July 17, 2014

Elizabeth's Story: A Turq in the Grey

by Jessica Knoll

Bridget Doughtery lives in 'Grey House,' along with six other senior girls. We're all friends, so I didn't even bother knocking, just pushed open the door. None of us lock our doors.

Smithson is a small school, and the top tier of the social scene is composed of Grey House girls and Turq House girls, with the Turqs edging out the Greys ever so slightly and for obvious reasons (we're blonde, flush with our parent's money, and selflessly service the LAX team's needs). Grey House girls are about as diverse as a place like Smithson gets. Their little motley crew consists of three brunettes (I mean, revolting, right?), two girls on financial aid, a virgin, and one absolute fox, Isabel, who, by all appearances, belongs in Turquoise house. And Biz and I would have invited her to live with us, if only she didn't have such a nasty drug habit. Coke is rampant on the Smithson campus, and I dabble, but my God, the tweakers at this place! Total amateur hour. I'm embarrassed for Isabel every time I see her out—she blows through her stash way too early and then harasses anyone who crosses her path for the rest of the night. "Are you hanging out with Steve? Is Steve around tonight?" Steve. The Smithson code for our Colombian marching powder.

Bridget is one of the brunettes. She's an Amazon, with long fluffy hair and thick dark eyebrows. She's the type of girl that older women always find striking. The first and only time my mother came up for family weekend and saw her—walking across the quad, her hair billowing out behind her like some kind of gothic Rapunzel—she warned me to look out for her. "That's the type of girl you probably don't think of as your competition now...but give it a few years. She'll be fighting them off with a stick." She flicked her eyes over me. "Your type is a dime a dozen."

Biz and Bridget were tight freshman year, but something happened—Biz would never tell me what—and the chill between them still hasn't thawed. I actually like Bridget. She has a sort of stoic poise and generally stays off everyone's radar, like she's too good to involve herself in silly collegiate drama. It seemed very out of character for her to hook up with Pat—he wasn't even the Grey House type (they preferred the druggies and the hippies and the skater guys—basically any guy who wasn't an all-American athlete), and she had to know that it would piss off Biz. Actually, maybe that was why she did it.

"Anyone home?" I called up the creaky flight of stairs. Whenever we talk about the Grey House girls, Biz and I pitch our voices low, sort of like Eor, from Winnie the Pooh. The physicality of the house—somber and ancient, surely haunted—seems to reflect the personalities of its residents. Grey House girls abhor the preppy pink and green style that dominates Smithson. Would never be caught dead wearing pearls or cheering for the LAX team. On Sundays, they shut all the curtains and lie around on the floor, eating cold pizza for every meal. Sometimes I'm jealous of their cool nonchalance. There are days that I hate my sprightly blonde ponytail, hate what seems to be my predetermined fate: graduate college, intern at Sotheby's for a few years where I will meet my husband after he places the highest bid on a Koons reproduction. Then I will give up my shell of a career to focus on my family. It's what my mother did, and according to her, it's all I'm cut out to do too. She cackled with laughter the one time I mentioned that maybe I'd look into veterinary school. "Elizabeth! Veterinary school is harder to get into than medical school! Animals can't tell you that it's their tummies that hurt." She'd smiled, thinly. "Darling, liking dogs doesn't mean you're smart enough to be a vet. Don't chase down a bunch of frivolous paths after you graduate, trying to find yourself and all that nonsense. You don't want to waste your looks. They go faster than you think." She'd pulled at the skin around her eyes, starting to speckle and droop. My mother had been a gorgeous creature in her 20s and 30s. But she'd smoked and partied and sun bathed in the Hamptons every summer and St Barths every winter, and now she believes it's her wifely duty to let my father chase the tails of bright young things in pencil skirts.

My mother is a difficult person to love. But I cut her a lot of slack because I can't imagine what it's like to be in her place—past her prime, just waiting for the day that her distinguished, clever husband tosses her out like sour milk. Her health isn't great, either. She smokes and barely eats. She had to go on medicine to manage her blood pressure last year, when I was caught cheating on my Economics final. "Elizabeth, please," she'd begged me. "I'm not going to make it much longer if you continue to act out like this." I'd really made the effort to stay out of trouble after that—I knew she wasn't exaggerating.

Bridget appeared at the top of the staircase. "Hey," she said, solemnly. I'd seen her earlier, in the cafeteria, and asked if I could stop by at 5 to talk to her about something. Her cheeks had gone red and she'd stuttered, "Um, sure. Is, um, is everything okay?"

"It will be," I'd said with a withering smile, and her face had burned even brighter. Back in my college days, I was still amazed by the ease at which I could fluster someone, and sometimes wondered if it was a power that was too strong to wield. I worried I'd be punished for using it so thoughtlessly one day, and I was right. I got mine.

"Want to talk in my room?" Bridget offered.

