Girls Night Out
This short story comes from Bitsy’s book, HEAR ME ROAR. In it, Bitsy’s trying to figure out how to take care of herself again—no mean feat when you’ve forgotten what you like! Originally, I wrote out several scenarios where Bitsy goes on a self-care binge and tries figure it out. I didn’t keep most of them (just wanted to see what Bitsy would do and how she’d react) but this was one I really struggled to throw out!
FYI—Lana and Lizzy are Bitsy’s two young daughters, elementary school age.
The sound of Lana and Lizzy quietly giggling in the background played down the hall when Mira tapped on my front door. Before I could call her in, it swung open, admitting a swirl of snow as she stepped into the house, a bag in her hand.
"Hello!" she sang.
My stomach pitched with sudden nerves. What was I doing? I’d never done this before and I already felt awkward.
"Well, ah . . . thanks for coming," I said.
I motioned to the floor, where I'd scattered blankets and pillows all over the carpet. What I didn't tell her was that I had to get on Pinterest to find out exactly what happened during girls night out. To say that I'd been robbed of some childhood experiences would have been an understatement.
"I think it's all ready,” I said, attempting to hide a grimace. “Sorry, I haven't really done this that much."
Mira grinned, a spot of bright pink lipstick on her front teeth. "Looks great, Bits Besides, there are no rules for girls night out. We get to do whatever we want, which is only part of the beauty." She held up a brown paper bag in one hand, and an outlandishly colored pink in the other. "I brought the necessities!"
"What are the necessities?"
Before she could elaborate, another body bounded up onto the porch and threw open my door.
"I've arrived!" Rachelle sang with an impressive operetta. She slid into the house, bringing more snow flurries with her. A greasy pizza box sat in her hands, along with a pack of diet root beer, and a stack of movies. Relief coursed through me. While I was ready to lower some inhibitions, drinking straight, plain root beer seemed like a lot to ask.
So much sugar.
"This," Rachelle said, "is going to rock."
While Mira pulled her coat off, Rachelle set the food in the kitchen, chattering at a fast pace about a new cookie recipe. She paused, stared at an assortment of movies I’d set on the table, then pulled them off the table and carried pizza and entertainment into the living room.
"Rom coms?” she asked. "We do this with food."
The very idea of eating while watching a movie gave me a moment of heart burn. I'd very strictly trained myself away from eating while doing mindless tasks, especially television. Distracting my mind while consuming delicious food was a recipe for a binge. But I forced it back. No, I thought. We're loosening the strings here.
I forced a bright tone.
Both Rachelle and Mira paused, studying me. Mira tilted her head to the side. I could see the question in her eyes, but felt confident she wouldn't ask. Not with Rachelle there. Rachelle, on the other hand . . .
"What's going on?"
She dropped the pizza box onto the carpet and propped her hands on her hips. The smell of frosting lingered in the air between us. No doubt she'd come right from work. A craving for cupcakes nearly assaulted me.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You told us to bring pizza, and when the word dessert was mentioned, you didn't even give us guidelines on how many calories or what kind of sweetener was expected. What the heck, Bitsy? You can’t just leave me free to choose buttercream frosting, because you know I will. Now you're watching a rom com, which is something I didn't even think you'd know how to do.”
“I know how to watch movies!”
“You said romances made you feel like you had the flu.”
I swallowed hard. “I do. They’re . . . not real.”
“That’s the point!” Mira squealed, clapping. “Then you can live vicariously through them. It’s my favorite part.”
Rachelle continued with her usual dogged determination. “And when I suggest we watch the movie while eating, you don't even have a self righteous comment about being in the moment with food."
The back of my throat burned at first. Self righteous! But she was right. There were plenty of hypocritical things about everything I preached. Being in the moment when eating. But was I all the time? No. Sure, I didn't eat in front of the television and I tried to have nothing else to distract me except the girls, but I didn't often take the time to enjoy what I ate, or the situation around it.
"No," I said, swallowing back my pride. It didn't go down easy. "You're right."
She blinked again. “What?”
Her eyes widened. “Now I’m really scared.”
Mira met my gaze with a bolstering smile. Although I'd mostly come clean to Lexie, I'd forgotten that Rachelle and Megan still didn't know about my new quest to figure out how to do self-care. Even Lexie didn't know the full truth.
"I'm trying to . . . be more alert to the way I take care of myself."
Rachelle nodded. "Janine preaches to me about it all the time."
I blew out a breath. “I'm trying to figure it out and I think I've been doing it wrong. I got a lot of ideas from other people on how they do self-care, but none of them have really worked."
I shrugged. "And . . . you know . . . Maybe I'm a bit tightly wound and could do with some loosening. So I'm trying."
A short silence filled the room before I could look up and meet Rachelle's gaze. Her eyebrows rose.
"Cool. Let's get started. I'm starving."
With that, she spun around and plopped onto the largest pillow that I had left on the floor. I glanced to Mira, who stifled a giggle and lowered onto the couch behind Rachelle. Rachelle lifted the pizza box and passed it back. By the time I folded myself onto the floor by Rachelle, the pizza made its way around to me. Before I could ask about plates, Rachelle shook her head. She tossed a travel sized package of baby wipes toward me.
"Here," she said. "Use these if you get your hands greasy. Otherwise, embrace it. No plates. No dishes. The only clean up that we'll have is to throw the pizza box away, which is just what a girls night out requires."
"A woman with sense," Mira said, and bit into her first cheesy bite.
"All right," Rachelle said after closing the DVD player. "Gerard Butler, here we come."
"Wait! I chose a movie."
"I know. We're going to watch that one next, when we do nails and dessert. A proper girls night should always start out on the right note. Trust me." She lowered her voice. "You are going to thank me for this one."
The television flickered to life. I stood up, turned the lights off, and sat back down. Rachelle passed around a can of diet root beer to each of us. When I reached for the top and peeled it back, it popped open with a satisfying fizz. Rachelle squealed and wiggled deeper into her pillow.
With a deep breath, I tore off a bite of pizza. The tangy tomato sauce and hot cheese disintegrated together on my tongue. It had been far too long since I'd last eaten pizza.
And it tasted really good.
I can totally taste it. Yum.