“I wasn’t spying,” she said. “But I was sort of spying.”
“It’s not what it looked like,” I assured her, stepping inside and tossing my bag on the floor next to the door.
“Really? Because it looked like mystery guy finally made a move and you shut him down.”
“Oh. Then it’s totally what it looked like.”
“Cupcake?” she said, holding up a telltale, pink box.
“I think you’ve had enough. Besides, there’s booze in these.”
“Random act of intoxication?” I asked, moving toward the kitchen to get two plates and two glasses for milk.
“You should suggest that to Cupcake Royale for a new slogan, but if you can get drunk off one of these, you are a bigger lightweight than I thought.” She dropped onto one of the mismatched chairs at our kitchen table and flipped the box lid open. The scent of buttercream and caramel filtered through the kitchen.
“Only two?” I asked, pulling one of the cakes from the box to slice it carefully in half.
“Noah’s on a date again.”
“What’s that make, four with this one?”
“Five. I think he might actually be settling down. The other day, he almost actually let me dress him up before he went out”
She laughed and split the other cupcake, putting half on each plate before moving to the fridge to get the milk.
“You know,” I said, “you can still get three, even when he’s not here.”
“You get them next time, then.”
The cupcake sharing was a ritual of sorts. When the new cupcake flavors came out, someone picked up three, and we all had a third of one. As roommates, we tended to bond over either booze or treats.
Once I had the cakes divvied up and Yael had poured the milk, we settled in to eat. For a moment, we didn’t do anything other than enjoy our sugary delights and compare the flavors. We weren’t exactly food critics, but we’d both eaten enough cupcakes to talk about them in a way we told ourselves sounded intelligent. There was a lot of musing over the spices in the pumpkin ale cupcake and wondering about the particular type of apple in the Tipsy Apple.
It wasn’t until we were finishing the last of the milk that Yael said, “So tell me about mystery guy. Why’d you leave him out in the cold?”
I shrugged. It was way too complicated to explain how everything had started, all the things that were on my mind, and why, with all of that, kissing Finn seemed like the absolutely wrong thing to do.
“He’s just...Finn,” I said, eventually.
“I really hope that’s his name and not a weird fish metaphor.”
She got up and grabbed us each a beer from the fridge. When she sat back down and slid the bottle opener over to me, she said, “Okay, obviously you know what you mean by that and you decided him being Finn was a reason to give him the brush off. So good for you. I support your choice.”
“But?” I asked, because I could practically see it hanging in the air.
“But if you’re not interested, what’s with the standing date? You’re with him every Monday, and I know you two have coffee a lot.”
The great thing about having a bottle of beer is that it gives you an excuse to not answer a question while you think of what you want to say.
I took a really long drink.
“Can I tell you something maybe-kind-of crazy?”
“You tell me maybe-kind-of crazy things all the time,” she pointed out, and while I knew this was a whole new level of maybe-kind-of than what she was talking about, I had to admit to myself that she was right. It was why I’d almost told her that night in the bar.
I nodded. “Okay. I’m...going to show you something, and I want you to try not to freak out.”
She sat up a little straighter. “You got it.”
There was a row of terra cotta pots on the table where Yael had started a mini indoor herb garden. I looked hard at the little sprouts of rosemary, my face scrunching up as I concentrated. This would have been way easier without the wine and beer.
“Um...what are you going to show me?” she asked, glancing between me and the pot I was staring at.
“Just...watch the plant.”
As she turned to look, I closed my eyes, settling myself as I’d been practicing at the coventries. As I did, I could feel the tiny, curling outlines of the sprouts, and with a bit more concentration, I called one of them toward me. Its outline grew, reaching up and over the edge of the pot, leaning toward me.
“Oh my fucking god,” Yael said. “How are you doing that?”
I opened my eyes again, and when I looked back to Yael, the tendril of herb drew itself back into its pot. Her eyes were wide, and I could tell she was struggling not to freak out, likely because she’d promised to try. “That’s...what I do on Monday nights,” I said, watching her face for any subtle changes.
“You learn to talk to plants?” Each word was measured carefully, a sure sign she was still schooling her reaction.
This was the part I’d been worried about. I knew exactly what it would sound like when I tried to explain the last few months. I had been starting to feel sane, but bringing this to someone outside all the weirdness stripped me of any of that confidence in my sanity. I wondered briefly if there were any sibyls who had the power to reverse time so I could go back and never had said anything in the first place.
I was about to try and backtrack a little, see if I could get to a place where my footing was firmer, but Yael just sat back, took a sip of her beer, and said, “Okay. Tell me about the plants.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish