THE AWAKENING

I finally pulled my gaze from the window and looked at the college-aged barista still blabbering in French. After apologizing for the abrupt exit I would soon be taking, I grabbed my bag and galloped into the driving rain. In the one minute distance between the coffee shop and the sidewalk where he stood, I realized that facing him in pouring rain would not only be classically cliché, but most likely also colossally detrimental to what little sanity I had left.

He saw me approaching and still didn't move, except to turn his head toward me. When I reached him, I wasn't sure what to say, I wasn't sure what he needed to hear. I reached up to his face to push the hair he still kept long from his face. He didn't stop me, and I misread this as a positive sign. Smiling, I took a step back. God, after all these years.

"Taylor," it was the first time I'd said his name in eight years.

He back away from me slowly. "What do you want me to say?" There was a frightening amount of biting sarcasm in his inquiry. Without waiting for a response, he turned on his heels and continued walking down the street. Within mere seconds, his silhouette was lost in sheets of water and steam.

I spent the next few days more worthless than before. Mostly, I camped out on the poorly trimmed mini-lawn, staring at the brown city smog and begging for snow or any other inclimate precipitation. My most recent excuse for such erratic behavior was that I hated my roommates and couldn't be in the same square footage as them (This is entirely true, believe me. The only times we ever actually spoke were when one of them stole my bread or toilet paper, or one of them got laid the weekend before.). Honestly though, just seeing Taylor again only reminded me of everything that had gone wrong since I stole his cigarettes and fled.

That Thursday after a gruelingly dull day at The Enquirer, the black eye of all journalism, arranging awkward words into sentences about plastic surgery gone awry and shocking celebrity-alien abductions that I'd never understand, I took a moment on the mini-lawn to reevaluate my life thus far.

After my revelation in the souvenir shop, I did apply to NYU and I kept my ridiculous Comparative Literature major, arrogantly presuming I would be successful regardless of my degree's worthlessness (stories of friends' relatives being magazine editors after studying Ancient Chinese Art and Mandarin had also jaded me significantly). Once I actually graduated, was still single and unemployed, it occurred to me that I was fucked. Somehow, I worked my way in as the Donut Bitch at The Enquirer. One of the editors saw my degree and decided I must be somewhat creative and I soon became the brains behind stories like "Lima Beans save Julia Roberts." Thankfully, because I only come up with the ideas and I don't actually type them onto a computer; my name doesn't get attached to the shit when it's published.

I hate my job.

"Jesus is she reevaluating her---Kate! Are you reevaluating your life again?" I hate Molly also; she's the one who steals the most bread slices. "Would you get up? You're killing what little grass we have!" She waltzed out onto our six foot by seven foot cement block of a patio in the only pants she owned (she claims that skirts allowed for more wardrobe versatility). "I'm tired of flicking cigarette butts at your ugly face; get out of the damned grass!"

I groaned and rolled over to face her. She stood so alluringly annoying in that cantaloupe colored cropped pants and her cancer stick. "You're going to die of lung cancer."

"You should try it sometime, it'll loosen you up." She took another lengthy drag. "He's never going to sweep you off your feet if you don't stand up," Oh how witty, Molly. "Go put on my old push-up bra and strut around a little bit! If nothing else it'll make you a little perkier!" She laughed at her own pun as she gestured wildly with that cigarette.

"You are such an idiot." Molly never bothered to learn about my social life, she just assumes that I'm always longing for someone I can't have who will never want me. Molly is also positive that I am biggest loser and only she can remedy it.

"Fine!" She flicked the finished fag in my general direction. "But you know I'm right."

One of these days I'm going to cut holes in the ass of those pants when she's sleeping.

I lay on the mini-turf until dusk before going back inside. Entering through the kitchen I was seized by the stench of over-cooked lasagna and rotting milk. At the breakfast nook, other roommate Bea forcefully swallowed her dinner, neglecting the teeming trash pile. We live like pigs. I walked past her into Molly's room where she was staring at herself in the mirror.

"I need five more minutes to concentrate," she held up her hand as I walked in.

"Molly, what the hell are you doing?" Prodding and tugging at her face, no doubt.

"Thinking out wrinkles." She was serious as she pulled the skin around her eye.

I stood in the door, still questioning whether or not I wanted to sacrifice my dignity in the name of sex. Upon conceding that my lack of sex could not be any more apparent and crippling, I decided drastic measures were necessary.

"Molly, I need--" I paused, making sure I wanted to ruin myself. "I need to borrow your push-up bra," I mumbled, kicking the wall.

She squealed, clapped her hands, and rushed to the door; I knew I'd never live it down.

The next morning, I sat on the edge of my bed bouncing in nervous hesitation. Opposite of me, the red lacy push up bra, size 36B, mockingly stared. Disgusted with myself, I fell back into the bed and watched the ceiling. I mean, it was just an undergarment (applying desensitized words like "undergarment" makes the whole wearing slutty skivvies episode a bit more tolerable), what was the problem?

I've never walked so awkwardly in my life as I did in that "undergarment." The heels I'd forced myself to wear were meticulously leaning me forward enough to where it felt as though the additional weight in my chest was going to throw my down. So I was wobbling, waddling almost, under the almighty power of my new breasts.

I took a long lunch from the post so I could put my new endowments to work. Considering I worked for single, balding, middle-aged men earning an extra hour off for lunch was no trouble.

The subway was almost equally uncomfortable as work had been as far as drooling men went. Aside from the oogling bums, I was positive I watched a few kids pointing in disbelief at my unnatural perkiness.

"God, it's a push-up bra, okay!?" I clapped my hand over my mouth and blushed, surprised by my outburst.

An older man leaned around the bar, grinning. "So sweetheart, where are you headed?"

I hated social subway travelers, "Tribeca."