Tessa is a Messa

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This is the third installment of my untitled story about Tessa, a twenty-three-year-old college student who works at Sultrix, a beauty supply store. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. Recall that when we first meet Tessa, she is walking through the marshy wetlands to get to her job after a night of partying at the Velvet Crush. She lost her roommate and her cell phone, and has only flashes of a mysterious guy she spent the night with.

At Sultrix, she meets the man with the fedora hat, who whisks Tessa away to a calming place, as he treats her to a soothing hand massage. He tells her that he works for Chanel and that she looks radiant. 

Now the story continues.

**************************************

A light tap on her shoulder and a blowing in her ear brought her back into Sultrix. It was Joelle, her smooth customer of a roommate.

“What’s this?” Joelle grabbed the eye cream kit out of her hands. “Are you getting this? Because it’s kind of expensive.”

Tessa put it back on the shelf without a second look. “Not today.”

She followed Joelle around the store like an honest page girl. Sultrix was Joelle’s castle, at least when Bianca, their boss, wasn’t around. Joelle had a habit of looking over her shoulder even when it was a known fact Bianca was not on the premises, and gave the impression that she might break a rule at any given moment, although she never did. What came out of her mouth could be unpredictable, but her actions, Tessa could count on.

“Where have you been?” Joelle’s eyes blinked and she shook her head. Ever so gently, Joelle pushed Tessa toward the corner of the store to a chair surrounded by shades of hot pink and silver.

Joelle had ten minutes to whip Tessa into shape, patting the chair for her to sit. She sighed. “Tessa is a messa.” Tessa usually laughed with her. Today, her head pounded in agreement. “I was worried sick all night. One minute you were there and then poof. Tessa. Gone.”

This was Tessa’s cue for a lengthy explanation to satisfy Joelle’s undying curiousity. Joelle turned away for supplies, hemming and hawing, followed by grunting as she pulled the snarls out of her hair. Tessa would have preferred Joelle to ramble about her relationship with her body, Joelle’s usual discourse when Tessa’s silence claimed too much presence. “My body is so mad at me today,” she’d say. Or, “These aches are relentless. My neck. She must not like my posture today.”

This morning, it was Joelle who was speechless. Taking the spikey, round brush, Joelle tugged at the hair at the base of her neck, which provided nothing but pauses to accentuate digust and even stronger pulling. Her hair stuck in the brush like clods of dirt.

“Did you even shower this morning?” Usually they were all too aware of each other’s comings and goings.

“Splashed water on my face.” Tessa thought it was better than nothing.

“Where did you sleep? Hmm? The jungle?” Joelle asked.

“Not exactly,” Tessa replied. “It was dark.”

“Jungles are dark,” Joelle said.

“There were windows.” Dirty windows, but art on the walls. Canvases splashed with blues and reds.

“Where? Where did you go? You left me there all alone. Why did you leave me?” Joelle gathered foundation, brushes, and sponges as all her questions went unanswered.

Tessa recalled the light filtered through a broken blind, and the space around her felt enormous as if she laid in the body of a whale, only there was the smell of coffee. Dark roast. Oh, how she had wanted a cup of coffee and none was offered. When Tessa woke she had guessed she was adrift in a warehouse. She was correct. But the “guy” was nowhere. Tessa’s question was “Who”?

Joelle scowled and busied herself, looking for a spray bottle. Found it and set it down, fumbling. She eyed the clock. Only seven minutes remained to whip Tessa into a presentable Sultrix employee.

“Tessa, such a messa.”

She swung around to face Tessa and the folds of her black skirt swayed with her soft, maternal hips. Joelle exuded heat, her red hair and her voice, full and soothing, and her body temperature set to warm. She paused long enough for Tessa to absorb the cushion of her breasts in her face, if only for an instant. A spicy scent lingered. They were close like that. Tessa clung to her, wanting more than anything to reach out, hold her. I fucked up, she wanted to admit. As Joelle held Tessa’s chin in her hand. Tessa thought she saw torches in her roomie’s eyes, or perhaps it was her shade of eye shadow. She was such an expert.

