It had been a long year. Bouncing state to state, even across the border once or twice. They ran from no one in particular, but both felt demons on the back of their necks waiting to jump out if they stopped in one spot too long.
The taller girl was shaken from her thoughts when she heard a soft gasp from Cate. Her face contorted for just a moment but soon after Bela let her lips pull into a scowl.
“Stop being such a god damned wimp.” she told her as she moved closer to the padded chair the blonde laid on. Bela grabbed her hand and laced their fingers together without another word, willing her face to stay blank as Cate stared at her with a somewhat puzzled look on her face. They stared at each other a moment longer until the tattoo artist asked Cate something. Bela tuned out both the question and answer. Cate seemed to love talking to people. She despised it.
Cate’s hand was too soft for her liking. When she ran her thumb along the skin just above the girl’s palm she could feel slight calluses that had formed from their year together. When Cate squeezed her hand the brunette could feel her uneven, broken nails dig into her skin. She despised it.
She decided to focus her gaze on the girl's hip where the bundle of little needles wove in and out of her skin, leaving the outline of a bundle of sunflowers. Of course Cate had chosen sunflowers. She felt her own tattoos itch at the thought of a sickeningly happy stain on her skin. She despised it.
She looked away once more as Cate sat up. Their hands fell apart and Bela stood up, walking to the front desk of the small shop, placing the carefully counted stack of bills from her pocket on the counter. Bela had never explained how she had such a steady flow of money coming in without working. Cate never asked. The lady behind the counter took it without question and rang them up.
“Bela,” came Cate’s voice from behind her, soft and steady. She turned and raised an eyebrow at the blonde who had her arms crossed over her chest.
“Yes, Princess?” the nickname a taunt Bela never tired of and Cate couldn’t seem to get out of her head.
“My shirt.” she motioned to the grey tank top in Bela’s hands. Bela shrugged,
“What about it?”
Cate sighed and walked over to her, easily taking the material from her hands and slipping it over herself. They were handed the receipt and without another word they slipped out of the well lit tattoo parlour.
The night was dark and the air of the alleyway parking lot where they had left the cherry red 1969 camaro was thick with the smell of cigarette smoke. Bela’s fingers ached for one. Their ride back to the, for lack of better words, shitty motel felt like an eternity and Bela blamed it on her lack of sleep when she reached over and took Cate’s hand in her own.
It was like they were in the tattoo parlour once more, but this time Cate sat awkwardly in her seat to avoid her jeans rubbing against her raw skin, and Bela stared intensely at the empty road as she drove. Their hands stayed intertwined until they glided into their designated parking spot at the shitty motel. Bela was the first one out of the car and fumbled in her pocket to grab the little key a very tired motel manager had dropped into her palm two days prior.
It was because of this fumbling that Bela didn’t realize until a few moments after it happened that Cate had been stabbed in the thigh. It took her another few moments to react as she had been watching the figure in the black hoodie run away. Possibly in fear, possibly with joy. Who knows what someone thinks after they stab an innocent girl.
“You idiot,” Bela’s voice was a grumble as she spoke to Cate who was propped up against the yellowing walls of the motel bathtub in a puddle of water stained red with the blood that trickled off of her leg. Bela assumed there had been worse things than this in the tub.
“Idiot?” the shock had worn off an hour ago, right after Bela had stitched her leg up. Cate was trapped in a daze fueled by the pain of the stab wound on her thigh and the cheap alcoholic pain medication substitute coursing through her veins.
“Yes, idiot. You fucking idiot. You jumped in front of a knife meant for me. I hate you-” Bela was cut off by a finger against her lips. Her eyes widened and it took every bit of her to not slap the girl’s hand away. She watched as Cate turned on the faucet and rinsed the pink water from the once pristine white bathtub then looked expectantly at Bela.
“The fuck do you want me to do?” she asked and Cate sighed.
“I’m half drunk and stabbed and you’re still like this?” it wasn’t out of the ordinary for the two girls to be at each other’s throats, it just wasn’t usually Cate who started it.
“Still like what? Mad at you? Angry with you? No shit I’m like this, I hate you.”
“Hate is a strong word for someone who just held my hand and stitched me back together in a motel bathroom.”
