Ashes to Ashes Page 29


This was not happening. I was not here. It was not the middle of the night in a haunted sanatorium and I wasn’t in the bathroom with one of my best friends hearing her say what I feared she was going to say.

“What kind of stuff?” I asked, my breath hitching.

She looked back at me, chagrined. “Well, at least that time I didn’t get pregnant from it.”

My hand flew to my mouth and I gasped. “What the actual fuck?”

“Sorry,” she said, swallowing hard. “We never told you because we’d pretty much forgotten about it.”

“You slept with Dex!” I yelled, my voice surprising me.

She winced. “Ugh, yes, please don’t be mad. It’s really not what you think at all.”

“How do you know what I think?” I cried out, my fists clenching at my sides. “I’m thinking about hitting you right in your face, did you know that?”

She looked uneasy. “I figured. But seriously, Perry, it was nothing. It was my fault. I got really drunk and Dex was there and I knew he was into me and it just happened.” I gasped again, I couldn’t help it. Now I felt like I was going to be sick. “It meant nothing, which is why we never spoke of it again. It was just…a bad time all around, even though I’m sure Dex thought he was brilliant.”

I pressed the palm of my hand to my forehead and closed my eyes, trying to stave off the coming headache. “Oh god, please shut up.”

“No, you have to know,” she said, getting off the toilet seat. “You have to know that it was something we put past us as a stupid silly thing. I like pussy, not dick. And Dex, well I knew he could tell.”

“Oh god,” I mumbled. “Why are you still talking?”

“We were better off as friends, both of us knew that. A few days later he started shagging Jenn. This was so long ago.”

Finally I snapped my head up and looked at her. “Will you please just shut up? Why the hell are you telling me this now if it didn’t mean anything? Look, I get that the past is the past and I have no control over it but…Jesus Christ, Rebecca, you’ve made everything really fucking weird for us now.”

“I know!” she exclaimed in a shaky voice. “I know I have, but that’s why it was weighing on me. Because you didn’t know. And it probably should have stayed buried but I just thought…”

“You just thought what?” I asked, folding my arms. “That because you’re having a shitty time now that you’re pregnant, you thought I should have a shitty time too? And Dex? Because believe me, if you think I’m not going to have it out with him over this, you have another thing coming!”

“Perry, please listen to me.”

“I did listen to you. I’ve had enough.”

“I just thought you guys should…have no secrets at this point in your relationship.”

“No secrets?” I repeated. “That’s really none of your business, you know. And this point…what point is that, exactly? All this does is prove how little I actually know Dex. You think I didn’t have enough to think about trying to ignore what Uncle Al said to me, that we’ve only known each other for eight fucking months?”

“That wasn’t my intention,” she said, angrily brushing her hair behind her ears. “It was the opposite. You guys are in this for the long haul, I know this. You know it too.”

I groaned and turned away from her. I couldn’t deal with this anymore. Dex and Rebecca had slept together. Suddenly every single time he acted like he was hitting on her or hinting at a threesome seemed less like an endearing joke and more like something he had prior knowledge of. Fuck, I hated this. Hated it. It changed the way I saw the both of them forever. I couldn’t believe that all this time they never said anything to me about it.

“Perry,” she said again, her voice cracking a little.

I walked over to the door and glanced at her over my shoulder. “I’m sorry that you’re pregnant and everything,” I told her. “But I just need some time to process this.”

What I really wanted was time to think. And considering it was the middle of the night, I had it. But the last thing I wanted was to go back to bed beside Dex—I just couldn’t do it. On the other hand, I didn’t exactly feel like going for a stroll on the first floor. With my luck I’d see Shawna again and this time she wouldn’t be as coy.

“I’m going to spend the night in the teachers’ lounge,” I informed her. “Okay?”

She sniffed, looking absolutely forlorn, but nodded. “Okay.”

I started walking away but she called out to me. “If you’re staying up, do you mind rolling the camera? You know, just in case? It’s our last show and all, and…”

I sighed. It was a good thing that Rebecca was a lesbian because the two of them were way too alike.

I headed down the hall, my pace quick, my eyes downcast, not wanting to see any shadow people in the walls, and went back into our room to grab a blanket and the camcorder.

“What the hell is going on out there?” asked a groggy-voiced Dex from his bed. “Are you having a pillow fight or a cat fight?”

With blood boiling in my veins, I switched on the small light by his bed and turned to face him. “A pillow fight? You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” I sneered.

He raised his brow, eyes all squinty. “This is a trick question, I can tell, and as such, I won’t answer it.”

I glared at him. “Rebecca is pregnant.”

His mouth dropped open. “What?”

“Oh don’t worry, it’s not your baby. I’m sure you used a condom when you fucked her all those years ago.”

