“What is this?” Zoe says with her eyes closed, laid flat on her back.
“Cortex. Mind of Darkness.” Tia responds. “What, you don’t like it?”
No response from Zoe. Tia stops the song, puts on an album by The Strokes, and returns to the Tia on the other side of the mirror who scrupulously applies a thick, black circle of eyeliner around her eyes.
“I’m gonna need some light. You mind opening the curtain a little?”
Zoe sluggishly raises her torso and draws the peacock-blue curtains, then lets out an extensive sigh.
“You better get up now anyway,” Tia continues. “Rakim is almost here.”
Zoe grunts, then says, “Do you have any cigarettes left? And water. Is there any water in here?”
“On the desk.”
The bedroom they’re in is humid and untidy. The unmade bed remains buried in one corner while a pool of garments lay expressionless on the floor. Wardrobe doors flung open. Hollow crisp packets posing languidly beside a gravid ashtray.
Bar a light-green pair of underwear, Zoe is completely naked. She hangs her slender forearms outside the window while toking on her cigarette. Peering down at her small breasts, she contemplates their very slight difference in size (or shape – she’s unsure which).
“It’s pretty hot today.” Zoe says in a vaguely more enthused tone. “What shoes are you going to wear?”
“Probably just my black ‘n’ white Converse,” Tia says. Zoe assesses the rest of Tia’s outfit – a loose, khaki blouse and cream shorts.
Twenty minutes or so later, Rakim pulls up outside and the girls get inside his car.
“Could we get breakfast first before we go?” Zoe says from the backseat.
“Is she hungover?” Rakim says to Tia in jest. Tia laughs, nodding her head.
A steady breeze brushes across the three’s faces as the car cruises down the main road. Once they reach a red light, the three glare vacantly at the transient happenings in front of them. An oldish man walks a Jack Russell Terrier and gnaws at a cereal bar. A bored-looking teen scrolls through his mobile at the bus stop. An older woman beside him plucks at the lint on her navy skirt.
“Zo’, do you have enough leg room? I’m gonna pull my seat back.” says Tia.
Zoe sinks deeper into her seat and groans silently.
“Where d’you wanna go?” Rakim asks. The girls agree on McDonald’s.
“The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast,” Rakim says with a smile, quoting Pulp Fiction with his eyes fixed on the road before him. “What did you guys get up to last night anyway, and how come I wasn’t I invited?”
“Zo’ was a little upset,” Tia begins. “So I told her to come ’round for the night. And of course, being Zoe, she turns up with just the clothes on her back, a crate of beer and cigarettes.”
Rakim lets out a small laugh. “I see. Everything all good now though, Zo’?”
“No.” replies Zoe. Her head tilted back, she feels for the packet of cigarettes beside her.
“She’s fine. She was just a little upset about her ex.”
“Are you crazy?” Zoe interjects nonchalantly.
“Ohhhhh, so that’s the problem,” Rakim says teasingly. “I saw that photo she uploaded last night. She was all over that dude.” he continues, peeking at Zoe through the rear-view mirror. Tia giggles.
“No, no.” Zoe mutters, lighting the cigarette between her lips. “It had nothing to do with that.”
Tia says, “Right, sure, we believe you, Zo’. But really, do you actually think she’s into that guy?”
“His name’s Ryan, and who the hell cares if she is?” Zoe says almost under her breath.
“Evidently you do.” Rakim adds. “I thought she was pure dyke.”
Hmm, me too, Tia says.
“I know, right. What a crazy bitch – boys are lousy. No good.” Zoe says, looking at Rakim.
Once Tia and Zoe order their breakfast from the drive-thru, Rakim edges the aux-cable towards Tia. She puts on Mind of Darkness by Cortex.
Dabbing her mouth with a serviette, Zoe says, “Not this trash again.”
The sun beams down while birds glide coolly across the canvas of blue sky overhead. Zoe confesses to the two that she’s feeling significantly better already. She looks up at the few clouds without a word for a while as Tia and Rakim discuss punk-rock albums.
“Say, Rakim, do you mind putting the roof back up?” Zoe says eventually.
“What’s the use in having a convertible if I’m going to have the roof up on nice days like this, Zoe?” Rakim responds, pushing the button which summons the roof back up.