Futures and Frosting
Author:Tara Sivec

“I should have sold you to that traveling circus when you were four. I could be out on the lake fishing right now instead of having this conversation,” he mutters.

My dad had been married twice before he married my mom, and he had his first wife Linda’s name tattooed on his arm. When I was younger I tried to change Linda to my mom’s name, Rachel, with a sharpie marker when he was sleeping. Unfortunately, he woke up before I could finish. It took him three days to wash Rinda off of his arm. When I told that story to Carter, he started singing like the Chinese men in “A Christmas Story”. Deck da hars with boughs of horry, fa-ra-ra-ra-ra, ra-ra-ra-ra! He tried joking with my dad once about it saying, “You reary roved Rinda.” My dad thought he was impersonating Scooby Doo and didn’t find it funny. Could be why he wasn’t one hundred percent sold on the whole living together situation. And all of it was a prime example of why I wasn’t jumping on board the marriage band wagon just yet. My dad had struck out three times and my mom twice when she had finally decided marriage wasn’t for her when I was twelve and packed up to get a condo in the city.

I don’t really have shining examples of happily ever after in my life.

Anyway, the point is everyone makes their own decisions about life, some good and some bad. They all teach us something about who we are and blah, blah, blah. No matter what my dad’s opinion is, I need to know if Carter’s snoring and his inability to put a new roll of toilet paper back on the holder is going to be a deal breaker before we do something legal that we can’t back out of.

So far, stupid bad habits aside, we are doing quite well cohabiting. Gavin has adjusted nicely, and I haven’t smothered Cater in his sleep. That’s total win right there.

My dad can finally tell by the look on my face that I am closing the conversation for further discussion or arguments, and he has given up on the beer/sex/whatever the fuck analogy. He grabs the newspaper he set down on the counter when he first walked in, tucks it under his arm, and walks over to one of the small tables by the front window to drink his coffee. Regardless of the mood he had put me in, seeing the four black, round tables set up in front of the picture window at the front of the store makes me smile. They had just been delivered the prior week and seeing someone sitting in them, even if it is my father, made me giddy. This is my store and those are my tables and nothing can mar the elated feeling that gave me.

The chime above the door sounds again, and I glanced over to see my friend Jenny storm in with an angry scowl on her face. Never in a million years have I ever picture myself being friends with someone like her. She is runway model beautiful and the things that come out of her mouth rarely make sense, but she’s proven to be a good friend in the few months since I've met her and would help anyone with anything they asked without a second thought. Much to everyone’s surprise, Jenny had managed to grab onto Carter’s best friend, Drew, and wrap him around her little finger. Drew is the biggest man whore you will ever lay eyes on, but for whatever reason, Jenny is able to tame him. Somewhat.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I ask Jenny as I round the counter to meet her halfway. I glance down at my watch and see it's only eleven in the morning. “Why aren’t you at work?”

Jenny works for the same computer design company she has since her freshman year in college.

She had started off as an intern and quickly made her way up the ranks and was now one of the most talented graphic designers they had on staff. She helped me out in a pinch when I was opening my store and made all of the flyers, brochures, and business cards in her free time and refused to take any payment. It had been one of the main reasons I decided I liked her.

Anyone who doesn’t charge me for services rendered is good people in my book.

Jenny laughs manically at my question about work and crossed her arms in front of her. “That’s a great question, Claire. And the answer would be, I got fired,” she replies before bursting into tears, flinging her arms around me, and burying her face in my shoulder.

Oh Jesus God no.

I awkwardly bend my elbow and pat my hand against her lower back. She still has her arms wrapped around me in a vice grip and that’s as high as I can reach. I shove my other hand into the pocket of my jeans and pull out my cell phone, sending a quick “please help me, God” text to Liz next door.

Jenny continues to cry, sniffle and every few minutes wail. After subtly spitting out some of her hair from my mouth as she burrows further into my neck and shoulder, I anxiously glance down at my cell phone wondering how much longer I will need to pretend I enjoy soothing people during breakdowns before Liz gets her ass over here and rescues me. It probably won’t be very friend-like of me if I start freaking out that there might now be a pile of someone else’s snot pooling on the shoulder of my tee-shirt. My phone buzzes in my hand and I crane my neck over Jenny’s shoulder to see the message.

I am busy with customers. You are going to have to MAN UP and comfort her yourself. Start acting like you have a vagina for fuck’s sake and hug her.

XOXO – Liz

I grit my teeth at the knowledge I am on my own in the pits of consoling hell.