NaNoWriMo Day 4
Stephanie and her mom were going to pick me up and we were going to go somewhere teenagers go—the mall, the movies, ice skating, I can't recall. What I remember clearly is running around the house trying to make some order of the disaster scene that was the living room. I collected pieces of clothing—an entire outfit down to bra, underwear and earrings; three shoes—no two a pair—and a bottle of hair spray.
The coffee table was littered with papers: unopened bills and crumpled receipts, beneath which hid a plate with unidentified food dried on it. I finally found what I knew was there somewhere: a pipe, a bag of weed, and a pack of rolling papers. I put them on the plate and scurried around to see if any other incriminating evidence was lurking in plain sight, unnoticeable to me since I saw it all the time. I piled the clothes on the sofa and fluffed the cushions, then straightened the papers. I grabbed a shirt from the pile and wiped the table with it. I took the dirty dish and drug paraphernalia to the kitchen, which looked even worse, but what could I do? They would be there any minute. I tossed the dishes into the sink, then ran to Tanya's room, opened the door and tossed everything else in. Before I could catch my breath, the doorbell rang, and I ran to my room, grabbed my bag and coat, and ran to the front door.
Both Stephanie and her mom were there. I smiled and tried to step out onto the porch, but they did not move.
Mrs. Reynolds had a pained look on her face. "Kari, do you think I could use your powder room?"
I gave Stephanie a "Please! Help me out here!" look. She just shrugged.
"Oh, my mom is sleeping. We probably shouldn't disturb her. She works nights." Every part of that was a lie, but even Stephanie didn't know that.
"It’s an emergency."
What do you say to that? I reluctantly led the two of them inside and pointed the way to the bathroom. Stephanie's mom ran down the hall and—I am sure she did this on purpose, because she was never confused in her life—went all the way to the end of the hall and opened the door to Tanya's room.
"Oh, my! That’s not the bathroom."
I glared at Stephanie, who was oblivious. She was busy taking in the thinly veiled disaster of the living room.
"How long have you lived here?" she asked me.
"Too long. Way too long."
"It’s nice." It was hard to tell if she was trying to be polite or actually found some charm in the place.
"No, it’s not. It’s a dump. But thanks."
Stephanie was unfazed. "Well, at least you don’t have to spend your Saturdays cleaning."
Before I could reply, we heard the bathroom door open and, thinking Mrs. Reynolds was done, we stood up to leave. Then Mrs. Reynolds screamed.
Tanya, as if she had just bumped into Mrs. Reynolds at the grocery store, said "Sorry! Didn’t know someone was in here. And you are?"
Stephanie could not possibly have been more mortified than I was, but she looked pretty mortified.
We heard Mrs. Reynolds say, "If you please! May I have a moment?"
"Oh. Sure," Tanya said in a fake-polite voice, then shuffled into the living room, right up to Stephanie.
"Hi. I’m Tayna, Kari’s mom. I’m guessing that’s your mom in my bathroom."
"Mom, This is Stephanie."
Mrs. Reynolds returned, doing her Good Housekeeping best to hide her embarrassment.
"Hi, Stephanie’s Mom. I'm Tanya. Sorry about that. Not used to having guests in the house." The stricken look did not leave Mrs. Reynolds' face, so Tanya tried again: "Oh don’t worry. I didn’t see anything I haven’t seen before."
I moved everybody to the door. Tanya followed us. Extended her hand to Mrs. Reynolds."I still don't know your name, but it was very nice to meet you." She gave us her own Good Housekeeping wave as we walked to the car, into the quietest ride I think I have ever taken in my life. I felt I had to say something, offer some explanation or apology, but all I could think of was, "Well, now you know why we don't have sleepovers at my house."