Marissa didn’t have a goal. That threw a wrench in everyone’s logic. No, a petrificus totalis. It full on stopped everyone’s logic in its tracks.
“Marissa!” The close to annoyed clip of Nella’s voice meant she’d tried to grab the redhead’s attention more than once. Marissa looked up from her Angry Orchard cider, startled. Nella rolled her brown eyes. “You’ve got five minutes till the start of the gig. Are you ready?”
“Yeah, of course.” Marissa adjusted the faux vines wrapping around her bare midriff and made sure it was still looped around her bra straps. “I’ve been looking forward to this all week.” The show that night had a comic book theme, so it wasn’t hard to put together an off-brand, barely clothed Poison Ivy costume for the occasion. Stage Manager Nella gave Marissa a nod and moved on to one of the other go-go dancers for the night as patrons began to trickle into the small Boston bar.
Once Deejay Sparkle-Corn began playing his mashups of superhero film themes and electro-swing, Marissa made her way to the second floor of the bar. Up the set of stairs was a balcony that overlooked the first floor. At three different points, the ornate railings curved out just enough for the three dancers to stand as if on their own mini-stage. None of them were the featured burlesque performer for the night, but they would dance for the audience in-between sets and take a cut of the bar at the end of the night. Plus, they were given a $50 bar tab, so there was very little to complain about.
Marissa first discovered this bi-weekly gig after picking up shifts for one of Prohibition’s regular bartenders. It didn’t take long for her to ask the show’s producer if she could participate, and with her dance background talking for her, Marissa was suddenly booked every other Thursday night as a dancer. Each show featured a different burlesque artist from the east coast, and Marissa admitted interest in maybe doing burlesque sometime.
The song switched from upbeat electro-swing to a sultry number that allowed her to stop spinning on her extremely high heels for a few minutes. She used the railing as she twisted her body into different shapes, losing herself to the music for a while instead of her thoughts.
A few days ago, Holland and Danny had made their move to France. Rose and Emmett moved out of the Boston house in May, which left Marissa alone for the first time in her life. All of her friends had successful careers and futures ahead of them. Marissa was proud of them, but a small part of her resented being left behind, and she was lonely. Like, extremely lonely. The house was too big to hold just one witch. Tonight’s gig was the first thing she’d looked forward to all week: dancing, alcohol, and a crowd. She could forget her loneliness and her disappointment and her shame for a few hours doing this. At least she was successful here.
After half an hour, their featured performer was ready to go, so Marissa went downstairs and found a seat at the bar. Her feet thanked her for sitting down on the stool. The neon green over the knees boots were great for the costume, but the seven and a half inch long heels took a toll after dancing. Antoni, the absolute angel of a bartender at Prohibition, slipped an already prepared Gin Rickey to her with a knowing grin.
Two sets and several drinks later, Marissa was properly tipsy and danced out. She excused herself to use the restroom and change into smaller heels. She sat on the counter and unlaced the corset ties along the sides of the boots. An unplanned and relieved moan slipped past her lips once her feet were free. She took the moment to wiggle her toes, no longer squished together, and snatched a few paper towels to pat the sweat off of her face and neck. By the time she’d slipped into more comfortable shoes (but kept on her very sexy costume because why not), another girl had used the bathroom and was using the mirror to touch up her face.
“Hey!” Marissa pushed herself off the counter and smiled at the dark skinned girl. Her body was warm and fuzzy from the alcohol, and that left her even more likely to give out compliments than when she was sober. She was that kind of drunk girl. “You don’t have to do all that, you know. You’re absolutely gorgeous already.” The other girl laughed and stammered out a thank you before Marissa left the bathroom to hang out with the dancers and get more drinks from Antoni.
Marissa fully planned to close down the bar to avoid going back to the empty house for as long as possible. This, of course, involved splitting one of the more expensive drinks from the menu, The Bathtub Punch, with Nella. It came in a mini ceramic bathtub and was very fruity and delicious. It was the best she’d felt in days. Then, someone tapped her on her shoulder with a cold touch.
“Um, hi.” The Bathroom Girl said with a shy smile.
“Hi,” Marissa beamed, always ready to make a new friend. She did her best not to let her words slur by keeping them as monosyllabic as possible. “Drink?”
“I - my friends and I are about to go to a different - sorry.” She smiled apologetically. “But they - they’ll never leave me alone if I don’t give you this.” She shoved a napkin in Marissa’s hand and quickly squeaked out, “Call me?” before running out the door with her giggling group of friends. Marissa didn’t get a chance to say she had a girlfriend who she absolutely loved but she was totally flattered and wanted to be friends. Sounded that would be a conversation for sober Marissa to navigate.
Nella laughed and shook her head. “Seriously, every time. You’ve gotta stop being a drunk girl in the bathroom.”
“Excuse you, I am my best self when I’m the drunk girl in the bathroom!” Marissa ignored Nella’s snort and flagged down Antoni for one last drink. “Two Volstead Acts, please!” The longer she could trick Nella into sticking around despite tomorrow’s inevitable hangover, the longer Marissa could avoid her empty home, long-distance friendships, college debt, and aimless future.