Chapter 3: Always Have a Pen or Pencil on You
Standing in front of my mirror in my room, I evaluate my outfit. I don’t go out much; spending a lot of money on colourful drinks in a loud place where there’s never enough table space to seat everybody on crowded nights and clutching my bag and drinks all evening for fear of getting it stolen or drugged isn’t my idea of an awesome night. But, once in a while, it’s important that I go out with some friends, it helps me entertain the idea that I’m an extroverted, social and spontaneous person. My phone chirps on my bed like a little bird and I look at the message Jenny sent me: “Meet in front of the bar in 30?” I confirm the time with her, look at myself one last time in the mirror, fixing my hair under my yellow beanie, and grab my handbag and my phone. I look around my room for my black jacket, finding Finley instead, my 8 months old cat, curled up on some clothes I left on the floor. He looks at me, his little innocent eyes blinking slowly, and I scratch him on the head for a second.
“I’ll be back later,” I tell him.
He looks at me for a moment, blinks, stretches and yawns, then closes his eyes.
“I guess you’re not waiting for me!”
I find my jacket on my desk chair and walk out of my bedroom. As I’m scavenging in the entrance wardrobe for my shoes, I hear people arguing in the kitchen.
“How long do you think you’re going to leave these dishes there?” asks Kat with a very high pitched voice, which is her angry voice. “Or are you waiting for them to grow legs and wash themselves?”
“I’ll do them some other time!” answers Kristen. “Why are you so uptight?!”
“Uptight! I’m uptight!”
“Yes, you are! With your medicine and your cleaning and your over organization of everything and your ‘no noise after 9pm rule’ and your overly healthy food! You are uptight, Katherine! You have a stick up your ass, okay?”
I leave the shoes alone and make my way to the kitchen. They both look at me come in and both flash me eyes that mean, “Take my side please!”
“She can’t wash the freaking dishes to save her life!” Katherine says, her voice shaking.
“She needs a whole box of chill pills!”
“That’s not true! You are so exaggerating! Please, Elliot, tell her she’s exaggerating!”
“Okay, both of you need to figure this thing out on your own and leave me out of it.”
There’s a silence for one second, they both look at me, then at each other and start arguing again. They shout over each other, trying to explain to me why they are more right than the other. I sigh heavily.
“Shut up!” I shout. “Kat, you have very high standards when it comes to cleaning, understand that not everybody is the same. Kristen, just do the stupid dishes! It’ll take you five minutes and then we can all go back to living peacefully together, and for God’s sake, you two are acting like a bunch of 5 years olds and I am not the mother of neither one of you, so next time I’m not fixing your problems, you can deal with them like grown-ups.”
Kat sits down in front of her books, biting her lip so she won’t say anything else, and Kristen angrily grabs a dirty plate from the counter and turns the faucet on. I roll my eyes at both of them and leave. I look at the time on my phone.
“Great, now I’m going to be late,” I say loud enough for both of them to hear me.
I grab the first pair of shoes I see and quickly put them on and run out of the apartment.
I’m walking on the sidewalk, heading towards the bar. I’m still frustrated by my roommates’ behaviour. I turn the corner of a street, distracted by the fight and the fact that one of my boots isn’t tied properly and is a bit wobbly around my ankle, I don’t see the big blue bus coming up next to me. At the last second, I look up, but not fast enough and the bus’ side mirror hits me right on the forehead. I fall down on my butt. I stay on the ground for a second, feeling dizzy and a sharp pain emanates over my right eye.
“Are you okay?” A young man asks, half laughing and half concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine!” I tell him.
I try to get up and he grabs my arm to help me steady myself. Without taking my hand off my forehead, I give a nasty look at the bus driver, thank the guy who helped me and leave the scene of my embarrassment. A few meters away I push open the door of the bar, where I see my friends sitting and waiting for me. I walk over to them, already very annoyed with this night and wishing I was in my bed with Finley and my Netflix account.
“What happened to you?” asks Tristan.
I take my hand off my forehead and I see all of them stare at my face with big eyes.
“Dude! You’re bleeding!”
“Am I?” I ask, looking at my palm and realizing they’re right. Crap!
I grab a napkin from the bar and press it against the cut.
“Would you like me to get you some ice for that?” the girl behind the bar says.
I turn around and look at her, and my heart skips a beat inside my chest. It’s the girl from the coffee shop.
“Hey, I know you!” she says with a smile.
I feel my heart beating faster. God, she is even more beautiful tonight: her hair is falling down on her shoulders in a cascade of curls, the green of her eyes pop even more in the low, yellowish light of the bar, her lips are a soft shade of pink. I can’t help but smile at her.
She wraps some ice in a towel and leans closer to me over the counter. I take the napkin away from my face and she presses the ice on my skin. For some reason, this very close and intimate situation of her, a complete stranger, being only a few inches away from me, her eyes looking into mine, her hand pretty much touching my forehead, isn’t awkward at all.
“What happened to you?” she asks me.
“I got hit by a bus,” I answer.
We let this statement hang in the air between us for a second, and then we both burst out laughing! As we’re laughing, she pulls away a little bit, taking the ice off my injured face. We look at each other again, smiling. She places the ice in my hand so I can keep holding it to my face by myself and then pours beer in a tall glass. She places the beer in front of me with a smile.
“That’s on the house,” she says.
“If I had known it would get me free food, I would’ve gotten hit by a bus before!”
We laugh again. Her eyes light up when she smiles and it makes my heart jump inside my chest.
“Are you always that unlucky?” she asks, leaning in over the counter again.
“Clumsy, yes, but unlucky, I don’t think so.”
Someone places their hand on my shoulder and I look up to see Tristan.
“Are you ok?” he asks.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
But this time I really mean it. Yes, the cut still hurts, but there’s a beautiful girl talking to me, taking care of me, so I am, overall, fine!
“We’re going to go sit at a table, are you coming with us?” he asks.
“I’ll be there in a moment,” I answer.
He looks at the barmaid, then at me again and winks, then leaves.
I turn my attention back to the beautiful girl in front of me.
“So you work here and at the coffee shop?” I ask her.
“Not exactly. I used to work here before, but tonight I’m just helping out because someone is sick. Usually, it’s just the coffee shop.”
I take the ice off my forehead, giving a break to my freezing skin, and she reaches over to take the ice back.
“Your name is Elliot, right?” she asks.
“Do you have a pen, Elliot?”
“Euh…let me check.”
I open my bag and quickly search through it. At the very bottom, I find an old sharpie. I hand it to her, she takes the cap off and reaches for my hand. She writes something in my palm, closes my fingers in a fist so I don’t see what she wrote and hands me the pen back.
“Your friends are waiting for you,” she adds with a wink.
I feel myself blushing. She grabs the wet towel with the melting ice in it and walks through the back door. I get up, take my beer and go sit with my friends. I look at my palm on my way to the table: If your luck ever turns, call me, 514-752-9853, Sam.
Sam. That name suits her.
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