Vickery Circle: New Beginnings

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Meet Reagan, Pepper, and Lily. A trio of 20 somethings who share their first apartment, located on Vickery Circle. Between the three of them, they deal with conflict, laughs, and tears as they try to navigate through this new life of being a “responsible adult.” Together they discover that although life can be challenging, they will always have each other to lean on.






 

Episode 1: New Beginnings



 

Reagan stood in front of the mirror, blow-drying her hair, trying to decide if she could afford to see a hairdresser and get a few highlights. New hairstyle or not, she could use a little makeup; it had been a few days since she uploaded any photos to her Instagram page.

It might be easier to concentrate if she were able to ignore Pepper, who was sitting on the toilet seat beside her.

“I don’t know why you had to do that in here,” said Reagan, yelling over the blow dryer.

“It’s just pee.” Pepper wiped herself, stood up, and reached for the handle to flush.

“Close the lid first, please,” scolded Reagan.

“Yes, ma’am,” Pepper closed the lid and flushed the toilet.

Pepper walked over to the mirror, bumping her hip into Reagan, nearly knocking her into the bathroom door. She stared intently at her pale complexion and ran her fingers through her hair. “I think I should dye my hair red again.”

Reagan could feel a cringe forming on her face and quickly checked her expression, making sure it did not show what she was really thinking, and simply smiled at her friend. Although Pepper was attractive, her skin tone was white and pasty and became further emphasized with red coloring. Especially red dye from a box.

Someone had told her once that she looked great with red hair, and Reagan had not had the heart to tell her that they had lied.

Pepper turned to leave and reached for the door handle. 

“Wash your hands.” Reagan snapped.

Pepper rolled her eyes. “You know, there was a reason I moved out of my mom’s house.”

Reagan looked pointedly at Pepper then directed her eyes towards the faucet.

“Fine. Mom.” Pepper washed her hands under the faucet. When she finished, she appeared to look around for a hand towel, but quickly wiped her hands on the shirt Reagan was wearing and darted out of the bathroom.

“Pepper! You wait. I’ll get you back!”

“Shh,” Pepper placed her finger against her lips. “You’ll wake Lily.”

Reagan turned off the blow-dryer and poked her head out of the bathroom. “It’s time for her to get up anyway. Can you wake her?”

“Nope.” Pepper held her hands in front of her. “I did it last time. Your turn.”

“Ugh.” They had moved into the apartment over the weekend. Today was Lily’s first day of work since moving in, there had been no last time. Reagan walked across the hall and knocked on Lily’s door. “Lily. Lily, are you up?”

Reagan could hear Lily’s phone alarm going off. She tried the doorknob; it was unlocked. Reagan knocked one more time and went in. 

The room was in disarray. Boxes were covering nearly every inch of the floor. Reagan had offered to help Lily unpack, but she insisted she hadn’t needed any. “I’m living on my own now. I’m an adult. I can do it,” she had said.

Reagan kicked one of the boxes out of her way as she neared the bed. “Evidently not,” she said aloud to herself. Reagan picked up Lily’s phone and turned the alarm off, then pulled down the covers that were tossed over Lily’s head. 

Lily’s hand reached out, feeling for the missing covers. “Five more minutes,” she murmured.

“Lily,” said Reagan.

Lily opened one eye, searching for the source of the voice. Once it was identified, she opened both eyes and stared at Reagan as if she was unsure of who she was. “Reagan?”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing in my room?”

“Your alarm was going off.”

“I mean, what are you doing in my house?”

“You mean our apartment, don’t you?”

Lily furrowed her brow, contemplating Reagan’s comment. After a few seconds, the crease cleared as realization dawned on her. “Our apartment. I forgot.”

“While you are trying to figure out where you are, you might want to get up and get ready before you’re late for work.” Reagan turned to leave and tripped over the box she had kicked earlier. “And clean up this room when you get a chance.”

“Sorry,” Lily replied sheepishly. “I’ll do it when I get back.”

