TORNADO – Part 5 by Karen Uffelman
Maura sat up with a start, almost hitting her head on the table lamp by the hide-a-bed. She fumbled for the lamp switch.
Jackson threw an arm over his face, shielding his eyes from the light and rolled over onto his side. Maura pressed a hand to her mouth, muffling a gasp, as she surveyed the room. Clothes, hers included, were strewn across the floor. A polo shirt she recognized as her father’s made her almost shriek, until she remembered that Jackson had borrowed it the night before.
She turned the light back off, and leaned back against the couch cushions at the head of the mattress. She pulled the sheet up to her chin, and stared at Jackson. He was bathed in the moonlight from the basement window. The window had a grate over it , and the moonlight was broken by the shadows from the crisscrossing metal bars. Jackson’s back and the side of his face appeared to be covered in tiny diamonds.
Maura tried hard to remember how she ended up in the basement on the hide-a-bed, IN the hide-a-bed, with Jackson. Her head was pounding and her mouth felt incredibly dry. She was definitely still drunk, and maybe a little stoned. She noticed a skunky edge to the dank smell of the basement. The sheets were tangled and damp and there were suspicious crusty remnants on her thighs and belly.
Jackson stirred at the sound of Maura’s voice, and rolled toward her, throwing an arm across her hips and burrowing his head under her arm. She started to push him away but then decided it would be a mistake to wake him until she had a plan. Her head hurt so much!
She kind of remembered finding some brandy in the china cabinet, and pulling it out after her mother went to bed. Drinking it straight from the bottle with Rebecca and Andrea and Jackson, as if they were all teenagers. Jackson rolling a joint and Andrea freaking out. Maybe some flirting with Jackson? Yes, definitely some flirting. Getting in a nasty fight with Rebecca. Rebecca yelling. Somehow ending up alone in the living room with Jackson and making out with him. She didn’t remember coming down to the basement, though.
Jackson murmured something into her armpit and ran a hand up her inner thigh. She could feel a budding erection against her other leg and started to panic. The physical affection, after all of the stress of the previous day, wasn’t totally unwelcome, but all of Maura’s previous sexual relationships had been with women (at least those she could remember), and she wasn’t sure she was ready to knowingly switch teams.
She slipped out of the hide-a-bed, grabbing the closest piece of clothing (which happened to be Pastor Bell’s polo shirt) and tiptoed to the bathroom. She was just pulling the door closed behind her when she heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
“Hey,” Jackson mumbled, “where’d you go? Come back to bed…”
“Um, I thought you might want some water,” Andrea approached the hide-a-bed uncertainly, holding a glass in front of her. Maura could see from the crack in the bathroom door that she was still wearing the pink sweater along with a surprisingly racy pair of underpants.
“Ah, thank you baby. Come ‘ere,” Jackson reached a hand toward Andrea, “it’s cold in here without you.”
“Um, I don’t know,” Andrea set the glass of water down on the side table, “I guess I could lie down for a minute. It smells kind of musty down here…”
“Um, okay…wait a minute…okay.”
Maura wasn’t sure what to do. She was worried about embarrassing Andrea, and also worried about leaving her with Jackson, but mostly she was just distracted by the glass of water that Andrea had put on the side table. It seemed like the most delicious thing in the world. Only ten feet away. She dropped to all fours and started crawling toward it.
“I don’t know…are you okay, Jackson? You’re so warm…you seem a little feverish.”
“For you, baby, feverish for you.”
Maura kept her eyes on the glass as she elbowed her way across the carpet. The water looked so crystal clear. With a few bubbles, maybe? Yes, there were definitely bubbles.
“Oh!” Giggles, kissing sounds.
“Where did this sweater come from? Let’s get this off of you…”
“I don’t know…okay, I guess…for a minute…”
The side table was very close now. Maura’s knee came down on something sharp, a hook from her bra , probably. She gritted her teeth and reached for the glass.
Pastor Bell entered from the garage, flipping on the overhead light and finding his daughter on the floor on all fours, wearing only a polo shirt that looked disturbingly familiar, and some naked man he’d never met in his hide-a-bed with the neighbor girl sitting on top of him in her underwear. Her breasts were bigger than he’d ever imagined.