. FRIDAY .
Having agreed to give a talk on not letting age stop you from starting new entrepreneurial endeavors, they collect the last of their things for the weekend. Grace, as usual, has an extensive checklist of items to put in her Burberry suitcase; and Frankie, as usual, is deciding whether or not she really needs to bring deodorant.
“Frankie, we need to go or we’re going to miss our flight.” Grace tightens her neckerchief, making sure the ends fall evenly on each side of her shoulder. She does her best to stifle the urge to strangle her roommate, who’s threading kelp together with dental floss.
“I’m worried about Chidachida. What if he doesn’t have enough to eat while we’re gone?”
“He’s a crab. On the beach. I’m sure he’ll figure something out.”
Frankie sighs, stringing the last bit of kelp on her garland. She places it on the patio bannister before grabbing her bags, and following Grace out the door.
With the deliberate stride of a practiced professional, the clink of J Crew suede pumps easily deafens the shuffle of Birkenstocks on the airport sheet vinyl. After getting through security (“We don’t have to wait in line Frankie, we have pre-check.” “I’ve been part of the proletariat my whole life. I can’t just abandon my people.”); rearranging their things (“Will you please wear your shoes?” “Come on Grace, I’m working on my summer feet.”); and ambling to the gate, (“Hurry up!” “Relax, I just got a Signal from 7-11 Gus and we’re delayed an hour. He’s got a sixth sense for this kind of thing.”); they arrive at the lounge. Grace approaches the bartender:
“Two martinis please, very dry.” Frankie puts her hand on Grace’s shoulder. “And whatever she’s having.”
Three hours, two Ativan, and one long conversation regarding the merits of city mandated composting later, they arrive in Kennewick. By the time they’ve touched down, Frankie’s completed two Sunday crosswords from the pile of New York Times clippings she’s been stealing from Starbucks. (“News should be free, Grace!”)
The ride to their hotel is miserable. They decide to forgo their rented car because Grace doesn’t feel comfortable driving in the rain, and Frankie hasn’t been able to find her driver’s license for an undetermined amount of time. Springing for a cab proves necessary, Frankie tips the driver with two single serving packets of vegan cream cheese after hearing of his wife’s lactose intolerance. Grace has learned to stop questioning things long before they reach the hotel’s desk, but the following sentence takes her by surprise:
“We’d like a room please.”
“Frankie, you were supposed to take care of this last week!”
“I know, but my fantasy Spelling Bee league just started and I was still putting my team together.”
“We’ve got a room with one queen bed available, that appears to be all.”
“WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?”
“Kenne-Con.” Frankie looks at the welcoming banner. “Eastern Washington’s second biggest comic convention.”
“Would you ladies like the room?”
Before they have time to take a breath, a girl walks through the door in a white leotard and elaborate headdress with a rolling Hello Kitty suitcase. She approaches the desk.
“Do you have anything available?”
Grace interjects: “We’ll take it.”
“You’re damn right we will,” Frankie slams her hand down on the counter. “Suck it She Ra!”
They ascend to their room. It’s dumpy but charming. The walls are speckled with sun-stained cabbage roses, and the linens resemble that of a nursing home in 1986. Frankie pulls a small rectangular box out of her tote, and slides a Menagé-a-Moi into her hands. She slams it down on the table, causing the button console to pop out and reveal a small plastic tube.
“What did you do to our sample?”
“Come on Grace, where else was I supposed to put my weed?”
“What? We could have been arrested!” Grace throws her blazer down on the bed. “I’m fairly certain that’s a felony. It may even be multiple felonies.”
“They won’t need a demonstration, it just goes bzzzzzz. Well, and… buzz bzzzzzzzzzz buzz buzz bzzzzzzzzz… And Bzzzbzzzbzzbzzbzzbzz which is my personal favorite.” Frankie sighs with a wry smile. “Of course, we could use your demonstration video…”
“How did you…?”
“Come on Grace, Coyote could guess your phone password. Even I don’t use my birthday.”
“That’s because you don’t keep your phone locked!”
“Now’s not the time to be sour. Are you going to smoke this with me or not?”
Grace throws her hands up in defeat. “I guess if we do it in the bathroom.”
