Leslie rushed to the microwave to press the off button before the popcorn burned. She knew exactly how long to leave the popcorn bag in; she never liked using the popcorn button. Leslie had the bowl ready, and she gently tossed the buttery, puffy kernels into the bowl; she enjoyed the blinking noise it made.
Doubling back to the fridge, she grabbed a soda and her favorite chocolate mint candy. Her friend thought it was weird that she would refrigerate her chocolate before eating, but she liked eating it that way. Leslie headed to the small living room when she realized she forgot something.
Sauntering down the hallway to her bedroom, with the popcorn bowl in one hand, the soda in the other, and the chocolate candy box under her armpit, she searched for Ms. Prissy Foot. Her fluffy Persian cat usually napped on her bed.
“Ms. Prissy? It’s time for some Shadow and Bone. Where are you?” Leslie said as she placed her bowl, soda, and candy on her corner desk.
Leslie got down on her hands and knees and crawled under her desk to look. Sometimes Ms. Prissy, whenever she was in a mood, would hide under her desk. A knock at the front door caused Leslie to smack her head onto the top of her desk. With a few curses spat out, she left the room to check who it was.
Peering through the peephole, Leslie groaned. She unlatched the slide lock and opened the door reluctantly. Derek, her neighbor, strolled in with a few flashy tops in tow. He gave her a wink, and she realized that he was getting ready to go out on one of his, what he liked to call his Friday night “sexcapades.” He had on his full makeup, and his hair was sprayed stiff. Derek started posing with his tops.
“What do you think, Lez?” He brought up to his neck a purple, shimmering top.
“It’s nice,” Leslie said.
“Oh, come on! Right now, I don’t need quiet, broody Leslie. What I need is tigress Lez, who has animal charisma and can tell me which top will get me laid!” Derek said as he slumped his shoulders.
“Derek, how long have you known me? Three, maybe four years now? When have I ever possessed ‘animal charisma’?” Leslie said, rolling her eyes.
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re as much fun as a sloth. But I need you – now.” Derek said, his mauve lips pulled into a smirk.
“Sloths are cute.”
“Focus! Focus! How about this one?” Derek held a white and black top with sequins on the sleeves.
Leslie peered at the top. I better pick something cause he’s not going to go away if I don’t.
“I like the black and white one, and I think it will go well with those black jeans you have with the silver patches,” Leslie said
“Oh my God! You’re right! I haven’t worn those in a while, but they will go together. I just have to look for them. Thank you, Lez! You should come with us!” Derek said as he held on to the door, forcing Leslie to keep it open.
“No, it’s alright. I have plans to watch tv with Ms. Prissy.”
“Right, right. I should know by now. You hardly accept my invites. Ok, child, have fun with Ms. Prissy. Bye!” Derek strolled out with a blown kiss in the air.
Leslie put the locks in place. My popcorn is probably cold by now, and I still have to find Ms. Prissy. She went back to her bedroom and carried the popcorn, soda, and candy to the living room. A muffled sound came from the open window. Leslie froze in place. What the heck is that?
The blue, billowy curtain danced in the light breeze from the open window. She kept her eyes on the curtains as she walked towards the window. The sound came, and Leslie sighed; Ms. Prissy was at the window. Pulling the curtains to the side, the cat glanced up at her with a bored look.
“Ms. Prissy Foot, I’ve been looking for you. You need to be my TV partner.” Leslie said as she lifted Ms. Prissy and took her to the khaki loveseat. Going through the ritual in her mind, Leslie placed the throw over her legs, plopped the popcorn bowl on her lap, placed her soda on the side table, and grabbed her remote.
As she raised the remote to the TV, her cell phone rang. Nooo! Who could it be at nine-thirty at night?! Leslie noticed her phone was at the other side table, which meant having to remove her popcorn bowl off her lap and lean almost on top of Ms. Prissy Foot. It better be a great reason to be bothering me. Leslie realized she should take that back and decided to knock on the wooden side table before answering the phone.
“Hello?” Leslie said and noticed that her voice was high.
“Lilly!” It was her sister, Johanna.
“I just had one of the worst blind dates ever!”
Again? She seems to have a bad date every weekend.
“How bad?” Leslie was afraid to ask.
“Really freaking bad. First, he shows up dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. So, he clashed with my mini dress and heels. Then he started talking about boring things like books and writing. At dinner, and this is the worst part, he takes me to some kind of hippy, vegan restaurant! I totally left! I told him that the vegan food gave me cramps, and I walked off!” Johanna said, breathing hard.
“It’s alright, Jo. It’s over now.” Leslie said, and she tried to keep from laughing.
“Lilly, you better not be laughing.”
“No! Of course not. I just thought it didn’t sound that bad. Was he nice?”
“Why? Do you want to date him? Maybe you two would hit it off. The both of you can talk about that book you’ve been trying to write… what is it… something about elves and monsters. Whatever it is.” Johanna said.
“It’s fantasy. And yes, there are elves in it. I haven’t decided about the monsters yet.” Leslie said.