Reagan found Pepper in the kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee. “She up?”

“She was when I left,” answered Reagan.

“You know it’s not your responsibility to get her up, right?”

“So, when she loses her job for being late too many times, are you going to pay her part of the rent?”

“Me?” Pepper asked, pointing towards her chest. “Nope.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think so. Look,” Reagan began. “We all need to find some time to sit down and make some rules—”

“Rules? Really, Reagan. If I wanted rules, I would have stayed at home.”

“Okay, not rules per se, but we need to talk about how we are going to go about things.”

“Things like what?”

“Like for instance, splitting the bills, groceries, if we have a guy—”

Pepper cleared her throat.

“Or a girl over, will it be a problem?”

“I don’t know about Lily, but we all have our own rooms. It doesn’t bother me if you bring Isaac over. I’m even offering to join in if you need a third.”

“Nice try. Not happening. And stay away from my boyfriend. Besides, aren’t you dating someone?”

“Who, Sam? He’s okay, a bit of a romantic. I slept over at his house one night, and he woke me up so I could look at the stars.” Pepper rolled her eyes. “He even reads poetry. Strange.”

“You think that’s strange?” Reagan asked. “I wish Isaac was more like that.”

Pepper shrugged her shoulders. “What’s happening with the party tonight?”

“Um, I don’t know. You were supposed to be in charge of the decorations.”

“I’ve been busy. We did just move in a few days ago, you know.”

“It was your idea to throw the party, and on a Monday night. I wanted to wait until Friday, but you had already sent out the invites. There are still boxes lying around everywhere.” Reagan looked around the living room.

“It will be fine.” Pepper insisted. “I swear it feels like I’m still home with my mother.”

Reagan crouched down and placed her hands in front of her with her fingers spread apart. “Take that back,” she ran towards Pepper, digging the tips of her fingers into her sides.

“Sorry. I take it back!” Pepper choked out in between laughter. “You’re going to make me spill my coffee.”

“Okay. Don’t let it happen again”. Reagan said, wagging her finger.

“I’m just saying, you can toss whatever boxes we haven’t gotten a chance to empty, into my room.”

“And the decorations?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll have them here by six.”

“Six? The party starts at seven.”

 “And? How much time does it take to decorate?”

“I’m not sure, but we still have to clean.”

“Well, you’ll be here all day.” Pepper stated matter-of-factly.

“Yeah, here writing all day. You know, my job? I have a full chapter due by the end of the day.”

“Then why are you standing around talking to me?”

Reagan shot Pepper a look.

“You haven’t even opened up your laptop yet. You’re barely recognizable unless you are sitting in front of your computer.”

“Funny.” Reagan twisted her lip into a sneer.”

“Just saying, and I’m surprised Isaac hasn’t called yet. He checks in like twenty times a day, knowing you’re supposed to be working. That whole fear of my girlfriend’s success thing.”

“It’s not like that. I don’t know why you don’t like him.”

“Who says I don’t like him?”

“Don’t like who? Who aren’t we liking?” Lily walked into the kitchen, looking like the picture of the perfect Instagram model. Her curly tendrils were teased to frame her face. She wore a bit of gold glittered eyeshadow on her eyelids and bronze lip gloss. The dress she was wearing was yellow with spaghetti-straps and accentuated her cream-colored skin.

Reagan suddenly felt self-conscious, wishing she had opted to wear some makeup.

“She thinks I don’t like Isaac,” said Pepper.

“Why wouldn’t she like Isaac? He’s your boyfriend.” Lily tilted her head, a confused look on her face.

“See. why wouldn’t I like your boyfriend?” Pepper asked, feigning naivety.

“Never mind.” Reagan shook her head. “You look nice today, Lily.”

“I thought you worked at a daycare,” Pepper exclaimed.

“I do,” said Lily.

“Don’t you think you’re a bit overdressed, to have kids puking and pooping all over you?

