The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Thirty-Two part one
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday January 17 1995
Brie Matthews woke up a few minutes before the alarm went off. She hated it when that happened. She didn't want to get up but she didn't see much point of trying to go back to sleep either. The sun hadn't come up yet but pale purple light was beginning to fill the room. She stared at the digital readout of her clock, waiting for the minutes to pass. That seemed to be all you did when you were a teenager; every morning she waited for the bus, when she got to school she spent every class waiting for when it was time to go home. What it all came down to was she couldn't wait to graduate, she couldn't wait to start making those first fledgling steps to independence.
As far as she was concerned the whole stupid high school thing was a waste of her time. After all she was one of the Matthews family; the same Matthews family that had been active in Albany politics for almost half a century. Her grandfather, uncles and father were all important parts of the Democratic Party’s machinery. No one had ever been elected to Mayor without their help or approval. Power like that meant one thing, patronage - nice cushy jobs with the State for all the members of the Matthew family tree that wanted them.
The civil service tests and interviews were just for the regular folks, both of Brie's sisters had landed jobs without ever taking a single exam. It was like Brie's grandfather said, “The Matthews family takes care of the city so the city takes care of the Matthews family.”
Brie switched off the alarm and forced herself to sit up. It was time to get going, she needed to make herself pretty for Evan. The weirdness lately was really stressing him out; Pam said she thought he had been selling bad weed. As if that-
-Brie didn't remember lying back down, and she didn't remember going back to sleep but she found herself staring at the alarm clock again. It was almost ten minutes later.
Must have dozed off. She thought groggily as she kicked free of the covers and swung her legs out of the bed. She paused in mid stretch and looked down at herself; her camisole was twisted and bunched crazily around her. Brie adjusted herself and paused again, her skin felt all tingly and she was a little damp 'down there'.
What was I dreaming about? She wondered half amused and half disturbed. It wasn't like her to get horny when she was all alone.
The rest of the house was already beginning to buzz with activity. She could hear her father and mother at the breakfast table. Puffs, the family dog, was pacing outside Brie’s door, growling and fretting. It sounded like he hadn't been fed yet.
Brie straightened her camisole, pulled on her bathrobe and stepped out into the hallway. Puffs wagged his tail and backed away, not wanting to be petted. “What’s wrong honey? Gotta go for a walk?” Brie called to the kitchen, “Will someone that’s dressed take Puffs for a walk?”
She preferred using the shower in her mother’s bathroom. Brie’s friends all thought it was odd that her parents had separate bathrooms, and separate bedrooms. Her Mom and Dad insisted that it was the secret to their long-lasting marriage but Brie had to wonder what would happen once she moved out.
She gave herself the once over before stepping into the shower. There was stubble starting to sprout on her legs. Did she have time enough to take care of it? Well, if she ran late she could just mooch a ride off one of her parents. Brie hung up her robe, stripped out of her nightclothes and got into the shower.
An odd, self-conscious feeling came over her. Brie tried to put it aside and focus on her morning rituals. She started off with a face cleanser them moved on to body wash for the rest of her, then it was time for the shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes other little side rituals were needed as well, at least once a week she had to take care of her legs and armpits and every Monday she tried to do her nails a different color.
Guys sure had it easy in the mornings compared to all that girls had to do.
The sensation kept growing. Just in case she poked her head out of the shower curtain but there was nothing but steam. She didn't know what was bugging her so much-
-The smell was so strong she almost gagged. It was a cloying mixture of the chemical and the perfumed. The shower's water temperature was running down from lukewarm to cold. Brie cupped her hand over her mouth. A burning sensation was working its way down her scalp. What was going on here? Was she sick? Was this the effect of the tainted pot? There was an empty plastic bottle floating by the drain. How did that get there? Brie reached down for it.
Something dark and thick plopped down into the tub. It was a lock of her hair.
The burning sensation was getting worse but for ten seconds all Brie could do was stare at the empty Nair bottle and the clumps of hair slowly falling around her feet.