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Post-coital Tristesse – Word count: 1,672

Post-coital Tristesse

by saucytemptress

One
Sweet Valley

Elizabeth Wakefield packed the last of the belongings from her desk — a framed photo of her family, her well-worn journal, a lone yellow barrette — and took one last look at the newsroom that had, for the past five years, been her home.

Penny Ayala had broken the news to Elizabeth just that morning. With her typical no-nonsense, ball-busting attitude, the editor had called Elizabeth into her office.

“We’re going to an online-only publication,” Penny had said, barely looking up from her computer screen.

Elizabeth’s brow had furrowed in concentration. Ever the seasoned reporter, she’d taken the small, spiral-bound notebook she kept nestled in between her breasts in case of breaking news and started to write down everything Penny was saying.

Penny had held up her hand. “Liz, you don’t need to write this down,” she’d said. “It’s not for a story. Just listen to me, OK?”

“Of course,” Elizabeth had answered, placing the notebook carefully back down her shirt and tucking in her ballpoint pen alongside it.

“We’re cutting our staff,” Penny said with a sigh. “I’m really sorry, Elizabeth, but I’m going to have to let you go.”

Behind Penny, a small portable radio was playing a Justin Bieber song.

And I was like baby, baby, baby ohhh, like baby, baby, baby nooooo…

Elizabeth was taken aback. “Penny, you can’t let me go,” she pleaded. “I can do online-only!”

Penny shook her head. “Elizabeth, we both know that’s not true. You don’t even know what HTML is.”

Elizabeth shook her head vigorously. “No, but I can learn,” she vowed. “I can even write a story for the paper: ‘HTML: The Untold Story.’”

Penny rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her Facebook profile. “That’s another reason I’m going to have to let you go,” she said. “Your writing is so … dated. Not everything is a goddamn expose.”

“How about an online gossip column?” Elizabeth suggested, desperation creeping into her voice. “You know, kind of like the old ‘Eyes and Ears’ column I used to do in high school. Only I can use MS Paint to draw snarky comments and dicks and stuff onto the photos we post.”

“Like that’s never been done before,” Penny said. Elizabeth winced at the sarcastic tone in her voice. “Let’s face it, Elizabeth: You’re 26 and completely washed up.”

The radio station Penny was listening to had switched songs.

Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick…

Elizabeth had no idea what a disco stick was, but she blinked back the tears that had been welling up in her eyes and took a deep breath.

“I guess this is it, then,” she said sadly, standing up.

Penny had returned to Farmville, wielding her mouse with a fury Elizabeth found frightening.

Elizabeth paused at the door without turning around. “What about all the time we spent together at The Oracle, Penny? What about all the sexual tension? Did it mean nothing to you?”

Penny snorted but didn’t even look up. “Nice try, but all the sexual tension was between you and Mr. Collins.”

Ever since then, Elizabeth had been packing up the contents of her cubicle at the Sweet Valley News. I never thought it would end like this, Elizabeth thought, the tears pricking at the corners of her eyes — which were the exact same shade as the endless Pacific Ocean, Pantone 15-5519 — starting to spill over.

All around her, the other reporters were buzzing, wrapped up in their own stories — just this week, there had been three kidnappings, two date rapes, a rash of werewolf sightings and an attempted face-switch — and none of them seemed to notice her.

Working at the Sweet Valley News has always been my dream, Elizabeth thought sadly. She hoisted the cardboard box off of her desk and said one last silent goodbye to the newsroom.

As Elizabeth walked out into the sun, she couldn’t help but thing she’d made a terrible mistake by staying in Sweet Valley in the first place. True, she’d grown up here, and she loved her little town, with all the Wakefield ass-kissing that went on there, but how many times had she dreamed bigger? How many times had she secretly thought about moving to someplace exciting, like New York City, and locking herself behind five deadbolts?

But she’d set aside those dreams. And for what? No, Elizabeth had always left the big dreams up to her identical twin sister, Jessica. Where Elizabeth was smart, studious and meddlesome, Jessica was dumb, ditzy and didn’t give a fuck about anyone but herself.

The two looked exactly alike — right down to their long golden hair and perfect size-six figures. But it was there that the similarities ended.

Elizabeth, the older twin by just four minutes, had always enjoyed writing and had only seriously considered it as a career choice after being sexually blackmailed into it by her high school English teacher and secret lover, Mr. Collins.

