Part 5 in Thurmount Holidays (see the category Thurmount Holidays for the other entries).
Well, this is different. I’m walking down Pendleton Street to meet my little sister, Megan, at the new bistro (Thurmount has a bistro! How awesome is that?) passing people who point and laugh at me. I’ve been laughed at before, not in a few years, and mostly when I weighed a lot in high school and the cheerleaders would do what cheerleaders have been doing since the beginning of the dawn of cheerleaders picking on unpopular teenagers. I grew out of that phase — not exactly the phrase for losing weight, is it?—and then when Blake decided I was “hot,” I strangely became popular. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: it sounds a lot like the plot of a teen movie.
I did not gain a hundred pounds overnight. I did look in the mirror before leaving my parents’ house; I looked normal enough or as much as usual. So why the laughter?
Passing Thirsty’s I look at the announcement flyer of The Thurmount Trio’s charity performance next week and keep walking then stop dead in my tracks and turn back. Someone has superimposed the body of a male swimmer in a speedo over my body. I rip the flyer from the window. It’s not taped or glued on. It’s been photoshopped. These flyers are all over town. That explains the laughter.
When I enter the Pendleton Bistro, the patrons who see me fall silent. This is fun. I look around for Megan. She’s at a secluded booth looking at her phone when she glances up and sees me. She is biting her bottom lip in an effort to not grin, I’m sure.
I slide in. “Good morning. Lovely morning, isn’t it?”
She nods her head, evidently afraid that if she doesn’t bite her lip she will erupt in laughter. I place the flyer on the table in front of her. She reddens with the effort of containing her laughter. Even my sister, the one I protected for so many years. What is the world coming to?
“So you saw this?” I ask.
She takes a deep breath as if to clear away all of the residual laughter. “Uh-huh. They did a good job with the neck.”
“Oh, yeah. I was really concerned about the neck,” I say. “Any idea who did this?”
Megan pours coffee from a black carafe into my coffee cup. I add milk and a teaspoon of sugar. It’s a luscious dark roast. The pleasure is all mine.
“Probably Angie Dalton. She’s really good with photoshop.”
“That’s not enough to assume she did it.”
“Mike saw her putting them up.”
“That on the other hand is pretty condemning. Angie Dalton? Huh.”
“She told Blake you were so out of line for the way you talked to him last night. What did you say, anyway? I’ve heard that you said his penis was the size of a baby carrot.”
I chuckle. This is kind of funny. It’s a good thing it happened today and not a few years ago.
“His size or lack thereof never came up, oddly enough,” I say.
The waitress comes over. I don’t recognize her so I presume she’s new to Thurmount. She sees the flyer on the table and then takes a good look at me and grins. “You must have pissed somebody off. Those things are plastered all over town. What can I get y’all for breakfast?”
We order then enjoy our coffee. The door opens and Will comes in. I notice that women perk up at his arrival and I try to see him the way that they do. He is scruffier than Blake with sandy blonde hair that curls around the collar of his coat and a close beard. His aqua blue eyes gleam with intelligence.
“I always thought you and him were a perfect match,” Megan says following the direction of my eyes.
“Because even when you were chubby, he was nice to you unlike Blake. And, he’s sensitive, like a poet, isn’t he? He is way sexier than Blake in my opinion. But I never did go for beefcake.”
Will sees us and waves. I gesture for him to come over, but he points to a booth a few back from us and I see that his Aunt Louise is there talking on a cellphone as she is apt to as she’s one of the top performing realtors in the county. Heck, probably in this part of the state.
I watch him hug his aunt who put away her cell on his approach. He says something that makes her laugh and I can’t help smiling.
“Maybe there’s hope for you yet,” Megan says.
“What? What am I missing?”
“You’ve been missing what’s right in front of your face for a long time.”
He smiles this gentle smile. His blue eyes sparkle. He sees me watching him and raises an eyebrow as if trying to get me to explain myself using charades. I wink and blow him a kiss. The wink’s what I do. The kiss is new.