She slept on the kitchen floor. Eyes tear-streaked, her eyeliner and mascara smudged around her eyes. Her hands were dirty, and her arms, though skinny, were well muscled, as though she’s seen some hard work. There was something interesting about her face that made me linger longer than necessary--considering the reason I had come into the kitchen in the first place, due to the alarmingly loud beeping from the smoke detector. I found the cause of the wailing: the stove was on, and a dishrag near the stove had caught fire. What the in the Hell…? Stepping over the figure, I quickly put out the fire and squinted at the microwave, shivering in only my boxers. 5:30am. On a Sunday. Wonderful.
“I was cold.” The figure on the floor mumbled, eyes fluttering open. They were big, the color of honey. She looked like a raccoon.
“Uh, okaaay.” As though that was sufficient reasoning as to why this chick was passed out on my kitchen floor. How the hell did she get in? Who the hell was she?
“I just got in a couple of hours ago, and I didn’t want to wake anyone.” She offered, as if reading my mind- or maybe just my face. As my half awake brain struggled to put the pieces together, it finally hit me. The cousin. My roommate’s fucking cousin. I had been dreading her arrival; my roommate had finally broken up with his psycho girlfriend who’d been practically living here, and I’d only just started feeling like I could breathe again when he announces that his crazy younger cousin was going to be crashing with us for a while. Good God. Here she was, not even two hours in and already setting the house on fire. She sat up rubbing her eyes, smearing more black makeup around her face.
“Look, if you’re going to be staying here, you need to be a lot more careful. “ I purposely used the word “staying” and not “living”. No way in Hell was she going to be here a second longer than necessary. “You can’t be walking around setting fires and shit.” I said, sounding more pissed off than I really meant to.
“I, I’m sorry. I didn’t, it was an accident.” Her lip quivered a bit, which briefly made me wonder what had happened to put the tear streaks on her face. From the looks of her, I’m guessing she’d pissed a few other folks off. “I didn’t know where you guys kept the blankets and I was so cold.” She wrapped her thin sweater tightly around her petite frame.
“Here.” I grabbed a hoodie out of our coat closet and handed it to her. She swam in it, but looked up at me gratefully. I sighed, debating whether or not to go wake up my roommate and leave him to deal with her so that I could go back to bed, when I noticed a black case peaking out from around the corner. I looked a little closer. A guitar case.
“That yours?” I asked, suspiciously. I swear, if this girl was bringing stolen goods into our house, she was out. I walked a little closer to it and she swiveled around so quick, putting a hand on it protectively.
“Yes, it’s my guitar.”
“Oh, really? You play?”
“No, I just carry a guitar with me for the fun of it.” She gave me a look. Guess this girl had a little fire in her. “Yes, I play. Since I was 7.” She opened the guitar case delicately. It was a Gibson, and it was beautiful. She put her hand on it lovingly, seductively. The way she touched it spoke of history. She wasn’t lying; it was clearly hers.
I sat right down on the kitchen floor beside her.
“Do you mind?” I reached out for the guitar. She handed it to me hesitantly, letting her hands linger, not quite trusting me. I strummed a few chords, the notes hitting me sweetly.
“You play too?” She seemed surprised. It was my turn to give her a look.
“Since I was 6.” She smiled, and I couldn’t look away. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a girl with a guitar. “What’s your name fire girl?”
“Well Alice, I’m Michael. What do you say we turn the stove back on and make some breakfast.” Her smile spread; I stood up and opened the fridge.
-This Bedtime Story brought you by Ferocious
Photography by Oleg Oprisc