She was aware of her headache before she was fully awake. She didn’t open her eyes, just squeezed them tighter closed and lay very still. But the headache didn’t ease off, and as her awareness of it grew, it went from an ache to an acute pain.

Her eyes finally opened, but through her blurred vision she could only tell that she was in a dimly lit room with a half-opened curtain. She attempted to roll over onto her back, but her whole body was stiff, and as she turned she let out a low moan. Sitting up was out of the question for at least the next few minutes.

Where am I? she wondered. Where is Amy?

Through her headache haze she felt a chill, and she tried to pull a blanket back over her. She realized then that she was half dressed, wearing only her tank-top and underwear, and for the first time she was concerned.

It was the thirst that motivated her to finally sit upright. She did it slowly, resting first on her elbows and then leaning forward with her head on her knee, but her vision was still blackened. There was a glass of water on the nightstand, and she reached for it and drank it quickly.

One sip revealed that it wasn’t water, but something more like a watered-down mixed drink, and she nearly vomited at the taste. She sat the glass back on the nightstand.

There was nothing else to do but stand up and walk to the bathroom. She stood deliberately and stumbled around the bed, tripping a time or two and resting when she reached the wall, but she finally reached the bathroom and turned on the light. The brightness hit her hard in the face and the pain in her head increased.

The giant mirror was impossible to avoid, and as she filled the complimentary glass with  water she glanced at her reflection. Her hair was still crunchy from hairspray, swept all about her head in a dramatic fashion. The eye makeup that she had painstakingly applied the evening before was smudged from her eyebrows to her cheeks, and her face was swollen slightly–just enough to disgust her.

She drank the a few sips of water, took a deep breath, and began to search for her purse. Surely her purse was in the room–though she had no recollection of bringing it into the room or even being in the room at all before waking up that morning–and it was. Slung over the back of a chair near the window, waiting for her to rummage around and find her ibuprofen. She counted out five and swallowed all at once.

As she took a long sip of water to wash the pills down, the hotel room door opened. Expecting Amy, she turned around as she said, “There you are–”

She had been planning to follow with …so now you can tell me what the hell happened, but she didn’t, because it wasn’t Amy that had walked into the room.

Fear encapsulated her. Her headache was forgotten and her state of undress remembered, but there was nothing nearby to grab to cover herself with. She maneuvered behind the chair and stared–mouth agape, questions overlapping in her mind–and finally whispered a single word.


Her mother stared back at her, arms crossed and face solemn.

“Obviously, Samantha. Amy met me in the lobby and gave me her key. I’m going back down there to wait–you have five minutes to be down there as well.”

“Where are we going?”

“You already know, darling. You’re just afraid to admit it.”


“Exactly. Five minutes.”

Her mother slammed the door and Samantha walked out from behind the chair, letting herself sit down for just a moment.

She wondered if she’d be allowed to go pack up her apartment bedroom first, or if that had already been done. Lord help her if they’d gone through her things.

The bottle of ibuprofen was still in her hands, and she shook it a bit to get the weight of it. It crossed her mind that taking the entire contents of the bottle all at once might just do her in, and for a moment she just stared at it.

Better not, she decided, and she stood up to find her pants.


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