Joelle dabbed foundation on the left side of her face only. It was a little game she enjoyed to showcase the before and after effects of her work; or the work of the beauty aids, the makeup, the blusher, the lip pencil, all just on one side. It created a kind of macabre mask, with neither side netting the result that Tessa wanted. With one side untouched, she felt half-dressed. Tessa wanted to argue they had no time for this, but lacked the energy to argue with Joelle’s methods.

“Did you or didn’t you?” Tessa asked.

“I woke up naked.” Tessa closed her eyes as Joelle dusted powder on her face. “Are you happy with that answer? Is that what you wanted to hear?” Tessa kept her eyes closed, fearing an onslaught of judgments.

Instead, she got silence, and then more sighing, and prepping and dusting of her face.

“I don’t know, okay,” Tessa said.

“What do you mean you don’t know? Oh, Tessa.” And there it was, her disapproval shoving through. All traces of tenderness left the building. Joelle would be a strict mother someday, Tessa thought.

“Oh hurry, Joelle,” Tessa said. “Bianca just looked at me.” One mention of their boss could propel Joelle into hysterics. Not this time.

“At least I know who I’ve slept with,” Joelle said, slapping generous amounts of foundation on her chin, time no longer relevant. Joelle seemed lost in some memory. “You could have got yourself killed.”

Tessa stared at herself in the mirror, wide-eyed; her face appeared lopsided. The made-up side was heavily polished in a gaudy presentation of product; the other, worn and grey. Neither side won. No amount of product could save her and she felt defeat.

“Look at me, Joelle. Do I really look ready?” Tessa shook her head at her.

Scanning the room for Bianca, Tessa was stunned to see a customer of the male persuasion, wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. A man in Sultrix appeared like a lost lamb or a dragged corpse in this estrogen-heavy playground, and a rare event. Two more steps in her direction, and he became familiar.

“Oh my God, it’s him,” she tugged at Joelle’s sleeve. “Oh, God. Finish me. Quick.” Tessa fanned her face frantically.

“What?” Joelle’s method of applying makeup was shattered. In her opinion, makeup was not something you rushed. Rushing the makeup was time wasted and only welcomed a looming disaster, but she could have never anticipated Tessa dropping to the ground in a crouched position.

“What is wrong with you?” Joelle said.

“That is him. Him. The guy,” she looked up at her, whispering.

“What guy?” She turned back around and eyed the guy in the cap like she’d never seen her man in her life. “Him?”

“Do you see another guy around?” Tessa asked.

“From last night?” She looked down at Tessa curled in the fetal position.

“Yes. That’s the guy…from last night,” Tessa latched on to her ankles.

“C’mon, Tess. Get up. Get up.” Joelle tried to kick her off her ankles, but Tessa’s grip proved fierce. “Well, that solves that problem. Of course you didn’t sleep with him. He wouldn’t be here if you did. Right?”

Joelle took off her black jacket and threw it on top of Tessa.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

41 Comments on “Tessa is a Messa

  1. Hmm, she may have slept with him, but it may not have been consensual. Then again, he probably wouldn’t seek her out if that was the case. Or maybe he’s planning on blackmailing her. Guess I’ll have to wait to find out…

    • It could be anyone of those things, Carrie. I’m glad the story brought up all of these possibilities! Thanks for your comments.

  2. Wait – is that it?
    After Fedora Guy, it’s hard to say if they slept together. Maybe baseball cap is caught up in the same mystery Tessa is.

  3. I’m not guessing… wondering around in my head is so much more fun that centring on any possibility. You’ve definitely got me hooked. I need to know what happens now, who this guy is, and what happened.

    Love the relationship between these two, by the way, feels very natural. Only suggestion is that “pregnant pauses” is a common term that I don’t think is worthy of the rest of this. Basically, I hate that term, but that’s just me.

    • Oh, so cool to hear you say that, Trent! This piece is supposed to be fun! When no one is commenting, I’m wondering if I’ve completely failed. So, thank you so much for your feedback. I think my readers think this is autobiographical. I can assure you it is not!

      I agree. I’m scrapping “pregnant pauses.” I don’t like it either. Yikes, how did it get in there?! Really, I’m not sure I like hemming and hawing either. Anyway, I will look at that again. Thanks so much for your comments! I appreciate it.