Oh yes, there it was. The look of utter doom on Dex’s face. His wide eyes stared at me like he was caught in headlights and I could almost see his brain trying to make sense of what I just said, trying to figure out how to play it off.

For once, he was actually speechless.

Finally he licked his lips and said with a tilt of his head, “Perry…”

I rolled my eyes and moved over to my bed to get the blanket. “I’m sleeping in the teachers’ lounge.”

“Perry,” he said more sharply this time and reached out to grab me by the elbow. “Seriously, don’t go. Stay here. We’ll talk. I’ll tell you everything.”

I wrestled out of his grasp. “I already know everything. Rebecca told me—she told me more than I wanted to know.”

“Well why the fuck is she telling you this shit?”

“I don’t know, cuz she’s gone hormonal and crazy?”

“Oh god, come on, baby,” he said, swinging his legs off the bed. “I understand you’re mad, but it’s in the past.”

“Well what the fuck else is in your past, huh?” I asked angrily as I picked up the blanket. “Anything else you’re hiding, any other affairs I should know about? Any secrets you’ve been harboring?”

He seemed to flinch at that before running his hands down his face in exasperation. “Baby, I don’t even think about it,” Dex said. “Seriously. Never. Just like I never think about any of the other women I slept with. Do you think about the other men you’ve slept with?” His voice became harder there at the end.

“All two of them? No, Dex, I don’t.”

His nostrils flared for a moment before he exhaled noisily. “Let’s not fight here. We can fight back in Seattle, but not here, not in this place. This place is already fucking with us and it’s our last show.”

“I’ll fight with you wherever the hell I feel like fighting with you.” My stomach twisted like a hot knife was inside it but I kept to my guns.

“This is dangerous,” he warned. ”Please, stay here with me. Or I’ll go in the lounge and you can stay here.”

“With Rebecca? No thanks. I don’t feel like seeing either of you right now.”

I tried to walk away but he suddenly stepped in front of me, all hard lines and steely eyes. “You’re not going anywhere.”

“Get out of my way, Dex,” I told him, looking up at his face and matching him glare for glare.

“Sorry,” we heard Rebecca say and Dex turned around to see her standing in the nurse’s office, her face in shadows. “I didn’t mean to cause a fight.” She looked to Dex. “I just thought you’d want her to know.”

I took that opportunity to squeeze past Dex and head out to the hallway.

“Perry,” Dex called after me in frustration, but I was quick on my feet. I ignored Rebecca as I walked past her and headed straight for the lounge. I could hear him yelling at Rebecca now. “What the fuck did you do that for? What’s your problem?”

Rebecca yelled back at him, something about “having a clean slate going forward” and then I didn’t want to hear anymore. I went into the lounge, flicked on the lights, and immediately closed the door after me. I leaned against it and breathed in deeply through my nose. Okay, I was going to be okay. Eventually this sick feeling would pass and I would get over it. I only wished I was one of those people who didn’t let everything bother them, who didn’t feel everything. My mind knew that what happened between Dex and Rebecca was in the past, that it really didn’t mean anything to a lesbian and a man-whore. But still. It was going to take some time to get the images of them having sex out of my head, let alone the fact that they had both kept it from me.

Now, of course, I could see why they did. This was going to be an awkward shoot for the next day. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with already in this hellish place. A part of me wished I was a little less stubborn, so I wouldn’t be holed up in the lounge by myself to make a point.

I sighed and stepped away from the door. I laid the blanket out on the couch and pushed the couch further down the wall so one arm was against the side of the kitchen counter. If I were to get any sleep, it had to be so that there was no space behind me so I could clearly see the door. I sat on the couch and looked around, feeling vaguely protected. I stuck the camera up on the counter above my head and then got up and pulled the two beers out of the fridge that I knew Dex had stuck in there earlier. Beer was my only way out of this night.

I went back to the couch, pulled the blanket up over me, and drank, staring intently at the door as if I were expecting it to open, and listened to the muffled sounds of Dex and Rebecca as they were fighting. As much as I didn’t want to see them at war, their blurred obscenities were soothing, reminding me that I wasn’t alone.

I drank until their voices faded.

Then I close my eyes and slept.

And I dreamed.

***

Everything was cold. The air whooshed past me, whistling quietly in my ears, and even before I opened my eyes, I knew I was someplace else.

I opened them cautiously, preparing for what I might see. In front of me were white swirls rising up from the ground, waltzing a ghostly dance in the night sky. It was snowing lightly, the air filled with that muffled, peaceful sound that comes with snowfall, and I was standing in the middle of an empty bridge. Only it wasn’t just any bridge. It was the Brooklyn Bridge, and beyond the trails of snow, I could make out the lights and the glowing skyline of Manhattan.

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