Awakening at Dawn

by Mark Riding

"Stop it girl you know I'm ticklish!" Mira's voice was shrill with laughing squeals.

"Come on give it up. Give me that remote!" Her roommate loudly giggle-whined back. Mira's body was being pressed harder into the plush sofa cushions and lively fingers wiggled in and out of the crevices under her arms and up and down her overly sensitive sides. "Oooh girl stop dammitI...I can't breathe!" she continued to struggle but was clearly underweight; the tussle and relentless tickling ensued.

The two women rolled about the oversized sofa giggling like girls at sleep away camp until Mira wriggled a leg free and aggressively flipped them both over and onto the floor with a resounding thump. Everything, save uneven breathing, froze. Mira had clearly flipped herself on top, but they were still in a tangle, difficult to tell where one ended and the other began. The last of the laughter trailed off down the narrow, echoing corridor, and they lay still; waiting for any pain to kick in. Mira eventually broke the silence, "Ooh Dee sweetie are you ok? I told you to stop; you know how ticklish I am. Did you bump your head?" Dee nodded gently, and then freed an arm to reach back and rub the back of her head. She looked remarkably tender and innocent. Mira softened considerably and rushed to help her up. "Here Sweetie sit up and lean back on the sofa. Let me see, do you have a bump back there?" Mira reached back and gently felt around the back of Dee's head. "I don't feel anything back here; I think you're gonna live. I am sorry though Sweetie, but see, I told you not to mess with She-Ra." Mira gave a smirk, pecked Dee's forehead and hopped up. "I'm gonna get a Zima, here's the remote you big baby, go ahead and rewind to your little stupid part." Dee's childlike grin finally broke through her childlike glower.

"Ooh Mee could you please bring me some"

"M & M's and hot potato chips, while I'm up?" Mira completed the sentence in perfect whimpering imitation.

Dee called into the kitchen, "Ooh ooh, ok here it comesMee you ready? Sing it with me this time. Everybody! She's your queen to be" she crooned loudly in vacillating shrills.

"Completely free from all infection!" the verse was nearly past when Mira joined in disharmony. She tiptoed over the strewn sofa cushions using the Zima bottle as a mic. "I can't believe you're making me watch this damn scene again."

"This is good cinema Mee. Don't you see how he contrasts the passionate crooning with his straight-faced expression? It's positively Chaplinesque; classic. You've got to appreciate all this subtext."

"Yeah but Sweetie we only appreciate all that subtext about twice a day, everyday that the sun rises."

"Well if somebody had paid the cable bill on time then we could watch something else."

"Don't start with me girl."

"I'm only saying that I wrote the check put it in an envelope and even put a little reminder on the fridge and somehow it still didn't get there until like the 23rd."

"So what are you trying to say I'm irresponsible? You calling me stupid? Don't get fucked up again." Mira playfully chastised.

"Well? If you can squeeze your ashy, size 9 feet into the shoes" Dee's good-natured grousing was interrupted by the front doorknob jiggling then turning, followed by the door swinging open. Summer sweatiness poured in with the new daylight. James flipped his keys into his pocket walked through the living room into the kitchen and returned drinking from a carton of orange juice.

"S'up lay-dees." He plopped down on the remaining sofa cushion, and scooted his face up between Mira and Dee. Dee leaned back to him, Mira leaned away.

"Hey Jimmy. What are you doing here so early?" Dee asked.

"Yeah James what brings you by here in the middle of the day? Don't you have a job or someplace else to be? And there probably weren't clean cups in there huh?" Mira mumbled the last part.

"Nope they sent me home early. Trying to cut my hours back, said I had too many occurrences last month, it's some bullshit though." James answered partly ignoring but mostly oblivious to the depths of Mira's condescension. He took another deep swig from the carton.

"Well good honey, I'm glad you're here, you can drive us; we were just going to run some errands after the movie goes off." Dee chirped quickly, sensing Mira's ire and hoping to placate her with a free, air-conditioned ride to the store.

"Y'all watching this dumb ass 'Coming to America' again? This shit is on like every time I come over here. Y'all can't watch no movies that came out in this decade?" He said while kicking off his unlaced basketball player sized work boots.

"Well don't come over here thenSome people just don't appreciate good movies." Mira snipped, at first under her breath but then rose to full voice as she got up and began replacing the sofa cushions. "Excuse me, can I put these back please." She nudged his sprawled leg with her knee and forced the cushions back into place. Then she brushed his leg again as she walked into the bathroom.

