A Different Kind of Breakfast
Double vodka and coke
Tapping my nails on the bar, one of them instantly snaps off. The bare nail now exposed, just sad traces of glue left clinging to it. Darren always says my acrylics look cheap, with football shirts and a beer belly being the only fashion statement he’s made recently, his style advice goes on ignored. I realise the girl behind the bar is purposely ignoring me, she’s a sad looking thing really, mousey brown hair and an outfit fitting for a librarian. In a thinly veiled attempt at getting her attention, I loudly clear my throat. She pretends not to hear. Every man in this place is looking at me and yet I have to go out of my way to get this virgin’s attention.
‘Excuse me, sweetheart,’ a saccharine smile etched on my face. She sidles over, head pointed to the ground. ‘I’ll have a double vodka and coke please.’ She stares back at me blankly.
‘Maam, its 9:30 in the morning.’
‘Fine and a bowl of cereal then,’ I sarcastically respond. Embarrassed, she pours my drink in silence, over compensating with the amount of vodka poured, I think I like this girl after all.
Sensing a pair of eyes boring into me, I turn round to trace their owner. Across the bar stands a man; flashy suit, orange tan and veneers that threaten to blind. I politely smile; he unfortunately mistakes my good manners as an invitation to come over. Briefcase in hand, he may as well have ‘wanker’ scrawled across his face.
‘Hi,’ he remarks. Tired of him already, I make no efforts to acknowledge his presence. His eyes travel down to my chest; the ogling eyes making me wish I hadn’t put quite so much padding in my bra this morning. ‘How are you?’
‘Good,’ I force myself to reply. He quickly turns his head, presumably to check he’s not being watched.
‘How about you let me buy you that drink?’ My early morning alcoholism apparently not a turn off.
‘No, thank you,’ I reply. He produces a £50 note from his pocket and slides it in my direction. Sexual propositions practically a part of my daily routine at this point.
‘You know, it really is a shame you won’t let me buy you that drink.’ He thumbs the note that so offensively rests on the bar top. I stand up straight, towering over him in my six inch stilettos.
‘Dear, the only real shame,’ I whisper delicately into his ear, ‘is that your mother decided against your abortion.’ Mouth hanging open, he goes to say something then thinks better of it, promptly putting the money back in his pocket and heading to the door.
My phone starts to buzz; I read the message on the screen. It’s Darren saying he’s almost here. I feel oddly calm, maybe it’s my inner confidence shining through... maybe it’s the double vodka. Either way, I feel ready for what’s to come. In he walks; I can tell he’s attempted to make an effort, a checked shirt presumably purchased at Primark and jeans that, for a change, don’t have any holes in them, just a noticeable ketchup stain right down the front.
‘Hi Sweetie,’ I say, kissing him on the cheek. I lean in to kiss him again on the lips but the gesture is not returned. Staring at me, I can see him trying to quash his annoyance.
‘What are you wearing?’ he blurts out, catching me off guard.
‘What? You told me to make an effort for your parents.’ I say, attempting to defend my dress and heels.
‘No, that’s not what I said. I said don’t come dressed as a tart and here you are looking like a bloody prostitute!’
‘A high class one though.’ I joke, trying to change the mood.
‘Look, my parents are already having a hard enough time dealing with this. You don’t need to rub it in their faces.’ I can feel myself turning red under the mask of makeup I so generously applied.
‘I guess I could go home if you want,’ I say, staring at the floor, ‘I could get changed.’
Darren realises he’s upset me. ‘No, no it’s fine. You look cracking, it’s just me, I’m just nervous that’s all.’ He takes my hand and guides me out of the bar, I grab him tightly.
The taxi ride is silent, with the driver seemingly preoccupied, staring at us both in the mirror. I catch his gaze; he just smiles back looking somewhat embarrassed. As we pull up outside of the restaurant; I spot the breakfast buffet through the windows. ‘Maybe you could just wait here for a moment.’ Darren says, staring at the floor of the taxi, a discarded ten pence piece resting there.
‘And why would I do that?’
‘Look, just please. I’ll just go in, say hi to them and then you can follow. Please.’
I shrug my shoulders. ‘Fine then, I’ll just wait outside like some scruffy little dog.’
Darren makes his way inside. As I stand on the pavement, a deafening wolf whistle is sounded in my direction from a passing car; the blaring sound recently becoming the accompanying soundtrack to my life. Deciding Darren has had long enough to prepare his parents, I saunter on in. I can hear the clicking of my shoes against the floor. Sat in the corner I spot them, a fairly unfortunate looking couple to say the least. Darren’s father is the spitting image of his son, with the exception of a greying moustache and a slightly more protruding stomach. His mother, oh my, a plump little thing whose mere presence makes you feel a bit sad. The kind of woman you presume has so little intimacy in her life she classes visiting the gyno as a date.
‘Mr and Mrs Lloyd it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you both.’ I stretch out my hand for them to shake, ‘And can I say you both look lovely.’ A bold red lipstick and an ability to lie being a must have for any social occasion.
‘Mum, Dad,’ Darren chimes in ‘This is...’
‘Oh,’ Darren’s father awkwardly laughs, ‘I’m sure we can guess who this is.’ Unsure how to take that comment, I take a seat instead. Everyone shovels food into their mouths, grateful for the opportunity not to have to speak. I watch as Darren’s fathers eyes move up and down me, finally resting on my neck and staring intently.
‘So,’ I say, desperate to abate the hideousness that is this breakfast. ‘What is it you both do?’ They desperately look at one another, hoping the other will answer first, as the silence grows increasingly more uncomfortable Darren’s mother ends it.
‘Well, we’re both retired now, so not a great deal really. And what about you? Do you work?’
I pause for a moment, contemplating how to answer this. ‘I did yes, I worked as a nurse for many years but due to recent changes in my personal life they decided it was best to let me go.’ His parents don’t let their intrigue get the better of them. Both politely nodding but showing this is as much as they are willing to hear.
The four of us exit the restaurant, leaving behind half eaten croissants and prying eyes. We stand there awkwardly unsure how to act. I take the lead and grab Darren’s mother’s hand. It seems so tiny compared to mine as I cup it, delicately.
‘It was lovely to finally meet you.’ She smiles at me, the same fake smile that I too have mastered, so perfectly, over the years. We exchange pleasantries and move like puppets, social expectations being our guiding puppeteer. Darren’s father bobs his head at me.
‘Well it’s been good meeting you. In all honesty I’ve never met one before.’
‘He means we’ve never met any of Darren’s previous partners before.’ Darren’s mother interjects. I choose to dismiss the comment and promptly hail a taxi.
Later that night we start getting ready for bed. I take off my makeup, the wipes transitioning from white to a combination of peach and black. I observe my reflection, the strong jaw line and crooked nose. Rifling through my wardrobe I finally find an outfit to wear for the next day’s job interview. Darren walks in and sees the clothes on the bed.
‘Looks like a good choice.’
‘Looks like bull shit if you ask me.’ I can’t hide my resentment, I blame it on the clothes but I know my anger rests with the situation. The grey pants and blazer, a hideously dull shirt and tie. Darren puts his arms around me to cheer me up.
‘Let’s go to bed, ay? Big day tomorrow.’ We get in bed, his warm body cuddling into mine.
‘Good night Darren.’ I say kissing the nape of his neck.
‘Good night Martin,’ he delicately replies.
Olivia Smith is an aspiring writer in her final year at Salford University, studying English and creative writing. English has been a passion of hers since a very young age and she aspires to be a published writer.