Oreos, Cheetos, pizza, red wine, and Schnapps littered Juliet’s apartment floor. It was our first sleepover, and the first time I was able to carelessly eat junk food in what seemed forever. Saturday’s dance rehearsal had been cancelled due to an unexpected snow storm, so my mood was downright giddy. Amy was out of town, and Melissa was busy putting up her insanely detailed holiday decor.
Juliet and I had taken advantage of the freedom by creating a giant fortress of every pillow and blanket in the living room, and buying as much junk food at the grocery store as we could stomach. “I’m so glad I’m here,” I gushed to Juliet, “Thanksgiving with my parents was so miserable. I feel like they barely know me. I’m just so happy to be back in Boston with you.” Juliet flopped down next to me and squeezed my hand.
“I know that family can really suck,” Juliet nodded sympathetically, “I didn’t go home at all because of softball and Amy didn’t invite me to her family dinner. She basically ditched me here because she’s not ready for her parents to know about everything yet.”
“Family does suck,” I agree, “And sometimes, so do our girlfriends.” Juliet and I broke into laughter, and I reached for the bag of Cheetos.
“Hey,” she said, “We’ve both had a rough week or two. Let’s go do something fun. We’ve earned it.”
“Melissa took my fake ID,” I whined, “I can’t do fun things anymore.”
“Dude. You have to get more creative with your definition of fun,” Juliet smirked while pouring us both a shot. “Let’s go see Slutcracker. I bet there’s still tickets. It’s like a strip club version of the Nutcracker. You love dance, and I love me some half naked women.” My eyes went wide in surprise. I love Boston. I can’t believe such a show exists.
“I’m in!” I say immediately.
“I’ll put the tickets on Am’s credit card. She won’t care. She wanted me to show you a good time.”
“Great, I’ll pay for a cab,” I suggest, “We’ve both been drinking.”
Juliet nods, and we immediately high-five. “We have to wear something sexy!” she exclaims, “Let me rummage in my closet.” Within minutes, Juliet has emerged with various leather and mesh tops, and some tight, short skirts. She also offers me some fishnet stockings and a pair of black combat-style boots. Giggling with glee, we both pick out a racy outfit.
“UGH,” I shout, shaking my phone while I get dressed, “It’s super last minute and there are no cabs around. I think it’s because of the snow storm.”
“It’s fine, I’m ok to drive,” Juliet insists. I rack my brain trying to remember how much we’ve both had to drink. 3/4 of a bottle of red wine, and 2-3 shots of Schnapps. But Schnapps is more of a dessert… right? And we did share the wine. I hate being late to anything- it’s the dancer in me- so I throw on a jacket over my skimpy outfit and we race out to the car.
“That show was INSANELY amazing,” I exclaim as we hop back into Juliet’s car. My legs are bright red from from walking through the cold air back to our car, but we’d had a little bit more to drink during the show which is keeping me plenty warm. At this point, I know Juliet shouldn’t be driving, but I’m so tired out from the show and the junk food and the alcohol. I blast the heat and lean my head against the window as she pulls out of her space.
Juliet and I chat about our favorite parts of the show while she struggles to maneuver her car through the snow. I keep my eye out for cops, but the roads are pretty clear and Juliet is driving as well as can be expected under the circumstances. All is well until we get back to her street and she tries to park. Juliet’s reflexes have slowed thanks to the alcohol, and she misjudges her distance from a ditch. Her car loses control on the icy shoulder of the road, and the car descends into an unfortunate position in the ditch.
“GOSHDAMMIT. Oh no… It’s ok. I’m just going to tell Amy that it was snowy and the car slipped. It’s not damaged. She can get it out when the snow melts,” Juliet says hopefully.
“I’ll back you up,” I promise, “Let’s just get inside and text her to let her know we’re ok.” We both exit the car and I lead the way up to their front door. “Hey, you left the door unlocked,” I whisper urgently.
“No, I didn’t,” snaps Juliet, a bit defensively. I push the door open cautiously and look around. Suddenly, Amy appears out of nowhere, looking none too pleased. Juliet shoves me into the house and shuts the door behind her before Amy can notice the car in the ditch. “Heyyyyyy, Aim,” says Juliet evenly, trying not to give away that she’s a little tipsy, “Sooo glad you’re home. We weren’t expecting you, or we would have…”
“Not destroyed the entire house?” Amy fills in impatiently.
“I’m so sorry,” I gush, “I got really excited about the junk food and we were definitely going to clean up the food… and the crumbs… and the pillows and blankets and stuff in the morning…” I trail off, suddenly a little nervous and embarrassed.
