I woke the next morning to the smell of animal fat and bacon grease. I could hear the stove sizzling, the clank of pots and pans, and knew Kevin was up and about just outside the door. Despite the hunger pains from missing dinner last night, I fought the urge to run out there and inhale some breakfast; the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed. Not only would seeing Kevin drudge up memories of last night – memories I was more than happy to forget – but it would inevitably lead to my least favorite game: fifty questions. Why he couldn’t remember anything. How he’d earned himself his shiny purple jaw. All questions I wasn’t prepared to answer.
I pulled the covers up over my head, making a makeshift fort like I used to as a kid. Then I cursed under my breath.
Normally, morning-after explanations were easy. Mostly because I never stuck around long enough to have to deal with them. And if I had just sucked it up last night and handled things on my own, that would have been the case today. But I’d been weak; I hadn’t wanted to be alone. Even though I knew (better than anyone, really) that morning would have to come eventually and when it did, I’d be left to explain things.
Now that the time had come, I hoped to postpone the conversation as long as possible.
I pulled the sheets tighter over my head. I wanted to stay there forever, and I would have. Maybe.
But Kevin’s alarm clock had other plans.
It blared to life, it’s wail stabbing my eardrums. I flailed my arms out from beneath the sheets, blindly hitting things on the bed-side dresser, hoping to silence it. Something fell to the ground with a crack and I groaned. It sounded expensive.
The wail died out. The bedroom door creaked open, a splinter of light filtering into the room.
I pulled the sheets down to my shoulders and saw Kevin poke his head inside.
“Er… you okay in here?”
“Yeah, all good.” I frowned. “I think I might’ve broken your alarm clock, though.”
Kevin looked at the ground. “Nope. That would be a family photo.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just the frame.” He paused for a moment, and I braced myself. Here it was. The inevitable death by question in 3…2…
But the barrage never came. Instead, Kevin nodded torward the bathroom and said, “when you’re ready, there’s breakfast.” Then he slipped back outside, leaving me to wonder what the hell had just happened.
How was he so calm about everything?
I did some quick mental math. Memory loss plus a bruised face plus a random girl in your bed? Yeah, that trifecta usually earned you some questions, or at least a lingering sense of confusion. I shrugged. Maybe blacking out and getting into fights was a normal Saturday night for Kevin.
Either way, I decided to just go with it. I’d drive myself crazy otherwise. If Kevin wanted answers, he’d ask. Eventually.
I pulled the sheets aside and rolled out of bed. I felt stiff, beaten down, like I’d been hit by a run-away semi. And really, I pretty much had been. I half stretched, half limped my way to the bathroom. It was a tiny little room, shaped like a triangle tilted on its side. The tiles sported some serious grunge, the walls the beginnings of some mildew. I squeezed through the narrow doorway, splashed some water on my face, and got a good look at myself in the mirror.
I hadn’t slept much last night and my face had clearly thanked me for it. The bags under my eyes were larger and darker now. My eyes themselves, normally a deep hazel, seemed somehow deader. But what drew my attention most was the dark welt on my lower lip. It seemed to be having a tough time deciding whether it wanted to be yellow, purple, or black. I ran my hand over it and winced.
Without warning, an image from last night flashed past my eyes, like an old-school film strip played out in my head. I saw Beef Cake behind me. I could feel the heat radiating off of him, could taste his sweat-slicked palm as it closed around my mouth. His other hand roamed my body…
A wave of revulsion hit me. I lurched toward the toilet, a bead of sweat dribbling down my forehead as I leaned over and dry-heaved. My blonde curls fell over my eyes and I ran my hand back through my hair, before resting my head against the wall.
It was all starting to hit me. Everything from last night. Thoughts, images, sounds. Old memories and new ones. And Kevin not remembering, though par for the course for me, was the kicker.
I was so incredibly broken.
The urge to flee hit me full force right then. I pushed myself to my feet, swayed, then walked back into Kevin’s bedroom. I’d hidden the money and baggie I’d taken off Beef Cake in a crook underneath the bedframe. I hadn’t gotten a chance to look inside the bag. In reality, I hadn’t wanted to. Not then, at least.
I retrieved the items and stuffed them back into my shirt. Then I wiped my mouth on my sleeve, wincing slightly from the bruise, and walked out into the common room. Kevin was sitting at a table, chewing on a piece of bacon. He looked up as I entered and gestured to a plate of eggs.
I shook my head. I was barely holding it together. “I’ve gotta go, Kevin.”
He frowned and pointed to his jaw. It was an ugly shade of blue. “Are you even going to tell me how I got this?”
I looked away from him, avoiding his eyes. I thought about everything he had done for me: offered me a place to crash, given me his own bed, come to protect me against Beef Cake. And what had I given him? Memory loss and a sucker punch to the face.
I was truly an asshole.
I looked him dead in the eyes.
He was the type of guy that under different circumstances – if I had been different – I might have ended up with. But I wasn’t foolish enough to think anything like that would ever happen for me now. In the end, the best thing I could give him would be lies.
Sometimes remembering was the worst burden of all.
“You fell,” I said. “When we were walking.”
Another flash. A hand pulling up my skirt.
