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Let's Not Stay in Vegas

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Michelle never used to think of herself as someone who ran away from her problems. She liked to think that she was strong, an adult. She liked to think that she was independent and responsible and in control. She wasn’t any of those things. She never had been. It was a joke, a fiction novel she’d written in her head with herself as the heroine. She was a washed up ballerina. A failed Broadway dancer. A Vegas showgirl at thirty six. Now at thirty seven she was unemployed and hiding from her mother-in-law – sort of – on her best friend’s couch. She’d run away from everything she’d ever started and now she’d run away from Paradise and Fanny and the girls as well. Another item to add to her long list of failures.

“I’m a mess,” she moaned from where she was sprawled across the cushions of Talia’s couch. “I’ve always been a mess and I’ll always be a mess. When I die, you know what they’re going to have engraved on the headstone?”

“Here lies Michelle Simms,” Talia guessed. She held her hand out as she said it as though she was describing Michelle’s name in lights, sparkling on a theatre marquis instead of a drab slab of rock. “She was a mess.”

“Yes,” Michelle said and pointed toward Talia with a nod. “That’s it exactly. Except they’ll throw the word failure in there for posterity too.”

“You’re not a failure and you’re not a mess,” Talia said, eyebrows raised to show her sincerity. She pushed Michelle’s legs aside and then flopped down on the couch beside her. “You’re beautiful.”

“Yeah,” Michelle snorted. “Beautiful like how a chaotic mess can be beautiful, maybe. Like how a garbage dump can be beautiful with all its rusty refrigerators and foraging bears.”

“You aren’t a garbage dump,” Talia said with a roll of her eyes. “And from everything I’ve heard those girls in Paradise loved you.”

Michelle shrugged. “Their parents didn’t love me. Fanny didn’t love me.”

“How about Truly?”

Michelle snorted again. “Truly definitely didn’t love me.”

“Truly loved you a little,” Talia said.

“A mess,” Michelle said again, bringing Talia back to the point.

Talia reached out and set a hand on Michelle’s knee, shook her leg a little. “Macing The Nutcracker wasn’t your best moment,” she agreed.

“No,” Michelle said. She sat up, feet on the ground, present, adult. “No, it was not.”

They were quiet for a long moment after that. Michelle expected that eventually Talia would start laughing. Macing an entire ballet class was the kind of thing that was hysterical to Talia, at least after the fact (but it probably would have been during too). They hadn’t laughed about it yet. Soon, Michelle thought, just not quite yet. Soon the laughing would start.

‘I can just picture it,’ Talia’d say as she hooted and giggled, her face turned up toward the ceiling. Talia was the kind who would be laughing even as her eyes burned in her head from the pepper spray.

Finally Talia turned and said, “Godot maybe liked you a bit.”

“Godot?” Michelle said, surprised.

“Yeah,” Talia said, then grinned and leaned in toward Michelle, her knee curling beneath her on the cushion as she reached out to set her hands on Michelle’s forearm. “Why don’t you tell me about him?”

“I didn’t tell you about Godot.”

“I know,” Talia said. She shook Michelle’s arm in an attempt to get her talking. “That’s why I’m asking.”

“But how did you hear about Godot?”

“I heard it from Truly,” Talia said.

“Truly,” Michelle repeated.

“You’re starting to sound like a parrot,” Talia said.

“Call me Macaw,” Michelle returned immediately. “Truly?”

Talia grinned. “She said you basically had sex with him in that oyster bar in front of the entire – “

Michelle held up her hand. “Hold on. I did not have – She wasn’t even there! When did you start talking to Truly?”

“She called me a few hours ago. She was looking for you. She was worried.” Talia smiled, her eyebrows raised again, but this time her lower lip was pressed between her teeth. Usually that meant something good. Like 'hey, that smoking hot man in the corner is staring at Michelle’s ass' something good. But this -

“Talia,” Michelle warned. “What is that face? What did you do?”

“I invited her to Vegas,” Talia said in a rush.

This wasn’t good.

“You invited Truly to Vegas.”

“She called me! She was worried for you and you know how I am. She had that little worried voice and I couldn’t say no.”

“We’ve been over this. She’s a person. Not a puppy.”

“She’s a little like a puppy,” Talia countered.

Michelle groaned and fell back against the couch cushions.

“It’ll be fun,” Talia insisted. “Like your birthday. Your birthday was fun. Cupcake ATM! Truly’s idea, remember!”

“Mini cakes dispensed from an ATM,” Michelle repeated, wistful.

“See,” Talia said. “It’ll be fun. It will. But it’ll have to be fun with just the two of you because I have to work.”

Michelle groaned again and waved her hand vaguely in the direction of her cellphone. It was on the table. So far away. Talia leaned over and retrieved it for her. Michelle continued to groan, then whine, as she scrolled through her contacts and then tapped Truly’s name.

“She isn’t answering,” Michelle said after the fourth ring. When Truly’s voicemail message began to play Michelle hung up and called again. “She’s still not answering.”

Truly had called Michelle several times over the past week, but Michelle couldn’t think of anything that Truly might say that would help the situation. She figured Truly must be calling in support of Fanny, to say ‘I told you so’, something, and so Michelle hadn’t picked up the phone.

Fanny had called twice. She left one message. It sounded angry. Michelle could only expect more of the same from Truly. Truly was Michelle’s little soldier after all. Her honorary daughter.

Michelle sighed and dropped the phone on the couch. “I can’t believe you invited her here.”

“You know what I think?” Talia asked. She was standing now, walking around the apartment and gathering her things.

“What?” Michelle asked when Talia returned to the living room with her bag slung over her shoulder.

“I think she has a little crush on you,” Talia said.

“I think you’re crazy,” Michelle returned without missing a beat.

Talia shrugged and stepped toward the door. She was halfway into the hall when she stopped and said, “Have fun, Sweets.”

“Sweets,” Michelle grumbled as she flopped back onto the couch.


“Truly, it’s Michelle. I don’t know what Talia told you, but you shouldn’t come to Vegas. It’s no fun here. It’s all desert and… and hookers. It’s indecent. And boring and hot. You’ll hate it.”

Michelle hung up the phone. “Come on,” she sighed.

She’d tried bonding with Truly. She’d tried bonding with Truly over home repairs. After Truly had made her curtains she’d called Truly to help her pick out fabric for the comforter for her bed, which Truly then offered to make. She called Truly to help paint a bookshelf, then to redo her bathroom. And it was fun. Truly was really very good at all of it. She really did have an eye for exactly what Michelle was looking for, and it seemed like they were starting to get comfortable together. It seemed like they might slowly be moving toward friends.

