Two weeks ago, she dyed her hair and now it is orange, the color of a road sign or that reflecting tape put on bikes to warn people that something's incoming. It's hacked off around her earlobes, and the few stray locks that escaped the scissors float around her jaw line. Her eyes are big and deep, and the circles underneath them spiral outwards, purple and green under layers of heavy black eyeliner and flaking mascara. Purple eye shadow has been swiped over her eyelids. It isn't the best color for her, but it was on sale at the drugstore.
That morning she was wearing worn-in jeans, a black camisole, and a blue and green flannel shirt that clashed fabulously with her hair. Now she's wearing a pencil skirt, a white blouse that's more or less tucked in, sheer pantyhose, and closed-toe black pumps. None of the clothes fit exactly right.
The men across from her are both wearing suits. The older man is wearing a more expensive fabric in a richer shade of navy while the younger man's suit doesn't know if it wants to be navy or gray and therefore it has settled for being the color of the carpeting people buy when they don't want stains to show. They both have expertly shined shoes and their jackets are left open with bland-but-not-too-bland ties slightly askew. Both have hair that looks like there's too much product in it, that it would probably crispy if she leaned over and stroked her hand through the spikes.
"Please state your name for the record," the older one says, indicating a tape recorder in the center of the table.
"Britta Rebecca Perry," she says. She crosses her arms. "And why am I here again?"
"This is a deposition," the younger one says. "You could also call it an out of court testimony, which is why you took an oath to tell the truth. We need to find out what you know. Your acquaintance, our client, is being sued, and he identifies you as being there when the, er, incident occurred. That's why you're here."
"Right." She crosses her legs for good measure. "Whatever."
"Continuing on," the older man says. "What is your relationship with Ken Alera?"
She raises an eyebrow. "Um, nothing? He's a friend of a friend. He's a jerk."
The younger guy is tapping his pencil against the table as he looks down at the file in front of him. It's driving her insane. She jerks her chin over at him, and feels her hair swish against her cheek. "That's driving me insane," she says. He blinks.
"Your tapping. Of your pencil. Can you stop before I start screaming?"
The younger lawyer raises his eyebrows at her, but he sets the pencil down. "And can you tell us about your relationship with Derek Komanoff?"
"The same thing," Britta says. "I don't like either of them much. They're pretty stupid. And they keep trying to buy pot off me even though I have explained like five times- each - that I don't deal."
"O-kay. Right. And where were you the night of September 15th?"
"At a party with Ken and Joe, who were invited by our mutual friend, and also a whole lot of other people who probably know more than me."
The younger lawyer sighs. "We know, Ms. Perry. We're going to have to talk to them too. In fact, you're the third person we've talked to today. We have appointments scheduled all week."
She eyes him. At first glance he appeared to be thirty, but examining him closer she sees that he's probably less than ten years older than she is, around 26, 27 at the latest. "Fine," She signals her agreement, and underneath the table, flexes her foot. The black shoe swings off her toes. "What's next?"
"Where were you at 11:45 that evening?" It's the older guy's turn to talk again.
"I was upstairs," she says. "With a guy. Hooking up."
"Hooking up?" the younger lawyer looks interested. "Can you, ah, clarify the meaning of that?" The older lawyer glances a warning at him.
Britta smiles, her lips pressed closed. "Having sex," she says. She looks him straight in the eye. "You really needed clarification?"
"It's for the record," he says promptly.
The older layer steps in. "So you didn't witness the altercation that allegedly took place between Mr. Alera and Mr. Komanoff?"
"No, I did not," Britta groans. "Because I was upstairs having sex, as I have clarified. For the record."
"Thank you," he picks up the tape recorder and turns it off, then stows in it his briefcase. His initials are stamped on it, and she has the inclination to roll her eyes, because ugh, that is so typical, just like most of her neighbors on the street she grew up on. "Mr. Winger will show you out."
The other lawyer, Mr. Winger, stands up and smooths a hand through his hair. "Just a moment, Ms. Perry?" The older lawyer turns around to give him a skeptical look as he walks out, which, okay.
"What?" Britta asks. She's standing now, a little wobbly in the heels. "Do you need anything else? I thought that you were done deposing me. Oh, fuck!" The heel snaps, and she stumbles. The lawyer grabs her arm, steadying her as she pulls off the broken shoe and kicks off the other. "Fuck it!"