“Yes,” says Amy evenly, “You’ll definitely both be cleaning this up. But I’d also like to know why you left the house in a blizzard without telling me, and then you both failed to answer multiple texts from me and Melissa when we tried to check on you.”
Juliet and I exchanged panicked looks.
“We went to see a show and we put our phones on silent,” Juliet explained, panic evident in her voice. “I promise I wasn’t ignoring you. I was enjoying being with Shae. I didn’t even glance at my phone when we left the… theater.”
“Take your coats off and sit down. We need to chat,” says Amy flatly. We hang our coats up compliantly, and shuffle over to the couch in shame. I suddenly feel exposed in my skimpy outfit, and my eyes well with tears. I’m a terrible liar, and Amy is so warm and kind. I immediately want to tell her everything, but I don’t want to sell Juliet out.
“Ok,” says Amy with a sigh, “Let’s start with finding out where you were.”
“We went to see Slutcracker. It was a last minute plan. We were both just kind of feeling down, and we were just sitting here eating, so I decided to check to see if they had tickets available. I knew Shae would love it since she’s a dancer,” Juliet explains calmly.
“And you didn’t think to inform me that you were heading out, given that you promised you’d be staying here given the terrible road conditions?” I don’t answer, because Melissa doesn’t expect that I always tell her where I am. We don’t have that kind of rule. Juliet shifts uncomfortably.
“I’m sorry. It was a mistake,” says Juliet, “It was just all such a whirlwind because we decided to go last minute and then we couldn’t find a cab and I just forgot to text.” Amy doesn’t respond, but let’s us all sit in an uncomfortable silence.
“You forgot to mention that you paid for it on my card without asking,” Amy finally replies, “I get alerts when you make a purchase of over $300.” My eyes nearly bulge out of my head.
“I DIDN’T KNOW HOW MUCH THE TICKETS WERE!” I squeal, accidentally throwing Juliet under the bus.
“I was going to pay you back,” Juliet tries lamely. “The house is cold, can we please put on sweaters while we talk about this?”
“No. Sit.” Melissa’s usually friendly expression is growing darker. “I have another minor matter to discuss. I found wine and peppermint Schnapps on the floor when I came home, so I’m trying to understand why either of you would have gotten behind the wheel of a car if you had ANYTHING to drink beforehand.”
“It was only me,” I speak up, my heart pounding as I lie to Amy’s face. “I had a bad Thanksgiving. I brought the wine and the Schnapps with me, but neither was a full bottle when I brought it over. We dipped a couple of Oreos in the Schnapps (this was true) but only I had wine.”
“I was going to have some wine after I finished my pizza, but then we got the show tickets so I didn’t,” Juliet nodded in agreement. I could feel my palms start to sweat anxiously as Amy sized us up.
“Juliet. Come here and let me smell your breath.”
Juliet shuffled over to Amy, looking annoyed but not nervous. They had free popcorn at the show. We’d both had vodka sprites at the show, but there’s no way that Amy would be able to smell any of the vodka over the handfuls of popcorn that we’d polished off.
“I can’t tell if you’re telling the truth, so I’m going to show you that I trust you by giving you the benefit of the doubt,” Amy finally sighed, “But I can tell you that you’re both in trouble anyway. Juliet- you didn’t tell me where you were going, you spent money over our limit without asking, you were unreasonably non-responsive on the phone, and you left this house a complete mess. It’s 11pm and I’m exhausted, so you’ll be punished in the morning. Please have all of this cleaned up before 7:30 in the morning. You’ll get your punishment then.”
Amy turns to me and I bite my lip. “Shae. I know that you don’t know our rules. I’m going to fill Melissa in, but I’m not comfortable punishing you.”
“I didn’t mean to break any rules,” I say as my eyes well with guilty tears, “But I don’t want Juliet to take responsibility alone. I should have known that driving in a blizzard was a bad idea. And I made the mess, too. Can I please stay and help her clean it?”
“Of course,” said Amy gently, “I’m not sending you home this late at night. It wouldn’t be fair. You and Juliet can continue your sleepover in the guest bedroom. I’m going to call Melissa and head up to bed soon.”
Juliet and I changed into pajamas and brushed our teeth in silence. When we both settled into bed, side by side, Juliet turned toward me.
“Thanks for having my back. But she’s going to see the car,” Juliet whispered. “I’ll have to explain that somehow.”
“I feel really guilty about lying to Amy, but we had such a fun night and no one was hurt.”