Frankie grabs her lighter, boops her roommate on the nose, then enters the bathroom and turns on the shower.
A joint and a half later, there’s a loud knock on the door. Grace throws her hands in the air.
“It’s probably hotel security. We’re totally fucked, I knew we should have had a brownie!”
“You told me I couldn’t bake with hash oil after what happened to Dr. Ved’s cat.” Frankie rises from her seat on the toilet, and Grace scrunches up her face.
“Frankie, you caught the oven on fire.”
“And when I caught the oven on fire.” As she nods, Frankie’s beachy waves bounce over her shoulders in agreement. She reaches the door, futilely trying to wave the fumes back into the bathroom. After a moment of that, and a quick straightening of her shirt, she opens the door. “Namaste.”
“Who is it?” Grace bellows, burying her face in her hands. She finally brings herself to stand and join her roommate.
“Room service!” They stand above a veritable feast. Frankie clasps her hands together with excitement. “Don’t worry I put it on the boss’ card.”
“We are the bosses.”
“That’s the benefit of second wave feminism, we can afford to eat this delicious cornucopia.” Frankie nods with approval. “They remembered my peach rings, praise Goddess!”
“Let me have one of those.”
After a small boat of fries, and a myriad of other snacks Grace wouldn’t normally be caught dead with, they’re laying next to each other in bed watching Dateline. Frankie stares at Grace between an accented crunch of chips. After a moment of silence, she offers the following sentiment:
“I just want you to know that I would never murder you to get your half of our Vybrant fortune.”
“Thanks.” This is the kindest thing Frankie’s said all day. It doesn’t go unnoticed considering the number of times, and the variety of ways in which she suggests sticking it to those who’ve wronged her. Grace sighs with appreciation. “We should probably use the sleep.”
. SATURDAY .
Grace wakes at 5:30, the trickle of sunlight through the window is scored with Frankie’s open-mouthed snoring. Everything feels as it’s supposed to, aside from the stray crumbs in their bed, the fact that their sample vibrator’s broken, and that it was recently used to smuggle marijuana over state lines. (“Mary Jane’s legal in Washington, don’t have an entire cow. Maybe just have a calf. Besides, we’re fine. No one got strip searched, which is new for me now that I think about it.”)
It reminds her of the brief moments of peace between the break-in and...Louise. Originally she hadn’t wanted Frankie to join her in bed because after Robert had gone, she’d taken to sleeping like a starfish and had grown rather fond of having the entire bed to herself. After a few nights she’d discovered that having Frankie next to her was kind of fun. Like being young. She found herself wanting to stay up late and tell secrets like when she was a girl.
At first, she didn’t want to say anything about being by herself. She’s a big girl, and she knows what she’s about. She didn’t want to give up starfishing, but what she really didn’t want to give up was the façade of things being fine. Frankie crawling into bed with her first was a blessing.
Now they’re in bed together, again. Grace pulls some of Frankie’s hair out of her mouth before getting up to make a pot of coffee. It likely won’t be discussed aloud, ever, but there’s a lot of comfort in the strong smell of Dr. Bronner’s. Grace’s side of the shower is covered top to bottom with different shampoos, washes, and lotions. By contrast Frankie has one bottle of good ole Dr. Bronner’s. (“I don’t know how you can stand the mink oil soap Grace.” “It makes my skin soft!”)
Despite Frankie setting up an elaborate seascape with their remaining snacks from the previous evening, and not having practiced the speech they’re supposed to be giving in a few hours, Grace can’t imagine anyone else she’d rather be spending a weekend with.
She pours Frankie a cup of coffee and brings over six packets of sugar, setting everything down on the end table before turning the shower on.
Frankie awakes, startled, from a particularly vivid nightmare where Del Taco is out of Pico de Gallo. She tries to talk her dream-self out of going to the frozen yogurt place and covering her dollar burrito in pineapple Dole Whip, but she’s unsuccessful. Right before she takes her first bite, her eyes flutter open. She reaches for Grace instinctively, instead feeling the empty space in their bed. Before shouting, she smells the crappy hotel coffee and hears the shower. It needs a little… She sees the small, white rectangles. Sugar. Frankie smiles counting each package and pours them in one-by-one.
She starts writing morning pages in her sketchbook while sipping coffee. The cephalopod cannot exist without the ocean, but can the ocean exist without the cephalopod? She plucks a peach ring off of her snack-sculpture octopus. It would totally fuck with the symbiosis of everything. They need each other. She starts drawing her bed at home under the ocean. Geez, with the rate of global warming the way it is, our house will look like this in no time.
Grace turns off the shower and tries not to notice each new wrinkle as she wraps up in the hotel’s robe. She misses her mink soap, and her robe from home that’s much softer than the scratchy, overused terry cloth.
As Grace steps out of the bathroom to get dressed, Frankie catches her reflection in the mirror and uses the opportunity to do some gesture sketches. When she finds one she likes, Frankie takes the opportunity and adds a mermaid to the sea she’s drawn around her bed.
Later in the morning, they’re standing in a small conference room behind an even smaller podium. The fluorescent lights beam in everyone’s face, obscuring the projector behind them. Ten minutes after their talk is supposed to start, their audience consists of three people in the target demographic, one hotel employee who’s on their break, and a fifteen year old who’s clearly been bribed by one of his grandparents.
“Shall we get started?” Grace looks at her watch, disappointed that this will no doubt be the sum total of everyone they’ll speak with. One of the old ladies offers the following explanation.
“I heard they’re having a costume contest at the comics gathering.”
Grace nods, trying to hide her growing ire with the situation at hand.
“Alright well, I’m Grace Hanson, and this is my business partner Frankie Bergstein, together we’re the creators of the Menagé-a-Moi.”
At this exact moment, two women dressed as Yoda and Chewbacca respectively, enter the conference room. Grace sighs before replying.
“The costume contest is probably in the bigger conference room.”
“Here for you, we are.” Yoda stops herself, embarrassed. “I didn’t mean that, sorry. My partner and I are actually here to see you speak.”
Grace is shocked but Frankie claps her hands together excitedly.
“Can we dim the lights a little please?” As the room grows darker, Grace holds up the box. “Over the last few years, Frankie and I came to the realization that there was a glaring lack of inclusion for women like us in certain industries.”
“Notably things sexual in nature.” Frankie raises an inspired hand, index finger towards the ceiling. Grace closes her eyes, convinced that the presentation couldn’t get any worse. That is, until she slides the Menagé-a-Moi into her hands to show everyone.
Grace is sure they’ll never make a lipstick as red her cheeks turn. Frankie grabs the vibrator and slams it down on the table, stopping it from making any further noises.
“Well gee, fancy that. It works!” When the button console pops out again, she shoves it back into place without a second thought.
To Grace’s relief, Frankie takes the reins for the rest of the presentation. Grace is surprised at how effortless she makes it look. It’s as though she’d been practicing and studying the entire time.
After their talk is over, Yoda approaches the podium.
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of this. Chewy—er, Rebecca, my partner has rheumatoid arthritis and a lot of stuff on the market isn’t accessible.”
“You know,” Grace starts, “that was my main inspiration for our product.”
As the spark of conversation between the two continues and the room empties, Frankie goes to sit with Chewbacca in the back row. She brings the vibe and box over with her.
“I heard a little bit of your story earlier. I wanted to give you our sample. Full disclosure,” Frankie quiets her voice, “there’s still a joint in the button console.”
“That’s cool that you and your partner work so well together.” Yoda covers her heart with her hands. “You can tell how much she loves you just by the way she looks at you. People tell us Rebecca and I are kind of like that.”
“Frankie?” Grace’s eyes widen. “Oh no, we’re just…”
Chewy pulls Frankie into a hug. Grace catches her roommate’s glance, and before she gets covered in Wookiee fur, Frankie raises her eyebrows like it’s the second best thing that’s happened all day. The fact that Grace had remembered six packets of sugar for her that morning hadn’t gone unnoticed.
Oh my God.
. SUNDAY .
Grace wakes at 5:30 again, though this time because of her own stomach more than anything else. Their flight is later in the morning, so she decides to take a few moments to herself before getting out of bed.
The roses on the wall remind her of her bedroom when she was young. As odd as their hotel is, it’s given her a strange sense of comfort. Half of Frankie’s seascape is still set up, and Grace plans on leaving a generous tip for whomever has to deal with it. She also knows that Frankie’s already friends with most of the housekeeping staff and has probably offered them some of her homemade essential oil balm. Still that’s no excuse for a lousy tip.
