Pedicures and Salads

Written in response to: Start your story with a character saying “I can see it now.”... view prompt

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Fiction

“I can see it now,” Trina said, watching Natalie and Shanna hang up the pinata on the swing set.

“Right? They’re twins,” Mark added.

“They even have the same way of doing things.”

Once they finished and dusted off their hands, Shanna asked her mother to dance with her. Afterall, it was her birthday, and her favorite song (NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”) started playing on the radio. However, Natalie walked away, beelining to the kitchen to prepare dinner.

***

“Hey, Mom. I’m here,” Shanna said, while entering her childhood home.

“You’re late,” Natalie replied with purse in hand and shoes on.

“Luna decided to yak a hairball on my sandals, but we’ll still make it on time.”

“If we leave now.” Natalie walked past her daughter and out the house.

” After swallowing her pride, Shanna added, “Are you excited for our mommy-daughter date?” They got into the car. “Getting our nails done, shopping, going out for lunch. Should be fun.”

“Yeah.”

Shanna filled the car ride with stories about her tumultuous morning, while Natalie nodded along. Never letting silence extend more than two seconds, Shanna racked her brain for stories to tell. While her daughter bounced from career to boyfriend to pets, Natalie admired the scenery. She wondered how old the trees were and what kinds they were.

“We’re here,” Shanna cheered and gestured to the nail salon. The two sandal-clad women walked in and were greeted immediately. Standing in front of the wall of polish, Shanna said, “How about we pick out colors for each other?”

“Okay.” Natalie placed a bottle filled with a light plum color in her daughter’s hand. “You can pick this one for me.”

“Mom, that’s not how it works.”

“It’s how it works for me.”

“Fine. Are you going to pick out a color for me?”

“No, you should pick out your own color.”

“But I want you to pick it out for me. Surprise me.”

“Here.” Natalie placed a lighter shade of plum in her hand. “That’s settled.” She turned to the spa chairs. With polish in hand, Shanna followed.

***

With fresh feet and toes, the women sat down for lunch on a patio complete with lush flower beds and table umbrellas. After Shanna ordered a mimosa, Natalie asked for sauvignon blanc. While leafing through the menus, Shanna asked, “What do you think you’ll get?”

“I don’t know. Nothing looks that good.”

“Do you want to go somewhere else?”

“No, we already ordered drinks.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, I’ll get a salad or something. It’s pretty hard to mess that up.”

After ordering said salads (during which Natalie made four separate requests and alterations), the women sat there with their hands on their glasses, ready to sip at a moment’s notice.

“How’s Dan?” Natalie asked.

“He’s fine,” Shanna started before adding, “We actually got into a fight yesterday.”

“About what?”

“He won’t tell me if he wants kids or not. He says he’s ‘figuring it out.’” Shanna gulped half of her drink.

“At first, I didn’t want kids. Then, you came along.”

“I know, Mom. I was an oops baby.”

“Yes, but if It changed for me, it could change for him. Plus, are you sure you want kids? It’s a big undertaking. Your life will never be the same. You can't get your nails done, go shopping, and get brunch like you do now. You lose a lot of privileges. Parenting is --”

“I get it, Mom.” Shanna pounded down the rest of her drink and gestured to the server for another. 

“Maybe you should slow down.”

“Maybe you should stop talking like you know everything.”

“Woah, where is this coming from?”

“I treat you to a pedicure, buy you new clothes, buy you lunch --”

“I can pay for lunch.”

“That’s not the point! In your eyes, I still do something wrong or don’t know something or have some learning to do. You have more empathy for Dan than your own daughter.”

“That’s not true.”

“How can you be so sure, Mom?”

“Here are your salads,” the server interrupted. While Shanna thanked them, Natalie said, “I’m sorry, but I said no nuts and dressing on the side.”

“I’m so sorry, ma’am. I’ll have the kitchen remake it.”

“Thank you.”

“I bet you two get this all the time,” the server added, not leaving when Natalie wanted them to. “You two look like twins.” The woman forced smiles, offered affirmations, and nodded.

There they were: a mother staring at her daughter as she nibbled on her salad.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Sorry. Must’ve zoned out.” Natalie shifted glances to observe the people around them.

“Do you want me to wait until your salad comes?”

“No, sweetie. Keep eating.”

After ten minutes, Natalie was given the correct salad. As she began to dig in, Shanna put her fork down, having barely made a dent in the heap of lettuce and toppings.

“If you weren’t going to finish it,” Natalie started. “Then, why did you douse it with ranch?”

“I don’t know. I thought I was hungrier.”

“Maybe one too many mimosas filled you up.” Shanna shook her leg and crossed her arms. “And now you can’t even take that salad home. It’s ruined.” She rolled her eyes. “Did you just roll your eyes at me?”

“Maybe.”

“That’s rude.”

“And you going on and on about a $10 salad isn’t?”

“It’s actually $12.”

Shanna rolled her eyes even harder than before.

“How is everything, ladies?” The server asked.

“Great,” they both said with the same plastered smiles. “Thank you.”

“Would you like a box for that?” They gestured to Shanna’s plate.

“No, thank you.”

Natalie shook her head.

With the server gone and bouncing between tables, the two women had no one else between them. They only had each other. No buffer to soak up the volume of the silence. If she looked at her phone for escape, Shanna knew her mother would comment. So all she could do was look at anything but Natalie.

Maybe they spent too much time together in one day, or maybe they actually hated each other. Just like a subpar salad drenched in dressing, spending time with an unfulfilled parent seemed like a waste.

June 28, 2022 21:03

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