"Good idea," I said, starting up the stairs. "I don't need anyone eavesdropping."

"No one else is here, anyway," Bridget said, turning on her heel and making her way into her room at the far end of the house. For a moment, I was alone in the hallway, and a nervous energy shimmied down my spine. I was sure if I did a little research on the house, I'd find out someone was murdered there. There was just something sinister about the place.

Bridget was crouched on the floor when I entered her room, rummaging around in the plastic drawers she'd probably had since freshmen year. My mom had bought me the same set from The Container Store. Correction: my mom had her personal assistant buy the same set from The Container Store. "Do you want some vodka or something?" she asked. "I feel like whatever it is we're about to talk about requires vodka."

I plopped on her futon and shrugged. "Sure. Fine."

Bridget stood, a Grey Goose bottle tucked under her arm. "I hide the good stuff in here. Let me just run downstairs and get us cups."

"Let's just swig from the bottle," I said. I didn't feel like putting off the conversation any longer. I was already feeling annoyed with Biz for asking me to do this. Bridget was perfectly harmless, and while I am far from an angel, it seemed unnecessarily mean to bully her for hooking up with a guy who was single and owed nothing to Biz.

"I don't know where your mouth has been," Bridget said, with zero inflection in her voice.

For a moment I was too stunned to say anything. I make a point to only sleep with guys who know how to be discrete. I don't need every busybody on campus knowing who I screw. I'm sure people assume I get around, but no one had ever dared to say something like that to me before. At the very least, that nasty little insult gave me permission to enjoy skewering the bitch. "Well, I know where yours has been. So maybe you're right, get the glasses."

Bridget disappeared from the room. The silent way she moved was unnerving. In a house this dilapidated, the stairs should whine and creak at the drop of a pin. Bridget didn't make a sound. I almost jumped out of my skin when she re-entered the room, holding two glasses with vodka, ice and lime wedges.

I took a thick sip. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of this house. It was one thing to be there at a lively party, friends and foes all around you, but another entirely to be the only two inhabitants in this crumbling monster. "Look, I don't know what went down between you and Biz freshman year, and honestly, I don't really care."

"Yeah," Bridget said, "you do." She brought her glass to her lips, maddeningly calm.

"Oh, you're right, Bridget," I shot back, sweetly. "I'm dying to know all the riveting details. What did you do? Spill a beer on Biz's favorite Lilly Pulitzer dress?" I cringed as the ice in my glass clinked against my teeth. Bridget had given me a healthy pour, and already I was feeling toasty.

Bridget held her eyes on me. She was utterly expressionless. "Something like that."

I had never seen this side of Bridget before. I knew she was a little frigid, but in the past she had always deferred to me. Something was making her bold, and I didn't like it. "I think you should stay away from Dat Penson," I said. It took me a second to realize I'd screwed up his name. "I mean," I searched my brain for the right pronunciation: Pat Denson. It felt like trudging through a swamp to retrieve it. The vodka had hit me hard. "Dat," I tried again, and exhaled, frustrated. "Pat!" I finally managed.

Bridget cocked her head at me. "I thought you WASPs could hold your liquor better than that."

I took another sip of my drink, trying to collect myself. "I'm fine," I said, shakily. But I wasn't fine. I placed my drink on the floor and put my head in my hands. There was a rush in my ears, and Bridget's voice suddenly sounded very far away. I thought I heard her say something like, "Finally," and then there were her hands, gripping the underside of my arms and pulling me to my feet. Bridget was a giant, like me, but strong. I vaguely recall the stairs, thinking, they creak so much. How come they didn't moan and buckle under Bridget? Then there was the gentle grumble of a car's engine, and we were gliding down the road. The window was cool against my forehead and eventually I felt nothing. Heard nothing. The darkness dropped down on me like a curtain.






49 comments:

  1. What. The. Fuck.

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  2. Replies
    1. LOL. I caught that too.

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  3. Wow! I can't wait to read what happens next! It's going to be a long week!

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  4. Chris - @nylonlover69 on TwitterJuly 17, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Wow. Creepy house is right!

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  5. WHAT the heck just happened!?!? Definitely intrigued.

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  6. this is so much better than love sex pizza.

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  7. Her mother is a piece of work. I really can't wait for next Thursday! This is so interesting and we're only two posts in! Great job!

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  8. This is so good! As much as I loved LSP you've already surpassed it with just these two posts! Amazing writing!

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  9. As much as I loved LSP you've already surpassed it with just these two posts! Amazing writing!

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  10. Where/how did Elizabeth and Peter meet again? I'm having trouble remembering.

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    1. *Great post too!

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    2. *Great post too!

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    3. I can't remember! I was thinking the same thing.

      http://tragedytwentysomething.blogspot.com/

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    4. Peter worked for her father but I can't remember if that's how they met. They may have met later in college.

      Loved this post!

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    5. Didn't Peter cheat on Elizabeth first? I always knew she wasn't just evil.

