When I wake up in the morning, my favourite thing is to wake up slow. I love just feeling what it feels like to come back into my body from sleep – the way the bed holds me up, solid under my stomach and thighs, my body sinking into the mattress, my face buried in sweet-smelling pillowy softness. My only state of absolute physical relaxation. Not asleep, not awake, neither here nor there, wavering in the transition with a soft shore-waves ebbing and flowing between states, free. But of course, it never lasts. Slowly, I became aware of a loud, incessant knocking, which knocked into my brain the fact that it was Monday morning. Monday, always-dreaded Monday. Blah. I heard Chris, humming in the shower, which explained why he hadn’t answered the door and let me rest. My body felt reluctant and sluggish as I grabbed a blanket from the bed to cover me, and trudged over to the peep-hole. On the other side, Freida’s fishbole face peered nose-first into mine. I opened the door, and she bustled by me, dropping her laptop case, camera bag and purse on the floor.
“Wakey wakey tender flakey. Aren’t you a monster in the morning? I figured you could use a ride out to YKM and it looks like I’m right. You never would have made nine o’clock on the bus. Better get moving!”
I looked over at the clock and saw it was already 8am. She was absolutely right! I had set the alarm for six, and now I was really, really late!
“Um, thanks, I set the alarm…I don’t know what happened. I’m really lucky you came by.”
Freida made a face that told me she’d expected nothing more from me.
“Yes, I’m a knight in shining armour. Where’s your coffee?”
Chris had banned coffee from the apartment on the grounds that it made me hyper and irritable.
“Chris doesn’t…we usually just get it on the way out.”
Freida pursed her lips, irritated, and sat heavily on the sofa, phone in hand.
“Well, I’ll settle in and do some email, assuming you get a signal here. Why aren’t you getting ready yet?”
“Chris is in the bathroom.”
She turned her head to look at me, puzzled.
“I don’t think he’d… ”
“My goodness, I’m learning a lot I didn’t need to know about you two. Just throw on some clothes and brush that mop into a ponytail. It’s going to take a good half hour to get over there at this time of day.”
Just then, Chis opened the bathroom door, still singing and stark naked.
“Now I’m really learning too much!” Freida exclaimed, amused.
“What the…” Chris started, confused and definitely not amused. He retreated quickly to the bathroom and locked the door. I knocked.
“Chris, let me in!” He opened the door a crack, his face peeking from behind, and I snuck in quick.
“How could you let me walk out there? You should have told me she was here.” He whispered, but he was yelling. I kept my voice low as well, or at least, tried to.
“She just, like, barged in. I didn’t even have time.”
“That’s one bitch I never thought I’d strip for. I don’t like that she has that picture of me in her head. I feel violated.”
“Now you know how we feel every day with men ogling us.”
“Don’t go all femi-nazi on me!”
This was getting us nowhere.
“Whatever. Look, I gotta get ready for this gig you set up with Tim. I’m lucky she’s here, okay? Did you turn off the alarm?”
“No. Maybe you didn’t set it.”
“I set it. ”
“Well, then, magic trolls must have snuck in and turned it off. It’s not my fault you slept in. ”
Man, he could be an irritating prick sometimes! I wanted him to go, but I didn’t want to antagonize any more argument.
“I’m in a bad mood. We shouldn’t talk right now,” I offered as a compromise.
“Fine with me.”
I brushed my teeth while Chris picked up a magazine and started reading.
“You can go” I said through my froth.
“I can’t get dressed with her out there.”
Now was not the time to be a prude. Didn’t he live in residence as an undergrad? Had he never learned the strategic use of a towel? I felt frustrated but I didn’t want to fight so I worked on an encouraging tone. I didn’t quite pull it off.
“Sure you can. Just do it. Who cares what she thinks. She can look away. She’s got her phone.”
“Would you be comfortable doing that? If it were Tim out there?”
“Sure, why not? I think he has enough self control not to jump me on the spot. I bet he’d just look out the window anyway.”
“You’re strange, Christine. ”
“I thought we weren’t going to talk.”
Chris stayed in the bathroom until after we left, which meant I got ready about twice as fast as I might have. I didn’t feel at all bad taking $10 out of his wallet first.
Putting on my seatbelt in Freida’s rated-best-for-safety-and-fuel-economy GM coupe, I realized I was actually strapping myself into the interrogation chair. She started talking before she’d even started the car.
“So, is it true? You’re really playing with Trix and the Trixettes?”
“Um, yeah, I said I’d play. But we had our first rehearsal yesterday and – ”
“Well, watch your back, Cupcake. Beatrix Drachov is a conniving wanna-be who sucks otherwise sane people into insanity with her. I mean, look what she did to Bash, roping him in, ruining his life. Marrying a gay man, when she’s gay herself – what does it even mean? Well, I’m not one to judge, or to tell anyone how to live. I’m just saying. Who’s paying for all of it, that’s what I want to know. They’re all tight lipped about their sponsors, like it’s a big secret. But someone is paying to feed and house those boys.”
I felt tired, and the sound of Freida’s voice overpowered the words she was saying, blending into a general rhythm of talk that I didn’t really take in. Instead, I imagined Trix dancing as I’d seen her yesterday from behind the curtain, but in my mind I was the one dancing around her strong body, not Trace. Movement with her seemed like an experience worth having, and I wondered if I would get the chance to find out. The image broke as Freida’s voice pounded back into language.
“…exploiting them for free labour and making them think it’s fun. Do you think that’s okay?”
I didn’t know what to say. I came up with, “Um, I don’t know. I just like to play.”
Freida sniffed disdainfully.
“You don’t have to be reduced to this. My uncle is a key sponsor at the Belath Dowry Orchestra. I can get you on the substitute roster. Between that and YKM, you’re all set. You don’t need to let Timeless erode your personal brand.”
“Um, maybe…thanks…but…I might play Friday. I haven’t decided for sure. ”
“Well, it’s your funeral. Still, I’ll make some calls. When Trix drops you like a hot potato next week, you’ll thank me. Look, we’re here.”