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I'm Not Myself Today

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In Chloe's defense, if she'd known the sociopath behind the counter was a fairy, she wouldn't have said -

"Oh my God, who cares. My ass, okay, give me the coffee that's closest in aroma to my ass. Here, take a big sniff."

She hopped up on the counter to give the chick with the eyeliner and the holier-than-thou single-origin attitude a good angle, and suddenly the world froze.

"What the fuck?" She looked around. The guy writing his novel had frozen, frowning, at his laptop. A kid in the corner had its finger up its nose and wasn't moving. The old lady in the window - eugh, was she dead? Maybe. But maybe she was just also frozen.

She turned back to the barista, who stood there calmly blinking. "Put it back."

"Oh, don't worry, I will. These people just deserve to drink their artisan brew in peace. You, on the other hand..."

"Artisan brew, my ass. Just admit you've got big old cans of Folgers back there."

"You do not," the barista said, like Chloe hadn't even spoken. "It's time you learned some manners."

"It's time you learned to suck my -"

Chloe tended to blink when she was gearing up for a rant. This time, she blinked, and wound up screaming "- THROBBING COCK!" at the toddler in a stroller on the sidewalk outside the coffee house.

The toddler's mom or nanny or whatever gasped and said, "Language, young lady!"

Chloe tried to say, "Sit and spin, lady, buy him some earmuffs." But instead, she said, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I'm going to go check myself into therapy right away."

Then she tried to say "What the fuck," but what came out was, "Wish me luck!"

The woman actually did wish her good luck. Chloe hated her and wanted her to die.

The rest of the day was like that. Every time she tried to say anything that didn't make her sound like she was auditioning for a remake of Mister Rogers, she wound up saying something serial killer levels of nice and inoffensive. It was so traumatizing that when she got home, she didn't text James or go jerk off in June's bed or even hang out with Eli; she just went to her own room, closed the door, and stayed there.

June knocked on her door, of course, because June had an anxiety disorder and was also really, actually nice. Oh God, how did she do it? Was Chloe going to start dressing like a nun and caring about people, too? The thought was scary enough that she had to go dig up her backup backup bourbon and drink it, sitting in her underwear, while crying.

Her life was over. Over.

She woke up the next day to incessant tapping on her door. She tried to snarl, "Fuck off, June," but instead said, "Give me just a second!"

Fucking fairies. Chloe's family had run into them three times that she'd heard of. They were starting to be more careful with their curses, since the internet and YouTube meant that word of magical shenanigans traveled fast. And of course that was why Chloe had been cursed: her family was beautiful, rich, known to the Fae as a hostile clan, and that fairy had the power to ensure she'd never be able to tell anyone what had happened.

"There you are," June said, her face as happy and simple and stupid as a golden retriever's. "So, I know this isn't normally your scene, buuut, I was wondering if you'd want to go to..."

'A sex club?' Chloe tried to say. It came out as, "Brunch?!"

June's eyes widened. For a second, Chloe thought she was going to catch on to the fact that something was wrong. Instead she said, very slowly, "Actually, yes. James has a reservation at Harbor Barber, the -"

"Haircut themed place with artisan whipped mousse pancakes, I'm dying to go there!"

"And they don't normally take reservations, so," June said.

Brunch. Brunch brunch brunch. Chloe was going to die, or kill herself, which might have been the stupid fairy's goal all along. But she couldn't say no, because she knew that would make June sad, and the magic wasn't allowing for that. She found herself smiling instead, so widely and stupidly it hurt her face, and saying, "Let's go, girlfriend!"

Luther was in raptures over the mousse and the decor and the incredibly handsome and very gay waiter. Chloe half expected him to 'get thee behind me, Satan' her when she was nice to him, but instead he only blinked in a frankly disturbing way and licked some hollandaise off his spoon, while staring their waiter dead in the eye. Eugh.

James clearly thought she was on some kind of new drug, but he didn't seem to mind. By the end of brunch, only June was watching her with real stank-eye. Only June said, "Whoa, okay, that's enough," when Chloe tried to tip their pervy waiter -$100 and instead wrote $150. And it was June, over James' objections ('maybe she found Jesus, June, your mom would be so pleased!' 'My mom's AGNOSTIC, James!') who took her home, locked the front door, regarded Chloe with a grim gimlet eye, and said, "Okay, spill. What's wrong with you? Is this some kind of weird long con, or are you really in trouble?"

I've been cursed by a fairy! Chloe wanted to yell. But she couldn't get the words out. Even thinking them made her throat close up, a warning for a punishment that she knew would suck big-time. "I don't know what you mean," Chloe said, smiling like a Mormon at a thirteen-year-old's wedding.

June's glare didn't waver. "Yes, you do. Normally by now you would've, I don't know, staged a holdup of the brunch place, or stolen the Lambo that was parked outside, or something."

"I would never steal a legally parked car!"

"Unless you're not really my friend," June said. "Unless you've been stolen by body-snatchers, or - or implanted with some crazy sci-fi brain modification software."

