopping down on my bed next to my clothes for the day. “I’ve seen your glorious body many times before. No need to act like I’m on a mission to swipe a picture of you.”
“Yes you have seen me many times. And all forty times were accidents,” I hissed, fixing my grip on the dark towel.
Melia turned to me and cocked a brow. “You counted?”
I shrugged. “Just go.” I directed her to the door. “Wait for me to get ready.”
Melia twiddled with the thread of the sweater I picked out.
“It’s the middle of the summer dear. I beg, let me pick out something we both like to accommodate this weather so I don’t find you having a stroke with this heavy ass blanket wrapped around you,” Melia advised, a look of disgust on her face.
I pointed to the door. “Out.”
Melia mocked me, downturning her lips, opening and closing her lips like a fish. “Get out meh meh meh.” She lifted herself off the bed and walked to the door.
Just as I was about to let go of the towel again, Melia poked her head back in and commented, “your titties are outstanding.”
I groaned and marched to the door, closing and locking it.
“Here’s the mail for today,” the intern, Riyya, said softly, setting down the pile of packages and envelopes on the table.
“Thank you,” I smiled, sliding over the pile to me.
“You’re welcome,” she replied, walking back to her workspace in the corner.
Melia came out of the storage room, with her hair up in a ponytail, in her hands, a notebook.
“You already restocked from yesterday Riyya?” Melia asked, not looking up from her notebook.
“Yes ma’am,” Riyya said back.
“Thank you!” Melia uttered, sitting down beside me and scooting the chair closer.
I continued swiping through the mail, separating the different kinds. Pausing, I caught onto one in particular.
“We said we needed to add a beam for new mannequins right?” I pulled up the magnetic card with a number on it.
“We sure did. I still can’t find a company that’s good for our hours,” Melia grumbled, opening up her laptop.
I turned the card to her. “We’ll add this one to the list then.”
I stood and walked to the fridge, placing the card on the metallic surface.
“Have you ever heard of this company?” I questioned, narrowing my eyes at the name. “It’s in another language.”
“Maybe it’s a foreign company expanding its horizons.” Melia opened her arms, looking back at me, her eyes flitting to the clock on the wall.
“Almost time to open up.” Melia closed her laptop and smoothed out her tight dress as she stood, letting her hair down from the ponytail.
I was still looking at the card, racking my brain to see if I had seen anything like it before in my search for handymen.
“Let’s go Xenny.” Melia grabbed my arm and tugged me to the door.
“Sorry,” I muttered and adjusted the sweater around my stomach.
Before I slipped out the door, I waved my hand to get Riyya’s attention. “Oh and Riyya could you look into any other companies?”
“Will do Miss Thomas,” Riyya beamed, flipping open her tablet and setting it so she could type.
Melia pulled me all the way out the door and strutted to the doors, unlocking them.
The store opened at 11:00am and it was 10:59am when Melia unlocked the doors.
The first customer entered and after that, a wave of men and women came in and out the doors.
The day was usually filled with compliments and adorations for our work. Even a few people wanted to take photos. And even more surprising, they wanted to take them with me.
As the day dwindled down and the customers didn’t, I stretched out my back, leaning side to side and blinking my eyes repeatedly. Taking off my glasses, I picked up the handkerchief from inside the drawer under the register and cleaned them, quickly putting them back on when a woman came up to me with a pile of lingerie in her hands.
“You’re so pretty,” she gushed, her eyes twinkling as she stared shamelessly at me. “I’m such a big fan of you! I know you don’t post a lot on the social media pages but I’m so in love with you! Not to sound creepy but...yeah.”
My face warmed and I stopped scanning her items momentarily, letting out a soft chuckle.
“Posting is Mel’s job. She lives for it,” I replied, my heart still clenching from her words.
“I know. But you’re such an icon,” she continued, nearly hopping around with excitement. “Can I get a picture with you?”
I finished scanning and nodded, bending down slightly to get in the frame for the picture.
“Ah! Thank you!” She handed me her card and kept rambling about how perfect I was and how she wished she was me.
I couldn’t help but frown.
No you wouldn’t, my mind replied. You wouldn’t want to be me.
“Bye!” She waved, walking out the store with a brighter smile than before.
I waved, my lips in a tight line.
“That was adorable,” Melia sighed from beside me.
“Mhm,” I hummed in agreement. “It was.”
I felt Melia stare on me.
Spending so many years together, you would know when your friend is feeling a certain type of way, just from how they spoke or body language.
With Melia, she could literally sense it. As she described it, ”it’s my hearing. I’ve separated and singled out all the different types of emotions the heartbeat has.”
“Did she make you feel uncomfortable? Do I have to fight?” Melia said, not joking in the slightest.
I shook my head. “Just tired is all.”
“I smell bullshit–”
“Okay Captain America–”
The front door opened and a man in a black turtleneck and black slacks walked in, his expression dark. He wore a gold necklace with a cross, with matching gold watch. His muscles nearly busted out his top, his neck length hair slicked back, bringing attention to the very small gold hoops that pierced his ears.
The store was emptying so he stood out like a sore thumb, towering over literally everyone in the room.
Melia quickly walked over to me, her heels clicking against the floor.
“I don’t know him. But he seems dangerous. I’m in the mood to have my guts rearranged. Should I go for it?” she whispered, her eyes on him like he was prey.
“Mel you don’t even know him.”
“I’m sorry is that supposed to stop me?”
I sighed and shook my head, smacking her arm. “Stop being so nasty.”
“That’s like telling me to go drink bleach. I am most definitely taking offense to that.” Melia walked back to her register as the man walked over, directing his gaze to me.
I seized up, my fingers curling around the white counter. My mouth was drying and it was starting to get too hot in this oversized sweater.
“I am big fan,” he grumbled, his voice vibrating deep. “Can I take picture with you?”
Melia squealed beside me and even pulled out her phone to film this very unusual conversation.
“O-okay,” I managed to say, slipping out from behind the counter and next to the man.
He pulled out his phone and crouched down, angling the phone. I was more in the frame than he was, half his face coming out in the final product.
"Grazie,” was all he said after, making his way out the store.
“Now that...that is a man,” Melia breathed, placing her hand over her chest.
I tuned out her words, watching the man return to a black SUV that had it windows tinted. But squinting hard enough, I could see the bright phone screen being handed to someone else in the backseat.
“Earth to Xenia.” Melia snapped in my face. “Time to lock up.” She patted my butt towards the door.
The SUV was still in its spot when I walked to the door, the outline of a man in the backseat clearer than before.
Before I could get a better look, it pulled off into the street, speeding down the road.