The blows from Molly’s hairbrush landed swiftly and repeatedly on Margaret’s bare bottom. It burned, oh how it burned! Surely the fires that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah were less potent, less painful, less agonizing to both body and soul than the kind of pain that Molly was inflicting upon her roommate.
Pinned to the apartment floor, hands pinned behind her back with, Molly soundly and thoroughly thrashing her backside, her soaking wet Goodnite drooping around one ankle, Margaret desperately wriggled and squirmed to free herself from Molly’s hold. It was no use, however. Molly only needed one hand to paddle Margaret like she was a naughty child at K-Mart. Every other part of her was dedicated to pinning Margaret to the floor; throwing all of her weight down on the other girl while maneuvering Margaret’s hands behind her back and not allowing any meaningful movement. If not for the spanking aspect, it might be comparable to a police restraint.
Margaret cried out, but she would not cry; she refused to give her roommate that satisfaction, preferring to squeeze her eyes shut and shake her head furiously. Perhaps she’d get lucky and her braided pigtails would smack Molly in the face hard enough to get her to let go.
As Margaret thrashed, willing herself not to break, while mentally comparing this treatment to something out of the Old Testament, Molly had other, more practical, things on her mind. Was she hitting Margaret too hard? Any harder and there might be a bruise; that’d be no good, even if it would teach the little pill a lesson. Should she do something about the Goodnite? The thing already looked close to leaking and every one of Margaret’s kicks threatened to send the pissy thing sailing through the air and splattering on the wall. And who would have to clean it up? Molly, of course.
It was better for Margaret to have it around her ankles than around her bottom at the moment. Too much cushion, and Margaret wouldn’t take Molly’s swift and just punishment seriously. If Molly was going to be taken seriously (and she was going to be taken seriously) boundaries were going to have to be set for her roommate to respect: routines established and reinforced, rules learned and followed.
Boundaries were good. Reinforcement was good. Routine and expectations were good; not just good for Molly, but for Margaret too. It was a lot of work at the beginning, but Molly knew the other girl would be better off for it in the end and everything would become so much easier in the long term. That’s what she told herself to drown out Margaret’s screams. A tiny voice that didn’t quite belong to her reassured her of these facts.
Also, being spanked through a wet diaper might lead to a nasty rash…Molly would have to look that one up for future reference…just in case.
“Say it!” Molly yelled over Margaret’s tantrum, not letting up on the spanking for an instant.
Margaret inhaled long enough to shout “No!” before exhaling into not-quite sobs.
Molly began to worry about actually damaging her roommate. New flesh would have to be spanked if she didn’t want Margaret to bruise. Molly’s eyes went to the tramp stamp just above Margaret’s ass, but, no, it was still too fresh and raw…she might accidentally break the skin. Margaret’s thighs would have to do if this went on much longer. “Say it!”
“No, no, no!”
“You were wrong! Say it!”
Another long inhale as Margaret caught her breath. “Shove that hairbrush up your-“ a series of rapid fire spankings slammed down on Margaret’s already reddened cheeks and thundered out through their apartment turning Margaret’s last words into “AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” It was almost like the tattoo on Molly’s wrist was kissing the tattoo above Margaret’s ass. They were kisses that brought pain, however.
“No naughty language!” Molly commanded. “That’s what got you into this!” Margaret would have begged to differ; it was Molly who had gotten her into this, but she wasn’t quite up to the task of using semantics and properly debating. Pain has that effect on people. The pain was too much. If Hell was a thing, here, right now, with no end in sight, was Margaret’s Hell. A tiny voice that didn’t belong to her told Margaret to just give up and admit that she was wrong, (even if she didn’t mean it) so that the pain would stop. Then she could get on with her day, watch some cartoons and maybe even get a fresh Goodnite. The extra padding would certainly feel good on her sore bottom. Finally, amidst the slapping and the screaming, something broke inside of her.
“I’m sorry!” Margaret screamed out.
