She hears another ring but this time it wasn’t from her laptop. It was her phone. Nokia phone to be exact. She always boasted about its hardiness among her iPhone-using work colleagues during lunch time whenever they sneer at her handheld device. “They obviously haven’t been catching up with technology,” she would think. Sometimes, she would even offer them the chance to drop her phone from their waists just to rub salt into their ‘fragile iPhone screen’ wounds. Her bright blue flip phone lights up with a text message from Jolie, her high school buddy. She was very different from Rose. Heck, Rose was always different. She always strives to be, be it what society deems normal or errant. “Babe, I am running a little late. Freak road accident. Cat and motorcyclist involved. Cat is still alive,” read the text message. “Jolie, you freaking cat lover,” she muses. Rose having forgotten about their appointment, rushes into her white-walled bedroom and puts on the sleeveless casual black dress she had already laid out on the bed in the morning. Now she remembers why she had laid it there in the first place. She walks to her apartment door, opens it and locks it, throws her keys into her Louis Vuitton bag and sprints for the pizza place in her grey slippers.
Rose and Jolie always looked good together. As friends in high school they always had the ‘Who run the world? Girls!’ aura around them, which made guys want them even more. The problem is, they could never decide which one they wanted. “Why can’t I have both?” one would say. However today was different. Today, there is an aura imbalance. Rose has no aura around her. Or at least she feels this way all because of her grey slippers. Black dress and grey slippers? How bout no. But it was alright because the both of them didn’t care who was more popular among their friends as they are just really good ol pals. But Rose still thinks the grey slippers ruined everything. She steps into the pizza place and at the same time she hears a ‘Hello!’ from the male Indian waiter who always greets her in a cheery tone. He wears nerdy spectacles, has short curly hair and looks like the quintessential nice guy. Rose always likes it when he does that as she feels kind waiters are becoming more of a rare species. She appreciates his kindness with a half-smile and walks over to Jolie who was already sitting at a wooden table for two. “I heard two people died but thank god the cat is still alive,” she starts. “You and your cats,” Rose scowls at her while shaking her head slowly. “What? You know I love cats!” They hug. “You never changed.” “What do you mean Jolie?” “Your hair still smells of raspberries.”
At the small wooden table under some harsh yellow light, the ambience is relaxed with the notes of jazz tunes floating above them. Not too high in which they are not heard, not too low in which they take the attention away from the two ravishing ladies below them. Everything around them is faded into a blur and the sounds of cups of coffees being slurped, clanking dinner plates and chatterboxes nearby have evaporated into almost nothing like water molecules in a puddle under a blazing hot sun. The ladies talked about 4500 dollar braces, that normal guy in Jolie’s normal class and an obsessed girl who loved to mimic everyone particularly Rose. After a while, the words came out more slowly and finally they turned to their respective loyal companions: phones. Eventually they split the bill and hugged again before saying their goodbyes. Jolie dashed in her blue dress and flats toward the door before she turned her head to look at Rose once more.
“I hope you’ll do well,” Jolie shouted in her high pitched voice.
..and she left without explaining. Rose really liked Jolie. As in she really liked her face. Squishy cheeks, round blue eyes and smooth black hair curly at the ends like what all Kpop stars have nowadays.
She hears the waiter singing. She let it sink into her mind for a while and then confirmed it is what she really heard him sing: basket fries. It was on the menu she scanned through a while ago. She, in an attempt to praise him for his wonderful voice which she describes as ‘chocolatey’ questions him about his talent.
“Oh no no ha ha! I am not really that good!” the waiter brushed off with a sheepish chuckle.
“No one cares if you are good or bad, just do what you really love doing because no one else’s opinions matters but yours.” This is the line she mentally crafted, words specially picked out and put into a sentence in the correct places to motivate this kind waiter but all she managed to say was..
“No one cares.”
Upon realizing that it was the most terrible thing someone could say to a stranger, she mumbled something that sounded like Nike’s ‘just do it’. She then awkwardly took her change and walked away.
“No one cares. How could I have said that?! Rose, just no. Just no, not like that!” she thought. As she was about to leave, she hears a familiar voice just behind the green door past the counter. She sees silhouettes behind the circular window but couldn’t make out the true identity of the person. The door opens abruptly and the sight baffled her. “A scooter?” After another two seconds, she finally could clearly see who that person was. Before that man could look at her, she turned away swiftly and froze for what seemed like eternity on that same spot she stood.