High School Soap Opera
In the morning when I wake up, I’m disoriented. This isn’t my room… what am I wearing? I hear a rustling in the sheets beside me and remember where I am. Jack! He must have come home while I was asleep and decided not to disturb me. I turn to him and he’s looking at me. “Good morning, beautiful,” he whispers.
“Have you been awake long?” I ask, ignoring his compliment.
“I haven’t slept. I was at the hospital for three hours. They want to keep Serenity there for 24 hours for observation, but she’s okay. When I saw you sleeping so peacefully I didn’t want to wake you, but I didn’t want to go down to the guest room either. I just wanted to stay… Sorry, I swear I’m not a weirdo.”
“Nobody’s ever watched me sleep before.” It could be creepy, but I know he means it in a nice way.
“I can make you breakfast.” My smile fades. I remember when Dad made me breakfast and Mom brought in to my room. Was that really yesterday? It feels so long ago. “Or not,” he says, noticing my sadness, “if you don’t want it.”
“That’s very sweet of you, thank you.” Before he can ask what I want, I tell him, “Whatever you want to make is fine, I love breakfast.”
“I’ll be right back, Princess,” he whispers. He kisses me softly, and I’m glad. I wasn’t sure if the kiss last night really happened or if it was a dream. He gets up and I see that he is wearing sweat pants, but he goes to get a top out of the dresser. I get up to go to the bathroom, forgetting for the moment that I borrowed his shirt and have nothing but panties on below the waist. I reach for the door knob and hear something fall behind me. I turn and see Jack staring at me from the floor near the dresser, one arm in the t-shirt, and things that used to be on the top of the dresser are now scattered on the floor.
“What was that?” I ask with a hint of a smile. He looks at me a bit longer, then looks around him. He quickly starts to pick up the stuff that fell, but stops partway through to look at me again.
“You keep that one,” he says in that same husky voice from last night. “You look much better in that shirt that I do.”
There’s a flutter in my stomach, and I quickly go in the bathroom and close the door behind me. I look in the mirror again, for what feels like the millionth time since I got to Spruce Ridge. In the real world I was just an ordinary, plain Jane kind of girl. Here in the soap opera world, though, I’m a hot piece of ass. I’m still not used to thinking of myself that way. Like, Jack literally fell for me just now! I can’t even comprehend it.
I take a quick shower, then peek out the door. Jack’s not back with breakfast yet, so I run across the room to where I dropped my dress last night and put it on. I hang my shower towel over the curtain rod. I’m using Jack’s hairbrush to get rid of the tangles when I hear his footsteps coming up the stairs.
“I would have come down,” I protest, but he raises a hand to quiet me. I go sit in the bed, and he puts down a tray. It’s filled with scrambled eggs, fried eggs, boiled eggs, toast, bacon, butter, margarine, jam, salt, pepper, milk, orange juice, and apple juice. “I can’t eat all of this,” I say.
“I know, I went overboard.” He laughs. “I couldn’t decide what to make, so made everything.”
“Share it with me, I don’t want to throw anything out.” I take a piece of bacon and gesture toward the food. He reaches for the scrambled eggs. “Uh-uh. Those are mine.” He laughs and takes the fried eggs instead. After I finish the bacon I taste my eggs. They are creamy and cheesy and I wish I could cook this well.
“I thought we could go to the hospital today,” he says. “I want to introduce you to Serenity. I think you’ll like her.”
“Um, yeah. Sure.”
“What? You don’t sound like you’re sure.”
“No, it’s fine. Just… later. I mean, look at me. All I own are the clothes on my back, and you know I don’t have shoes anymore. Selena promised to take me shopping. Just a few things, whatever I can afford with the tip money from last night.”
“That’s not gonna get you very much,” he says. Don’t I know it! “I’ll give you my credit card, you get what you need.”
“No, I couldn’t possibly-”
“It’s not a loan, it’s a gift. I insist. You need clothes, and as much as I would like to see you wearing more of my shirts, I would really love to see you in pretty girly stuff. Let me help you, no strings attached.”
How can there be no strings attached? He saved me from Dolf, he gave me a job and a place to stay, he made sure I didn’t get arrested for talking back to a cop… and now he wants to buy me a whole new wardrobe. It’s generous, but of course there are strings attached. He may not want to see that, but I can’t help it.
Jack has Selena’s number in his phone, and I call her to make sure she’s up and to ask if I can borrow a pair of shoes. She says she’s at the gym, but that she’ll swing by after she goes home and takes a shower. Jack wants to talk, but I insist that he should get some sleep, considering that it’s Saturday and is sure to be another long night at work. He reluctantly agrees, and I wait for Selena in the living room. I wonder what TV is like here, but I’m dismayed to see it’s the same boring weekend programming I see at home.
There’s a knock on the door, and I remember how adamant Jack was last night that I don’t open the door to anyone. There’s no peep hole, so I look out the window nearby but I can’t see anyone.
“Come on, Jenna, open up. It’s cold out here.” I open the door and Selena comes in. It’s not that cold out, but I do think I’ll need to borrow a jacket from Jack. She hands me a bag. “Socks, shoes, jeans, and a sweater. I hope we’re the same size, because you can’t go out like it’s the walk of shame… Is it the walk of shame?” she asks as I dump the bag out onto the couch.
“A lady never tells,” I say, trying to sound mysterious. I would rather let her think that we slept together, since clearly that’s what she wants to believe anyway, than to tell the truth. I pull on the jeans under my dress. They’re a little loose, but not enough that I can’t make it work.
