The door slammed open, a cold breeze blew into the house, and she stood clutching her jacket closed. Her eyes were wide with shock and tears. She pulled her auburn brown hair away from her eyes and sniffled. The room lay strewn in utter darkness, a faint line of buttery soft light escaped from the small bathroom door. She gulped down oxygen, feeling her lungs burn and her throat ache.
Cautiously, she approached the door and bit her lip; hard. Pale hands, cold with fear, grasped the door knob. She turned it and threw the door open. Steam escaped from the room immediately, moans both female and male met her ears and she cringed. She caught glimpse of golden hair and long, black hair. Two bodies were twined together in the small shower stall.
His head snapped around and his eyes stared at her in mute-shock and hate. Alice screamed and ran from the house; ran from the sight and pain in her heart.
Alice awoke without breath in her lungs. She sat up and clawed at her throat, her eyes burned furiously with tears and her heart ached with dread. No, she was back in the present, she wasn’t seventeen again. She breathed deep and hard. Her nerves were shot; Alice leaned over the bed and threw up on the carpet. So much for the dinner she had carefully prepared and ate.
Her bedroom was dark in shadows; Alice rubbed her eyes clear of tears and sighed. Sour bile rose up her throat, but she forced it back down. She hadn’t felt this way since… well, since she was home last, seven years ago. She remembered that Christmas with clarity, her grandmamma had invited her home for the first time since she had left and she took it to the heart.
The roads were covered in slushy snow; she had got off the bus, with Brad right behind her. She had been so vibrant and full of life then, she had practically been glowing. Alice thought back on it and felt a dark mood settle over her. She never did love Brad and that was what had bothered her. If she hadn’t caught him red-handed in bed with that red headed slut Tracy, she probably would have been with him still and in the city because she had been content. He hadn’t been, never would have been with her either. She was too stubborn and serious; he tended to be easy-going and humorous.
Alice shook her head sadly, she really couldn’t blame him for wanting and craving more excitement, she just wasn’t cut out for the wild and thrilling life style he wanted. What she wanted was a happily ever after that was peaceful and stable. She supposed what she wanted was a life like the one her grandparents had led, quiet and comfortable in a small southern town.
She swung her legs off the bed, barely missing the puke and stood. Her legs cramped and she cursed out loud. Alice blinked rapidly, her vision blurred and her head pounded. Christ, she was so tired and sore, she really didn’t want to get out of bed for a week. She sighed and walked to the bathroom, the light flicked on and she cringed. The small white bathroom lit up like the sun and hurt her eyes. Alice walked towards the small oval shaped mirror above the marble sink and stared at her reflection.
Her eyes were bloodshot red, dark bags hung under her eyes, her hair hung in limps, as if they too had given up on staying alive. “Well, come on now girl,” she muttered to herself, “What did you expect? For him to declare he loves you? Grow up, darlin’.”
“Talking to yourself?”
Alice swung around and clutched at her throat. “Alaine!” She yelled. “What the fuck are you doing scaring the living day lights out of me?”
“I wanted to apologize for this morning,” her twin shrugged uncomfortably. Her gaze darted from Alice to the wall behind her. “I didn’t mean what I said,” she sighed, “I’ve been lonely here, you know… missing my other half and all.”
“And I’m sorry I haven’t come home more,” Alice walked into the now lit room and sat down beside her sister on the bed. She took a glance at her and gulped down air. “I realize I should have been here more, I’ve missed seven years of seeing grandmamma and grandpapa. I feel like I cheated them out of my life.”
“They understood, Alice.” Alaine bit her lip, a habit Alice had quickly learned her sister still did. “I tried to; I guess I got jealous of you.”
Alice cocked an eyebrow and stared at her. “Of me, why?”
“You seemed so in love with Brad, you always got the hot guys, the cute ones, funny ones… your life was put together as easy as a puzzle, the pieces snapping together like they fit. You had everything I didn’t have and wouldn’t have because it just wasn’t in me to go and get it.”
Alice laughed, “My life isn’t a fairytale. It wasn’t always happy, look at what happened with Keith… then Brad. Christ, I didn’t leave home because I wanted to. I left because I was dying slowly, on the inside. I’ve had my heart torn out too many times, Alaine, to the point where I get itchy and angry when I think of love and men in one sentence.”
“What happened with Keith?” She whispered. “You never told anyone, one day you were a happy couple, the next… you totally avoided him like he was the plague.”
“He cheated on me, a day after our seventeenth birthday… I caught him in the shower with Monica, you remember her, right? Long black hair and brown and green eyes?”
Alaine scrunched her nose and grunted. “Of course I remember her. Biggest slut alive… figures he’d been doing the dirty with her. I heard she got fat, had four kids and is divorced… twice.”
Alice burst out laughing; she knew it was the truth because she had done both divorces for the woman. “Yeah, I know Alaine; I filed both divorces for her.”
Her twin grinned, her face lit up and her eyes twinkled. “She was probably surprised walking into your office.”
“Oh yeah, totally. She walked in and screw doing a double take, the woman did a triple take on me, like I was a ghost that ghosted in out of nowhere. It was priceless and even funnier when she was explaining that she was interested in a different man, someone from her past.” Alice tilted her head and felt a chuckle trying to escape. “I remember when she was talking; all I could see was her from ten years ago and her then. It was like I was looking at photographs. It was humorous until she blurted out, ‘the man I’m interested in is Keith.’” Alice shook her head, “God, she had the gulls to bring him up. I suppose she was expecting some kind of response and was probably disappointed when I gave her none.”
Alaine rolled her eyes and fell backwards on the bed. “Not sticking up for him, but he wouldn’t touch her with a ten foot pole now. You know, I’ve always wanted to tell you that he’s never forgiven himself. I don’t know why I did it, but the day after you took off, I marched over to the Gordon’s and demanded Keith to get you to come home. He gave me a pained face and shut the door on my face. Later he admitted that you would never give him the time of day to explain himself and that was that.”
Wind howled outside, Alice sighed and stood. There was puke to clean up beside her bed. She walked into the bathroom and wet a cloth. She came back into the room and knelt beside the bed. Her stomach rolled at the smell and look of the puke, she wiped it up and practically bolted for the bathroom to be rid of the bile. Alaine eyed her curiously, but said nothing.
“There,” Alice rubbed her forehead furiously, “my stomach hasn’t been right since the divorce. And no, I’m not pregnant so don’t go there. I made goddamn sure I wasn’t either.”
“That’s not what I was going to ask, actually. I was going to ask whether it’s the same thing that happened when we were eleven.”
She shrugged, “maybe, who knows. What time is it anyway?”
Alaine looked at the diamond watch on her wrist and squinted. “Eleven fifty-seven.”
Alice groaned; she’d slept a whole of three whopping hours. “If I don’t sleep a straight twenty hours soon, my body is going to throw a tantrum and I’ll throw one myself.”
“Need some sleeping pills?”
“No thank you,” Alice said as matter-of-factly. “I want sleep, not to sleep like the dead.”
The two women fell into silence, their hearts suddenly dark and sad. Alice dropped her head and rubbed her forehead. Alaine bit her lip and closed her eyes at the sting of tears. Christ, the word dead brought so much more to them now, even more so then it did when their mother had died when they were five. Diane and Paul had been more of parents to them their real parents had been. To know they were gone, was like saying the sun stopped shining. A knock sounded up the stairs into Alice’s room. Alaine jumped but Alice simply shrugged.
“I’ll get it.”
“Don’t you dare answer that door! It’s nearly midnight, who could be knocking at this hour?”
Alice rolled her eyes and walked out of the room with her gun in hand.