Angie sighed as she looked at herself in the mirror. She wouldn’t say she was ugly. She wouldn’t say she was gorgeous, either. She poked at a spot on her cheek and frowned. No, gorgeous wasn’t for a girl like her. Gorgeous was for a girl like Peggy. With her bright red lips and her perfectly done hair and her muscular body, Peggy was definitely gorgeous. Angie shook her head as she reached for her powder. She shouldn’t be thinking about Peggy like that. Thinking about Peggy like that usually led to thinking about Peggy in other ways. Ways that weren’t normal.
Angie liked to think she was normal.
Deep down, she knew she wasn’t.
She pushed those thoughts away as she brushed on her makeup. She smiled when Angie Martinelli: Aspiring Actress looked back at her, rather than her real face. Makeup makes a character, after all, and her most important character was the one she’d played every day. She smoothed out her skirt as she stood, and skipped out to the kitchen for breakfast.
Her smile widened when she saw Peggy at the table, reading a newspaper. So her friend had made it in last night, and not too beaten up at that.
“Good morning, Angie,” Peggy said, smiling over her mug of tea. “You’re awfully chipper today.”
“Just glad to see you, I guess.” She bit the inside of her cheek, rushing to add, “You came back late, I was worried.”
Peggy nodded, apparently not noticing Angie’s reaction to her own words. Angie grabbed a piece of toast from the plate in the middle of the table and shoved it in her mouth. Better to be eating than go shooting off her mouth again.
“Is that a new mascara? It looks really good.”
Angie nodded as she swallowed.
“I got it a little bit ago, actually. This is just the first I've worn it.”
She knew such a little compliment shouldn’t have given her a thrill like that. Even under her makeup, when it was easiest to hide herself, Peggy found ways in. Angie was sure nothing could have covered the blush that was surely coloring her cheeks.
“Do you have any auditions today?” Peggy asked. Angie nodded, grateful for the change in topic.
“Yeah, one. I should be home in time to make dinner, you?”
“I’ve some paperwork to do at the office, but other than that, I should be home in time to enjoy your dinner.”
They ate in silence until they heard Mr. Fancy pull up the drive.
“That’s my ride, English,” Angie said.
“Good luck. Break a leg. Whichever you actors say.”
Angie giggled as Peggy hugged her quickly.
“You, too, Peggy. Catch a bad guy for me.”
Peggy’s laugh was music to her ears, and she walked with a spring in her step all the way to the car, giddy, knowing she’d been the cause of it.
Broken. That was how her mother preferred to talk about it. Most other people weren’t quite so nice about it. This director’s word was dyke. Right after Angie refused to sleep with him.
“It’s yours, you just gotta do me a favor.” His lips curled into a predatory grin around the cigar clenched in his teeth. Angie’s stomach fell at the ultimatum.
“I’m sorry, but I can't do that.” She said, trying to keep her voice steady.
His face turned beet red at that. He ground his cigar between his teeth.
“What are you, then, some kind of dyke?”
Her throat clenched at the word. Tears sprung to her eyes. Angie shook her head no and backed out of the office. As soon as she was through the doorway, she turned on her heel and ran, babbling something about her own talent.
She didn’t look Mr. Fancy in the eye as he opened the car door for her. Better to not let him see her crying. He quietly handed her a handkerchief as her closed the door behind her. Angie dabbed at her eyes with it, grimacing at the ugly black splotches from her running makeup.
Fancy, to his credit, didn’t try to make much conversation, just glanced in the mirror with a look of concern every now and then. When they got to the house, he opened the car door and patted her shoulder gently.
“Whatever it is, you don’t deserve this kind of treatment, Miss Martinelli.”
Angie stepped out of the car and nodded at him. She feared if she opened her mouth to thank him, everything would spill out, so she pursed her lips tighter and walked to the door.
Even on Just Paperwork days, Peggy was never home this early, and Angie figured she’d be able to rush to her room and wipe her makeup off in peace. She barely contained a yelp of surprise when she ran headlong into the other woman, and started crying again when she felt strong arms wrap around her as Peggy braced herself to keep them both from toppling over.
“I’m sorry, English,” Angie muttered, her voice muffled by Peggy’s shirt.
“No bother, darling,” Peggy said, rubbing a hand over Angie’s back.
The woman had no idea what happened earlier that day, but seemed intent on making Angie feel better. They stood like that together until Angie’s sobs faded to sniffles and the occasional hiccup.
“I ruined your blouse, Peggy.” Angie mumbled. Peggy looked down at the dark tear stains on her shoulder and smiled.
“That’s no worry at all, Angie.” She wiped at Angie’s cheeks, probably only succeeding in smearing the makeup more. “Could you tell me what happened?”
“Can we sit down first?”
