"I just don't know what you've managed to do to your hair to make it this... difficult." Alison was doing the best she could, using her bare hands to iron out the curls exploding outward from Helena's ponytail, but it was proving fruitless. The floral-patterned top looked cute, the pants fit surprisingly well, but the hair... "Maybe we should rethink the ponytail."
Helena exhaled loudly. "Do not worry. I will be perfect Alison Hendrik." She smirked and brought her hands up to Alison’s shoulders, sweeping and straightening in exaggerated motions. "How is this?"
Alison brushed Helena's arm aside and took a second to readjust herself. "Okay, you've made your point. Maybe I’m getting a bit carried away.” She took a calming breath. “You look lovely.”
Helena bit her lip, blushing slightly. “Thank you, sestra Alison.”
“Okay, now take these,” Alison said, grabbing the plastic-wrapped tray from the top of the car and handing it over. Helena’s mouth watered. She’d been very good and not eaten any of the snacks beforehand. “Remember, you’re me,” Alison said. “You made these.”
“Yes. I am very good homemaker.” Helena took a few steps toward Felix’s building, but noticed Alison wasn’t following. “You are coming, yes?”
“Yes, of course. Go on. I just need a minute to get into character.”
Helena didn’t totally understand, so she just kept walking. When she peeked back over her shoulder, Alison was walking back and forth in flowing movements, arms bending and twisting in front of her, hands rolling around her wrists. She was mumbling to herself. Helena heard dude and whoa. Alison stopped dead, finally noticing Helena staring. She made an exaggerated shoo motion. Helena shot her a confused smile and turned back to the alley.
The heavy metal door to Felix’s apartment clanged open, and there was Sarah. Only it wasn’t Sarah. It was Sarah with an oversized sweatshirt and curly blonde wig.
“Sestra!” she yelled happily, raising a half-empty beer bottle in the air. Helena couldn’t contain her grin.
“It is good to see you, Helena,” said the real Helena. She eyed the bottle. “You have been drinking?”
Sarah nodded emphatically. “Yes. It helped to make this party seem like a good idea.” She realized something suddenly and gasped. “You!” she shouted, poking Helena hard in the shoulder. “This was your idea, sestra Alison!”
“It was a good idea,” Helena said in defense of Alison, moving past Sarah. “I am having fun already.” She set the tray down on the counter as daintily as she could.
“I am also having fun,” Sarah conceded. “I guess.” She tapped her finger on the bottle and winked. “Where is uh, sestra Cosima?” she asked, looking back to the open door. Helena scratched her head, unsure of how to answer.
“Well, she is--”
“Dudes!” Their eyes shot to the door. Alison’s hair had been braided tightly. She had some cheap-looking glasses on. (A prop, maybe?) An intricately-patterned scarf hung from her neck. Her hands and wrists were covered in rings and baubles and bracelets of all kinds. Sarah suppressed a laugh.
“Sestra!” she shouted again, coming in for a hug. Alison smiled and opened her arms.
“Hey, Helena. What’s up?” she said, rubbing Sarah’s back while still attempting to talk with her hands. She caught the scent of Sarah’s breath. “Dude, are you drunk already?”
Sarah pulled away. She brought her thumb and index finger together. A little.
“Hello, Cosima,” Helena said, beaming. “You are looking well.”
Alison raised her hand, gave a small wave. “Yo, Alison. You too.”
“I have made many delicious foods,” Helena said, eagerly peeling off the plastic wrap. She had been hovering around the tray, waiting for the right time, and this moment seemed… good enough. “There are vegetables, and little sandwiches, and these.” She popped something unknown into her mouth, chewed. “Rolls of meat,” she said, mouth still full.
“Sausage rolls, maybe?” Alison offered. Helena nodded. Sarah was on her way to the food when there was a knock at the door.
“Please. Eat,” Helena said, moving to answer it. She pulled the door open.
“Hey, guys,” Cosima said with a smile. Her dreads were loose, down past her shoulders. The eyeliner was spot on. A Buzzcocks shirt peeked out from under her leather jacket. She took a look around the room. “Wow, everyone looks wicked.” Her eyes hung on Alison. “That’s… yeah, man.”
