by Jerri Jerreat
The two women sat down. Karin had changed from ripped jeans into a long skirt, then back to dark jeans with a funky red and pink tee. She’d found an old eyeliner stick and used it. Cautiously. Silly, she was being silly, she told herself. After all, she’d known Wipp for months, they were in the same research group. There was nothing to make her fluff out her thin hair, again. Wipp was intelligent and interesting. Also, Wipp’s red hair was undeniably attractive against her cocoa face. And Karin was a sucker for chocolate eyes.
“Have you been here before?” Wipp asked. She seemed completely unfazed by the situation.
Karin nodded. “Sometimes. Great coffee here.”
Wipp cocked her head. “You take all your first dates here?”
“Hah! First one. You’re the virgin date.” Karin realized that sounded weird. “To come here.”
“Good. Cause if it’s a virgin you’re looking for, it’s not me.” Wipp winked.
The waitress came with their double latté and iced mocha and offered food. Both declined politely. They sipped their drinks. Outside a bubbling cloud slid past, grey shadowed below.
“Do you think it’ll rain?” asked Karin, feeling perfectly idiotic.
“Maybe.” Wipp didn’t bother glancing at the window. As at work, she was always right to the point. “So, have you dated women before?”
“Not much. You?”
“Had a long-term relationship for three years. She just moved out last week.”
Karin forced herself to blink. “That’s fast. I mean, I’m sorry, because, because that must feel weird. And lonely.”
“Well, I’ll need a new roommate to help with the rent, that’s for sure.” Wipp sighed. “But the last couple of months weren’t great. So, it was no surprise.” She picked up her mocha.
“You’re pretty hairy, aren’t you?”
“What?” Karin laughed.
Wipp raised her eyebrows.
Karin blinked, glanced down at her arms. Maybe it was because she didn’t shave her armpits. She decided not to be offended. “Yep, maybe so. So—Wipp, it’s cool, having you on the project at work. But, uh, what do you do outside of work?”
“I do renos a lot.”
“Excuse me? I’m not sure…”
“Renos. I tore up the floor in the living room over the holidays. Put in cherry laminate. It looks amazing with the new half wall.”
“Right.” Karin nodded like a muppet. She tried to think of a question about this area. “So. Do you do it for, like a side job?”
“No. It’s a hobby. I’m artistic.” Wipp eyed Karin’s hair to her waist. “Have you always been this hairy?”
Karin, still wondering where to go from renos, was startled. “Pardon me?”
“But, like, I’m okay with hair.”
“Well that’s good.”
Wipp didn’t catch the sarcasm. “Sure. It’s just a different sensation, right?”
There was nothing to say to that. Karin’s brain was a tabula rasa.
The waitress stopped by. “Is everything all right?”
Karin looked at her and thought that the waitress, tall and strong like a basketball centre, must be psychic. “Actually—” she stalled.
The waitress had a black tee over jeans and red glasses over eyes that might have twinkled. “You know, we have a new drink today, sasparilla iced latté. Could I bring you two ladies a sample?
“I’ll be right back. Sit tight then,” the waitress said smoothly, not bothered by opposing answers. She had a red bracelet too, those little clear plastic beads with a red cord through them from that charity that pulled plastic out of the ocean. Karin noticed it because she had a green one of her own. She rolled a finger over the smooth beads self consciously.
“So. Renos. Um. What other projects have you worked on?”
Wipp flipped two thin braids over her shoulder and leaned back. “The kitchen, obviously. That’s always the first, right? It’s an older house, two storey, so the walls and cupboards were this pioneer clapboard, cheap look, painted white. No island, and hardly any workspace. Faucet from like 1990…”
Karin schooled her face to appear interested and nodded from time to time. She oohed and ahed through backsplashes, countertops and cupboard pull handles and nearly fell at the waitress’ red running shoes when they appeared. Save me! she begged silently.
“Here, give this a try,” interrupted the woman, her face grave, a cleft chin holding steady. Her voice had a lilt to it. “Looks like rain again. I hope it won’t be like last week.”
Karin grasped at that. “Wasn’t that crazy? I’ve never seen a storm come up that suddenly! I was stuck in the doorway of the post office for forty minutes. Constant lightning!”
“Are these violent kinds of storms normal for here?” asked the waitress, including Wipp in her friendly smile.