“I don’t understand the question,” Lily replied.

“Leave her alone,” Reagan said to Pepper. “Ignore her, Lily. She wasn’t raised with manners.”

“No, mom, I wasn’t.” Pepper stuck her tongue out at Reagan. “I have to get to work.” 

“Don’t forget the decorations.” Reagan eyed Pepper with a stern look on her face.

Pepper placed her fingers at the edge of Reagan’s lips, tugging the corners of her mouth up. “You should try smiling more.”

Reagan swatted Pepper’s hands away. “I’ll smile when I get my decorations!” she yelled, as Pepper fled out the front door.

“You bringing anyone to the party tonight?” Reagan asked, turning her attention back to Lily.

“Me?” Lily's cheeks reddened. “No, I’m not dating anyone.”

“I know you got a least a hundred DM’s from the photo you posted this morning alone.”

“Those are strangers. I don’t talk to strangers.”

“Well, we are all strangers until we get to know each other,” Reagan replied.

Lily shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t feel right. Some of those guys say things that aren’t very nice.”

“Yeah, guys can be assholes. If you’re looking, I can see if Isaac knows someone from work.”

“No, I’m not looking.” Lily began toying with the coffee pot, avoiding eye contact.

“If you want coffee, the mugs are in the cabinet above your head.”

“Oh, no!” Lily made a face. “Coffee stains your teeth.”

“No problem. Lily doesn’t like coffee. Check.” Reagan walked over to the cabinet to get a coffee mug, but Lily was blocking the cabinets. “Do you mind if I get a cup?”

“Not really, it’s your teeth.”

“I mean, you’re in the way.”

“Oh, sorry,” Lily replied, moving over.

“Don’t you have work soon?” asked Reagan, checking the time on the microwave.

Lily looked down at her phone. “Yes. I better get going. See you later. Okay?” Lily pulled Reagan into a hug and kissed her on the cheek. “Love ya.”

“Love you too?” Reagan shook her head as she watched Lily leave. Strange girl, she thought.

Now that she was alone, what should she do? Should she try and clean up the living room for the party tonight, or should she try to finish the first chapter of Chelsea Dubois’s biography? Reagan had had over a month to complete it, she was only a few paragraphs in, and the first chapter was due by tomorrow morning. Mrs. Dubois had called every day over the last week asking how it was coming along, and Reagan had lied and said the story was going smoothly. 

Although Reagan loved writing, she just had no interest in writing about the “Simple Life of the Southernly Southern Bell.” Reagan believed half the stories in Mrs. Dubois’s biography were made up anyway. 

Regardless, made up or not, she had an obligation. If she did not deliver the first chapter by tomorrow, Mrs. Dubois could complain to the agency Reagan freelanced for, and they would be hesitant to send any more work her way. 

Even though her mom had paid the rent for the first three months, Reagan could not continue expecting her mom to carry her. She was an adult now, and she had to prove she could make it on her own.

But first, she would clear some of the boxes out of the way. The clutter in the living room was making her anxious.

 

  After tossing the majority of the boxes into Pepper’s room, Reagan sat down at her laptop and looked over her notes.

 One more thing before I begin, she thought—Mid-morning selfie. Reagan opened the camera on her phone and checked her hair. It was a bit mussed from moving the boxes. She ran her fingers through it a few times. Perfect. She placed a pen in between her teeth and turned to make sure the laptop was behind her in the shot. Click.

Reagan opened up the Instagram app, uploaded the picture, and captioned it, #hardatwork #hardlyworking. Done. Now she could start work. 

 

 -------------------------

 

Pepper had only been at work for twenty minutes, and she was ready to go home. It seemed like every customer had an attitude today, and they were taking it out on her. The regular barista was out, and they had some guy filling in from another store who kept getting the orders wrong. 

Pepper guessed it hadn’t helped that she kept writing the wrong name on everyone’s cup. 

“Double, iced mocha.” The barista called out. “For Doogie.”