The bathroom was where things started to go wrong again.

“Oh,” Michelle had shouted as she lost her footing on the edge of the tub. “Oh! I’m going down!”

She pulled at the shower curtain as she went, as her foot slid off the rim of the tub. Michelle heard a tearing sound and then the curtain rod hit the porcelain tub. Truly turned just in time for Michelle to collide with her as she came down, Truly’s brand new shower curtain held tight in her hand. She pushed Truly back into the wall as she stumbled to stay on her feet.

“That could have been bad,” Michelle said, regaining her balance. She was leaning against Truly, close, her face inches from Truly’s. Truly stared back at her surprised, wide-eyed and frowning. “I could have broken my neck there. I don’t even know where the nearest hospital is.” She paused. “Is there a hospital in this town?”

Truly just blinked at her and then her eyes drifted down and Michelle looked too, down to where there chests were pressed to each other with Truly’s hand, still holding her paintbrush, pressed between than as well.

“Oh,” she said and scrambled away.

Truly looked down at her blouse covered in pale green paint. She peeled herself off the wall and twisted, turned to try to get a look at the back of her blouse as well. Yeah. There was paint on her back too. When Truly twisted back her eyes fell on the torn shower curtain that Michelle still held in her hand. The shower curtain that Truly had -

“Oh,” Michelle said. “Oh, no. Truly, I’m so sorry.” She reached for Truly, tried to wipe the paint from her blouse. When Truly gasped, Michelle pulled back. She’d wiped at the paint with the hand made shower curtain.

Truly took a step away.

“I have to go,” she said. Her words sounded choked, like she might explode at any moment. Her tone was easy to translate.

Michelle Simms was the destroyer of everything.

“No,” Michelle said. “Don’t go!” She followed Truly out of the bathroom, reached for her. Truly backed quickly away from Michelle until her legs hit the bathtub in the center of the room and she fell back, her butt hitting the bottom of the tub with a hard slap.

“Ow,” Michelle said for her, winced. “Here, let me –“

Truly tried to kick at her where her legs hung over the edge of the tub, but Michelle pressed forward, reached for Truly, pulled at Truly’s arms until Truly was on her feet.

“You have two bathtubs,” Truly said, her voice dull. It wasn’t news, of course. Truly had been in the guest house many times.

Before Michelle could say anything else, Truly handed her the paintbrush she still held in her hand and left.

Michelle had spent days apologizing over the shower curtain, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. They were back to where they’d started and Michelle’s bathroom remained mostly yellow, her shower curtain the clear plastic liner that they’d purchased at the hardware store.


There was a knock at Talia’s door and Michelle jumped.

She threw open the door to find Truly standing there, unsmiling.

“Hi Truly,” Michelle responded with a smile and wave. “Welcome to Vegas. Guess you didn’t get my messages. Come on in. Talia’s apartment es su casa.”

Truly stepped inside. She set her bag down, looked around, and crossed her arms over her chest. Finally she turned back to Michelle. She looked Michelle up and down and then said, “You left.”

“Well, yeah,” Michelle said.

“You won’t answer my calls,” Truly pointed out.

“No, I – “

“I thought we were friends.”

“You did?” Michelle returned. She’d kind of thought, well -

Truly was cold toward her again after the bathroom incident, seemed intent on avoiding her. Her words were short, clipped, her face lifted away from Michelle.

“It’s a shower curtain,” Michelle had tried to make amends. “It’s not like I killed your poodle.”

Truly looked at her for a long time before she answered and when she did her words sounded measured. “I told you not to hang the curtain until everything else was finished.”

“I know you did, I – “

She’d wanted to see it. She’d known it was going to be exactly what she wanted and it was. She just couldn’t wait to see how it would look.

“Maybe it can be fixed?”

“It could have been fixed,” Truly agreed. “Without the paint.” She’d turned and walked away from Michelle.


So Michelle had no choice but to conclude that Truly clearly didn’t want to be friends with her, didn’t want anything to do with her, and Michelle knew it wasn’t just the shower curtain. It was Hubbell, it was everything. Some of it she understood. Some of it must be hard for Truly, but Michelle had tried reaching out and Truly had chosen old lady book clubs and annual bill sorting with Fanny instead.

And then Talia dragged Michelle into Sparkles and suddenly Truly wanted to spend time with Michelle again, begged to go out with them, let them dress her and primp her. Michelle knew it was because of what Michelle had said about Truly’s book club, that Truly should be spending time with people her own age, but still. Truly snuck alcohol into the movie truck and pretended to be drunk with them. She drove them to Los Angeles and back. It was a pretty great birthday and a lot of that was because of Truly. And she kept her heels on all night. Michelle couldn’t help but smile just thinking about it.

“Why are you smiling?” Truly asked now, standing in Talia’s apartment.

“I’m not,” Michelle said. She passed her palm in front of her face, turned her mouth back into a neutral line.

Anyway, it didn’t last. Things were slightly better after that, sure, but awkward still. Truly shut down right away after Michelle caught her with the pirate plumber, closed down and by the time Michelle maced The Nutcracker, she wasn’t sure if she and Truly were all that much better off than they had been when Michelle first arrived.

“You didn’t?” Truly asked.

“Didn’t what?” Michelle asked. She’d lost track of the conversation.

“Think we were friends.”

“Not really,” Michelle said. “No. I thought – so you aren’t – you didn’t come here to yell at me on behalf of Fanny.”

“Why would I do that?” Truly asked.

“You aren’t choosing Fanny over me,” Michelle said, disbelief clear in her voice.

“Do I have to choose one of you?” Truly asked, her tone taking a slight turn toward haughty. “We aren’t children.”

“No,” Michelle said. “I just assumed that you only tolerated me because you’re attached to Fanny’s hip. You’re like her younger redder Siamese twin.”

“I assumed you only tolerated me because – I don’t know.”

“Because you were always around?”

“Yeah,” Truly said. “I guess.”

“So you’re here because – “

“Because I was worried.” Truly said it as though Michelle was the stupidest densest person in the entire state of Nevada.

“You came to Vegas to check on me,” Michelle said.

“I came to convince you to come back to Paradise,” Truly corrected.

Michelle laughed. “That’s not going to happen.”