“For calling you a bitch…?” A quick smack told Margaret that using bad words was inexcusable, even when apologizing for saying bad words. “I’m sorry I called you a bad word!”
Molly still wasn’t satisfied. “Are you going to use that bad word again?” She stopped paddling her roommate, but left the hairbrush hovering over the point of impact
“No.” Margaret was shaking her head so fast that she was smacking herself in the face with her own braided hair.
“Be polite.” Molly ordered. “Are you going to use any bad words, again?”
The word “Mommy” stabbed at both of their brains as if it had been a hot poker. Molly released her hold on Margaret and leapt off of her as if her new roommate were made of sulfuric acid. She jumped up onto the couch, as if the woman she’d been spanking had mutated into some kind of poisonous reptile and eyed her wearily. Once free, Margaret got her feet underneath her and scrambled away in the opposite direction, scooting along the carpet while kicking the soaked and soiled undergarment as if it had leprosy. Better to be naked than to be in that thing. Never taking her eyes off Molly, she pressed he back to the wall as she began breaking into a cold sweat, panting the entire time. She was as scared of herself as she was of the woman she’d just called “Mommy”.
That was the thing that scared them both. The word “Mommy” had come out of Margaret’s mouth so naturally…and it felt right to both of them. There wasn’t a trace of sarcasm, or irony in it. No sexual innuendos or the kind of bad roleplay vibes that people beating each other in the movies gave off. It. Just. Felt. Right.
But it shouldn’t have.
Not even a week ago, these two women were perfect strangers, just getting to know each other. In only a few short days, so much had changed. One calling the other “Mommy” was probably the least strange thing that had happened in that time, but it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
How had they gotten to this point?
Molly Huang had just finished unpacking the last of her stuff, her room now a beautiful mess of sketchbooks, yarn, clay, paint, paper, and pencils, all in little piles throughout the room. Her dresser was now crammed tight with t-shirts, shorts, underwear and socks all bundled together. Entire outfits were crumpled into little balls so that all Molly had to do was open up a drawer take out the bundle of wrinkled clothes and put them on in the correct order (ironing was optional and dependent on her mood) . Her closet, now home to a little over a dozen half-finished paintings and molds that would never be finished once their spark of inspiration had dimmed, remained. It was always best to look upon the failures of old so as to inspire new successes. Oh yeah, there was a bed in there somewhere, too, likely beneath the boxes filled with vinyl records, (where had her record player gotten off to?).
A knock at her bedroom door caught Molly’s attention, and she opened it without hesitation. It was Margaret Masterson, Molly’s new roommate. “Oh, hey!” Molly chirped. “Wussup?”
Her roommate peered into her room, eyes squinting behind thin wire frame glasses. “Sorry to interrupt,” Margaret said. “Didn’t realize you were still unpacking.” Then Margaret said the words Molly secretly dreaded. “I can help,” she offered. “I’m really good at organizing things.”
This much was an understatement. When Margaret had given her the grand tour last week, Molly thought she was looking at a model of an apartment, not an actual living space. Not a dish out of place or a wrinkled sheet to be seen. Her pantry was organized alphabetically, for Chrissakes! The “interview dinner” a few nights ago had been equally bland and unappealing. Margaret was a customer service representative for one of the big tech companies (meaning she got bitched at for a living and wasn’t allowed to bitch back). Her fiancé had left her, thought she had never stated the reason why. Molly got the feeling it might be because the woman was so OCD she tried to control everything about the guy’s life (including the number of thrusts before being allowed to orgasm), and he got while the getting was good. Then again, it could have been murder. Molly hadn’t seen that level of cleanliness outside of a Hollywood psychopath. An earlier bathroom break revealed to her that the toilet paper was just as full as it had been when she’d taken the tour. Did Margaret go through so much toilet paper that she was constantly restocking, or did she just not use the bathroom? Point being was that Margaret was in a bad way. The hubby that got away had done the majority of the bread winning.
