The alarm clock clicked over to 6 am.
But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.
I don’t care if it hurts
I want to have control…
Filled the room, Susie reached out from under the dark, heavy comforter and smacked the snooze button. She sat up rubbing her eyes, her dark hair a twisted mess from not being able to get to sleep the night before. She stumbled out of bed and made her way to the shower.
“Whose bright idea was it to take a job that starts at the ass crack of dawn,” she mumbled as she turned the water to hot and waited for it to warm up.
~ ~ ~ ~
Susie ran a comb through her hair pulling it back into a ponytail, she brushed her teeth and gargled with some Listerine. She picked up a sheet of paper from her nightstand.
Dress Code for Seaside Shipping & Receiving
Dark Jeans clean with no holes or tears.
Issued collared work shirt, clean, pressed and tucked in.
No logos or advertising on undershirts, hats or jackets.
Long hair must be pulled back, no jewelry of any kind is to be worn.
Steel-toed work boots or shoes.
Susie glanced at herself in the mirror that hung on the back of her bedroom door. In her new jeans, work shoes and issued tan, short-sleeve work shirt, that nicely covered her black flag t-shirt.
Grabbing an apple from the bowl of fruit on the kitchen table she got behind the wheel of her 87’ Honda Civic. The one that she had flipped buggers for an entire summer to afford, she cranked the key and it growled at her before turning over.
Susie walked into the employee entrance of Seaside Shipping & Receiving when a voice addressed her.
“Is this your first day?”
Susie turned to face the voice that came from a guy holding a clipboard and wearing an orange safety vest over his issued tan, short-sleeve work shirt.
“Yes,” she answered, walking towards him.
“Good, I am Tim, your safety supervisor, name?”
“Susie, Susanna Ridge,” she answered.
Tim ran his blue ballpoint pen down his clipboard.
“Yes, here you are, you are training with Ethan, follow me,” he led her over to the time clock, showed her where to find her badge and how to clock in and out.
“Your badge, your responsibility, if you lose it, it’s $2.00 to get a new one from Carol in payroll,”
They walked through the warehouse to the loading area, where a handful of other employees were waiting to get started.
Tim walked over to Ethan and gave him the clipboard, he nodded and said something Susie couldn’t quite hear to Tim. Ethan turned to face the gathering of eagger bodies, he was good looking, tall, had broad shoulders and a nice smile.
“Good morning, we start at 7:30 sharp so don’t be late, It looks as if all of you are in dress code, which is for everyone’s safety, we work at a quick pace to get through all the trucks that are scheduled for the day, some days you will be unloading and other days you will be loading, so pay attention to your daily assignment sheet, which is here,” Ethan pointed to a bulletin board with three columns of papers tacked to it.
“You all are first shift, so you come over here and find your name, listed in alphabetical order by last name, you what’s your name?” Ethan asked, looking at Susie.
“Ridge, Susanna,” she answered, giving him a slight smile.
“Ridge, Susanna,” he repeated, running his finger down the list.
“Here you are, you are on dock 7 with me, unloading for today, so you find your name and it will tell you what dock and if your loading or unloading, got it, good moving on,”
Ethan finished going over the daily rules and regulations, everyone found their names and places. The work itself wasn’t that bad, bending, lifting, and sliding either into or out of a truck trailer. Susie was a little sore after her first day but it wasn’t flipping burgers so she was happy.
~ ~ ~ ~
It had been three weeks of loading, unloading, pushing and pulling box after box. Susie was getting into her car after picking up her first check when she saw Ethan and a girl that looked familiar, but she couldn’t place at the moment, they were having a discussion just out of earshot.
Susie sat in her car and watched them, the girl had short red hair, one of those pixie cuts and was wearing a light blue sundress with yellow flowers on it. Her arms kept waving up and down as she was talking to Ethan, he didn’t look amused at whatever she was going on about. When she was done talking he gave her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and she got into her car.
Susie cranked the car over and drove to the bank, thinking that she would treat herself to a new Pearl Jam t-shirt at the mall.
As Susie was wandering through the CD section of the Musicland store in the Edgewater Mall she caught Ethan out of the corner of her eye. She circled around and stood behind him.
“I didn’t think you listened to music?”
He turned to face her caught off guard.
“You, look almost normal not in uniform,” he said looking her over, in her worn, ripped, faded jeans, KMFDM t-shirt and no longer white high tops.
“So Bon Jovi? Really?” she asked looking at what he was holding.
“Yes, really, but I’m open to suggestions,”
She gave him a devilish smile and led him over to another section.
“Hum…lets see what I can conflict on your virgin ears,” she quickly picked through the bin labeled ‘Alternative Rock’
“Here you go,”
“Wow, ok then,” he flipped through the stack of CD’s.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Nine Inch Nails
“Not a bad selection, thanks,”
“So who’s the girl, with the pixy hair?” Susie asked as they wandered through the mall.
“That’s Amber,” he answered.
