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Distilled Spirits: [Season 2] Ch. 26 — Caitlyn

May 21, 2014

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 2:  “Maybe Today”

Caitlyn

         Cait hadn’t left her apartment in four days and three voice mail messages waited on her phone. That blinking yellow light still blinked away even after she buried her phone in a pile of dirty laundry. Her knuckles were white from gripping the brush for however long, the paint completely dried. A glass of milky water sat beside her on the floor and she plopped the brush in the rinse, hoping she hadn’t ruined the bristles.

Twelve paintings in four days. It was something she hadn’t done since university. Pushing the current canvas away, she thanked the ghetto-bennies—Benzedrex—for the 1,000th time. Something else she hadn’t done in a long time. Her mind twitched back to the unfinished work and she ran a hand through her hair, scratching her scalp—her skin tingled. She kept scratching then rubbed the throw rug and her hands warmed immediately.

Soft music registered in her ears again as the song began again, continuing its loop

“Used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that.

Used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that.”

That phone was still blinking even if she couldn’t see it.

Cait forced herself to her knees—legs aching—and she dove into the clothes, hands searching until she felt the cheap plastic. On her back, she squinted up at the phone.

7:17 AM

3 Voice Mail Messages

A handful of texts.

Someone stirred on the bed and Cait tried not to make any noise. She put a hand on her chest, feeling her heart race, beating faster than it should. It slowed a little as the music did.

“Used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that.

Now you’re all gone, got your make up on and you’re not coming back.”

Cait listened to the messages long enough that by the time she put her phone down, sun had filled the room.

Message 1 – Glenn

“Caitlyn, hey—the 2nd floor looks great. Thanks for donating the two paintings. Our mini-shelter is going live any week now, just waiting for some forms to go through . . . Can you tell Molly that I still have a job for her if she wants it? I mean, if, if you see her. She’d be great with the female guests. Are you going to Scar’s birthday thing at The Crane Wife? It sounds fun and, yeah, maybe we’ll all go. Sidney said he had dinner with you last week and things were good . . . ? Well, cool—I’ll talk to you soon.”

Message Deleted

Message 2 – Unknown Caller

“How have you been, Caitlyn? I got your number from Eri. It’s Val. Guess what? I’m moving back to New PT in a month. I quit my job in Chicag—okay, I got fired. Turns out if you’re having sex in the stairwell you need a higher salary than mine to get away with it. At least I paid off my loans! Man, Caitlyn, how long has it been? . . . I heard Eri was with Sidney for a bit? I always wondered which of the four of us would see him naked first, haha. Um, really though, I was thinking . . . we could all, like, get together again. You, me, Eri, and Sara—like we used to do when we published the book. I heard you’re painting again? I know it’s crazy but . . . we did it once, right? I’ve stayed in contact with the publisher and, well, call me back, okay? I’ll be staying with my mom for a little bit until I find my own place. It’d be great to hear back from you. Bye!”

Contact Added – Vallerie Hart

Message Deleted

Message 3 – Sid

“Cait, hey, no one’s heard from you in a while. I’m not sure the last time I left a voice mail on your phone . . . I had a good time when I saw you last week—you looked, um, happy. Uh . . . were you going to Scarlett’s birthday thing? It would be fun if everyone showed up. I’m not sure if we’ve all been in the same room together for weeks—I know Geno’s always so busy and Glenn is, well, Glenn. He’s searching for some kid named Harry—I’m not really sure what he’s going on about . . . Look, I don’t know how to say this, but—well, I’m doing all right with my new job, but, I’m gonna need to rent your old room out. I probably should’ve done it a month ago but I thought, you know, maybe . . . I put a Craigslist post up and . . . I just didn’t want you to be surprised, that’s all. Let me know if your situation changes. It’s so quiet now, right? Haha, I guess I never thought of you as loud—maybe when we got drunk . . . Um, has Eri said anything to you? We sorta had a mutual falling out a while back—well, is it ever really ‘mutual’? I mean, she doesn’t hate me I think. You know—I never know what I’m doing. Okay, my lunch is almost over. Gimme a call back, will you? There’s a few things at my place that you left here . . . anyway, later.”

Message Saved

7:54 AM

Cait heard a yawn and glanced up from the pile of clothes. She had forgotten that she wasn’t alone. Molly was sitting in the corner that the mattress was shoved against. With a thin sheet for cover, she had drawn her knees to her chest and was watching Cait.

“Why are you up this early?” Molly asked.

“I didn’t sleep again.”

“Jesus.” Molly gestured at the paintings around the room, one still drying near the window. “Did you do these during the night?”

Cait nodded, and blinked. She had been scrolling through the contacts on her phone too fast to read any of the names. Up, down, and back through the list.

“Do you want me to go?” Molly said. “If you didn’t want me to stay the night—”

“No—I don’t care,” Cait said, standing up suddenly. Her joints ached and she still wore jeans and a t-shirt from yesterday or the day before. She scratched her scalp and it still felt good—she wouldn’t be able to sleep for a few more hours yet.

Cait thought about the words she had just said. “I’m sorry—I need to go outside. I think I need some fresh air.” She grabbed a sweatshirt off the floor.

“Where are you going?” Molly asked, squinting at Cait. “God, your pupils are huge! Why don’t you just lay here for a bit?”    She yawned and dropped to her pillow, the sheet falling down her back. Cait ignored the pale, milky skin that had been so calming over the past two days.

Cait found her sunglasses on a chair. “If you leave, lock the door.”

Outside, she didn’t know where she was going. The Inner Harbor was flat and easy and it felt good just to walk. She put Molly and Sid and her old friends and every living person out of her mind.

She walked and thought about whether she was any different than a year ago. Cait wondered—she had gotten control over her addiction, ditched an abusive boyfriend, so why did it feel like she still wasn’t doing anything right? She was painting again—why wasn’t she happy? Who the hell was happy, anyway?

A pair of legs stuck out onto the sidewalk and Cait nearly tripped—a boy was asleep in the entry of a FedEx that hadn’t opened yet. Cait stopped, glancing at the store’s hours. The boy would be kicked out of his spot soon. He couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen, wearing jeans and a warm-looking sweater and using several sheets of cardboard for bedding.

Cait checked her pockets, knowing her wallet was empty. Not even a nickel was floating around. She flipped through membership and discount cards—one fake ID Drew had made for her a lifetime ago—Cait stopped when she saw what she didn’t know she wanted. It was one of Glenn’s business cards with the address of the soup kitchen and his phone number on it.

With a loose piece of concrete, she weighed the card down next to the boy and walked away.

There weren’t too many kids on the streets of New Portsmouth. Not many who legitimately had no where safe to go. They fell through the cracks, Glenn had once said, but it was hard to believe that cracks big enough to swallow a whole life couldn’t be fixed.

_________________________________________________________________________

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