Kayley Goes Shopping Ch. 03
It was a rough few days for Amanda. That first one, it was all she could do to go to class and not break down in the middle of it, feeling like every eye was on her and every whispered joke and every snicker that went with it was about her. Some of them were. She could tell by the way they looked at her and that just made her want to shrink into herself until she vanished.
She got dinner because she felt even more heartsick on an empty stomach. She forced herself to go to a place she couldn't quite afford and put it on the credit card her parents gave her for emergencies, knowing her parents never said anything about an occasional treat for herself. Eating to kill your feelings wasn't the best thing, but people often did it because it worked. She told herself she deserved to treat herself well even if no one here would. Then, alone in her studio apartment with nothing left to do but be with her thoughts, she'd cry again, wondering what was so wrong with her that people she thought were her friends could do that to her.
The next day was much the same. She'd kept her head down in class and forced herself to get through the day. No fancy-ish dinner this time though, settling for a pint of specialty ice cream from a little shop off campus and some binge-watching of television, deciding that she'd embrace her geekdom by going for old sci-fi shows before calling her mother.
She didn't tell her mom that she'd been an idiot, of course, so, when her mom noticed the heartache in her voice Amanda assured her that it was only general homesickness. Mom felt her pain and assured her that it really would get better. "Get out of your shell a little, honey. Go somewhere that you might never go. Go there, find someone that seems nice and say hi. You might get lucky and meet some friends-to-be that are also sitting in the other corners of the place hiding out."
"Try for me, honey. You can do it. The friends you make will be so lucky to have you. I know because I've known you my whole life and I've been so lucky that I got to."
It was all she could do to end the call on that note and not start crying again.
Day three was better and not only because she tried to tell herself it was. The sun was out once again and she felt drained of a lot of the melancholy that had darkened her universe. She felt cried out. And with that draining of emotion came a sense of clarity. She thought back on her time with those girls. She was kind to them. She was nice. Mostly all she wanted was friends, but, trying to be honest with herself, she admitted that she wanted friends like those. Being in their orbit alone would make her popular. She might get to at least see more of the fun side of college life. Maybe they could teach her how to fit in better. So, yes, she wanted things from them, but, really, only the things friends wanted from each other and did for each other.
With that clarity came a new perspective. She heard every little quip and dig that the three dropped at her expense in a new light. They laughed and said they were just kidding and then either offered her a little kindness to smooth it over or gaslight her to the point where she was laughing it off or wondering what it was she was too stupid to understand about people that didn't grow up in small towns and open spaces.
What still cut was Constance. God, she was beautiful. When she smiled at her, Amanda sighed. The first time in a friendly moment that Constance pulled her into a hug, her pussy dampened of its own accord. And, in those moments where it felt like they were friends, Amanda dreamed of more. You did some self-gaslighting, too, Amanda. She could tell herself that and it was true, but even now the heart wanted what the heart wanted.
Fuck them. Fuck all of them, she told herself forcefully. I don't need them. Those assholes don't know what they're missing. You don't need fake people around you like that. You don't want Constance. You don't want some rich bitch like that.
It helped so much that she hadn't seen any of them in the last few days. They probably moved on to their next sucker, she thought. They did and now she could too. She worried for a moment about who this other person might be, but, for right now anyway, she couldn't help this other person if there was one. She was only finally starting to pull herself together, for God's sake.
There was a knock at the door that pulled her from propping herself up. She hit the button on the controller of the used game console she was using to stream with and tossed it on the couch as she headed to the door.
Opening it, her eyes widened and a thousand butterflies did the best they could to flutter their way out of her stomach. All the dread was back. All the sadness was back as if it had never left. There she was in a navy skirt, heels and a thin white blouse that probably cost more combined than everything in her closet. As much as her heart ached, her pussy still wanted what it wanted, as she was unable not to notice those shapely legs and that those breasts were untamed by a bra.
Stop it. "What do you want?"
"Can I come in?"