“And she is your…” she trailed off giving him a look.
“Aaa, wait Amber Jacobson?”
“She was in my lit class junior year, she was one of the ‘Britney, Tiffany, Amber’s’, click, isn’t she a little young for you? Wait how old are you?”
Ethan stopped walking.
“How old do you think I am?” he asked.
“I don’t know, 26 ish.”
“Not quite, I’ll be 22 on Saturday, hence the need for some music, Amber wants to have a party,”
“Well, in that case, happy early birthday, can I buy you a frozen yogurt?” Susie asked, pointing to TCBY’s.
“Sure, why not,”
They sat eating their frozen yogurt in waffle cones, in the Edgewater Mall food court.
“So why the shipping and receiving industry?” she asked.
“In the beginning it was to save up for school, but it turned into a full time position with benefits so I stayed, what about you?”
“It’s better than flipping burgers, I haven’t decided about school yet,”
Ethan got up and tossed their trash.
“Why don’t you come on Saturday,”
Susie gave him a sideways look.
“I don’t mix well with others,”
“Non-sense, come it’s my party and you are my guest,”
He grabbed a napkin from the dispenser, pulled a pen from his pocket and began writing.
“It’s 247 Lexington street, the small blue house with the..”
“With the carport,” she finished for him.
“Um..yeah, how did you know that?”
“I use to live there, and that’s how everyone describes it,”
“Small world,” he said, handing her the napkin, she took it sliding it into the pocket of her jeans.
“Saturday at eight,” Ethan said as he headed towards the mall entrance.
~ ~ ~ ~
Susie sat outside of 247 Lexington street, she pushed the button on the radio that showed the time, 8:12pm.
Might as well make an appearance. She mumbled as she gave herself a final look in the rearview mirror. She reached over and opened the glovebox, rummaging around she found the slim pink tube of lip gloss, pulled out the wand and rolled it over her lips. She pressed them together and gave a little smack towards the mirror.
The front door to the small blue house was open and Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses could be heard coming from the living room. Susie entered the house, people were scattered throughout, drinking, smoking and talking.
She made her way through the living room and into the back bedroom, as she opened the door and made her way into the small bedroom. Memories from the last time she had been there came flooding back, it had to have been at least five years ago. She made her way to the small closet, slid open the pocket door and looked inside.
“Looking for something?” Ethan said coming into the room.
“Sorta, I wanted to see if something was still here,”
“Ok, my curiosity is peaked, what are we looking for?” he said, joining her in the doorway of the closet.
“This,” Susie said, running her fingers over a row of doodles on the inside of the closet.
“Hold on,” he walked over to the dresser and found a small pen light.
“Got this from the 7-11 for my keychain,” he turned the light on and shined it on the row of doodles.
“I can’t believe these are still here,”
Ethan stood behind her holding the pen light over her shoulder, he moved closer to her. A shiver ran down Susie’s back and she closed her eyes for a second, feeling the warmth of his body next to hers.
“Am I interrupting something?” a high pitched female voice asked.
Ethan moved out of the closet doorway and into the bedroom.
“No,” he said moving towards Amber.
Amber caught sight of Susie as she moved out of the closet.
“What is she doing here?”
Susie started moving towards the door, Ethan reached out stopping her, grabbing her arm.
“She is my guest, it’s my party and my house, if you have a problem with that you can leave,”
“Whatever,” she said leaving the bedroom.
“You didn’t need to do that,” Susie said.
“Yeah, I did,” Ethan said, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.
“It’s weird being in this room again,” she said standing in front of him.
Ethan leaned forward and brushed her hair away from her face. He slid his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her to him. He gently pressed his lips to hers, she moved closer to him and kissed him back.
Susie smiled and took a step back.
She moved toward the door, Ethan stood up and kissed her again.
“Thanks for stopping by,” he said.
“I’ll see you on Monday, you know at work,” she said, turning and walking out the door.
Susie made her way out of the house and to her 87’ Honda Civic, she opened the door and sat behind the wheel. Waiting for her heart to stop pounding in her ears, she glanced in the rearview mirror her cheeks were a bright shade of pink.
She started the car, and pushed play on the CD player.
Must be your skin that I’m sinking in
Must be for real ’cause now I can feel
And I didn’t mind
It’s not my kind
It’s not my time to wonder why
Everything’s gone white
And everything’s grey…
Started playing as she drove home.
~ ~ ~ ~
Susie awoke from a very vivid dream involving Ethan. She looked over at the clock 5:58am.
“Fuck,” she flipped the alarm off, got up and made her way to the shower.
She had tried not to think about it, about him, about how the butterflies were fluttering around in her stomach, while she was trying to get ready for work.
Susie had, had other boyfriends, she had dated gone to parties, the movies, or just hung-out. Although thinking about it now it had been awhile. It was shortly after High School graduation that her and Nate had called it off. Then she was working all the hours she could to afford her car and the time had just slipped away.