Truly shrugged. “Well, I’ve never been to Vegas.”

Michelle nodded. “Okay, and though I didn’t invite you to Vegas, I’m nothing if I’m not a good hostess, so. What do you want to do first?”

Truly looked up at Michelle, surprised. “Really?” she said. “When I got your messages outside of town I thought you might just kick me out.”

“Aha,” Michelle crowed, her finger pointed in accusation. “So you got my messages.”

“You called ten times but I didn’t want to answer while I was driving. I pulled over to listen and then I didn’t call you back because I didn’t want you to tell me to leave.”

Truly was starting to relax. Her words were becoming less guarded, less short and clipped. Her nose wasn’t quite as turned up toward Michelle. Michelle relaxed a little too. Truly ignored her messages because she wanted to see Michelle. Not to yell at her, to grill her on how she could be so stupid – and really if Truly had come all the way to Vegas to yell at Michelle on behalf of Fanny, Michelle would have to conclude that Truly was maybe a little insane and possibly dangerous, and Michelle didn’t believe either of those things. Truly was just worried. She thought they were friends. It was sad, in a way, that Truly would assume that their awkward standoffish relationship was a friendship, but Michelle was willing to give it one more shot.

Michelle took a deep breath. She felt relieved and a little – something. Hungry? Had she eaten anything at all today?

“Are you hungry?” Michelle asked. She pressed her hands to her belly. “My stomach just started eating itself. What do you say we go out and get some dinner?” She stepped toward the door, but was stopped when Truly placed a hand on her arm.

“Is Vegas really boring?”

Michelle snorted. “You think I’d choose to live somewhere boring? Me?”

“I don’t know.”

Michelle snorted again. “Of course not. Come on, sister, I’ll show you around town.”

Truly eyed her. “In your pajamas?”

Michelle stopped short. “I’ll dress first. Then I’ll show you around town.”

“Oh!” Truly jumped, her arms waving, fluttering, in front of Michelle. Michelle waited, eyebrows raised as Truly rushed over to her bag. She turned to Michelle with a wide smile.

“I brought clothes!”


Michelle ran her hands over the rich navy blue of the dress, pressed her fingers to the asymmetrical neckline, and then smoothed the fabric at her hips as she led Truly across the crowded lobby toward the restaurant.

“Talia is never going to let you leave when she sees this. She’s going to tape you to a chair with a sewing machine in front of you. She’ll feed you, sure, but she’ll work you till your fingers bleed. You should run now while you still have a chance.”

“So you like it?” Truly asked, eagerness for approval clear in her voice.

“Of course I like it,” Michelle said. “It’s perfect.” Everything that Truly did was always so perfect. Michelle didn’t know how she did it. She didn’t know how not to botch everything she touched. It was like Truly made it specifically with Michelle in –

“Do you like mine?” Truly asked. Michelle stopped looking down at herself. She stopped walking too and turned to looked over toward Truly instead. Truly’s dress was a gorgeous understated green. It was mature and classy and showed Truly off perfectly. And to top of all off, it subtly matched Michelle’s dress so that as a pair they looked in sync and ready to take Vegas by storm.

Michelle shook her head in disbelief. “You know, when I first walked by Sparkles and saw those ducks in the window, I never would have guessed you were capable of this.”

“It looks all right?” Truly asked, doubtful.

“All right?” Michelle repeated. “We look hot. Smokin’. Did you see that? That guy in the sleazy smoking jacket just checked us out. And that one, and that kid can’t be older than twenty but he’s staring at your ass. Really, Truly, you’ve gotta get those ducks out of the window. You put these dresses in there instead. Paradise will go nuts.”

“I couldn’t,” Truly said.

“Why not?”

Truly looked down at herself and then shrugged. “The ducks are my specialty.”

“I think you just found a new specialty,” Michelle said. “Did you see that guy watching you?”

“No,” Truly said.

“Well, open your eyes! You’re the hottest thing in this hotel right now.”

Truly looked doubtful. “What about you?”

Michelle hooked her arm through Truly’s and started walking toward the restaurant again. “Well, you’ve got the boobs. Vegas loves boobs.”

Truly’s free hand flew up to cover hers.

“No, no, stop it,” Michelle said and reached out to pull her hand away. “You’re gorgeous.”

“I am?”

“Man, I wish I had your breasts,” Michelle said, knocking into Truly a little as they walked. “You know how much money I could have made with your breasts?”

“Stripping?” Truly asked, and Michelle didn’t miss the suppressed gasp that accompanied the word.

“No,” Michelle smiled. “Well, yes.”


Once they were settled in the restaurant, Michelle ordered a vodka martini. Truly ordered water.

“Water,” Michelle repeated, surprised. Truly had perused the drink menu quietly for a full two minutes while Michelle babbled about the great times she’d had at the hotel in the past. “You can’t order water at a place like this. You don’t have to order water at a place like this. They bring it to you anyway. Sparkling, bottled, or tap?”

Truly stared back at Michelle for a long moment. She wasn’t a drinker, true, Michelle knew that, but she also knew that every so often Truly enjoyed a glass of wine with Fanny. She came all the way out here to check on Michelle, to convince her to return to Paradise, but she’d brought the dresses, so it was clear that a night on the town had always been part of Truly’s plan.

“I’d like to change my order,” Michelle said. “No martini for me. I’ll have a glass of champagne.”

“I’ll have champagne too,” Truly said immediately. “And a glass of water.”

“That’s more like it,” Michelle said once the waiter had departed. “You’re in Vegas decked out in a super sexy cocktail dress. Pfft. Water.”

Truly shifted, uncomfortable as she pulled at her dress.

“What is it?” Michelle asked.

“Nothing,” Truly said. She scanned the dining room. “This feels like a date.”

“On your dates you usually order water and then let your dates pressure you into drinking champagne?” Michelle guessed.

“Did you eat here with Hubbell?” Truly countered suddenly.

Oh, so that’s what this was about. Truly looked away after she’d said it, refused to look at Michelle as she waited for the answer.

“No,” Michelle said. “Not here.”

Truly nodded, but didn’t turn back toward Michelle.

“Truly, do you feel like you’re betraying your feelings for Hubbell by being friendly with me?”

Truly played with the napkin in her lap as she searched for her answer.

“At first I did,” Truly admitted. “It just seemed like you arrived and ruined everything – and then Hubbell was in the accident and – at first I did, yes.”