“Exactly,” said Juliet with a yawn, “Amy’s rules are pretty strict. I’m in enough trouble. I’ll go outside and try to move the car first thing in the morning, and if I can’t, I’ll tell her that it slipped on ice in the morning when I went out to get us Dunkin Donuts.”
“Ok,” I whisper back, my stomach in guilty knots over the web of lies we’re still building. Several moments pass, and I decide that my guilt is unbearable. “Juliet…” I whisper into the darkness. No answer. Her breathing is even, and she’s fallen asleep. I can’t stop myself from crying. I feel terrible. I glance at the clock. It’s 12:35, but I’ve woken Melissa up late at night before. I slip out of the guest room and into Amy’s den. I dial Melissa and cross my fingers.
“Shae. Hi.” I nearly melt when I hear Melissa’s concerned voice on the other end. “Amy just filled me in. I was worried when you didn’t answer my texts earlier, but I’m glad you’re ok.”
“I don’t feel ok,” I whisper, my voice wavering through my silent tears.
“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” Melissa asks urgently.
“No. It’s not that. I just… I uhm. I just wanted to talk to you about tonight.”
“Amy already told me. We literally just hung up with one another. I know you didn’t mean to leave a mess. You thought you’d have time to clean it up. As far as I’m concerned, you didn’t do anything wrong. Amy said it seems like you drank responsibly, and I don’t prohibit you from driving when it’s snowing. Juliet has different rules, and that’s ok.”
“I know all of that. But Melissa, we lied to Amy. Juliet did drink. She drank quite a bit before the show and more during it. I covered for her because she’s a new friend and I didn’t want to get her in trouble. The car is literally in a ditch outside of the house yet, and Juliet is going to try to move it in the morning and lie again. I’m just feeling uncomfortable because I don’t want to let you down, but I don’t want to rat Juliet out.”
“Well, sweetheart,” Melissa beings after a pause, “I’m really disappointed to learn that you got behind the wheel after Juliet had been drinking. That’s extremely dangerous, and a DUI would ruin both of your academic and athletic careers. I’m also disappointed that you lied, but I’m glad that you are taking steps to correct your mistake. I can hear how sorry you are. You’re going to be punished tomorrow- thoroughly- but right now I want you to get some rest and try to calm down. You’ve had a long night.”
“Yes, ma’am. Should I talk to Amy, or should I encourage Juliet to talk to her in the morning?”
“What do you think, baby?”
“I want to apologize to her now so that I can sleep. Is that fair to Juliet?”
“Juliet put you in a bad position tonight,” Melissa emphasizes, “Go ahead and talk to Amy if YOU think that’s the right decision. You need to trust yourself. I’m very unhappy with your behavior, but I’m proud of how you’re handling this. I’ll meet you there around 7:30, ok?”
I agree and tell Melissa that I love her and click off the phone. I find Amy in her room and knock gently on the door frame.
“Yes, darling?” Amy asks with an amused smile, “I thought you were going to bed?”
“Amy. Uhm. I can’t. Well, yet. Because, the thing is, I’m really sorry about everything that happened tonight. I value my friendship with Juliet and I don’t want to tattle, but I need to let you know that… that… I lied to you. About the alcohol. Juliet drank, too, both before the show and during it. She drove home tipsy, and I didn’t stop her. You may not have noticed, but your car is kind of in the ditch, because we made it home but she slipped while we were trying to parallel park. She was going to move it in the morning and not say anything, but I just feel really guilty and wanted to apologize right away. I already spilled the beans to my girlfriend, and she’s going to punish me tomorrow when she picks me up, but I just still feel really awful.” I look down at my hands. I can’t see Amy’s reaction anyway because my tears won’t stop flowing.
“Come here,” Amy motions gently. I comply and stand in front of her, still looking down. Amy takes both of my hands in one of hers, and lifts my chin so that I’m looking her in the eye. “I had a feeling that that was the case about the drinking. Juliet never passes up red wine. I am upset that you lied before, but thank you for telling the truth.” With that, Amy stands up and pulls me into a hug. She rubs my hair while I cry and promises that she will deal with Juliet. “Now,” she says softly, “Why don’t you hop back into bed. It’s late and you have an early morning of cleaning. I’m going to go check out the car, and I’ll see you downstairs tomorrow.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I nod, walking back to the guest bedroom feeling a million times lighter. I know that tomorrow morning won’t be fun, but at least I don’t have to keep acting. I am, after all, a dancer and not a theater expert.
The sound of Juliet’s alarm going off at 6:30 is complete torture. I’m a tiny bit hungover, and I still didn’t sleep well. I felt like I betrayed Juliet.
