Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Breakfast After"

Jules broke up with Tina last night.
It was the first time Jason and Erica ever saw a man so vulnerable. And what could roommates do? They couldn’t figure it out.
He decided not on work today. He’s cursing the early shifts and bitches over his strong Irish Breakfast blend he stumbled to scrap together—with three burnt toasts smothered in Erica’s grape jam. She doesn’t say anything.
The two are moving around Jules, stiff and slouching at the table in that cramped white kitchen. Stared blankly for minutes at the wall calendar tacked by the blue phone—he’s envious of that smiley-face posted above the dates of September. It’s all a painful sight.
And even though Jason’s all set to go out the door, he’s removing his shoes and moss duffel coat. He’s opposite of Jules now, hoping to block smiley. He grabs one of the burnt toasts and bites into the grape.
Erica’s in love with Phillip—but the rendezvous can wait. Grabbing the sugar bowl and setting it softly onto the little table she joins them. She’s smeared her lip gloss onto her own teacup.
“And what’s with the toast?” she asks, with a pause before they hear from Jules:
“Bitter?” repeats Jason. They can hear the traffic building up on the street outside, the occasional horn in the air’s clearing. The window over the sink’s been open through the night, and a few big leaves have slipped through the void.
“Don’t you two have places to go.” Jules isn’t asking, he’s strictly reminding.
“As do you, man.”
“Fuck today.”
“It’s not always going to be today,” Erica remarks smartly, taking that sip, fondling a leaf on the floor with her new combat boots.
“Then fuck tomorrow, too.”
“I wouldn’t agree—it’s my birthday.” Jason’s stopped this far. Erica becomes bold.
“This would have been a lovely day. Great weather, and Phil’s gonna pay for lunch.”
“Where at?” Jason wonders.
“New Mediterranean place on Polk Street.”
“I gotta go sometimes, I guess.” Jules is having none of it. He’s saying nothing still.
“How about we’ll take you out, Jules? I’m not with Phil for long this morning.”
“Okay, sure.” Over Jules and Jason Erica continue in one-sided awkwardness of conversation, downing the tea, swiping the tiny crumbs about the table away from Jules. They were thinking of Jules, underneath all the traffic, the leaves, the empty chipped plates, talks of Jason’s new hair cut and the asshole who grabbed Erica’s arm at that Tenderloin karaoke bar—she’d drop dead before setting foot back there.
She really has to get going, Jason too. They stand up together, grabbing their coats from the chairs. Jules looks up at them.
“You good, man?” Jason looks back.
Jules sighs. “Yeah, it all helps soon enough. We’ll eat tomorrow.”

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