Willa wants a girlfriend.
Taller than her and not so thin. Not too good-looking, either, because then somebody cute might steal her away.
Willa uses a toothpick to doodle her in the donut dough. Kind of a solid, OK face, Willa imagines as her hand traces a simple circle. And gentle, too. Maybe a girlfriend who'll bring her flowers.
Problem is, Willa doesn’t know how to get a girlfriend. She’s never even been on a date. Had to work the night of the senior prom, which Willa thinks of as her last real chance to go out with a person of romantic intent.
She considers the people who come into the shop. Certainly no candidates among the regulars. Most are men. And those of the female persuasion are either too old or married or, well, too damn dumb and crude. Willa doesn’t want a crude girlfriend. Willa wants to see a light there in that solid, OK face. She feels her face crunch into a frown while she smushes the doodles she made in the dough.
But as the oil heats it gets more opinionated. It sputters and snaps as she offers it the first batch of the night’s donuts. It doesn’t want her to give up. Smart Willa agrees and says "Check out the newbies. You could bring a clean shirt for the breakfast shift so you don’t stink of grease."
Willa begins her Girlfriend Campaign in pink. Combs her hair. Puts on a fresh apron. The regulars notice right away and tell her she looks nice. Willa smiles and murmurs "Thanks."
She tries not to let the flush under her collar creep up her face. The mens' eyes examine her, measure her, but Willa decides not to scurry away or avoid their eyes. She decides to measure them back. She thinks of it as practice.
When they’re not looking, Willa watches the women, how they eat. Most are kind of rough, but a few are careful, persnickety even, about how they cut up their food, how they put it in their mouths. She looks to see if they use a napkin. She listens for their munching noises when she goes by with other orders. She doesn’t like it much when somebody burps.
Just about all of them are too loud when they talk to each other, too loud when they talk to her. It feels fake and Willa wonders if maybe they’re kind of afraid of each other. Of not living up to something.
Willa tries to imagine waking up with one of them, then another and another. It is not appealing.
Every couple of weeks a newbie girl or two will show up. Willa checks them out. They check her out. One girl wearing a wedding ring makes a move. Willa looks at her left hand and says "What about your — wife?"
The girl's eyes flick down, then up again, and she says "Yeah well, we got an open relationship, y'know?"
Willa feels her eyes go slitty. "Not with me you don’t" she answers.
The girl shrugs and Willa feels like it’s been a long, long night.
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