call you tpmorrow
Lily is drunk and erroneously assumes that James’ yellow car is a taxi. Based on a prompt from this post. Rated G for goddammit, she’s drunk, that would be taking advantage.
The sidewalk is cool on her bare feet as she stumbles to a taxi and opens the door. “Hi there,” Lily giggles, swaying a bit. “Fifth and Main, please.” She buckles her seatbelt with fumbling fingers and sets her purse on the floor.
The car doesn’t move. “Er…” the driver says hesitantly. “This isn’t—”
“Oh, actually, can you take me to Stearns and Second? I forgot to water my friend’s plants, and he’ll kill me if I don’t…”
“Or is it Stearns and Eighth?” Lily rambles, words spilling out before she can make sense of them. Her head is fuzzy with tequila shots and the pounding of an impending hangover. “I can’t really remember…”
“Not a taxi!” the driver bursts out. “Just a regular car, thanks.” He twists to look at the girl in his back seat. Her reddish hair is falling out of its complicated updo and her eyeliner is smudged with sweat.
She stares at him like he’s stupid. “Of course it’s a taxi. You’ve got a yellow car and you’re waiting outside a bar at one in the morning.”
“I’m waiting for a friend.”
“Well, I need a ride. I’ll be your friend and you can drive me home, okay? I’m Lily,” she introduces herself as she leans up front. “Who are you?”
He sighs. “My name is James,” he says reluctantly. “Fine, I can give you a ride. I don’t trust you to make it otherwise.” James turns back to the road and shifts out of park, making a dubiously legal u-turn.
“Wait! What about your friend? She’ll be all alone!” Lily protests, apparently just processing what he had said earlier. “You can’t leave her.”
James waves a hand. “He’ll be fine. I’ll text him. He can call a real cab. Fifth and Main, you said?”
“No, Stearns and Fourth. I need to water Peter’s plants,” she says, as if he knows who Peter is. “He’s in England this month. All the way across the sea.” Her mind wanders, until she realizes she’s still leaning forward between the front two seats. “Hi,” she says to his shoulder.
“Hi.” He glances over at her. Her perfume, citrusy and sweet, wafts through the car. “Have you got any shoes on?”
Lily sits back and looks down at her feet. “No,” she says with a frown. “I don’t know what happened to them. And they were so cute.” She stares for a moment more, then shrugs. “Oh well, they were my sister’s old prom shoes. Why’s your car yellow if it’s not a taxi?”
“I like it. It has character,” he says a little defensively. “Okay, we’re on Stearns, so you’re going to have to tell me when we get to Peter’s place.”
She watches out the window, breath fogging up the glass. She absentmindedly traces a heart in the condensation. “Oh, right here! I recognize that book shop. The lady there was pretty. Pretty eyes. Pretty mouth.”
“This is Stearns and Sixth,” James notes as he deftly parallel parks. “Can you remember that?” He gets out of the car and opens her door for her, offering a hand.
Lily doesn’t see it and gets out by herself. “Yes, I can, actually,” she says, somewhat indignantly. “That’s what I said earlier.”
He opens his mouth, then closes it and decides not to say anything.
She walks unsteadily toward a shady-looking apartment building, digging in her purse for a key. “Oh.” James can practically hear her deflating. "I haven’t got the key, it’s at home.”
James sighs again. This girl is either not too bright or unhealthily drunk. Or both. “I’m taking you home now,” he says. “Fifth and Main, yeah?” He helps her back into the car, the front seat this time.
“Yeah. Fifth and Main.” Lily’s lip juts out in a pretty pout. “I really wanted to water Pete’s plants before he got back.” She fiddles with the radio dial and finds an all-night alternative station. “He arrives day after next, and I’ve only watered the plants twice in two weeks. They’ll all be dead.”
“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” James reassures her as he navigates to Main Street. “Once my mum and dad went to Alaska for a week and I was supposed to water their plants every other day, except I actually only watered them once. They survived. Kind of.”
“Yeah, but I wanted to prove I was responsible. He thinks I’m not, since I lost our other friend’s rabbit. She turned up eventually, though.” A pause. “And she even had most of her fur left.”
James can’t stop himself from snorting with laughter. “Jesus. I hope you don’t babysit. Look, we’re almost to your place.” Sure enough, they’ve just turned onto Main Street. “I’m going to give you my number and you text me when you get inside, alright? I don’t want you to end up locked out or anything. And if you want you can call me tomorrow; I have a florist friend who might be able to help with your plant situation.”
Lily smiles faintly at his gentle yet firm tone. She can tell he’s used to dealing with drunk people. “Yes, sir. Oh, that’s my building, next to the tattoo place. With the window boxes, yeah.” He pulls up in a loading zone and scrabbles in the console for a pen.
“Could I see your hand for a sec?” James asks. Lily nods and he takes it to write his number. She watches the way his hair falls over his forehead and for a short, tequila-hazy moment considers pushing it back. But then he’s done and the urge is gone.
“There you go. Text me when you get in,” he reminds her. “Got your keys? Your purse? Shoes? No, you lost them. Right. Well.” A moment of silence, and then Lily opens the door.
“Thank you,” she says as she stumbles out. “Really. It means a lot to me. And I’m not usually quite this dumb, I swear. Or drunk. Or, well, when I’m not this drunk I’m not this dumb. Usually I’m all about organic chemistry and molecular biology and curing cancer.” Another pause. “Anyway.”
“Good night,” James says. “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Lily smiles wryly at this and closes the door. He watches as she tiptoes to her building and struggles with her keys, eventually finding the right one and disappearing without a backwards glance.
Again he sighs. She was cute, he muses, and sweet enough to care about her friend’s plants even while wasted. Hopefully she won’t forget whose number is sharpied on her hand. Hopefully she’ll use it.
Two minutes pass without a text. Five. Ten. James is still parked illegally and has almost resigned himself to forever wondering if she made it home when his phone lights up.
notd ead!! the world of organic chemistry is saved. call you tomprrow.
He smiles at her correctly-spelled ‘organic chemistry’ next to ‘tomprrow’ and shakes his head. Then he pulls away from the curb, the scent of oranges and permanent marker hanging in the air.