"Oops. Well then." The guy clasps his hands in front of him. "Hi, I'm Jeff," he says.
She glares. "Whatever. I'm not some dumbass damsel in distress, dude. God-fucking-damnit. How am I supposed to get home now?"
"Drive?" Jeff suggests. He continues: "so, this is my card if you want to call me anytime, just in case ever you want to hook up, find out about the legal profession-"
Without the heels she is tiny next to him. He didn't look this tall when she was sitting across the table, just more intimidating, because it was like she was back in high school (except in high school she would have been wearing a lot more black and a lot more fishnet and leather, and the person across from her would have been balder).
"One, I'm nineteen so like, if you're hitting on me that's just creepy cause you've gotta be almost thirty or something crazy like that, and two, no I can't drive. I biked over here."
"In that skirt and heels?" Now he looked kind of impressed, instead of backing off. "Wow."
"I managed," she says. "Pleasant as this is, it isn't solving my problem one bit. I can't fucking bike home barefoot. It hurts like hell and like, trashes the skin on your feet and makes you get the worst blisters. This never would have happened if I hadn't had to come in here for your stupid lawyer thing!"
Jeff shrugs, ignores the insult. "I can drive you," he says. "I have a bike rack on my car."
She pins him with a look. "Oh please, there's no way you do."
"Yes, I seriously have a bike rack on my car." He doesn't say how he only has the bike rack to pick up hippie girls at the organic foods store.
Britta shoots him a look. "Fine," she says. "Let's go."
"I'll take my lunch break then," he shrugs, and picks up his briefcase in one hand, her broken shoes in the other. She slips a little on the carpet. Stupid nylons. "Milady?"
"What-the-fuck-ever," Britta growls, and stomps ahead. He has to hurry ahead so he can point the way out.
Coincidentally, her bike is chained up right next to Jeff's only kind of expensive car. He opens the passenger seat door for her, then tosses her shoes in the backseat. She would protest, but they're her mom's and therefore so not her problem. The bike is hoisted onto the rack, and Jeff slides into the seat.
"Where to?" he asks.
"Uh. How much time do you have for lunch?"
He shrugs. "However much I want. Bilson owes me a favor."
"Like I care. We'll go to my place." She gives him directions and then leans back in the seat a little and scrunches her toes. They crack. Fucking shoes. Britta sighs. "Sorry you have to spend your lunch break transporting some angry-ass teenager home."
"That's very self aware," the guy in the seat next to her nods. "But it's fine. I mean, despite the unfortunate hair and choice of eye makeup, you're still kind of hot."
She sits up straight. "What the hell bro, do you not realize I'm nineteen? You're like ten years older!"
"I'm 26," he says. "Not that much older."
"Enough that it would totally piss my mom off," Britta replies. "Hey, wait a sec."
Jeff raises an eyebrow. "What?"
She shakes her head, but totally stores that thought away for later. "Nothing. Never mind."
He makes a motion to turn on the radio, but she shakes her head. "Your music is probably really lame."
"Oh yeah?" That's a challenge, right there. "What do you listen to?"
"Radiohead," Britta says. "I've seen them live like three times. And Bikini Kill."
"Bikini Kill? Isn't that like some teenybopper band, punk?"
"You're so weird," she responds. "Really lame. Like unspeakably so, oh my god."
Jeff tilts his head. "Hey, do you have a cell phone?"
"Do you have a cell phone?"
Britta tugs at the ends of her hair. She needs to find the nail scissors so she can even out the cut. "No."
"Then can I have your home phone?" They're paused at a spotlight, and she examines him for a minute, looks at that ridiculous nose and carefully calculated hair, and almost before she's finished her thought she seizes his arm and pushes up his sleeve the next minute, grabbing a Sharpie on the dashboard.
"Here. Give me yours at the next light."
He does, and a few minutes after that they pull up in front of the apartment building she's sharing with two roommates. "Thanks," Britta says, awkwardly hopping out of the car and bouncing from toe to toe. "Hope I didn't fuck up your deposing too much."
Jeff shrugs and gets up to take her bike off. "It's fine. Like I said, I was doing it as a favor to Bilson. He needed someone else there- I'm actually going to be a defense lawyer."
"Yeah, okay. Look…" she twists the longest stray piece of hair between her fingers. Jeff leans the bike against the car and tugs at another stray piece of hair. He's really close, like really close, the distance boys get when they want to kiss her.