Pepper snorted a little too loudly, as she watched the guy named Doug step forward to grab his coffee, then take a step back when he realized the barista had called out a different name.

The guy named Doug looked around at the other patrons. “Any of you named Doogie?” he asked.

Everyone shook their heads no.

Pepper laughed again.

Doug turned to look in her direction as he grabbed the cup from the counter. Pepper quickly turned her head, pretending she had not been watching him.

She wondered how long it would take before the guy named Wilson realized that the cup labeled Wally was his.

A dark-headed girl was standing at the counter. Pepper brows knitted together. Where had she come from? “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“No problem. I’m not sure what I want anyway,” the girl said, scrutinizing the menu behind Pepper’s head.

“What are you looking for, something cold or hot?” Pepper asked.

“Hot.” The girl answered, looking pointedly at Pepper.

“I’d recommend the white mocha. It’s the only thing he seems to be able to get right today.” Pepper said, indicating the barista.

“Can I get that with almond milk?”

“However you like it.” Pepper stared at the girl for a few seconds before ringing up her order. “That’ll be $4.28.”

The girl handed Pepper her credit card.

Pepper took the card, making sure the tips of her fingers grazed against the girl’s palm. She swiped the card and handed it back along with the receipt.

“What’s your name?” asked Pepper, picking up a cup and a black magic marker.

“Anna.”

“Anna. That’s a nice name. I’ve never seen you in here before.”

“I just moved in to one of the apartments on Vickery Circle.”

“Me too.”

“Really?” Anna eyed her suspiciously.

“No, really. This past Friday. Me and a few of my friends. In fact, we’re having a housewarming tonight. Apartment 214.”

“Will your friends have a problem with you inviting a girl you just met over?”

Pepper shrugged. “It’s my house too, and the party was my idea.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Okay. If not. I’ll probably see you around.”

“Probably.” Anna started to walk towards the end of the counter to stand with the other customers waiting for their drinks, but then turned back. “That’s Anna. A… n… n… a. 

Pepper stared at her, confused. “I know how to spell Anna.”

“Okay, just wanted to make sure you didn’t write anything like banana or something crazy, because you forgot how to spell my name.

Pepper grinned. So, she had figured out what she’d been doing. “Don’t worry, Anna. I won’t forget your name.”

 

----------------------------

 

Lily placed her belongings along with her cellphone into the cubby hole provided by the daycare. She didn’t like being without her phone for long periods of time, especially when the kids were always doing something adorable. But the daycare owner Mrs. Donavan had forbidden her from uploading photos of the kids to her Instagram page after she caught her doing it a few weeks ago. Something about privacy laws.

Mrs. Donavan was currently grumbling something about people being late all the time, and how the next time she was going to start write-ups. Lily barely paid Mrs. Donavan any attention as she always seemed to be complaining about something. She’s not a very happy woman, Lily thought. How can you not be happy with all these cute little faces?

Lily had just spotted one of her favorites, Joshua, sitting at a desk with a coloring book opened in front of him. Lily walked over to Joshua and sat down in the tiny chair beside him. “What ya coloring Joshua?”

Joshua, who was in the midst of coloring a purple fire truck, barely looked up long enough to swap out the purple crayon for a green one and began applying the green color to the fire truck's wheels. “A fire truck,” Joshua answered.

Lily had only been working at the daycare for a few weeks, but she had immediately developed a fondness for Joshua the first time she saw him. He was sort of a loner like she was and spent most of the day coloring or sitting in the reading corner, looking over the books they read to the kids during storytime. Although Joshua was only four, Lily had caught him a few times mouthing out the words in the books.

Not only had Lily developed a fondness for Joshua, but she had a small crush on his dad, Eric, as well. Eric was recently widowed and had begun bringing Joshua to the daycare a few months before Lily started. Lily had found this out from one of the other workers, Robin. Robin liked to gossip, and Lily mostly tuned her out, but when the subject of Joshua’s dad came up, Lily’s ears perked up. 

