Something was wrong. I knew it the moment I walked in the door. With one hand I flicked on the light, dumping my purse onto the couch with the other. After the dimly lit hallway, the sudden glare was dazzling. Little lights flashed before my eyes. When they cleared all I saw were spaces … spaces where, just this morning, things had been.
Like the couch.
My purse hit the floor and everything came tumbling out, tampons, loose coins, pens and make-up. A stick of deodorant rolled into the corner. The now empty corner since both the TV and its cabinet were gone. My thrift store retro table and chairs remained, same with my over-flowing book case. But the bulk of the room lay bare.
“What the hell?” A stupid question, what had happened here was obvious. Across from me, my roommate’s door stood wide open. Nothing but darkness and dust bunnies in there. No point in denying it.
Skye had bailed on me.
My shoulders slumped as the weight of two months’ worth of back rent, food and utilities came crushing down upon me. Even my throat closed tight. So this is what it felt like to have a friend fuck you over. I could barely breathe.
“Anne, can I borrow your velvet coat? I promise I’ll …” Lauren, my neighbor from the apartment next door strode in (knocking never had been her style). Then, like me, she stopped dead. “Where’s your couch?”
I took a deep breath and let it out slow. It didn’t help. “I guess Skye took it.”
My mouth opened, but really, what was there to say?
“She’s gone and you didn’t know she was leaving?” Lauren cocked her head, making her mass of long dark hair swing to and fro. I’d always envied her that hair. Mine was strawberry blonde and fine. Anything past shoulder length and it hung limp like I’d stuck my head in a bucket of grease. It’s why I didn’t tend to let it grow longer than jaw length.
Not that hair mattered.
Making rent mattered.
Having food to eat mattered.
Hair styles? Not so much.
My eyes burned, betrayal stung like a bitch. Skye and I had been friends for years. I’d trusted her. We’d trash talked boys and shared secrets, cried on each other’s shoulders. It just didn’t make sense.
Except it did.
It so very painfully did.
“No.” My voice sounded strange. I swallowed hard, clearing my throat. “No, I didn’t know she was leaving.”
“Weird. You two always seemed to get along great.”
“Why would she take off like that?”
“She owed me money,” I admitted, kneeling to collect the contents of my purse. Not to pray to God. I’d given up on him a long time ago.
Lauren gasped. “You’re joking. That fucking bitch!”
“Babe, we’re running late.” Nate, my other next door neighbor, filled the door way, eyes impatient. He was a tall well-built guy with an edge. Normally, I envied Lauren her boyfriend. Right then the glory of Nate was lost on me. I was so fucked.
“What’s going on?” he asked, looking around. “Hey, Anne.”
“Where’s your shit?”
Lauren threw her hands in the air. “Skye took her shit!”
“No,” I corrected. “Skye took her shit. But she took my money.”
“How much money?” Nate asked, displeasure dropping his voice by about an octave.
“Enough,” I said. “I’ve been covering for her since she lost her job.”
“Damn,” muttered Nate.
“Yeah.” Seriously, yeah.
I picked up my purse and flipped it open. Sixty-five dollars and one lone shiny quarter. How had I let it get this far? My pay check from the book shop was gone and my credit card maxed. Lizzy had needed help yesterday paying for textbooks and no way would I turn her down. Getting my sister through college came first.
This morning I’d told Skye we needed to talk. All day I’d felt crappy about it, my stomach churning. Because the truth was, the sum total of my talk involved telling her that she needed to ask her parents, or her fancy ass new boyfriend, for a loan to pay me back. I couldn’t keep the both of us housed and fed any longer while she searched for a new job. So she also needed to talk to one of them about a place to stay. Yes, I was kicking her to the curb. The guilt had weighed in my stomach like a stone.