The words over at Three Word Wednesday are gag, maintain and omit.
Suspended in Her Animation
Pinky out, he swirled the wooden stir-stick through the venti paper cup of coffee, where he had deposited two shakes of cinnamon, one of nutmeg, a healthy dollop of half-and-half and two packets of Sugar in the Raw.
This, he thought, cut the bitterness of the beverage and added some nobility; a higherness, without squirts of hazelnut or mocha flavoring, whipping cream or frothed milk (skim or whole). It was best, he figured, to omit any added pretentiousness.
She opted for a tall pumpkin-spice latte, skim, no whip. There was simply no need, she thought, for all those extra calories.
The couch was taken by a overweight bag lady with dyed hair, the color of the last layer of a Bomb Pop popsicle. Blueberry, but more electric, sassy. She wore her hair in a bob, which only helped give scale to the rest of her impressive girth.
She read from a paperback novel and had stationed herself perfectly in the center of the three-cushion couch. Between page turns, she snuck greasy-finger bites of something in Tupperware, cleverly camouflaged within a crochet muffler the color of dried dog turds.
The wingback chairs, although not quite as comfortable as the purple velvet couch, did offer some cover and distance from the hefty, aromatic woman, the direction of which the man was certain he detected (with a slight gag-reflex) the heavy ammonia pungency of cat urine.
They didn’t actually settle into the chairs before she burst into a rapid-fire verbal assault in “that tone” of hers. The one where she gets all excited and the decibel level tends to rise with the pitch, until he has to tell her that he can’t understand a single goddamn thing she’s saying. It all becomes one screaming, high-pitched whine. Like a turbine jet engine.
“Christ, what do you mean you’re sad, get a grip we’re all fucking sad. Just because you’ve had a year – ”
“It’s been more than a year – ”
“Fine, more than a year of setbacks and hardships doesn’t mean you’ve got any more reason to be like this. I mean, seriously. There’s a reason you’re here – ”
“Stuck here – ”
“You’re far from stuck here, mister. And maybe you’re supposed to be here – for Brooke, for whatever – for the time being. I just think there’s something you haven’t done here, karma and all that. Just because it might happen to suck for you right now doesn’t mean you have to be all dramatic about it.”
She drew forward in the chair, crossed her legs and took a draw on her holiday latte, the upsale of which the barista’s secretly high-fived one-another in hushed tones as the couple walked through the café toward the lounge.
He blessed this momentary peace and took a draw of his own coffee, which he maintained was just about a perfect combination and concoction of breakfast beverage he’d mixed all week. He felt empowered by its goodness.
“Let me tell you about my friend, Liza, whose got this amazing story.”
“Hush and listen, will you? It’s a good point. You need to hear this.”
She was on a roll. There was no escape. He settled his shoulders into the print fabric of the chair, took another healthy sip of coffee, licked his lips and smiled. He set the cup on the delicate side table, held out his hands, palms up, and gave a single nod.
“OK, so Liza was the person who designed the Phillips building in San Francisco, right? Completely her design, like this whole Earth-friendly, eco, cool-as-shit building, ground-up sprang from her head. Fucking amazing, I’m telling you. She gets it done and everyone’s really impressed and it’s beautiful and she’s happy and proud that she’s done such a thing. And she got laid off. Laid off, as in out of a fucking job.
“Instead of moping around in her apartment, unwashed hair and walking around in just a T-shirt and panties, she decides what she really wants is to move to New York. She’s grown up, all her life in the Bay Area and now she’s really sick of it. Sick of the fog and the weather and the fucking dicks at Phillips who just dumped her on her ass. New York is where she wants to be, she’ll do anything to get there – and does. She sends resumes, she makes phone calls, emails, posts her resume all over the place, all to get to New York, she’s so obsessed about it. For a year she tries. She’s using the last little bit of her severance, because all she wants to do is be in New York, but nothing is happening.”
“So she’s in a Fair Trade juice bar in Berkeley and there’s a Brazilian window washer out front – he’s this Spanish God – and she goes out and gives him her card. Just up and gives him her card, with her number on it. Just because. Fuck it, gives him the card, tells him to call. Well, mister, that one moment of boldness just about changed her whole freaking life.
“Now she’s the lead architect of all the Fair Trades – and get this, she’d doing it from New York. And she’s dating this totally hot Spanish God, Rolando, and she’s living the dream. A fucking amazing dream where she has it all. She’s got her dream job. She’s got her dream man. She fucking has it all, because she was patient and waited and didn’t get discouraged or anything.”
“And this has something to do with my situation how?”
“Have you not been listening? Jeez, you have to be patient! Listen up! You’ll get there and it’ll be amazing and brilliant and you’ll be so happy that you can’t even stand it!”
His coffee had grown cold. And his head had begun to throb, temple to temple in dull ripples of pain. His pressed his hands into fists and rubbed the underside of his nose with an index finger and stared at her intently. He sighed, and from beneath the fists, proclaimed:
“I’ll give it a little more time.”