When I awakened, the sun had been up for a long time and Billy was long gone. I shifted beneath his bed covers, noticing I was still in my Spooky Day dress from the previous night. I tried to lift my head, but everything was swimming. I picked a spot on the wood board ceiling and tried to regain my focus.
What happened last night?
Everything was foggy. I remembered going to the art gallery for an event. A modeling gig. I was getting paid, right? I arrived and things got… wonky… I noticed the reflection of the water on the ceiling boards, little wave patterns dancing in the sunlight.
What time is it?
“Billy?” I called out.
I felt down my front, relieved that I was still clothed. Wait, didn’t I just check that? What’s wrong with me? My shoes were missing. Billy must have put me to bed, but after what? The band of my top slid slightly to the right and I self-consciously covered my breasts with my arms.
We had wandered into the park after I was drinking something called vodka, I think.
Mmm, vodka is NOT my friend, I thought as I swung my legs over the side of the bed. I let my feet touch the carpet as I rubbed my eyes, hoping my vision would correct itself and the blurriness would evaporate. I wiggled my toes in the yellow strands of fabric and tried to think, tried to process, and tried to put sentences together.
“Billy?” I called again, this time more loudly.
What happened, Kass? Think! Think! This is just a hangover. You’ve had one before.
Yeah and they are never fun.
Okay so you were drinking.
Drinking and dancing?
No drinking and modeling?
No… modeling after drinking with Billy?
Outside… at that park… you were giggling and laughing and having fun and you took your top off.
Wait… you took your top off?
Oh gawd! Kass, you did! You took your top off. And Billy kissed you and touched you and painted you.
Oh and you were outside!
I rubbed my forehead in vain, trying to coax the thundering elephant in my brain to leave. What if someone had seen us? What if someone had seen me posing half-naked outside in the middle of the night? Why was I drinking? Why was I so stupid?
A tear slid down my cheek when I realized I didn’t remember how I had gotten from the park to Billy’s houseboat. I had asked him to take me home… to the trailer… I think. Had I been clear? What happened next? I didn’t know. I didn’t know and that scared the hell out of me. I recklessly tossed all the blankets off the bed, searching for something, anything, any sign of intercourse or intimacy.
I slid my hand below my skirt. My underwear was still on. Maybe we didn’t... I thought hopefully.
But maybe we did, I thought in horror. And I don’t remember a thing.
I stood up, the room and my person swaying. Once gaining my balance, I started hunting around the room for my clothes. Any clothes. I located my shoes near the stairwell. I didn’t see my teal sweater or my dress, my other one, the yellow one.
I reached for the dresser drawers, hoping I could find some clothes of my own or even something of Billy’s to borrow. The drawer seemed stuck, but finally flew open. My hand slipped and I fell back onto the floor, my rear hitting the carpet at full speed.
“Ow!” I moaned.
More tears welled in my eyes. This can’t be happening!
Was I wearing a yellow dress last night?
Oh why am I second-guessing myself?
I continued lamenting, too terrified to call for Billy again. I assumed he wasn’t on the houseboat or he would’ve come.
Maybe he’s just downstairs, I tried to convince myself, but I had a sinking feeling in my heart.
I found a pair of Billy’s underwear in the top drawer, and tucked beneath a white tee shirt, I found a black bikini top.
Is that mine? I frowned. I didn’t remember owning a black bikini top. It would suffice. I decided to change in the bathroom, too embarrassed to be seen. I didn’t want anyone looking through the large bedroom windows. I found my shorts and belt in the bathroom by the sink. I was relieved I could walk home in something other than this stupid dress I was wearing.
I tied the strings tightly. I didn’t want them coming loose. Much to my dismay, I recalled Billy untying my straps last night sometime while we were outside.
The first time is supposed to be special, I thought with despair, staring into the mirror after I pulled up my shorts.
You don’t even know if you did, I reminded myself.
…but you don’t know if you didn’t.
I tightened my belt. I grabbed my heels, and shoved them on my feet before attempting to take the stairs. I walked slowly, each step echoing in the small houseboat, each step my heart filling with more dread and humiliation. I couldn’t go outside looking like this.
“Billy?” I called out, softer, more tentatively.
Still no response.
Maybe he went to get breakfast.
I glanced at the clock on the wall, the little hands dancing before my eyes, the ticking… the ticking… the inane ticking.
It was 1:32 P.M.
Dad would be wondering where I was. Oh gawd! How would I explain this?
I looked around the downstairs for my dress and sweater, but found nothing. I was about to return upstairs to borrow one of Billy’s shirts when I heard the dryer on the deck buzz loudly. I cautiously slipped out the glass sliding door onto the deck and walked to the washing machine, hugging my chest with my arms. Even with the bikini top I was feeling exposed. I reached into the machine and found the clothes hadn’t fully dried. The tears were falling faster down my cheeks right now.
I shouldn’t be doing this.