Amanda was proud of herself for sounding so defensive. "Why?"
Constance looked up and down the hall, visibly uncomfortable, as though she wanted desperately to bolt, but couldn't make herself do it.
Amanda leaned her head out the door and looked both ways, seeing no one, before swallowing hard to push down the lump of sadness that was forming inside along with the anger. "Afraid that someone will see you come here?"
"Yes," she said quickly. "Partly. But I absolutely have to talk to you. It's very important to us both."
Amanda tried to close the door, but Constance propped it open with surprising strength, her voice carrying a hint of desperation. "You don't understand. If you want me to leave after we've talked no one's going to be happier to leave than I will be, but I can't leave without talking to you first, so let's get this over with now so I don't have to follow you around wherever you go until you finally hear me out. Please, let's just get this over with so I can get on with my life."
It didn't sound like all that bad an idea. She would say her piece and they could both move on. "Fine." She stepped away from the door and Constance hurried in, closing it behind her.
"I'd offer you something, but you're not going to be here that long, so just tell me what this is about." Amanda didn't want to look at her. She didn't even want to listen to her, but she could at least be the better person and hear her out. It was also on her mind that if she didn't look at her, Amanda's pussy couldn't start trying to talk her heart into things and her mind out of them.
She was so focused on that that it took her time to realize that Constance hadn't even started talking about what was go damn important yet. She's going to make me look at her. Fuck. She spun around as she spoke, "What's so impor...?"
She stopped when she saw Constance just standing there. No. Not just standing there like she was waiting for something, but standing there frozen, eyes staring towards the wall, but at nothing, her arm extended outward with a piece of paper nestled between thumb and forefinger.
After trying to process the scene with zero success, she spoke up. "What the hell are you doing? If this is some bullshit joke, it's not even only not funny, It's not funny and stupid, even if I'm not the punchline somehow."
The statue that was Constance now continued to stare at nothing, and still not moving.
Amanda approached her cautiously, still not sure this wasn't some sort of gag. "Constance? Are you okay?"
She snapped her fingers before Constance's eyes. "Connie?" She hated 'Connie' with a seething passion. The look she got when Amanda had once casually asked if people called her that was enough to make her wilt even before the sharp, "No. No one calls me that." That she didn't respond to 'Connie' was enough to make her wonder if she needed to call for help.
She brushed against the extended arm, being reminded that it was still out there at all. Amanda took the paper gingerly and unfolded it to read six words in rather lovely cursive:
Constance's arm dropped and she began to speak. Amanda was already plenty confused trying to sort out the situation, but there was no help to be found. Indeed, things were that much worse now with Constance's voice being her voice, yet not. The cadences were completely off, as though she were trying to imitate someone else's voice without trying to change the tone of their own. The peaks and valleys weren't hers.
And the confusion sundae now had jimmies of crazy sprinkling down upon it in the form of the fact that the words that voice not quite hers were speaking was barely believable.
"Hi, it's Kaley. You remember me, right? I'm the girl you poured your heart out to a few days ago. I really hope you're doing better, but, if you're not, I think this might help. I'd be there myself to help explain things, but I have a lot of plates to keep spinning. Science, as a mistress, is a merciless bitch, even though I love her."
"Anyway, Constance and I had a long conversation and I changed her mind about a lot of things, mainly by changing her mind. It's terribly complex and I'd love to tell you all about it, but it'd bore you, I'm sure. All you'd really care about is the result anyway, so here is the result. As soon as this message stops playing, there she stays. She won't be able to lie to you and she'll be able to follow basic instructions whether she wants to or not."
"Beyond that, I give her to you to do with anything you please. If you don't want to see the bitch's face again, I can totally understand that. If you say the words, 'I don't want you. Go back to your life.' she will, though I suspect she's going to be a little nicer to everyone around her." The tone changed as though she was caught being naughty, "Because I strongly implied that I might snatch her up if she were too much of a cunt; sort of like being on my naughty list."