She stood in front of her mirror looking over her appearance in her mandatory work clothes. She picked up the slim glass tube of strawberry lip gloss and ran the wand over her lips. Then rubbing them together and giving a little smack to the air.
~ ~ ~ ~
The end of Blur’s Song 2 was blaring away through her speakers as she pulled into the parking lot of Seaside Shipping & Receiving and found a parking spot. She shut the engine off, there was a tap on her window.
“Jesus Christ, don’t do that, you scared the fuck out me,” she said as she opened her car door and got out.
“Sorry, and good morning to you too,” Ethan said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Ok, so we’re doing this now?” she asked.
“Doing what?” Ethan smiled at her as he asked.
“You’re going to make me ask, aren’t you?”
Ethan gave her a sideways look of confusion.
“What about Amber?” she asked.
“Oh my God, yes that,”
“Well she left me a lovely message on Sunday morning, where she listed what was wrong with me and why she was no longer wanting to continue our relationship,”
“How diplomatic of her,” Susie said, moving closer to Ethan leaning in and kissing him.
“Mmm…strawberry,” he said as they walked into work.
~ ~ ~ ~
During lunch break Ethan was standing behind Susie as she waited to get a soda from the vending machine in the employee break room.
“So I have a secret,” he said in a whisper.
“Really, are you going to share it with me?” she asked back in a whisper.
Ethan grinned and slid his hand around her side as she dropped sixty-five cents into the vending machine and pushed the rootbeer button.
“I like to cook, and I was wondering if you would like to come to dinner tonight?”
Susie turned to face him as she opened her rootbeer, she took a sip thinking over his proposal.
“Depends on what you’re planning on making,” she answered walking over to a table and sitting down.
Ethan got himself a Sprite and joined her at the table.
“I was going to go with spaghetti and meatballs, if that works for you,”
She smiled at him. “That works for me,” she said, giving his hand a quick squeeze.
~ ~ ~ ~
I’m so happy because today
I’ve found my friends
They’re in my head
I’m so ugly, but that’s okay, ’cause so are you
We’ve broken our mirrors…
Nirvana’s Lithium flowed through the house as Susie knocked on the door of 247 Lexington street.
Ethan opened the door.
Susie entered the house.
“It smells good,” she said as she took a seat at the kitchen table.
“Thanks, so I have dark or light for drinks,” Ethan held out a bottle of A&W Cream Soda and a bottle of Cherry 7up.
“I’ll take the cherry, cream soda is more of a dessert beverage,”
“Good call,” Ethan poured two glasses over ice and set them on the table. He dished up and served the spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.
As they were enjoying their dinner the music changed from Nirvana to The Smashing Pumpkins.
“You have a CD changer in your stereo?” Susie asked.
“Yeah it holds five CD’s, I have it set on shuffle,”
“Nice, what all do you have in there now?”
“Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Pearl Jam and Queen,”
“Who’s shirt do you have on?”
“This is Soundgarden, we’ll have to broaden your collection a little more,”
~ ~ ~ ~
After dinner Susie helped Ethan do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.
“Thanks, you didn’t need to do that,” he says sliding his arms around her.
“I know, I wanted to,” she leaned in kissing him.
“Shall we take this somewhere more comfortable?”
“Yes,” she answered, kissing him again.
Can anybody find me somebody to love
Ooh, each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
(Take a look at yourself) Take a look in the mirror and cry (and cry)
Lord what you’re doing to me (yeah yeah)…
Started playing as they entered the bedroom.
Susie kicked off her high tops and sat on the edge of the bed. Ethan stood in front of her, he pulled his shirt off over his head, letting it fall to the floor. Susie got up on her knees and ran her hand along his bare chest.
He reached behind her head and gently pulled the elastic band from her hair, letting her hair fall over her shoulders. She took off her t-shirt and bra, then laid back on the bed, he joined her kissing her neck and running his hands over her breasts.
She kissed him, enjoying the feeling of his hand on her body. Then reality set in.
“Can we just take a minute,” she said sitting up and moving away from him.
“Yeah,” he said, handing her her shirt.
She slipped it on and sat cross legged on the bed. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.
“Susie, it’s ok,” Ethan said, touching the back of her hand.
“We don’t have to do this, I like you, I enjoy hanging out with you and I would like to get to know you better,”
She opened her eyes and looked at him.
“Yes,” he answered, kissing her on the cheek.
“How about dessert and a movie?” he asked, putting on his shirt.
She smiled at him.
“Depends what’s for dessert?’
“Well I have a bottle of cream soda and vanilla ice cream, so I was thinking floats,”
“Sounds good, so what kinda movie collection do you have?” She asked as they left the bedroom.
“Let’s see…I have Bram Stoker’s Dracula or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” Ethan said, holding up the VHS’s.
“Hum…horror and sex or psycho revenge story, let’s go with Dracula,” Susie said making herself comfortable on the couch.
“Ok,” Ethan said, sliding the tape into the VCR and pushing play.