Vignette:Elephant in the Room

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Elephant in the Room

110 Rue de l'Église, Cammur, Republic of Chezzetcook
October 3rd, 2020

hen Luc wakes up, he’s greeted by a ceiling that’s not his. When he shifts around in bed, he kicks off a stray pillow that’s not his. When he shoots up and out of the bed to inspect his surroundings, he comes to the realization that this apartment is not his, and that he has a headache that could rival blunt force trauma with a sledgehammer.

His feet drag along the floor as he opens the bedroom door; he’s immediately showered by the morning sun shining directly into his weary eyes and the cold autumn wind blowing onto bare skin. Retreating into the shadows, he takes the time to regain his bearings. Nobody looks to be home, and whoever calls this place home is most definitely a neat freak. There’s a bookshelf on the opposite side of the room chock full of neatly arranged books, and the couch in front of him has a neatly folded blanket draped over it.

A shrill shriek from beside him makes him jump. “You’re up already!?”

“Jesus. My head’s pounding. What’s made you so sc-”

She’s in a bathrobe. Her hair is drenched.

“Sweet mother of-”

“Just close your eyes and let me get dressed, damnit!”

“Just tell me when you’re finished. Christ, my head…”

In the mind-numbingly painful darkness of his closed eyes, he can hear panicked footsteps scamper off behind him and into their room before the sound of a door being slammed shut makes his body jump, his ears ring, his heart race, and his head pound. His eyelids won’t budge, lest his eyes are hit by a barrage of blades of sunlight.

“What are you doing?” It’s the second time she’s asked him this question. “You can open your eyes now.”

“Don’t tell anyone I’m awful when I’m drunk.” He remembers stumbling out of the bar with his shattered pride, but he can only imagine whatever happened next. At the moment, he’s imagining that he’d gone around Cammur crying his eyes out in the middle of the night before being knocked out by Colette with an empty beer bottle.

When he eventually turns around, she’s in an oversized shirt glazed a light yellow by the sunlight and boring beige dollar store slippers. She wears glasses he’s never seen before at work. Her hair’s still drenched.

“This is how I dress at home. Happy?” There’s a tone of embarrassment in her voice. Nobody was meant to see this side of her, obviously. “Go grab a water bottle and get out. Stay hydrated, you have a hangover.”

“I can tell.” He groans in muted agony as he schleps himself to the kitchen and opens the fridge. To his surprise, there are no water bottles inside; instead, there are plenty of energy drinks, microwaveable food, and a scant amount of actual organic food. “Where’s the water?”

“On the counter.” Before he can throw an insult at her, the sound of a hairdryer fills the room with its ear-piercing whirr.

The water bottles placed neatly next to the rice cooker are easy to spot. As he cracks it open and chugs the contents down, he takes one last look at her quaint apartment. There’s plenty of flora lined up against the window; enough to call it a minuscule forest. The atmosphere soothes the throbbing sensation in his head, and Saturday’s lack of traffic is a blessing.

Clutching the empty bottle, he slips into his shoes at the door when Colette appears behind him, ready to kick him out as soon as possible.

“Can we just, uh…” He’s having trouble finding the words to say. “Can we forget about last night?”

“What makes you think I want to remember last night?” She manages to wrestle the bottle out of his hands, again. “I’ll throw this in the bin.”

He’s missing his tie, but it doesn’t matter; the embarrassment is getting to him, and he wants out. He can safely assume Colette wants the same. Slipping on his blazer, he’s one foot out the door before he stops himself for one last time.

“Colette?” He looks back at her.

“Yes?” She’s glowing a vibrant red-orange; the sunlight behind her must be playing tricks on his mind.

“You need better food in your fridge.”

He doesn’t notice the blush on her face as he shuts the door.

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