Lily always made sure that she was the one who readied Joshua for his three o’clock pick up. Eric was a foot taller than Lily, had hazel green eyes, and always seemed to have a smile whenever he saw her. He was also about ten years older than her.

Lily left Joshua to his coloring. She was supposed to be helping Robin prepare the morning snacks. Lily could feel Mrs. Donovan glaring at her from behind, but she got up and went to the small kitchen, pretending she didn’t notice.

For their morning snack, the older kids would have dry cereal covered in yogurt and apple slices. The younger kids who could only eat softer foods, would have apple sauce. 

Robin had already filled most of the bowls with cereal when Lily walked in. “There she is. Mrs. Donovan was in here looking for you about ten minutes ago. Does she know you’re here?”

“I just saw her,” Lily answered.

“You might want to start setting your clock a little earlier, if you want to keep your job.”

“I was only a few minutes late.”

“But you are almost always late.”

“Only a few minutes,” Lily repeated.

Robin looked at Lily and started to say something but shook her head as if deciding against it. “You know what? I am almost finished with the cereal. You can start cutting the apples.” Robin handed Lily a knife and pointed out the apples on a nearby counter. “You think you can handle that?”

“Sure,” Lily answered.

Lily didn’t understand why everyone was so stressed out about the time. She was here. Wasn’t that what mattered?

 

 ----------------

 

Reagan finished the first chapter of Mrs. Dubois’s biography, but would need to go back over and edit it one more time, before submitting it to her tomorrow. Before shutting down her laptop, she printed out a list, and ran out to the store for party supplies.

It was now 4:30, and Pepper had yet to show up or respond to any of Reagan’s messages about the ETA on the decorations.

After she returned from buying all the snacks and drinks for the party, she wiped down the counters, sprayed air freshener, and opened the windows to air out the apartment before she began preparations.

When Reagan was done, she rechecked her phone, still nothing from Pepper. Reagan was just about to text her again when the front door opened. Great, finally, she thought. But it was Lily.

“What’s wrong?” asked Lily, after seeing the look on Reagan’s face.

“Pepper hasn’t shown up with the decorations.”

“I’m sure she’ll be here soon.”

“Are you? Cause I’m not. She’s not responding to any of my messages.”

“Maybe her job’s like mine. We aren’t allowed to have our phones during work hours either.”

“Maybe, but she should be off by now.”

“I’m sure you are worried about nothing. And besides,” Lily spun around, inspecting the living room. “The apartment looks great without them.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Reagan responded, unconvinced. “You think you can help me get the food ready before everyone gets here?”

“Of course,” answered Lily. “Just let me change my clothes, okay?”

“Sure, no problem.” Reagan looked down at her clothes. “I guess I should change, myself.”

 

Reagan searched through her drawers for something to wear. She opted for a pair of dark wash distressed jeans, that cuffed at the bottom, and a floral-patterned cropped top. She pulled her hair into a bun at the top of her head, and teased a few curls out to frame her face.

Reagan stood back and viewed her image in the floor-length mirror. Not bad, she thought. She didn’t have Lily’s natural beauty or Pepper’s carefree attitude, which allowed her to stand out regardless of what she wore, but she was okay with that. However, a little lip gloss, eye shadow, and mascara wouldn’t hurt.

After applying makeup, Reagan looked down at her feet, wiggling her toes. I’ll go barefoot. It’s my house, right?  Sort of a rite of passage. Her mother would have gone nuts if she’d walked around the house barefoot with company visiting. But this was her apartment, and who could tell her she couldn’t?

When Reagan returned to the kitchen, Lily was standing at the counter, staring off into space. She turned when she saw Reagan. “You look cute.”

“So, do you.” Reagan suddenly felt underdressed. Lily had traded the sundress for a form-fitting, cowl-necked, dark blue velvet dress that landed a few inches below her waist. On her feet, she wore a pair of open-toed black strappy sandals with a two-inch heel.

