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Twice more in the night, I wake. Once it is to cold water as my foot inadvertantly slides on the bathtub wall and hits the dial. Disgusted, I turn off the water and roll over under my now partially soaked blanket to try and sleep.
The second time, I'm not sure what wakes me at first. I listen for a moment in the silence and then hear it again, a wheezing, choking cough, and I'm on my feet and in the main room before I realize that I'm moving. Even before I reach the couch I can smell the vomit, and the woman is still in the darkness even as I hear her gurgle and gasp. I grab her by the shoulders, cringing at the liquid warmth covering her and the stench, and pull her onto her side, head hanging over the edge, and her airway abruptly clears with a horrible sucking noise. She vomits again, unresisting in my hands, and I struggle to keep my own stomach down in response.
"Bzuh?" Shaye demands, jolting awake on the bed.
"Help me get her to the bathroom," I snap.
"What is that smell?" she demands.
"She's drowning, damnit, help me get her to the bathroom!" Even as I say this, we both can hear her struggle for air.
Shaye is suddenly there, helping me try to pull her to her feet, but she is unresponsive and limp. "She's out cold!"
"No shit," I say. "Fireman's carry, quickly before she can puke again."
"Gross." Shaye mutters, but she takes my hands and we manage a halfway decent carry. The woman weighs almost nothing, her head lolling against my shoulder, and she reaks of liquor even over the vomit. Her boot buckles catch at my arms, and I swear at her as we try to navigate the bathroom door. Both of us can't fit at once, so Shaye ends up carrying her to the toilet by herself, and I'm only a moment behind her. I pull the woman's hair clear of her face and we hold her upright as she vomits helplessly, occasionally choking. At last, she seems to finish, and I end up with my back to the tub holding her upright.
Through it all, she doesn't wake.
She fits comfortably in my arms, but the reek keeps turning my stomach. Shaye leaves us then, first washing up at the sink, then stalking out into the other room. The light flickers on.
"Damn it all! My shoes!" shrieks Shaye, and I sigh, looking down at the woman in my arms. We cleaned her face, but I don't think there is anything that will rescue her shirts. One of her necklaces has broken, scattering crystalline beads down her clothing and onto the floor. Her skirt has hiked up on one side, revealing quite a bit of fishnet and thigh. Absently, I pull it back down and straighten her leg into a more comfortable position.
Shaye stalks into the bathroom, throwing a pair of sneakers into the sink. "Ruined," she says.
I shrug. "I owe you shoes."
"Damn right you do." She sulks as she rinses them, her back to me, but I can see the anger in the line of her shoulders even if her expression is nuetral in the mirror. "We'll have to call room service," she finally says. "It's a mess out there."
"Yeah," I reply, and I don't have the words for anything else.
"You're a fool, you know that?" Shaye snaps suddenly.
"I'm sorry," I say, but I know it isn't enough. Sorry never is.
She's gone again in a moment, although I can hear her on the phone and then moving around the room. In time, I hear a knock at the door, and Shaye answers it. All that really matters though is that the woman in my arms is alive. I think of the sort of death drowning in your own vomit would be, and I shiver.
The woman responds to the slight movement, finally showing some sign of consciousness as she turns her face to me and sighs. One leg curls up towards her and her hand curls around mine. Trusting, so trusting in sleep.
I stare at the plumbing under the sink and wait for the dawn to save me.
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"Ardelle?" she asks. "Who is that?"
I shrug, careful not to dislodge the woman leaning against me. "Dunno."
"You don't know." Shaye's tone is flat. "What, did you just find her in the hallway?"
"Well, yeah."
Shaye stares at me in disbelief as the woman raises her head and looks up at me. "You just found her and you invited her in."
"She's drunk." I say, feeling incredibly stupid for saying it.
"She also," Shaye points out, "has a black eye, and it looks like more."
Startled, I glance down at the woman, meeting her dark gaze. "You can tell through the make up?" Even as I say this, I can see the signs of swelling. She smiles beautifucally up at me for a long moment, her eyes glassy, and then, abruptly, she slides through my arms to collapse in a heap on the floor.
"Smooth," Shaye mutters, but she is quick to fling away her blankets and help as I try to arrange wayward limbs into some semblance of comfort. Shaye is the one who catches the woman's lolling head and helps her lay her on her side on the carpet. I run to the bathroom and get a paper cup of water and a washcloth. When I return, Shaye has propped her head up with a pillow and has covered her with the blanket. I dip the washcloth into th water and carefully wipe away makeup from the woman's face. The skin that is revealed is smooth and slightly paler than my own, and I guess her age to be about my own or a little older. When I reach the bruising, she flinches, and she wakes.