“And then?”

“And then – I don’t know, I –” Truly’s face lit up in relief. “Oh, the champagne.”

Michelle watched Truly as the glasses were set down before them. They ordered their dinner and then when the waiter left again, Michelle decided that it was too early in the night to get to the bottom of their weirdness. It was a midnight conversation and it was just barely 7 p.m.

“A toast,” Michelle suggested with a smile as she held out her glass.

“A toast to what?” Truly asked, visibly relaxing at the subject change.

“To gorgeous dresses and champagne,” Michelle suggested.

“And to Hubbell,” Truly added, quietly.

“To Hubbell,” Michelle agreed.

She ended up drinking two more glasses. Hey, if it was already going on the credit card –

Truly had her second glass and by the time their check arrived, the confessions had been pushed aside. They were smiling and bubbly. Like the champagne. Bubbly, get it? They were ready to take on the night.

“Okay,” Michelle said, smiling at her own mental joke. Bubbly. Heh. “Where do you want to go next? There’s the Bellagio, the MGM Grand, the Tropicana, the –“

“What about your show?” Truly asked.

“You don’t want to go to the show,” Michelle said immediately.

“Yes, I do,” Truly countered, leaning over the table. “Oh, Michelle, let’s go to the show!”

“Truly,” Michelle sighed. “My show – it’s really not your thing – it’s – there’s dancing, yes, but there’s stripping and breasts and –“

“I know,” Truly said. “I know all about it.”

“You do?”

“I looked it up online. I think we should go. I want to see what you used to do.”

Michelle was doubtful. This was, after all, the woman who had pronounced Michelle the ‘Pole Dancer from Reno’ when she first arrived in Paradise. On the other hand, Michelle wasn’t a stripper. She was a dancer and if she took Truly to see the show, to see Talia in the show, then maybe –

“You’re sure you really want to go,” Michelle said, doubtful.

Truly grinned, her hands flying up to hide it before she could stop herself. “Yes,” she said from behind her fingers. “Yes, let’s go.”


It was the first time she’d seen it since running off to Paradise. The spectacle, the pure Vegas-ness of it. Her friends. Her…not friends. All of them. She didn’t want this back, it wasn’t her anymore, but they had had some good times.

When the lights came up, Michelle turned to Truly, a nervous smile playing her lips. She wasn’t sure what to expect. She braced herself for the judgment, but Truly offered no opinion. Nothing on the dancing or the women or the breasts on display. Instead Truly said, “Can we go backstage?”

“Why?” Michelle asked, immediately suspicious.

“I just want to see what it was like where you worked.”

“This kind of is was what it was like where I worked,” Michelle said and gestured toward the stage.

“You didn’t take off your top,” Truly said.

Truly had sat quietly beside Michelle throughout the show, her back straight and her hands folded in her lap. She’d clapped at the end. When Michelle whooped for Talia, Truly hooted a bit too, her hands raised as she clapped for Michelle’s friend.

“Nope,” Michelle confirmed. “I danced right beside Talia. What did you think?”

Truly looked down at her hands. They were in the center of their row, about halfway back from the stage. Everyone around them was leaving, filing out into the aisles. Michelle ignored them and waited for Truly’s verdict.

“Truly? What did you think?”

“I think it must have been exciting,” Truly offered. “Having everyone clap for you. Having all of these admirers.”

“It was exciting at times,” Michelle conceded. “It got old pretty fast.”

Truly turned toward her so that their knees knocked. She took Michelle’s hand in hers, then released it and looked back toward the stage. “I bet you were beautiful up there. I can see why – I would have loved to see you dance.”

Michelle smiled. She couldn’t help it. She hadn’t expected the complement. She almost didn’t believe it. The Truly that she had met those months ago never would have been caught dead here. She wouldn’t have loved to see Michelle on that stage then at all. But she was here with Michelle now and maybe Truly was right. Maybe they were on their way toward friends, at least of a sort.

“That’s really – “ Michelle started. “That’s sweet, Truly. Thank you.“

“You’re welcome,” Truly said and smiled.

“Okay,” Michelle said. She stood and then pulled Truly up by the arm. “You want to go backstage? We’ll go backstage.”

Flattery. It worked every time.


Talia was surprised when they arrived in the dressing room. “Michelle?” she asked concerned, and then she saw Truly and jumped up, rushed to them. “Truly! Oh my God, what are you both wearing? I could eat you in these dresses.”

She pulled Truly into a tight hug.

“Well, this is it,” Michelle said, her hands flopping at her sides. The dressing room looked the same. The tables, the makeup, the feathers, and the girls. The last time she was here Hubbell had asked her out to dinner and that was it. She was off.

“Did you see the show?” Talia asked. She turned to Michelle, eyebrows raised. “Michelle? Did you take Truly to see the show?”

“We did,” Michelle said. Allison was there now too, and Tracey, and Char. It was exactly what Michelle had been trying to avoid since returning to Vegas. They huddled around her, a million hugs and a thousand questions. Talia must have spread the word about Hubbell. Everyone was careful not to mention his name. Michelle appreciated it. It was a touchy subject, and not just for her.

“Are you coming back?” Char asked, eventually.

“No!” Michelle said immediately. “Nooo. I’m just showing – my friend Truly is here visiting from California. She’d never been to Vegas and – “

“What’s next?” Talia interrupted. The question was directed to Truly. “A little gambling? Dancing at a club until dawn? Oh, let’s go dancing!”

“Oh!” Allison said. “Yes, let’s all go dancing!”

“I don’t know,” Michelle said and scrunched up her nose. They were surrounded by show girls and sequins and feathers, jumping up and down in excitement. It must be contagious because Truly was jumping a little with them. “Oh, what the hell. Dancing till dawn it is.”

“Woo!” Talia hooted. “Dancing till dawn!”

“Woo woo!” Truly parroted, turning to grip Michelle’s arm in excitement.


She thought Truly might be self-conscious. She thought she might shut down or stand in a corner or desire to leave. A dance club in Las Vegas seemed as far from Truly’s usual scene as one could possibly get. Michelle expected Truly to be overwhelmed, turned off. She had it all planned out. If Truly didn’t want to stay at the club, Michelle would suggest that they go find some dessert instead. She knew Truly wouldn’t turn down cake and Michelle knew where to find all of the best cake in Las Vegas.

Turned out the backup plan wasn’t needed. Maybe she should have known better.

