All entries for Monday 20 October 2008
October 20, 2008
I had been sitting there all morning, watching each of their chubby little faces press up against the glass of the display unit. The croissants sold like hotcakes, and the hotcakes sold even quicker, but no one could stomach such a light, luscious, tangy creation like myself so early in the morning. The steam from the coffee maker hung low in the air, and idle chit-chat wafted around the room. Little old men sat munching on toast, their dark yellow teeth displaying waiting crumbs which their tongues would discover later that morning.
The cafe was small and cramped, ten tables jammed together with barely room to move between them. It wouldn’t be long before a humongous cake-devouring child would waddle in the shop, have one banoffee pie too many, and balloon to the size of the room, squashing little old men and their little old wives into the walls, and pinning his well-meaning mother against her chair.
But not today, today was unusually quiet. Janet, the owner of ‘Janet’s Cafe’ looked pale as she stood behind the counter ferociously drying glasses with a pink tea-towel and running her accounts through her head for the umpteenth time that morning.
The door was pushed open, ringing a little ornate bell which Janet’s father had installed the day before the cafe’s grand opening. Suddenly the room was filled with noise as two girls burst in, jabbering between themselves. Coming up to the counter, the taller of the two bent down and examined each of the cakes, her eyes narrowing at the carrot cake but widening at the prospect of the triple chocolate fudge. Finally she saw me, selected me, and paid for me – two pounds fifty. Down came Janet’s silver cake slice and I was lifted on to a plate. Just a squirt of whipped cream and a few slivers of lemon peel and I was ready for my debut.
The girls had already taken their seats at the little table in the far corner. They were swirling tea bags in tea pots, clinking spoons against china and slushing milk from dainty milk jugs. Janet brought me to the table and presented me in front of the girls in all my glory. The taller girl had dark brown hair and small unnerving eyes. She looked down at me, scrutinising my ever so slightly browned meringue. Was I overcooked? Or even, god forbid, a little burnt? She picked up her dessert fork, twirled it around menacingly, and plunged in into my middle.
Having finished the lemon meringue pie, Jo was licking her plate clean, tracing her finger through the remnants of yellow cream and sucking it from her fingertip. She had wondered whether she could warrant eating desert, considering the kit-kat she conceded to this morning, but resigned herself to an extra-long run tomorrow, when it would be bitterly cold and all the more suitable as punishment. She looked across the table at Katie, who was busy trying to hide her disgust as Jo ran her finger across her plate for the tenth time. Noticing Jo’s gaze, she turned away, pretending to study the little painted flowers on the teapot in front of her. It was Jo’s favourite cafe, not only because the cakes were so moist, but you got to drink from the sort of pretty little teacups which her mother never let her play with as a child. Satisfied that every last calorie had been accounted for, Jo looked up, and spat a little as she spoke. Her words poured out in quick succession:
“So at first I said to him, ‘Well there’s no way that’s going to happen’, but then he was saying ‘Uhh, yeah there is’ so I just told him to fuck off”.
Katie hadn’t heard Jo. She was desperately trying to find and excuse to leave, having already listened to this nonsense for an hour and a half. Jo would know she didn’t have anything on this afternoon, because she already told her that this morning on the phone. It was going to have to be an emergency. Maybe her house had burnt down? No, too obvious. And besides, it would be a nightmare trying to create the evidence next time Jo came round.
She picked up a half-empty sugar packet from the table and absent-mindedly rolled it around in her fingers. Small granules of sugar tumbled on to the table, and she stopped to brush them away with her napkin. Katie had known Jo for years, ever since Alice in Wonderland (Jo, of course, was Alice and Katie the Doormouse), but she had never really liked her. She was smart, ruthless and subsequently successful, which was hard to stomach when you had been stuck playing ‘Villager #3’ in the Christmas panto last year.
“Right?”, quipped Jo expectantly.
“Oh yeah, Totally.”
It couldn’t have been that Jo was actually a better actor than her. No, definitely not. She was just very good at networking, making new contacts. And besides, she was sure than Jo had been sleeping with their drama teacher, Mr. Andrews, right before the auditions last month.
Jo stirred another brown sugar cube into her already sickly sweet tea. “Yeah. There wasn’t much else I could do, you know?” she said confidently, never once looking at Katie.
“Yeah, well...”. Katie’s monotone response would have demonstrated to most people that they were being incredibly dull. But not Jo. Jo was always sure that Katie was hanging on her every word.
“Well what? Well what Kates?”, Jo demanded.
Katie didn’t have a clue. Well what? Well, you’ve been jabbering at me for the last hour and a half and you haven’t even asked me what happened with Sam yesterday. This was typical of Jo, being so wrapped up in her own silly little problems that she never even bothered to ask ‘How’s it going Kates?’ or ‘What have you been up to Kates?’. She hated being called ‘Kates’.
“Well.. nothing”, Katie lied, “Don’t worry about it”. She fumbled for a second, before concluding, “I was just going to say.. well, maybe you could have tried talking to him about it... you know...”
“Talking to him?” Scoffed Jo, “No, he was being just, so unreasonable. I mean, what do you do in that sort of situation?”
“Well you don’t tell him to fuck-off for starters”. Katie hadn’t intended to snap at Jo, but she suspected that her sympathy had been perpetuating this ridiculous conversation, and it was by time that Jo put a sock in it.
Katie pulled her bag from the chair next her on to her lap, and began fumbling for her mobile. By the time Jo had begun defending herself, Katie was already absorbed in reading the three text messages Sam had left her. The first apologised for shouting at her, the second retracted the apology, and the third apologised for being so terrible at apologising. It was actually quite endearing.
“Right, ok. Whatever Jo. Do what you want. It’s your life. Honestly, I don’t give a damn”. Katie got up, wrapped her extra long and therefore terribly arty scarf around her neck three times, put four pounds fifty on the table and wound her way between the cafe tables to the door.
“What?” Jo slammed down her teacup, spilling sweet brown liquid into the saucer, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”.