"If you do want her for anything, that eventuality brings us to the combination lock you've probably read already. Read those words and you unlock her mind for programming. No one else's voice will do the trick, so don't worry about someone doing it by accident. Once she's wide open, knock yourself out. You can make her do anything, say anything, think anything, or be anything, from a serving wench in an old English pub to an international spy."
The tone turned slightly more serious. "I do want to say though that you should sort out what you want to do with her before you initiate the programming sequence because what you pick will stick as who she is. You can open her back up to smooth out little things like change her name or something or insert a memory you think up, but you can't make her one thing, wipe that out, then try something else. Do that and she'll eventually have a psychotic break and that will be a pain in the ass for you and everyone involved as her brain tries to reconcile being six people at once. That I could probably fix, but you couldn't afford it. Standing before you is the limit of my generosity in your case. When you're finished telling her how you want her, just say, 'Integrate.' and wake her up."
"Well, that's about it, Amanda. Keep her or let her go. Make her what you want or send her away. As the old knight said, 'Choose wisely.' Bye."
And, with that, the voice not quite hers fell silent. A moment beyond that and the blank stare came to an end as well. Constance stood perfectly still, as though she continued to be locked in place by some unseen force, but someone was home behind the eyes now.
She sighed, but there was already a hint of humility that wasn't there a few days before because the icy glare was absent. "That's not my name. I may have to stand here and take this until you let me go, but that's not my name."
"My name isn't Mandy either, but it didn't stop you, did it?"
She closed her eyes and took a long, cleansing breath, keenly aware of her position. "You're right, Amanda, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that. I apologize."
"What's going on?"
Constance tried very hard, and almost succeeded in not looking at her like she was an idiot. "The message was clear enough wasn't it? That nutty friend of yours fucked with my head and now I'm here."
Amanda dismissed it, "She's not my friend. Anyway, you heard that?"
"I heard it. It was like a voicemail jammed into my brain. I couldn't stop myself from giving it to you, just like I had to find you to give it to you, just like I can't leave until you let me go. I'm stuck in my own body until this plays out and I don't mind telling you it sucks."
Amanda spread her hands outward as though her head was exploding. "This is totally insane shit. Do you really think I'm dumb enough to believe it?"
"You were dumb enough to believe that we kinda, sorta, maybe liked you." She immediately regretted saying it, not for the freshly wounded look on Amanda's face, but that it didn't help her, wouldn't help her, and she knew it wouldn't even as the words left her lips, but she couldn't make them stop.
Moving beyond the slap to her ego. "Do you remember what happened?"
"What happened then?"
Constance told the whole tale, from meeting Kayley at the party to her time in the trailer, to her time in a windowless room somewhere else where they prodded and scanned her to make sure the programming was exactly right. "Kayley said she had to hook me up to other machines to check her work, like I'm some fucking school project. But, whatever she did, it worked. I had to come here. I had to tell you. Now I have to wait."
"What about Brandi and Ginnifer?"
Constance's voice took on a more frightened, desperate edge. "Brandi's gone. She's literally gone. She dropped out of school two days ago and practically skipped off campus without a care in the world, giggling about how the clouds were gray and mean and looked like dirty cotton."
"Ginnifer? I barely recognize her. She doesn't care about anything she used to. She's all sickly sweet and into social clubs and tutoring kids who need it and all she talks about is this rich old lady that she's totally in love with. She mocked Constance in sing-song "Jackie thinks it's very important that I finish my education. Jackie is all about using her fortune to make the world better and isn't that exciting? I love Jackie so much."
"Never mind that she's never mentioned this woman before and I'm sure she never even knew before Jackie took some of her money not destined to save humanity to have Kayley jam needles into her head."
"Did you talk to her about it? Did you tell her what happened to you?"
"Aren't you listening? Even if I told her she either wouldn't believe me or wouldn't care. Besides, like I know I had to come see you, I already know I can't talk to anyone else about it, and I wouldn't even if I could."
