All she wanted was a long, hot shower, Rachel thought as she climbed up the stairs to her apartment. She couldn’t wait to wash away all nastiness of her shift at Central Perk: customers’ demands and leers, their dirty cups, their lousy tips. Monica wouldn’t be home from the restaurant for a couple of hours. She could use all the hot water she wanted. She could make a big mess in the bathroom, shaving cream everywhere, and clean it up before Monica saw it. Maybe when she got out, when she was clean and smooth and smelled good, she could curl up in bed and read her new romance novel. Maybe she’d touch herself a little, she thought with a sheepish little smile. The whole apartment to herself. No one would ever know.
She unlocked the door and entered the apartment as quietly as she could, not flipping on the light until she’d closed the door behind her. The last thing she needed right now was a visit from
Silently, she dropped her purse and coat on the couch and took off her shoes, then padded to the bathroom door. Monica had left it shut – that wasn’t like her. She was obsessed with venting the steam from their showers and all the moisture that had been building up…
Rachel swung into the bathroom, and there, in the light of a few candles, was Monica, naked and rubbing herself with oil. Her shoulders glowed, her nipples shone, and, so close to the candle on the sink it made Rachel gasp, a dark, dark triangle of hair between Monica’s legs glistened. Rachel tried to stop looking, but they both stood frozen for what seemed like a mortifyingly long time…
Rachel burrowed under her favorite blanket, trying to banish the scene running through her head over and over. She didn’t know why she couldn’t stop seeing Monica’s body. Maybe because Monica was so slim and sleek. Rachel had always been the slim one when they were in high school, and it had made her feel good to know that when she and Monica went out together, everyone’s eyes would follow Rachel.
Since Monica had lost weight, though, Rachel had started feeling a little jealous of the attention Monica got. She was sure that’s why sometimes she thought about Monica’s body. She had decided she just wanted to look like Monica: her narrow hips and cute little butt.
But why did she keep seeing Monica’s nipples in her mind? Did she want nipples like Monica’s? She’d never really thought much about nipples before. She’d never seen anyone’s but her own, except for that time in seventh grade when Sarah Lowenstein’s towel had slipped when she was leaving the shower after gym class. Huh, she reflected, I haven’t thought about that in years…
Well, she was really embarrassed in the locker room, and she was really embarrassed now. Obviously that’s why she couldn’t stop thinking about all of this crap. And she hadn’t even gotten her nice, long shower. She’d escaped to her room, and hadn’t dared to leave it until she heard Monica’s bedroom door shut. She hoped Monica wasn’t still angry…
“What are you doing?” Monica finally yelled.
“I was coming to take a shower – you aren’t even supposed to be here!”
“I got off work early. Why were you sneaking around?”
“I wasn’t sneaking – I just didn’t want
“Well, you’ve screwed that up for both of us now!”
“You’re the one who’s yelling!”
“Why are you still in here? Get out!”
“Ooh! You know, you are just such a…ooh!” and Rachel swept out and slammed the door behind her. Then she heard a knock on the front door.
“Joey, go away!” she shouted.
“I heard yelling. Are you okay?” Joey called through the closed door. She heard the doorknob click as he tried to open it. She sighed.
“I’m fine. Everything’s okay.”
“Oh,” he said, then, after a pause, “Can I come make a sandwich, then?”
“Oh, fine.” She heard his footsteps in the hallway, then the slam of his door. She heard him say loudly to
“What the hell was all that,” Monica bellowed.
“Nothing!” Rachel yelled as she tramped to her room, cheeks burning.
Yes, that was definitely all she was feeling. Just mortified. She didn’t even know why – it was just Monica, whom she’d seen in bra and underwear a million times, whom she dressed up with for the prom. By the morning, the whole thing would have blown over.
Monica straightened her sheets, lined up her shoes, and folded the clothes she’d left lying on her bed and placed them carefully in the empty laundry basket in her closet. She never had a minute’s peace since Joey moved in with
She wasn’t leaving her room, though, until she was sure Rachel was in bed for the night. She had no idea what Rachel’s problem was now. It was always something with her. Probably she’d had a bad shift at work. Well, she always did, because she always did a bad job. Monica felt a little guilty as soon as she thought it, but it was true. She only kept her job because Gunther was madly in love with her. Like everyone always was.
She tried not to let her jealousy show, but she was so tired of living in Rachel’s shadow. She’d escaped it for a few years, when she moved into the city, where almost no one knew or cared about Rachel Green. Then Rachel came smashing back into her life making demands, Ross started mooning and whining over her again, and suddenly she, Monica, was invisible, like she’d been in high school.
Monica knew Rachel’s look-at-me routine and Ross’s droning wasn’t all that was bothering her, though. Tonight, Rachel had looked at her like Monica used to look at Rachel when no one was watching...
To be continued