A Lean Cuisine

The Word: Nose

Melody sat curled the on her couch, watching a Hugh Grant movie. She loved this film, but this afternoon, she couldn’t concentrate. She glanced at her cell to see if Geneva had called yet. She couldn’t wait to hear what had happened with her and Mike. Was she going to finally dump his sorry ass? Or would she let herself be sucked in again? And who was Mike, anyway, just some guy, just a dumb guy with a dumb job, she could never even remember what, some job type job with the city.

Still no call. Ever since Geneva and Mike got together, her friend had become nearly a stranger. She used to share every crisis, each triumph. She couldn’t go a half-day without checking in. It didn’t have to be a big thing. A DKNY jacket found for $40 at the Jewish Women thrift store. Or the dozens of near-misses with near-celebrities she met on the magazine she worked for. Her tangled relationships with exlovers and siblings. Every day there was something, Pete the photo editor had stood closer than usual, did she think she something was going on? Her mother had taken to wearing animal prints–should she tell her it was beyond the beyond?

After the parties Geneva attended for her magazine, Melody could hardly wait to get the call the next day, find out how it had gone, if she’d met anyone, what the guy had said and where they’d gone, what his apartment looked like, the things they did in bed. One had the equipment but didn’t know what to do with it, another was tiny but surprisingly inventive. One pulled her hair, another, a famous actor, wanted her to put makeup on him.

And now Melody couldn’t even get a callback. They’d been so tight, since elementary school. She remembered the time in 11th grade Geneva thought she was pregnant! And time she picked up a TV actor in the vegetable department at Trader Joe’s. And now it was like Melody was shit on her shoes.

The phone rang, but it was just Greenpeace. And then Elissa, the receptionist at the law firm, who had even less going on than Melody did.

It was five, the time on Sundays they’d usually chat, but now Geneva was with Mike, and suddenly, it was like she’d forgotten Melody’s number.

Melody had seen this movie three times already. She adored Hugh Grant. Hughie was her idea of a heavenly hookup–though to be sure, getting caught with an ugly hooker having car sex in Hollywood showed less suavity than you’d imagine. She had promised herself she would not call Geneva again. But she couldn’t resist. She just had to know.

She called the familiar number, Geneva’s picture on the screen, her big dark eyes and longish nose, the bangs she’d worn since forever.

“Hi, Mel.” Melody could hear music playing in the background, rock, a boy singing, something cool and original. Geneva always had something new and interesting playing. Never TV.

“Hi Gen. I was just thinking of you, haven’t heard from you in a while. I left a few messages–” but better not to mention that. “What’s up with you?”

She could hear the band in the background, and then Geneva’s sigh. “Let’s talk about you, Mel. What’s new with you?”

It was a strange thing to say. “Oh, same old same old.”

“Oh, surely you’re doing something,” Geneva said. Something in her voice. “Gone anywhere interesting? Seen a new show? Met anyone?”

Was she mad at her? “You know I would have told you if I had.”

“Would you?” Geneva said.

“Are you mad at me? I haven’t even talked to you for two weeks. You never return my calls.” She could feel her chest tightening, the tears welling up.

“Look, Mel, I’m just a normal person, now. I make dinner. I get the flu. I go out with Mike and have beers with his buddies at Parks and Rec. You’re the single girl. Why don’t you entertain me for a change?”

That band, the cool, nasally sound. Now she wished she hadn’t called. Why was Geneva mad at her? “Are you bored? Why don’t you tell Mike to take you somewhere.”

“So I can tell you about it?” Geneva said. “No. No, Mel. This is the way it’s going to be. From now on, I’ll call you and I’ll say, ‘hey what’s up?’ and you tell me. I think that’s what I’m going to do. So I’ll call you Wednesday, okay? Wednesday. And you tell me what all’s going on. Bye, Melody. Have fun.”

And there was a dial tone on the line.

Melody closed her phone and put it on the coffee table. Have fun. What was Geneva getting at? That Melody had nothing to do but snoop in Geneva’s life?

She turned back to the set, Hugh and Drew Barrymore, the car sex guy and the juvenile drug addict turned producer. Suddenly, she didn’t want to watch them. She would never be like these people, with their glamorous problems. She thought fleetingly of the Lean Cuisine she was going to nuke for dinner. Monday morning at the law firm. Why did Geneva be so mean. It wasn’t fair. Did she think people could just decide to be interesting? That they what? sort of fell out the door into an interesting life?

She stared at the blank TV screen, listening to the guys upstairs bicker about who would take the dog out in the rain. Was that all she had?

Okay, she could go out. She could show Geneva, she could be interesting. She could brush her hair and put on some lipstick and go out to some restaurant by herself, some bar. Maybe meet someone, why not?

But she as she imagined it, it just seemed depressing. Schlepping out, sodden and dripping wet, to some restaurant, some bar, and trying to have an adventure. Meet some pathetic boring guy, and pretend to be interested in his stupid life. She could even take him home with her. and pretend it was fun. “Oh yeah, Bill, I met him at Chin Chin. Yeah, I took home.”

And then what. Maybe he would steal her blind, or give her the clap. Maybe he’d fall in love with her and she wouldn’t be able to get rid of him. What if he was a junkie? Or didn’t like her enough to call her again?

If only Geneva hadn’t gotten so boring. It was so infuriating when women got stuck with men like Mike. They just drained the right life out of them. Who needed friends like that anyway.

Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”

Next week’s word is: RAZOR

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One Response to “A Lean Cuisine”

  1. Anna Maria Says:

    I love it. I feel I’m losing my friends over their new lives,new boyfriends -while Im doing the same. And those names:D I adore Your writing.

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