Hot CopBy: Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone
To Kiawah and an alligator named Clive
Three hundred and sixty-four days.
That’s my first thought when I wake up. I haven’t even opened my eyes.
There are three hundred and sixty-four days before doom and destruction come for me in the form of my thirtieth birthday.
Three hundred and sixty-four measly days.
It’s not nearly long enough. I’m practically already on my deathbed. I can feel my skin drying out and wrinkling as I lie here. My bones are getting brittle. If I slipped and fell, I’d likely snap a femur. Gone are the days of being carded at nightclubs and bars. Everyone can see I’m a stone’s throw away from the grave.
I moan and pull the covers over my head.
I’m twenty-nine, and I’ve accomplished nothing in my life. The end is looming. I’m almost thirty.
I might as well keep my eyes closed.
Before I can give in to slumber, my phone rings. Curiosity drives me to pick it up. There are only two people who ever call me—my mom and my brother—and neither would ever dare to call so early in the day.
I look at the name on the screen and sigh. If I ignore it, Megan will just call back.
After pushing accept, I put the phone to my ear. “Really? A phone call? Is your keyboard broken or something?” Because seriously. Who calls instead of texts?
“What?” she asks, confused by my greeting.
Perhaps she hasn’t known me long enough to find my fussiness endearing. “Nothing. What’s up?”
“Not much. I’m not working with you today, and I wanted to check up on you.” It’s only been two months since I transferred to Corinth Library, and yet it’s been long enough for the extremely nurturing (and extremely extroverted) children’s information specialist, Megan Carter, to have taken me under her wing. Though at times she teeters on overbearing, I find I’m quite fond of her. “You seemed a bit down when you left the bar last night. Everything okay?”
“Except for the quickly approaching occasion of my death, I’m great!”
“Oh brother. Drama queen much?”
I throw the covers off and climb out of bed. “Am I, though? Or am I a realist? Facing my inevitable annihilation head on?”
“It doesn’t sound like you’re facing anything. You’re lamenting. Dramatically lamenting. Everyone gets older. Everyone turns thirty. You still have a year before you do. Welcome to life, sister.”
I shuffle toward my kitchen as she talks, heading for the Keurig I bought myself as a birthday present. It’s been one day, and I’m already in love forever.
“Don’t you mean ‘welcome to death’?” I put in a pod of southern pecan, push start, and wait for happiness to pour into my I Am Figuratively Dying for a Cuppa mug. Seemed to go with the topic of my mortality.
Megan doesn’t think the joke is funny. “This is really bothering you, isn’t it? Why do you think that is?”
Oh God. I didn’t really want to talk about my feelings.
I sigh, a favorite pastime of mine. “I don’t know. I’m just missing something. There has to be more than this.” From the kitchen, I look around at the two-bedroom condo. I was able to afford the down payment by using the last of my inheritance from Grams, the rest of it having gone to pay for my Humanities and Western Civilization degree at The University of Kansas. My personal book collection is already close to outgrowing the space, but it’s been all I’ve ever needed. Exactly what I’ve always wanted.
Why does it feel so empty?
“You need a man,” Megan says decidedly.
“I don’t. That is not what I need.” I mean it, too. But I do need something.
I run my finger down the edge of the pamphlet that’s been hanging on my fridge behind the Rainbow China delivery menu since I visited the fertility clinic last month.
Is this what I need?
The cost for artificial insemination isn’t as much as I’d expected. I could swing it if I really tried, even on a librarian’s salary. But a nameless father… My mother would go ballistic.
Still. I’m mulling it over.
Now that death is fast approaching, I should probably mull faster.
“You don’t even miss sex?” It seems like an innocent question, but from Megan, I’m certain this line of questioning is the kind that will lead to a blind date if I’m not careful.
“My vibrator works just fine,” I tell her. “And isn’t cocky or conceited and doesn’t leave.”
“No, it just runs out of batteries.”
“I have the rechargeable kind.”
“That’s not the same. Listen, Livia, I’m going to give you some hard words.” But I don’t hear what she has to say because a series of beeps covers her speech, indicating I’ve received a text. Several texts.