Caffeine: morning cup + gag-me-with-a-fork cappuccino from bad coffee place I won't mention lest my ears bleed
Evil Calories: none for large bottom girl
Reality TV: suspended due to NaNoWriMo
And here is the splendor that is NaNoWriMo. One day you're a NaNo-bitch, spewing buckets of crap at lightspeed, and the next day you're a NaNo-genius, writing something that makes you so happy you want to clap and do a little dance around your kitchen. It is beyond explanation why what I wrote today in my 1600 word sprint makes me giddy to the point of hand flapping. It just does. And, so, I'm posting it, because I'm a show-off at heart, and I'm no longer an eight year old who can go running to her mommy with the nifty drawing I did in school. This blog is my proverbial fridge, so here it shall hang.
It won't make a lick of sense, I'm sure, since it's smack out of the middle of chapter 5. You can read it or not read it. Agree or think I'm deluded. Smile or give me that look (the one that suggests I spent my formative years eating paint chips). Whatever.
She was pretty. Not in a scary, intimidating way. Not in a way that made you instantly feel ugly. It was a normal pretty. An accessible pretty. A comforting pretty. The kind of pretty you’d hope to find in a nurse about to take your blood or in a woman measuring you for a bra at Victoria’s secret. The kind of pretty simply to help put you that much more at ease.
Annie had noticed this about her the instant she put the towel in front of her, but when she looked at her again after seeing the nametag, it seemed much more pronounced. Though she looked a little tired, time having left its mark with tiny lines around her eyes and mouth, she looked young. Her hair was a long golden blond, pulled back into a ponytail, wayward strands escaping and dangling around her ears, her eyes were blue and bright and her face seemed to fall naturally into a smile. She wasn’t frail or scowling. She wasn’t visibly drunk or missing any teeth. She wasn’t sputtering obscenities or snapping her gum, and now that Annie was actually looking at her, in some strange, unexplainable way, she was exactly what Annie had expected. Undoubtedly the absolute polar opposite of her mother.
“We have other stuff too,” she said, hurrying a menu in front of Annie. “I just thought the soup would be good if you’re feeling a chill from the rain.”
On the contrary, Annie felt rather warm. “Soup sounds perfect,” she finally managed. She watched Pepper Ann replace the menu, shuffle some silverware out of a tray and refill the shriveling man’s coffee cup, all in one coordinated movement. She imagined Charlie being taken in by such a subtle grace, a man so focused on the minutia of every ticking moment, slicing life into cross sections, holding them up to the light to see them from every angle. Everything to him had depth and meaning, symbolism saturating what would seem to be the most mundane of situations. She imagined an eighteen year-old version of Charlie Winslow, a rucksack of hardcover Henry Miller and Oscar Wilde, sporting a beret and a goatee and some sort of ill fitting corduroy sports coat, his nose in the air, spouting esoteric crap ad nauseam, crossing paths with someone like Pepper Ann, who had a simplicity about her. Annie watched Pepper Ann scratch the back of her neck with the end of her pen and wondered what she would have seen in Charlie at first. Even before she arrived at Luna & Cake, the mere mention that Pepper Ann was a waitress was enough to tell Annie that they were clearly from different worlds. On paper, Charlie was much better matched with Annie’s mother, both attending the University of Washington, she from a somewhat affluent family and majoring in art history, sights set on becoming curator of the Degas collection at Seattle Art Museum. On paper, it was a perfect pairing, but in reality it was a train wreck on top of a nuclear disaster. And now that Annie knew the truth, all that perfect pairing was just coincidence. Had it not been for the surprise of a pregnancy, Charlie would have married Pepper Ann. The one that didn’t make any sense. The one that would have actually worked.
A piping hot bowl of split pea soup arrived in front of Annie, this time delivered by a girl with short blond hair and a button nose, the kind that you had to hold back from pinching. Annie sipped the soup, watching the button nosed girl and Pepper Ann interact with each other, Pepper Ann clearly in charge and asking the girl, who she kept calling “Feebs” for various things like sides of ranch or slices of something called “porky pie”. The girl always obliged, and though she seemed to know where everything was in the café, there was something scattered about her. Like someone trying to watch TV and fold laundry at the same time, getting sucked into the show and pairing mismatched socks and mixing up his and her underwear.
She nursed her coffee, taking tiny and occasionally fake sips, listening to Pepper Ann and the younger girl “Feebs” engage the customers. They were friendly, not in a forced, well-rehearsed “the customer is always right” sort of way. Most were addressed by name, including the shriveled little man next to Annie, who “Feebs” called Len. He never spoke, just raised his fork or coffee cup or whatever he happened to be holding whenever she’d inquire about his food. Pepper Ann smiled naturally at everyone she spoke to, looking completely at ease, taking their orders, or in some cases, not even having to go that far. “Your usual?” she’d ask. It made Annie cross her ankles and swing her legs back and forth. She could see coming in here, ordering a nice hearty breakfast of cheesy eggs and sausage, nibbling toast with butter all the way out the edges and little dollops of marmalade, because no one ever eats marmalade anywhere but at a nice, cozy little eatery such as this. She would read the funnies or do the crossword puzzle, occasionally asking Pepper Ann or “Feebs” what a four-letter word for a slangy hello would be (“hiya”). She could see becoming someone with a “usual” very easily. Much easier than she could see taking on the looming task of delivering Charlie's letters.