“Your stories bore me,” Cas said.
“I mean, what’s your point?”
Nadia shrugged and continued painting the girl’s big toenail.
Obviously in need of attention, Cas tried again:
“You think you’re Miss Smarty Pants, but you’re not, you know.”
Her voice was becoming a little frantic, shifting higher toward girly.
Finished with the polish, Nadia screwed the top back on the square little bottle, and sat back to admire Cassandra’s toes. They gleamed a beautiful shade of dark, plumy brown.
“The color is called ‘Martini Cocoa’,” she said. “Don’t you just love the names of nail polishes?”
Each nail was perfect and smooth. Nadia had carefully clipped them, filed them, buffed them, and scrubbed them before starting the loving progression of cuticle remover and ridge-filling base coat. All in the name of a flawless finish.
“It’s important to let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next…”
Nadia patted Cassandra’s ankle and reached for her knitting. She had read in Bust magazine that it was cool to be crafty.
“Isn’t this going to look great on me?” she asked, and held four inches of orange scarf up to the front of her t-shirt, which read “Soylent Green is People.”
Cas rolled her eyes.
Nadia started to knit with fierce concentration, the needles moving awkwardly, and cursed under her breath as the dull point of one needle jabbed into her thumb.
“Did I ever tell you about the time Amanda tried to teach me to ride her scooter?” she asked, looking up from her lopsided project.
“I can still remember the feeling of wind on my face as she pushed me down the street, as fast as she could run. When we stopped, I could smell that honey-scented lotion that she wears. She looked pretty cute when her face was red and sweaty. I’m surprised I didn’t notice how cute she was during that semester when I tutored her in calculus.”
“You know, she’s the one who taught me how to use a water vacuum to make espresso in the lab.”
Nadia glanced over at Cas and she glared back
She cleared her throat and started, in her best storytelling voice:
“She showed me one night, really late, when we weren’t supposed to be in the lab. The tech had left when his wife had an emergency. He made us promise to finish and lock up. But instead we hung out. She shared some of her notes with me, and I was copying them into my lab book, when I felt her behind me, leaning over my shoulder. Her breasts were brushing against my back and I suddenly felt her lips on the back of my neck. They were cool and soft. She startled me, and I jumped, and that’s how I singed the ends of my hair… on the Bunsen burner. Remember? I told you I did it with a flat iron, and you believed me. But I did it there in the lab that night.”
Nadia paused while she turned the end of a row.
“She has the most amazing breasts, perfectly symmetrical, but you know that, right? Didn’t you date her for a while?
She paused as she picked up a dropped stitch, and then continued.
“When I felt her hand slip under my chem apron, I almost came right there in the lab. Who knew fluorescent lighting and the smell of burned hair could be such a turn-on? But I digress…”
Cas sighed and surrendered back on the bed, no choice but to listen as Nadia continued.
Then, when Nadia was done with her story, she stuffed the knitting back in her bag – the pink vinyl bag with Barbie on it that she had gotten as a present for her tenth birthday. The edges were covered in duct tape, and it sported a bumper sticker that read “Roslin for President” and a Apple Macintosh keychain hanging from one handle. It was worn, but she had decided it was just the right size for hauling around small knitting projects, her German dictionary, and her indispensable roll of duct tape, used to fix everything from textbooks to sneakers.
“Okay. A couple of coats of this super-shiny top coat and you’ll be good to go.” She rolled the bottle between the palms of her hands, carefully agitating the contents.
Cas raised her head and glared at her. “I am so fucking sick of this shit. I’m sick of your stupid stories and your knitting. I’m sick of the smell of nail polish. I think you’re trying to kill me with toluene. This is not what I meant when I suggested you get your geek ass into the bedroom and give me a little attention. I was expecting some girl-on-girl action, not a three-fucking-hour pedicure!”
“So please let me up!” she implored, emphasizing every word.
Nadia looked at her sprawled on her bed, wrists and ankles tied to the iron frame. Her boxers were still wrapped around one leg and tiny vibrating clips hung from her nipples. But from where Nadia sat, she could clearly see the dark dampness that told her not all of Cas was objecting in a similar fashion.
“Shhhh,” she said, reaching for a handy piece of duct tape to cover her mouth.
“This is why we call it ‘top coat’.”