Sadie went out most weekends. She liked the movement after a long week, liked the chance to wear shoes that were too bright for work. She liked the lights at night and the way they turned brick to glowing embers, concrete to silver, window glass to star mirrors. When she came back, she was always wearing a smile that would have been two sizes too big, if it were possible for smiles to be too big.
Sadie came home by 1 most weekends. Her mother had told her that nothing good happened after 2 a.m., and she’d collected enough evidence to agree most of the time.
It was 11 before Dana came back to the apartment that Friday. She’d eaten out with friends, stopped for a couple of drinks on her way home and came back itching for a tall glass of water. She drank one, sat on the couch with a second and picked up a book. She fell in, read until she suddenly realized her legs were cramped against the cushions, unwound herself and looked at the clock.
Dana half turned to listen for the front door, as if time might have stopped for her, and this resumption of normal passage would bring Sadie in through the door. She stood, looked out the window and didn’t see Sadie’s car.
At 2:47 she called Sadie.
At 3:39 she called again and left a more inquisitive message.
At 4:16 she called and reminded Sadie of their long-standing contract that if one of them was abducted by aliens, spies, or your average malicious human beings they were supposed to leave enough clues for the other so that they could bring them to the attention of a handsome adventurer and have the romance of their lives. She needed her first clue. A cryptic return message would be perfect.
At 4:46 Sadie slipped in through the front door and stopped, contrite and confused, when she saw Dana. Her hair was down, tumbled out of whatever up-do she’d put it in at the beginning of the night. She was missing her coat. One arm was bare, the other was papered with colorful stamps like they used to let people in and out of clubs. Judging by the sales tag hanging off her sleeveless top, that was new, and she had a holiday-themed tie slung around her neck. In one hand, she looked like she was holding the entire contents of her purse: cell phone, notebook, pens, mascara, lip gloss, folded dollar bills, crumpled receipts and lucky rock. Her purse was still bulging. A mini camping lantern was shoved in the top along with something that looked like a grapefruit.
Dana didn’t say anything.
Sadie shifted on her feet. She was barefoot. Her stilettos hung off the back of her skirt by their heels. There was a smear of blue paint down one of her calves.
“Ask me,” Sadie said finally.
Dana stared at her blankly. “Ask you. Why?”
Sadie shifted again. “Because. I’m curious about how I’m going to explain all this.”