Molly, meanwhile, was a commercial artist. Her name and creations would never line the hall of a museum, but they paid the bills and left plenty of free time to pursue her own personal muse. She’d sometimes go months without a gig, but the payouts were often big enough so that the lights stayed on, she’d never gone hungry, and she got to work her own hours and be her own boss. The thing of it though, was that work was getting slimmer lately, and the paychecks weren’t lasting as long as they used to. If she wanted to maintain her standard of living and still have time to pursue her true artistic passions, she needed to either make more money or spend less of it. Despite their contrasting jobs and natures, they both had what the other wanted: half of a rent payment.
“I’m good,” Molly politely rebuffed her roomie’s offer. “I kind of unpack organically, if you know what I mean.” Margaret nodded her head, but Molly had a feeling the answer was still “not really”. “I need a break anyways.” She looked over to the television in the living area, just in front of the modest kitchenette. “Wanna watch some T.V.?”
Margaret grimaced a bit. “We don’t have cable,” she said. “Cable is too expensive.” Molly’s shoulder’s slumped. No T.V.? “I’ve got Netflix, though.” Margaret said, sensing Molly’s disappointment. “I stream it on my PS4.”
“Really?” The artist was skipping over to the little black box, and snapping up the controller before her roommate knew what she was doing. This had potential in Molly’s eyes. You never really knew a person these days until you looked at their Netflix playlist and their porn. Molly sincerely doubted Margaret had any porn, so this was going to be the best look into the woman’s soul.
The gentle boot up tones filled the room as the game console hummed to life. Illuminated with the comfortable blue glow of the T.V. screen, Molly giggled in surprise when she glimpsed Margaret’s game list. “What’s with all the FPS and fighting games?” Molly asked. “Your ex’s?” Too late, she realized she may have just inadvertently said something stupid and touched a nerve.
“Mine,” Margaret answered. A bashful blush colored her cheeks. “They help me destress after work,” she said, nervously glancing away.
“Iiiiinteresting.” Molly said, going onto Netflix.
“I don’t mind if we share my account, but would you mind making your own profile?”
Molly’s eyes were focused, hungry for juicy, juicy, gossip level information. “I just wanna see what you’ve got on your playlist,” she waved off Margaret’s growing concern. Time to see what was in this nutter’s soul.
The artist gasped. “Bojack Horseman? Red vs. Blue? Archer? MST3K? Sausage Party?”
The customer service rep rubbed her arm. “I like to laugh.”
“Hell yeah you do!” Molly agreed. “We gotta have a movie night sooner or later.”
“Really?…Okay.” The first traces of a smile were creeping onto Margaret’s lips. “That sounds fun.” Indeed it did. Maybe there was more to this bookish spinster-in-the-making. Maybe there was a wild woman screaming to get loose. One way to find out…
“I’m getting hungry.” Molly rubbed her tummy for emphasis. “How about we go get some grub?”
Margaret glanced at the clock on the microwave. “Isn’t it a little early to think about eating?” Then she added, “And I don’t exactly have the money to spare right this second. It wouldn’t be responsible.”
“My treat,” Molly offered. “You drive. I’ll pay.” She didn’t exactly have the money to spare, either, but she had some stashed away for a kind of I-need-fun-or-I’ll-die fund. This was as good a time as any. Molly’s new roommate chewed this over for a minute, debating and arguing with two sides of herself: The wild woman and the good girl.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s celebrate. Live a little. Where were you thinking? Something like Applebees?”
“Something like that.”
“I am NOT drunk!” It was super important that her new roommate know this about her…right then, too. That fact that Margaret had not once been accused of being drunk by her knew roommate hadn’t crossed the customer service representative’s mind. If Molly thought Margaret was drunk, (or worse yet, a lush) she wouldn’t be taken seriously, and it was so important that she be taken seriously at this vulnerable time in her life. This was a new relationship, for all intents and purposes, and though it was not romantic by any means, certain boundaries and routines had to be established up front. Boundaries and routines like she was not drunk. “I’m not…I’m…not. I’mnot!”
Molly knocked back her fourth shot of Jaeger. “I know.” A dopey, self-confident smile, oozed out across her face.
