Beatrice poured herself another glass of wine. Her mother, sitting next to her on the sofa, was speaking quickly.
“So your telling us that you’re an agent for some secret international society and you’ve been pretending to be Birdy’s boyfriend for two years now just so that you can infiltrate our family’s craziness?”
“Yes. I am part of an unnamed organization. That is to say, you are not cleared to know its name,” Arthur replied and turned to face Beatrice, “Birdy? Really? I never took you as a nickname person.”
“You’re the secret agent. Surprised it wasn’t in your files,” Beatrice scoffed.
Beatrice’s mother stood up, and started pacing the apartment.
“Look, mom, you’re just making me anxious. Why don’t you go to bed? I promise these problems will still be here when you get up in a few hours.”
Arthur looked curiously at Beatrice. She seemed so different from the person he’d been eating dinner and watching movies with for the past two years. It was as if the scheduled, reserved Beatrice was crumbling away to reveal the real, scared, sharply witty Beatrice. While he’d been under cover, so, apparently, had she.
“Fine. Good night Birdy, dear,” said Beatrice’s mother, nodding curtly, “Arthur.”
With her mother gone, Beatrice suddenly felt overwhelmed. And angry. Incredibly angry. She looked at Arthur, if that was his real name, and felt betrayed. She looked at the cluttered walls of her apartment, and felt rage.
“Beatrice…” began Arthur, “you okay?”
“Am I okay? OKAY? No, Arthur, I am not fucking okay,” replied Beatrice, unable to control her emotions. “My cousins just turned my apartment into some sort of criminal headquarters, my boyfriend is a spy, and my mother living with me is the best part of my life right now.”
Stunned, Arthur sat silently. Beatrice continued.
“And let’s not forget that there’s a nasty booger of a creature named Pepe that keeps eating my shoes! How about the fact that everyone seems to know my childhood nickname? And I’m supposed to go into work on Monday and pretend that everything is perfectly normal!”
Seething with rage, Beatrice reached for her wine glass, only to realize that she’d already emptied it.
“You know Bea,” said Arthur cautiously, “there is a way we can get your life back to normal.”
“Oh really, Mr. Spy. And what way is that?” Beatrice spat.
“We have to bring down your cousins. Figure out what they were doing, and…”
“Find out where they were,” said Beatrice, finishing his sentence.
The two spent the next few hours sifting through maps, spreadsheets, and lists that the cousins had left scattered throughout the apartment. After a while, Beatrice noticed the faint morning light shining though the window.
“You should probably go. They’ll be back soon.”
Seeing that it was nearly 7 a.m., Arthur replied, “You’re right. Same time tomorrow night?”
Beatrice laughed sardonically. “I guess this is my life now.”
“Nah, before you know it, the cousins will be out of your life forever,” said Arthur, who, with the casual air of a well traveled international spy, kissed Beatrice on the cheek and strode out the front door.
“Get some sleep, Birdy!”