Bela could feel the pit of anger in her stomach but blamed their tempers on the alcohol in Cate’s system and swiftly she picked the girl up. Ignoring the thrashing body in her arms as she walked over to the bed. She laid Cate on a towel for the sake of not getting the bed wet and for the sake of saving the girl from having to lay in motel bed sheets with bare legs.
“You are infuriating, Princess. I want to hate you so badly.” she spoke hoping Cate would remember none of it in the morning. Her chest burned as the girl weakly tried to pull her into bed. She saved her the struggle and laid down next to her, their noses nearly touching.
It wasn’t out of the ordinary for them to sleep in the same bed or even as close as they laid now. Last minute motel rooms meant often ending up in rooms with one bed. It stopped being awkward when their tiredness had stopped letting them care.
“But you don’t.” Cate laid her head on Bela’s chest and closed her eyes. Her nose found it’s way tucked into the crook of her neck. They hadn’t been interlocked like this since the morning they had both woken up hungover and pressed together in another motel room, tangled in one bed instead of using both that had been in the room. The brunette sighed and stared at the ceiling.
“But I don’t.”
Cate fell into her pain induced sleep. Bela laid in bed for a while thinking until she passed out.
The cherry red 1969 camaro sped down a highway in who knows what state. Cate was guessing New York. Bela knew it was Ohio. They took an exit at random, finding themselves in a little town with a little school with little children running in the yard. Cate stared for a while and Bela stared at her.
When Cate turned back their eyes met and held for a while.
“I hate you, Princess.”
And the cherry red 1969 camaro cruised down the little concrete road of the little town with the little school with the little kids playing in the yard.
Continued: Boxed In by Hailey Laliberte
So I manage to roll this box, and it is not a small box, into this tiny elevator. There’s enough room for me to squish in, so I do, and hit the button that supposedly lowers the elevator. The doors close with great finality, and the journey to the basement begins. The tiny universe I’m in vibrates, then slowly settles into silence. I look at the doors. The doors don’t open. I’ve been on the elevator before, so I know how long it takes for me to reach the basement. I should be there. I wait a minute, and nothing happens. I check my watch. Five minutes have passed since I entered the elevator (of course since I didn’t look at my watch before I entered the elevator, this is speculation). I stare at the doors, willing them to open. They ignore me.
Now I’m getting worried. One of the lights overhead is sort of flickering, and I can hear this creaking noise, and I have absolutely no idea where it’s coming from. So I do the logical thing, and start completely panicking. For another solid five minutes, I just stand there, frozen, pondering all the possible terrible fates that could befall me, then realize that “fall” might not have been the greatest choice of word on my current dilemma. I should add that I have mild anxiety, and it’s always at its worst when I’m stuck in a situation that’s out of my control, and I can’t immediately come up with a way of solving it. I also don’t really do well with small spaces, and let’s just say when it comes to this particular elevator, I’ve seen larger linen closets. The walls seem to be closing in around me, and I’m struggling to catch my breath in the hot, stuffy, little world of metal walls and mysterious buttons. The box is taking up all the room, so I can’t sit down, even though I feel like I’m going to pass out, so I’m only managing to stand by holding the railings. Suddenly, my phone beeps, reminding me that the newest episode of my favourite podcast is out and snapping me out of my anguish. It hits me: I’m in here with my phone. I can get help. Before I completely lose it and call the police or something, I decide that calling my grandparents, who are right here in the building, might be a better idea.
At first, they don’t pick up, and I am terrified. The five seconds it takes my grandma to reach the phone are the longest five seconds of my life. I explain the situation, and she promises that rescue is on the way. Rescue arrives sooner than I’d anticipated, because in less than a minute, the doors are opening, and my grandfather’s standing there. I jump out of the elevator, take a deep breath of fresh air, then realize that I’m standing in front of the library.
Now back to the past tense, because the problem has passed, and I am no longer tense.
Understanding and embarrassment struck me both at once. I had hit the button for floor one, which is where I already was. I hadn’t even moved. All I ever had to do was hit the “open doors” button. Now, why the doors decided it would be a great idea to close when I was clearly already at the location that I’d accidentally hit the wrong button for is beyond me. While someone listening to this story may not fully appreciate the gravity of my situation, I can honestly say that it was the longest twenty minutes of my life that I didn’t actually spend stuck in an elevator.