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Fiction

Drucilla's been staring at the menu for ten minutes now, and it flips so rapidly, front to back that the breeze displaces her bangs. She smooths them down, regretting their existence. It was the hairdresser's choice. She was all ready to go in and ask for the same haircut she always does. Trim the ends, leave the rest.

Her best friend had tagged along. He'd goaded her to try something different. That haircut had been with her as long as he had, which was saying a lot, considering she had moved next door when they were both still potty training. 

She couldn't decide between a dye job (and even then, what color) or a new cut. So she closed her eyes and uttered words she would later come to regret, two weeks later in the corner booth of the diner.

"You decide."

It's easier to let other people decide. Otherwise they end up waiting ten minutes for her to choose between pancakes and an omelet.

He pulls a quarter out of his pocket. He always has it, just for this reason.

"Okay, heads you get the cakes. Tails, the eggs." He flicks it, hitting the low dangling light. It falls into her coffee. Two cream, a decision she didn't have to worry about. Two cream splashing back at her, the remainder disguising the fate of his quarter. 

The waitress comes over as they're wiping up the droplets. 

"Y'all ready to order?" Her pencil is poised over the notepad. It's her third trip around, and he nods. She hopes that he's ordering for the both of them, because she's not prepared, but after he orders his breakfast skillet, he looks to her to order for herself.

It aggravates her when he does this. He thinks if he pressures her into a decision, she won't have time to think. Which shirt, the blue button down or the red tee shirt? Which show, cartoon or cooking? And then the other option disappears. The red shirt back in the drawer, the remote hidden in the crack of the sofa.

Her brain flinches. What if? What if she had picked that red shirt?

Well, for one, it'd be covered in coffee splatters.

She orders the omelet, because it's the first word she sees when she looks down. Her finger lands on one, and she picks it, because that'd be another ten minutes of debating onions vs ham. 

Neither. Mushrooms and spinach, she reads. The waitress bites back asking if she is sure, hearing the waver in her tone, knowing it'll be another ten minutes if she does. This isn't her first breakfast rodeo.

"I'm going to run to the bathroom real quick, alright?" He gets up, leaving her to her worries. It takes him a while to return. She doesn't acknowledge it, but when her omelet is delivered with a single side pancake, and a wink, she gets it.

Andrew always quiets the flinches.

She wishes that statement could last forever. Things are going great, or as great as they can for a mismatched couple of Drews, until he gets a girlfriend.

"Hey Dru?" 

"Yeah Drew?" 

It's this silly banter they have, which usually makes her giggle. Today though, there's a girl on his arm, and she can feel the conversation going south before the words leave his mouth.

"I want you to meet my girlfriend, Andrea." The girl sticks out her hand for shaking.

"I've heard a lot about you."

Now he's a couple of Andys. Now she's the lone Dru, trying to decide if she should buy the pineapple candle or the pumpkin. She buys both and burns neither to keep her thoughts on mute. It's a failing system, and her house smells like wet dog without something to cover it. 

It becomes a force of habit, choosing neither. You can't make the wrong choice if you don't make one, she convinces herself. It isn't until her sister points out that it is a choice to choose neither that she curls up into a ball and begs her head to not spin through the past month of decisions.

She tags along with her sister to a speed dating event. It takes her ten minutes to style her hair (nothing seems to match the bangs she is desperately trying to grow out) and another fifteen to pick an outfit. 

"Come on Dru, we don't have all night." Her sister grabs her by the wrist, picking up her shoes on the way out the door. She can feel herself sweating, wishing she had chosen the other shirt. But she had panicked and wore the tube top, because her sister had insisted she showed a little skin. 

Twelve dates later, she's reviewing her notes. She can't decide who she wants to see again, so she picks nobody. This time she knows it's her choice and accepts it. If her indecisiveness pushed Andrew away, can she really expect a stranger to put up with it too?

"I thought we had some real chemistry," a guy says, startling her as she waits by the truck for her sister. "Didn't you?"

She fumbles to find words, and settles on the easiest answer. "Maybe."

"Any chance I can get that maybe to become a yes, say, Friday night?" She glances at his nametag and smiles at the irony.

It's another Drew. 

She says yes.

Things with new Drew are easy. He orders her dinner for her, and chooses the movie that they watch. It's a classic first date, and she doesn't have to worry about making the wrong choice, so she can finally relax.

It isn't until the sixth date that she realizes he makes all the decisions. It's rare that she can settle on something, but she knows that she does not want to choose Chinese over Mexican again. Her heart is screaming tacos.

His heart screams louder.