"Aww my bad. So what time ya'll trying to head out?" James leaned back on the sofa and pulled Dee back in between his knees; she nestled in and laid her head on his crotch playfully coy. He began stroking her hair. "Ooh be careful honey, I bumped my head earlier." Dee milked sympathy with a sex-tinted whine.

Mira began fixing her hair in the mirror. It was longish but still too short in the front and sides. She'd asked for a blunt cut, all one length, but somehow got this shit. The only thing she could do with it was part it down the middle and toss it behind her ears like a white girl. She sighed heavily in the mirror; she hated her hair and she had a mushrooming zit on the side of her nose. She tried to squeeze it a little to see how close it was to being ready but it just throbbed and turned blood red. "Fuck!" she yapped at her reflection. She swabbed her nose with some alcohol on a cotton ball and then peeked into the living room to see what her roommate and raggedy ass boyfriend were doing on the sofa. "Knowing those freaks they'll be out there fucking." She whispered.

"Oh Jimmy that's just silly and I don't want to talk about it anymore. Just stop it ok? For me ok?"

"Ok I won't say anything else, but you know it's true. I mean" James was now standing and stepping into his boots.

"James now, I said stop it now. C'mon be nice to Mira, she's my best friend." Dee stood in front of James and laced her fingers behind his neck and put on her best doe-eyed, loving look.

"Whatever Dawn. I'm just saying" he turned as if to walk away; Mira was standing there two inches into his personal space.

"What. What were you just saying?" Mira jabbed.

"Oh girl don't sneak up on me like that you're liable to catch a elbow or somethin'.anyway I was just saying that if y'all still want a ride then we need to be out. I'm ready to go. So get some shoes on while I go and drain the lizardand Dawn told me about how you beat her up, don't make me come in here and separate you two. I'd hate to have to regulate up in here." He chuckled purposely hard and scooted past her, nudging her shoulder as he went by only slightly softer than he would a dude. Mira was impassive, and rolled her eyes slightly.

Dee was just getting up when Mira sat down hard on the sofa and yanked her back down. "Wait what's up with Dickhead still coming in here with a key and making his home in our orange juice? And I heard my name, what the fuck did he have to say about me? He's so fucking disrespectful." She snapped in a not soft enough whisper.

"Mira, you know that he only has our spare key because I had to leave early last week and he had to lock upand that's his orange juice that I bought for him. I'm sorry though he really should have gotten a cup and I promise I'll get the key back tomorrow ok?" Dee apologized and squeezed Mira's hand affectionately.

"Why tomorrow and not right now?" Mira held firm, her eyes were intense.

"Mee, Sweetie, you know I have to catch the 6:47, and you go to class at like 8:00, and he doesn't have to be in to work until 10:30. I promise I'll get it back though ok?"


Mira opened the door to a completely dark apartment, shades drawn, and no lights on. She reached for the light switch and anxiety tingled through her stomach. "Please don't be my fault, please, I promise I'll run down and pay the bill right now." She prayed silently. When she flipped the switch the light blared into her eyes and relief cooled her.

"Turn that off please." Dawn's voice was shaky and barely audible. Mira turned the light off dropped her book bag and ran to the sofa.

"Ooh sweetie are you sick; what's the matter?"

"It's nothing I just wanted to, you know be in the dark." She sniffed back tears.

"What? Dee, it's me. You can tell me what's wrong; we can tell each other the truth, remember?"

"It'snever mind, I mean it's nothingyou're just going to get mad."

"Madwhat happened that would make me mad? Now you know that you have to tell me now. What happened, you broke my CD player again or something? I know you'll replace it. It's not like I don't know where you live, you"

"It's nothing like that. I mean it's notI mean he"

"He!? You mean Dickhead? I should have known! What the hell did he do this time? He didn't hit you did he? I'll kill his black ass. No, you caught him didn't you? Dog ass motherfucker, I never trusted him. He's always peeping at my ass and looking down my shirtoooh! I hate his ass!"

"No itit's nothing like that I mean it's not about him and me, it's"

"What Dee what is it?"

"He j-just said that I mean he wants me to move out."

"Out where? Out of here? What the fuck for? To move in with his broke ass? He lives at home, Dawn. What, you moving in with him and his mama?"

"No it's not that I mean it'sit's you Mira." she creaked then sniffled hard.

"Me!? What the fuck are you talking about?" Mira was beginning to simmer.

"He said he doesn't like you and me andand how close we are."

