Note: Been a while. This is just something small, inspired by TG’s excellent new offering. Hoping to parlay this renewed enthusiasm into finishing up some cliffs long left hanging, but… well time makes fools of us all. Enjoy.
Katy was wide awake, but kept her eyes closed tight. She looked asleep, but was actually acutely aware of everything else going on in the room. Sure, she had been sleeping mere minutes ago, but she would have had to have been Rip Van Winkle’s direct descendant not to wake when her roommates came clattering home. Katy had heard them enter, loudly, through the back door, clomp across the kitchen, and enter the living room. Now, listening silently, she could tell from their soft whispers and hushed giggles that they were up to something.
It wasn’t too hard to figure out what they were up to either. Since moving in together, pranks had been a regular occurrence; there were at least two rubber spiders still hidden somewhere upstairs, and every hair-dryer in the house occasionally coughed up a weak puff of flour. Obviously, appearing to be deep asleep, Katy made an appealing target. The pretty third-year physical therapy major was sprawled out on her back, lengthwise across the well-worn beige couch, one trim denim-hugged leg draped across the far end and the other dangling off the cushions. Her hands rested atop her taut midriff, displayed by a wispy maroon blouse, and her dense chocolate-brown curls spread over a ratty throw-pillow, framing an angelic face. Steeling herself mentally, Katy continued to feign slumber. Whatever practical joke they were cooking up, she was going to catch them in the act.
“Shh!” hissed one of the voices, after an indiscreetly loud chuckle. “It’s upstairs. Go get it.”
The conspiratorial whisper belonged to Rachel, the blonde, bespectacled, would-be-kindergarten-teacher who had the room down the hall. Sweet as anything, she nursed a secret dark side, one which relished an occasional bit of prank-based mayhem.
Which meant that the footsteps trying to creep quietly up the creaky stairs belonged to Heather, the third and final roommate. Short and also a brunette, Heather was a history major and the resident cynic of their little group. She also had the least patience for pranks out of them all, so this was almost certainly Rachel’s brain-child. Nevertheless, Heather was always happy, or ambivalent, enough to join in on an easy prank.
Katy made mental note of Heather’s eager collusion as she heard the girl in question tip-toe back down the stairs, evidently having found what she was sent to retrieve.
“Perrrfect.” Rachel purred softly.
“I know, right? I got it at the museum where I interned. Never thought I’d have a use for it.” Heather whispered in reply.
Her nervous curiosity already piqued, it was further inflamed as Katy felt a set of delicate fingers very carefully rotate her own left hand, so that it lay on her stomach with the palm facing up. All the while she played her best possum. With a slight hissing sound, everything became as clear as if she could see it with open eyes.
Suddenly, she felt something light and soft growing on her palm. It was shaving cream. And not a women’s variety, but the thick, creamy white foam that comes in big red and black cans. Katy knew for a fact that Rachel kept one or two such cans in the upstairs bathroom; she claimed she occasionally used it shaving her legs, but it was obviously purely for pranks. Pranks like this, a regular classic. Which meant Katy also knew the identity of mystery item #2, even before feeling its touch. I was no doubt the big brown replica quill-pen that Heather usually left gathering dust on her desk. Suddenly, a scheme of her own wiggled into Katy’s mind.
Her plan, thus far, had been to wait until both girls were gathered close, then jump up and yell boo, or something. But now that she knew exactly what they were plotting, a new plan fell into place… Instead of settling for startling her mischievous roommates, Katy would give them a shock and, with any luck, turn the tables on Rachel. All she had to do was keep up her charade, wait till she had a big handful of cream, and let Rachel’s prank-happy excitement draw her in close. Then whap, blondie gets a face full, and a taste of her own medicine.
Katy’s internal conniving was making her mind wander, so much so that she wasn’t ready when the big fake feather first grazed her nose. The tickle was intense, and she legitimately had to halt the impulse to brush at the offending sensation.
The feather came again, this time glancing off her cheek. Again, her hand didn’t move, but instead, for show, Katy nestled her head deeper into the lumpy pillow. She heard a small frustrated noise, she suspected from Heather.
For the third pass, the feather returned to her nose. Now fully playing games with her prospective-pranksters, Katy let her left hand drift heavily, drowsily toward her face. Mere inches away, she took a slumbering swat at the source of the tickle and, much to her roommates’ dismay, left just a cute little button of shaving cream on the tip of her own nose. As her hand flopped dreamily back to her waist, Katy heard an exasperated sigh and the sound of feet leaving the living room.
But she also heard the muted squeak of knees on a rug placed over an old wooden floor. Rachel wasn’t giving up, and she’d drawn closer. The hiss returned, and now she felt the mound of dense foam in her hand more than double, edging onto her wrist and pushing between her fingers. It was almost her time to strike.
Another sweep of the feather. It flitted back and forth across her sculpted eyebrows and danced just inside her ear. Now Katy could smell Rachel’s perfume, a subtle lilac scent. She was very close.
Footsteps again, approaching as the feather returned, sending a tickle flickering over her Cupid’s bow. A bead of sweat formed at the base of her neck. She could swear she felt Rachel’s warm breath on her cheek. Now. Now was the perfect moment to…
“This is taking waaay too long.” Heather said, at full volume, from directly above the couch.
Before Katy could even open her eyes, an enormous amount of shaving cream engulfed her entire face.
Heather had used a dishtowel, or some other piece of fabric, as an improvised pie tin, rubbing the payload in through the cloth. Her impatient roommate peeled away the towel and Katy blew foam into the air before taking a gasping breath. Without thinking, her hands finally flew to her face, inadvertently adding Rachel’s mound to the mountain covering her head. With a groan, Katy smeared it out of her eyes and back into her cream-choked curls.
“Well…” Rachel mused, “I guess that’s one way of doing it.”
Katy flailed her foamy hands at the spot where her roommate had been kneeling, but of course Rachel had moved.
Sitting up and spitting shaving cream, Katy sulked on the couch. She scraped her palms over her mouth and slicked back her hair, feeling it settling into a cream coated helmet, only able to imagine what a mess she looked like. Regardless, it meant an unplanned shower before her evening class.
Katy couldn’t hear whether her puckish roommates had left the living room, or were taking abundant cellphone pictures of her creamy predicament, because there was shaving foam in her ears. Although she was wide awake, she kept her eyes closed tight, wishing she’d just stayed asleep.