Mr. Bigg’s hoarse meow served as an alarm clock reminding her she needed to get up and feed her pet. Ellie rolled over taking her pillow with her and covering her face. Her cat wouldn’t hesitate to bat her face to drive his point home. He had in the past. Besides, her head throbbed. It felt like tiny dancers were doing an early morning rendition of Riverdance inside her head.
Underneath the covering of her pillow, she took personal inventory. Her leg moved across the mattress. Alone, unless she counted one irritated cat. Head hurt, and her tongue felt like cotton. Both she contributed to the half dozen cosmopolitans she made herself last night. At least, she drank at home and not at some dubious bar making a fool of herself. Tried to interest in Nina in going out with her, but her friend seldom had time for socializing after taking the regional manager job. Sometimes it seemed like no one had time for her, especially Justin.
Technically, she referred to Justin as her boyfriend, but Nina tended to call him a series of names from selfish S.O. B. to the bad decision. Well, at least, her friend wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion. Her bent finger rubbed a sore eye. No doubt, it would be both puffy and bloodshot. Liquor and self-pity never worked as beauty enhancers.
Mr. Bigg head butted her pillow and raised the volume of his complaints. She should get up. No reason for her to stay in bed. It’s not as if the world ended just because her fellow called and announced he wouldn’t show. Never mind, the gourmet dinner she slaved over. Blame it on the cooking shows, which were her addiction. Recipes didn’t cost anything, even though the expensive ingredients often had her turning down the thermostat and taking two minutes showers to make budget. Food didn’t break your heart, and it never left snarky messages on social media.
Last night, wasn’t the first time he'd stood her up. Her lips twisted as she tried to remember how many times she’d been disappointed in their relationship. Her fingers went up under the sheet as she counted. Three if you counted the work excuse. Once he claimed to be sick, that would be four. When he stood her up the first time, she made the mistake of telling Nina.
Her best friend ranted so long and hard you’d think she was the one stood up. Her constant refrain to dump him grated on Ellie’s nerves. That sealed her decision not to mention that all wasn’t well. On the flip side, at least she had someone.
The pillow depressed flattening across her face as her kitty kneaded it in preparation for laying down. “Okay. You win.” She shoved the pillow aside and blinked in the bright light. Odd, did she leave the light on too? A half roll revealed open curtains. The morning light flooded the room. Her lips twisted to one side as she considered the meaning of this unexpected development. What day was it?
Justin only came over on weeknights. Nina used this idiosyncrasy has proof he was married or involved with someone else. Didn’t make much sense to her because a wife would object any night that her man wasn’t home. Justin never stayed the night, but she put that down to commitment issues. Many men were like that or at least the ones she’d met.
Finished payroll yesterday so checks would go out today, which meant it was Friday. The revelation had her jackknifing into position. Oh my God, work. Not only should I be at work, but today was payday, the absolute paramount work day. She enjoyed passing out paychecks to the rugged construction workers who manned the various crews. It made her feel like a cross between Lady Bountiful and some benevolent goddess passing out favors to hardy musclebound men with bicep tattoos.
Unfortunately, the men didn’t recognize her as such. Most called her kid, little sister, or even peanut due to her height. It made her more of a mascot than an accounting goddess. Little sister or goddess, the men would still be peeved if they didn’t get their paychecks in a timely fashion. A sharp trio of knocks set her into motion.
“Great. Now what.” She half-hopped half ran to the front door trying not to trip over Mr. Bigg, who twined between her legs. He probably felt his needs came first since he started his wake-up call much earlier. Who could be knocking on her door? Well, she knew who it wasn’t.
Using the footstool, she kept by the door, she slid it in front of the door before she hopped onto it. Why locksmiths insisted on putting peepholes so high always baffled her. A strapping six-foot man probably never peered out the door before swinging it open. Little old ladies, children, and those in the height-challenged department did, which meant the hole could be about five inches lower for easy access.
Kelley, her landlord, stood on the landing with her rubber glove clad hands perched on her hips. Instead of knocking again, she spoke instead. “I know you’re behind the door. Open up.”
The apartment sold her on it spaciousness and low price. The contract didn’t specify that the landlord would not only keep the unit up to snuff but would use her tough love skills on the occupant too. Might as well open the door, it would be more like holding back a tornado otherwise. Reluctantly she swung the door open.
Kelley gave her the once over starting at the bottom of her Hello Kitty pajamas working her way up to her Medusa locks. A comment on her child-like sleepwear she expected, but it wasn’t what she got.
“You look like shit. Should I assume you aren’t going to work? I could hear Mr. Bigg crying his heart out. For a second, I thought something happened to you.” One rubber gloved covered hand flattened on her chest demonstrating her dismay.
Ah, yes, an explanation of sorts might help. Well, I got stinking drunk because my date was a no show. I do have plenty of roasted lamb if you'd like some. She sucked in her lips holding in that excuse. Her mind lighted on the fact Kelley could hear Mr. Bigg meowing. What else did she hear? Ellie squeezed her eyes shut not wanting to consider the various things she didn’t want her landlord to hear. Some things should stay private. “Rough time getting started.” She gripped the door harder realizing she was wasting time talking when she should be racing off to work.