“So, I’ll give him your number. He’s a little older than you, no more than me, but I think you guys would click.”
“No, that’s alright!” Leslie said, her throw almost slipped off.
“How long are you going to hide in your apartment? Don’t you want to have a boyfriend? You barely have any friends.”
“I don’t hide! This is how I like my life. I don’t need a boyfriend and friends to be happy. And you don’t have to be constantly pointing that out. I don’t need another mammi; she does plenty of that whenever I call her.
“Fine… I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone about it.” Johanna said.
There was a pause.
“It’s ok, Jo. I know you mean well.” Leslie said, tossing popcorn into her mouth.
“Look, I’ll let you get back to whatever it is you were doing,” Johanna said
“Sure. I’m sorry about your date. It’ll make for a great conversation with your chicas.” Leslie said.
Johanna laughed. Her laughter made Leslie smile; it was like listening to a child laugh; it was honest and boisterous.
“Have a good night! You didn’t tell me NOT to give him your phone number!” Johanna hung up.
Leslie sat there clutching her phone. She found herself smiling. Her thoughts were interrupted by a scraping sound. Argh! Now Ms. Prissy wants to use the litterbox. Leslie waited with what little patience she had left for her cat to use the box.
The Persian cat scraped a hole in each corner until she found the right one. It stared at Leslie as it used the litter box in her bathroom, making her feel uncomfortable. Bits of litter sprinkled the tile floor as Ms. Prissy jumped out.
After cleaning out the litterbox and sweeping the floor, Leslie sat back down on the loveseat and followed her step-by-step routine. This time she got to turn on the TV. She hit the Netflix icon and was confronted with a login window.
“I have to log in?!” Leslie said out loud.
She tossed her head back and closed her eyes for a few seconds. I don’t remember my login! I barely remember my phone number! Leslie pushed the throw to the side and put her popcorn back on the side table. She headed to her desk and searched about her cluttered top drawer for her password book.
Back in her living room, she slowly pressed each letter into the blank bar; then enter. The next screen was the Netflix homepage. Leslie tossed her arms up in the air as if she was at a concert.
“Yes! Ms. Prissy, we’re in!”
Leslie noticed that they had added new movies and TV shows. She perused through the carousel, forgetting that she had wanted to watch a particular show. Having finished her popcorn, Leslie started with the mint chocolates. It wasn’t until she was halfway through the box that she started her favorite show. By then, it was a little past ten-thirty.
The opening scene started with the protagonist waking up in a lavish room in the ‘Little Palace,’ when Leslie’s cell phone pinged. She frowned and struggled to ignore it. What if it’s Jo calling back? Or mammi? Maybe, it’s Derek sending pictures of his fun night. She wrestled the phone out of her PJ bottoms and glanced at the text.
There was no recognizable name but a phone number and a message. She began reading it, and then the phone blinked off. Oops, I was looking at it through the lock screen. Leslie opened her texts.
Hi, you don’t know me, but your sis gave me your #. I had a blind date with her earlier today, which, based on her face and the fact that she walked away, means that it failed.
Another text bubble appeared.
BTW, I’m James. Johanna called me and told me about you. She was dead serious about me calling you. Not that I was pushed to. You sounded interesting. If this is creepy, you can tell me to stop.
Leslie stared at the two bubbles. She shoved candy into her mouth, wondering what to do. Should I ignore it? I can tell him it is creepy. But I don’t feel creeped out about it… for some reason. Before she could respond, another text popped up.
This was a mistake. I’m sorry I bothered you. I won’t text again.
Leslie scrambled to type something but noticed that she was smearing chocolate over the screen. Dashing to the kitchen, she yanked a piece of paper towel from the holder and wiped at the gooey chocolate. Standing in the middle of the room, with Ms. Prissy Foot staring at her, Leslie typed a response.
No, I’m not bothered. Johanna told me about you too.
She erased the second sentence and then typed again.
She told me about the blind date. It sounded like the both of you were a bad match.
Leslie erased the second sentence and kept it out. Realizing that she hadn’t hit send, she sent the three sentences that she was sure were good enough. After a moment, the three dots floated into view, and Leslie’s throat went dry.
Oh, good. I thought for a moment; you were creeped out. We don’t have to go out on a date. We can just text or call or both or whatever.
Leslie was afraid of this part. She knew that once Johanna gave him her number, that he would want to contact her often. Yet, Leslie was curious about him. She felt like the main character from her favorite childhood book, Alice in Wonderland.
Leslie found it a bit ironic that she would love that character because she was far from curious. She would rather not chase the rabbit and go down the hole. It has always been that way for her.
She remembered what her sister asked on the phone about wanting a boyfriend. Leslie had wondered about being in a relationship and what it was like. As much as she loved being alone, she did feel lonely sometimes. It would be great to share my life with someone like me. But what are the chances? She bit her lip. I think maybe it’s time I went down that rabbit hole.
Leslie returned to her loveseat with Ms. Prissy Foot curling up on her lap and responded to James.