So close! Chloe wanted to say. You're closer than you ever got to orgasm with your grody ex-boyfriend! Out loud, she said, "June, are you all right? Is something wrong? You can talk to me, you know. You're my best friend."

June gasped. "Oh my God, Chloe, are you trying to hit on me? Is this what you think I like in the ladies?"

Wait, what? 'Don't flatter yourself, June, I'm cursed!' became "Actually, yes, I'm in love with you. Please kiss me."

Suspicion returned to June's expression. "I'm only doing this because I think this is a bit, and you'll give it up when I escalate," June said.

Honesty was so lame. Chloe's curse didn't have a chance to translate that thought, though, because June stepped forward right then and kissed her.

June was a good kisser. Chloe had kissed, like, half of New York, and June was easily in the 80th percentile. (The 90th was reserved for people with a non-negative net worth.) She was ready to rip her clothes off and just really go at it, full My Lesbian Babysitter XXX complete with scissoring, but when she tried to say, "Let's get naked, slut", what came out was, "You're so gorgeous, I really want to touch you."

It was kind of worth it, though. June turned bright red, her skin blotchy everywhere, and she said, "Seriously, Chloe?!" even as she pulled her shirt off.

Apparently a life of dating the same boring loser for a hundred years hadn't killed June's sense of adventure entirely. They made out for an hour before Chloe finally got bored, and June let Chloe stick her hand down her pants before saying, "Okay, okay, this is - creepy, and weird, and I'm going to have serious words with you about it whenever you snap out of whatever you're on, or the bet you're trying to win, or whatever."

"It was good though, right? I feel like we both really care about each other," Chloe said.

"Augh," June said, and left the house - after kissing Chloe, a friendly and domestic little peck that made Chloe want to move to Alaska.

But the thing was, even if she was totally wrong about what was happening, June was the only person who'd even guessed that something about Chloe was really, really off. So Chloe ran down to the corner store to buy two bottles of really obnoxiously expensive vodka as a thank-you, and then she stole an activated gift card to Bloomingdale's, so that June could dress just as vanilla as she wanted. If she was stuck being a pod-person version of herself, she might as well go all the way and freak June out with presents too.

"That was hot, by the way," Eli said when she got back to the apartment.

"Shut up, Eli."

As soon as she said it, she gasped. "Oh my God! Eli, was it you? No, what am I saying, it couldn't be you, you're useless. Less than."

Eli's hand had disappeared below the windowsill. "Oh, yeah. Keep going. Do you think I smell?"

Before Chloe could answer, the front door slammed shut. "Hey, Chloe, I was thinking we could grab dinner down by - oh my God! This was the bit? Eli? Seriously?"

"No! I mean, kind of. Suck a nut, Eli." For once, Chloe didn't really want an audience for this. She closed the kitchen blinds and turned back to June. "Some bitch of a fairy cursed me to be nice. I guess doing a kind of nice thing for once undid the curse or whatever. Oh, right, here." She tossed the stolen gift card to June.

Since June was an inherently nice person, Chloe fully expected her to be happy for Chloe's new freedom and ability to tell whoever she wanted to shove it. But even after she saw the amount on the card, June's expression fell for a second before she pasted her big, fake, I-totally-love-working-in-finance smile on. "Oh, Chloe. Thank you. And that's great, I'm glad you're better."

"Not that I'm not fascinated by the idea that you'd rather I was cursed forever -"

"I'm not! I wouldn't!"

"-but seriously, what's going on? You were totally freaked out by the kindergarten teacher personality she gave me."

June looked away. "I don't know what you mean. I'm delighted for you, obviously."

Chloe tapped her foot.

"I mean, it's terrible that you got cursed. And honesty is always the best policy, not forcing someone to lie, even if they did...whatever you did to deserve it."

"You're trying to bait me, and it's not going to work," Chloe said. "I can say whatever I want now, so I'm gonna get the truth. I can call your parents and tell them you got a yeast infection from drunkenly humping a fire hydrant."

"Chloe!"

"Tell me what's wrong, June."

June sighed. The fake smile disappeared, and her shoulders slumped. "I just, you know. I let you get to third base! And it was all because of some curse."

The sneaky part of Chloe, the part that loved cons and hated commitment, wanted her to just leave it at that. June's spirit would recover from a mildly magic-motivated makeout session. But looking at June, her downcast face, her far-away expression, made Chloe realize something both unavoidable and kind of weird: she wanted more than a makeout session, with someone who definitely wouldn't settle for being bang buds.

"No, I mean, I still want...ugh, this is disgusting." She grabbed June and kissed her. "Fourth base," she said when she pulled away again, a little breathlessly. "I mean I want fourth base."

Disbelief and elation filled June's face. "It's called home plate. Have you ever even seen a baseball game?"

"Does banging a backup dancer for the guest anthem guy at the World Series count?"

"That makes seriously no sense," June said, but before Chloe could clarify what kind of sport they were talking about, June kissed her again.

They had to sic Chloe's favorite local hit man on Eli to erase the illicit recording he made of the rest of the afternoon, but it was worth it.