4.9.19 InstaShortie – Redesign

“Ok. Deep breath. Exhale slowly. Now, open your eyes. Take in your surroundings. Process it all with an open mind.”

Callie opened her right eye, slowly and with just a hint of skepticism. She then blinked and both eyes popped open. The room was covered in the colors of both diarrhea and Pepto. Pepto diarrhea. How was that even possible, she wondered. Her best friend has managed to mix the two things that are meant to counteract each other. She inhaled sharply and let out a quiet, polite sigh. Turning to her friend, she was greeted with a huge smile and a face that said, “please don’t crush my dreams.”

Callie looked from the hot pink shag rug to the shit brown sofa, and the even brighter pink walls to the crystal brown chandelier. She took it all in, eyes wide and a fake smile plastered across her face. Gritting her teeth, she returned her attention to Tia.

“Oh, Tia, it’s just… ” Callie paused, waiting for the words to come. She had to be delicate. She had to be polite. She could feel the desperation seeping off of her friend. “It’s pink shit.”

So much for being either polite or delicate. Callie wasn’t usually one to hide her true feelings, but she’d thought she could lie just a little to spare her best friend’s feelings. Even if her words wouldn’t have deceived her, her face would. There was no hiding her disgust, much like the Pepto pink, it was painted all over her face. Her nose wrinkled, her eyes wide and her lips turned down.

“CALLIE!” Tia exclaimed, her spirit dying with each over emphasized syllable. “This is exactly what you asked for.”

“I’m sorry, T. I wanted brown with hints of pink. You know, pink accents,” she paused and walked to the wall, touching it to be sure it was real. “Accents – like, curtains, pillow shams, rugs. And a complementary pink! Not neon, glow-in-the dark pink!”

Tia stared at her friend in disbelief. She’d spent months designing and curating the perfect items for this job; her very first paying design gig. Now her supposed best friend was literally poo-pooing her work. Her creation. Her design. She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.

“I cannot believe how ungrateful you are being.”

“Ungrateful?” Callie asked. “I paid you over two thousand dollars to turn my living room into the sanctuary of a ninety-year-old cat lady. The only thing missing are the lace doilies and the porcelain cats.”

Callie waved her arm, grazing it through the air. Her eyes darted from corner-to-corner. She squinted and stepped towards the bookshelf in the corner. Tia flinched and held her breath, knowing full well what Callie was going to find when she took a second look.

“Oh,” Callie breathed.

There sitting proudly on the bookshelf was a large porcelain cat figurine. Underneath it? A lace doily. Tia didn’t say anything. She offered a sheepish smile.

A robust laugh exploded from deep within Callie’s gut. “I hope you haven’t quit your day job yet.”

Tia’s smile faded.

“You didn’t?”

“You have so many well-connect friends, Callie! I just assumed this job would lead to more and I’d be set.”

“Oh, no, Tia. No, no, no.” She realized then how important this job had been to Tia. Everything, not just her dreams, was riding on this. “Do you still have the receipts? I honestly don’t know what made you think that rug was a good idea.”

Tia nodded. Her head dipped slightly. She studied the fibers of the hot pink rug beneath her feet and wondered what had possessed her to buy it. An image flashed through her mind. A smile. Blue eyes peering into hers. Massive biceps straining against a too small T-shirt. It was all so clear now. She hadn’t been in her right mind. Her cheeks flushed.

Callie took one look at her friend and knew instantly what had happened. A boy. A little flirting. The witty sales pitch. An exchange of numbers – his phone and her credit card.

“He better have been cute,” she mused. “Alright, everything pink goes back. The brown isn’t so bad on it’s own, we can work with that.”

Tia nods. “He was sexy AF, Cal. We have a date tomorrow,” she said proudly. For a moment, she forgot all about her friend’s rejection. Callie rolled her eyes. Tia grabbed the box she was handing her and headed towards the bookshelf.

“Wait!” Callie shouted. The corner of her lip twitched, curling into a mischievous grin. “The cat stays.”

4.3.19 InstaShortie – Is This It?

“No,” I whispered. The words catching in my throat, threatening to linger. I shook my head, unable to look at him. My hand slapped my leg as he dropped it.

“No? What do you mean, no, Sarah?” His voice pitched higher. It only did that when he was upset or on the verge of losing his temper. Both were likely.

Kneeling before me, he still held the delicate platinum band between his thumb and index finger. The half carat Princess cut diamond caught the fading sunlight. He fell back but caught himself. He shoved himself away from me, backing towards the ocean. The waves lapped the shore, singing their song as if our entire world weren’t crashing down around us.

In the absence of my response, the only sound that remained was the waves lapping on the shore. A deep pink and purple Malibu sunset reflected on the pristine waters behind him. Literally everything about this moment was exactly how I’d imagined it.

We’d spent the better part of the day in bed. First surrounded by French toast and mimosas. Then tangled in a mess of sheets and clothes. We’d made love at least three times since the sun first woke us. Our bodies close and blended together, lost in passion.