"What the fuck!?"

"Wait Mira, he said that he feels like something is going on between us, and he doesn't like it."

"What do you mean something's goin' on?"

"Well, you know something. Like well, he said he didn't like how I was always spending money on you andand that we're so close and he hates that we sleep in the same bed sometimes and the whole Dee and Mee thing and he just thinks we're too close. Like maybe we'relesbians."

"He thinks what!? That stupid motherfucker said what?! Fuck him! Ooooh I hate his fucking ass. Doesn't he know I have a fucking boyfriend? I mean isn't Cameron down here like every weekend?" by now Mira was prowling the room and yelling.

"I know and I told him that, but he said that you're always being so nasty to him and he just thinks that you're jealous or something. I told him he was wrong I mean I told him that you two just didn't get along and..."

"What!? That's just stupid! We're fucking best friends! We're not doing anything every other girl in America does with her best friend! Sleep in the same bed, spend time, hug, laugh all of that stuff all the time, and he's just a dumbass! I am not a fucking lesbian, I love dick! And hel-lo we are best friends! We're supposed to be fucking close. Oooh I hate his stupid ass." Mira jumped up and down tantrum style and threw a sofa pillow across the room. "I mean I would never want toI mean that's some bullshitHe just wants to fuck me too, that's all that is. He's saying that shit now to set up some kind of bullshit mnage a trios! I wouldn't fuck his stinking feet, lazy as fuck, tacky ass if I was broke and he was Robert Redford with three million dollars waiting. Fuck him." She threw another pillow, her face was flushed, and red rage overcame her. "Ugh I hate his ass! I should go over to his mama's house right now and whip his little scrawny black ass! I don't believe him. As good as you've been to him? Thoughtful and loving and affectionate, you let him stay here with us and ooh his ungrateful, insecure ass! Threatened by a damn girl. Probably gay himself and projecting his bullshit homosexual issues on me!"

Dee was giggling as she wiped her tears; the giggles soon bubbled over into full laughs. This stopped Mira from knocking over the coat rack that she was reaching for. "What are you laughing about? What the fuck is so funny?"

"You. You're more pissed at him than I am. I mean you're ready to go and kick his ass right now. I think you really would too; little as you are."

"You're damn right I would. Little skinny ass boy. You better tell him he's messing with the wrong bitch. I'm She-ra remember?"


"So yes Mother, My last class is on the 23rd and they'll finally give me my diplomaIntro to Fine ArtsI know Mother but before I changed majors it wasn't a requirementI knowShe did? Well that's good Intellex is a good companyWhat? To start? Wow I clearly chose the wrong major Umm Yeah I have a couple of interviews lined up nothing really solid, although this is my second interview withyes? Mother I know. Mother airplane travel is the safest kind of has been proven MotherI don't know, that job is in marketing and I've got a feeling it's going to be so boring. I mean the flight attendant thing seems so exciting, plus I can get free flights for you and Daddy. You know how I've always wanted to travelbut Motherbut Motheryes Mother I will, you know I will I've already promised you, but this is a chance to see the world and experience life, explore a little, meet some interesting people and get immersed in different culture before I go back to grad schoolWhat about him? He'll just have to be ok with itoh Mother please, I'm too young for all thathe's 26oh trust me Mother he's less ready than me. Listen I gotta run. I'm supposed to meet Dee at the bank we're going to go shopping for an interview suitI'll tell heryeah we'll probably come down there this weekend if somebody is cookingOoh goodReally now? I've asked you to make me pineapple upside down a million times and Dee says it once and you pull out the bundt pansok I love you gotta go bye-bye." Mira pressed the orange talk button on the phone and slipped on her favorite closed toe slides; she hadn't had a pedicure in weeks so the lizards were not for public consumption. She grabbed her purse and jog-walked to the bus stop to meet her best friend.


"Morning Sweetie." Mira rolled over and puckered her lips.

"Morning Honey. Hey congratulations you start today!" Dee leaned over and gave her a series of teeny early morning pecks all around her mouth and on both cheeks.

"I know can you believe it. My first day? I've got a real job!" Mira was rubbing Dee's shoulder in soft circles; Dee positioned her body more towards hers and slid her knee slightly between Mira's knees. "I know Honey are you excited?" she cooed.

"Well sort of, I mean it is just training and I'll be doing that for 6 more weeks before I ever even get off the ground, but soon I'll be in the 'friendly skies' I can't wait."

"I can I'll be missing you like crazy when you're gone."

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