A Straggler

A girl walks down a sidewalk smelling of cheap alcohol at 2 A.M., a testament to which remains held loosely in her thumb and ring finger.  To say she is drunk would be an overstatement; to say she is not in a state to be taken seriously is not.  Wet brown hair, blue striped socks, and a fuzzy bathrobe are all she has to her name at the moment, aside from the aforementioned bottle; it’s a story that starts with a sorority party and ends with her still failing to drink enough to forget how much she hates her current roommates.

She tugs at the plush collar of the robe, trying to get as much night air onto her chest as possible.  Her skin feels like its burning, and she keeps barely managing to remember that even at 2 A.M. walking around town in the nude would only make her life even more complicated.  She sniffles.  Her house is still four miles away, a fact she remembered sometime after the last conscious person at the party drove away but before she’d already walked a mile and a half towards it.

Miles feel a great deal longer with a cloudy head and without shoes.

Her eyes focus on every single other house she’s walking past, wishing that any one of them were hers and that she didn’t have so far still to go.  She didn’t care who was in them—other students, a family with children, a little old lady, horny young men—she’d take anything tonight for the simple peace of being able to curl up in a bed right this moment.

The drink isn’t what makes her do it; the drink is what allows her to do it herself.  Her feet find themselves walking up a set of steps, and her hands find themselves trying the front door of the first house she walks past.  Locked.  Her feet pick up speed and let her try the next house.  Locked.  What was the fleeting thought of a very tired and very irrational young woman becomes a desire, a need to find a house, any house at all, and for one night call it a place where she doesn’t mind sleeping, consequences be damned.  And as far too often has happened in her life, they have been.

The fifth house allows her entry: a faux red Victorian, like every other faux Victorian on the street that was built when the college was.  Without a second thought, she strolls in.  Off goes the robe, tossed carelessly to the side, and she makes a beeline for wherever the most likely location for bedrooms would be.  Padding as quietly as she can into the darkened room, she feels blindly for the bed, locates it, and curls herself into its surface, paying only a small-yet-token piece of her mind to the fact that the bed is already occupied.  It doesn’t matter.  It will matter in the morning, and part of her knows it, but all the same, she does not fear it.  Right now, right here, her troubles can melt away until tomorrow.

There is always a tomorrow.

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