Reagan thought about changing, but there was no time if they were going to get everything ready, and besides, she didn’t have anything that could compare to what Lily was wearing, and tonight, was about independence. She needed to be herself.

 

By the time the first group of people showed up, Reagan and Lily had all the food laid out, beers were chilling in an ice bucket, and margaritas were ready to pour. 

By 7:30, there were about twenty people crammed inside their living room. Nearly half of the guests were Pepper’s, and she had yet to show.

Reagan played the hostess, answering the door and greeting each guest. A few brought gifts that she placed on the corner of the kitchen counter for her, Lily, and Pepper to open later.

She was mixing up another batch of margaritas, when she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist. “That better be who I think it is,” Reagan yelled over the music.

“It’s who you think it is,” said Isaac into her ear.

Reagan turned around, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed Isaac. “I thought you were coming earlier to help?”

Isaac smiled down at her, causing his blond hair to fall over his eyes. Reagan wanted to push the hair to the side, but her fingers were sticky from the margaritas. “Sorry, got caught up at work,” he said.

Isaac was a supervisor at a call-center, and he rarely worked any overtime. Reagan wanted to ask, ‘Caught up with what?’ but simply smiled. It didn’t matter. He was here now.

“Can you fix me about three of those margaritas? I brought Jeff and Mike with me.” Isaac said, looking over at his two friends, who were both talking to Lily.

Now she knew why he hadn’t come earlier. He’d been hanging out. Reagan didn’t mind Isaac having friends, but she didn’t like that he spent so much time with them. 

She was not very fond of Jeff or Mike, and they weren’t fond of her either. At least the idea of her. They thought Isaac was too young to be in a relationship, and they didn’t have a problem saying it in front of her. Isaac knew Reagan did not like them, and he’d brought them to her housewarming party.

“You got it. Three margaritas coming up.” Reagan snapped, pulling away from Isaac.”

“Come on, babe, don’t be like that. I tried to leave them, but they wanted to come. Look, they chipped in and got you something.” Isaac held up a small gift bag.

“Thank you.” Reagan took the bag from him and set it down on the counter.

“See, they aren’t all bad.”

Reagan poured margaritas into four cups and helped Isaac carry them over to his friends. Lily took the opportunity of the distraction to steal away.

“Thanks for the gift,” Reagan said, handing a drink to Mike.

“You’re welcome,” said Mike. “Jeff and I put a lot of thought into it. Mike looked at Jeff, elbowing him. They both looked at Reagan and laughed, sharing some inside joke.

Reagan was about to ask what was so funny, when she saw Pepper walk in with a guy. He was the same height as Pepper with jet black hair. His complexion was naturally tanned, and he looked as if he spent a lot of time in the gym. He’s cute. That must be Sam, thought Reagan.

Pepper scanned the living room and pulled Sam over to where Reagan was standing, when she saw her. “Sorry I wasn’t able to get back with the decorations. Sam and I kinda got tied up.”

“I bet,” said Reagan under her breath.

“The place looks great without them.”

“How can you tell?” Reagan looked around. “The place is full of people.

Pepper shrugged. “The boxes are gone.”

“It’s not just boxes, I—”

“Hi, I’m Sam,” he said, cutting Reagan off.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot.” Pepper scratched the back of her head. “Sam, Reagan. Reagan, Sam.”

Sam stretched out his hand towards Reagan.

When Reagan extended her hand, Sam grasped it with both hands. The gesture caused a shock to run through her, and her cheeks reddened.

Isaac shot her a curious look. “Hey, man. I’m Isaac,” he said, extending his hand towards Sam.

“What’s up?” Sam released Reagan’s hand and wrapped his arm around Pepper’s shoulder.

Isaac looked down at his hand and balled it into a fist. “Nothing,” Isaac responded, laughing. “Nothing at all.”