I couldn’t stop the torrential downpour on my face. I swallowed a sob, determined to stay quiet. I didn’t want anyone to hear me or see me. I was too humiliated as is. I grabbed my white button down, the one I wore one time earlier in the summer when I catered at the Goth party. What was it doing here? I didn’t know. I didn’t care. It was still damp. I slid the shirt on over the black bikini top and hoped no one would witness my walk of shame home. I began buttoning when I heard heels clacking on the deck. Female heels. I whirled around.
“Well,” Glory Ann said as she approached. “Fancy finding you here.”
I covered my mouth to keep the gasp from escaping. She was dressed from head-to-toe in royal purple – dangling hoop earrings, purple low-cut blouse and grey-gem-studded belt, purple flippy mini skirt, and purple heels with decorative zippers. I felt severely uncomfortable in my thrown-together ensemble.
“What are you doing here?” I swiped at the tears on my face, hoping and praying my mascara didn’t run and I didn’t look like a raccoon.
“Didn’t Billy tell you?” she said, with a smug lilt in her voice. “He told me to meet him here for coffee around two.”
My mouth dropped open.
“But I thought I’d get here early and surprise him,” Glory Ann added, swishing her skirt and shaking her head so her earrings danced mockingly.
“Wwhh…why?” I asked, standing motionless.
“Because dear, we’ve got a history, of course,” Glory Ann laughed as if I was supposed to know.
I decided right then and there I had never actually hated anyone, but I kinda hated Glory Ann now.
“Um… Billy isn’t here,” I replied.
“That’s okay,” Glory Ann leaned against the washer and dryer. “I can wait.”
“I think you should leave,” I narrowed my eyes.
“Why? Because you’re his girlfriend?” she said sarcastically, and then glanced off into the distance. “Not for long.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, clearly annoyed.
“Oh honey, you can’t be that naive,” Glory Ann said dramatically. “Did you think Billy would stay with you for long, you precious virgin? After dragging your drunk ass home last night, Billy came over to my place.”
My eyes widened in shock and fear.
Glory Ann licked her lips and smirked. “I’m not a virgin, you know.”
I felt as if someone had smacked my head with a two-by-four beam and I was reeling in pain. Of course, I was reeling in pain. An attractive woman just told me she banged my boyfriend. The same guy who convinced me to pose half-nude last night outside after getting me drunk. I choked back a sob.
“Oh now, there there,” Glory Ann said mockingly. “Don’t cry, darling. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack her or collapse onto the deck in a puddle of tears.
“Oh, by the way, you look adorable in my bikini top.”
My eyes widened some more.
“Don’t worry about returning it though. You can keep it. Think of it like a souvenir,” Glory Ann called after me as I took off as fast as my high heels could take me.
I only stopped when I reached the end of the docks and set foot on dry, sturdy land. My cell phone dinged alerting me to a text message. I was shocked when I lifted the phone and read the contents…
Hey Red, I got a commission that pays a year’s salary in Simnadia. Just found out this morning and the client wants me right away. I booked a flight. I left twelve hundred Simos in your purse for last night. I’ll call you.
It was signed Billy.
I closed my eyes, tears pouring down my face. I was used. I was used… and then discarded. I was paid like a cheap prostitute. I couldn’t even remember what happened last night, and then Glory Anne insinuated something happened between her and Billy. My boyfriend. Or at least I thought he was. I was wearing her bikini top. I cringed and cried, but no sound escaped. I was lost in my own world of grief, numb, unable to speak, unable to think clearly. The hangover was secondary to the loss I was feeling. I walked home. Back to my trailer. Back to where I belonged. Every step I took increased my sorrow as I thought about Billy.
How could he do this to me? How could he cheat on me? How could he pressure me? How could he take advantage of me? How could he just leave with no explanation? I kicked a rock in my pathway and it bounced across the sand. He was a coward. And I was a fool.
By the time I reached the trailer, it was pouring rain. I didn’t even care anymore that I was soaking wet. I didn’t care that I was single. It was probably better this way. I did care about answers and I wanted some, but I wasn’t getting any now. I sighed and sat down heavily on the steps of the mobile home and covered my face. I no longer felt angry or upset. I felt empty as if someone cleared out my house and left me nothing behind – nothing but a shell of a home with walls, a floor, and the ceiling. I felt blank like an open document on my computer, no words coming to me, no fingers moving across the keys. Blankness. A mouse indicator at best on a screen not meant to be filled. I heard a loud thud inside.
Frowning, I stood to my feet, wobbling on my heels. Dad was supposed to be at work. What was inside the trailer? Cautiously, I opened the door.
“Dad!” I gasped.
Author Note: Lucky Palms Episodes got really long, and that was totally unintentional. Interludes & Solitude is no longer a short story but almost a full-length story since
it’s close to it is 20 chapters. I’ll be moving on from the Palms and visiting a few other cities with Kass and her dad, but this time, I’ll try and keep things shorter. This story really took on a life of its own, which is wonderful, though I don’t know if I’m on track to start back to KFLL in December. We’ll see. I hope you enjoyed.