Blind

“So let me get this straight… you’ve been working two jobs just to get you through the week?” She said with an almost condescending twist of her brow.

Theron brushed her forehead clean of the icy strands that fell almost to her chocolate tinted eyes. “Yeah well, this isn’t a lifestyle choice you know. I don’t have much of an education to fall back upon. What’s totally messed up is that I got fired from my other job yesterday. I went back to collect my paycheck and, guess what, they’ve already hired someone else!” Always believe the best in people. Breathe.

Chlo Walters looked at her employee with a sense of guilt and well-concealed sympathy. She ran her own coffee shop, being only a few years older than Theron, and considered herself quite successful in the business. She’d never given a thought to what Theron’s life was like outside the four cocoa-colored walls of the workplace, but that was more because they never really had any personal relationship.

She thought to herself about how she owed no explanation to anyone, there was no need for her to justify her success. Good things come to people who work for them, right? Well she had gone through her share of oddball jobs to even get enough money to begin with. Maybe she should cut Theron some slack, she was quite diligent with her work after all.

“So all I’m asking is that you give me the evening shift for a while. I’d like to do all my shameful job hunting activities in the morning.”

“Oh, of course!” A sigh of relief. For a moment Chlo had assumed the worst but was too ashamed to even mentally enlist what she’d imagined. “That actually works out perfectly for me since Hugo’s been asking for the morning shift for about a week now. Yeah, I mean, I was worried that I might have to hire some more staff but this is great.”

It wasn’t a complete lie… Hugo had finally scored a couple of gigs for his band and a morning shift would suit him, but this new side of Theron’s life, her barely making ends meet, it came as such a surprise to Chlo that she had to say something. Chlo liked to think of herself as that kind of a person.

Maybe this way she could get Hugo to improve his skills behind the counter instead of waiting on tables or doubling as a bus-boy. It’s definitely an incentive he should appreciate considering he won’t have to look for another job. No, he wouldn’t have to.

Theron mentally wiped her forehead with all the unnecessary theatrics she could muster. Polite applause. “Oh and could you also get him to stop wearing his ‘I heart Tits’ badge… it’s like being sexually harassed and visually violated at the same time…”

“…By a tiny plastic pin! I know right! I’ll give it my best shot”, Chlo completed her sentence enthusiastically.

Theron thanked her once again for her help, a little too generous for Chlo but she really wasn’t in a position to judge or doubt, and headed out.

It was a bright sunny day and the streets were already buzzing with the morning crowd. Theron stopped noticing it a couple of years back, learnt to think of them as unimportant subjects in her sprawling kingdom.

As a freelance (read struggling) artist it’s quite easy, maybe even normal, to live in a world of your own making, but Theron had been gracefully disillusioned of it by her ex, Jasper. She’d left college and moved to New York with him only to be left alone on her ass while he went out for a slice of the Big Apple.

So these brief periods of pensive recluse were all that she had to attend to the siren calls of that world. A world where she was the most exalted beauty in all the land. Where every man swooned at the sight of her fair skin and yet fairer hair, her full luscious lips dripping with a lustful red, the envy of every woman. But sadly, she lived in the real world, where toothless old men took delight in eve-teasing women on the subway.

Going from a decent living condition to almost broke didn’t feel good. A stroke of luck was finding some spare change to buy a newspaper. The owner of the newsstand, Dayal, had known her for quite a while, and so, was generous enough to throw in a couple of cigarettes for free.

“You look like you could use ‘em today..!”

Keep calm and smile.

“Damn! I knew this eyeliner was no good.”

Little conversations. Small talk. It’s what made up most of her day as she went from waiting tables at the Blind Side Café to working behind the counter at Nolan’s Patisserie. Well, now she only had the job at BS.

Cue: hyperventilation.

