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Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 27,323

“Whatever,” Enid said, wrapping her arms around her chest. She was starting to get the shakes, a sure sign her latest hit was wearing off.

“Don’t you get it? Two children were found in a car in this parking lot — two little girls,” Amy said. “Enid, you left two small children in a car — by themselves — for god knows how long.”

“Oh, look at me: ‘I’m Amy Sutton, unlikely voice of reason,’” Enid mocked, flailing her arms in the air and waving around an imaginary microphone, which she then pretended to talk into. “‘Coming to you live from let’s fuck over Enid Rollins because I’m so stuck up because I volunteered for some stupid teen hotline, I’m Amy, blah blah blah.’”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” Amy said snidely. “You didn’t even finish your—” But the rest of her sentence was cut off by shrill sirens cutting through the night air, far away at first but getting closer and closer.

Two SVPD police cars squealed into the parking lot, lights flashing. They screeched to a stop right in front of Enid and Amy, both of them fishtailing and coming dangerously close to crashing into the girls. Two police officers jumped out of each vehicle, pointing guns at Enid and Amy and using their open doors as shields.

Amy screamed and pointed to Enid. “It’s her, she’s the one who did it!” she cried. “I’m Amy Sutton, star reporter for Sweet Valley Action News!”

“Seriously?” Enid exclaimed, throwing a nasty look at Amy. “Now I’m going to have to dump my stash.” She reached into her bra and pulled out several ziploc baggies, dumping them on the ground and placing her hands in the air.

There’s a date rapist out there, my kids are missing and the po-pos are after me? Enid thought angrily. The police wouldn’t arrest the trashiest, least attractive woman in town — would they? I can’t go to jail. What do they do to neglectful parents in jail? ALLEGED neglectful parents, I mean! Alleged neglectful parents.

Nine
Sweet Valley

Elizabeth had been to excited to sleep. She couldn’t wait to present her brilliant idea to Bruce. He’s going to love it, I just know it! she thought, humming merrily to herself as she prepared the pancake batter for Jessica’s first big meal of the day. Elizabeth had been up since five o’clock in the morning, typing up a proposal for her big idea and planning out every detail of Jessica’s breakfast menu.

Holding the mixing bowl in her hand, Elizabeth leisurely walked to the bottom of the stairs. “Jess!” she called. “Everything’s almost ready!”

She whisked the pancake batter as she walked back into the kitchen, lost in thought. My second day on the job and already I’m overachieving, she thought proudly. Elizabeth turned up the heat on the griddle and scooped a large spoonful of batter onto it.

Jessica entered the kitchen a few minutes later, shuffling over to the table where Elizabeth had already placed a pile of food.

“Here you go,” Elizabeth said, forking three large, fluffy pancakes onto Jessica’s plate. Jessica just grunted. “Oh, and you don’t have to drive me to work today. I made arrangements with Bruce — he’s picking me up in his Porsche.”

“I wish I had a Porsche,” Jessica mumbled, shoving an entire pancake into her mouth.

“I know today’s going to be great,” Elizabeth gushed, sitting down at the table with her usual cup of coffee and ignoring the spread of food in front of her.

“You say that every day,” Jessica grumbled. She dumped a giant spoonful of sugar into her coffee and stirred it roughly.

“Jessica, in Sweet Valley, every day is better than the last,” Elizabeth said optimistically. “Even when you get kidnapped, or date raped, or involved in a really lame gang fight.”

“You left out vampires, werewolves and fairies,” Jessica said, gulping down her coffee.

“We don’t have fairies in Sweet Valley,” Elizabeth said. “Now you’re just being silly.”

“I was talking about Tom McKay,” Jessica said.

Elizabeth shook her head. “That’s not very nice,” she admonished. “Anyway, Bruce is even going to take me out to lunch. Isn’t that nice?”

“Dairi Burger or Guido’s Pizza Palace?” Jessica asked, boredom evident in her voice.

“Neither,” Elizabeth replied, sipping on her coffee. “We’re going to some new place — the Unicorn Club, I think it’s called.”

Jessica spit out her coffee, spraying nearly everything on the table, as well as Elizabeth’s boxy blazer.

“Jessica, are you OK?” Elizabeth cried. “Did you burn your mouth? I made the coffee too hot this time, didn’t I?”

Jessica shook her head. “No — I mean, yes, of course you did — but you can’t go to the Unicorn Club!”

Elizabeth eyed her sister suspiciously. “Why not?”

“Because I hear their food is terrible,” Jessica lied smoothly. “Like, fifteen people got food poisoning there last week. It was on the news.”

“Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked, furrowing her brow. “Where did you hear that? If you saw it on SweetValleyNews.com, then it’s probably true. But if Amy Sutton said it — well, let’s just say I don’t trust television news as much. Broadcast news is just notorious for its sensationalism.”

“Of course I saw it on the TV,” Jessica snapped. “You know I don’t read.”

Elizabeth glanced down at her watch. “I’ve got to run,” she said. “Bruce will be here any minute.” She pushed her chair back from the table and stood up, grabbing her purse and the large flip chart she had prepared for her presentation to Bruce. “Wish me luck!”

* * *

Todd sat on his front steps, intently watching Elizabeth’s door. He was prepared. This time, he would make his move. And I won’t let her go anywhere until she’s heard me out, he thought forcefully. I know she can’t resist the old “Trusty Boyfriend Todd” routine. And if that doesn’t work, I’m pretty sure I can still throw a mean Todd Punch.

Her front door swung open and Elizabeth staggered out, struggling with a large pad of paper that seemed to have all sorts of complicated diagrams and charts written on it in Elizabeth’s small, neat handwriting.

“Hey, need some help with that?” Todd called, pulling himself off of the steps and starting to cross the courtyard toward Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked up, surprised. “Oh, thank you, Todd,” she said, flashing him a small smile. “That would be great.”

He tried to break into a jog but got immediately winded and slowed back down to a walk. Elizabeth waited for him, a patient smile on her face as she paused at the top of her steps.

“Here, I’ll take that,” Todd offered, taking the large chart out of Elizabeth’s hands. It feels as if it weighs about 20 pounds, he thought, huffing under the weight of the paper and waiting as Elizabeth locked the front door.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You know, Elizabeth, I’ve missed you,” Todd said, his heart leaping into his throat.

“Oh,” Elizabeth said flatly.

“That’s it?” Todd asked, breathing heavily as he descended the front steps. “Just ‘oh’?”

“I’m sorry, Todd,” she said, smiling apologetically. “I mean, that’s really nice of you.”

They walked in silence to the sidewalk in front of the condominium complex. Todd set down the pad of paper and leaned it against his leg. “So, you want me to put this in your car or what?” he asked.

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saucytemptress

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05

04 2011

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