Work In Progress – Chapter 3
Even from the hall, Blair could feel the bass from the music in Taylor’s apartment vibrating in her stomach. Matt was parking the car. Taylor’s apartment was in a section of town notorious for a lack of parking. Blair couldn’t walk far in her heels and he was nice enough to drop her off while he looked for a space. Not nice enough to offer to do it, but nice enough once asked, to pull to the curb so she could step out. Blair waited for him in the hall, at his request, listening as the song changed from one, to the next, and then the next before she heard the elevator coming.
She thought it was a little bit ridiculous that she should be waiting outside of an apartment that both of them had been inside hundreds of times. But Matt seemed edgy tonight and she didn’t want to fight right before a party. The doors opened and he walked through. Matt was good looking in a way that Blair could never be. He was perfect, perfectly bland. From his ken doll hair, to his orthodontist’s dream teeth, to his catalogue model clothes, everything about Matt screamed curated and forgettable. He was handsome but not exotically or unattainably so. He was well read and articulate but never in a way that was condescending. His manners were impeccable. He had a good job that no one was ever interested in talking about and the same hobbies as every other guy in Michigan: watching sports, playing pick-up basketball and golf, hunting and fishing.
Her parents adored him. Matt bored Blair out of her mind.
“Hey, Doll,” he said, wrapping his arm around her waist. “You’re not planning to ditch me tonight are you?”
Blair tried not to let the surprise show on her face. Why would he care? They were walking into a room of their friends. Everyone knew they were dating. She hadn’t felt like their relationship was something they needed to advertise. She didn’t know why he was being so needy. Maybe all of her nights partying without him were ringing alarm bells. He thinks I’m cheating.
“Of course not, Baby. Tonight we’re celebrating! Together!”
Blair forced cheer into her voice and pulled Matt towards the door. They entered the party to a chorus of her friends calling and screaming her name.
She had not yet taken off her coat when Craig grabbed her around the waist and stuck out his hand to Matt.
“Welcome, lovebirds!” Craig whispered, “I wanted to tell you that Taylor is already drunk out of her mind. Just a little heads up.”
“What? Already? I just got here! So, she’s still really pissed.”
Craig shrugged. Blair hugged her friend.
“Casey is with her, so no worries, you just party.”
Blair wracked her brain to remember what Casey looked like. Taylor had been dating him for the better part of a year but Blair knew that she wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a police lineup. Because he was Taylor’s boyfriend, she knew that he would be rich, dumb, and build like a rhinoceros. Taylor liked her men quiet and testosterone filled.
“Thank you, Craig. Thank you for being happy for me and excited to be here. I needed that.”
“Anytime you wanna get me drunk and bring a hot man over, I’m there darling. Just next time, could he be just a little bit gay?”
Blair laughed until she cried. Craig was such a good guy. She’d be lying if she said she hadn’t wished more than once that he liked boobs more. She grabbed Matt and made a dash to the kitchen and the refreshments.
Hours of drinking, dancing, and ridiculousness ensued. Her friends made sure that her glass was never empty and she quickly forgot all her worries. Despite her initial concern, Blair was having the time of her life.
She was disappointed that she hadn’t spent any time with Taylor. Craig was right that Tay was already smashed when she arrived. She was dancing in stilettos on her own expensive coffee table and her laughter could be heard above the music. Blair managed to give her a hug, Taylor’s words were thunderous but unintelligible. About halfway into the evening Tay disappeared and Blair wasn’t sure where she went.
It was really late. The sweaty, dancing mass of people in the center of the living room was shrinking and Blair pulled herself free. She looked around for Matt. Craig had him in the corner of the kitchen with his back against the wall. Blair smiled. Craig was mostly harmless. She looked for Tay and found her passed out in her own bed, her breathing deep and even. Casey must have been taking care of her for she was covered with a blanket and there was a bucket near her head. Blair pushed a stray strand of hair away from her friends face and tip toed out of the room.
Needing a breath of fresh air she went out to the balcony and was happy to find that she was alone. She looked out over the lights of the city and sighed. She could do this. She could totally rock that campaign. Blair had spent so much time the day before worrying about how Taylor was going to feel, and how much she didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity, that she hadn’t thought about whether she was qualified. She woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible fear of failure and hadn’t been able to get back to sleep. She struggled all day with whether she should go into Ryan’s office on Monday and resign the account. What if she was terrible? What if it all went to shit? Getting fired wasn’t the worst thing, having all those people counting on you and failing them, or spending masses of someone else’s money on nothing, that was the worst.
She couldn’t share her feelings with anyone, no one would understand, so she stewed in her mire of self doubt all day. She didn’t think that this party would help, but it had. It had more than lifted her spirits, and it wasn’t just the booze talking. That so many of her colleagues had cornered her to tell her that she did great work and that they were happy and excited for her, surprised her. Not Taylor of course, but still, maybe she would come around someday. Blair had never felt so loved and respected. Even people she didn’t recognize hugged her and told her how great she was. She would have to try to remember who they were when she was sober. She smiled and closed her eyes, enjoying the bite of the freezing air on her sweaty skin. As she turned to go in, the patio door opened and Matt stepped through with two drinks.
