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Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 3,507

“Even so,” Lila said, wrinkling her nose, “you wouldn’t catch me doing something as pathetic as taking charity from someone like that.” She gave Marshall a cute little wave from across the pool. “Hi, sweetie!”

Marshall grunted and stared at a spot somewhere above Lila’s head.

“Doesn’t Marshall have some, like, children or grandchildren? You know, a rich, hot heir to the Stanton fortune…” Jessica’s voice trailed off dreamily.

Lila snorted. “Yeah, right. You think they’d let you anywhere near their bank account?”

“Why not? I have blue-green eyes the color of the Pacific ocean, a tiny dimple in my left cheek when I smile, a perfect size-six figure, and I’m a fucking Wakefield twin,” Jessica said, listing all of her best attributes.

“You forgot sociopath, whore and gold-digger,” Lila said snidely. “Besides, if growing up with money has taught me anything, it’s how to spot a gold-digging whore from a mile away. I was barely able to get Marshall to designate me as the beneficiary of his will; they’d definitely be able to sense your desperation.”

“Desperation?” Jessica shrieked, throwing her magazine down in disgust. Her eyes narrowed. “Is that a challenge, Lila Fowler?”

Lila smirked. “You know me too well. Of course it’s a challenge. And I’m going to take you out just like the trash you are.”

* * *

Todd Wilkins sat back on his couch and flipped listlessly through the channels. There was nothing on TV — nothing that he wanted to watch, anyway. He pulled back the curtain and glanced out the window, his gaze moving across the condominium complex courtyard until he found it.

Elizabeth’s window. “Get over it, Wilkins,” Todd muttered to himself. “Unlike you, she has an actual job. She’s not even home right now.”

In the condo directly across from his, Todd saw the wooden blinds move apart for a quick second. His former classmate and Elizabeth’s best friend, Enid Rollins, lived there with whatever crackhead boyfriend she could dig up that week and her two kids, who presumably had different fathers. Every time Todd would get the urge to check in on Elizabeth, he noticed Enid would be doing so as well. He and Enid had made more than their fair share of awkward eye contact across the courtyard.

Things would be so much easier if I could just talk to Elizabeth, Todd thought, letting the curtain slip from his fingers and settling back onto the couch, his blue velour bathrobe falling open to reveal a healthy sliver of gut.

He and Elizabeth had dated for some time in high school and even for a little while as adults — until Elizabeth had broken things off. She wanted more of a commitment, she’d said. She didn’t even seem to care that Todd had a dead-end job wiping down tables and mopping the floor at The Dairi Burger after the popular teen hangout closed for the night.

But I know that’s not good enough for Elizabeth, Todd thought, running a hand through his hair, now sparse with male-pattern baldness. Elizabeth is sweet, smart, funny and kind — oh, and I can’t forget nosy — and she deserves so much better than me. She deserves an NBA star.

But that was a dream Todd had given up on long ago. He had once been the star basketball player for Sweet Valley High, but he’d blown any chance of playing professionally by attending a third-rate college.

This wasn’t the first time Todd had let pride get in the way of his relationship with Elizabeth — and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

Absentmindedly, Todd pulled back the curtain once more. Two stories below, a movement in the courtyard caught his eye. “Elizabeth,” he whispered, watching he walk up the front steps to her condo and slip the key into the door. She was dressed in her usual conservative style — a blazer and mom jeans — in spite of the stifling summer heat. As she unlocked the door, Elizabeth’s hair fell across her face, catching the light of the midday sun and turning a shimmering gold.

What is she doing home in the middle of the day? Todd wondered, glancing across at Enid’s window and seeing Enid peering out cautiously, a cigarette dangling between her lips. Elizabeth doesn’t usually get home until 5:15 — 5:17 at the absolute latest. Something was up — and Todd was going to get to the bottom of it!

* * *

Winston Egbert rolled over and hit the snooze button on his alarm clock, buying himself another nine minutes in bed before he had to get up for work. Not that it matters, he thought sleepily. He’d been up late the night before — and every other night that week — getting drunk on Pabst Blue Ribbon tall-boys and wearing skinny jeans while dancing to The Droids, a retro-indie local band that had just gotten a mention on Pitchfork.

He cracked open one eye and quickly shut it, trying to stamp out the ringing in his head. It was bad enough that he’d had to get an actual job, but at least he worked for his best friend, so it was all right to go rolling into work around noon or so — which he usually did.

When the alarm went off again, Winston shut it off and grabbed his glasses off the nightstand, yawning as he slipped them on. The room came into focus: Winston’s discarded sweater; the ashtray on the dresser overflowing with Winston cigarette butts; his latest conquest, a girl who couldn’t have been more than 19 or 20 years old, passed out on the bed beside him.

