Home > 99 Percent Mine(2)

99 Percent Mine(2)
Author: Sally Thorne

“I’ve actually done that in the Andes,” I admit, trying to not sound like I’m boasting. Nothing worse than a smug world traveler. “Boy, I could use a bush machete right about now.” I look across the room at our clientele.

“I looked through your Instagram a bit. I lost count of how many countries you’ve been to.”

“I misplaced my passport, otherwise I could count the stamps for you.” I begin gathering up dirty glasses. I mentally scan the floor plan of the cottage again. Loretta’s ghost is possibly messing with me. Either that, or my brother, Jamie, hid it.

Just the thought of Holly’s pretty eyes looking at my old life is giving me the privacy prickles. Imagine my exes scrolling through it. Curious one-night stands. Old photography clients. Or worse, Jamie. I need to make that account private. Or delete it.

“And there were photos of you and your brother. I can’t believe how much you guys look alike. He’s so good-looking. He could be a model.” Those last bits were said in an involuntary blurt. I’ve heard it many times before.

“He tried it once. He didn’t like being told what to do. Anyway, thanks. That’s a compliment for me, too,” I say, but she doesn’t get it.

Jamie and I look alike because we’re twins. There’s a twin ranking, and we’re at the bottom. A boy and a girl. We can’t even dress the same and swap places. Fraternal, what a yawn.

But if we reveal our twin status, we are fascinating to some people. They always ask, who was born first? Can we hear each other’s thoughts? Feel each other’s pain? I pinch myself hard on the leg. I hope he’s yelping in a fancy downtown bar, spilling his drink.

If he’s handsome, I should be good-looking in theory too, but I’ve been called Jamie in a wig in school too many times to believe it. If you lined us up side by side, with my face washed clean, I’d be mistaken for his little brother. I know this because it’s happened.

“Where will you go to first?” Holly is definitely the kind of girl who would wear a beret on a cobblestone street. A baguette in her bicycle’s basket.

“I’m going to bury all of my name tags in a Japanese death forest called Aokigahara. Only then will my soul be free of Devil’s End Bar.”

“So, not Paris,” she says, toeing a mark on the floor with her white sneaker, and I nearly laugh at how right I was. I lean a mop against her leg but she just holds it in both hands, resting the pole against her cheek, like someone in a musical about to break into song. “Why do you travel so much?”

“I’ve been told I have impulse control problems.” I pull a face.

She’s still thinking about what she’s snooped. “You were a wedding photographer. How?” She looks me up and down.

“It’s pretty easy. You find the lady wearing a white dress and go like this.” I hold up an invisible camera and press my finger down.

“No, I mean, weren’t you always traveling?”

“I worked the wedding season and lived here with my grandma. I traveled the rest of the year.” Shoestring budget would be an understatement, but I maintained this arrangement for six years. “I work in bars when I need cash. I do some travel photography, but it doesn’t sell too well.”

“Well, no offense—”

“This is usually the part where someone says something offensive,” I cut in, and am saved by one of the old biker guys, blue tattoos bruising his forearms and a brown stain in his beard. He’s the physical embodiment of repugnant, but he says nothing as I pour his drink, so I smile at him as a reward. He looks disturbed.

When he’s gone I go to the bathroom and politely smile at myself in the mirror. I look like I haven’t tried that in a while. My reflection looks like Shark Week.

Holly is good at pressing pause on her thoughts. I mess around with my hair, put on more eyeliner, wash my hands for ages, and still when I return she continues seamlessly, “But you don’t seem to fit into the wedding scene.”

“Why ever not, Bertha?” I’ve gotten this comment from countless drunk dudes at wedding receptions, jostling around by my elbow while I’m trying to get the first-dance shots.

Holly says, “Weddings are romantic. And you aren’t romantic.”

“I don’t have to be romantic, I just have to know what the client thinks is romantic.” I shouldn’t be offended, but I kick a cardboard box straight under the counter and glare out at the unwashed masses.

There’s a couple making out right now on the back wall by the bathrooms. The humping swivel of his hips makes me want to barf. But every now and then, when they come up for air and their lips break apart? His hand is in her hair and they look at each other. That’s when I’d click. I could make even those assholes look beautiful.

Then I’d turn on the fire hose and spray them out of here.

“So, no romance with that guy Vince?” Holly asks like she already knows the answer. When she first saw him slinking in here, she said, He’s not a nice boy, Darcy. I replied, He has a tongue stud, so part of him is pretty nice. She was open-mouth speechless.

I review the stock levels in the fridge closest to me. “I’ve got a sonnet in my back pocket. When I see him next, I’ll read it to him.”

“But you’re not in love.”

I laugh in response to that. I’ve given up on feeling anything with a man.

“He’s a way to kill time. I’ve been here a lot longer than I was planning to.” Please don’t ask the follow-up question, Have you ever been in love? “Hmm, okay, I guess I’m unromantic.”

“Why’d you quit weddings?”

That word quit is a sore point, and Holly sees it in my eyes. She looks down and fiddles with her Bertha tag. “Sorry. Your website said you’re closed for bookings indefinitely. And you do product photography now. What’s that?”

“Why don’t you google it, Bertha?” I try to make it a joke but I’m angry. Why does she constantly try to be friends like this? Doesn’t she get I’m leaving?

I am deleting that entire website.

“You never tell me anything properly,” she protests in a weak voice. “You’re never serious.” Her beautiful face is all pink and smushed up with concern. I go to the far end of the bar and turn my back on her. I take down the beer glass containing my name tags. I’m sick of being Joan. I decide to be Lorraine for the rest of the shift.

I’m sick of being Darcy.

“I’m sorry,” Holly says again in a small voice.

I shrug and drag around bottles of vodka in the end fridge. “It’s okay. I’m just …” Trapped, without a passport or a booked plane ticket. Living my nightmare. “A bitch. Don’t mind me.”

Out of the corner of my eye I see the light catching in a bottle of whiskey, giving it a gold glint. I feel a twinge low down in my stomach and I exhale until I have nothing left inside. I’ve had a chronic case of the heavy sad sighs lately, especially when I think about weddings. Which I refuse to do.

I ran my own business for years, and I feel like I have X-ray vision for things that are going to become a major problem. Holly still hasn’t been given any payroll forms. Stock levels are alarmingly low. Maybe alcohol is not Anthony’s main source of income. I go to the back office and write on a Post-it: Anthony—do you want me to do a stock order? —D

For a tough bitch, I’ve got embarrassingly girly handwriting. I sure don’t see the guys on the daytime shift writing conscientious notes for the boss. I scrunch it up.

When I come back out and begin to count cash in the till, Holly tries again, rewinding to the part before she blew it. “I don’t think Vince is the guy for you, anyway. I think you need one of them.” She means the Leather Jackets.

I keep counting cash. Five hundred, five fifty. That’s interesting, coming from her. She’s petrified of them. If a glass breaks, it’s me trudging out with a dustpan and broom. “Why do you think that?”

Holly shrugs. “You need someone even tougher than you. What about him? He looks at you all the time, and he always makes sure you serve him.”

   
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