She stares up at me without comprehension for a long moment, and then she is a bundle of flailing limbs and blanket. She clocks Shaye under the chin, and she reels back, swearing, and a foot catches me in the chest. I grab hold and try to stay clear of the other foot. For all of the sudden violence, she is eerily quiet, neither crying out nor swearing, her eyes wide and unseeing. "Hey!" I snap. "Hey, cut it out!" I shake one foot briskly.
She freezes. For a long moment the only sound in the room is Shaye swearing a blue streak and the woman's frantic breaths. Her gaze captures mine, and I am entranced by the depths of her dark eyes. She coughs suddenly, breaking eye contact, and flails to sit up. I quickly offer a hand, which she clings to as she wavers back and forth while seated.
"Well," says Shaye. "We learned something, now didn't we?"
Ignoring her, I address the woman. "Do you want to sleep on the couch?"
She looks up at me blankly.
"Couch?" I say, and point. Her gaze follows my finger to the couch that we have dumped some of our luggage on and most of Shaye's shoes. She wrinkles her nose in apparent confusion but nods hesistantly.
I glance at Shaye. "Yeah, yeah," she says. "I'm moving my crap." She gets up, still rubbing her jaw, and begins to clear the couch. I turn my attention back to the woman and slowly stand up without letting go of her hand. She seems to comprehend my intentions, and as soon as I'm balanced uses me to pull herself to her feet, shedding blanket in the process. For the first time, I take in her clothing, layered strappy shirts and a knee length skirt. Boots and an abundance of crystal bead necklaces. She takes a half step towards me and ends up leaning against me again, our hands clasped, the sharp points of her necklaces digging into my neck.
Shaye finishes tosses her shoes on the floor. "Ok," she mutters. "Ready as we get, just get her drunken ass over here." I lead her slowly to the couch, and her head never lifts from my shoulder even as she stumbles twice in her attempt to follow. When we finally reach the couch, I carefully lower her down and then tuck her in with a pillow and the blanket. Her dark eyes watch me as I reach down and brush her hair out of her eyes. "You. Sleep." Dutifully, she closes her eyes, and I turn to face Shaye.
Shaye simply points at me. "You. Me. Talk. Morning." Then, she stalks to the bed and throws herself onto it, switching off the light.
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It is late when we finally reach baggage claims, and the people around us are few and far in between. There are a few people sleeping leaning against the walls or uncomfortably sprawled across benches, their baggage impromptu pillows. Despite the hour, Dee is as spritely and cheerful as ever when we see her.
"Ardelle!" she shouts from the far side of baggage claims and even knowing her well I am still startled by her accent. I smile despite myself and wave.
"This is Dee?" Shaye whispers nervously.
"You bet," I say and walk faster to meet her, half afraid that she'll leap the baggage tracks in her eagerness to reach us. "The one and only."
She doesn't vault anything on her way to reach me, but I know, looking at her grin, that it's only because she's doing her best to Behave in the Conventional Fashion. She busses the air next to each cheek and turns to Shaye. "You, you are Shaye, no?"
"Sure," Shaye mutters, her flush intensifying as she studies her carry-on bag.
"I saw Ardelle's bags, but I don't know which are yours, dear." Dee already has me by the arm and is leading me toward one of the conveyor belts. "I'll assume that they'll be in the same batch as Ardelle's. Come, let us find them." She drags us across the concourse chatting at me all the while, short dark hair flying wildly about her animated face. "I thought you could have the first day for resting and recovering from your flights since you've come in so late, and we can see the sights the next day. Then, coffee in the morning of the day after and in the evening, you know, that lesbian bar I was telling you about? Next day, shopping downtown, day after there's going to be a party at my place. Then a quiet day in the park, a picnic and such, and final day resting and packing. Sounds good, yes?"


May. 18th, 2009 04:22 pm
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I will be posting my novel and the matching illustrations here, which was the entire purpose of getting this account.

I owe my spleen to Talya Firedancer. Just so you know. :D

I didn't need my spleen anyway.



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June 2009

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