Time’s Up

By Alice Benson

“Time’s up.” Joanne leaned back and grinned.

Sunlight glinted through the restaurant window and tinted Lucy’s eyes. “I never was any good at this. You know I hate trivia games.”

“And I love them. Funny, isn’t it?” Joanne said. “The answer’s John Denver.” As she took a sip of mimosa, spiky white hair caught her attention “Is that Sue Danziger?”

Lucy peered to her left. “I don’t think so. Her nose is bigger, and she’s a little heavier.”

Joanne looked again. She had to dodge several people to see the diners on the patio. “Oh, yeah. You’re right. She’s cute, though.”

“Very cute,” Lucy said. “It’s the blonde hair and dykey haircut.”

“The haircut’s the same. That’s why I thought it was Sue,” Joanne said.

“You always did go for the butchy types,” Lucy said.

Sunbeams danced across the table and lit up Lucy’s eyes as Joanne winked at her. “Still do.”

“I can’t get away with a style like that, though.” Lucy touched her hair. “Too curly.”

“I love your curls.” Joanne lifted her glass as if to toast them. “What a glorious day. Sunday brunch feels decadent.”

Lucy covered Joanne’s hand with her own. “Just the sun is amazing. I thought that dreary winter was going to last forever.”

She gave a gentle squeeze and raised her arm to wave at their server. “Another, please.” Lucy pointed at her Bloody Mary.

Joanne kept her flinch internal.

“Do you think they’re a couple?” Lucy gestured at the window.

“You mean with that woman she’s talking to?” Joanne shielded her eyes with her hand to get a better view.

“Their conversation seems very intense. Intimate, really,” Lucy said. “The other woman looks straight though. It’s hard to tell.”

The waitress stepped in front of the sun and set down eggs Florentine and Lucy’s drink. “Would you like another?” She pointed at Joanne’s empty glass.

“No, just more water,” Joanne said.

The waitress moved away, and sunlight bounced around the table again. It glinted off the garnet ring on Lucy’s hand when she took a long drink of her Bloody Mary. “God, that’s good.”

“Don’t forget that we’re meeting Toni this afternoon to help her pick out tile.” Joanne speared egg and spinach with her fork.
“What the hell does that mean?” Lucy’s eyes narrowed.

Oh, shit. “Nothing, it meant nothing.” Joanne spoke with her mouth half-full. “Aren’t these eggs great?”

Lucy didn’t answer. She lifted her glass and stared, a small smile playing at the edges of her mouth.

Joanne stared, too. The sun lit up the half-full glass; tomato juice glowed like rubies, rich and warm and wonderful. This day, like many others, hung in the air, and for just a moment Joanne imagined everything would be okay. Sometimes it was, sometimes not.

Then, Lucy took a prolonged swallow, set the glass down and gestured for the waitress.

Joanne gripped her resignation and watched as clouds slowly filled the sky and the sun disappeared from the day completely.

word count: 499

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