Peggy nodded and relinquished her grip on Angie. She led the way to the living room and sat on the couch. Angie left a little space between them when she sat, worried how Peggy might react to her story. And the information that was sure to come after. Peggy raised an eyebrow and beckoned her closer.
“I’m here to comfort you, Ang. I won’t bite.”
Angie smiled and scooted closer to Peggy. Peggy draped an arm over Angie’s shoulders and started toying with her hair.
“So. Tell me who I need to hit.”
Angie pulled her legs up onto the couch and sighed.
“I don’t know if I want you to go that far, English,” She leaned her head onto Peggy’s shoulder. Peggy’s nails traced gentle lines over her scalp as Angie started her story.
Peggy was a good listener. She made Angie feel like nothing else in the world mattered aside from her. It felt like Angie could say anything and Peggy would understand.
“He called me a dyke, Peg. Because I wouldn’t sleep with him.” Angie’s voice caught in her throat. Peggy inhaled sharply and her fingers stilled. Angie glanced up to see Peggy clenching her jaw. She had to take two deep breaths before she could respond.
“I will have words with that man.” She promised.
Angie shook her head. “Don’t go to that trouble, English. It’s not worth it.”
“Yes, it is, Angie. That man is scum.”
“It’s not like the role mattered all that much.”
“Of course it mattered. This wouldn’t have hurt so much if it didn’t matter.”
Angie scoffed. Without thinking, she grumbled, “It wouldn’t have hurt so much if it weren’t true.” She clapped a hand over her mouth and looked at Peggy with wide eyes.
“He shouldn’t be using language like that at all.” Peggy’s fingers started through her hair again. “You’re a brilliant actress and a lovely person in general. Those men shouldn’t be holding roles over your head in exchange for sex.”
Angie studied Peggy’s face, unable to read the other woman’s expression.
“Peggy, you heard what I just said, right?”
Peggy nodded. “It doesn't change that I think you’re a lovely person. Nothing could.”
Angie gaped at her friend, trying to form some kind of sentence. Never in all her wildest dreams did she think Peggy would actually still like her after she found out. She’d expected yelling and crying, like everyone else did. She’d expected to be kicked out of their home, like her father did. She’d expected hate-filled glares and words, like her brothers did. She didn’t know why she’d expected them from Peggy, of all people, but she did. And here was Peggy, defying all of her expectations.
It was overwhelming.
Angie leaned in and placed a kiss on Peggy’s cheek, then surged to her feet. She barely looked at the expression on her friend’s face.
“I’m gonna go to my room, wash this off.” She pointed at the smeared makeup. “Thanks for listening, English.”
Peggy nodded as Angie turned and rushed off to her room.
Angie watched her makeup circle the drain as the hot water from the shower head beat on her back. With it went her worries. Peggy didn’t hate her. That’s really all that mattered.
She sat on the warm tile in the shower until her fingers were wrinkly and the water ran clear. When she glanced in the mirror, her own face looked back. No powder, no blush, no mascara. She poked at the spot on her cheek she’d noticed earlier and sighed. Figuring it was about time to turn in, she wrapped herself up in one of the fluffy bathrobes and headed to her bed.
Not five minutes after she’d tucked herself in came a gentle knock on her door.
“What’s up, English?” Angie asked, her heart suddenly in her throat.
What if Peggy had changed her mind?
“May I come in, Angie?”
After a second, Peggy entered the room carrying a tray with a plate covered with a napkin. She had a triumphant grin on her face as she approached the bed.
“What’s this, Peggy?” Angie asked with a laugh, worry leaving her immediately.
Peggy shrugged. “You said you’d make dinner, but I figured you probably weren’t feeling up to it.”
Angie uncovered the food and snorted.
“Toast and whiskey?”
“I didn’t have much time!” Peggy protested.
“All right, then, English. You gonna help me with this?” Angie patted the empty part of the bed. Peggy nodded and sat on the comforter.
Angie nibbled at a piece of toast as Peggy cracked the seal on the drink.
“So I take it this means I didn’t mess anything up between us?”
Peggy smiled as she brought the bottle up to her lips and drank. She smacked her lips together when she’d finished and offered the drink to Angie.
“Darling, I think it would take a lot more than this to mess us up.” She smiled and reached for a piece of toast.
Peggy's hand froze halfway to the tray and she looked at Angie in surprise. She thought about the question while Angie drank from the bottle.
“Because you’re an amazing person and a wonderful friend. Because you’re beautiful.” Angie shook her head but Peggy continued. “Because, to be honest, I think I’ve been in love with you for a while.”
Angie snorted the whiskey. It burned her nose and throat as she spluttered. Peggy waited, trying-and failing-to hide a grin, until the coughing stopped.
“You’re just saying that, English, and you don’t gotta.” Angie wiped her nose on the sleeve of the robe.
Peggy smiled. Rather than say anything else, she cupped Angie's face and kissed her on the forehead.
“I mean it, darling.”