It wasn’t as bad as she’d imagined it. The thought of working as a waitress seemed like the ultimate cliché, but Theron had grown immune to the pungent, warm smell of coffee beans just as easily as she’d gotten over the sort of people who would come in. There were the Early-Birds, who wanted their caffeine as quick and steaming as their obviously successful careers. The Goss-Moms who took their “fresh fruit smoothies” and sat outside in their sweatpants. The occasional Lost-and-Found, this was basically used for any kind of student. They always came in either too frazzled to think their orders straight or always stood in front of the food counter staring at the options (quite often, counting their money in their heads). The Googly-Bears; they disturbed Theron the most… they’d order one drink with two straws, and if not, they’d order a piece of apple pie and share it.

She never bothered categorizing the rest.

The drawer of unopened bills waiting for her at home plagued the back of her mind like an indecent thought suppressed into the subconscious; suppressed but omnipresent. She couldn’t go home and keep herself from setting them on fire or looking at them and jumping off the roof. No she would tell herself to keep calm, pull on her poker face and sort through this problem like it really wasn’t that big a deal.

Having nowhere to go, which surprisingly felt worse than getting fired, Theron decided to go back to the Blind Side and sit outside with her peach iced tea, her cigarettes and her notebook and pen. She began listing down possibilities.

Nurse maid. Hmm I could consider it. Receptionist. No.

Maybe she could be an assistant; at an art gallery; or for a photographer? Maybe a designer?

All of it boiled down to the fact that she needed to start working on her art again. But her life lacked inspiration… and money, at the moment.

Dramatic sigh. Cold sweat.

“You’d better be paying for that…” Hugo pointed at the iced tea as he paused at the doorway on his way in.

She raised her head and squinted against the late morning sun. His dark red hair was a halo of fire around his head and he stared right at her with his vast green eyes. He probably seemed quite charming at first sight, but Theron found his mannerisms as unsavory as she found his face and body pulchritudinous.

‘Pul-chri-tu-di-nous’ she said the word aloud in her mind, having just caught sight of it in some article. It meant physically beautiful according to the little asterix chilling at the bottom of the column. Something about the sad state of English.

The sharp clicks from across the side caught her attention. It was Louis Jay, a usually minding-his-own-innocent-business guy who quite often spent his entire day sitting outside the café, photographing people.

All her intentions of vehemently dismissing Hugo vaporized and she ended up distractedly nodded at him, trying to tear herself away from Louis and his invasive camera.

She was the artist. Always had been.Never the muse. Truth be told, she’d never had a muse either. And as that thought came to her mind, she realized that maybe that’s what she was missing. Of course, if this were her world, she would find a handsome but middle-aged patron who would finance her expensive art supplies and give her as many canvases as she wanted. She would paint all day long in her humble garden and, as she painted, people would paint her on their canvas, sketch her on their sheets. She would give away all her paintings but save one for herself each time. No one but her would get to see that special painting. Her patron, possibly a respectable public figure, would ask for her hand in marriage. Whisk her away from her old life and offer her one that she deserved. A life of happiness and love and freedom.

She saw herself standing on a pier by the sea at dusk, the gentle spray softly teasing the skin of her face.

Urgently required: inspiration.

“Maybe you should find a job before thinking of such luxuries”, she told herself and picked up the newspaper to have a look at the classifieds.

“Did Chlo fire you?” Louis had come over, bringing his absolute disregard for personal space with him.

Keep. Calm.

“Would I be sitting here if she had?” she gave him an absolutely fake smile, because that’s how she functioned, “Just looking to make some extra cash.”

“Bullshit… What are you doing with that paper then? You’ve got your extra cash right here.”

He was pointing to himself. Theron’s mind was buzzing with so many different connotations, misinterpreting his gesture that she had to take a sip of the tea to pacify herself, clear her throat and then politely ask him to elaborate.

Always keep calm.

Louis gave himself a mental pep-talk. Okay no need to overthink this, one can never know for sure what the answer is if a question is never asked. She might just agree to help out. This is the edge he needed over the others because his academics were, frankly speaking, abysmal to say the least.

Cue: warrior mask.

“See I need to do a concept shoot for my portfolio…and I need a model…  and I was just going through the pictures I took of you, and…”

She didn’t mean to laugh on his face, but it was just such a silly idea that she couldn’t help herself.

