The vintage Mason jar slid neatly onto the shelf alongside the others in perfect order. Thanks to Pinterest, these displays were full of memories and nearly identical save the bit of lace hiding ugly screw-on rings. Every glance at the shelf made Claire smile. The laminated concert ticket and other mementos of the night floated partially obscured by a green plastic band the bar had wrapped around her wrist so she could drink. Pleased with her latest addition, she sat down with a cup of tea and the City Paper. As the tea bag bled-out, the weekend agenda itched under Claire’s fingers and by the time a concert caught her eye, ink covered her temples, upper lip, and nose.
* * * * *
The week dragged and Friday night seemed a world away but it finally arrived. Not much happened at work on Friday. Some girls chatted about where their boyfriends were taking them while others complained about their weekend of errands requiring the Mom-Taxi. Claire absorbed the conversations and appeared interested to be considerate. The party scene didn’t interest her and kids would never be part of her future now. Regardless, her Friday night was set and she was burning to get home and get ready. There were more jars to fill.
* * * * *
Stepping out of the shower and admiring herself in the mirror, Claire smiled. She never asked her parents for money but was glad they could afford some “self-esteem enhancements” during the reconstruction process. She kept her own boobs. Her original Cs made shopping easier anyway. She never understood how skinny girls with big fake boobs ever found clothes. “It must be as exhausting lugging those things around.” The purchased nose, shaped chin, and cheek implants looked back at her. In reality, she looked different than before and still did double-takes in mirrors on occasion. “Julie” died on the table that night and “Claire” was born. Claire liked being “Claire” and was still picking-up the pieces from being “Julie”.
* * * * *
Claire arrived at “The Cavern” a little after midnight to the mixed sounds of Ska, rap, and industrial. Admittedly, their lead singer could be an underwear model but Claire kept telling herself it was all about the music. Through a crowd that couldn’t decide if they were bouncing, moshing, headbanging, or just zoning, she made her way to a stand-up table in front of a cute guy. “Ok Claire, let’s do this!” and moved to the beat. She hoped the leather skirt offset her lack of rhythm.
“Aren’t they awesome? I’m Mark” the deep voice came over her shoulder.
Claire turned, grinned, and turned back to continue dancing…or whatever.
“You look familiar. Have we met?” came the voice again.
Claire shrugged her shoulders but didn’t turn.
Mark moved around to face her, “I know you from somewhere”.
“Maybe a drink will jog my memory” Claire offered with a grin.
Mark kept the drinks coming as he and Claire laughed, talked, and kept moving farther and farther away from the music.
“I know another place” he whispered into her ear.
“Yeah, it’s like this but quieter. We can talk.”
Claire looked at him sideways, “This is how horror movies start.”
“Ouch!” Mark feigned injury as he grabbed Claire’s hand and started walking towards the door.
“OK but just for a little bit,” Claire yelled to the back of his head unacknowledged.
The minivan Mark was walking towards made her stumble for a second.
“Oh my car’s in the shop. It’s the only loaner they had.”
Mark’s hand was on her leg and his mouth was on her neck before she could even close the door. “I guess we’re not leaving right away, huh?” she asked through a moan.
“Let’s play a little first” Mark hummed against her neck and slid his hand farther north.
“Mmmm I was hoping you were going to say that Marquis”
Mark sat up at the sound of his old nickname as Claire shoved the Taser against his throat.
* * * * *
Mark awoke in the back of the van. His neck hurt like hell and he struggled against zip ties.
“I can’t believe you still have this fucking van!”
Mark stared wide-eyed at the woman kneeling between his bare legs but didn’t say a word until…“Julie?”
“I told you my name’s Claire, Marquis. Pay attention.”
“Oh God, Julie! I tried to stop everybody. You were so out of it you probably don’t remember,” he babbled.
“I remember you went twice. You were so drunk the second time the guys laughed at you and you broke my jaw, dear. I remember everything.”
“I haven’t seen any of the guys since that night, Julie. You gotta believe me.”
“You’ll have time to catch-up, honey. They’re all back at my place.”
Considering the situation, Mark was surprisingly hard in her hand…but not as hard as the knife handle.
* * * * * *
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