A red beret… my hair would never fit under one of them. Greta, focus, girl. You have a deadline to meet.
One of my frizzy curls tickles my neck. I let out a breath, taking off the hair tie around my wrist, and wrangle the auburn beast I call my hair. I do the best I can before I leave the bundled mess to the curly hair gods.
Okay, back to work…Oh my god. I stare at my pasty arms; I look like a ghost. No one was going to tell me that I needed to make a tanning appointment? I wouldn’t be complaining if I was blessed with the green eyes that apparently run on my dad’s side. Red hair, alabaster skin, and green eyes just smack, but substitute the green eyes for brown… yeah, not so much.
Focus better! You have rent coming up.
That does the trick. I readjust myself and my tablet in my favorite chair, trying to force myself to draw a red beret. Maybe if I put my knees up. No. Oh, I can try a new filter. Who am I kidding? I hate that filter.
Yeah, this isn’t happening.
I peer over to the only other person in the room, “Timmy, I just can’t do it.”
He lets out an exasperated sigh as I watch his blue eyes roll for the twentieth time today, which I’m proud of, but it’s not enough to make him look up from his computer. I’m not used to being ignored, well, not by him anyway.
“I told you not to call me Timmy. Only my mom and grandma get to call me that.”
It’s my turn to roll my eyes, “I’ve known you almost as long as they have. Why am I being stripped from my family privileges?”
“Because you never had those privileges since you’re not a part of my family.”
“Right… We shared baths together, for god sake.”
“We were one-year-olds,” he scoffs.
“Correction, I was one you were one and a half, you perv.”
He glances at me and chuckles, which puts me in a better mood than I was seconds ago.
I continue, “I’m also the person that found your first porn stash. Um, and I helped you land that date with the hot chick in the eighth grade, Sadie—”
He hitches his brow, “Her name was Kathy.”
I shrug, “Tomato, tomahto.”
“Tomato is correct, and the other is wrong.”
“Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m basically your sister. So family privileges are mine by right.”
He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell by the forced grin that doesn’t reach his almond-shaped eyes, I said something wrong. He retreats back to his computer screen before I can figure out what the problem is.
Involuntarily, the memory of us in his dad’s car flashes to the forefront of my mind. God, we were so young. It’s funny how being thirty looking back at your eighteen-year-old self feels like a million years ago. Besides, it was him that ended things before anything could really begin.
I shake the thought away.
I mean, he was right. My personality and his would’ve never worked out. I’m sometimes shocked we’re able to work together without any issues. Well, most of the time.
“Okay, Timothy, I can’t draw the red beret.”
I have his full attention this time. He looks like he could murder me, and I can barely stifle my giggle.
“Why?” he seriously asks.
I shrug, “Why would I?”
“What do you mean, Gertrude? Draw the damn hat as you’ve always drawn it.”
“First of all, I will kill you and leave your body for the vultures if you call me by my government name ever again.” I can tell he’s fighting it, but an amused smirk flits across his expression. “Anyway, that’s the problem. The beret idea is tired. We need to reinvent our heroine.”
His elbows meet his desk as his hands go straight for his sandy blonde hair. If I’m not careful…oh, never mind, there’s the clenched jaw.
His face relaxes, “Gertie—” He doesn’t miss my death glare. “Greta isn’t even a nickname for people named Gertrude.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Yes, because I say so.”
“Good talk, Greta. Now please draw the stupid hat.”
I shake my head, “She doesn’t feel like a hat person anymore.”
“You’re the one that sold me on the hat.”
“She gets her magical powers from the fucking hat, and the whole comic is based on her magical powers.”
I squint my eyes, “I think I might see the issue you’re referring to, but we can fix it and get rid of the beret.”
Timothy’s eyes widen as he jumps out of his seat, “We would have to rewrite the whole script, and then some.”
“What are you two squabbling about now?”
I turn towards the door to find Valerie at its threshold, staring lovingly at Timothy. God, I wish I had her legs. They just go on forever. I guess they would with her being a runway model’s height, with a lingerie model’s body to boot. I watch as she brushes her golden locks from her shoulder, turning her sight and million-watt smile onto me. I feel my cheeks heat under her gaze, making me retreat to my tablet.
I start doodling, “Hey Val, I’m just about to give your man a heart attack. Do you wanna watch?”
She walks into the room towards Timothy, “Hell yeah, I wanna watch.”
I feel it’s safe; I look up to find them kissing. I’m so happy for Val and Tim. They’re such a cute couple. A little too reminiscent of Barbie and Ken, societally speaking, but adorable all the same. Amid their kiss, Timothy’s eyes meet mine, and I realize I’m staring at them like a weirdo. My cheeks burn, and I look away for a second time.
“So, how is our little fire princess burning your hide today?” Valerie playfully asks, walking to the middle of the room.
“Greta wants to get rid of the beret.”
I wince upward to find Valerie looking farther down than where my face would be. I snap my head downward to find two vital buttons of my peasant top are undone.
I hurry to fix it, peering up at her, “I’m so sorry.”
“No bigs. I mean, they’re pretty big,” Val says with a playful grin.
“I’m not breaking any records with a C cup.”
Reflexively, I peek at her breasts that are bigger than mine. Yeah, I just did that, and there was no way she didn’t notice. Today is just going to end up a red-faced lobster day, I guess.
I bow my head and continue to fiddle with my shirt, “Anyway, you know this is one of my favorite shirts to draw in. It’s just so comfortable, but I should wear a bra when in mixed company—”
Val cuts in, “Take a breath, Greta. It’s really not a problem. I know you weren’t trying to steal Tim from me or anything. You’re just a gypsy at heart.” She pivots, facing Timothy, “The real question is why Tim didn’t let you know your girls were showing.”
I didn’t even think about how long I might have been exposed. I look past Val to find Tim seated back at his desk.
His face is unreadable, “Don’t look at me. With the news Greta just dropped in my lap, she could’ve been in a Yellow Bird suit, and I wouldn’t have noticed.”
I could be offended, but that does sound like Tim. I’m just happy Val is being so cool. Some girlfriends would kill for less. I watch as Val and Tim exchange what I assume is a knowing glance. What’s known is lost on me, though.
Val turns her attention back on me, “Back to business. You have to draw the red beret.” I whine before dramatically slumping into my chair as she continues, “At least until we get through the material that’s already formatted. Then we can reassess the character. Deal?”
I look over at Tim to find him deep in thought. My friend-senses are tingling. Something is wrong. That’s the same look he had when we had a legal battle over our intellectual property. He would’ve told me if something like that happened again, right?
I watch as Val goes to sit in his lap, brightening his mood.
The case happened before Val came to join our little crew of two. Maybe he wouldn’t tell me now that he’s with Valerie. The thought stings a little, but I understand.
“I’ve thought about it really hard, and I believe I can muster the will to draw the red beret.” Tim rolls his eyes while Val giggles. “But you guys would tell me if we were in financial trouble, right?”
My nerves fray a bit as they share another look.