He understood and wasn’t offended by her reaction. “No, hear me out. I know you probably don’t think it’s either smart or possible as an idea, but here’s what I’m gonna do. By tonight I’ll give you these photographs properly printed out and after that the ball’s gonna be in your court.”

Her… a model? For an actual photo-shoot? The thought of it was just so plain weird to her, she felt a gurgle in her throat, “But what am I gonna do looking at these photos?” a nervous giggle and a quick swipe of ice blonde fringe. “I’m not photogenic at all, okay.”

A pat on the back for being successfully dismissive.

It really was true. Maybe it was just that her skin was too fair, owing to her Welsh roots; maybe because her hair was too light a shade of blonde, maybe she didn’t know how to do her make-up right. Whatever the reason, Theron always looked sadly hideous in most of her photos.

He leaned in and whispered, “Think about it.” And, just like that, was on his way down the street.

She didn’t have time to be thinking about these things. She needed a job otherwise she wouldn’t be able to pay rent. She’d be homeless and jobless. The words played around in her head, changing fonts, sizes and colors. Who needs to trip on LSD when you can access the hallucinations on your own right? Wrong. She needed to get home and start making calls. It was time to buck up and face those bills. She made up her mind to give a call to Farrell. He worked a catering company, she was good as a server, she was confident that he’d have a job for her.

“I’m so glad you called, T! I’m working this weekend engagement thing down at the Hamptons and I’m so short staffed I could kill myself.”

“Whatever you have is cool with me.” He’d pay her more if it was the entire weekend right?

“You’re a frickin’ lifesaver you know that? Meet me at the store in an hour?” she could hear the smile in his voice.

“Over and out.” She grinned back through the telephone. The vintage cream and golden telephone she’d picked up for three dollars at a garage sale. It had taken her forever to get it fixed and ready to use, but it was worth having in the house. It was worth having. She just hoped the job would be too.

Farrell had been kind enough to offer Theron a ride. He was driving down early to check on some arrangements and make sure everything was in order. The grandson of some hideously rich woman was getting engaged and the party was set to start off on Friday night. Chlo had given her the weekend off thinking that Theron was going home to “sort herself out”. Five thousand dollars was enough of an incentive and she’d assured Farrell that he could count on her for any jobs in the future. At the moment, she was taking a snooze.

The sun was filtering through the trees and falling on his face. His head was leaning on his hand, casting a shadow on his arm. He looked at the hairs, soft brown in the sunlight, and flexed his arms. Then he heard her footsteps and looked up, green eyes searching. She walked across the other side of the pool, white bathing suit and blood red lips with her dark sunglasses. The tingling bell of an ice cream truck could be heard somewhere in the distance. Kids ran around in their trunks, laughing and playing. A sharply dressed waiter placed two martinis under glass coasters next to him.

She woke up with a sigh and, realizing that the dream was lost for good, took to lighting a smoke and a can of Red Bull.

“I wonder what kinda people are gonna be there today”, she said.

Farrell grinned back at her with his perfectly white teeth and said, “Not your average crowd Ther. If you think you’ve seen spoilt brats then you’re in for a shocker.”

“And on top of that it’s a pool party.” She sighed.

***

“Hey Groomie! Think you can pick me up on your way home??” Santana wasn’t sure of what she was drinking anymore, much less how she managed to form her words.

“Sure San, where are you?” he replied, a little hesitant. He was getting engaged tomorrow night. Things wouldn’t be the same again. Over the years, Santana had grown accustomed to the friendly flirting from Spencer Mitchell. Spencer Mitchell, she sighed, six foot two and washboard abs, really fair with just a hint of a tan. After being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, well now her ex-boyfriend, she couldn’t stop thinking about Spencer. What if she’d agreed to go out on that one date he’d asked her for? Would it have been her about to walk down the aisle in a couple of months?

