The subway went express unexpectedly, and Erica ended up much farther south than she had intended. On the platform there was an old woman selling cold churros from a rusty shopping cart lined in clear tarp, but by then a mild depression had come over Erica and she said to herself that she did not want a cold stale subway churro. The loudspeaker announced that an uptown local was seven stops away, and Erica gave up and walked home.
At least it wasn’t raining. Down by NYU Erica noted all the girls who were terribly shabbily dressed and still looked adorable because they were young. Nobody criticized their clothes that didn’t fit quite right.
Her phone rang, and as she pulled it out of her purse it caught on something and nearly fell out of her hands. She fumbled with it majestically like a football player catching a Hail Mary, and although the phone still hit the ground it did so from only a few inches up, so a new ding on the case was the only damage. Less flattering was how ridiculous she felt entertaining all the kids on Seventh Avenue with her circus-like juggling antics.
“Hello?” she answered, not stopping to see who it was first.
“Grrrgmablble,” the phone answered back.
Erica covered one of her ears and pressed the phone hard against the other, in case the problem was with her hearing. She explained to whoever was on the line that she couldn’t hear them, apologizing as though her phone’s failures were really her own.
“Erica, it’s Mami,” the voice said clearly.
“Where are you?” Erica relaxed her grip on both the phone and her ear.
“I’m at home, what do you think?”
“I couldn’t hear you. It sounded like you were in a tunnel or basement or something.”
“No, I’m on my own couch. Brbrlemgrl.”
Erica took her phone away from her face and looked at it for a moment, puzzled with the strange sounds it transmitted. “What?”
“I’m eating pizza. Hrrmblrger.”
At times like this Erica could feel her rage boil up from the bottom of her stomach and churn through her whole body, a roiling magma of frustration that couldn’t find an escape vent. Unable or unwilling to throw her phone into oncoming traffic, Erica let her hand drop to her side and looked up at the sky and took a deep, deep breath.
Then she whipped her phone back up to her ear. “Why would you call me and then shove a slice of pizza in your mouth?”
“Finish eating, then call me!” She hung up, and then said to nobody and to everyone, “Damn!” Her hair fell into her face and she blew it away. The thing is, she knew the haircut wasn’t right. It’s not supposed to fall in your face all the damned time. Out of style, too. Julie stopped cutting it this way a long time ago.