Claire Andrews had a lot of hair...she had a lot of hair and she often hid behind it.
It’s just who she is and always will be, a girl in the shadow of something. But it wasn’t so bad. No one really questioned it and she never had to bring it up.
Thankfully high school—that awkward time people thought she was a deaf-mute, was over. Although, she enjoyed not being the center of attention.
She left home and never looked back. Her father wouldn’t want that to her. He said living in a small town with big dreams was a complete impossibility. She had no choice. Her mother, well, that’s an entirely different story altogether.
She and Claire have never seen eye to eye. She always thought her daughter was wasting her time chasing something that wasn’t in the cards. How can she know that? Claire will never explain her judgemental behavior, not even a therapist can.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped out of her studio apartment, which she could barely afford as is, and took the express train to the nearest college in the city.
She needed a job, a real one. She had one to pay the bills but she was reaching her breaking point with it. It’s been lackluster and run its course. She deserved something better, like every struggling artist.
The San Francisco Bay was particularly crisp this morning, she made sure to bundle my coat before trotting outside. The trains today were virtually empty and she was grateful.
She realized she needed to find a job soon or her struggles were only going to consume her. Pushing her deep brown bangs out of her eyes, she checked her phone to see if the recording studio had been open today. It was, but, alas, she couldn’t go.
She’d been trying to save some extra money to afford an hour recording session to make her first demo. She liked to think of it as layaway, one day she’ll get her time in there like it was supposed to be. It might be a long shot until she could finally get there, living from paycheck to paycheck, but anything’s possible.
Claire exited at the downtown exit near the university and walked over to the student café and bistro that was normally packed, but like the trains, it was fairly quiet. It felt more like a library. A big score for her.
The usual baristas were serving the patrons. They knew her by name, and she was grateful for that. She absolutely loved coming here, it made looking for a job less stressful. Definitely more personal.
Sometimes the occasional handsome guy breezed inside, ordering a simple black coffee while reading the daily news. But then the bronze band on his ring finger revealed all Claire needed to know. It didn’t always happen but she kept seeing the best looking, most stable looking men already taken. Just her luck.
Why is she still stuck on this? Probably because she knew it was never going to happen for her. In all her 27 years, and she knew her fate in her non-existent love life. You pass a certain age where it’s inevitable.
After ordering a blueberry tea latte and the paper, Claire took her usual seat near the corner of the place. It always smelled so nice here. It distracted her and she often let it. A couple of laptops were open, nothing much, the decor was welcoming and warm.
She sipped her hot drink and dove inside the section from the very massively bound Sunday paper. This felt like homework that she was forced to do. She’d rather be somewhere else, doing anything else. Maybe in some far-off reality, truly happy with the love of her life. She shook her head, finding it ridiculous.
She grabbed a marker and circled some prospects, taking her phone to bookmark all the numbers and websites attached to each opportunity. None of them were particularly thrilling, but they were jobs, they weren’t supposed to be.
If she could get a paid internship somewhere involving music, that’d be ideal. First things first, something to get by on so she’ll survive. That’s all she’d been doing lately.
Claire’s head turned as a couple just walked in, hand-in-hand. They looked like they had a lazy morning, laying in each other’s arms, deciding to get their caffeine fix. He didn’t tear his eyes away from her and Claire didn’t blame him, she was beautiful. She was Princess Aurora come to life. Perfect golden hair, wide blue-green eyes, full lips, makeup on point, skin clear as the Maldivian waters.
Of course, she had someone. The guy was an All-American blond, same eyes only bluer, like midnight blue. Strong hands and broad shoulders. Stocky and athletic, probably from playing soccer or football. But more than likely he is a swimmer, most blond guys swam or surfed around this town.
He bent down to reach her petite frame, kissing her briefly before they grabbed their drinks and sat opposite Claire. She stopped staring when she realized she had been. She hoped they didn’t catch her, she can be quite nosy. Sighing, she turned her attention back to the homework in front of her.
She drank a long sip from her latte and checked the time. She definitely didn’t want to stay too long.
There wasn’t much to check here, she did most of the skimming and took down all the appropriate places that worked in her radius.
Finishing her drink, she closed the jobs section of the paper. She didn’t see any point in keeping the section. Standing up she placed the paper onto the tiny kiosk counter where all the sugars and milk were. She didn’t want to lug around the newspaper when she had a full day ahead of her.
She threw away her to-go cup and grabbed some napkins before leaving.
Claire made it outside near the meters before she realized she forgot her phone. Rolling her eyes, she turned around and found it sitting on the table she was on. Breathing a sigh of relief, she walked over and grabbed the device. She placed it back inside her purse and blew out a breath before making it back outside.
She found the crosswalk and waited for the signal. Bored from waiting, she fished out her phone and checked her emails, her anxiety mounting.
First, she heard sounds, then she saw feet moving and joined the crowd walking across the long crosswalk.
She paused suddenly when her eyes expanded on one peculiarly sent email.
Benjamin and Shirley,
Proudly invite you to our wedding for memories and timeless love shared with close friends and family.
Date: September 21
Mutual friends, that was the bane of her Facebook interaction. Time to cut off all social media completely.
She scoffed, “As if I need more reminders that my life sucks.”
She shook when she heard someone shouting her way.
“Look out!” Was the last thing she heard before she blacked out.