She grabbed the bottle of, well whatever, and made her way through the bar and out the door. The sun was hideous, burning straight into her eyes. She clumsily fished out a pair of wayfarers from her bag and shoved them onto her face. The bottle remained unopened and she sat there at the bench waiting for him, silent tears flooding down her cheeks. It’s regret, that’s what hurts the most, not heartbreak or disappointment or any such thing. Regret.

When he pulled up towards the bench where Santana sat, her heart skipped a beat. His was furiously somersaulting. He didn’t know the right words to say to her anymore and she had so much to say to him. So she did what she thought was right, something which was long overdue. Santana pushed herself off the bench, he felt his back straighten, and they just collided. She’d never felt a kiss feel that way before; he was feeling so much it was causing him a physical ache in his chest. And they just stood there, in that moment, with Santana’s long black hair wildly whipping around them.

Their lips parted, leaving them gasping for breath and leaning on each other for support.

“Just say it”, he whispered, forehead touching hers, “Just say yes…”

“Yes…!” she let out a half laugh, half sigh and smiled at him.

When they embraced, they couldn’t hold each other tight enough, but it felt good to try. He saw the bottle of whiskey lying on the bench and she rushed to get it for him. They rode his bike down the rest of the way and Santana had never known that kind of happiness. Whenever she touched him, Spencer felt jolts of electricity flow through him. The sun was high and bright, they were drunk, and she was unbuttoning his shirt, having thrown her off already. His aviator sunglasses caught the sunlight and glinted with a fiery passion. He let out a laugh and couldn’t help but revel in its careless freedom. She took his shirt off, one arm after the other, stood up and let it fly away in the wind. And neither of them knew how this had happened. And they both knew that Spencer needed to make a couple of calls.

***

They’d stopped for some ice cream when Farrell got the call from Spencer Mitchell. He sounded upset so Theron assumed there was a shitstorm coming. She’d always had that keen intuition. She didn’t say anything, gave him time to collect his thoughts and then speak.

“Weekend’s off…” he said, clicking his phone shut, “the supposed ‘groom’ just called.”

“What happened?” her eyebrows furrowed with genuine concern.

Keep calm and sort through this, he told himself.

“Well, the engagement’s been called off for some reason. But the guy’s going ahead with today as planned. He’s offering to pay us double just for today and fuck off for the rest of the weekend.”

Whoa, that was not expected. Okay, what would help him feel better? Apart from the money of course. She couldn’t believe her luck. The money would be enough for her to manage almost half a year’s rent.

“Okay we should get going…”

Theron hated it when someone interrupted her during a soliloquy/monologue/dramatic narration.

“I’ll just get another smoke for the way, yea.” She pushed herself off the trunk and started walking.

A tall, muscular man with faint black hair on his chest and perfect pecs intercepted her. She looked up at his smiling face, golden chain shining in the sunlight. He was just about to open his mouth –she was horrified with all the possible things he could have said –when Farrell came up from behind and kissed her cheek.

“Hey baby, where were you?”

As the man walked off, Theron turned to face her savior (?) and pretended to be grateful to him. The man was walking to the beach. She made a quick excuse to go to the bathroom and ran off. Her heart was pounding in her chest. There she stood, at the top of the hill, waiting for her life to change forever. And without thinking, she ran.

She was almost behind him when she paused to catch her breath. Smoking ruins the lungs and all, right? Hands on her knees, she waited for her breathing to normalize and then straightened up. His broad shoulders had the faintest sheen of sweat between them. She shuddered with anticipation. Keep calm. Always, keep calm.

Cross him, wait for two seconds, then flip your hair and look back at him. That’s it. That’s all she needed to do. That’s how they did it in the movies too, right? She couldn’t help but smile when she followed instructions one two and three, and saw the man’s face paint the perfect picture of surprise. She’d found her patron. Bring out the corsets and her gown, the fish had fallen for the bait.

She took a piece of paper from her pocket which had her phone number on it and place it in the waistband of his swimming trunks.

Wouldn’t she rather do this than some embarrassing photo-shoot?

Rohan Dahiya

Image Source [http://cargocollective.com/greystonewalls]