“Sestra!” Sarah shouted for the third time, mouth stuffed with turkey sandwich. Cosima laughed.
“Good evening, Cosima,” Helena said, nearly bowing before thinking better of it. “May I take your jacket?”
Cosima arched an eyebrow. “Oh, uh… No thanks, I’m good. It’s kind of a key piece of the costume, right?”
“Dude, what happened to your accent?” Alison asked, arms crossed.
“Hm?” Cosima looked around at everyone again, eyes slowly widening as it dawned on her. This wasn’t just a costume party, was it? Sarah pointed at her, mock-laughing. Cosima narrowed her eyes at her playfully.
“Alright. Alright. I got this.” She cocked her head side to side, bounced on her heels a few times. Her mouth shaped itself into a toothy smirk. “Oi, someone gonna get me a drink or what?” The accent wasn’t perfect, but she jumped into it headfirst, embraced it, and made it work.
Helena laughed, puffs of air forced out through her closed mouth. “Yes. I am happy to pour you a drink.” She walked in light steps toward the shelves of alcohol.
“Bourbon, if ya got it,” Cosima said, winking at Sarah. Sarah nodded back, impressed. Cosima shuffled to the counter, hands in pockets, slouching. Helena was meticulously reading each bottle, finger resting on her chin. “Pssst...” Cosima quietly got Helena’s attention and pointed out what she was looking for, hiding her finger from the others. Helena nodded in appreciation.
“So,” Cosima said, looking between Alison and Helena. “Me and Helena the only ones who know how to party?”
“Much drinking!” Sarah shouted enthusiastically, raising the bottle she now realized was empty. She turned to open another one.
“Cheers,” Cosima said as Helena finished pouring.
“What should I have to drink?” Helena asked.
“Do not worry, sestra,” Sarah said. “I will make you drink you will like.” She quickly grabbed a couple of bottles, then bent down to the fridge.
Alison took a seat at the counter. “Yeah, man. I’ll have a drink.” She paused, uncertain. “Why don’t you choose for me, Sarah?”
“You got it, Cos,” Cosima said. “Let’s get shitfaced!” she shouted out into the room.
Sarah threw out a high-pitched yell of agreement.
Sarah and Cosima sat together on the couch, clutching their stomachs and howling with laughter. The air was thick with booze.
“Say this again,” Sarah slurred while adjusting her wig. She and Cosima shushed each other and shut their mouths tight in anticipation. A few giggles bubbled through.
“I wanna get hella baked,” Alison said softly, self-conscious now.
The two on the couch exploded again. Cosima brushed warm tears from her cheeks.
“What is it we are baking?” Helena asked innocently.
Sarah made a painful wheezing noise, struggling to catch her breath. Cosima buried her face in Sarah’s shoulder, shaking with silent laughter.
“No,” Alison said. “I’m talking about, like, pot .” She whispered the last word like it would send the full police force crashing through the door.
Helena tried to read her face for a hidden meaning. She didn’t uncover much. “We are baking in a pot?”
Sarah and Cosima were weeping uncontrollably.
“Okay,” Cosima choked. “Everyone just needs to shut up for like, two seconds. Shite.”
Sarah groaned in pain. “You are too funny, sestra Cosima.”
“Well, don’t let me stop you, Cos,” Cosima said. “You left some in that drawer over there, remember?” She pointed off to her side. “Might be some left.”
“Great,” Alison said emphatically and pushed herself to her feet. Cosima and Sarah followed her across the room with their eyes.
“Is she actually…?”
Alison pulled the bag from the drawer, moved it up and down, feeling the weight of it. “Well, Sarah?” She tilted her head toward the bathroom. An invitation.
Cosima took a moment to process. She briefly wondered if this entire party had been an elaborate excuse for Alison to get high. She ultimately decided that would be too ridiculous, even for Alison. Right?
“Uh, yeah.” Cosima stood up. She and Sarah exchanged disbelieving smiles. “I wouldn’t miss this. Anyone else?”
Sarah shook her head, taking the opportunity to lie across the couch. Helena seemed happy to nurse the (very sweet) drink she’d been given. Cosima followed after Alison, pushing the bead curtain aside.
“They were talking about drugs,” Helena said into her glass. Sarah shot her a thumbs-up.
“Eat up,” Helena said, pushing a couple of baby carrots into Sarah’s mouth. Sarah couldn’t quite remember how it had happened, but Helena was lying on top of her now. Together, they were a tangled mess of limbs and hair. “You are looking too skinny, little Helena. I made these foods just for you.”
Sarah ate with exaggerated chewing noises. She had to admit to herself that there was something comforting about this.
“I am very happy you are finally together with your ses-- sisters, Helena.” Helena looked over the tray of food. “Would you like one of these half-eggs that I have made?”
Sarah nodded, mouth still full of carrot. Helena reached over and grabbed a deviled egg. She held it, hovering over Sarah’s mouth as she waited for her to finish chewing.
“I am even more happy you found Sarah. She is very good to you, yes?”
Sarah opened her mouth to speak, but Helena quickly shoved the egg inside. A huge dollop of yolk ended up on her upper lip. Helena released a wheezy laugh.
“Good heavens,” Helena said, one of the few phrases she’d picked up on from Alison. “Sorry, Helena.” The mischievous grin on her face told Sarah she wasn’t really sorry. She made a face as Helena wiped it with her thumb. “All better.”
Sarah smiled in spite of herself. She bit into the egg, making loud, squishy, sloshy sounds. Helena giggled.
“You are very lucky to have Sarah, I think,” she said. Sarah quickly chewed and swallowed what was left.
“Hey.” She rested her hand on Helena’s arm. “She’s lucky too. She doesn’t always say it. She’s stubborn and screwed up and scared of getting hurt, but she loves you.” She slapped her own forehead, trying to clear away some of the haze. This was confusing. “I mean me.”
Helena was watching her sister close, beaming brightly. She sniffled. “Yes, you. Silly Helena.”
“Yes. I am very silly, sestra.” Helena brought a sausage roll up to Sarah’s face, but Sarah held her hand up.
“What is wrong?” Helena scanned her eyes. They lay silent, the laughter of the others drifting in from the bathroom. Finally, Sarah craned her neck and let out the burp she’d been holding in. Helena burst into laughter. Wobbly, hiccupy laughter. It shook the entire couch. She slowly tipped over, like a sinking ship, and tumbled onto the floor, knocking the tray into the air. Celery and eggs everywhere.
“Shit!” Sarah yelled. “Helena, you alright?” She peered over the side of the couch to see Helena grinning back at her.
“Yes. Good heavens!”
Sarah rolled her eyes, laughing.
“And do not call me this Helena. I am Alison Hendrik.”
Helena picked an egg off her shirt, then stretched her arm up to Sarah’s face.
“What was that noise?”
“Who cares? I’m so high right now.”
“Relax, Cos. You’ve taken two hits.”
Alison sat in the dry bathtub, Cosima perched on the side. Cosima exhaled slowly. A single stream of smoke stretched into the air.
“We didn’t have to hide out in here, you know,” she said, handing the joint down to Alison. “We’re not in high school anymore.”
Alison looked surprised, but quickly recovered. “Oh. Yeah, totally. I know. It’s just, this is more… exciting. Right?”
“Sure,” Cosima said through a laugh. Alison inhaled deeply, filling her lungs.
“Oi,” Cosima said. “What’s goin’ on with this one?” She hooked a finger around one of Alison’s bracelets. A bright pink, rubbery, glittery one.
A sputtering laugh flew out of Alison. Cosima turned her head away from the puffs of smoke blowing into her face.
“Dude, I dunno,” Alison said. The truth was that she had borrowed a bracelet from Gemma’s room at the last minute. She paused in thought. “Delphine gave it to me.”
Cosima snickered. “Oh yeah?”
“She’s my little puppy,” Alison said in a shrill, cutesy voice. She batted her eyes and stuck her bottom lip out. Cosima stared in stunned silence. Alison continued. “Pauvre petit ch-- Ow !” She rubbed her shoulder where Cosima had hit her. “Not cool, man.”
Cosima smirked, satisfied. “Sorry. Just not into the mushy shit.” She was beginning to enjoy Sarah’s ‘fuck-it’ attitude, more than she might admit.
“Sestra,” Sarah mumbled. Or ‘sheshtra’ to be more accurate; her cheek was pressed lazily into the side of the couch. “Why are you still on the floor? You are like…” Sarah shut her eyes, wracking her brain for a Helena-ism. “You are like baby goat.” Did that make sense? “Mah-ah-ah-ahhh… ”
“It is very dizzy in here,” Helena replied. “This carpet is comfortable.”
Sarah turned at the sound of beads clacking to see Cosima and Alison walking back in, the latter giggling to herself about something.
“So you are back,” Sarah grumbled. “You were gone so long, we thought you were having kissings.” She raised her head and loudly smooched the air. Helena snorted.
“This is against my religion, maybe,” Helena said, pointing a finger in the air.
Sarah gasped as she felt something big and soft land on her head. A pillow.
“Shut it, meathead,” Cosima said, the hint of a smile in her voice.
The room was quiet. Alison glanced between the two. Helena propped herself up on her elbows.
“You will pay for that,” Sarah growled. With an energy no one thought she had, she leapt off the couch and onto Cosima’s back.
“Jesus! Shit! Helena!” Cosima screamed in surprise as she stumbled across the room under Sarah’s weight. Helena sat bolt upright; her mouth hung open as she looked on in wonder. Alison shook her head as she stepped toward Helena and took a seat next to her.
“Those two need to chillax,” she said. Cosima couldn’t let that one slide.
“Shhh-shh-shh, ” Sarah whispered, pushing some of Cosima’s hair over her mouth.
“They fight a lot,” Helena said. “But it is only because they love each other.” She smiled big and wide.
“Say you’re sorry,” Sarah said, sing-song. She and Cosima tumbled together into seemingly every piece of furniture in the room. Sarah’s grip never loosened.
“Sorry! I’m sorry!” Cosima shouted. Sarah finally slipped off, rubbing her shoulder where she had hit the wall. “Shite,” Cosima muttered.
“Yes. Much shite.”
“Oi, you two enjoy the show?” Cosima grumbled, turning to the ones gawking on the floor. She flopped down on the couch to catch her breath. Alison shrugged.
“Yes,” Helena said sincerely. “Almost as good as my musical shows.”
“Oh yeah, dude,” Alison said, perking up. “You totally rocked it in Grease last week. Or so I heard.” The compliment wasn’t really about her, but Helena felt her cheeks turning red anyway.
“Sing!” Sarah yelled, suddenly holding another drink. She dropped next to Cosima who shot her a dirty look. She was enjoying being Helena a little too much. Helena looked confused. “You should sing for us! From one of your musical showings.” Helena looked around to the others, hesitant. “Please? We never get to see them.” Sarah leaned closer to her sister, pouting.
“Okay,” Helena conceded, pushing herself onto two unsteady legs. Alison held onto her hand just in case. Everyone looked on expectantly. Helena sensed the eyes on her and her legs suddenly felt even shakier. She cleared her throat and closed her eyes. A song appeared in her head.
“When you wish upon a star… ”
Her voice came out scratched and warbly. The others cheered and whistled in support. Alison rested her head on Cosima’s knee. Sarah began giggling to herself, suddenly acutely aware of the absurdity of this entire evening.
"Makes no difference who you are… ”
Helena’s voice caught. She cleared her throat again. Cosima reached back, eyes fixed on Helena, and tapped Sarah’s leg to get her attention. Sarah followed her stare in time to see a tear trickle down Helena’s cheek. Her heart felt hot.
"When you wish upon a star…”
Alison joined in for the last line, and the others quickly followed.
Your dreams come true.
Helena opened her eyes, grinning bashfully at the loud cheers and applause. She took a couple of clumsy bows, blinking away the remaining tears. Sarah sniffled, wiping away her own tears, and quickly jumped up. She threw her arms around her sister.
“You’re amazing, sestra,” she said. Helena felt the warmth of the words in her ear.
“Group hug!” Alison declared, pushing herself up using the table. She stumbled into the other two, arms-first.
“Yeah, alright,” Cosima said. She joined the hug a bit more gracefully than Alison had.
“Thought you weren’t into the mushy shit,” Alison said, smug.
“You caught me in a good mood.”
The hug reeked of alcohol and pot and eggs. They stayed that way for several minutes.