Wipp looked annoyed.
“No. Global warming, I think,” answered Karin. “We usually get really hot, humid days in the summer, and by evening, clouds are turning dark. Then a short storm will break the heat. Normally. Right, Wipp?”
“We’re fine, here,” said Wipp to the waitress.
The waitress, chocolate hair, olive skin, nodded but Karin stalled.
“Let me taste this first,” delayed Karin, lifting the tiny espresso cup to her lips. She closed her eyes to really, really taste it. She liked to block out the other senses to focus. She held a sip in her mouth, bitter for the coffee, then sweet and sly around the edges.
“It’s a surprise!” She exclaimed. Then, to be polite. “You really should taste one, Wipp.”
“No thank you.” Wipp’s voice was clipped, “That will be all.”
The waitress turned away from Wipp. “I thought you might need that,” she said, and gave a definite wink that only Karin caught as she left.
“Where were we? Don’t you hate it when they interrupt you all the time? Seriously?” Wipp huffed, and her chest heaved in disapproval.
Karin stifled a chuckle. “Right, well, the drink was pretty fun to try.” She batted her own eyes ingeniously. “Don’t you like to try new things?”
“I believe I just told you about my experiments with ceramics.”
“Uh huh. Right.”
There was an awkward pause. Karin wondered how to end a first date when you never wanted a second. Surely Wipp was feeling the same awkwardness. Maybe she could claim an appointment? She looked at her watch just as Wipp set her coffee down with quiet emphasis and leaned in
“So. I believe in being frank. I mean, we both have busy lives, right?”
Karin raised her eyebrows but nodded. Excellent, good for her, she thought. She’s bowing out. Gotta admire that.
“So I’m interested in making a second date, maybe a dinner at my place and I can show you the kitchen and living room? And, about sex.”
Karin’ eyes widened.
“I’m a healthy woman, with healthy sexual desires. I don’t believe in being exclusive too early in a relationship but I could definitely see us going in that direction. And I don’t know how you feel about S and M, but I’m open to spanking if you’re cool with that. What do you say?”
Karin had no words. Again. She took the sasparilla latté sample, and tossed it back. The shock of it revived her. “I don’t think so, Wipp. I don’t really see us. In that way.”
“A shame.” Wipp dug about in her large tie dyed bag that, only last week, had seemed a sign of open-mindedness, even lightheartedness. “Too bad. But what do you think about apartment sharing? I still think we could be good roommates. And the house is gorgeous, if I say so myself.”
“Sorry.” Karin paused. “No. I, um, have a place. And I like it. But,” she rose too, since Wipp had risen to leave. “I wish you luck in getting a good roommate. It does sound lovely. By the way,” she added, “Why did you put so much work into renos for a rented apartment? Does your landlord pay for it?”
“Of course she does. It’s my mom. She has a big apartment in the raised basement. I have the main floor apartment. And there’s a bachelor upstairs.” She set exactly $4.50 on the table. “Too bad it didn’t work out. But at work, we’re good, right?”
“Right.” Karin smiled genuinely. She did like the forthrightness. “Absolutely. Worth a try right?”
Wipp stuck out her hand and they shook. Then she turned and left, her strides strong and self-confident.
Karin simply stood there for few seconds. Then someone touched her upper arm briefly in a friend way. She turned.
“You just sit back down and chill,” ordered the waitress. “I’ll bring you something warm. It’s about to pour—” She gestured toward the window. “Oh look. Here it comes.”
“You can’t leave in a storm. Relax. It’ll be over in a bit.” She left.
The waitress paused, then turned back. “Hmm?”
“What’s your name? And how did you know I needed that…interruption?” Rescue, she thought, in private.
“Jenny. And sasparilla’s great for courage. Just intuition.”
Karin thought there was something to be said for being direct. “When’s your break? Would you like to join me—Jenny?”
Jenny grinned. “Love to. I’m off in ten minutes.”
Karin smiled and nodded. She looked out the window at the soft, sprinkly rain turning into drumbeats of silver. She moved to a window seat to enjoy it, spread out her backpack, and lowered herself into a roomy wooden chair.
After a few minutes, she turned slightly to watch Jenny as she moved, graceful and athletic. Karin smiled, anticipating the next mystery drink.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing