Chapter 2: Inadequate

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 2

I awoke from my apparent coma, drool dried to the corners of my mouth, to the sounds of my alarm blaring from my phone. 

I peeked at the phone with one eye to check the time, even though it was always the same. 6:00am

“Uhhhhh,” I groaned, rubbing my hands over my face then stretching the length of the beige IKEA futon. 

 

I sat up, flinging my legs till my feet landed on the floor, and draped the cerulean plush throw over my shoulders before grabbing my phone and walking to the kitchen. Each step I took reminded me how my body is no longer capable of sleeping on a bumpy futon without feeling the effects the next morning. 

 

I set my phone down on the small island, and rummaged my cupboards till I found the elixir of life that is coffee. Filling the blue tea kettle with water from the sink faucet, I placed it back on it’s permanent spot on the lower left side of the 4 burner range.  I turned the dial, hearing the click click click of the pilot before flames surrounded the base of the pot. I opened the lower cupboard on the small island, fishing out my French press and setting it atop the counter, filling it with coffee granules. I pulled the throw over my shoulder more, and leaned my head on the counter, still exhausted. 

 

You’d think I would be used to the lack of sleep that comes with working long hours, but I was not. While in culinary school, you wouldn’t catch me dead waking up before noon unless on a school day that required it,  but most of my classes were at night so this was a rarity in itself. 

 

The high pitched whistle of a hot kettle brought me back to life temporarily, as I turned to grab it from the stove, reaching for a clean mug sitting on the drying mat. I poured the hot water into the glass cylinder of the French press  and stared at it for a couple minutes before pressing the filtered plunger down, and filling my mug. 

 

“Thank you, 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, for this delicious caffeine filled discovery. I appreciate you,” I said, holding the mug up like I was presenting baby Jesus to the world, before bringing the mug down to my lips and sipping from it slowly. 

 

“Oooo fuck that’s hot,” I said out loud, licking my lips trying to ease the burn I just gave myself. 

Of course it’s hot Veda, it’s boiling hot bean juice. 

 

I made my way back to the futon, setting my coffee on the table in front of me before flopping back onto its bumpy surface. 

 

“Morning, Finn,” I groaned, pinching fish flakes in his clear bowl he called home. He swam around in his tiny bowl, making me feel tinges of guilt. 

“I know how you feel, I’m stuck in this tiny place, too,” I said, tapping the glass, “Fortunately for you, you have someone to feed you, change your water, and you don’t have to do a damn thing”.

 

I sighed deeply before taking another sip of my coffee, this time it being just cool enough to drink. This was my morning. The same thing, different days. This is when the loneliness really kicked in. The time between waking up, and going to work. The silence inside my small apartment, the only noise coming from an occasional train coming by and my own voice. 

These are the times when I wished I had someone to share my life with. 

 

I sighed as I stood up and made my way to the bathroom, determined to start my day. 

 

After doing my normal morning routine, I was clean, dressed, and ready for the day. I opted for simple light clothing as the dwindling summer humidity left no other choice. My hair and I were not fans of humidity, but fall was on the horizon and the messy frizzy buns I wore would be a thing of the past. I was blessed with my dad's uncontrollable brown curls.  A pair of high waisted denim shorts that elongated my toned legs and a t-shirt with the phrase “may your coffee kick in before reality does” paired with simple white converse completed my look. I opted to use a small amount of tinted moisturizer since foundation would melt off my face in a matter of seconds, mascara and lip gloss. 

 

I looked at the clock hanging above the small kitchen sink, and seeing it was only 7:15. I didn’t have to be at work until 10:00 to start prep for dinner service, so I decided to head to the nearby farmers market and stock my fridge with real, actual food. 

After grabbing my purse, and a couple reusable bags, I headed out. 

 

The market was always ALWAYS busy. Street vendors selling ethnic foods on a stick, and 800 different types of melons, some I couldn’t even pronounce, were everywhere. It was a sensory overload if you weren’t used to it. I walked over to my favorite local vendor, and picked up a couple tomatoes, carrots, and assorted lettuces before bringing an armful of fresh produce to the cash register.. 

“Hey Kim, how’s business?” I asked, just making polite small talk.

“Same, Veya, same. Everyone one want this n’ that and no want pay full price! Cheap bastards!” She exclaimed in broken English, while gesturing to me to hand her my bag. I laughed at her remarks, she was always three seconds away from blowing a gasket, but I loved the fire in her. I learned from our small talks over the years she came to the states from Korea when she was a young girl. Her family had been farmers before moving, and they continued their skills here in the states. 

I paid for my produce, thanking her before walking the streets.

 

“Kamsahamnida,” I stated, bowing my head at her. 

“You getting much better, Veya! Much better!” She beamed. 

I had learned a few phrases in Korean from her, and tried to use the phrases whenever possible. I thought it was important to try to speak to others in their first language. 

 

I ended up indulging myself and getting one of my favorite street breakfasts- Korean cup toast. The delicious eggy, spicy, bulgogi beef filled toast stuffed into a cup was the ultimate comfort food. I devoured it while walking the market streets. Tossing the cup into a nearby garbage receptacle, I looked into the park nearby. 

 

I found myself staring at an older couple, sitting on a bench, shaded by the tall trees. They were feeding pigeons, also known as asshole food thieves, and just grinning. It was warm for being early in the morning, but it didn’t seem to bother them at all. The little old lady leaned her head on the older man's shoulders, wrapping her arm around his. 