The ceiling ceases to be interesting, so she slides out of bed and starts packing her things. Frankie stretches, and rolls onto her side.
“Have you heard anything from your psychic flight guy?”
“Nope. Radio silence.”
“We should probably get going then.”
“Grace, I’m telling you—if I don’t get a muffin…”
“We’ll get you a muffin. Will you pack up your stuff please?”
Grace hadn’t intended the rest of their previous day to be so quiet. Frankie took it in stride, thinking that she’d just been embarrassed about their presentation. She ended up borrowing someone’s badge to check out what this convention business was all about, and Grace spent the rest of the afternoon in their room.
She wasn’t embarrassed per say, she’d just had a lot on her mind. The night stayed relatively low key also. They ended up splitting a bottle of wine and having a little bit to eat before going to bed without fanfare. For the best. Thought Grace.
Now they’re collecting things from their room, Frankie’s eating the last of the peach rings from her sculpture and Grace is packing up her cosmetic bag. After a few moments they head out, but not before Frankie draws a goodbye note on the tip Grace leaves for housekeeping.
“Lupita’s a sweet lady. I think I’ll come back up and see her sometime.”
“Frankie, if you want a muffin we have to leave right now.”
Grace does a once-over of the room before they head out, latching the door behind them.
They get on the elevator with Jon Snow, Princess Peach, and Popeye the Sailor Moon. Before he walks out of the elevator, Popeye gives Frankie a seductive wink and hands her a Post-It. She and Grace exit last.
“Did he just give you his number?”
“No, he gave me a Snapchat. Whatever the fuck that is.” Frankie shrugs and puts the note in her bag.
They make it to the airport without fanfare but as they’re walking towards the gate, Grace is a little on edge.
“Where’s the bar?”
“This airport’s pretty small, I don’t think they have a bar.”
“What do you MEAN they don’t have a bar?” She starts digging through her purse. “Fuck. I’m out of Ativan too. I hate flying!”
Frankie puts a hand on Grace’s shoulder, holding out two chocolates.
“I wondered if this would happen.”
“We’re going to burn to death in a flaming danger tube and you’re handing me a Hershey bar?”
“Relax, it’s dosed. A really small amount.” Frankie squeezes her shoulder. “I think.”
Frankie holds Grace’s hand while she sleeps on the flight. When they touch back down in California, it’s as though no time has passed at all.
They Lyft home, relieved to be back in the sunshine. Grace has missed their liquor cabinet and Frankie’s missed getting sand in her bra.
As they walk up to the porch, Grace, keys in hand, is lost in thought. Frankie always goes with the flow. I never do that.
She bites her lip, watching Frankie address two of her succulents near the doorway.
“Hello Eunice, hello Ed. We’re home! Did you miss us?”
She doesn’t even think about what she wants, she just goes for it.
Grace holds the door open.
And she wanted to crawl into bed. With ME!
“Thank you.” Frankie stands in their entryway a moment, extending both of her arms into the air. “Oh, it’s good to be home.”
Grace sighs. Maybe Yoda was right...I guess there’s only one way to find out. She puts her hand through her roommate’s long, salt and pepper waves.
“Hey Frankie.” Grace takes a second to muster her courage, but it feels like a lifetime.
“What’s the matter, are you still high? Darn, I was sure I grabbed the—“
Before she has a chance to finish, Grace’s hands are around the base of her skull, and their lips fuse.
Frankie hadn’t wanted to say anything about hoping for this while they slept next to each other, lest she ruin one of the only things in her life she cared so deeply about. (The others naturally being her children, and the annual naked bike ride in Los Angeles.)
Next, Frankie does the only thing she can think of: kiss back.
Frankie knows that she can’t be the easiest person to live with, and appreciates that space has been made for her in a life otherwise filled with things under Grace’s control.
Their embrace is long and full of mutual gratitude.
“I hate to ruin a moment but I need to get something off of my chest.” Frankie breaks away, but doesn’t entirely let go.
“What’s that?” Grace wonders aloud.
“You snore very loud and it worries me. I’m serious, I think you should get it checked out by someone.”