Monday, November 21

Time and a Half

She pulls down the long zipper of her dress, starting at the nape of her neck, holding the pile of her long hair out of the way with her forearm as she presses the neckline flat with her left hand. In her underclothes, she lets the thick bundle of hair fall, and begins to fold her dress. It's black.

 Most of her clothes are, but this is special, an asymmetrical piece of slubbed silk, deeper than midnight. Cocktail dresses are her favorite, and this is a particularly graceful variation on the style. She leans over to release the ankle straps of her seven-inch heels, placing one hand on the bookshelf for balance's sake. Stepping out of her right shoe, and then her left, she stands in stocking feet at the foot of the bed. She leaves her dress folded, neatly, on top of the deep blue counterpane and pads out to the kitchen.

She fills a wide-bottomed glass with whiskey and lights a cigarette, smoking silently, taking little nips at the glass between drags. The clock in the hallway chimes softly, and she heads into the office. The laptop is open, humming the quiet accompaniment of dancing electricity in the empty air. She puts her cigarette out in the desktop ashtray and disconnects all the laptop's cables. Looking at the red light of the built-in webcam, she takes a long swallow of her whiskey and sets down the glass.

"I'm not turning on the speakers, and I won't repeat myself or take any questions, so you had better listen carefully," she says. "I'm not here to make friends. Don't ever try to contact me or interact with me in private life again. This is your only warning." She presses her lips together, narrows her eyes at the red light, and then steps away from the computer.

She pulls the office chair into the hallway, gazing critically at the line of sight into her bedroom, and stacks three thick books on its seat. She steps back into the office, retrieves the laptop, and sets it gently on the stack of books. Heading back into the bedroom, she stops, spins on her heel, and goes back for her drink.

When she is comfortably seated on the floor at the foot of her bed, she pulls a tiny butterfly knife out of its clip at the top of her left stocking, casually manipulating it with one hand, open, and closed. Open. Then closed. With the other hand, she picks up her cell phone, shakes it warningly at the little red light shining from the darkened hallway, and sets it back on the floor beside her right hip, returning her attention to the glass of whiskey. When her phone vibrates against the hardwood floor, she checks the mobile banking alert for the right set of numbers, and begins.

She pulls one garter taut and slashes through it, then the other. With a flashy flip of the blade, she cuts a shoulder strap, right below the collarbone. After two more quick slices, the lace cups of her deep red bra fall slowly to the sides. She slides the flat of the blade along her hipbone and works it under the seam of her matching thong, moving it up and down, in and out, in vicious parody. She raises an eyebrow and smiles, cruelly, the corners of her mouth drawing up in what could be either a smirk, or a snarl. She bares her teeth at the red light of the camera and drags the sharp little blade through each side-seam of her panties.

She stands, abruptly, and the scraps of fabric flutter to the ground, puddling splashes of scarlet next to her still-stockinged feet. She flourishes the blade back into its handle and tosses it on the bed. She moves sinuously toward the laptop in the hallway, and crouches down in front of the chair. When she is at eye-level with the little red light, she pulls her hair up off her neck and arches her back, showing off her chest, then hits the button that turns off the video feed.

She pulls off each stocking and lays them gently over the side of the clothes hamper, leaving the shredded remains of the rest of her underwear in a pile on the floor. She rummages in the top drawer of her dresser and steps into a black satin bikini, fastens the matching bra around her ribcage, and lifts each breast into a plain, but glossy, cup. She works each strap up to her shoulders and steps into the walk-in closet, pulling on a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt, a grey sweater, and thick wool socks. She tucks a bigger knife behind the waistband at the small of her back. She heads out to the hallway and steps into her favorite black boots, tying her hair into a knot at the nape of her neck. She grabs her keys from the table by the front door and hurries to the car, already looking forward to her grandmother's pumpkin pie. 

 "Sorry I'm late," she practices aloud. 

"Some accounts," she will say, "don't pause for Thanksgiving dinner," with a gentle smile. She would bet half of the night's take that for the fourth year in a row, no one will ask exactly what it is she does for a living, now.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Mera challenged me with "A memory connected to Thanksgiving." and I challenged Hannah with "All caps, no gaps."