Almond Milk Saves Lives – Alex Antiuk

I unlocked the door quietly.
“Who is it?” Holly nervously yelped from her bedroom. She was joined by Bella, who let out a light BARK upon my entrance.
“Just me…” I replied, before I quickly headed into my room and began to shuffle through the clean laundry Holly had placed on the table that morning.
I was searching for one particular shirt, and the longer I moved my fingers through the pile of clothes the more I began to wonder if Holly had accidentally moved it into her closet after doing the laundry – it was the only shirt I owned that hid the weight I had unfortunately gained since moving back home.
“Have you seen my black button-up?” I yelled down the hall. Holly’s TV was blasting from her room and she didn’t reply.
But Bella appeared shortly after, and introduced Holly with another BARK.
“Do you hear her?” Holly asked in a tired voice.
Holly was sporting her usual outfit. Holly didn’t have a job, and her pajamas had turned into all day attire. It consisted of a pair of grey sweat-pants that had a few coffee stains on them and an aggressive PETA t-shirt – today’s shirt had printed in large gold letters, ALMOND MILK SAVES LIVES.
I ignored Holly and squeezed passed her, heading straight towards her room.
Holly’s bedroom was located down the empty hall, through the dining-room we never used. The TV was still on and blaring, and covered Holly’s plea that trickled into my ear.
“Get-Out!” Holly barked once she retreated back towards her doorway and noticed I had flung open her closet door.
Holly’s closet was completely disheveled, unlike her bedroom. Her bedroom was attended to weekly by the cleaning lady, a long-standing tax Holly had always made sure to scrape together enough to pay. However, Holly’s closet was a space she refused to allow anyone to touch. It consisted of acres of clothes, piled on top of one another. The closet was filled with folded clothes from the wash, mixed together with clothing not worn in years.
After a brief examination, I realized my shirt was likely buried in one of the piles, and the likelihood of me finding it was as likely as Holly landing a job.
“Get-Out!” Holly repeated. But I was distracted by a peculiar wetness that rammed into my back. It was Bella’s button nose that was black, soft and always moist. It was rubbing gently into the few available inches between my belt and t-shirt – left exposed because my shirt was too tight and no longer fit properly.
I turned towards Bella and smiled, but it immediately receded when I noticed Bella had begun her dance directly outside the closet.
Holly also noticed it, and asked me, “Can you take her out?”
But I ignored Holly and dove into a pile in the back of the closet, beneath the plethora of dry-cleaning Holly had never taken out of their plastic covers.
“Bella! Bad-Girl!”
Bella had plopped into a seated pose and after turning around I noticed she began to pee, relief sprinkling all over her innocent face with each drop. Bella’s nose had also begun to bop slightly, but I saw her body had become completely still when she let out the final few drips on Holly’s floor.
Holly’s livid voice berated my ear-drum, and I knew if I didn’t head towards the front-door, grab Bella’s leash and walk her around the block, I’d likely be faced with the possibility of the dead-bolt being locked when I returned home from my date.
I stood, and in a tepid frustration headed out of the closet. I could see the steam radiating off Holly’s reddened cheeks, but I decided I’d take a risk.
“But… She’s already peed!”
Holly’s face tightened in disbelief. Her cheeks also turned a slight purple as she began to pace around the room. Holly’s footsteps were quiet, but an usually loud breath was exiting her mouth – Holly blamed her frequent congestion on her life-long addiction to chocolate, but every time Holly fell into a concussed, livid disbelief – that indicated if I didn’t do as requested, I’d have to face the full force of her middle aged, delusional hysteria – her nostrils became completely clogged.

Opening the door, I watched Bella skip back into the living-room and lay down on the couch after our walk. Her large, golden body stretched out, and I noticed Holly had retreated back into her room – leaving me once again able to get ready.
I had put everything on but my shirt, and I began to ponder if I could sneak past Holly and take one final look in the closet. Holly’s TV was still blasting, and although I could hear the news clearly, I wondered if she had fallen asleep.
Pushing her bedroom door open slowly, I noticed Holly was reclined, and beneath the glow of the TV I saw her eyes were half open and filled with a light layer of crust.
“Stop!” Holly unexpectedly exclaimed, jumping up after I threw myself into the closet.
The piles of clothes had seemingly grown since I’d begun my search, but nevertheless I began to frantically move my hands and fling clothes in all directions – until an article landed outside the closet, and into Holly’s line of sight.
Holly’s voice had taken on a new hysteria. It was blistering and held a heavy dollop of distress. But I continued my search, until I heard the TV mute and Holly’s footsteps approach.
“Please… One more minute.”
But Holly replied with her biggest yelp yet. It rattled through my ear, but suddenly halted when we noticed Bella had re-entered the room.
Bella’s face looked perplexed, but when I heard her begin to whimper I knew it was all over.
Bella’s whimper grew as Holly’s voice echoed around the room, leaving Holly to yell violently, “DO YOU HEAR HER?”
Bella replied with a HOWL, playing her part in the commotion that overtook the dimly lit room.
“SHE STILL HAS TO GO!” Holly screeched, deciming my ear-drum while I was trapped within a pile of unfolded denim.
I felt my body sinking, and with Holly blocking my exit I knew there was only one thing I could do. Forcing me to use all my remaining strength to let out a harrowing, “YOU TAKE HER OUT THEN!”
Holly became frozen in disbelief, but it didn’t last.
I lifted myself up, slowly freeing my ankles from the gargantuan pile. But as I reached the string to turn off the light, I saw it. My shirt was neatly folded, buried deep inside one of the shelves Holly stored her junk.
A jubilation consumed me and I began to slowly reach for it, when Holly’s belligerent voice distracted me – she spoke so vehemently it forced her sweat-pants to ripple in its wake.
I quickly returned my focus to my shirt. However, my legs were unable to move quickly as they had become stuck beneath a large hill of wool sweaters.
“I’M CALLING STEVIE J!” Holly screamed into my ear, as I began to fling the useless junk piled on top of my shirt onto the floor, until my shirt was in sight.
It sat majestically in the harsh, fluorescent light of the closet. It was neatly folded and didn’t have a single crease on it. I marveled at its beauty, but as I stood in awe I felt Holly grab my arm and push my unstable body back into the closet – I fell into a dark corner, the light hidden by the plethora of hung-up, untouched dry-cleaning.
Thankfully, I’d grabbed the shirt on my way down and held it tightly against my chest. It left me with a large smile, but when I stood and joyously began to make my way out of the closet, my eyes caught what had been buried beneath it.
It was made up of two different colored pinks, one for the handle and one for the shaft. It was as large as an oversized banana, familiarly curved and had begun to shake violently around the empty shelf.
Holly had hid it beneath my shirt, and as I fell I unleashed its full potential. It was bopping rapidly, and before Holly or I had time to react it fell and landed against my knee with a thump – leaving me silent as I frantically fumbled out of the closet in disbelief, as I no longer knew what shirt to wear on my date.