  4. Well now, this is getting interesting. The man certainly likes his hats. Lol…. I think he is something that is not, quite, well never mind, I will keep that to myself. Can’t wait for more!

    • Hmm…now I wonder what you’re thinking. This guy is not the fedora man. He’s yet another guy, the baseball cap guy. Ha ha! Thanks so much, Jackie!

  5. Is it really bad that this scene with the two girls brings back (admittedly blurry) fond memories? I love these girls.
    I think there is much more to the fellow in the baseball cap and I don’t think they slept together…yet. My guess is he is only there to warn/protect her from some crazy evil plot. You are good at those crazy evil plots so I am counting on it.

    • Michelle, I love that you love these girls!! No, it’s not bad at all that it brings back fond memories. That makes my heart flutter.

      Hmm..well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. You’re warm. I’ll say that! As for an evil plot, I’ll have to think of something juicy just for you, Michelle!

  6. Dear Amy, Really good dialogue and the descriptions are perfect. I want to look into Mr. Man’s eyes and see If he really did sleep with Tessa, the messa. Maybe she did sleep with the mysterious man. Well written and very good characters! Nan :)

    • I love your comments, Nan. Perhaps, Tessa should look into his eyes, too. Hmm…Thanks so much! It’s a pleasure to have you here for a non FF story. Hee hee. :)

  7. Hard to predict. We need more… Seems Tessa may have had a Roofie or something, because there are too many gaps. Maybe she remembers this guy from some other part of the evening? Can’t wait to find out. ;-)

    Just catching up on all the posts I missed… traveling, falling, burning and curling up in a fetal position. There are 654 messages in my WP box! This was a nice way to slip away, fictionally speaking. Nice job, Amy!

    • A roofie. Yes, Dawn. That has occurred me, but from whom? This guy will be revealed soon. :)

      Oh, I bet! Oh, you poor thing. You sound in good spirits though. I’m not surprised you have so many messages. People are concerned. That’s quite an adventure you had, miss. I hope you are feeling better. Thanks for taking the time to read my stories. I appreciate that so much!

      • I try very hard to read each post, from the blogs I follow… that said, when I go out of town and don’t have wifi, and then the proverbial shit hits a big ole fan… it’s hard to catch up! I always enjoy seeing what you’ve written, Amy. :-D

      • Thank you kindly, Dawn. I try to read as much as I can, too. Not always easy. You have a really good excuse though knowing what you have been through. I hope you can get some rest. :)

  8. Sometimes less is always more, but in
    this instance I think that we need clarity ;)

    Lovely writing my dear friend…

    Andro xxxx

  9. From the first installment, I thought Tessa had a roofie, and if that’s the case, she didn’t voluntarily sleep with him, but it’s your job to tell us who, what, where, when and why. Joelle makes me think of Joan in Man Men, but is she supposed to be closer to Tessa’s age? And finally, all this story of cosmetics and body care products reminds me that I have to visit Kiehl’s to replenish my shampoo.

    • Thanks for reading all my stories. The specifics will be revealed to you. I ask questions because I just want to get a sense of what people think. A few have suggested she had a roofie. Joelle is close in age to Tessa. I don’t know Mad Men, unfortunately. That’s just yet another show I’d like to watch! This is my first draft, so I will probably ease up on the products in another draft. Thanks for much for your comments. You won’t be going to….what was that store in FP’d post? The one that is all over NYC? Ha ha!!

      • Duane Reade. Not exactly in league with the upscale workplace you’re writing about. To put it further in perspective I’ve shopped there for light bulbs and emergency socks.

  10. Curiouser and curiouser, Amy. It certainly feels like the morning after the night before! Random memories appear out of the fog showing anybody could be anybody… need to know more!

    • Imagine what Tessa must be feeling. Oh, poor Tessa. How can I help her? Oh, I guess I can give her some answers now. Thanks, Tom! Thanks so much for reading.

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  12. In all honesty I don’t have a clue Amy! I suspect that there is some kind of intoxicated dream going on but can’t be sure – put more out so i can figure out what is going on! Love it (and it has the writiing is wonderfully sparse and edgey).

    • Thank you, Jim! I’m still fussing with the plot. Thanks for your encouragement. It means so much!

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