“Fuck,” Winston said, stroking his ironic beard. He leaned over and shook the girl. “Hey, get up.”

“Hmm?” she mumbled into the pillow.

“I said, get up,” Winston said, a little louder this time. The girl rolled over and looked at him through heavily lidded eyes.

“All right, I’m up,” she groaned. Her severe bangs had pushed away from her forehead during the night and were sticking up in all directions.

“Listen, you’ve got to get going,” Winston said, swinging out of bed and scooping up the girl’s clothes from the floor.

“OK, give me a minute,” she said, sitting up.

Winston threw the girl’s clothes — a long pink and black striped t-shirt and a thin scarf — at her. “I’ve got to get to work,” he said, making a show of pulling out his iPhone to check the time. “I’m probably going to be late.”

She pulled on her clothes, slipping her feet into a bright blue pair of slouchy boots at the foot of the bed. “So I’ll see you later, right?”

Winston crossed his arms over his skinny, pale chest and shrugged. “Maybe I’ll text you if I’m going out for a drink or something later,” he said, avoiding her gaze.

Yeah, right, he thought with disdain. Like this bitch actually has a chance with me.

She stood up to give him what turned out to be a chaste kiss on the cheek, then began her walk of shame. The courtyard in front of the Sweet Valley Heights complex had been home to the origin of many walks of shame courtesy of Winston Egbert, he thought proudly.

Still, there was one girl who hadn’t ever taken the Winston walk of shame, and she was the only girl Winston could hope to truly seduce: Maria Santelli. Winston sighed as he shut the door behind the girl — he didn’t even know her name, he realized — and thought about Maria.

The pretty, petite brunette had been Winston’s steady girlfriend throughout his junior year in high school, and he still hadn’t gotten over her. Maria had been the one to stick up for Winston when everyone made fun of him. Maria had been the one to teach him how to fix a mayoral election using electronic voting machines. Maria had been the one to give him his first handjob in his little VW bug — she had been a cheerleader, after all.

But that had been the root of the problem. Winston had often pondered his good fortune in landing a cheerleader. But, it seemed, Maria had been wondering about their relationship, too. And when she finally realized she was too good for him, they had broken up.

Since then, Winston had overcome a crippling Red Bull addiction and started shopping at Sweet Valley’s thrift stores, hiding his pain behind ironic T-shirts, Wayfarers and hot pieces of ass from Sweet Valley University. But it was no use; Maria Santelli was never far from his thoughts.

Sometimes, he’d catch a glimpse of her around town and his heart would leap into his throat for just a second before he realized that she wasn’t his, not anymore. No, she married that fucking Michael Harris asshole she’d been engaged to for about five minutes in high school, Winston thought bitterly, pulling a pack of Winstons off the nightstand and lighting one of them. And of course they have two beautiful, perfect kids!

Winston sucked heavily on his cigarette. Ever since he’d heard Maria had gotten married, he hadn’t worked up the courage to actually talk to her. Sure, he’d occasionally Facebook-stalk her, but he’d been trying his hardest to forget.

“What the fuck am I doing?” he mumbled around the cigarette as he pulled on a pair of crusty old jeans and rummaged through his top dresser drawer for a work-appropriate hipster headband. “I have to get going.”

All thoughts of Maria Santelli would have to wait.

Sweet Valley

Elizabeth paced around the kitchen. What will I tell Jessica? she wondered, worry clouding her mind. I guess I’ll just have to tell her the truth.

Elizabeth checked the watch she always wore. Jessica should be home any minute now, she thought.

Sure enough, Elizabeth’s twin burst through the door five minutes later, bubbling with excitement.

“Oh, Liz, we had just the most fabulous shoot today,” Jessica gushed, setting her purse down on the table, along with a few shopping bags. “The clothes I was modeling were just to die for!”

“Jess, sit down,” Elizabeth instructed her twin, pulling out a chair.

“What’s going on?” Jessica asked, noting the ominous tone in her sister’s voice.

Elizabeth sat down, facing Jessica, and placed her hands in her lap. She swallowed hard and looked down at her hands. Why can’t I do it? Elizabeth wondered. What’s wrong with me?

“Is it about the clothes?” Jessica asked, quickly moving the shopping bags off the table and shoving them at her feet. “Because Lila and I went — I mean, the photographer totally let me keep these. You know, like as a thank you gift.”

“That’s great,” Elizabeth said, her voice barely above a whisper. “I have something I need to tell you.”

“Well, obviously,” Jessica said, reaching across the table and grabbing a banana out of the fruit bowl in the center. “So spit it out already.”

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11 2010

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Go Winston!!!! Awesome chapter! But must he still be so skinny and pale! And cigarettes? Winnie is far too sensible, besides, they are generally reserved for the Shady Lady crowd. Also LOL @ Enid and her crackhead boyfriends.

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