Jessica’s narcissistic streak had pushed her into a career as a model and actress, although Elizabeth had yet to see any examples of her work.

The two of them shared a condo in Sweet Valley Heights, a relatively new development in a rapidly gentrifying part of town that had once been home to families like the Martins and Carl, the pedophile orderly.

On her way home in the fifteenth Jeep the twins had shared, Elizabeth worried about breaking the news to her twin. Although both were working, Elizabeth had always paid the twins’ rent and utilities, as well as Jessica’s bikini waxing expenses.

“Jessica’s going to be so mad at me when her bush situation gets out of control,” Elizabeth whispered, gripping the steering wheel tightly, a lone tear sliding down her cheek.

* * *

“I can’t believe you took the day off work, Jessica,” Lila Fowler said, slathering her leathery body with oil and reclining back in her lounge chair to soak up the sun.

“Well, it pays to sleep with the boss,” Jessica said, flipping through the magazine on her lap.

“Don’t I know it,” Lila said with a laugh, glancing at her longtime boyfriend, Marshall Stanton IV, on the other side of the pool.

“Lila, you’re awful,” Jessica giggled, looking over at Marshall. “He can’t hear us, can he?”

Lila snorted and waved a hand dismissively. “He’s totally deaf — and almost completely blind as well,” she said.

“Ugh, I can’t believe you’re dating a 92-year-old,” Jessica said. “It’s kind of gross, Lila.”

“Says the girl who shakes her cooch onstage for dollar bills every night,” Lila retorted.

Jessica bristled. Lila was her very best friend in the world — and also her biggest rival. “Sometimes, I get fives,” she said haughtily. “And I am a day-shift stripper, for your information. It’s much more classy. I dance for high-powered businessmen who come to the club to discuss very important businessy things.”

“Whatever,” Lila said, closing her eyes and enjoying the warm sun on her face. “Wake me up if Marshall starts rolling toward the pool so I can get my accountant on the phone.”

Lila had started dating Marshall, whose net worth was in the billions, shortly after her father had lost his fortune in the dot-com crash. Growing up, Lila had been one of the wealthiest students at Sweet Valley High, and she had become accustomed to a certain standard of living.

Jessica had never actually had a conversation with Marshall — most of the time, he sat in a corner of the room in his wheelchair, drooling and mumbling to himself. Lila had even once confessed to Jessica that her servant, Lucinda, had to change Marshall’s soiled diapers.

Jessica shuddered. She wasn’t sure if it was from her twin sense — Elizabeth was probably in trouble somewhere — or from the thought of Lila humping on a toothless old man. She settled back into her chair and carefully studied the Ingenue magazine spread on lucite heels.

Those are so cute! Jessica thought, eyeing a pair with daring six-inch spiked heels. Once again, she felt a cold chill creep over her body. I really hope Elizabeth hasn’t gotten herself kidnapped or is in a coma or something.

Just then, Jessica’s phone rang, startling her. “What now?” she said out loud, annoyed at the interruption. Elizabeth’s name showed upon her caller ID. Jessica rolled her eyes and answered the phone.

“Jessica? Do you have a minute to talk?” Elizabeth asked earnestly. She sounded like she was about to burst into tears at any minute.

“Actually, no,” Jessica said. “I’m right in the middle of a very important photo shoot. We’re, uh, just about to go back into makeup and hair, so I should get going. See you at home tonight, OK? Bye!”

Jessica touched the screen to hang up on her sister, then promptly shot Lila a text message.

Lila lazily opened one eye and picked up her phone. “Elizabeth called you just now? Are you kidding me?”

“Really,” Jessica said. “Ugh. I wonder what she wants?”

“Why didn’t you just ask her?” Lila said.

Jessica crossed her arms over her chest, making sure to enhance her cleavage. “Because I needed to make her think I was actually working. You know Elizabeth — she’d flip her shit if she found out I’m dicking around with you by the pool all day.”

“I understand,” Lila said with a grimace. “I’ve also been on the wrong end of far too many lectures from Elizabeth Wakefield.”

“Just that one time you were shoplifting for attention or whatever,” Jessica said. “Me, on the other hand? I’ve been on the receiving end of about a hundred and thirty seven lectures just this week.”

Lila slid her sunglasses up into her hair. “Honestly, Jess, I don’t know how you can stand to live with her. Elizabeth is a total bore.”

“Well, she does pay the rent,” Jessica said. “And for my biweekly Brazilian.”

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saucytemptress

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11 2010

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