Kylie arrived back at the condominium for lunch and found herself a bench at a table. The waiter took down her order and was surprised that she was ordering two lunches. She explained that she was waiting for a friend. The waiter grinned obscenely and made a sexually suggestive motion with his hand. On any other day Kylie would have giggled at this but today she felt different. She stared blankly at the waiter not responding at all to his lewd gesture. He didn’t notice her lack of reaction, and informed her that the two lunches would take about an hour to prepare. Kylie nodded, that was about right. Service was typically this slow and that’s why she ordered the lunch she promise Elwin before he had even arrived.
Making her way to a free table she tried to read the Paradise Times, a weekly newspaper produced for circulation amongst the Delforians, but found herself distracted. Looking up from the newspaper she spotted Edith at her usual table working feverishly away sorting through documents. Kylie found herself staring at her crown of blonde hair neatly tied up. Edith noticed her looking and stopped what she was doing to glare at her. Kylie didn’t notice she just kept staring fixated on the intricacy of her hairdo. Edith grumbled, tried briefly to get back to her work, but decided to get up and walk over to Kylie who was still in a trance.
“Excuse me,” grumbled Edith.
Kylie looked up at her blankly, a soft, ‘yes’ passed Kylie’s lips in acknowledgement.
“I noticed that you’ve been staring at me. Is there something you would like to tell me?”
These words struck a chord with Kylie at once, she shook her head curtly and with her alertness returning she looked up at Edith’s blue eyes and spoke with more sincerity then she had ever spoken before, “Yes, I was just thinking that I wanted to say sorry to you. I told someone yesterday that your hair was fake, I don’t know why I said it, but it wasn’t right for me to say it. It was mean of me. I think you have beautiful hair.”
Edith’s head jerked backwards slightly as though she had just been electrocuted; now it was her turn to stare at Kylie. Kylie watched Edith’s mouth gape as the tension slid away from her facial muscles, then she slowly closed her mouth and her blue eyes gained a look of furious intensity.
“Bitch!” snapped Edith, “how dare you mock me with your heartless apology!”
Edith turned and walked back to her table fuming. Kylie recoiled slightly at the undeserved punishment for her genuine apology and compliment. However, she shook it off and returned to her attempts to focus on reading the Paradise Times. Moments later Erian arrived and sat down opposite her. Kylie looked up over her newspaper and ignored him.
“Kylie! Do you know what’s gotten into Elwin?”
Kylie put her newspaper down and replied that she didn’t know that there was a problem with Elwin.
“Well this morning he apparently left for work three hours earlier than normal and so I had to walk to the station on my own.”
“I thought it was odd that I saw him there so early this morning,” replied Kylie half talking to herself.
“You saw him? Did he say why he dumped me to go off to work without me?”
Kylie shook her head, “I did not actually think to ask. I guess he might have looked tired and run down, but then he always looks that way doesn’t he? Like he’s always struggling to keep himself together.”
Erian frowned and after a few more attempts to get more information from Kylie about Elwin concluded she had probably told him all that she knew. So he changed topics.
“So Kylie, what’s it like without the you-know-what?” he said while pointing towards his crotch.
Kylie’s eye’s rolled involuntarily before answering, “It’s actually been quite interesting. I have been feeling quite different. I am used to feeling restless all the time, but since it has been removed I can actually just sit and think and enjoy just thinking. I hardly slept all night. I couldn’t stop thinking.”
“So you’re not feeling sick or weak?”
“No, much the opposite, I am feeling surprisingly energetic and calm. Although these thorns,” she indicated to her two remaining ones, “are itching and irritating me more than ever. I used to not notice them but now they feel like leaden weights that I want to unload as soon as possible.”
“So you’re glad that I removed it for you?”
“You didn’t remove it, Elwin did.”
“Yeah, but it was my idea to get it removed from you first. Elwin wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t told him and insisted on it.”
“I don’t think Elwin would have done it to me because he is too scared of hurting anyone.”
“Yeah, he’s not as brave as I am,”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Erian was taken aback by the confidence in Kylie’s voice. She was usually hyperactive, fidgety, and rarely serious when she talked. This changed Kylie seemed like a quieter, more pensive, and warmer personality than the one Erian had known just a couple of days earlier. Erian didn’t say anything so Kylie decided to ask him a question.
“Why do you speak badly of Elwin?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just now you have been quick to suggest that Elwin isn’t as smart, caring, or as brave than you are.”
Fearing that Kylie was about to give him a lecture about how officially everyone was equal Erian decided to back down, “Oh, yes, of course, I was forgetting that we’re all equal. No one is better or less than anyone else.”
“No. That’s not what I meant. I meant that I actually think Elwin is smarter, more caring, and braver than you are, but if you are his friend why do you try to tell other people that you are the better one?”
Kylie’s statement was so startlingly honest that Erian wasn’t sure what to say, he had never heard anyone speak so bluntly before. Especially using terms contrary to the law that stated all people are equal to each other. Like Edith before him, after he had regained his composure he became sharply aggressive.
“Are you kidding me? Elwin’s a shy, weak, cowardly man who does nothing but scribble all day.”
“That’s what I thought to, but since the you-know-what was removed I started thinking that maybe I was misjudging him. He’s shy, but I think that’s because he thinks more than other people do. Like, I tend to just talk all the time and say a lot of thoughtless things, but when Elwin talks I can tell that he has actually been thinking carefully about what he says. That’s something I would like to be: thoughtful. Also, you should have seen how uncomfortable he was when I took my pants off: All the other men that I’ve done that to get loud, aggressive, and excited, but he went incredibly shy. I have never seen a man do that before, it occurred to me that he did that because he was scared of hurting me. I had never met a man scared of hurting me before that moment.”
“You’re a bitch Kylie,” Erian uttered malevolently without explanation.
Kylie gasped slightly, “As I said, you are supposed to be his friend, but you treat him like a rival, not like a treasure.”
“Why don’t you just sleep with him then?”
“I think you need to leave,” Kylie was surprised with her resolve. She had never spoken to anyone so firmly before.
If Erian had noticed he didn’t show it, he started getting up to leave when the waiter brought over two meals.
“What’s this? Two meals?” exclaimed Erian.
“I ordered two because I am expecting Elwin to join me soon.”
“So you bought him lunch?”
Kylie nodded. This was apparently too much for Erian to bear.
“You whore! You slut! You have no standards! You would sleep with anything that crawled! I am better than him! Me! I am the smarter one, I am the braver one! You owe me!”
The torrent of verbal abuse poured out of Erian’s mouth and Kylie’s resolve evaporated. She couldn’t find her voice and sat there stunned simply copping the full force of the deluge of insults and recriminations. Then Edith appeared behind Erian and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, he spun around to see the tall smartly dressed blonde glaring at him fiercely.
“You need to leave Erian. Leave now,” she said authoritively.
Erian looked as though a bucket of ice water had just been tipped over his head. He backed away slowly from Edith and Kylie, cursed them both for allegedly conspiring against him unfairly, then he simply ran away. Kylie had burst in to tears, but she tried to thank Edith. However, Edith just glared at her, turned on her heels, picked up her papers and stormed out of the café. Kylie was left alone to wring her sobs out until she could cry no more. A dozen other people witnessed the scene, but all carried on pretending as though nothing at all had happened.