“Hey,” Juliet says, poking my ribs as I refuse to stir, “Will you clean up the living room while I go deal with the car?”
“Yeah, yeah.” I reply flatly, rolling out of bed away from her so that I don’t have to look her in the eye. Amy already knows about the car, so letting her try to move it is futile, but I don’t say anything. I quickly brush my teeth and throw myself into the task of cleaning. I throw away packages, vacuum, stack pillows, fold blankets, and I even find a rag to dust with for good measure. I also clean the entire kitchen even though we barely used it. Juliet finally comes in, snow covered and shivering.
“It’s still so snowy, and I can’t move the car. We have to go with the donut story.”
“Ok,” I reply, not looking up at her and pretending to be focusing intently on finishing the dishes. Juliet brews coffee, and we both sit on the couch sipping caffeine from our mugs like it’s the blood of life. Amy comes down the stairs at 7:30 on the dot.
“Wow. This place looks great. I just wanted you guys to clean up your mess, but you suck ups cleaned the entire first floor.”
“Amy!” Juliet says, standing up confidently, “I know I’m in trouble, and I’m so sorry, but I went out to grab us donuts because it was sooo early, and I know you love the strawberry frosted kind, and crazy thing… it got so icy overnight and I accidentally may have ended up in the ditch out front while trying to get our car out. I already called AAA and they’re sending someone in a couple hours.”
I look down at the carpet. Juliet is a darn good liar, but this situation is so uncomfortable. Before Amy can respond, the doorbell rings. I hop up, happy for a distraction, and throw myself into Melissa’s arms before she can even realize the door has been opened.
“Hi, babe,” she laughs, kissing my head as she steps inside. Melissa guides me back down onto the couch next to Juliet, and she and Amy settle on the couch across from us. You could cut the tension with a knife.
“Ok,” Amy speaks up evenly, “So, Melissa and I chatted a bit this morning about your predicament. Juliet and I have a lot to discuss and Melissa would like to discipline Shae at home, so we’re going to have a group powwow about last night before going our separate ways.”
“Because you have both exhibited issues with alcohol lately,” Melissa announces, “We have decided that neither of you are permitted to drink again for the rest of the semester. We will re-evaluate in January. But there will be no alcohol whatsoever.”
“And we appreciate that you two are becoming friends,” Amy adds, “But from now on, when you’re together, we need updates on where you’re going and what you’re doing every time you leave one destination for another.”
“And Shae,” says Melissa, “You lied to Amy, so I think it’s only fair that she gets to punish you. I know you’re new to being disciplined, so we decided that Amy will start your punishment here and I will finish the majority of it at home.”
“And Juliet,” Amy says darkly, “You’ll head up to my room now, strip, and kneel in the corner on the rice that I left on the carpet.” Juliet winced, but headed upstairs wordlessly. Kneeling on rice in the corner?! That blows. With Juliet gone, all eyes were on me.
“We’re both proud of you for coming clean,” says Melissa, “But obviously it was too late to redeem yourself from the lying and the danger you put yourself in.”
“I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap,” Amy said seriously, “Since that’s the punishment in my house for lying or talking back. And then I’m going to give you a brief hand spanking if you’re comfortable consenting to that. Melissa will handle the rest of your punishment at home. I’m punishing you for lying, and she’s punishing you for the danger you put yourself in.”
I feel nervous, but I agree. I trust Amy, and it’s only fair. I let her guide me upstairs. She lathers a bar of soap wordlessly, and grabs my chin. “Open,” she commands. I do. Holding my head in place, Amy sticks the bar of my soap far into my mouth. It’s worse than I thought, and I instantly gag as the soapy taste assaults every part of my tongue. Amy jerks the bar back and forth across my tongue, causing it to froth and making me try to wiggle away. She holds me firmly in place and instructs me to bite down. “I’m going to set a timer on my phone for two minutes,” Amy says, “Then you get to rinse twice with water.”
Tears run down my eyes and the time creeps by slowly. It’s so much more disgusting- and embarrassing- than I’d imagined. when the timer goes off, Amy takes the soap back and, as promised, gives me two brief rinses. When she leads me back downstairs to Melissa, my mouth still tastes and feels horrible. Without much fanfare, Amy takes down my pajama pants and puts me over her knees as Melissa watches on, unsympathetically. Amy immediately elevates her knee, driving my rear straight up into the air. She smacks HARD from the get-go, without a warm up, causing me to wail and wiggle. And this is only the beginning of my punishment?! Maybe I should have lied for Juliet after all.
To be continued…