She removed the pen from her pursed lips and observed. Along the shaft of the utensil sat the deep, gnarled trenches of tooth marks—glaring evidence of her oral fixation. Noting her burning desire for a cigarette—she couldn’t help but har-har at the pun—she sat back in her uncomfortable little chair.
Starbucks hadn’t changed drastically over the years. Same shit, different day. The cascading aroma of dark chocolate mingled provocatively with the underlying scent of coffee beans. Pretentious college students lounged in various positions. One in a hard-backed bench trying hopelessly to look industrious. Another on a beige loveseat adjusting her beanie and thick-rimmed black glasses.
What did the kids call those folks these days? Hipsters, wasn’t it? Same shit, different day, she again concluded.
“Isla Pettigrew?” a voice sounded. It was familiar in the worst way possible and in a moment Isla cringed. After seriously considering acting mad and sprinting out of the coffee shop notebook in hand, she decided instead upon the more civil action: complete falsity.
“Blanche Debereux,” Isla began. “How charmed I am to see you.”
What is it, exactly, that makes false affability preferable over brutal honesty? When a girl whose bottom is a little too plump for her favorite pair of trousers asks her friend if she looks fat in them, does she actually want said friend to lie through his or her teeth? Why, she’ll likely go traipsing through the day looking like an odd little sack of potatoes squeezed into those ill-fitting pants. Again noting this, Isla offered a smile that would hint to a colossal toothache to any careful observer.
“How is the boyfriend?” Blanche playfully prodded whilst sliding into the chair directly opposite Isla’s.
Isla laughed bitterly and sipped her coffee. She had always chosen black coffee over other, more tasteful options because she supposed that the awful taste she had in her mouth with every sip was an accurate match for the disgust she felt for most people. It also went hand-in-hand with the raging hangover that currently plagued her. “What boyfriend?”
“Oh, no! I mean—I mean, I didn’t mean—I’m so sorry—,” Blanche spluttered. She made a grab at Isla’s hand, but missed by inches after the latter recoiled.
“No need to apologize. You aren’t the one who dumped me,” Isla said with smirk.
“I never liked Thomas, Isla.” Isla began counting down the seconds before Blanche would claim that she can do oh, so much better. “Don’t worry, sweetie. You can do so much better!”
“I have no doubt,” Isla responded with relative sarcasm. The light shade of facial hair. The massive hands that perused her body like a bibliophile gets drunk on classic literature. He was the debonair extraordinaire. How could anyone do better? “But now I must run. I have a shitty film on television to watch.”
“Do stay, Isla. Perhaps now is not an appropriate time for anyone to leave you alone.”
Blanche was that absolutely imbalanced friend who was part choirgirl, part wild child. She was the greatest all-concerning, all-adoring crap of the world. The part that scared Isla the most was that ever-so-slight, completely miniscule chance that Blanche was honestly that happy, honestly that fair-minded… honestly that friendly. It was that off-hand chance that nauseated Isla the most about her.
The part of Blanche that Isla found the funniest was her inherent belief that at Isla was some suicidal time bomb who, at any moment, might pluck out her own life like a child would pick a flower from a field. Now, no such thought had ever even crossed Isla’s mind, but she, for her own sadistic pleasure, let her think it, anyway.
“I know, I know. I promise that if I do decide to pick up the good, old bottle of Xanax, you’ll be the first person I dial.”
And with that, she left the pretentious little coffee shop and promised herself that next time would be the time that she finally takes the plunge and tells her friend that, yes, she really does look fat in those jeans.