by Karen Uffelman
“You’re wearing one of my shirts again.” Maura sat on her bed, pulling the pillows out of their cases. She wadded the top sheet in a ball and tossed it across the room.
“Do you want help with that?” Rebecca walked over and untucked a corner of the fitted sheet. “It’d be easier to do this if you weren’t sitting in the middle of the bed.”
“Don’t you have your own clothes?”
“Why? You have enough to share, and I like this shirt. It smells like you. Besides, I didn’t bring anything to change into.”
Maura finally slid to the floor and pulled the fitted sheet off the bed. She avoided Rebecca’s gaze, sliding past her to the laundry hamper where she stuffed the sheets and then began collecting random socks and other bits of clothing piled in the corner. Rebecca stuck a cigarette in her mouth and started digging around her bag for a lighter.
“No, absolutely not. Put it away. Andrea had a fit last time.”
“God, Maura! I’ll open a window. It’s not like I’m going to go smoke in her room or something.”
“I said no. This isn’t a negotiation. She’s already so moody and weird and our lease isn’t up for another four months. I just want to live in peace, okay? Let her borrow the car twice a week, and vacuum every other day, and boil the dishtowels if she wants, and I just have to keep my insane girlfriend from smoking up the apartment.”
“Sorry.” Rebecca set the cigarette and lighter she had taken from her bag on the dresser. “I’m not insane, but I’m glad you remembered I’m your girlfriend.” Rebecca pulled one of Maura’s sweaters over her head. “She’s an odd one, isn’t she, our little Andrea.”
“Don’t call her that. You don’t even know her, okay?”
“She made me toast last week. I think she likes me.”
“She doesn’t like you, she doesn’t like anything about you – you’re not usually very nice to her, you know? And now she thinks I’ve gone over to the dark side. She made you that toast because seeing us kissing shorted out the electrons in her brain.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Rebecca pulled a hat out of a dresser drawer and put it on, admiring herself in the mirror, “You never know, Andrea might not be as uptight as you think. Speaking of, is she bringing your car back soon? I was hoping you could drop me by the coffee shop before the Uganda lecture.”
“I’m not sure if she’s going to be back before I have to head out. I might take the bus. Can you please take off my hat? And my sweater?”
“I’d think you were looking for some action, Ms. Maura, but instead I’m feeling like you don’t want people to see me in your clothes. You gotta’ come out of the closet girl.”
“Shut up, Rebecca. That’s the stupidest thing you’ve said all day.”
“Well you were certainly freaked out about Andrea seeing us on the couch.”
“That was about Andrea, not about me! She nearly had a heart attack.”
“And you never want to hold hands, and you’ve got some kind of big problem with me wearing your stuff. You never introduce me as your girlfriend. You don’t want to spend time with my family.”
“That’s mutual, I think, if memory serves.”
“So my dad isn’t the world’s greatest person and my mom was having a bad day when you met her, but my brother, Jackson, and my Aunt Marcia are very smart and funny. You’d like them.”
“Uh-huh. Look, Rebecca, this is all a little heavy, okay? I like you, but I wish you’d stop acting like we’re engaged. This needy thing doesn’t really seem like you and isn’t very attractive.”
“You know what? Go to hell, Maura,” Rebecca pulled off the sweater and t-shirt. She sat down on the bare mattress, took the cigarette from the dresser and lit it. She threw the lighter against the wall where it made a small indent in the sheetrock.
“It might be time for you to go,” Maura said.
Rebecca slung her bag over her shoulder, blew a smoke ring in Maura’s direction, walked through the bedroom door and slammed it hard.
She heard the front door open, and a surprised yelp from Andrea, followed by a response from Rebecca that she couldn’t quite make out. The front door slammed shut.
Maura opened her bedroom door.
“I’m sorry about the cigarette smoke, Andrea. I’ll open all of the windows, okay? And I’m sorry about Rebecca, I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Well I hope she’s armed!” Andrea cried, “Who knows who’ll come after her in that bright red bra!”