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  11. Oh my gosh! Definitely did not see something like this coming! Can't believe we have to wait one week...

    Also her description of her mom made me so sad. What a horrible existence!

    http://poetsandheartbreakers.blogspot.com

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  12. Interesting. I do hope that as the story unfolds Elizabeth will become a little more relatable. I get that she's an ice cold bitch, but so far she seems very one-dimensional.

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    1. I think Jessica is awesome at character at development, so I think we'll def see that :)

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    2. Well to be fair, it's only been 2 posts...give her a chance to flesh her out a bit.

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  13. Oooohhh...as soon as Bridget offered her the Vodka, insisting on getting glasses from another room where Elizabeth couldn't see her prepare the drinks, the "goose bumps" made an appearance. Something really bad is about to happen; people don't get dosed with knock-out drugs for a stroll down the Yellow Brick Road. Riveting storyline...I'm halfway between not wanting to read what happens to her next, and wanting next Thursday to be here now. Already know that this story is going to be way more intriguing and interesting than Josie's (to me), though. Great writing.

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  14. Forgot to mention: Elizabeth's relationship with her mother goes a long way toward making her mean personality easier to understand. She's definitely got her share of emotional vacancies; her cold, brittle mother had a lot to do with that. Some emotional scars from earliest childhood just don't heal, especially without intense intervention. Jessica's doing a terrific job of making Elizabeth more "real" for me.

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  15. This reads like a book I would stay up all night reading because I can't put it down. LOVE IT! It'll be hard to read in blog form because I'll be so impatient for the next post. Also, how amazing is Jessica to be able to go from bubble gum Josie to bat shit crazy Elizabeth and totally change the tone of her writing??? I'm impressed.

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  16. This is amazing.

    http://coupledomage.wordpress.com/

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  17. Wow. Is all I can say

    Hey check out my blogs
    http://playingwithwildfire.blogspot.com/?m=1

    http://lifeistooshorttakeitwithagrainofsalt.blogspot.com/?m=1

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  18. Oh my gosh, did not see that coming! I am absolutely loving this blog so far, and can't wait to see what happens. Josie was awesome but hearing about Elizabeth's past is so intriguing!

    http://tragedytwentysomething.blogspot.com/

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  19. I am loving this so far!! I can't wait to see Elizabeth and Peter through Elizabeth's eyes... I hope we get there.

    http://sheerluckandpixiedust.blogspot.com

    :)

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  20. Two thoughts after I read this- I wonder if something similar happened to Biz freshman year. And if so, it would seem possible that Biz set her up. But then again, it could just be that the Grey house girls were sick of her superiority complex and felt like teaching her a lesson. Anyway, I'm totally hooked.

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  21. Eh… this might be a little too "Revenge" for me… but I'll stick around. :)

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    1. Haha, Leslie A, I can kind of see what you mean.

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  22. Woah. I completely did not see that coming, despite all of the suspense and creepy foreshadowing! I'm absolutely riveted. Can't wait to continue reading next week!

    http://highheelshappyhour.blogspot.com/

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  23. This is so interesting so far. I really want to know more about the drama between those 2. Looking forward to next week.

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  24. Soooooo good.

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  25. Waiting till next Thursday is gonna be torture!

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  26. Holy shit Jessica. Way to step it up!!! Dying already!

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  27. What a thriller!!

    Sounds like reading two chapters of a book and already getting hooked which rarely happens as most books get interesting around the 5-10th chapter. I love it

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  28. I would love to read Elizabeth's story in novel-form. It's amazing! I'm so hooked. Being able to turn the "villain" sympathetic and likable and still being true to the character's selfishness, in a way, is actually a testament to your writing! I love this!

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  29. LSP, as much as I loved it, was fluff. THIS s some good reading. Can't wait untill Thursday!

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  30. Sinister! I wonder what will happen next!!!

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  31. This is so perfect!!! I love the new take on your storytelling, I always felt like Josie and those girls from Bedroom Blog had sugarcoated and perfect stories. Every plot twist and disadvantage was superficial and so expected (BUT STILL SO GOOD!) that it ended with them always getting what they wanted (let's be real, josie always got the guy, every single one of them and we know that is not real life). So excited for this new chapter and story... dare I say I'm kind of team Elizabeth right now?

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  32. I always knew Elisabeth wasn't JUST an asshole. No one ever is. But this was NOT expected at all. Doesn't matter who you are you don't deserve to be drugged, and I have a feeling I know were it's going.....poor woman.

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  33. Wow! This seems a heck of a lot darker than Josie's story but it is actually refreshing. You don't really get this in any of the other blogs.

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  34. Allow me to pick my jaw up off the floor. I LOVE to be surprised like this. Excellent! mum

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  35. Holt shit! Look out blog world, jess is better than ever! Amazing posts! I'm nervous for the next one!

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