When old Drew meets new Drew, she wants to sink back into the diner booth. It's the same waitress, and she's surprised when they're ready to order the first time she circles round. He orders her a breakfast sandwich. When he totters off to the bathroom, she wraps the bacon in a napkin, shoving it in her purse. She'll give it to her dog later.

"Why'd you let him get you that if you hate bacon?" Andrew stabs a piece of potato.

"It's easier this way," she says, glancing towards the bathroom.

"But is it happier?" He waggles the potato at her. Noticing the return of her boyfriend, he pops it into his mouth to avoid further conversation.

The words ring in her ears all afternoon. Yes, it's hard making decisions. She was raised to always think she made the wrong one, and her brain flinches like mad trying to not screw up again.

Screwing up means the ruler.

She can still feel the sting on her knuckles.

Does being someone else's doll solve the problem? Sure, but it creates a new one.

Curling into a ball, she wills the thoughts to stop. Her dog roots around in her purse for the, now cold, bacon, digging his nose deep. She hears her keys jingle. It forces her up to grab him before he can cause any trouble.

"I miss Drew," she tells him, unwrapping the bacon. 

"Lame, new oppressive Drew, or totally awesome best friend Drew?" He's at her door. "I came to check up on you. After that whole happier comment at breakfast you kinda clammed up."

She hangs her head.

"You were right. Easier isn't always happier."

"Totally awesome best friend Drew then, got it." He grins cockily, crouching down to lift her chin up.

His smile is contagious. "Bit egotistical, aren't you?"

The hand stays under her chin. She realizes that they look like a movie couple, seconds away from kissing. Something passes in his face, a blip, and his hand drops.

Seven years, and some odd days ago, his hand had been in that exact same spot. He had leaned forward; she was frozen in decision. Would she lean forward and kiss him? Would she move back and diss him?

She stayed rock solid. Her mother had called them down to dinner. They never spoke of it again.

It's a choice to choose neither.

She had picked neither, the safe option. The one that left her with the wrong Drew, and him part of some Andy couple that made her stomach turn. Her gaze drops to the hand, and she knows she has to choose. The truth and ego, or a fake front of happiness?

"Appropriately so, considering I was talking about my totally okay, close friend Drew." 

He feigns offense. 

She invites him to stay for a while, and they agree to watch a movie. He insists that she pick, because he knows she probably hasn't in weeks, and when she struggles to choose between two, he pulls out a quarter.

"There's no cups of coffee hidden around, are there?" He checks despite knowing there won't be. The coin lands, and he turns on the movie, back in their old routine.

Andrea fizzles out of the picture when she heads off to college. She's decided to dorm. She's also decided to see other people, without needing any input. Not everybody is as indecisive as Drucilla.

New Drew is a bit of a bigger mess, because she can't decide on how to break things off. There's this pounding urge in her heart to do it, to earn her freedom from lack of choice. It's the harder life.

It's the happier life.

"Give me a minute to order us takeout, and then I'll pick out a movie." Drew hits the speed dial for the Chinese restaurant. She can hear them on the other end. She excuses herself to the bathroom.

He picks up on the second ring. 

"You've got this."

"I totally don't have this."

"Look, Dru, I can't tell you what to do. But I highly advise that you choose happiness...Are you flipping a coin right now?" The metal ricochets off the sink and falls heads down on the floor.

Tails, you don't break up.

She hangs up and marches back out into the living room. She sits on the couch, his arm sinking around her shoulders. The quarter said no. The stupid quarter said no.

"This isn't working."

She says yes.

"Am I pushing your head too far forward? Here, let me-"

"It's not just my head you're pushing. It's me. Every decision is yours to make. You ever consider that maybe I don't like action movies and Chinese food every night?"

"You're the one that said you were indecisive. I'm making things easier on you."

His words spill out of her mouth.

"But is it happier?" she echoes. Unlike him, her ears water at the words.

There are very few things in life that she has an easy time deciding. But looking at this goon in front of her, there's no flinching brain telling her she's making the wrong move. 

Picking up her purse, she makes her way to the door. He follows her. She chooses to ignore his words.

She chooses to drive to Drew's apartment.

Most importantly, she chooses to be happier.

Drew makes her happier.

The feeling is mutual. It's acted on with no second thought, like it's the easiest decision she's ever had to make.

And she didn't even need the quarter. 

May 22, 2021 11:54

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1 comment

Kate Winchester
04:06 Jun 01, 2021

You captured Dru’s indecisiveness well. I’m indecisive so the not knowing what to eat at the diner made me laugh. You’re story was relatable. I liked the Drew’s vs the Andy’s. It was clever. I also liked that how in the end Dru knew what to do. Good job!

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