Wednesday came so quickly, it surprised me. Please enjoy the fifth part of this ongoing original flash fiction story of mine! In this chapter, a story reaches its end, and our heartbroken hero finds himself surrounded by many friends.
You can find the previous parts via the Wednesday Briefs tag.
Washed Right Out, Chapter Five. Prompts used: I thought I knew you..., yummy buns.
He sighed and called his Jojo...
"And that was that." Riley shrugged.
Sonia gripped the armrest of his chair so hard her manicure left crescent-shaped indents in the leather. "That is certainly not that. You're not even going to tell us how the phone call went? After making us sit through every other minute detail?"
"Well, I mean, isn't it obvious? We broke up."
"We're not getting details, are we?"
"Nope." Riley made a 'zipped lips' motion. "That's the story as it's fit to print. No further details necessary."
He didn't add that many heated words had been exchanged between him and Jonathan, along with cliche lines like "I thought I knew you" and "it's not you, it's me", that it had taken him several days just to get over that phone call, that it had taken more strength than he’d thought possible just to walk through the Les Belles Vagues Boutique's doors as though nothing had gone wrong in his life, as if he wasn't constantly stepping over the rubble of his destroyed love life.
"Now, please," he continued, "treat my curls before they become lifeless tangled leaves on my head? I lapsed in my hair care regimen, and I think my co-workers are giving me the side-eye when they think I can't see them."
Samantha sighed. "All right. Close your eyes and think happy thoughts. Think about yummy buns or something." A spray bottle of product was already in her hand.
Riley closed his eyes and felt her begin to lightly mist his head. "So, there you have it. I'm single and gloomy, and on top of everything else, my favorite local IPA stopped being sold by the individual bottle, so I've been unwillingly dry for the last five days."
Even without looking, he could tell that Sonia was shooting him a sarcastic look. "Yes, dear, the end of an extended romantic relationship is definitely comparable to not being able to buy a kind of beer by the bottle."
"Well, it kind of is!" Riley would have made a passionate argument about how the relationship between a man and his particular brew is a sacred and personal one, but he didn't have the steam for it.
"Beer aside," Samantha said, "how have you been treating yourself this past week? Other than the hair, of course. A proper self-care regimen is very important after a break-up like this."
"I... I really haven't had much time for 'self-care', really. I've been really busy this week."
Someone clucked their tongue sharply. He couldn't tell if it was Samantha or Sonia, to be honest. The step-sisters spent so much time together than even their favored methods of indicating exasperation sounded the same.
Samantha spoke up again. "What exactly is keeping you so busy?"
"My job, naturally. And restoring what was deleted on my DVR. Oh, and changing the locks on my apartment. But mainly work. Magazine layouts don't make themselves."
Gladly, neither Samantha nor Sonia commented on the kind of magazine layouts he worked on. They both knew, but they chose not to discuss it. Mainly because it embarrassed Riley that it was the only job he could get out of college.
For a moment, he sat in silence as Samantha ran a comb through his hair. He even actually thought about yummy buns, the sweet pancakes he used to eat when he lived near the city's Asian supermarket. He’d always wanted to take Jonathan there, but there was always an excuse for why they couldn't go downtown just then. With Jonathan, there were just excuses. Now there was no more Jonathan, and no one else to fill the gap.
He felt someone's hand come down on his shoulder, and opened his eyes to see Sonia looking back at him. Her eyes were unusually soft.
"If you need anything at all, don't be too shy to ask."
Riley blushed. "I'm fine, really."
She pursed her lips. "Fair enough, darling. But we've known each other for over five years now. You're not only one of my star clients, you’re also a good friend of mine. You have my number if you think of anything."
"And mine," Samantha added. Her platinum blonde locks swayed as she punctuated her words with the wave of her comb. "Me and Karen, of course!"
"How about a free haircut?"
Sam stuck out her tongue, looking a lot like Karen in that moment. "Not on your life!"
The bell above the front door tinkled, and a pair of young women carrying shopping bags came in. Sonia switched back into work mode. "Excuse me, lovelies, but business knocks." She walked towards her new set of clients as if she was showcasing her suit on a Paris runway.
"Are you doing anything this weekend?"
Riley blinked dumbly at his friend. "Not really."
"Okay, cool. Me and Karen will be at your apartment Friday after work to kidnap you. Be right back with your receipt for the session."
"Uh, sure... wait, what?"
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