Now Michelle thought that she probably had herself to thank for this. After all, who knew that Truly had this secret party side? No one. Not until Michelle called her out on the geriatrics book club (Okay, that was a bit harsh. Michelle liked many of the club’s members. But still. Truly, come on.). Not until she conceded in letting Truly join them the night of her birthday. That side had disappeared in the months that followed, but here it was again.

Truly. Dancing in the middle of Michelle’s dancer friends at a club in Las Vegas. In a short dress and heels. The neckline on her dress was low and Michelle watched the bounce of Truly’s breasts, the red waves of hair falling over her shoulders. Michelle felt her chest puff out a little with pride.

Truly caught Michelle standing there on the sidelines, grinning at the scene like some proud parent. Michelle couldn’t hear over the noise of the club, but she could see that Truly shouted her name, waved her over. Michelle downed the rest of her champagne and moved onto the floor to join the party. As she got near she danced up to Truly, let her arms fall over Truly’s shoulders.

Truly pulled her close.

“I’ve never done this,” Truly said, shouting it to be heard over the noise. “I never – “

“Enjoy it, lady,” Michelle shouted back. Talking here was pointless. Here was for dancing.

Michelle shimmied against Truly, turned in a circle, her butt wiggling against Truly’s side as she turned, and then she was back to bump her hip against Truly’s. Truly laughed and danced along, twirled when Michelle twirled, pressed her back to Michelle’s back as they wriggled down toward the floor and back up again. When Michelle took Truly’s hand, Truly let herself be pulled, let Michelle lead. It wasn’t until Truly’s head fell forward and she pressed her mouth to Michelle’s shoulder that Truly froze, stopped dancing and pulled away from Michelle’s hands.

“Truly, come on,” Michelle said, tried to pull her back in, but Truly was shaking her head and saying something about the bathroom.

“I’ll come with you,” Michelle offered, but Truly was gone, pushing her way through the crowd. Michelle stood there for a moment, the crowd dancing around her. What was that?

She turned and found Talia, reached for her and shouted “Bathroom!”

Talia let herself be pulled, laughing through the crowd.

“I just spooked Truly,” Michelle explained once they were off the floor.

“What?” Talia asked. “Where is she? How?”

“She said she was going to the bathroom,” Michelle said. “And I don’t know how. We were just dancing. She was having fun! Or I thought she was having fun. It’s Truly. Maybe looking like you’re having fun means you aren’t having fun. I’m still learning.”

“Oh,” Talia said then, her voice knowing.

“Oh? What ‘Oh’? Explain.”

“You were doing that thing,” Talia guessed. “That thing where you dance all close.” Talia demonstrated, snapping her fingers as she shimmied up against Michelle.

“I don’t snap my fingers like that,” Michelle said.

“Yes, you do.”

“What was that? ‘I Dream of Jeanie’?”

“Jeanie wiggled her nose. She didn’t snap her fingers.”

“I remember ‘I Dream of Jeanie’ and – “

“The fingers aren’t the point,” Talia cut in. “This is the point.” She gestured toward the proximity between their bodies. “And you’re very handsy.”

Michelle looked down at her hands, then wiped them on her dress, then folded her arms across her chest, not sure what else to do.

“Handsy?” Maybe she was a little handsy, but these were her friends! It was okay to get a little handsy when dancing at a club with your friends! In Vegas! Drinking champagne!

“I told you about the crush,” Talia hissed, pulling Michelle further away from the noise of the room.

“Crush,” Michelle repeated. “What crush?”

“I told you,” Talia insisted. “I said ‘I think Truly’s got a little crush on you.’”

“When did you say that?” Michelle asked. “What is that supposed to mean? Why would you –“

“Earlier,” Talia said and waved a hand to indicate some unspecified time before now. You were whining about how you ruined everything and no one liked you and I said “Truly loves you.” And you said – “

“Okay, speed this up.” Michelle watched the bathroom door, waited for Truly’s return.

“I think she has a crush on you,” Talia concluded.

“Like a hero worship cool older sister crush? - or younger sister. Probably younger sister, right? Like a hero worship cool younger sister crush.”

“Definitely older sister,” Talia corrected. “And sure. Or like a cool friend who I might want to kiss with tongue crush. Whichever.”

“Why?” Michelle cut in. “Why might she want to kiss me with tongue? Why do you think that is something she might want?”

“It’s just a vibe I got,” Talia shrugged.

“A vibe you got how?” Michelle asked. “And when? I want details. Specifics. Time, place, hour, minute.”

“When I came to Paradise, she begged to go out with us,” Talia started.

“So what! You should have seen her alternative. A book club where she brought the median age down to 60. And do you know what they were reading?”

“She’s crushing hard,” Talia said. “You saw the way she clambered for your approval on the dress we put her in.”

She’d done the same thing on the way to dinner, but that didn’t mean anything. Talia was grasping at straws.

“Yours. Not ours. She spent the entire night trying to win you over. The movie truck, the alcohol, the cupcakes! Everything was her idea.”

“You’re really reaching here,” Michelle said.

“And now look at her tonight!” Talia said. “She’s in Vegas. She’s loving this. You’re the reason she’s here, and then you go dancing all up on her. Of course you spooked her.”

Michelle stared dumbfounded at Talia. “Okay.”


“Okay, I get it.”

She didn’t get it. She’d totally missed it, had not followed at all. But if she was going to get it, it wasn’t going to be here, in this club while she anxiously waited for Truly to emerge from a bathroom.

“What are you going to do?” Talia asked.

“I don’t know,” Michelle said.

Michelle started to pull away from Talia. Truly hadn’t returned from the bathroom yet. Michelle intended to be there when Truly did.

Talia grabbed her arm.

“Be nice to her,” Talia said.

Michelle must have looked offended (she was, a little) because Talia kept a grip on her arm long enough to clarify.

“You’ve been here before,” Talia explained. “But I’m betting for someone like Truly, this is all kinda new, you know?”

“New,” Michelle repeated. “Sure.”


Michelle waited outside of the bathroom. She thought about going in, but it was clear that Truly wanted privacy. Michelle would give her as much privacy as one could expect to find in a crowded ladies’ room in a crowded club in a crowded hotel and casino in the middle of Las Vegas.

“Truly,” Michelle called as soon as Truly emerged, and Truly jumped in surprise and turned toward Michelle’s voice.

“Michelle,” Truly said. “Hi.”

“Come outside with me for a minute, okay?” Michelle asked.

