Lacey and Rachel reached their apartment feeling exhausted. The grueling week of work had come to an end and even though it was Friday night, they only felt like staying home to eat leftovers for dinner, watch television, and surf the internet. Tomorrow would be their day out, a chance to have some fun before their work days began again.
They got ready for bed at around 11:30. Wearing flimsy white-gray nightgowns, they lay down but wanted to talk for a little while longer before going to sleep.
“We really going to spend the whole day out tomorrow?” asked Rachel, who was a bit apprehensive.
“Yeah,” said Lacey. “Don’t worry; we have the money and everything, that’s not an issue.”
“I know, it’s just…”
“Come on, we deserve to have a good time out in the world don’t we?”
“I guess so.”
“So then we will.”
“It’ll just be the two of us, right?
“Yeah, mostly. Tony said he might meet us for lunch.”
“Tony? Tony Judd?”
“Why do you talk to him?”
“Because, I don’t know, why not?”
“He’s a dick.”
“He is not!”
“Yes, he is.”
“Look, he’s not going to take me away from you, okay? You’re the one I’m always going to be with, not him.”
“I love you,you know.”
“I love you, too.”
They shared an embrace for about a half-dozen seconds and then turned off their lights, Rachel’s to her right and Lacey’s to her left. They slept without trouble until their alarm went off at 10. Lacey the more awake of the two after shutting it off, they both then disrobed and went into the shower. The bathroom in their apartment featured a shower space that was large enough to accommodate the both of them, but just barely. They waited for the water to heat up before stepping in.
The two had similar body types, made all the more evident when they were in the nude. They were both 25 years old with slender physiques, five foot five inches height, medium-sized breasts, tanned skin, and dark brown hair. What set them apart were eye color, Rachel’s brown and Lacey’s lighter brown; earrings, which Rachel had but Lacey did not; and facial details, as Rachel had thinner eyebrows and a pointier nose while Lacey had wider eyes and bigger lips. They washed themselves while discussing their next move.
“You up?” asked Lacey.
“Just about,” replied Rachel. “For breakfast, we’re gonna have something light here, right?”
“Yeah, then we’ll start out.”
“Where to first, again?”
“The clothes store.”
“What? You don’t mean for outfits, do you?”
“No, we’ll look for hats or something.”
When they finished there, they dried off quickly and dressed. They each quickly had a bowl of cereal and then left their apartment. The Pears department store was only a few blocks over from where they lived. As they walked over, they received awkward, if not just plain dirty, looks from the other pedestrians. They were used to these stares at them when they would go out in public together, but it still got to Rachel. This was the reason why she was so apprehensive about the day. But Lacey, far less cynical, hoped for the best.
They got to Pears and were not in any more than 10 seconds before being approached by a saleswoman.
“Hi, can you be helped here?” she asked.
“Hi,” started Lacey, pausing to read the name tag, “Norma. We were going to take a look at the hats here.”
“Oh sure, those I can point you to. The hat section is next to the coats at the back of the store.”
Lacey and Rachel made their way to the hats section and browsed through them. Lacey took a liking to a beige bucket hat, which she ended up purchasing and decided to wear for the rest of the day; Rachel found for herself a black baseball cap, at first choosing not to wear it, but then deciding to after she realized it be an inconvenience to carry around.
They left the store and discussed their next move.
“What now?” asked Rachel. “It’s a bit too early for lunch.”
“Yeah, Tony said he’d be there at like one,” answered Lacey. “I thought we would’ve been a bit longer in there. Hmm, I don’t know what to do, do you have any ideas?”
“How about something sports-related?”
“Hey yeah, maybe some of those little league teams are playing today. Let’s check it out.”
“After all, now you have the hat for it.”
“He he, yeah I guess I do.”
The youth baseball games were held in the park on Second Street, a few blocks over from their current location. When they got there, the game was already underway, between a team with red uniforms and the other in white. As they stepped onto the bleachers and sat down, they sensed that the other spectators were uncomfortable with their presence. Made up of mostly middle-aged women and some men and small children, they stared at the both of them with uneasiness and some that were seated nearby even squirmed away. Nevertheless, Lacey felt confident enough to ask for details about the game.
“Hi,” she said to the woman on her left. “How far into it are they? And who’s winning?”
“Uh,” began the woman with discomfit. “The bottom of the first, the red team started. They’re winning by two.”
Aside from each other, they did not talk to anybody for the remainder of the game. The teams took turns leading the other, but in the end the red team emerged the winners. By that time it was a quarter to one, so they headed to the Dewell Diner several blocks over. This had been their favorite restaurant for the past few years, but they had not gone there much recently. When they got there, they did not see Tony, so just they were seated. They sat on the same side of the booth and looked at the menu. Rachel decided on a BLT sandwich with a lemon-lime soda to drink while Lacey picked a chicken salad with a diet cola. Shortly after their order came back, Tony arrived and sat opposite them.
“Hi, Lacey,” he greeted.
“Hi, Tony,” she replied.
