Milestones and Missed Cues

“Happy Birthday, you old son of a bitch.”

The black office chair swivels around to reveal Fat in the power seat, appearing like a Bond villain. Her paws thrust into the air in celebration and unleash a sad supply of multi-coloured confetti that slowly drifts to the ground.

Propping the fridge door open with my elbow, I down some more juice from the carton and shake my head. “Son of a bitch?” I know there are times I look a little androgynous and all, but I identify as a woman and also lack the parts to be classified as a man. I like my ovaries, thanks.

Fat stares at me from the patchwork office space beside the tiny kitchen as she silently processes the tone of my voice.

“You’re right. How callous of me. You’re nobody’s son. From the top, people.” Fat grips the edge of the desk to turn the chair so it faces the wall again. “Take another guzzle from the O.J. The sound tipped me off to your entrance.”

Well, I am still a little thirsty. I slug back some more orange juice. Fat responds to the cue as I wipe my mouth in the crook of my arm.

“Happy Birthday, you old bitch.” Fat shoves off the desk too hard and instead of coming to a graceful stop facing me directly, the chair spins in an entire circle to only give me a fleeting glimpse of the ungraceful feline before she disappears from view. I love that chair.

“Shit.”

I imagine she’s on the opposite side of the faux leather chair sulking at her poor second entrance. Failure on two counts. That’s got to affect your self-esteem. I put the juice back in the fridge and approach the feline’s seat. I grab the backrest and pivot the chair in a semicircle.

“I didn’t even get more confetti for the second go-around.” Fat leans back in defeat until her head rests against the fabric. “I let you down, Boss. This was going to be the highlight of your day.”

“It’s a little early to be calling the best part, isn’t it?”

Fat waves her paw dismissively, “You don’t have friends; this was the biggest acknowledgement you could hope for. I wanted to point out the honour of accumulating another year’s layer of decay and disappointment. Oh hey,” Fat brightens momentarily when she digs between her pockets of grey fur and produces another pawful of paper confetti that she tosses with lackluster, “Congratulations on keeping up with the Crypt Keeper.”

“Uh, thanks?”

Fat scratches her head, clearly perplexed. She zeros in on my face.

“Boss, how old are you?”

I pick up the feline from on the chair and struggle to keep her in my arms. “That’s a rude thing to ask.” Thankfully she doesn’t get aggravated enough to use her claws.

“People only respond like that when they’re super ancient and ashamed of their age.” Fat squirms and twists for another fifteen seconds before entirely giving up and submitting to the housecat treatment.

“I’m not ashamed of my age. I’m thirty and perfectly fine with that.” I pet her head softly and scratch behind her pert ears.

“Thirty, huh? That means you’re about due for your first mid-life crisis.”

“Does that mean I can start a life anew and be as impulsive and crazy as I want?”

Fat slightly purrs, “You bet it does.”

“Fantastic. It’s settled then. I’m going to buy a taco stand.” I smile. That sounds awesome. I could eat a burrito every single day if I wanted. Cool.

“That is a terrible way to unravel into a mental breakdown. You don’t know how to do anything right, do you?”

Off the Personality Charts

“It’s been a long while since you’ve returned to the apartment doing the three a.m. donkey shuffle. Thanks for coming home, Clip Clop. I presume estrogen night was a success.”

It would seem the hitch in my giddy-up is readily apparent to a busybody feline. I take baby steps, still in disbelief that not fifteen minutes ago I was sprinting down the middle of a street, through the rain to Bestie’s car. The current state below my ankles is comatose; my feet are beyond the point of pain, they’ve long since checked out.

“It’s maybe quarter after two. Three a.m.? You exaggerate.” I groan, but strangely enough, it’s for celebration. I’ve spent hours in these shoes, I made it; I’m still alive.

Fat frowns with the familiar look of a parent that has denied themselves sleep in order to ensure their kin arrives home safe from a night out. I expect her to be in a housecoat and curlers with a glare like that.

“I’m rounding up, but it’s still late. I suppose it was more than just going out for dinner like you would have me believe. You should always call if you’re going to be late. It’s the courteous thing to do, boss.”

“Sure, yeah.” I stumble into the bedroom and collapse, face first, onto the mattress. I’m getting too old for late nights, but it was the birthday of one of my best gals, and it was delightful. Many of my favourite ladies breaking bread together, sharing some laughs. I snort, remembering Bestie’s face when the subject of vajazzles came up.

I try to kick off my shoes without turning over and sitting up, but the result of this decision is kicking my ankle, scuffing my shoes against each other and scraping my skin against the dark heels. I feel like a wind-up toy that keeps colliding with a wall – I imagine the feeling is more or less the same. My black pumps are fused to my feet like they’ve been melted to my soles with lava. Stupid swollen feet.

“Tut, tut.”

The fur of Fat’s tail drags across my shins. Because of the sound she makes, this action can only be interpreted as condescending. I lift my stomach off the duvet and roll over.

“You seem surprisingly alert, boss. Not wearing the askew eyeballs of one that is drunk and bumbling around.”

One of my feet stirs in its coma; it’s starting to register that it feels pain. I’m not sure which is preferable – numbness or agony. At least with agony you know it’s still alive. My knee pulls up to my chest and I reef on the shoe as hard as I can. That bastard stays put.

Fat jumps up beside me on the bed and watches me struggle as I try to free myself.

“Thought I’d keep it classy tonight and watch my intake.” I growl. “What is going on here? This kind of crap never happened to Cinderella.” I yell at my shoe, try to divorce it from my foot with more force then whine and huff in aggravation. I’m a prisoner to my footwear. How does this happen?

“I always pegged you as more of an ugly stepsister type anyways.”

I shoot Fat the dirtiest look I can muster.

“Kidding.” Fat smiles insincerely. “Seriously though, you might have to amputate.” She leans close enough to my leg that her whiskers touch my foot. She leans back quickly – they must smell terrible.

I give up on my right foot and lift my left foot. My arm muscles firm and a veritable war cry bursts from my lungs as I wrench the pump off my foot in a fluid motion. It frustrates me how much easier this shoe was to remove. I throw the shoe across the room and it lands in a pile of laundry beside the dresser. Okay. Half way there.

Fat laughs, “The best part about this is that there are flats in your purse, remember? You thought you were so smart bringing those along for when your feet tapped out for the evening.” Her laugh continues until it turns into a quiet wheeze.

“Of course I remember.” I talk over her raspy laughter. “I gave them to Bestie because her feet were crying.”

Fat instantly stops and she dons the face of genuine surprise. “Self-sacrifice, boss? This isn’t something I’ve marked on any of your personality charts.”

I stop grappling with my shoe and walk with one bare foot and one high-heeled foot to grab my purse from the hallway. I unzip it and flip the purse over to empty the contents onto the bed. The black flats, of course, are absent.

Fat takes a long time to blink. Her mouth hangs open, slightly-ajar as she looks at the wallet, lip gloss, compact, iPhone, small journal, pens and other purse crap.

“Nothing to say, Fat? That’s surprising.”

The feline gives her head a shake. It offends me that she’s so shocked at my capacity to put others first. If I weren’t so tired, I’d be making one hell of a scene – pulling tails, spouting verbal abuse, putting her in the toilet bowl and flushing, the whole nine.

“I guess there’s only one thing that comes to mind at the moment.”

I watch her green eyes remain on the items from my purse. She scans over everything as though she’s taking inventory.

“A single girl on the town should carry condoms in her purse.”

“I’m going to go to bed and pretend you didn’t just say that.”