“Why?” Truly asked.

“So that I can talk to you without ripping out my vocal cords,” Michelle shouted.

Truly nodded and followed until they were standing outside of the club, back in the lobby of the hotel.

“What do you want to talk about?”

“I wanted to talk about – “ Michelle started, but then stopped, not sure how to really begin. Truly’s hands were clasped in front of her, twisting, nervous. Truly did that a lot, so maybe it was nothing. Michelle couldn’t help but think that it was her fault.

“I’m sorry about the shower curtain,” Michelle blurted.

“What?” Truly’s hands stilled.

“I’m sorry that I ruined the shower curtain that you made for me,” Michelle said. “My whole life is like that shower curtain and -

“I made you a new shower curtain,” Truly cut in, her hands flying up to stop Michelle’s confession.

“You did?” Michelle asked. “When?”

“A week after you ruined the last one,” Truly admitted.

She’d been showering behind that plastic liner. She refused to buy a new shower curtain so that each time she bathed she was reminded of how she’d ruined things with the last one.

“You never told me, you never said – “

“I know,” Truly said.

“Why wouldn’t you – “

The things that Talia had told her started to click in place. What if it hadn’t been about the shower curtain at all? Not really. What if Talia was right and the whole thing – Truly pulling away just as they’d started to get close, doing it again and again until Michelle thought there was no hope that they could ever be friends – what if it wasn’t because Truly didn’t like Michelle, but because she had started to realize that maybe she liked Michelle too much?

It seemed ridiculous. It seemed highly unlikely. But it was stuck there now, stuck in her head, the ‘what if’ of it. Michelle had never done well with ‘what if’s. It was how she’d ended up in Vegas. It was how she’d ended up married and living in Paradise. Michelle had always had a hard time resisting a ‘what if.’

Truly’s fingers had started their twisting again, and Michelle reached out, stopped Truly’s hands, took one in hers and pulled Truly closer.

This was probably one of those moments. One of those moments like the shower curtain and the dancing. One of those moments when Michelle was in danger of shifting from almost Truly’s friend right back to the destroyer of everything. Michelle recognized that. After all, she had no proof. She hadn’t seen what Talia had seen. She’d seen awkwardness and tension and possibly a lack of social skills.

But Truly had come to Vegas. She’d come to Vegas with new clothes for Michelle. She’d let Michelle take her out to dinner. She had champagne and she – she said it felt like a date. And then she asked to see Michelle’s old show. She was trying to get to know Michelle better. She drove all the way to Vegas to convince Michelle to come home, and then they’d danced and Michelle had felt it, had felt Truly kiss her shoulder right before Truly got spooked and ran to the ladies room.

Sure, there was the possibility that maybe Michelle had it all wrong. Maybe this was all some weird Hubbell thing and had nothing to do with Michelle at all. Maybe Michelle was about to screw it all up.

This was definitely one of those moments. Friends or the destroyer of everything. Michelle recognized that and she went ahead with it anyway. She went ahead and kissed Truly.

Truly gasped when she realized what Michelle intended. She gasped, but she didn’t pull away. Instead her fingers tightened on Michelle’s hand and she let Michelle pull her the rest of the way in. Truly stared at her, eyes wide, as their lips met, and then Michelle let her own eyes fall shut. Truly’s mouth was soft on hers, Truly’s hand tight in her own.

Maybe this was it. Maybe it answered everything, explained everything. The shower curtain, her birthday, the awkwardness and tension and everything that came after.

Truly kissed Michelle back, slow and unsure, and it was Michelle’s turn to tighten her grip on Truly’s hand, her other hand light on Truly’s shoulder, then Truly’s cheek.

Oh, she loved this. First kisses - good first kisses that spun and sparked – had always been one of Michelle’s favorite things. Kissing Truly was unexpected, unplanned, but as far as first kisses went, it was -

Someone whistled out a catcall, followed by an obscene remark.

Wait, Michelle thought. No, wait, she wasn’t ready to end this. The kiss was just now becoming perfect, but it was too late. Truly broke the kiss and stumbled away.

“Sorry,” Truly said. “Oh, God, I –“

Michelle turned to find the owner of their interruption, but there were so many people in the lobby, and several of them were staring. Michelle reached for Truly again, grabbed her hand.

“Come on,” she said. “Let’s get out of here.”


Truly sat quietly on Talia’s couch while Michelle paced the apartment. She gathered sheets and pillows to make up the couch for Truly to sleep. She found a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt and she handed them to Truly. Truly slipped away to the bathroom to change. When she returned, she passed close by Michelle and Michelle felt it. That little twinge of spark, a little pull. That exciting flutter in her chest. The start of something she hadn’t expected, something that she never would have guessed.

“Here you go,” she said, presenting the bed she’d made up for Truly. “It’s not a suite at the Ritz, but it’s pretty comfortable as far as couches go.”

Truly smoothed out the sheets with her palm, then sat down and folded her hands in her lap, closed off and quiet, as Michelle resumed her agitated pacing. Despite that spark, Michelle couldn’t help but start to feel like she’d been wrong, like she’d done it again. Michelle Simms. Destroyer of Everything. She can make a budding friendship reset straight back to tense and awkward with just one kiss.

If Truly would just say something. But Truly had been mostly silent since they’d left club and Michelle had never been very good at dealing with silence.

“I feel like I should apologize,” Michelle said, finally. The more Michelle thought about it, the more she thought Talia must be wrong, that Michelle had run with nothing, assumed too much.

“Apologize?” Truly repeated.

Michelle stopped her pacing and collapsed on the couch beside Truly, limbs sprawled and taking up more room than her frame suggested it could. Truly inched away from her and Michelle pulled back in response, compressed a little, but she didn’t stop wallowing.

“I’m a mess, Truly,” Michelle admitted with a sigh. “A lost washed up mess.”

“No, you aren’t,” Truly said immediately. She scooted across the couch closer to Michelle. “You aren’t.”

Truly decompressed a little, untangled her hands from where they twisted in her lap. She reached out and pulled Michelle’s hand up from where it lay limp on the cushion of the couch, folded it in her own. Michelle gripped Truly’s hand and shook her head. She hadn’t had enough champagne for this. She hadn’t had enough champagne at all.

“What am I going to do with myself?” Michelle asked.

“Come back to Paradise,” Truly said, immediately. Her grip tightened and she leaned in toward Michelle, eyes bright again with purpose. It was, after all, the reason she said she’d driven to Vegas in the first place. To convince Michelle to come back to Paradise.