“Hi,” Rachel reluctantly let out. They had met Tony back in college and ever since then he was drawn to Lacey. She, although never returning his affections, valued a friendship with him. Rachel on the other hand always had an aversion to him. She did not appreciate his feelings for Lacey and wanted for them to have as little to do with him as possible. He was completely unaware of her hostilities however; she only discussed these matters with Lacey.
The waitress came over to take Tony’s order, which consisted of a hamburger and an iced tea. The three at the table resumed their previous conversation after the waitress had left.
“So you two are out of the town today, huh?” he asked to neither of the two in particular.
“Yeah,” Lacey answered. “We wanted to have a day of fun. So far we went to a little league game and Pears. That’s actually where we got these hats we’re wearing. Like them?”
“And so what is it you’re doing today?” Rachel interjected. “Don’t care to spend any more time with us?”
“Oh no, it’s not that at all,” he said. “I’m just busy with my work.” Tony was a graduate student in law.
“Oh, that’s alright,” commented Lacey. “Perhaps some other time.”
“Yeah, some other time.”
The conversation prolonged more or less in this manner. It lasted for 20 minutes more, at which time they all had finished eating and paid up. Tony returned to his studies while Lacey and Rachel went off to their next planned activity: go to see a movie.
The theater was quite a hike from the diner, about a dozen blocks away. They passed the time discussing which movie to see.
“Do you know what’s playing?” Lacey asked.
“Well, there’s that one where those old people get revenge on the staff who run the nursing home.”
“Hmm, I don’t know.”
“Or there’s the one where the cops are looking for this killer while one has to take care of his brother who just got out of jail.”
“All this dark stuff is playing, huh? Is there anything that’s more light and fun to watch?”
“Ooh, I just remembered the commercial of the one with the guy who does nude modeling and falls for his photographer. That looked kinda funny, is that one playing there?”
“Hey yeah, I think it is. Okay, it’s settled then.”
The film they decided on, titled Developing, was indeed playing and, luckily for them, the next showing was in 15 minutes from when they arrived. Although they were not all that hungry after lunch, they chose to get some candy and popcorn just to complete the experience and, as Lacey put it, “live a little.” They sat toward the back of the theater, pushing up the arm rest between their two seats. The movie was a sophomoric comedy with extremely low-brow humor. Predictably, numerous words related to photography were used in double-entendre jokes; the applications of “flash,” “shaft,” “bulb,” and “strip” stood out to Rachel and Lacey the most. Through these, and all other lines of similar comic value, they groaned. The story, which seemed sufficient enough for 80 minutes, dragged on a full two hours with love scenes more goofy than erotic. Nevertheless, when it was all over, they were mildly entertained.
“Eh,” commented Rachel. “Could’ve been worse.”
“A sweet idea,” added Lacey, “just kinda dumb.”
“Well, now what?”
“Hmm, let’s see. What about the zoo?”
“Aw come on, do we have to?”
“Yeah, we have to.”
“Alright fine, let’s go.”
The Species Spectrum Zoo was only three blocks from the movie theater; its proximity is what made Lacey suggest it. It had the usual exhibits — lions, monkeys, giraffes, tigers, elephants — and some more atypical ones — armadillos, jackals, anteaters, wolves, even tarsiers. This zoo was more museum than amusement park, and the focus was on observation as opposed to spectacle.
Lacey enjoyed looking in awe at the animals, but Rachel did not feel the same way. Since the two of them were stared at so much, she felt it best to not treat any other being the same way. In fact, in the past, it was at zoos and other places where people go to seek out the unusual that some of the dirtiest looks they ever got happened. This had stuck with Rachel, and the basis of why she did not want to go.
At the beginning of this visit, the looks they received were on par with the ones they were accustomed to. However, when they made their way to exhibits deep within, they encountered a teenage boy who stared at them with the most negative of feelings. The look on his face all at once expressed repulsion, fright, discomfort, and hostility. He was standing next to them at the display of the panda bears and looked at them as though they were the show. When they looked at him, they felt very hurt, more so than any other time in their recent history. This was especially true of Rachel, whose doubts about the day, she believed, were now confirmed.
“What the hell are you staring at?” she shouted.
The boy did not say anything back; he only kept his gaze fixed on them. Rachel was enraged, and slugged him to the face. The hit was so hard that he fell to the ground. He got up, still in complete silence, and ran out of the area. Rachel was pleased, but Lacey was cross.
“Goddamn it, Rachel!” Lacey snapped. “Why do you always have to pull this crap?”
“Hey, the little creep deserved it,” Rachel defended herself with. “He had no right to do that!”
“The day’s about ruined now, are you happy? Just once I wanted to get through a day without incident. Is that too much to ask?”
“Is it too much to ask that all these assholes leave us the hell alone?”
“You’re just impossible, you know that?”
“Beats letting the world step all over you.”
“Look, enough of this, let’s just go home.”
“Well, it’s about time.”
And so Lacey’s objective for both of them a failure, they returned to their apartment in dismay. What they really needed was some time apart from each other, but that was not at all possible for them. If it were, doctors would have performed the operation long ago.
Palladino is a graduate of Connecticut College. He has worked on televisions shows such as Person of Interest, Frenemies, and Smash, as well as films like The Wolf of Wall Street. He lives in Edison.