Last Valentine’s Day

“Fuck me…” Lakshmi groaned, rolling over to avoid the sickening neon red glow of her window. Sunlight. Morning. Early or late? She groped around blindly in her bed until her fingers touched something cold and hard. A quick glance at her phone told her that, on any other morning, she would have another 45 minutes of peaceful, undisturbed dreams of the Canadian Sex God. But today, she was late.

“Red in the morning…” she muttered to herself as she mechanically rose from her twisted linen cocoon.  “Is it sailor’s warning? Or shepherds? Why didn’t those professions just check whatever forecast the rest of the village used? I mean, they might not have had smartphones to tell them to grab an umbrella in the morning, but the rest of the town probably didn’t just stand there gawking at rain and lightning with their mouths agape. Or did they…”

She glanced in the mirror at the product of 15 minutes on autopilot, narrated by the soothing sounds of her shower brain thoughts. Washed, dressed, coiffed, and all with 5 minutes to spare.

“Then again…” she said to her reflection, evening her eyeliner with a practiced smudge of her finger, “this was when lipstick was considered witchcraft because it could seduce men. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit.” She blotted her red pout on a little square of paper, leaving a perfect little O.

“Thankfully, we’ve evolved.” She shot herself a smirk and a wink in the mirror as she got up to leave. Thanks to her phone’s dutiful warning, she grabbed her gloves, earmuffs, scarf, and a ski mask on her way out the door of apartment 1413, hearing the door click locked behind her.

‘She’s always early, you have to beat her there,’ Kali thought to herself. Her phone buzzed another angry reminder that she had breakfast with Lakshmi now. She checked her hair in the hallway mirror and tried to rub last night’s mascara into a fashionably grungy look. Her clock was telling her she had exactly 10 minutes to run to Fran’s, meaning she had woken up at 6:45, approximately 5 minutes ago, and she had enjoyed exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes of sleep. Why did she do this to herself? She ran past a group of impossibly peppy and awake tourists taking pictures of the flatiron building, who seemed blissfully ignorant of the fact that this was not New York, and she prayed that her towering heels wouldn’t give out under her while she was in front of that many people armed with cameras.

‘Wait, I don’t own any thigh high boots….not since The Incident,’ she realized as she ran through the park, sidestepping a cockapoodle and jumping over a french bulldog. She prayed the costume wrangler hadn’t cheaped out on footwear again, because she was not looking forward to a repeat of The Incident. A glance at her watch confirmed that she was actually early; a whole 120 seconds early to be exact. Sauntering through the door like a towering, grungy goddess, she could only enjoy her elation for a few seconds. She felt a sudden sinking feeling when she saw Lakshmi wave at her from a booth, sipping her god damned espresso. But it wasn’t just the feeling you get when your crush sees you looking like a Twilight fangirl the morning after The Vampire Lestat made sweet, angry, immortal love to you. It was at that exact moment that her heels chose to buckle. Lakshmi’s eyes lit up in horror and, Kali suspected, a little bit of glee as Kali crumpled into a heap of long limbs and clouds of black glitter.

 

“You’re what?” James asked into the phone receiver. He scribbled a note on a sticky pad and added it to a colourful cloud of paper on the wall. Lakshmi running late? Inconceivable.

“So what if Kali broke her shoe, why are you late? And you know it’s not actually called being late until after the time passes, right? You don’t need to call in almost not early….” The sound of frantic heels clicking on tile halted James mid-sentence. Lakshmi was hobbling away from the stairs wearing 5″ pumps.

“Girl, if you wanted to put the fear back into fierce, you did it. Why are you wearing fuck me heels TO work? I thought you just brought them for when the Sex God shows up? Is he visiting today?” He glanced at his reflection in his computer screen and patted his hair in place.

“James, don’t be a catty gay. You’re bad at it,” Lakshmi huffed, throwing herself at her chair and kicking off her shoes. She reached desperately into her desk drawer for her back-up back-up shoes which were, mercifully, flats.

“The elevator is broken, I gave my shoes to Kali for her trip to the hospital, these were the only other shoes I had with me, and it’s fucking February in Toronto so I couldn’t go barefoot. So yes, I had to wear these up 16 flights of stairs because the elevator is broken.  And no, thankfully the Canadian Sex God is not stopping by today. Also,” she stood up, now only a petite 5 feet 2 inches compared to her previous, statistically average 5’7″ with the heels, and put her hands on her hips defiantly. “Sex and the City called, and it doesn’t want its stereotypical gay male trope back, because even in 1998 it was old.”

“Fine, I guess I’ll continue to re-establish myself as the hetero friendly black gay man in my position as head sports writer. Tell me, how does it feel to be a lower level gossip monger at Toronto’s premier excuse for daily news?” James wheeled his chair over to where she was standing and held out his pen like a microphone.

“Shut up, Queen James,” Lakshmi retorted lamely, pushing his chair back to his desk. She sat down at her own and looked up to her pitch board where a neon pink sticky note reading “Tardy” was nestled in between a picture of a Kardashian baby bump and a Bieber breakdown. She furiously ripped it off and crumpled it into a ball before throwing it towards the trash. It fell, pathetically, more than a foot short. She could hear James snickering as she put on her headphones and started writing “The Daily Dish” for the next 5 days. The clock ticked its way towards 8:59am.

 

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A Tale of One City

Toronto is a city much like any other. Metropolitan, full of culture and diversity and the ability to find every kind of ethnic food you could possibly desire. In any city in the world, you can find a bunch of aimless 20 year olds trying to figure it out, make it work, and have it all. In any city in the world, you can find a bunch of 30 year olds figuring it out, making it work, and realizing they can’t have it all. This tale is about a bunch of millennials who have figured out that they can probably make it work because what they have is nothing.

If you don’t know Toronto very well, paint a picture in your mind. Draw a yellow U. Now draw a green line across the middle of that U. When you’re young and broke beyond imagining, Toronto doesn’t exist outside of those borders. If you wonder why, you’ve never been 25 and tried to make ends meet while paying off your student loans, eating more than one meal a day, and maintaining basic hygiene all at the same time. Cars and their parking spots are luxuries that only the lucky few can afford. For the rest, they ride the red rocket.

Another little thing about Toronto: its nicer than it seems, and darker than it looks. Canadians say please and thank you. They say excuse me, even if you bump into them. And they’ll cut a bitch without a second thought. Don’t underestimate Canadians. If this story has a moral, that’s it. Don’t. Underestimate. Fucking. Canucks.

This story will come out in weekly chunks. Look for a new chunk of story every Tuesday.