"This is probably totally inappropriate," he says, and then leans down to kiss her on the lips. There's tongue.
She walks carefully across the gravel pathway with her bike and hears him drive away.
That night, her roommate brings home three bottles of champagne from the restaurant she works at, and another cracks open her vodka stash. The plan is to go clubbing afterwards, but Britta forgot her fake ID at her brother's the last time she visited him and ends up staying home alone. After three Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, the phone next to her bed rings, loudly, and she presses a hand against her head for a moment before picking it up.
"Hi Britta," and the voice on the other end is kind of slurry and familiar, even though she can't place it.
"Who's this? On the phone? Who is this?"
"You know. It's Jeff. From today."
"Oh yeah!" She drawls out the vowels of the word like she's some sort of southern belle. "The super hot lawyer jerk! Whassup?"
"Super hot? That's cool," Jeff says. "That's cool, that's awesome. So I was thinking you and me should go out sometime cause even though you're nineteen you're super hot too and you kiss really well." There's shouting on the other end of the line, nothing distinguishable, and Britta tries to make sense of the words.
"You're really hot too," she ends up replying, "and you're a good kisser. Like, an awesome one. Which is funny."
"Why's it funny?"
"Uhm I don't really know. Maybe it's cause of the way you dress." She flops over on the bed, so her head is hanging off and her hair flips over her ears. She's back in normal clothes, a tank top and cut-offs. Thank god.
"Look so see I'm like right near your house," Jeff says. "And it's totally not a stalker thing. I swear There's a bar really close."
"That would be creepy," she agrees. She examines her fingernails. "You should come over. But by yourself."
"By myself? He asks. "Okay."
"Yeah my roommates left all their vodka and shit and I can't drink it all alone."
He hangs up, and he's at her door in ten minutes, clutching a bottle of red wine. She opens the door to let him in, holding the door open with her foot. "You brought wine! That's fancy."
"Cause I'm a lawyer," he says, and gives her this remarkably cheesy wink. "That's what we do. We drink wine. We drink fancy wine."
"Uh-huh," Britta says. "Like I said. You should come. Haha, I mean into the apartment."
"Okay," he says, and walks in a mostly straight line to the couch, where he sits down abruptly. "Whoa, I probably shouldn't have been driving."
"Whoops," she giggles, and can't stop giggling. She collapses on the couch next to him, and swings her legs up so they're in his lap. Jeff's out of his suit, wearing dark jeans and a gray t-shirt. "You look hot," Britta blinks a few time.
"You have nice legs," he runs a hand over them. "Wait- wait. You're definitely nineteen. You're sure."
"Yup." She rolls her head on her neck and watches the room spin. "Because I was eighteen and now I'm nineteen."
"Uh-huh." Britta narrows her eyes at him. "Why're you asking?
"Because." Jeff says, and pulls her over to kiss her. And wow, he's still a great kisser and her headache seems to be kind of floating away, plus his hands are, like, awesome big and know what they're doing, unlike some of the other guys she's slept with.
"We shouldn't do this here." She says. Jeff blinks, like, what? "My roommates," she clarifies. "What if they come in and we're naked on the couch?"
He looks a lot more interested in the conversation after that. "Yeah, okay."
When she wakes up the next morning, trapped under a fairly heavy arm and groggy beyond all belief, the ink on her arm is smeared and her hair is curling out in all directions. She sticks a post-it note to the forehead of the ridiculously tall guy next to her: you can get food from the fridge if there's anything in there. Plus don't forget the rest of your wine. I had a nice time.
And then she sneaks out of her own apartment. She runs into her very-hungover friend in the kitchen. "Bet you're glad you stayed home," Amanda says, rubbing at the mascara streaks on her face. "The night was kind of unmemorable. Literally, I have no recollection of it. I'm a little terrified now."
"I'm going to the diner," Britta responds. "I'll get you coffee. And if the guy in my room comes out, just… don't tell him my name if he asks?"
"Hey, what?" Amanda raises her brow. "Don't tell him your name?"
"He has a cell phone, and I checked it out and my phone is listed under 'dyed hair deposition girl'. So just, you know, say my name is Brittany. I can't believe I slept with a lawyer. Ew."
She puts on her favorite black knit cap and hurries out to her bike, Converse on. At the diner, she buys herself pancakes and puts it- everything out of her mind. When she gets back, coffee in hand, there's no one there who isn't supposed to be.