“So how did you guys meet?” asked Reagan.

“It was at the coffee shop, Pepper….”

The front door opened, catching Reagan’s attention. A dark-headed girl poked her head through and started scanning the room. “Pepper! You didn’t lock the door.”

“Oops,” said Pepper covering her mouth.

“Who’s that girl? I’ve never seen her before, a friend of yours?”

“That’s Anna. I invited her.”

“Another of your friends from the coffee shop?” Reagan asked, purposely looking at Sam.”

“Not really. I just met her today.”

“You invited someone you just met to our…”

Pepper was already walking off towards Anna.

When Pepper reached Anna, she gave her a hug, and instead of returning to the group, they both walked off to a corner of the living room.

“Sorry.” Reagan smiled at Sam.

“It’s okay. I think I can take care of myself.” Sam said, smiling back at her.

Isaac pulled Reagan close to him and wrapped his arm around her possessively. “Yeah, he can take care of himself.”

Sam regarded Isaac for a second and then returned his gaze to Reagan. “I think I’m going to leave.”

“Oh, no. You don’t have to go,” said Reagan.

“If he wants to go, let him,” said Isaac, taking a drink from his cup.

“It was a nice party. Goodnight.” Sam nodded his head and left.

“Why were you acting like that?” Reagan asked Sam.

“Like what?” Sam laughed, removing his arm from her shoulder. He turned to Mike and Jeff and joined their conversation, ignoring her.

Reagan went back to the kitchen to resume her hostess duties. The snacks were starting to run low, and some guy was rummaging through her refrigerator.

What was that with Sam? Whatever it was, it didn’t matter. He was with Pepper even if she ditched him for some girl she just met. And she was with Isaac. But the way she felt when he touched her hand.

Reagan tapped the guy searching through the refrigerator on the shoulder. “Can I help you?”

“Oh, sorry. I was just looking to see if you had any ice.”

“Ice would be in the freezer. And no, we’re out.” Reagan lied. There was plenty of ice; she was just ready for this party to be over. Hopefully, with the snacks running low and the rumor that there was no ice, everyone would start to leave.

 

Forty-five minutes later, most of the guests were gone. Reagan looked around at her living room; it had now been reduced to little more than a trash can. Pepper and Lily had already started cleaning up. 

Isaac was at the front door talking to Mike and Jeff. “I’m staying here. I’ll catch up with you guys tomorrow.”

“You are staying where?” asked Reagan.

“Here. Isaac turned towards her. “I thought we could spend some time together.”

“Not tonight. I have writing I have to finish.”

“Oh, come on. You’re always complaining I don’t spend any time with you. You can write any time.”

“I’m sorry, but not tonight.”

“Told you, man. If you were single, you wouldn’t have to put up with—”

“Why don’t you shut up!” Pepper yelled at Jeff from across the room.

“How about you mind your own business,” Isaac yelled back.

“I think it’s time for you guys to leave,” Reagan said, looking at Isaac.

“Whatever,” said Isaac. “Don’t expect me to continue to stick around with you always acting this way.”

“Is that a promise?” asked Pepper.

“Everyone, stop fighting. Please.” Lily put her hands over her ears and ran off to her room.

Isaac extended his arm, with his hand balled into a fist, and flipped his middle finger out towards Pepper. “Let’s get out of here,” he said, slamming the door behind him.

“I hope that means he’s gone for good,” said Pepper.

“I don’t know why you two have to act that way towards each other,” said Reagan.

“I don’t like the way he treats you. You deserve better.”

“Never mind that, we need to check on Lily.”

They found Lily lying in bed, with the covers thrown over her head, still fully dressed.

“Lily, are you okay?” Reagan pulled the covers down.

“Is everyone still fighting?”

“There’s no one left to fight with. The idiots went home,” answered Pepper.

Reagan shot her a look.

“What?” Pepper shrugged. “They did leave.”

“Anyways,” said Reagan. “You can come out from under the covers.

