She wakes up with her milk-white toes pressed to Brianna’s chin. She feels the same discomfort she gets when they try to take photos together on Elkie’s phone—Brianna looks like a real person but Elkie is washed out, an eraser streak on the world. She brought this up once, but Brianna didn’t get it. “You’re not an eraser, Elkie, like Jesus Christ,” she said. “Your phone camera can’t handle contrast. I’ll check out a Nikon and we can shoot better pictures.” Brianna does her work study in the photo lab.
Elkie disentangles herself from Brianna, making as little noise as possible. Her Blahnik blisters are so red, she might have to lance them, but the meeting with the Service Club members went well—one of the pre-law guys has a cousin who works for Greyhound, so maybe they can get a discount on a charter bus to South Dakota. She’s going to build homes, build her resume, and build her leadership skills with a documented history of community service. In under four years, she’s going to be a medical student, then someday a resident, then a doctor. Don is going to call her soon. He might have already.
Elkie reaches for her phone, which she always leaves on the shelf next to her bed, in front of the vampire novel Brianna got her. She slips out and pads toward the bathroom, where she flicks on the light and the vent, and pushes in the lock on the door. She yanks up the rusted shower valve, then runs hot water. She won’t step in just yet. Instead, she turns the phone on.
Three voicemails. A client rescheduling from three to four next week. Two calls from men who want to set up first meetings. The emails are six new appointments, almost thirty inquiries, and a dozen missives she deletes after reading. Bored kids, men with no intention of following through, obvious serial killers or cops. They write things like kitties aren’t even that big, and can i hide near while u fk another man and its a dangerous world out there, if you worked for me id protect you and I Hope someone Jams a Samurai Sword up your Pussy and Elkie’s personal favorite: Is your fridge running? An e-newsletter from the pre-med office at school. Still nothing from Don. His wife must have him in a real bind. In the peace and privacy of her bathroom, Elkie tells herself she can wait for him.
Even with the vent on, the running shower steams up the whole room so that a fog rises between her eyes and the screen. She goes to texts, expecting at least a dozen, but there are no new ones. This is so odd as to be unthinkable. Is her phone broken? Hacked? She checks deleted messages, because maybe a hacker would delete all her messages as some sort of prank, and that’s when she spots it: Brianna’s betrayal.