Michelle looked up. “Why?” she asked.

“Fanny needs you,” Truly tried. “The girls need you.” She paused before she said the next part. “I miss you.”

“You do?”

“Sure,” Truly said, then she started to backtrack. “We all miss you.”

“But what about you?” Michelle asked. “Truly, what do you want from me?”

Truly understood her meaning right away.

“You kissed me,” Truly said, her chin held high. She dropped Michelle’s hand and Michelle stopped slouching, sat up straight, ready to talk.

“I know,” Michelle said. “Don’t try to confuse me.”

“I don’t know,” Truly said. “I don’t know what I want from you.”

“See, that’s confusing,” Michelle pointed out.

“You kissed me,” Truly said again, stubborn. She looked away.

Oh, Michelle was going to screw this up. She was going to say the wrong thing, shove her foot right into her mouth. The damage would be irreparable, and then Michelle would never be able to go back to Paradise, California again.

“Talia thinks you have a crush on me,” Michelle said. “Not like a cool sister crush, but like, you know, a lesbian kissing crush.”

“Oh,” Truly said after a moment. She still wasn’t looking at Michelle.

“Do you?”

“I don’t know,” Truly said.

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Michelle asked.

Truly shrugged, a helpless sad little shrug. “I think I finally had myself convinced that I didn’t,” she said. “That I’d just never had a friend quite like you. That I was just lonely and mourning and that was why I – but then you kissed me.”

“Truly – I –“

“Do you remember when you walked in on me and Davis?”

“Davis,” Michelle repeated, confused.

“The plummer,” Truly mumbled.

“Oh!” Michelle said, the pieces clicking together. “The pirate plummer!”

“And then you asked me about it the next day and I said that I didn’t want to talk about it and you assumed it was because Davis only has one eye and I said it was because I still loved Hubbell.”

“It wasn’t because of his one eye or because you still loved Hubbell?”

“I didn’t want to talk about it because some of it was about you.”

“Okay, you’re losing me.”

“I kissed Davis in the dressing room at the studio because I thought that it would stop me from wondering if maybe I wanted to kiss you,” Truly said in a rush.

“Oh,” Michelle said. “Oh. So it wasn’t about Hubbell? It was about me? That’s why you didn’t want to talk about it?”

“Yes,” Truly said, then shook her head. “No. It was about Hubbell too.”

Michelle frowned, confronted by a new thought that hadn’t occurred to her until now. Maybe, deep down, none of this was actually about Michelle at all. Not really.

“This isn’t like – this isn’t some weird Hubbell thing, is it?”

“Weird Hubbell thing?” Truly repeated.

“Like kissing me, liking me, will bring you closer to Hubbell somehow?”

“You kissed me,” Truly said again.

“That isn’t the point,” Michelle countered, but she kept her voice low, understanding. “Hubbell is gone and we all just need to –“

“I smothered him,” Truly admitted then, cutting Michelle off.


“Did you know that we used to date?” Truly asked. “Hubbell and I. We used to date and Hubbell always told me what he was looking for and even if he didn’t tell me, I knew, you know? I knew him and I knew. He was looking for someone who wasn’t Fanny. Someone who would let him live and breathe and stretch. Someone who wouldn’t smother him. I smothered him. I knew, but I couldn’t help myself. I watched myself doing it and did it anyway. He broke up with me. I knew he would do that too.”

“Oh,” Michelle said. She reached for Truly’s hand again, but Truly pulled back and shook her head. “Truly – “

“You were everything that Hubbell ever wanted. Funny and tall and gorgeous and independent. You’re sassy. I’ve never been sassy. I’ve never been anything like – “

“Me,” Michelle said.

“This isn’t a weird Hubbell thing,” Truly concluded.

Michelle opened her mouth, not entirely sure she was convinced by that speach, but then closed it again and decided not to press. They sat together in silence for a moment, and then Michelle found the other important question and she asked it.

“But this is a this?” Michelle asked.

“I don’t know.” Truly’s tone told Michelle that Truly was getting frustrated. She was likely to shut down completely soon, and when would they ever have this chance again? When would they be this open with each other again if not now?

“Okay,” Michelle said.

Now it was Truly’s turn to open her mouth to speak, then change her mind. Michelle watched as the gears turned, and then Truly turned to her.

“What is it?” Michelle urged.

“Do you ever wonder if – sometimes I think I might have been hiding behind Hubbell,” Truly admitted. She spoke slowly, really thinking about each word. “I wonder if I knew he was unattainable and that was why I loved him. He was an excuse, a reason not to put myself out there or get involved.”

Michelle wasn’t sure what to say. Truly went on.

“Sometimes I wonder if I know myself at all.”

“Oh,” Michelle said. “Truly.”

Truly laughed. “You think you’re a mess.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years being a mess, it’s that we’re all equally as messy in one way or another,” Michelle said.

“Why did you kiss me?” Truly asked. “Talia guessed what I was feeling and she told you, but you didn’t have to kiss me. Did you do it because –“

“I wanted to,” Michelle admitted, and in admitting it to Truly, she admitted it to herself too.

“You did?”

“It isn’t something that I’d ever really thought about before,” Michelle admitted. “I didn’t have a pirate plummer moment or anything like that. For a long time I thought that you really just tolerated me, that our relationship would always be cold and weird and awkward and I’d go out of my way to avoid you, tiptoe past Sparkles or walk on the other side of the street, and we’d see each other because of Fanny and we’d be cordial, but that would be it.”

Truly nodded and waited for Michelle to continue.

“And then tonight I started to see it all differently and – I wanted to kiss you. It wasn’t planned or well thought out. I’ve been worried since I did it that I ruined everything, because that’s what I do. It’s a talent, one that I’ve diligently perfected over the years. I make messes of things. I get married on a whim and I run away and I quit and I kiss people without thinking. And I’m sorry.”

“What about Godot?”

“Godot,” Michelle repeated. “That was – Truly, I don’t know what you were told, but it was just a kiss. He kissed me. That was all. He’s a kid. He turns his clothes inside out instead of washing them. Anyway, he’s gone. It was never going to be anything more than that.”

“This was just a kiss,” Truly pointed out.

“This is different,” Michelle said.

“Are you sure?” Truly asked.

“No,” Michelle said truthfully. She wasn’t sure at all.