“For you, beauty.” He said, handing her a cocktail. “I feel like I haven’t seen you all night.”
She smiled and sipped. She didn’t want to tell him that had been her plan. She didn’t want to make excuses for her happiness.
“This is delicious!”
Matt looked embarrassed.
“I can’t take the credit. I don’t even know what it is. It’s from Craig. He said it was your favorite.”
“Well, you delivered it very handsomely.” Blair giggled.
She did not want to deal with his pouting right now.
He clinked his beer against her glass.
“To my gorgeous girlfriend and her continued success.”
Blair cringed at the use of the word girlfriend. She needed to fix that, but not tonight. She was nursing a good buzz and didn’t want it to end. She drank deeply and nearly emptied the glass. The drink was perfectly sweet and sour. It coated her tongue and throat. Her brain buzzed, Craig must have mixed it extra strong. Matt pulled her back inside.
“Where is everyone?”
The room was noticeably emptier. Only a few people remained: the very drunk, and the very desperate.
“Gone,” he said, “Casey is with Taylor, she’s puking her guts out. That put a damper on everything and everyone ran. Even Craig said that he drew the line at other people’s puke.”
Blair smiled. She had heard that from Craig before. He only cleaned up puke if he was in a fluid sharing relationship with the person already.
“You looked so hot dancing with your friends. I need you out of this dress.”
His fingers were tangled in her hair and his body pressed against hers was electric. She felt warm and tingly. The wine was working on her libido. Blair agreed, she needed to get out of that dress.
“Let’s go.” She suggested.
Her voice was a whisper, desire and longing clogging her throat.
“No, I need you now.”
Blair felt lightheaded. Matt ushered her into Taylor’s spare bedroom. He laid her on the bed and climbed on top of her. He kissed her neck and ran his fingers up her legs. The bite of his stubble against her jaw sent shivers down her spine.
“The door!” She said.
“There’s no one out there.” He replied.
Her dress was around her waist and his mouth was on her hip bones when her head started swimming and her stomach churning.
“Matt, Matt, I’m going to throw up.”
He jumped off of her.
“Stay here, I’ll go get you something.”
He ran out of the room. She could hear him calling for Casey through the partially closed door.
Blair had never felt so awful so fast. She had drunk too much. She was sweating and shivering and her stomach would not settle. She hoped that Matt made it back before she lost everything. Taylor would never forgive her for ruining her bedding. She could feel her heart pounding through the wall of her chest and it seemed like Matt was taking forever. She tried to call out to him but found that her tongue was heavy and her words were slurred, more like moans and grunts than actual words.
Fear prickled up her arms and legs. This wasn’t being drunk or catching a flu, something was really wrong. Her head hurt. Could she be having a stroke? She cried out for Matt again but nothing came out. She tried to get out of the bed to go to him but her legs wouldn’t move. Her arms too felt dead. She was vaguely aware that they were attached to her body, she could feel their weight on her joints, but for the life of her she could not command them to move. She was paralyzed on the bed.
Maybe Matt was calling 911; he was going to bring her to the Doctor. That’s what he would do. He was smart and capable and she was his girlfriend. It was just alcohol poisoning, every kid in college had suffered through it. It would be ok. They would pump her stomach and give her a banana bag. They’d send her home embarrassed but okay.
Blair’s blinks were becoming slower. She could not keep her eyes open. Her muscles were not listening to her brain. She spent more and more time in the dark, straining to hear if someone was coming. She heard footsteps. Suddenly she was weightless. Someone was carrying her. She could feel her body being jostled from side to side as if they were moving quickly. She heard the elevator open and felt their decent. Matt must be carrying her to the lobby to meet the ambulance. It was going to be okay, just needed to stay awake. She willed her eyes to open but they refused.
She fought through the fog to stay conscious. She couldn’t see anything so she focused all her energy on paying attention to the movement of her body and sounds. They were off the elevator. She was jostling again and she heard footsteps on a hard surface. The lobby! They’d made it. Now to wait for the ambulance. Suddenly she heard a whoosh and her body was cold as if they were outside. Blair didn’t know why Matt would be driving her to the hospital, but maybe he didn’t know how bad it was. Her carried shifted her weight and her face pressed into her carrier’s body. She didn’t recognize the smell, it wasn’t Matt.
Blair couldn’t breathe. If it wasn’t Matt who was carrying her, who could it be? What were they doing? Why hadn’t they called an ambulance? Panic overwhelmed her. She tried to scream but none of her muscles worked. She was trapped, blind, inside her own body. She heard a faint thunk like a catch had been released, and then she was falling. She couldn’t tell how far but her head cracked off something solid but slightly soft. Backseat, I’m in the backseat. She tried to calm her mind. It was going to be ok. She was just overreacting to being out of control of the situation.
Then she heard the unmistakable sound of a trunk closing. The black behind her eyelids became blacker. Silent screams ripped through her head before she lost the battle with consciousness.