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My first mistake?
He gave me a night I’ll never forget but when I wake, he’s already gone.
But he’s not that man anymore.
The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
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Truths and roses have thorns about them.
~ Henry David Thoreau
‘It’s not every day you find yourself in an Uber on the way home at four a.m. with a blonde wig in your pocket and a foot-long purple penis tucked into your purse.’
‘Yes, because my life is just that interesting.’
‘You’re crazy,’ Amber asserts through a chuckle.
‘Oh, I so am. Crazy broke and crazy tired.’ I swap my cell phone to my other hand as I lean down to rub my aching calf. ‘And maybe just plain crazy because why else would I be on my way home from a strip joint at pervert o’clock in heels and booty shorts?’
‘Because you have excellent morals and a strong work ethic,’ she replies evenly. ‘Your text earlier said you’d had an awful night. Did Shaun, the shitty shift manager, threaten to dock your pay for broken glasses again?’
‘The man’s name is Ted.’
‘Yeah, but alliteration, babe.’
‘Well, there was no broken glassware,’ I reply with a sigh. Thankfully, I’ve mastered the art of balancing a laden tray since my first shift last month. ‘But there are better ways to spend a night.’
‘I’m sure you’ll find something else soon.’ My friend’s tone turns sympathetic just as my Uber hits a pothole, jostling me against the back seat. I press my hand to my purse on the seat next to me, the action reminding me of the package I’d collected from the post office this afternoon. Package being the pertinent word. A blonde wig might be part of my new waitressing persona, but the purple penis, thankfully, is not.
‘I can’t believe you sent me this monstrosity,’ I murmur, my cheeks heating as I look down at the outline through the thin pleather of my purse.
‘Well, it’s certainly monstrous,’ she replies happily.
‘Want to tell me why?’
‘I thought you might’ve forgotten what one looks like.’
‘That could be true. I don’t recall them being quite so purple.’
‘The flesh-toned ones were too creepy,’ she offers by way of explanation. ‘You might be a little more grateful. It cost me a fortune to mail it from Sydney.’
The fact that she lives in Australia is the reason we’re having a conversation at four in the morning. The reason she sent me a sex toy is a little harder to understand. Out of all the things she could’ve sent—heavenly chocolate-dipped macadamia nuts or even a packet of Tim Tams—I get a stand-in penis big enough to hang a hat on.
‘I suppose I should also say thanks for your detailed description on the customs declaration form, too?’
She’d checked the box marked ‘GIFT’ before spelling out the contents in her neat penmanship. D-I-L-D-O.
‘I could’ve written substitute boyfriend instead.’
‘Lord, please send me wine,’ I appeal to the roof of the Subaru. After a month of waitressing in a strip joint, I have neither the time nor the inclination for men. Or even plastic parts of them.
‘Rub it in, why don’t you?’ she complains. ‘I can’t believe I have two whole months before I can indulge in a cool glass of Chablis, eat my own weight in Camembert, and tie my own damn sneakers again!’
My best friend happens to be pregnant after meeting the love of her life in Australia while we were backpacking there. Sadly, the only thing I found was thigh chafe.
‘But I called because you said you were having a nightmare night, so now I have my swollen cankles resting on a pillow and a glass of juice resting on my humongous bump. I am prepared,’ she declares a touch dramatically. ‘You may spill at will.’
I feel a brief pinch of envy suddenly picturing her there in her enormous home. She’s so settled and so in love. And she so doesn’t need the thing I have in my purse. I shake off the thoughts; it’s not as though love came easy to her. She deserves good things, but that’s not to say I deserved the night I had.
‘So, I spent the last five hours avoiding an, erm, older gentleman who insisted on following me around the club. Fun, right?’
‘That depends. Was he older in the super-hot yes, daddy way?’ she asks, her voice soft and breathy.
‘Nope. He was older in the creepy-assed retiree way. The man hassled me the whole night to take him into one of the private booths to dance for him.’
‘I assume these were requests you politely declined since you haven’t mentioned you were fired.’
‘I can be polite,’ I protest. ‘Especially when I need a job. Maybe I should dance. The tips are way better.’ There’s also less opportunity to be touched, though I keep that to myself. No need to worry, Amber.
‘Except customers would pay you not to dance.’
‘Hey, I’ve got moves, moves they haven’t seen.’
‘Oh, you’ve got moves all right. Moves I don’t ever want to see again. Did security throw him out?’