“I knew it! Jack is such a dog.” Really? I get the distinctly opposite impression. He seems sweet and sincere, and I can’t picture him as the one-night-stand type. I finish getting dressed while she’s inspecting the photos on the bookcase. I missed them last night while I was looking for the bedroom, and I make a mental note to look later.
“I’m all set,” I say, eager to get her out of the house. I can tell she’s never been inside before, and that makes me happy, and territorial. “Let’s go.”
We go outside, and I lock the door before pulling it shut. Selena drives a sporty little yellow car, and I can’t say I’m surprised. She talks the whole way to the department store, mostly telling me gossip about the town’s most prominent citizens. Of course, they are people I know all about from watching Spruce Ridge, but Selena doesn’t know this as a soap opera, to her it’s real life. So I let her fill me in on character histories I already know, and I pretend to be interested.
She parks the car at Carlton’s Department Store. “This place has decent fashion for bargain prices,” she tells me. I decide not to tell her that Jack gave me his credit card. “This way to the slutty work clothes.” I follow her to a rack of plus-sized clothes in the Juniors department. “Trust me – they’re just the right mix of short and tight, but since they’re plus -sized they’re big enough to fit you.”
“Interesting tactic,” I say. “So this stuff will get me bigger tips?”
“Clothes only get you half there. You have to do a little bit of acting the part too. You know, it’s like at a strip club – usually the guys with the most money are the lonely old guys and the perverts, and you just have to act like you think they’re hot and sexy so they’ll give you more money. Then, put a little bit into the tip jar and the rest into your bra or panties when no one’s looking. That way Gerty and Ramon don’t get money that they clearly didn’t earn.”
It feels so wrong, like it’s not just cheating Gertrude and Ramon, but Jack too. Still, I do need clothes, so I let Selena pick out some options and I try them on in the fitting room. Maybe I can figure out how to make Jack discover Selena’s secret without her being able to blame me. I leave my stall in the fitting room to show her an outfit. The top is almost too tight, and it’s definitely too short.
“I can’t do this,” I say. “There has to be something I can wear that’s actually made for adults.”
“Don’t be so grumpy, it’s not that bad.” She laughs, though, and I wonder if she’s intentionally trying to steer me in the wrong direction.
I look up at the ceiling in frustration, then walk back to put Selena’s clothes back on. I leave all of the Juniors clothes in the stall and walk right past Selena. I am not going to stand for this.
“Wait, where are you going?” she asks. I turn around.
“I am going to look for clothes in my size that I’m comfortable with.”
“I told you, you have to look sexy.” She grabs my arm, looking back where we were just looking. I shake her loose, and take the cash out of my pocket.
“Here’s your fifty bucks back,” I say, giving her five ten-dollar bills. “I can manage this on my own, and I don’t care to split tips with you.” Her jaw drops. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Jack, though I’m sure you don’t believe me. Thanks for loaning me the outfit, I’ll return it after I do laundry.” I walk away, leaving her stunned. I don’t even care that she’s going to drive off and leave me here. I’m sure I can call a taxi.
I may have wanted to use my own cash, even though Jack gave me his credit card, but despite Selena’s promise that the clothes here are a bargain, I can’t afford much. I pick out what I think is a modest selection of clothing for one week: a pair of sneakers and a pair of ballet flats, a pair of jeans, a black skirt that falls to my knees, some shirts that will be appropriate for both work and casual, and some socks and underwear. It still rings up as quite a bit more than I have, so I have no choice. I hand over the card, and the cashier looks from it to me.
“Jack, huh? I’m gonna need to see some ID.” I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut, like I’m being sent to the principal’s office.
“It’s my friend’s card,” I explain. “He said I could use it, I swear.”
“And you have a letter from him saying that you can use his card?” I bite my lip. “I see. Well I’m going to have to call the police, and you can try explaining it to them.”
“Wait, please. Can I just borrow your phone to call him? He’ll tell you it’s okay.”
“No, you can’t borrow my phone,” she says, getting angry. It occurs to me that I don’t know Jack’s phone number, so that wouldn’t have worked anyway. What am I going to do now?
Just as I’m about to start crying and begging the cashier not to call the police, I hear the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard coming from behind me. “Looks like I got here just in time.” Jack drops his ID on the counter. The cashier looks at it, then runs the credit card through the register. “Selena called and said you might need a ride home when you’re done. Something about you having no sense of style?”
“In her opinion, I should be shopping in the same section as seventh graders. I’d say her judgment is questionable at best.” The cashier puts the receipt on the counter, puts a pen on top of it, and slides them to Jack. He signs without even looking at the total. He puts his credit card in his wallet, then helps me with the bags.
“Now, what was that you were saying last night?” he asks while we walk around the store. I look at him in confusion, racking my brain for what he might be talking about. I can’t remember.
“I think you suggested that you have chronic Damsel in Distress Syndrome?”
“I didn’t use those words,” I say, hitting him playfully on the arm.
“No,” he agrees, holding the door open for me, “but you did ask if I’m a super hero.” I stick my tongue out at him, and he laughs. “Forget what I said last night, you definitely weren’t lying about your age. I don’t know any 27 year old women who would stick her tongue out at me.”
“I know you wanted to go to the hospital, but are you sure you got enough sleep?” Then I look around. “Wait, where are we going? I don’t see your motorcycle.”
“A woman shopping with a black card? There’s no way we could carry the bags home on Ginger.” He stops me in front of a long black car.
“You came to pick me up from the store in a limo?”
“Relax, I’m not paying for it. I have a friend with a limo company who owed me a small favor… You like it?” I drop my bags and wrap my arms around his neck. He hugs me back. “Is that a yes?”
“That’s a thank-you. And I promise,” I say, thinking about Selena’s secret, “I will find a way to pay you back for everything.”
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One