Lily pulled herself up, placing her back against the headboard. “I don’t like it when people fight.”

“Yeah, we could tell by the way you went screaming from the room.” Pepper placed her hands over her ears, her mouth in the shape of an O, in an exaggeration of Lily’s earlier departure from the living room.

Reagan fought back her laughter, picked up a pillow, threw it, and hit Pepper in the head. “Stop, that’s not funny.” Reagan climbed in bed beside Lily. “I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best not to fight in front of you.”

Pepper started to climb in on the other side of Lily, but clothes were scattered across the bed. “Do you mind?” she asked Lily, pointing towards the clothes.

Lily shook her head no.

Pepper grabbed the clothes and placed them on a chair that was already stacked with boxes. She climbed in beside Lily. “I’ll try… yeah, no. I can’t make any promises. I get into it with someone at least once a day. You’re just going to have to get thicker skin.”

“You’re right,” said Lily. “It’s just that my parents used to fight all the time before they finally divorced.”

“That sucks,” said Reagan. “Maybe we can do something to cheer you up? What about the housewarming gifts? We haven’t opened them yet.”

“I’ll get them,” said Pepper, already out of the room.

Pepper returned, with her arms full of gifts, and navigated her way through the boxes still cluttering Lily’s floor.

“I could have helped you,” said Reagan.

“It’s okay.”  Pepper tossed everything on top of the bed and climbed back in beside Lily. “How should we do this?”

“Everyone grab one and open it,” answered Reagan.

Most of the presents had been placed in gift bags making it easy to determine what they were. Laid out in front of them were two food processors, one red and one blue: silverware, a place setting, and glassware. Someone had brought them coffee mugs with each of their names written on them.

“But I don’t drink coffee,” declared Lily.

“You don’t have to drink coffee out of it, silly,” said Pepper. “Do you drink tea?”

“Sometimes,” Lily answered.

“Okay, use it for when you drink tea. Here’s one more gift. It says to Reagan.” Pepper said, handing the bag to her.

“Oh, it’s from Mike and Jeff.”

Reagan stuck her hand in the bag and began pulling out wads of tissue paper. “Is there anything even in here?”

At the bottom was a refrigerator magnet. Reagan pulled it out and held it up. On the front of the magnet was a picture of a mug filled with beer, and the caption read. “Single men never have any problems. Drink up.”

“Why are those guys such assholes?” Reagan swore.

“Birds of a feather…” said Pepper, leaving her comment unfinished.

“Whatever,” said Reagan tossing the magnet back inside the bag. “We still need to finish cleaning up before we go to bed.

Working together, it only took them thirty more minutes to return the living room to some semblance of what it looked like before the party.

“Well, I’m going to bed,” said Pepper, setting a trash bag beside the front door to be taken out in the morning.

“Me too,” said Lily, yawning. “Goodnight. Love you guys.”

“What’s with the I love yous?” asked Pepper after waiting for Lily to leave the room.

Reagan shrugged. “I guess it’s her thing.”

“As long as she’s not expecting me to say it back.”

“Probably, not,” answered Reagan. “Goodnight.”

“You going to bed?”

“Not yet. I have some editing to do.”

“Well, see you in the morning.”

“Love ya,” Reagan yelled after Pepper.

Pepper turned back. “Smartass.”

Reagan went to her room, climbed into bed, and opened her laptop. As she waited for it to load, she reflected over her day. Other than the fight with Isaac, Pepper forgetting the decorations, and her little crush on Pepper’s boyfriend, the day had not gone too bad.

Hopefully, Mrs. Dubois would be pleased by Reagan’s first submission. In order to get it done in time, Reagan had left out some of the questionable parts of Mrs. Dubois’s story. Maybe she wouldn’t notice.

 

If you enjoyed reading the first episode of Vickery Circle and want to find out what happens next, Episode 2: Repercussions is available to download now.

 


Submitted: January 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 T. Atkins. All rights reserved.

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