“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 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.”