MARGOT sat up straight in bed, her temples pounding from a late
night of drinking with strangers. She'd just moved out on her own, to
an apartment near the bowling alley on Cortez Rd., and thought it
appropriate to celebrate the occasion with some new friends, a few old
friends, and a keg from her friend's friend Carol Hayes, who was just
old enough to buy alcohol. Margot was only
seventeen, not legally allowed to have her own apartment, or even to
drink for that matter, but her mother had worked something out for her
when they both thought it was time she began living life on her own.
She held up one hand to shield her eyes from the brutal light
shining in from the Sunday sun outside, then the other over her mouth
as she stifled an oncoming wave of vomit. Oh God! She thought, and burped up a waft of stomach acid. She pulled in a breath
through her nose, catching a whiff of what she'd just let out, and was
barely able to fight back the urge to spill the contents of her stomach onto the floor.
tossed the bed sheets aside, revealing her long and slender legs. Her
feet touched down on the floor, and once they'd gripped tightly to the
carpet underneath, and she'd found herself a firm foundation, she stood
upright. The blood rushed from her head, making her dizzy, and she
struggled to keep herself balanced. The room spun around her, a blur of
beer cans and dirty laundry. She shut her eyes tightly, and waited for
her head to refill itself--which it did, eventually.
the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the
mirror on the wall. She turned to look at herself and frowned; her
hair was a tangled mess and her face was void of any color, more gray
now than its usual strawberries and cream. The bands of morning light shone in on
her through the blinds of the bedroom window, dividing her into sections. She was naked now,
except for a pair of knickers, shivering under the ceiling fan.
"At least there's no one here to see me like this," she said out loud,
leaving her bedroom, nearly tripping over an unfinished bottle of beer
on her way out.
As she sat on the pot, she admired the
walls--bare, white--and the puppy dog shower curtain that hung over
the bathtub. Her mother had bought it for her as a housewarming gift;
they picked it out together at the Goodwill.
After flushing the
toilet, she removed her underwear, and took a long hot shower,
letting the water burn her face and breasts, and turning up the heat
enough so that she could sweat out the rest of her hangover.
The curtains crumpled in Margot's fist as she
drew them open and stepped out onto the bath mat, where she dried
herself and put on a robe. When she was sufficiently dry, she put on a
facial-cleansing cream and left for the living room. It was even more a
mess than her bedroom: overturned party cups rested on big ugly stains
in the carpet, dirt was tracked in by people who'd not taken off their
shoes like Margot had asked, six or seven ping-pong balls laid in small
pools of alcohol on the table that had been drunkenly repositioned to
the center of the living room, not to mention the legion of beer
bottles unevenly distributed throughout the apartment. She did not see
the keg, as anticipated, only the imprint it left on the carpet. Carol
and that sexy guy with the guitar must have taken it with them when
they left. Come to think of it, that must have been when everyone else
left too. She didn't remember much.
Even in her refreshed
state, Margot was not up to taking on the chore of cleaning the
apartment, and she decided instead to pour herself a bowl of Special
K. She discovered, much to her dismay, then, after rifling through all the
cabinets and drawers, that all the bowls were dirty, having been used
as cups the night prior when all the plastic ones had been used up.
Washing dishes seemed to her too great a burden, so she escaped
to the back porch and the comforting sensation of cool air on her skin.
Smoking seemed to Margot a necessary evil this morning. She lit
up a cigarette and inhaled deeply. She didn't normally smoke, and she
wasn't addicted or anything, but it didn't hurt to keep a pack around
for times when she needed to calm her nerves. She exhaled, and through
the small cloud of smoke she could see a couple parents watching their
kids play on the jungle gym in the playground across the little lake
outside her porch.
"Mommy," she whispered.
sliding glass door she could hear the phone ringing inside. She put out
the cigarette, slid open the door and walked up to the kitchen counter.
"Hi, Hon," said her mother's voice, as unmistakable as always. "I was just thinking about you."
A tear rolled down her face to the side of her mouth, where she stopped it with her tongue, tasting its bitter-sweetness.
Margot had trouble saying anything.