She starts assigning herself tasks to tip fate in her favor. If she puts on her shoes, he’ll be here.
If she moves up a stair, he’ll be here.
If she slings her purse over her left shoulder, he’ll be here.
Finally she runs out of charmed acts, and so she listens to her heartbeat fill the room. The only other competing sound is the clock above her. She listens for when the second hand colludes with her heartbeat. She plucks the faint hairs on her arm. She fingers the twin scars ringing her index knuckles.
The beer is gone.
“No,” she says. “This is good.”
This gives her a chance to fix something. She should do something with all this extra time she’s been given.
She sets the can down and dashes up the stairs into her room. The mirror wrecks her.
“Oh God. I look like a Geisha.”
She wipes her face with a towel soaked in make-up remover and starts over, more conservative this time, listening for the door as she labors. A few times she runs to the stairwell, thinking she heard some promising sound. Footsteps on the porch, maybe, or a car slowing by her house.
After a while she assesses her handiwork in the mirror and, satisfied but not impressed, goes back down to her perch on the stairs. Checks the clock.
The dance has started.
She starts untangling her trussed mane, tier by intricate tier. The pins she plunks into the dry beer can. The clips she places like oversized grasshoppers in the palm of her hand and flicks them over the banister, watching them drop into the darkness below. She twists the loosed rivulets of hair between her fingers. At intervals, she yanks them by the roots.
Almost an hour passes before the phone rings. She springs up to her room, sweat in her veins.
This has to be him. He’ll explain everything. A car accident or he’s sick or someone he knows got in a car accident or is sick or…
She picks up the receiver.
Silence. Not quite silence. Tinny rushing static. Probably a pay phone.
A cold anvil slides into Beddy’s stomach. It’s happening again.