Switch

By: Megan Hart



The paper listed a post-office box at one of the local branch offices, and that was it. Since moving into Riverview Manor five months ago, I'd received a few advertising circulars, requests for charitable donations addressed to two different former tenants and way too many bills. I hadn't had any personal mail at all. I turned the card over again, listening to the soft sigh of the paper on my skin. It didn't have a name or address on the front. Only a number, scrawled in the same languid hand as the note. I looked closer, seeing what in my haste I hadn't noticed before.





114


That explained it, then. This note wasn't for me at all. The ink had smeared a little, turning the one into a passable version of a four, if you weren't paying close attention. Someone had stuffed this into my mailbox, 414, by mistake.

At least it wasn't another baby shower or wedding invitation from "friends" I hadn't seen in the past few years. I wasn't a fan of being put on a loot-gathering mailing list just because once upon a time we'd been in a math class together.

"What's that?" Kira had come up behind me in a cloud of cigarette odor and now dug her chin into my shoulder.

I don't know why I didn't want to show her, but I closed the card and slipped it back into the envelope, then found the right mailbox and shoved it through the slot. I peeked into the glass window and saw it resting inside the metal cave, slim and single and alone.

"Nothing. It wasn't for me."

"C'mon then, whore. Let's get upstairs. We have a threesome with Jose, Jack and Jim." She held up the clanking paper grocery sack containing the bottles.

Every woman should have a slutty friend. The one who makes her feel better about herself. Because no matter how drunk she got the night before, or how many guys she made out with at that party, or how short her skirt is, that slutty friend will always have been…well…sluttier.

Kira and I had traded that role back and forth over the years, a fact I would never be proud of but couldn't hide. "It's not even eight o'clock. Things don't start jumping until at least eleven."


"Which is why I stopped at the liquor store." She looked around the lobby and raised both eyebrows. "Wow. Nice."

I looked, too. I always did, even though I'd memorized nearly every tile in the floor. "Thanks. C'mon, let's grab the elevator."

She had to have been as equally impressed with my apartment, but she didn't say so. She swept through it, opening cupboard doors and looking in my medicine cabinet, and when it came time to eat the subs we'd bought for dinner she made a show of setting my scarred kitchen table with real plates instead of paper. But she didn't tell me it was nice.

It was almost like old times as we giggled over our food and watched reality TV at the same time. I hadn't forgotten what a bizarre and hilarious sense of humor Kira had, but it had been a long time since I laughed so hard my stomach clenched into knots. I was suddenly glad I'd invited her over. There's something nice about being with someone who already knows all your faults and likes you anyway…or at least doesn't like you any less because of them.

She had a new boyfriend. Tony something-or-other, I didn't recognize the name. Kira had never mentioned him in her text messages or occasional e-mails to me, but the way she dropped it casually into our conversation now meant she wanted me to ask about him.

"How long have you been going out?" I leveled a shot of Cuervo and studied it, not sure I wanted to take it. Once upon a time I'd been able to toss them back without fear of the consequences, but I hadn't done much drinking lately. I pushed it toward her, instead.

Kira drank back the shot with a practiced gulp. "Since just after you moved. A long time."

I didn't feel as if it had been that long, but anything longer than three months was a record of sorts with her. "Good for you."

She wrinkled her nose. "Whatever. He's good in bed and buys me shit. And he has a fucking awesome car. He's got a job. He's not a loser."

"All good things." I had slightly higher standards, or at least now I did, but I smiled at her description of him and wrapped up the papers from our food.

Kira got up to help me. "Yeah. I guess so. He's a good guy."

Which said more than anything else she had. I shot her a look. Times did change, I reminded myself. So did people.

When it came time to get ready to go out, though, the Kira I knew faked a gag. "Gawd, don't wear that."

I looked down at my low-rise jeans. They were boot cut. I had boots. I even had a cute cap-sleeved T-shirt. The hours of working out I'd been putting in lately were paying off. "What's wrong with what I have on?"

Kira swung open my closet door and rummaged around inside. "Don't you have anything…better?"

High school was a long time ago, I wanted to say, but looking at her short denim skirt and tight, belly-baring blouse, I figured my comment would be lost. I shrugged, instead.

"I know you have hotter clothes than that." Kira reappeared from my closet with a handful of shirts and skirts I remembered buying but hadn't worn in a long time. She tossed the clothes onto my bed, where they spread out in a month's worth of outfits.

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