“No you don’t, ya don’t…don’t, don’t, don’t.” They were in a place that was “something like Applebees.” It was your typical family bar and grill, only without the grill…or the families. “MORE JAEGER!” she called out to the bartender. Margaret hadn’t drunk this much since college. She hadn’t drunk this much ever. Margaret didn’t drink. How Molly had convinced her to match her shot for shot had been lost when the girls had transitioned from Jell-O shooters to Jaeger.
And while Margaret was practically propping herself up with the bar, Molly seemed only a little bit buzzed. The bartender brought over two more shots and a tall glass of water. “Drink this first,” he said. “Keep hydrated, honey.” Margaret giggled like she was in Elementary school. He had called her honey!
Wisely, the young woman took the tall glass of water (straw included) and began sipping. She looked back to her new roommate, her new partner in this adventure called life, and asked, “Wanna race?”
“Nah….I’m good.” Molly said, only now beginning to sway with the rest of the room. Somewhere in the back of the room, a drunken crooner was belting out Hey Jude on the old karaoke machine as if the Beatles’ resurrection and reunion tour depended on it.
As she sipped at the water, the small part of Margaret that could (barely) think straight was amused at this recent turn of events. Molly had been the last candidate that Margaret had interviewed, and the only one to accept the offer of splitting the rent. Everyone, even the people who she had only met with a day prior, had already found more satisfactory living arrangements. They never said so directly, but Margaret quietly suspected that she was the deciding factor causing them to refuse. Ever since her fiancé left her for that whore, Jamie, Margaret’s sense of self-worth had shriveled while her people skills were, meanwhile, being called into question.
Did she really make that bad of a first impression? So what if she liked a clean apartment and kept things tidy? That was supposed to be a plus! Did it really matter if she didn’t really go out and dance or want strange men or animals flitting in and out of her home? Or drugs that could cost Margaret her job? Was that so wrong? Apparently, it was. This crazy little ball of chaos named Molly…a girl that had more quirks than the cast of a Wes Anderson film…a girl whose moving luggage was ninety-nine percent black garbage bags…was the only one who had been interested in living with her after the grand tour and interview. Margaret Masterson really had no other choice but to let Molly Huang into her life.
“Best… notta choice…evar!” Margaret slurred.
Molly looked up at her. “Huh?”
“Nevamind.” Margaret could barely hear over the Na-Na-Na chorus of Hey Jude. They were likely the only two in the bar who weren’t singing along. Once the song had ended, the hoots were hollered and the clapping sputtering down, Margaret decided to change the subject. “Sho,” she said. “What do you do if yer wif a guy? Hanga sock onna door or sumfin?”
Again, Molly looked up at Margaret, only half-awake. “Huh? Noooooo! I’m not gonna bring anybody home. That’s a rule…you said so!”
“Yer gonna bring somefin’ home.”
“No I won’t.”
“Are too…iss okay. I unnerstand. We’ve…we got needs. I got needs. I…” the customer service rep fought off a sudden melancholy sob. “I’mstillavirgin.” Margaret belched the word ‘virgin’ out. A flush of shame exploded across her entire body. Whether it was at the belch, the information overshare, or the sudden feeling of vulnerability overwhelming her, even she didn’t know. She kept sipping on her water. Just stay numb. Just stay numb.
Molly smiled politely then shrugged. “Maybe we should talk about sex,” Molly said. “But we should probably talk about that kind of stuff…later…yeah later.” Inwardly, Margaret agreed. Nothing said while drunk really looked that good when the light of sobriety kicked in. God, it had been so long since she’d gotten good and drunk. She needed this. She really, really needed this. The room started to sway even more, as the gurgling slurping sounds made their way up from the bottom of Margaret’s glass. The water had arrived to Margaret’s system a little too late.
“How are you not drunk?” Margaret asked.
Molly stuck her tongue out. “I am drunk. You’re the one that’s not drunk, remember? I just hold my booze better.”