“Do you want to kiss me again?” Truly asked. She asked it quickly, as though she would talk herself out of it if she thought about it too long.

Michelle looked up, surprised. It was a bold move coming from Truly. It was brave and outgoing. Truly was taking a risk.

“Yes,” Michelle said, without hesitation.

Truly’s lips parted as though she had more to say, but she didn’t talk, she just sat there for a moment, frozen. Michelle realized that her heart was racing a little. She felt like a teenager who had just discovered how exciting a kiss could be. And it wasn’t like – she’d been here before. It had been a long time, but this wasn’t the first time that Michelle had done this. It was, of course, the first time that Michelle had done this with Truly.

She worried that perhaps Truly’s moment of boldness was over, that Michelle’s answer had stunned the reserve back into her and she might pull away, and Michelle felt disappointment fill her gut.

Truly took her time to let Michelle’s response sink in, but Michelle was wrong. Truly didn’t pull away. Instead Truly moved in, her hand coming up to curl around Michelle’s neck as she pulled Michelle in to kiss.

It was different here, in Talia’s living room, with Truly doing the kissing. A first kiss was different when you were the one being kissed, and this first kiss surprised and thrilled Michelle as much as the kiss in the hotel lobby had, but in entirely different ways. Truly was unsure in the lobby, tentative, and Michelle hadn’t pressed, had been too thrilled by the warm press of lips, the way that Truly shook a little in her arms. Now Truly kissed Michelle as though she’d been storing up kisses, locking them away, saving them, and she’d only now decided to spend them, all at once in case she didn’t get another chance.

Michelle was becoming more and more sure that Truly would have plenty more chances.

Michelle smiled against Truly’s mouth and Truly pulled back for a moment.

“What?” she asked, concerned.

“Nothing,” Michelle said, and pulled Truly back in. Michelle moved back against the cushions and Truly followed, her hand sliding away from Michelle’s face to settle at Michelle’s waist instead. Michelle held Truly close as they kissed, her fingers pressing into the exposed skin at Truly’s shoulders, their legs intertwined.

They kissed for a long time. They kissed until their mouths grew tired and their lips grew sore. They kissed until Truly began to move over Michelle, their bodies shifting against each other in response to their mouths and their tongues. Finally, it was Truly who pulled away, who hovered over Michelle, unsure, until Michelle smiled up at her. Truly tucked her hair behind her ear as she looked back at Michelle.

“I think we should stop,” Truly said, then clarified. “For now, I mean. Not for good.”

“I knew what you meant,” Michelle smiled.

Truly sat up, ran her hands over the t-shirt and sweatpants as though trying to smooth the fabric. Her hands lingering against her hips and legs. Michelle wanted to reach for her, knew that they were both in the same spot, both aroused by the kissing, but she resisted. Truly pulled away because Truly wasn’t ready to go further. There was no reason to rush. Michelle took Truly’s cue and composed herself. She stood up, handed Truly another blanket.

“Good night,” she said.

“Good night,” Truly said in return.

Michelle was just about to turn out the light and retreat into Talia’s room when Truly stopped her.

“You’ll come back to Paradise, won’t you?” Truly asked.

“Truly – I –“

“You could work at Sparkles,” Truly suggested immediately. Her face lit up as though her suggestion was sure to solve everything for Michelle.

“I would ruin Sparkles,” Michelle said. She shook her head. “I would rip things and spill ink on the fabric and you would hate me just like Fanny hates me. It would ruin this before it even started.”

“Okay,” Truly said after a moment. “Don’t work at Sparkles. But come back to Paradise. I’ll talk to Fanny. I’ll – “

“I’ll think about it,” Michelle said.

“She misses you,” Truly offered. “I can tell.”

“You think so?” Michelle asked.

Truly smiled, and settled in on the couch, pulled the blanket up to her chin.

“I’ll think about it,” Michelle said again as she flipped off the lightswitch. “G’night Truly.”


It was still dark when Michelle awoke to Talia shaking her arm.

“What happened?” Talia hissed. Michelle had been crashing on Talia’s couch, but with Truly here, she’d climbed into Talia’s bed instead. It was large enough, and it wasn’t the first time they’d shared.

“What?” Michelle asked now, groggy and half asleep. She blinked, tried to focus on Talia. Talia was on the bed, kneeling over her. Michelle could smell the vodka emanating from her pores. “Did you have fun at the club? What time is it?”

“Who cares,” Talia pressed. “You’re killing me here. What happened with you and Truly?”

Michelle smiled, slow and wide.

“Really,” Talia said, the word drawn out as she grinned, intrigued. She stretched out on the bed beside Michelle and pulled the covers over them both. “So what are you doing in here then? You can sleep two on that couch, you know. I’ve done it.”

“I’m being nice,” Michelle said. “I’m taking things slow.”

“So nothing happened?” Talia asked.

“Oh,” Michelle said. “Something happened alright. A makeout session the likes of which I haven’t had since high school.”

“Wow,” Talia said, her voice wistful. She turned on her side to face Michelle, her hands bunched up under her chin, ready to hear all of Michelle’s gossip.

“Truly wants me to move back to Paradise,” Michelle said after a moment.

“Of course,” Talia said. “Everyone thinks you should move back to Paradise. You were crazy to come back here in the first place.”

“I don’t know,” Michelle said. She wasn’t sure how to face Fanny. Not after The Nutcracker. Not after she ran. She didn’t know how she could face the girls after she quit on them the way she did. But now this with Truly – she didn’t know how she couldn’t not go back either. They would screw this up, she was sure of it. She’d make a mess of things or Truly would, but either way. She wanted to see where this was headed.

“You’re going,” Talia concluded for her. She turned onto her back and stared up at the ceiling, resolved. “I’m evicting you. You have no choice.”

“Yeah,” Michelle agreed. She curled in against Talia and yawned. “I never thought – I mean, Hubbell and then Fanny and the girls and now this. Who would ever have thought last year that this is where I’d end up?”

“Not me,” Talia said.

“Not me,” Michelle agreed.

“Some girls have all the luck,” Talia said.

“Luck,” Michelle snorted. “Yeah.”

She was, after all, the Destroyer of Everything, a mess, a failure. She was a washed up ballerina. A failed Broadway dancer. A Vegas showgirl at thirty six. She was unemployed and hiding from her mother-in-law in her best friend’s apartment. She was a long list of failures and not much else.

But maybe, just maybe, she was a little bit lucky too.