The next morning Brittany made her way down a narrow set of stairs towards the sounds of a television. She found herself in a small but modern kitchen, looking at the backs of two red headed children sitting at a bar, their eyes glued to whatever action was accompanying the bells, splats, and whistles, emanating from the set. A slender, auburn haired woman stood at a sink rinsing dishes. Brittany cleared her throat as she stepped into the room.
“Good, you’re up.” The woman said, drying her hands on a towel before reaching over the island to shake Brittany’s hand. “Ms. Stephens, I’m Kay, Ethan’s sister. I don’t know if you remember me from last night, you were pretty tired.”
“I was drunk,” Brittany simply said, her voice sounding raspy.
“Well, yes,” Kay offered, a little embarrassed. “But who hasn’t been? Heck, that’s how these two came about,” she said, reaching over and ruffling the two little boy’s shaggy hair. “Oh,” she then said, her mouth forming the letter perfectly, “That didn’t sound right did it? What I meant to say was that I was drunk, with my husband mind you when-,” she stopped talking in mid-sentence. “I’m making this worse aren’t I? Let me start over. Would you like some coffee Ms. Stephens?”
Smiling weakly Brittany nodded, “Please, black, and some aspirin. And it’s Brittany.” She added.
“Ok, Brittany it is then,” the woman said, reaching for a cup hanging on a peg.
Brittany stood there blinking for a moment, “Do you,” she asked; looking down at the faded t-shirt and warm-up pants she was wearing, “Know where my clothes are?”
“I washed them, they should be dry by now,” Kay said, placing a steaming cup of coffee down on the bar along with a bottle of Motrin. “Please, have a seat,” the woman motioning towards the dinette table in the corner.
Brittany picked up her coffee and the bottle of pills and slipped into a chair by the window. “You didn’t happen to find a package of cigarettes in my jacket pocket did you?” She called towards an open door that she assumed was the laundry room.
“Yes”, Kay’s voice called back, “but they were soaked, I did find your lighter and what looks like a house key,” she said, walking back into the kitchen with a neat stack of folded laundry. “I’ve got jeans, panties, turtleneck, and a jacket, but you know, no shoes or socks, that’s odd.” Kay said, as she tried to remember if she had seen any last night.
“No it’s not,” Brittany said under her breath, combing her dark hair out of her eyes with her fingers.
“What was that dear?” Kay asked, looking up.
“Nothing, listen I’m sorry for any trouble,” Brittany told her, “I’m afraid I haven’t been feeling well lately, if you can show me where I can change I’ll call a cab.” Pausing for a moment and looking around she asked, “Where did you say I am exactly?”
“Ethan brought you late last night. He said Doc Gura wanted to put you in the hospital for observation, but you were so adamant about it he called to see if he could bring you here. He was afraid to leave you at your house alone, and it wouldn’t have looked right for him to take you to his place, now would it?”
“No of course not,” Brittany answered, having no idea what the woman was talking about. “Who is Ethan and why was I at this doctor G-“. She paused.
“Gura, he’s been our family’s doctor for years,” the woman told her as if that explained everything.
Brittany looked up at the woman expectantly as if to say, and?
“Oh, Ethan is the one who found you; he’s my brother, I think I told you that. Anyway, he said he found you on the beach; he’s the one who took you to Doc Gura’s, and then brought you here.
Why was I on the beach? Brittany thought, as she half listened as the woman droned on. Her head felt like it was going to explode as she tired to remember the night before. She rubbed her temples, and then reached for the bottle of medicine, worked off the lid, and quickly downed four or five of the pills.
“I think you’re only supposed to take two of those,” Kay said, picking up the bottle to read the label.
“I don’t feel so well, is there a bathroom I could use?” Brittany asked her.
“Of course dear, down the hall,” Kay pointed as Brittany hurried to get up.
Brittany felt her stomach roll and the familiar cold sweat start to break-out on her forehead. She rushed down the hall towards the sound of a toilet flushing, just as she knew she was going to be sick, the bathroom door opened and Ethan filled the doorway. She didn’t even have time to be startled as she vomited down the front of his uniform.