“Oh yeah…I forgot.” The new roommates burst out into hideous, yet hilarious intoxicated laughter. Margaret let out. “How are you not that drunk? I’ve gotta have at least fifty pounds on you.” This was true. Margaret wasn’t overweight, but Molly was decidedly petite.
Again, the artist shrugged. “I’ve got a pretty good tolerance.”
“I’m hungreeeeee,” Margaret said. Her own body began to rhythmically sway to a ballet only she could hear, (though the sounds of Don’t Stop Believin’ in the background synced up pretty well.) “Can we get somethin’ ta eat?”
The dopey smile never left Molly’s face. “You mean like Applebees?”
“Somethin’ like that.” Margaret thought on it for a moment…or it might have been gas. “What about White Castle? That’s a thing…right? White Castle? I wanna be dangerous. Les do White Castle”
Molly hadn’t been sipping anything, but if she had, whatever burning concoction she’d put to her lips would have rocketed out of her nose. Margaret had no idea why, but she felt as if she had accidentally made a joke. “Okay, let’s go get some shit food,” Molly said.
“Language!” Margaret yipped. Both girls seemed stunned by Margaret’s admonition.
Molly asked, “Did…did you really just say ‘language’?”
“Sorry,” Margaret apologized. “Old habits die hard.” Then, “I’m not drunk!” Then, “I gotta pee.”
Margaret’s roommate pointed the way towards the bathroom. “You go to the little girl’s room. I’ll pay up the tab and call us a cab.”
Margaret nodded, and smiled to herself. She was soooooo lucky to have come across and made a good friend like Molly. She made it three steps to the restroom before she pivoted and wobbled back to the bar. “Almost forgot,” she said, taking the final shot glass filled with Jaeger in her hand. “One for the road.” Molly took her own shot glass and they clinked theirs together before downing the green liqueur.
The heavy thrum-thrumming wasn’t coming from Molly’s head, though she wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been. Like rusty door hinges on a haunted house, her eyes creaked open to the sounds of heavy metal rattling on hard floor. It hurt. She hurt. Everything hurt. Molly’s entire existence was one not so dull ache. “Worth it,” Molly’s voice cracked, dry and broken.
Worth it, indeed. From what Molly could remember, she’d had a good time, learned more about Margaret, and perhaps even bonded with the taller woman in the process. To call everything after the bar a blur would be a disservice to blurs in general. Blurs still had some semblance of form. Bigfoot could be seen in a blur. UFO’s could be seen in a blur. Everything after the bar was more like one giant technicolor smear: all bright and vibrant, but she couldn’t begin to tell you what she’d been looking at.
But what was a little memory smear to the developing bonds of sisterhood? The artist couldn’t quite remember everything, but her hunch about Margaret had been correct. The repressed little mouse of a woman who got yelled at for a living, was a freak waiting to bust out. She’d been saving herself for marriage, (how that had worked with them living in the same apartment, Molly had to wonder) but if her fiancé had waited it out, or just gotten her drunk once in a while, he would have been in for a treat, Molly was sure.
The image of Margaret in her plain, boring, bordering-on-school-marm clothes during the day switching to a full-on dominatrix outfit during the night was amusing to no end. Margaret was definitely one of those types: a lady in the living room but a freak between the sheets. On second thought, Molly didn’t quite see Margaret as the whips and chains type. Mentally, she edited the image in her brain to Margaret as a sexy school girl, with plaid socks that went up to her knees and a short skirt, a paddle in hand and just begging for a spanking. Yeah, that seemed more accurate to Molly.
With a tired yawn and an aching stretch, the artist looked around her cluttered room and the first traces of disgust with herself snuck in. Garbage. She was surrounded by garbage. Everything looked worse in the light of day after a night of heavy drinking, even the mounds of chaos decorating her habitat that Molly wouldn’t otherwise have given a second thought to.
