Just a little fiction I’ve been working on and have decided to intermittently showcase here. I really hope you all like it. Feel free to send a message. Ciao bellas!
“Grace, a pleasure to meet you.” She didn’t sound like she was really from New York. Her voice was too silky, too meek, and there was no hardness to her tone. The most blatant objection to her claim to have lived in New York her entire life was the fact that she actually sounded pleased to meet me.
I took her hand in mine and shook it gently, a smile curving its way onto my lips that were entirely too wide for my face. I felt my face heat up as I thought about the imperfection and I took a deep breath, remembering that I was supposed to be approving of myself.
“Coral. But only if you hate me. To my friends, I’m Cory.” My smile tweaked up a little more on the left side. It was my best ice breaker and it worked. Grace released a laugh that sounded like birds chirping and felt like summer sun on my skin.
“Cory it is, then.” The smile continued to linger on Grace’s face but she was nervous. Her chocolate brown eyes darted around the room, resting on nothing. She finally ducked her head, trying not to meet my eyes. The movement was endearing and made her look at least ten years younger than she was. I let out a small breath in a huff and shook my head as my universe re-expanded from the woman in front of me with the mop of russet brown curls piled on top of her head in a messy bun to include the rest of The Lotus Wellness Center.
I gripped my hands on the edge of the front desk in what I hoped would be a gesture of relaxation. “If you need anything, just let me know. First couple of days here can be a bit overwhelming. I’m sure you’ll catch on quickly though.” The smile stayed on my face no matter what I did. Her large eyes came back to my face as though she had drifted somewhere just that quick and was surprised that I was still talking to her.
“Thank you so much–” She seemed ready to say something more, but was interrupted by Victoria, the Director of The Lotus.
“Good morning, lovelies! Can we have a meeting in five minutes? Just general staff stuff. I want to get it all out of the way before classes start.” Victoria screamed effervescence in her yellow sun dress that clung to her in all the right places. Grace nodded quietly and I just smiled. Victoria took that as a yes from us both and bounced off. It was easy to trust her, as an employer, as a woman in general. She had so much charisma that I would vote for her is she ran for president and never promised to fix a damned thing. She was one of the most open and good-hearted people I had ever met in my entire life.
“Is it just me, or does no one have a last name here?” Grace surprised me with the comment and I found myself laughing. Really laughing. Not the polite chuckle that I give people that I don’t really want to speak to or that gentle smile that I save for my students to encourage them out of their shyness, but really laughing. It caught me off guard and unsettled me that I couldn’t remember the last time that I had really laughed.
“We don’t really use them unless we’ve got two people with the same name. But then, there’s always nicknames. Come on, you’re working in a wellness center. You can’t expect us to be formal. We work on opening people’s hearts everyday. A last name hardly matters when you’re working through tension knots and personal break-throughs.” I shrugged trying to keep my gaze chaste.
“I guess you’re right. And first names?” It took me a second to realize that she was asking me a question and I glanced to find her wide eyes on me, taking me in openly. It felt, somehow, as though I was being quizzed and my answer would determine a lot about me in her eyes. Those large brown eyes that seemed to hide so much of her.
“Um..” I licked my lips and swallowed, my throat suddenly dry under the weight of her open gaze. It almost felt like my chest was beginning to constrict when I finally decided to answer with the truth. “First names are like the beginning sentences of a book. The good ones draw you in until you are completely unable to forget a person. Somehow describing and fitting them perfectly until they define the name, instead of the other way around.” I held my breath waiting to see what she would do. I wasn’t sure why this meant so much to me, except for the fact that I wanted to know her. There was something about Grace that I wanted to have in my life. I felt almost sure about it, but I also got the feeling that my answer would determine if she wanted me in hers.
“Hmm..” Her eyes left my face again and her eyebrows dropped and furrowed just a little, as though she were really weighing what I had just said. Then, unexpectedly, she smiled. A small thing really, but somehow I felt as though I had passed.