 

Awwww. They’re so cute it makes me sick.

 

A familiar buzzing coming from my purse pulled me from my thoughts and told me I had an incoming phone call. I dug out my phone from the deep pockets of the cheap wannabe Michael Kors bag, and looked at the screen. 

Ugh.

Reluctantly, I answered the phone.

 

“Hi, mom.”

“Veda. How are you doing baby? I haven’t heard from you in weeks. What’s going on. Why haven’t you called your poor mother?” My mother, Candice, questioned. 

 

It’s not that I didn’t like talking to my mother, it’s just it always felt like the same conversation. My mother and father both wanted me to go off to some prestigious college like they had, and be something successful. A doctor, a lawyer, a broker, something respected that came with a huge income. When I told them I was going to culinary school and dropping out of the university I had been attending for 3 years, they lost their shit. Even though I tried to tell them I was successful, and I was working my dream job, it flew right over their heads.

 

“I’ve just been working, mom. It’s basically all I do, work, work, work,” I replied, walking through the crowd, trying to get to a more quiet location, but stopping at the sight of hot sugary malasadas. 

I held up my finger to the vendor, signaling I’d like 1.

 

She sighed into the other end of the receiver, “ You work too much. That’s why I never wanted you to take that position, you should have stayed in school and went on to be a biomedical engineer. You could have been done by now with your Masters degree and working on a doctorate. You’re so far away from all of us at home, and I can’t even remember the last time you had a boyfriend. I worry about you”.

 

I paid for the sugary donut, and continued walking, rolling my eyes at my mother. 

Not the boyfriend talk again. 

“Mom, please. I’m happy. I love the work I do. I’m content with my life,” I tried to convince myself even as I replied. I took a huge bite of the donut. 

Damnit how do they make these so fluffy and good??

 

She huffed into the phone, “Well, so the reason I called is to tell you you’re little sister just got engaged. Your father and I are going to be throwing her an engagement party in a couple weeks, and you need to be there. We’re still working on the details, but I know your sister would like to see you, as would the rest of the family,” she asserted to the point. 

 

“Mom,” I began, chewing quickly and swallowing to get the donut down before continuing. 

“I don’t know if I can take off work that soon. I usually have to request time off a month in advance,” I lied, taking another bite. I knew I could get the time off if I wanted to, but I always felt so menial whenever I went to family gatherings. My little sister, Violet, was always praised and coddled for doing everything my parents wanted her to do. She graduated university with honors, and is now working at a law firm in our home town, just like mom and dad wanted. 

 

“Veda Monroe Campbell. You better take that time off work to be at your sister's engagement party, or so help me!” Mom yelled. 

Fuck. 

“Ok. I’ll let you know tomorrow what they say, I’ll try to take the time off. Text me the details, I’ve got to go mom,” I said. 

“Will you be bringing a date with you? You can, you know. If not, my friend Lauren has a really cute son who’s single and about your age. He’s a pilot! Isn’t that exciting!”

I stopped walking and just looked up into the sky, “Mom…. we’ve talked about this before. I gotta go. I love you”. 

She sighed, “You have to get out there and find someone. You’re going to be 50 and still single if you don’t start living. Working isn’t living. It’s working, Veda”. 

A deafening silence fell between us. I didn’t know what to say, so I shoved the rest of the malasada into my mouth, my cheeks now resembling an overweight chipmunk. 

“I’ll text you the details when we get them hashed out. I love you baby,” Mom said. 

“Lub you oo, Mum,” I said through a mouthful of food. 

 

I hung up the phone and walked back to my apartment. My little sister was getting married. My little sister. As much as I tried not to compare, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate. I was twenty- seven, almost twenty-eight, and never really had a steady boyfriend, at least not in the last five or six years. Even then, it was right before I started culinary school, and ended quickly due to my move. It wasn’t a serious relationship to most, but it’s the closest thing I had to compare. 

 

I was so lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realize I was outside my apartment door, keys in my hand. I unlocked the door and stepped inside the small apartment, going straight to the kitchen to put the groceries away. 

 

It’s not that I’m not happy for Violet, because I am. Her and her boyfriend, no, fiancé have been together for about three years, so I knew this was bound to happen, right? But I couldn’t help the jealousy wash over me. She was younger than me, the better looking of the two of us, seemingly acquiring all of the best features from our parents. She seemed to have all of her shit together. The perfect house, the good paying job, the love and support of our parents, and now the adoring fiancé. 

 

I couldn’t help but compare myself to her. I felt like a failure. Twenty-seven year old single white female, living in a shitty small apartment that was way too expensive for its size, no car, no close family, hardly any friends because I had no time for them. But, I was working my dream job. The hours were long, the stress was constant, but I did love it. The only missing piece was someone to share it with. Maybe mom was right, maybe I am working too hard. Maybe I do need to try to find someone before it’s too late and I’m eighty and retired with the company of twenty-four cats. 

 

I glanced at my phone, checking the time, and decided to get ready for work. I still had two hours before having to be there for prep start, but I couldn't be in this tiny apartment anymore. I had to keep my mind and my hands busy, and the best way for me to do that was in the kitchen. I’m sure Chef…. Pierce wouldn’t mind me getting a couple extra hours in. 


Submitted: January 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Kaye Everett. All rights reserved.

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