A Kiss Like Forget-Me-Nots
genre: supernatural, wlw
summary: A young woman in New York City wakes up from a party with her voice missing, now she just has to figure out what happened and how to get it back.
Grace blinked opened her eyes, a light like daggers shot through her vision and lodged itself right into her frontal lobe. Pain like a sparkle seaweed bath bomb releasing into water spread across her head and she curled up unto herself. Grace clutched her head like a grenade right before launch and counted down from ten.
It took another a couple minutes until she was ready to sit up and fight the dasterderly light. It took a bit more effort, but she got her eyes open and body semi-upright. Her mouth tasted like old silly putty and melted string cheese from the sidewalk.
She rubbed her eyes until she saw spots and then groped around for any stray bottles of water.
She recognized the room as a new apartment on fifth street. It was a massive flat with an “open-floor plan,” concrete floors laid out in all directions and only two walls in the entire place. It was where privacy went to die and roommates accidentally saw each other’s junk on scheduled occasion. It was newly moved-into, and trying very hard to be more bohemian than its bohemian neighbors.
There were embroidered blue drapes on the windows, screaming red throw rugs, masks and feathers and art on the walls that was trying to be everything all at once. Grace was spread out on a couch in a circle of other shabby chic couches, all bought from yard sales with someone’s parent’s money.
Empty beer bottles, crushed cans, and a few stray cigarette butts littered the nearest table and soft snores joined the noise of busy traffic and honking outside.
The sun had hit mid-morning by the look of the light streaming in through the tight rectangle windows opposite her. Two people slept on adjacent couches and a third person was passed out on the floor in a heap. It smelled like sweat, smoke, and hooded red gazes before impact (sexy impact).
It had been a night.
Grace pushed her curly blonde bangs back and groaned, she blinked a couple times. And then she tried to groan again. She opened and closed her mouth and attempted to coax out that groan like turning a rusty water faucet on and off- with no water coming out.
She held her throat and went for a cough, cry, or squeak, she took deep breaths and squeezed her vocal chords. Not even a soft wheeze escaped her body, Grace sat up completely straight.
Nothing ached or tingled in her neck, only her head pounded and she knew the source of that. It didn’t feel anything was caught in there or suddenly damaged. It was much more like her voice was wiped clean, completely plucked from her body in the way a fire is snuffed out or a soul swept from a host.
Color rose in Grace’s cheeks with the force of a small storm, she balled up her fists and tried to scream. Nothing came out.
Grace swung her feet forcefully onto the floor, she was even still wearing her black lace-up boots from last night. It had apparently been a worse night than she first assumed.
A boy on the long brown Victorian couch next to her stirred at the sound of her feet hitting the ground. He blinked several times, “wha…?”
Grace gestured all around, throwing her hands up and down, waving them back and forth and trying to mouth what she could. The twenty-something young man sat up and squinted at her in the morning light.
He had tight dark curls and the face of an aspiring actor newly dropped off in NYC. He hadn’t lost the baby fat on his cheeks, but he had won the dark circles under both eyes from long nights and high rent. He was from her improv if she remembered correctly.
Grace tried to mouth more slowly.
He rubbed his eyes, “Grace?” He croaked, she suddenly felt bad she didn’t remember his name. “What’s up?”
She looked around for something to write on, but, typical of her friend Jenny, there wasn’t anything but beads and butterfly coasters in every which direction. Grace pointed to an empty bottle of Skyy Vodka.
The young man’s brow dented in, “are you still drunk?” Grace shook her head violently, she pointed at her mouth and the boy made a face, “it’s way too early for charades girl.”
Grace heaved to her feet and took several quick steps across the living room to grab at his shirt collar, she dragged him toward her burning eyes and pointed at her mouth.
WHERE she mouthed slowly.
“Where,” he repeated, eyes visibly dilated and voice cracking.
IS, she continued.
“Oh no,” the boy seemed to be putting it together. Grace suddenly remembered his name.
“Oh my God,” Freddy looked her up and down, “you kissed that girl in red, didn’t you? The demon? Grace, oh my God.”
Grace let him go and crashed down onto the couch, she tried to groan again but with similar results as before. The girl with red eyes and a crooked smile.
It always had to be the hot ones.
“I saw her last night.”
Jenny had found a notepad for Grace to write on. All three of the sleeping figures were awake now and nursing waters and concerned looks.
“Yeah,” a blue-haired girl contributed, a Long Island native who went by “Siren,” “you kissed that chick? Dude, she had snake bites and like, eat-your-mother-for-breakfast eyes.”
Grace hung her head, she didn’t bother to write “I thought it was hot.” That went without saying.
“Grace,” Jenny stood in the corner with her hands on her hips, “I told you to go out and get mint coolers last night. Is that what you were doing instead?”
Grace didn’t meet her friends eye.
“Here,” Freddy had his cell phone out, “let me text Sydney, I think that red-head was her plus one.”
“The group chat said she was definitely a demon,” Jenny contributed, adjusted her thick glasses as she said it.
“Really? Someone said angel, but like, the bad type.” Siren said and took a glorious gulp of water from a tall glass.
Jenny shrugged, “same thing.”
Freddy’s phone rang and he turned around, “hey Syd,” he greeted, “do you know where your friend is? The red-haired one.”
Grace reached for the phone and only stopped when she realized “yelling into a speaker” was absolutely not an option right now. She covered her eyes with her hands.
“Bailey? Huh,” Freddy continued, “yeah, we think Bailey might have had a little too much fun with our friend Grace last night.”
Even Grace could hear the sound of exasperation that came through the speaker, Freddy just nodded, “yeah. Her voice. How’d you know?”
Freddy started to write something down quickly and Grace mouthed as slowly as she could: THANK YOU.
The problem girl was apparently named Bailey and worked at a Pottery Barn in Manhattan. Grace closed her notebook and stood, the pounding in her had subsided slightly and everything was coming into clear focus. She turned toward the door.
“Wait,” Jenny strode closer, “you shouldn’t do this alone. It’s like, a demon.”
“She’s not like, a demon-demon.” Freddy said as he hung up and gave them a bright thumbs up. “She’s like, a fallen one. Or risen?”
“That’s a thing?” Siren seemed increasingly interested in this.
Freddy shrugged, “apparently.”
Grace just scribbled down a sentence and showed it to them: it’s my voice. I’ll go get it.
She made her way toward the door before they could stop her.
It was her voice. It was her mistake for making out with a demon for several hours while drunk, it was hers to solve. She tried not to remember how sweet the girl’s chap stick tasted and how her hand had felt on her waist.
Grace reminded herself that she had lost her voice for that damn kiss, and also that two could wreak a little havoc.
Getting to the Pottery Barn from Long Island took longer than Grace had anticipated, it was also too bad she hadn’t showered before she stormed out. Or changed.
But there were much weirder people on the subway than an unwashed struggling actress crammed in the corner of public transit. She almost fell asleep on the second train, but managed to hop off and to scrounge up five dollars for a black coffee and espresso shot.
Manhattan, of course, charged her an arm and a leg for it and compromised a little bit of her soul standing there. Even the rats wore business suits here. But it did the trick.
Grace was off in a huff, tearing through groups of tourists and jumping in the way of bikes and cars as she ran. She couldn’t even call out ‘sorry!’ when she stormed in front of a bus, but she might not have anyway.
It was midday by the time she had downed her coffee and found her way to a five story beige building. It had a huge sign out front in slender black lettering and windows the size of walls displaying pristine couches and tables with lion-clawed feet inside. Grace tore through the automatic doors and surveyed the large store.
It smelled like potpourri and the moisturizer old woman used on their hands and feet, something like coconut and rancid butter. Grace strode in with a purpose and no direction, she made a beeline to the nearest employee in a long green apron.
Grace started waving a hand in the air and an older woman with a sharp grey haircut and soft pink shirt turned to her. She smiled, “can I help you today, young lady?”
Grace’s hand shot up along with her pad of paper: BAILEY ATWOOD. where?
“Oh no,” the older woman hung her hand and then pointed, “please,” she cringed, “could you take it outside for this one?”
Grace just started to speed-walk to the other side of the store, Bailey Atwood apparently worked in the lamps section. Maybe there was some irony in a demon working in a lights department, but there was always some torture in matching color schemes, so maybe it was fitting.
Grace saw her before anything else, standing next to an ornate tassel-ed lampshade and golden pole, her back was turned away and shoulders slumping.
Ceiling fixtures and displays glowed yellow around them and tables covered in ornaments old woman put on their cabinets for their cats to knock over filled the space. Grace didn’t see very much of it, her vision blazed red.
Bailey looked just as Grace remembered her: bob haircut in the color of fire hydrants and the flames on Guy Fieri's shirts. Tall, lithe as a cat, and pale as the moon itself.
Bailey turned around before Grace could come properly stomping over. The girl’s irises were dark maroon, outlined by blue eye shadow, and she had a sharp, feline look to her face. She had snake-bite jewelry, silver and catching the light.
Bailey also wore a surprisingly plain pair of jean overalls and a loose teal sweater with her employee apron over it. A tattoo of a kraken snaked up her neck and each of her knuckles had a different tiny zodiac constellation printed there. Grace had studied them closely last night.
“Oh.” Bailey smirked. “You.” The voice sounded terribly strange, eerie, overly familiar.