“I fell,” he said.
He pointed at my lip. “So what, you fell too?”
Cold air between my legs, a hand inching upward.
“You-” I started. “You were drunk. You, ah…”
The pull of a zipper, the pressure against my back.
“Christ, are you okay?” Kevin said.
I was vaguely aware of him getting up and walking over to me. I didn’t realize what he was talking about at first, then I noticed I was shaking.
“It’s okay,” he said. “You can talk to me. ” He stepped closer. “What really happened last night? I can’t remember a damn thing.”
He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder, but it wasn’t his hand anymore. It was Beef Cake’s. It was reaching up to my hair, tugging me around, pushing me down onto the hood of that car.
“Fuck off!” I shouted, as I shoved him away from me. He jerked backward, losing his balance in the process, and tripped over his chair. He hit the ground with a dull thud, eyes wide as saucers.
I looked down on him and felt my cheek run wet.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “Okay? But that’s just what happened.”
“Rainey, wait. I -”
I ran past him and out of the door.
It was ten past noon when I arrived back at Ritas, Beef Cake’s cash tucked safely away in my cleavage. The concierge at the front glanced up as I entered the lobby, having just peeled her face from the pages of a book. She smiled and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, then opened her mouth slightly as she got a good look at my tear-stained cheeks, my dirt-covered clothes and the green jutting from my chest. I shrugged and tried to give her my best “these things happen” look. I wasn’t sure she bought it.
She pushed her glasses back up her nose. “You missed morning checkout, ma’m. We have to charge you for the day today.”
I was moments away from coming undone at the seams. I couldn’t be fucked to deal with this. I reached into my shirt and pulled out a handful of wrinkled bills, tossing them out onto the counter.
Her eyes grew big. “Ma’m,” she said, as she started to sift through the cash. “This is too much.”
I walked to the elevator.
“Excuse me, Ma’m!”
I pressed the button to my floor.
I sat on the bed in my hotel room, Alice open on my lap, and scribbled down word after horrible word. I couldn’t focus on anything else; I needed these thoughts out of my head, and I needed them out now.
Alice was the only way I knew how.
I’d had Alice with me since the beginning. Ever since I first discovered what had happened to me all those years ago. She had gotten me through the worse of it. Each and every moment, each and every day.
The writing wasn’t helping. My thoughts still waged war inside my battered skull. I tried to keep going, tried to push on, but my hand shook violently with each loop of the pen. Worse yet, I kept getting flashes of Beef Cake – his massive form on top of me, that piercing look in his eyes.
I squeezed the pen tighter, hoping to control the shaking. Tighter still, until with another squeeze, there was a crunch and the ink exploded onto my lap and Alice.
“Damnit!” I screamed. I threw the cracked pen across the room, where it bounced off the wall, before landing on the desk in the corner. A thin trail of ink leaked across the lacquered finish, winding its way toward the small silver vials I had laid out there.
Vert. The baggie had been filled with them.
My fingers twitched. I closed my eyes tight, trying desperately to push the thoughts of last night from my mind. But every time I did, I saw images played out across my eyelids.
In that moment, I didn’t care about my history with the drug. I didn’t care about what it might do to me. I didn’t care about anything at all.
I just wanted to forget, needed to forget. Just this once.
I picked up one of the vials and twisted off the top. Then I tilted my head back and put two drops into each of my eyes.
Just wanted to let you know I gave you a favorable review for your listing on the Web Fiction Guide website. I look forward to reading more. I am following your blog as well.
Thanks, bud. Much appreciated. Hope you continue to enjoy the story. I saw your own fic up on WFG as well. I plan on taking a look at it once things settle down for me.
As well as your story is going so far, I don’t think I will have any problems enjoying future installments.
Right on, thanks! I’d appreciate it.
Oh dear… she can make others forget, but she can’t forget herself. That’s one hell of a bummer.
Vert? Fictional drugs are messed up…
Say, how do you put the previous chapter/next chapter buttons on the bottom? Do you do it manually, or….?
Unfortunately, the only way I could find was to do it manually. It’s sort of a pain, since each time you update, you have to go back to the previous chapter and edit the link… But worth it overall. The links at the very bottom of the page just don’t cut it.
Ugh. If I want to get accepted into the WFG, then I need to put links at the bottom of the page, but it’s a pain in the ass.
“Rainey, wait. I -”
Not sure if this is a future plot point, or if he isn’t supposed to know her name.
He would remember because the memory loss is from the time she touches someone until the time they fall asleep. They exchanged names earlier in the evening, prior to the touch after the assault. 🙂
It just occurred to me that I don’t understand why she is in her current situation. Her condition is unusual, problematic, and a pretty big stress on social norms (at least from a personal perspective) but it seems like it could be dealt with relatively easily using gloves and such. No worse that if someone has a painful skin rash. its also kinda reminiscent of Rogue from the X-Men. Sure it happened to her when she was young but she figured it out. Why does she have to keep running? She could work a regular job or even an irregular job. And I bet the government or more illicit agencies would pay her for her setvices. Heck, she might even get regular people to pay for it, like in Total Recall or maybe it was Paycheck.
Anyway, will there be some back story to explain this?