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  • The loud knocking woke Andrea up from the deepest sleep she had gotten all week, and the most sleep she would probably get for the next few days, at least until her article was perfect and editor-ready for publication. Rising with a snarl, she cast one quick glance at the clock on her beside table, which was mocking her with the bright red glow of ‘3:32 AM’, before throwing on her robe and slippers and feeling her way out of her room and down to front door, accidentally kicking a few boxes on the way.
    The knocking happened again, this time louder and in faster repetition.
    “I am right here.” Andrea said, loud enough to be heard by the person standing on the other side of the door, “Just give me one damn second.” She pulled back the bolt that her mother insisted she get installed after David, her soon-to-be ex-husband, moved out, opened the door and then immediately took a step back when visually affronted by a very angry cab driver. She rubbed some sleep out of the corners of her eyes and tried to focus on the situation, when she noticed the cab driver was half-carrying, half-dragging, a very drunk and belligerent David.
    “Heyyyy Andy” David drawled from the top step, waving with his free hand and balancing on the cab driver’s legs to keep from falling into the bushes.
    Andrea rubbed at her eyes again, before turning to the cab driver and trying an early-morning attempt at humor, “Do I even want to know?”
    The cab driver glared at her over the tops of his glasses, as if it was her fault. “I picked him up from a bar, and the bartender handed me his driver license for an address to take him home. He didn’t pay for his ride. And he puked in my cab.”
    Andrea rubbed her hand across her collarbone, momentarily debating leaving David to clean up his own mess for once, and then decidedly grabbed her purse from the kitchen table, tipping the driver generously for his inconvenience.
    The driver mumbled something; certainly not an expression of gratitude, before returning to his cab and driving off, leaving David slumped on the steps and Andrea to try to get him inside alone. Once she knelt down to him, she could smell the alcohol and vomit on him, his clothes, and in his hair. “Come on, David, stand up, let’s go.” Andrea said encouragingly, pulling at his shoulder with one hand and wrapping the other arm around his torso.
    “Let go, I can stand myself!”
    Andrea gritted her teeth and released her grip, and David shot up, before pitching forwards into the doorframe. She took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders back in their sockets a few times before trying again, leaning forwards and balancing his weight on her hip. “Come on, David. Let’s get you cleaned up.” She led him up the stairs carefully, stopping a few times to regain her footing and occasionally leaning on the railing to steady them, before taking him into the bathroom and stripping off his shirt. She ran the hot water for a few minutes, testing the temperature with the inside of her wrist before allowing him into the tub. “Can you take it from here? Can you wash your own damn puke off?” She asked, tapping her foot closest to the door.
    His incoherent mumbling was answer enough. She flexed her fingers, and ran her thumbs against her palms, then helped him out of his pants and into the tub. She was so tired that her eyes kept blinking slower and slower, but somehow she managed to methodically rub and rinse the shampoo into his scalp and get the majority of the puke out. She carefully avoided getting soap into his eyes
    “This is nice.” David said, slipping further under the hot water.
    “This is not nice. This is me washing vomit out of the hair of an almost-forty year old, who is too drunk to do it himself.”
    “We should have kids. You always say you don’t want them, but you would be such a good mother.”
    Andrea almost laughed out loud. “You can have kids with your next wife, David. We are getting divorced, remember?”
    Andrea pulled the plug out of the tub and missed his response over the gurgle of water rushing down the drain. Too tired to ask him to repeat it, and too burned out to even care what it could have been, she instead dried him off and led him to her bed, before making up the couch for herself and falling restlessly back to sleep.
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