Grace stomped up, put a hand around Bailey’s neck, and yanked her close, Grace mashed their mouths together. Just as Freddy had instructed.
It tasted like chai tea and cinnamon, sweet and spicy as a firecracker. The touch swept Grace up with a heady rush and sent her senses into a fuzzy tailspin for a moment.
Bailey put a hand on the nape of Grace’s neck, tilted Grace’s head, and kissed her back.
A prickling crackled down Grace’s throat like a plug being inserted into an electrical socket. It was a weightless and powder-white sensation, like seeing mountain tops for the first time or hearing bells ring through an ancient empty city.
Bailey’s lips were warm and stained Grace’s mouth red with vivid lipstick when she pulled back.
Grace took an enormous breath, “you,” she wheezed with her newly returned voice, “bitch.”
Bailey laughed, tossing her head back and carelessly flipping her short hair away from her face. “How else was I supposed to get you to come back?” She winked, “that was the deal.”
“Deal?!” Grace wasn’t done fuming, “I didn’t go to the party last night looking to play any golden fiddles for someone.”
“I mean,” Bailey tilted her chin up, “if that’s what the kids are calling it these days. We might have played a few fiddles.”
Grace rolled her eyes, “whatever. Last night was a mistake.” She felt her throat, “I guess I should just be glad you didn’t sell it to the nearest spirit dealer.”
Bailey shook a finger in the air, “I’m not a total asshole. And that wasn’t part of the deal.”
Grace pinched her mouth together and looked away, “so,” she cleared her throat and fiddled with her hair for a moment, “...what was the deal? Just so I know not to do it again.”
“Huh,” Bailey tapped her own smeared red lips, and smiled, “you really drank that much after I left? You seemed pretty lucid before 1.”
Grace crossed her arms and turned away, “not that much. And look, I’m here to be angry you know.” She huffed. “Stop… grinning like that.”
Bailey stuck her bottom lip out, eyes glittering with something. “Come on.” She reached for Grace and Grace pulled back. “It was too nice a voice, like warm milk. Or pretty nude beaches. How could I say no?”
Grace leaned backward, “don't try to be cute here,” she wrinkled her nose, “I’m not here to be… tempted or whatever it is.”
She laughed, a thing with flint and sparks to it. “Only humans can tempt themselves.” It was a teasing tone, “don’t you know the rules?”
“Ugh.” Grace turned away.
Bailey began in a chanting voice: “when the sun rises, find me again. A voice for your kiss, and kiss again.” It was still teasing.
“That’s weird,” Grace said slowly, itching her chin, “it was just to meet again?”
Bailey tilted her head to the side, “among other things.”
Grace’s cheeks smoldered for a moment, “I use this to work you know.” She pointed at her vocal box and bared her teeth. “It could have all gone bad.”
Bailey reached over to tuck a stray piece of blonde hair away, “tell me about it.” She tilted her head to the side, “hell lies in customer service and beyond. Bed, Bath, and Beyond to be exact. But speaking of jobs,” Bailey took a piece of paper out, “it’s good to see you, but I should also get back to work. I have bills to pay after Satan rejected me- long story.”
Grace sniffed loudly, “okay, okay. But for the record there’s better ways to get someone’s attention.”
Bailey shrugged as she took out a pen and jotted something down, “you were fond of the idea last night.” Bailey stuffed the piece of paper into Grace’s front pocket, “come out tomorrow night and maybe you can take mine.”
Grace took a few steps backward, “I’m not that gullible.”
Bailey waved, “I’m the risen one here,” she grinned. “I can be gullible too. Try me.”
“I,” Grace was floundering again and then turning, “I… No more funny business.”
Bailey snorted, “you’re the funny one.”
Grace shook her head and swallowed thickly, “I gotta go.” She took out Bailey's phone number and thrust it into the other girl's green apron pocket and turned away hotly. "Bye."
“Okay,” Bailey looked down a little sadly at her rejected phone number. “Sorry. Not the best first move on a crush, yeah.”
Grace gave her one last look and hurried to the door, she did have to get to her afternoon job at the tourist shop near Central Park. And she needed to get this out of her head.
She only stopped when she was outside again and a block away, heart pounding and thoughts stirring. The look on Bailey's face as she left came back to Grace, that final tumbling stare. Grace turned around.
What am I doing? She blinked, saw the other girl’s cherry red lipstick, and dashed back into the shop. No more thoughts came to her.
She hurried down the aisles and almost careened headlong into Bailey as she entered the lamps section, “I’m only taking this so I can yell at you later,” Grace took the number from her. “Meet me at six tomorrow.”
Bailey looked at her in delight and they exchanged numbers.
It was always the hot ones.