Zina sighed as she rounded the corner. She would probably be late again. It seemed like punctuality had skipped her gene pool somehow. Hopefully it wouldn’t cost her this job – most people knew how artists were (flaky but intelligent enough to get away with it most of the time) – but there was no guarantee that this would be the case.
“Shit!” she hissed, dodging out of sight of the window of Sporefux coffee. Inside, there was Damien, sipping at an espresso with the cute blonde girl he was always insisting she had no reason to worry about. His hand was draped casually over her shoulder.
That stupid fuck has probably been lying to my face all this time.
If she ignored it, maybe it wouldn’t affect her. It’s not like they were together anymore. He had made that clear. She could bottle it all up inside and unleash it in the studio. It would be like what she used to do in high school, back when she still lived in the hell-hole apartment with her mom and little brother. Zina quickly tried to recall the technique she had used back then to push her emotions far, far down. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, willing whatever she was feeling to be transformed in the dark abyss into something that could eventually become beautiful.
But not right now.
It seemed like it had worked, until she reached the next intersection and a painful lump began to form in her throat. She had believed that Damien was the one. He was supposed to be the man who would somehow bring an end to the cynicism toward love that she had callously adopted as a teenager. He had promised as much, but, just as she had always secretly feared, he had let her down. They had broken up just yesterday, and now she knew exactly why.
Zina merged in with the crowd of people waiting to cross the street. She needed a distraction. The last thing she wanted to do was burst into tears while standing next to the disheveled woman who was screaming at every car that passed. This wasn’t exactly the best area in the city to have your vulnerabilities showing. There were still a few blocks to go before she reached the studio, so she pulled out her phone and checked her FaceSpace page, hoping that the “walk” light would flash soon.
There were no new notifications, and so she typed a quick status update.
“Sporefux is only good for one thing – pissing when you have nowhere else to go.”
She immediately got three upvotes for it and allowed herself a resigned grin. If nothing else, she had friends and family who would loyally appreciate her cynicism. And enough associates on her page’s cronie bar to make her feel like anything and everything she had to say would be heard one way or another.
It didn’t take long before the flood of comments began pouring in. Everybody had something to say about Sporefux, and she read them all as they came. It was enough of a boost to get her through the rest of the trek to the studio.
When she arrived, she tucked her phone safely into her messenger bag and ran up the long, metal staircase that led to the loft. Unsurprisingly, Gina was already there, sipping on a little silver teacup. Zina glanced at the clock. Only five minutes late. That wasn’t too bad.
Gina was her latest client. She was sitting rigidly at the counter, perched autocratically on a wooden stool. So far, Gina had seemed a bit pretentious, but Zina was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. She needed the money.
“Good morning, Zina,” Gina said. She enunciated the words pointedly.
“Morning,” Zina replied, tossing her jacket onto a chair. She rolled up her sleeves and glanced over at Gina, who was making an obnoxious clinking sound with a tiny spoon in her tiny teacup. It was probably exactly the type of spoon one is supposed to stir tea with, and for some reason that pissed Zina off.
“I made tea if you’d like some,” Gina said. Zina didn’t have time to answer before Gina went on. “It’s organic. Steve, you remember my fiance, had it imported for us all the way from Thailand. They say it’s great for flushing out toxins in the body.”
“Oh, so it makes you poop?” Zina asked.
She watched Gina’s mouth fall open in disgust before it quickly morphed into a fake smile. The transformation was captivating. Zina stifled her laughter.
“I thought we could get started on the floral arrangement,” Gina said, not addressing Zina’s comment.
“Actually I’m not quite ready for that yet,” Zina said.
“Oh?” Gina asked. She fancied herself to be something of an artist, and had hoped for her wedding to be unique and artistic. Unfortunately for Gina, her passion for art had nothing to do with any inherent talent that she actually possessed, which was where Zina came in. The poor, annoying woman had no understanding of the creative process or respect for the time it took to get everything right. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop her from having a very specific vision, and one that she insisted on hanging around every second of the process to make sure that it came into being.
“Well, I had an idea for the backdrop, but I have to try it out and know the color scheme before I put the flowers in…you know…so the colors all look right?”
It was exasperating to try and explain what she was trying to do, and Gina obviously had no faith in experimentation. Zina was working on her dime, after all.
“Try and make it quick,” Gina said, waving her hand dismissively. “I have to get to my yoga session this afternoon.”
“You got it,” Zina pursed her lips in what she hoped would be perceived as a smile. It was really her last ditch effort at patience. If anything else happened before lunch time, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself. She dug her phone out of her bag and typed another quick status update before dropping it in her pocket.
“If you give a mouse a cookie, it will ask for organic, imported herbal tea and a sterling silver spoon. On the plus side, at least it will be able to poop.”