It made no sense in the moment, "Why not? Maybe a doctor..."
She snorted, "Please, Amanda, for God's sake, what do you think is supposed to happen? I go to urgent care and tell them I've been mindfucked, some second-year resident who's dealing Fentanyl patches on the side gives me an MRI, nods his head, gives me some Lithium and it's all better?"
The saddest part is that my life is in yourhands. It's bad enough that I have to worry until I die that that psycho bitch is going to black bag me some night, I have to know that my future rests in the hands of a girl who made it all the way to college without knowing how to dress herself."
Amanda's jaw quivered. "I guess you can't lie to me, after all, huh? What would you be doing if you could?"
"No, I can't. And I'd be kissing your ass until both cheeks were just smeared lipstick so I could get out of here."
"Why do you think she didn't let you lie?"
"Because she knew if I could play you I would, and you're stupid enough to fall for it. If you let me go because you let me go, then that was your call, not because I suckered you. If she changed me around before you got to me she thinks you still get suckered and don't get to move on. That, and I think she just gets off on giving you my leash just to see what you do."
Anger swelled and the sound of it filled the small room as memories paraded past her mind's eye. "What makes you think, after all the shit you've done to me, that I would believe a fucking thing you said."
Constance learned almost from the moment she could talk how to cut to the quick. It kept her on top. It was one of the things that made her better than other people. She looked through Amanda. "Because you're needy. You need friends, need love, need contacts, fashion sense, a decent place to live, and on and on. You're a puppy and all anyone has to do is pet the puppy and tell it nice things and all is right with the world for the sweet little ball of fluff."
Silence, then a whisper. "Did you ever really like me?"
"Even if you don't like dogs, you like puppies or you're a seriously broken toy. I liked playing with you. I liked things about you, but mainly I liked watching you take shit and come back for more. You amused me."
"I'm not a dog, you bitch. Stop talking about me like a dog."
She obeyed. "There are users and used. You are who you are and I am who I am."
Amanda snarked, "Until now, huh?"
"It's the same. You didn't do anything. I'm here because a better user sent me to your door."
Amanda began to pace. She could talk to Constance for another hour. She could keep her standing there all day, but the questions she was faced with were still going to be there until she answered them, but she still needed help to figure out what those answers were.
"Okay." she said to herself aloud before she stood almost nose-to-nose with Constance. "Kiss me."
The other looked like she was set to a distasteful task that she wanted to get over with as quickly and pecked her lips to Amanda's, pulling away as though she feared the girl's head would explode all over her.
Amanda's expression wasn't much more enthusiastic. "Wow. That was hot."
She took the small victory. "I did what you asked me to do, and that's all I had to do."
"Okay, you're right. That was on me, so let's try this again." She then gave voice to a daydream that she'd had a million times. "Kiss me like you love me and look like you do while you're doing it. Kiss me like you need me like you need air to breathe and you haven't seen me in a year."
Even the first seconds were better than her daydream as she watched Constance's features soften in a way she'd never seen before and, over the past days, had come to believe that was impossible for her. Her face was a mask of contentment. Only the way her fingers meandered their way through her hair as though she were slowly reacquainting herself with the texture betrayed excitement. There was a tentativeness to it and her fingers trembled while her eyes watched the hair flow between her fingers before focusing on Amanda's eyes before pulling her in for a kiss.
Constance pulled her in slowly. Or maybe it was that, for Amanda, time slowed to a crawl. Even this she didn't want to see end. Then their lips met, Amanda's parting first, allowing the intruder to explore, savoring the taste and feel before they began to mingle. They swirled together, Amanda feeling Constance's more rapid exhalations on her cheek. They further suggested excitement and Amanda melted. She knew exactly the feeling filmmakers were trying to convey in those old black and white films when the woman went limp before bending knee and putting one foot into the air. She was hot, wet mush on the inside; a wet, roiling, all-consuming mush.