“Is it bad?”
“Every person’s idea of what is bad is different.”
A light laugh. “True. But you didn’t answer the question. Is it bad?”
“Could be worse.” A brief pause. “But if I must, it’s about eight on a scale of one through ten, ten being intolerable.”
“Sorry for you. Sorry you’re going through this.”
“Oh. Thank you.”
A chuckle. “Thank you?”
“Sure. Thank you for your empathy. I would be lying if I said it’s okay, wouldn’t I?”
“True. Point taken. So what will you do?”
“Ride it out. It’s pointless to try to fix it. That ship’s sailed.”
“No thanks. This is my third.”
“I don’t mind at all. Go right ahead.”
“Do you have somewhere to be?”
“No. Not for a while. Go ahead, I’ll wait.”
A slender, jean and sweater clad woman, her satchel like purse slung across her chest, short, boyish cut brown hair strides by my table. I follow her just to the table beyond where a stack of newspapers resides. I take one and return to my table except I take a seat that faces the one where the woman’s friend sits. Her back is towards me. She has long, slightly curly, russet colored hair that cascades down over the back of the chair. The red hues turn a rich golden color under the incandescent light. I pretend to read the paper.
Boyish-brown returns carrying a to-go cup. She also has a muffin balanced on a paper plate, a fold of napkins pinned underneath. They split the muffin, pinching bits off the irrespective half then tweezering the morsel into their mouth, chewing as if the bit is three times the actual size.
“I’m a fervent believer that where there’s will, there’s hope,” Boyish-brown announces.
“And when there’s not?”
“Oh come on, you can’t really tell me there’s no will.”
Russet-Red’s shoulders rise and fall, causing her hair to fold and a glimmer of gold to appear at the crease.
“Really? I thought your dreams had come true. Isn’t this what you always wanted?”
“What I wanted is quite a bit different than what I have.”
Russet-Red shakes her head, her hair waves, shifting, falling forward. She brushes it back, the flash of a diamond catching the light. It’s a stone of incredible size and fortune. Beneath it, closer to the knuckle, a gold band with more diamonds embedded into the gold.
Boyish-brown tries a different approach. “You were unhappy before–”
But Russet-Red cuts her off at the knees. “I’ll be fine.” There’s a forced smile in her voice. “We all have these moments of weakness, our own crosses to bear. I’m sure whatever path I choose won’t be one free of its own set of trials, tribulations. If it were, then life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it?”
Boyish-brown peers over the rim of her cup, the steam blowing outward from her unseen breath. “True,” she says, then sips.
Russet-Red leans sideways, picks up her purse, feeds the strap over her arm while Boyish-brown’s eyes track the motion.
“I should go,” Russet-Red says. “I forgot I have a few errands to run. Good talking to you.” She rises, steps out away from the table. She’s tall, wide through the hips, a fact accentuated not hidden by the long sweater she wears that tugs snuggly across her bulbous buttocks.
Boyish-brown stands and moves in for a hug. “Focus on the happy,” she says from over Russet-Red’s shoulder. The response is muffled yet elicits a woeful smile from her friend before they disengage and Russet-Red takes her leave.
Boyish-brown turns, leans slightly into the table’s edge so that it looks like the blade of a round saw has begun to dissect her.
Russet-Red fumbles with her purse, bows her head, riffles through the contents while in perpetual motion. From the corner’s edge of the shop, a dark spot appears, moves dangerously fast. Too fast for anyone to react even though Boyish-brown, even I, attempt to rush towards the glass door.
The sound is sickening.