Here’s the next installment of the piece I posted two weeks ago. I’m still not quite sure where I want to go with it so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. As always, any and all feedback is welcome.
Maria chose the table facing the wall and placed her Prada bag on the seat next to her. She had taken great care to plan her outfit that day; the beige in her bag matched her jacket and ballet flats perfectly and her pink, flowing skirt picked up the thin stitching in the bag’s lining. Even her strawberry-blonde hair seemed to have gotten the message, pulling the other colors together as it sat it long waves below her shoulders. It was getting warm outside but she kept her jacket on, not wanting to draw too much attention to herself by baring her shoulders. Her cell phone lay on the table, its dark screen staring back at her.
She leaned against the back of her chair. She pictured her mother scolding her for slouching. She grimaced at the thought but sat up straighter anyway. Maria had been walking more lately and she was starting to feel a difference in her legs, though she still felt tired much of the time. She imagined how her doctors would have reacted if they had seen her stepping foot in a restaurant where “donuts” was part of the name. Maria shivered slightly at the thought, just as she did every time the medical center came to mind.
She glanced up as a man sat at the table to her right. He was handsome, if somewhat unremarkable. He was clean-shaven and a pair of sunglasses rested on his short, dark hair. He was thin, though she noticed the slightest hint of a paunch under his polo shirt. His expression was blank but she imagined that he had a pleasant smile. She watched as he put down his iced coffee and a brown paper bag and sat down. Maria pursed her lips with envy as he removed a donut from the bag, took a bite and began typing on a tablet. She considered the banana sitting in front of her. Men, she thought, as she began to peel the yellow fruit, careful not to smudge her newly manicured nails. They eat whatever they want and they never gain a pound. Meanwhile, I just look at a piece of chocolate and I grow two pant sizes.
She lifted the banana and stopped just before taking a bite. She recognized the feeling that was coming over her. The hesitation that came any time she tried to eat had become all too familiar. Maria felt her mind flood with thoughts of calories counts, fat content and hard metal scales. She pictured the white coats, the thin gowns and the disappointed faces of the nursing staff. She felt her heart rate quicken and her breath catch in her throat. She suddenly became acutely aware of the temperature in the room.
Maria closed her eyes and forced herself to inhale deeply through her nose. No, she thought. We’re not doing this anymore. We’ve moved past this.
She held the breath for a moment before exhaling. Her heart rate slowed and began returning to normal. She focused on the soft breeze from the vent above her and waited for her body to cool off. She ate the banana one slow, painstaking mouthful at a time until she had finished it. She did her best to dismiss the nausea that had begun to form in the pit of her stomach and threw the peel into the nearby trash can.
The phone vibrated on the table. Maria glanced down at the still-dark screen. Just an email, she thought. It’s probably junk anyway. A small glimmer of hope flickered in her chest as she entered her passcode and opened the email app. The bold letters of the new email message mentioned Broadway’s “hottest new show.” She deleted the email and turned off the display again.
He still had not called.