It had taken three outfit changes before Lauren was ready to leave the house. Then came the hurdle of makeup. She thought of what would look most… plausible and drew a quick winged eyeliner with a subtle bronze shadow. She gripped the bathroom counter and closed her eyes.
I meant to try that new red lipstick but I think it’s too much. It’s not me. She knows me. Giving up on more decision-making, Lauren slapped on old reliable and hurried out.
At the bar she was too wound up to fiddle with her phone. She picked at her nails and noticed how dry she’d left her hands. Frustrated with the tightness in her chest and near racing thoughts, she grabbed a paper menu and looked over options to seem more prepared.
“Would you like to order?”
“I’m waiting for someone. Thanks.” Lauren gave a spiritless smile and returned to the menu.
Cheesesteak spring rolls sound pretty good actually. She’d managed to get engrossed in the tropical drink specials when Ona showed up.
“Hi!” Ona touched Lauren’s shoulder and moved in quickly to touch cheek to cheek.
Sitting down and scanning for a place to put her bag, Lauren motioned to the hooks underneath the counter. It seemed Ona always threw something together effortlessly. Her black, batwing shirt paired with medium wash denim jeans and lace up, heeled boots. Her nails were crimson and short.
“How have you been?” Lauren was still holding the menu.
“Pretty good, just trying to get this project off the ground. I told you about it, right? Marty and Joel were helping me out…”
Lucky bastards, Lauren thought.
As she spoke, Ona moved her thick brown hair to one side. They ordered items off the menu Lauren had been studying and got back to their conversation.
“How are you?” Ona asked.
“Oh, you know… the fiscal year is closing so everyone is very carefully hiding their embezzlement.” Ona guffawed and threw her head slightly back.
She has just enough teeth, Lauren thought, then furrowed her brow unconsciously at such a bizarre observation. Exiting her head, she quickly said, still with a furrowed brow, “What? That’s not even my best work.”
Lauren watched as Ona’s plump lips slowly closed, then pursed to drink her cocktail.
Trying not to stare, but squeeze her more polite thoughts out, Lauren exclaimed, “That is a great matte lipstick.”
Ona tilted her head and playful fluttered her eyelashes. She laughed again.
In Ona’s car, Lauren laid out her best zingers, bringing them both nearly to tears. She was lingering and didn’t want to leave.
“It’s getting late and we’re in our 30s now.” Lauren was reaching for the door. “I’ll text you when I get in.”
Lauren got into her car and breathed heavily out. She hadn’t seemed nervous at all, thankfully. She’d performed admirably. Suddenly her phone rang. “Hey babes. I’m in the car. I’ll be home soon.”
“That’s good, honey. How was your girl’s night out?”
Lauren held her breath.