For the first time in years, we’d been free to just be together. No cameras. No interviews. Nothing to hide. At first it was freeing, but now it suffocated me.

“Brody,” I finally said, his name bittersweet on my lips. “I can’t marry you. I’m so sorry.”

“Why?” He pushes off his knees and leapt to his feet. His face flushed.

I didn’t have an answer for him. Nearly a decade together and I couldn’t find the words to tell him why.

Every question that came to mind was answered with a resounding No.

Did I want to spend the rest of my life as Mrs. Brody Wilson? No.

Could I imagine loving anyone else? No.

Did I want to marry him? No.

Did I want to break up? No.

I couldn’t wrap my head around why I couldn’t say yes. The reasons to say yes were all there. Brody and I were high school sweethearts. We’d survived the long-distance thing when he moved to Nashville to pursue music and I headed off to California for college. Our relationship outlived his first year on the road as a touring musician. We’d overcome groupies and tabloids, rumors and expectations. Literally everything about us was perfect.

Except, it wasn’t.

As I stared into his desperate blue eyes I wanted to dive in head first. Take that leap of faith and give him everything he wanted. He deserved that. He deserved everything. But I couldn’t give that to him. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I was tired of being in the shadows and hiding our relationship. As long as his fans and his label had him, I never would. At least not all of him. Yet, that is what he expected from me. I’d be forced to give up my career to follow him from city-to-city and wait up for him. Lonely hotel rooms. Meals from bags or boxes. Standing on the sidelines.

That’s not what I wanted. It’s not how I saw my life unfolding. I wanted more, I knew that, but what I didn’t know was what that was.

He blinked. When his eyes opened again, he looked right through me. He knew the answer to his question. My face was an open book and he was reading every single page, flipping to the end. The final scene did not include him. A dark cloud washed over him.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

He walked away without looking back . His feet sank into the sand and he quickened his pace to a jog. Part of me wanted to run after him and apologize, begging for a second chance. Maybe I’d say yes when he asked again. Instead I just watched my entire world leave me alone on the beach. My ring and future walked away with him, along with the hotel key and my plane ticket home.

Every step he took away from me was one step closer to what I’d been craving… silence, room to breathe, a fresh start. Exhaling, I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, the outline of him was so small it barely existed. The ocean sang in the air behind me and its mist peppered my skin.

So this is what freedom feels like.

4.1.19 InstaShortie – Adventures in Nose Waxing

“Have you ever had your nose waxed?” she asked. My eyes popped open, wide with confusion. She leaned over me, her face inches from mine. Coffee on her breath and judgement filling her eyes. I wish I’d kept my eyes closed.

“My what, what?” I asked. I’d heard her loud and clear. I knew what she was asking, but it wasn’t exactly something I’d expected to hear. Before she could answer, I closed my eyes again, winching as she plucked a stray hair from my eyebrows.

“You know, just clean up the nose hairs so you don’t have any sticking out.”

I was fairly certain I did not have any Repunzel nose hairs, but a morbid curiosity took over. Still, the thought of ripping hair from my nostrils wasn’t exactly appealing. “Oh,” I whispered. “No, I think I am good. It’s allergy season after all.”

“We’re going to do it,” she affirmed. “Your filter hairs are in the back, we won’t get those.”

I nodded as if that clarification made a difference. The hairs belong in my nose, not on hot wax being ripped out of my nose. She yanks another stray hair from my face and giggles. “That was a good one.”

Convinced she was a masochist, I closed my eyes and focused on something other than hair being removed from my body. I suppose I was grateful she was just talking about nose hairs and not another unpleasant waxing opportunity. If she even hinted at the b-word, I was gone. Even if only one eyebrow was shaped. I’d suffer through my own Tweezers before I offered up my bikini area to hot wax.

Her focus returned to my horribly uneven and misshapen eyebrows… her words. Every so often, she’d muse on the quality of this hair or that hair as if my self worth were tied directly to the length or girth of the hairs above my brown eyes. I keep my eyes closed and mouth sealed shut. Nothing I can say will add to this one-sided conversation.

“Ok,” she finally said. I go to sit up but before I can lift my head from the pillow something soft and hot is shoved into my left nostril. Her fingers clamped down on either side. “Breathe through your mouth or the right side, your choice.”

I opted for my mouth. The thought of accidentally inhaling hot wax terrified me. I prayed the onion bagel I’d had for breakfast no longer lingered on my breath. The weight of her breasts pushed on my head as she leaned over me, pinching my left nostril as she yanked the wax and stick out. She giggled with delight.

“Do you want to see it?”

“Yes,” I replied, unsure of my motivation to give such an unexpected answer. I opened my eyes and gazed on the orange wax, now prickly with my snot hairs. I had a sudden urge to stick my finger in my nose to feel its bareness, but I controlled myself.

Before I could add my own commentary, my right nostril was clamped down around the wax. Already a pro, I closed my eyes and let my mouth take over my nose’s breathing duties.

Well, at least if he happens to look up my nose later tonight, he’ll have false hope that other areas are equally groomed.