A rumble from Molly’s insides informed her that she had other, more urgent matters to attend to. But going to the toilet met she had to get dressed. With a flourish, she ripped the sheets off her body, only then fully appreciating that she was naked. Molly hadn’t realized she was naked, but that wasn’t surprising; she didn’t even remember getting home. She sniffed. She’d need a shower, too. One thing a time. Molly pulled open a drawer and pulled out a bundle of clothes. The shorts took a spot on the bed, while she pulled on the panties and a just long enough shirt. That would do for her sojourn towards the porcelain throne.
She swung the door open and shuffled across the floor, the thrum-thrum-thrumming that had woken her up getting louder as she crossed the living area. The tiny little closet on the wall next to the kitchenette containing the washer and dryer had been thrown wide open. The washing machine rattled and danced with a thrum-thrum-thrumming as it wobbled from side to side; not quite tipping itself over before going the other direction and doing more of the same.
Apparently Margaret had loaded it unevenly. Poor girl must be even more hungover than Molly was feeling, and right now the fluorescent lightbulbs of the apartment were as blinding as the sun. With shielded eyes, Molly squinted and made her way towards the (thankfully open) bathroom door.
“Aaaaaaaaaah”, her relieved cries echoed off the bathroom walls. From outside, Molly could still hear the thrum-thrum-thrumming of the washing machine rattling and shaking along with its unbalanced load. If it kept going on, Molly might just break out her portable record player, turn it up to max, and put on some Jackie Wilson just to complete the picture.
It was when she reached for the toilet paper that she noticed something was amiss. On the underside of her right forearm, right below her wrist, was a square bandage. Where had that come from? Had she started cutting again or something? Molly had thought she’d long outgrown that phase, and she had generally preferred her legs; nothing was bandaged up there. Timidly, she poked at the bandage, bracing herself for a sharp pain. There was some minor irritation, like a scrape or a sunburn, but nothing that screamed drunken emergency room visit.
Now more curious than afraid, Molly ripped the little white square off her wrist, the adhesive rubbing the wrong way against her flesh and causing her to flinch. Where the bandage had been, two tiny little symbols made of crisscrossing dashes in black ink remained. One looked a bit like a sloppily drawn number eight; the kind that appeared on digital clocks, only it had stray lines sticking out in places and a single dot in each of the hollow spaces. The other symbol looked like the letters X, Y, t, T, and F all had an orgy and were piled on top of each other. When had that happened? Molly had been pretty drunk before, but she’d never been tattoo drunk.
A baffled guffaw issued forth. “NIIIIICE!” she said. This was definitely a new experience, and she was too drunk to remember all the painful little bee sting needle stabs that came with getting it. Win-win. Molly’s unexpected exuberance was cut short by the sounds of quiet sobbing from the other side of the wall; Margaret’s room.
Molly quickly cleaned herself up and flushed before swinging around to just outside Margaret’s room. “Margaret?” Molly called out. “You okay?”
The other woman’s sobs stopped briefly. “I’m fine!” she called back. Drunk or sober, the young woman was a godawful liar. Glancing at the new decoration on her wrist, the decided likelihood of Margaret waking up to a matching tattoo was close to a statistical certainty. Getting drunk was one thing, but for a repressed prissy goodie two shoes like Margaret, waking up with a tattoo would be much more traumatic than just a “One time I got plastered” story.
“Yeeeaah,” Molly sighed. “I’m coming in anyway.”
“No! Don’t!” It was too late. Molly flung the door open and stepped in. The sight of the room was enough to make every bone in Molly’s tiny body shudder in revulsion. It was carpeted, with old antique looking dressers holding a small collection of Russian wooden dolls that had been well dusted but still probably hadn’t been touched in years, a vanity mirror with no makeup but lots of cheap looking costume jewelry, and a four-post bed. The place looked like her Nana’s room at the nursing home. This wasn’t where a twenty-something woman lived, this was where an old lady came to die.
Atop the four-post bed, stripped of its sheets, was an equally naked Margaret. She was scrubbing something off of her mattress using a handheld floor brush. “Get out get out get out get out!” she screeched. She seemed to be talking to the mattress. Her eyes were wild, not unlike a rabid racoon that had just been cornered, her lips pulled back into a snarl. The foam wasn’t coming from her mouth, but it had built up on the mattress as she brushed and scrubbed the center. Molly amended her thoughts about Margaret as a naughty Catholic school girl and shifted them to Lady MacBeth.
Her head swung around to meet her roommate’s gaze, her eyes locking on Molly. “GET OUT!”
“Eeep!” Molly squeaked. “Sorry!” Molly snaked out of the doorway, shutting the door behind her. The muffled and panicked sobs rose up almost immediately. The faint scent of urine followed Molly back out into the living room. For a moment, she wondered if she had wiped well enough but then she connected the dots. “Oh…oh…ooooooooooh!”
“GET OUT! PLEASE! GET OUT!”
Not knowing what else to do, and not entirely sure if Margaret was addressing her or the stain, Molly just decided to go about her morning as she originally intended. Best to give her new friend some space. After a quick but boiling shower, Molly dressed herself and listened for sounds coming from Margaret’s bedroom. “Yep,” she commented to no one in particular. “Still crying.”
Molly looked down at herself: wrinkled shorts, wrinkled shirt, wrinkled socks. Even her hair was a mess. Normally, this didn’t bother her, but in that moment it felt like an itch that needed scratching. Perhaps Margaret was affecting her as much as she was affecting Margaret, or maybe this emerging sense of self-consciousness was just the result of living with someone else for the first time in forever.
Whatever the reason, Molly felt extremely dissatisfied with herself. Rather than put one of her records on and do some sketches to see if inspiration would take over (her go to program for most any lazy Sunday morning), Molly rolled up her sleeves and set to work organizing her room. Too much clutter in too small a space. Mayhap the garbage bags that she hauled most of her junk in would be used for their intended purpose after all.
About a half-hour into Molly’s impending room purge, Margaret, now dressed in a nightie, slinked out of her room. Timidly, she tapped Molly on the shoulder. “I need help,” her confession came out in hoarse, whispery plea. “I peed my bed.”
Molly put down the garbage bag that had been filled almost to the brim with “supplies” she decided she really didn’t need. “Yeah,” she said. “I kinda figured.” Her roommate looked like as if she’d just been struck. “It’s no biggie, it’s no biggie,” the shorter woman backpedaled. “You were really, really, drunk. Just don’t drink that much and it won’t happen again.”
“I’ve got the stain out,” Margaret said, “but for some reason the smell isn’t going away.”
“You were really drunk,” Molly reminded her. “That kind of smell gets stronger the less water is in your system.” Really drunk! Her eyes began running up along Margaret’s arms, searching for a tiny square bandage. The way they were gelling last night, their drunken selves would have totally gotten matching tattoos.
“Yeah,” Margaret whined, her long brown hair just as tangled a mess as Molly’s shorter black, “but I’ve cleaned everything up. The sheets, the mattress….” Margaret paused. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
Molly whipped her head up to meet her roommate’s eyes. “Nothing! I mean looking like what.” Molly sniffed, and the smell of stale urine returned. “Umm…did you remember to clean yourself up?”
The color drained from Margaret’s face. “Ohmigosh, you’re right! I was so panicked I completely forgot!” The taller woman spun around to go to the bathroom. When her nighty fluttered up, Molly caught sight of a tiny square rectangle on the small of Margaret’s back.
Margaret froze in her tracks. “What?”
There was no easy way to say it, so Molly opted to not say anything. “Yeeeow!” Margaret shrieked as the bandage was quickly ripped off. “What was that?”
Just as Molly suspected. “You’ve got a tattoo now,” Molly said. Margaret turned back around and looked, slack jawed at her new roomie. “Me too,” she showed Margaret her wrist tattoo. “We got really drunk.”
“Ohmygod,” Margaret said before slapping a hand over her mouth. “I’ve got a tattoo! A friggin tramp stamp!” Her voice was becoming choked, her eyes starting to tear up.
The shorter girl waved her arms excitedly to distract her companion. “Relax, it’s not that bad. It’s not like it’s in any place where people can see it unless you want them to.” With the way Margaret tended to dress, this was true.
“What’s it look like?” The taller woman turned around, and gingerly lifted the back of her nightie.
“Uh…it’s Chinese, writing I think…or Japanese.” Molly said, leaning in to take a closer look.
“What’s it say?”
“How should I know?” Molly asked. “I only speak English. Besides, I’m third generation Vietnamese.”
Margaret bit her lip. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it to be racist or anything.”
“Does yours and mine at least match?” Margaret asked, the apprehension evident in her voice. That was actually kind of sweet. The thought of them matching seemed to give her some kind of comfort. They really had bonded.
“No. I don’t think so.” Molly sighed. “Definitely not.” Like Molly, Margaret had two symbols inked onto her skin. The first looked a little bit like a crooked L, a comma, and a straight line that all intersected and overlapped to make a crooked box in the middle. The second symbol was even more intricate. It looked similar to the first symbol, but it had two square humps above it containing commas and apostrophe marks beneath them. “Still pretty cool looking though,” Molly assured her friend.
“Any way to get them removed?” Margaret asked as she turned again to face the other woman.
“I’ve always heard that kind of stuff is expensive.” Molly said. “Like, we-wouldn’t-be-able-to-pay-rent-if-we-did expensive.”
“Oh…” The disappointment hung in the air like scent of stale urine that was following Margaret.
Molly spun her roommate back around and started maneuvering. “Neither of us feel good right now, but at least you have a cool story you can tell. And,” she added, “you really need a shower.”
The taller woman grimaced. “Oh yeah, you’re right.” She began walking to the shower on her own.
A few minutes later, as Margaret cleaned herself up, Molly continued cleaning out her newly unpacked trash heap. There was something cathartic about cleaning this up, so much better than the bother of moving had been. An Avant Garde idea for a blank piece of paper titled “Clean Room” flickered across her mind. Molly chuckled at her own dumb joke, but her nose wrinkled as she inhaled. She sniffed again, and the smell of stale piss still clung to her nostrils. She hadn’t wet the bed, too, had she? A quick check confirmed that she hadn’t.
The young woman on the cleaning spree poked her head out of her room and saw that the door to Margaret’s room was now wide open. That’s where the smell had been coming from. Maybe Margaret wasn’t quite as thorough as she thought she’d been on cleaning up after herself.
A buzzing from the washing machine, caught her attention. The sheets were done. Feeling particularly magnanimous just then, Molly stopped packing things away (properly this time), long enough to switch the sheets to the dryer. Still, the smell of urine lingered, and it was bothering Molly to no end. There had to be something she could do about it. She had gotten Margaret completely wasted the night before, so in a way it was kind of her fault, she reasoned. She owed Margaret some help and TLC today.
Inspiration struck when Molly noticed a bottle of baby powder on the floor (left over from her body and face painting phase…also great for cosplay), and picked it up. Perfumed cornstarch in hand, she made a bee-line for Margaret’s room. The smell of wet bed clung to the walls like spoiled milk to the inside of a refrigerator. Margaret had definitely missed a spot.
A quick scan of the floor revealed the crumpled-up clothes from last night’s debauchery. They were soaking wet. Margaret had been so freaked out in getting the sheet into the wash and saving her mattress that she’d completely forgotten to toss her soiled clothes in along with the sheets, poor thing. Using a pillowcase as a barrier, Molly gingerly picked up the sopping clothes, and threw them into the washing machine, now empty and waiting for more clothes. Molly threw in some of her own clothes, too; waste not, want not.
Not yet done, she returned and opened the bottle of baby powder she’d brought. Like an old voodoo witch-woman she sprinkled the cool, fragrant smelling powder around the bed and onto the mattress itself. Molly inhaled deeply. The urine smell was still there, but it was fading, covered up by the sweet lavender scent of the baby powder. It’d still be there for a while, more than likely, but the ratio was far and away in the sweet smell’s favor. Something about that smelled right to Molly. Something about that smelled very right.