Jean opened the door to a young woman who looked like she had pink hair.
“Hello?” She hadn’t been expecting anyone. A random movie based off of a John Grisham novel was already cued up in the DVD player, and she had been about to tear into her snacks and open her wine. She looked at the delicate woman on her doorstep and tried to remember if she had scheduled a last minute client, while simultaneously trying to discern if the girl looked like a Dresden Doll or a punk rock bitch.
“Hey, is Otis home?” The young woman shifted in her chunky, black boots as though she were either uncomfortable or annoyed. Jean saw that her hair truly was pink, an almost iridescent, pale shade of pink at the bottom of her locks. Perhaps she was neither doll or bitch but some sort of fairy.
“Oh, I love your hair,” Jean said, captivated by the way it seemed to change from light to dark in the shifting sunlight.
“Yeah, thanks,” the girl scowled. “Um, so is Otis home or…?” Oh... no... not a fairy, nor a doll. But not quite a bitch either. There was something wounded around her eyes which were heavily lined in black.
“No. He’s out with his girlfriend for the afternoon and presumably the evening. I’m sorry, you are?”
“I’m Maeve,” she said and took the hand Jean thrusted toward her. “I go to school with Otis.”
“I see,” Jean said. “He’s never mentioned a Maeve, but then again he doesn’t mention much to me anymore.” Jean expelled a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes.
“Brilliant,” Maeve sniped and bit the cuticle at her thumb. “Alright, well, I’ll be off then.” She turned to go.
“Erm, Maeve?” Jean called after her. Maeve turned around. “You seem upset. Is something the matter?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” She stepped back toward Jean.
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“Otis told me you’re a therapist. What do you want to like thera-pize me?”
Jean laughed and pushed a platinum lock of hair off her forehead. “No. Not at all. You see, I was just about to open a bottle of wine and, well, I suppose I selfishly would enjoy a little company. Won’t you come in?”
Maeve nodded and sniffed up the tears that were sliding down the back of her nasal cavity. She blinked hard to clear her line of sight.
“It’s my birthday,” Maeve offered as Jean handed her a sparklingly cool glass of wine.
“Not really,” Maeve bit her lip and shook her head. Jean thought she looked bitter and sorrowful. She started to bite at her thumb again.
“You know, some scholars have theorized people bite or pick at themselves as a form of self loathing,” Jean stated. She reached for Maeve’s hand and took it from her teeth. Jean held Maeve’s tiny fingers in her own small hand and squeezed it.
“Well, they got that right,” Maeve said and made a sad smile for Jean as she looked back and forth from their clasped hands to the bright blue eyes of the woman in front of her. “You know, I often say things just to get a reaction, like that I’m allergic to something I’ve already accidentally been fed at a dinner party, or that my family was a pack of cannibalistic serial killers. I guess I say those things to get a reaction.”
“It felt like that just now when I said it was my birthday, like it was something fake. But it really is my birthday. I can show you my ID card.” She raised her eyebrows as though trying to convince not only Jean, but herself.
“I believe you,” Jean said and her voice was husky. Jean led Maeve out to the back porch where the sun set in shimmering pink and golden ripples over the sky. “Happy birthday, Maeve,” Jean said and raised her glass to clink against Maeve’s.
They drank their wine.
They still held hands.