pg | minor character death

"There were moments when I actually liked it," she whispers.

It's a confession - you know this from her tone - but you're not sure what exactly she's confessing. She gets like this when she's had just a bit too much to drink. Someone told you once that redheads had problems holding their liquor. Or maybe it was that redheads had short tempers. You can't really remember, as you've had a bit too much to drink, too.

"Oh, really?"

Bree nods, tapping her nose the way people playing charades do, when someone has made a correct guess. Maybe this is a game.

"I told him I hated it, and I did. Most of the time. There's something about . . ."

She waves her hands in a vague manner, almost knocking over her wine glass. Then she nods once, as if she's made her point. You try to prompt her to continue with your eyes, but she's staring intently at the table.

"This is the wrong type of glass for this wine."

"Yeah," you concede.

"I miss him." Her voice is faint and hollow, forcing you to lean forward to hear it. You can't remember the last time the house was this quiet.

"He loved you, Bree. He really did," you say unnecessarily.

She doesn't seem to hear you; she picks up a carton and spills beef and vegetables onto white rice. She doesn't notice when she accidentally drops a pea pod into her lap, and that's when you know she's really drunk. Then suddenly, she's standing up, combing her hair with her fingers, mumbling incoherently. You manage to get up off the floor, leaving a soy sauce-stained handprint on the coffee table.

"I can't drive home," she says, covering her face with her hands. "I've had too much to drink."

"You live right across the street. You didn't drive here."

She knits her forehead in confusion and you glance around, just to make sure that you're right. The place is cleaner than it's been in years, quieter, but those are definitely Parker's shoes sitting in the fish tank. Definitely your house.

"I should go home then."

"Well . . . you don't have to."

Wait a minute. In the fish tank?

"I . . . I can't stay here."

She leans in closer, her hair brushing your cheek. Her breath smells like sweet and sour sauce and alcohol. Your mind focuses on the fact that her lipstick is almost the same shade as yours, so if you kissed her right now, it probably wouldn't mess up your makeup too much.

"When does Tom come back?"

Yes, yes, your husband. Your husband, who took the kids out so you could entertain your new client. Your husband, who should be home in a few minutes and will undoubtedly want an explanation as to why the house smells like burnt chicken, why you lost your client, why there are boxes of Chinese food all over your coffee table, and why Bree is over here commiserating with you and a bottle of almost sour wine.

He'll probably also be interested in why exactly Parker's shoes are in the fish tank.

"Um. I'm not sure. I'm surprised he lasted this long."

She turns away from you, returning to her spot on the floor. You stupidly stare at her as she tries to put on her shoes; finally, she gives up, holding them with her left hand as she props herself up with her right.

"Do you want me to help you clean up?"

And then she's too close again, all porcelain skin and disheveled hair. Parted lips in your field of vision and a warm, clothed breast pressing against your arm. You think of the French maid's outfit upstairs, and how she wouldn't quite fit into it, so maybe when she bent over to dust the television, the skirt would ride up just enough to prove that her red hair came out of a bottle. She'd have to get on her hands and knees to clean the floor and -


"No," you choke out. "I'll clean it up tomorrow."

"Oh, honey, you can't let this sit out overnight. You'll get ants."

And then Bree is all business, gathering up cartons and plates, stumbling once on her way to the kitchen. You feel a bit unsteady yourself as you stare at the two bottles of wine on the coffee table, trying to figure out if they're both real. Just as you've decided that the one on the left is most definitely the result of drunken double vision, the front door opens and you hear your kids rushing in, dropping things on the stairs.

There's a 'hey, babe,' in your ear as Tom's arm slips around your waist. You don't feel like explaining, so you just tell him everything went well. He's exhausted, he says, so he promises to help you clean up tomorrow as he trudges up after the kids.

"I'm going to take your trash out as I leave," she informs you as breezes past you, heading for the door. There's a hole in the bag, causing cereal and paper towels and bits of lettuce to spill on the floor, but she doesn't notice and you don't bother to point it out. You can always call her in the morning and ask her to clean it up for you.