by Grace S. Gage (art by Shannon Bacon)
A turquoise thumb nail plunges past the cardboard tab of the wine box and assisted by the glittered nail of the index finger retrieves the spigot. A single twist, and the inky red wine pulsates into the stemless wine glass suspended by the other set of five painted fingernails. The blue refrigerator light mingles with the wine, giving it an almost purple hue. One ought to serve red wine room temperature. But with only a bag of carrots, a carton of egg beaters, and a quart of almond milk, the vacancy was too tempting. Besides, Evadora preferred her wine chilled, and apparently, on her fluffy white unicorn socks. “Damn.” With a sigh she let the fridge swing closed with a muted thump, before leading her two bleeding mythical creatures back to her bedroom. She tentatively placed the glass on the bar stool beside her bed, careful to center it on her “built in coaster” a large milky cup ring that just bordered her wine glass. She’d picked it up at a yard sale two years ago, planning to fix it up Pinterest-style. She never got around the painting over that cup stain on her bar stool, and she doubted she ever would. She never seemed to have the energy to devote to actually doing any of the projects she pinned. Her phone dances face down on the nightstand, sending tiny waves through her wine glass, its golden apple emblem rotating with each vibration. She snatches up the pastel rectangle. With a swipe, it is open.
The screen reads 2:21 a.m. Evadora has one unread text message. “The payment on your MasterCard account is due…” She tosses her phone on the bed and flops onto the mattress, she sinks her face into her pillow and sighs breathing in the smell of off-brand Tide. She’d always thought she would have more by now, more money, more friends, more family, more than this off-brand life. She rolls over, reaches for her glass, and gulps. She watches the menagerie of blue and grey text, logos and smiling photos retreat out the top of her phone screen.
She stops the scroll, her eyes catching an aerial video of cupcakes baking in cute primary color cookware. She licks the bowl with her eyes. She swears she gains weight just by watching videos likes this. JustFab promises a pair of knee high boots for fifteen dollars with a membership. Done. Definitely a need.The receding waterfall of images continues, as her wine glass lightens.
Katie, the pig-tailed 3 year old Evadora used to babysit just posted a selfie of herself at Starbucks wearing a Mizzou hoodie. #studying #PSL #collegefreshman Evadora sips on an empty glass. How can she be in college? The last fifteen years went faster than the last fifteen minutes. It’s 2:35 and she’s not even remotely tired.
Her old college roommates Ashley and Janet checked in at a local bar and grill 4 hours ago. #GirlsNightOut #Adulting #Friyay #YOLO Evadora winces. The three of them used to be inseparable. Its natural for friends to drift apart after college isn’t it? She knew she didn’t need to feel left out. It was nonsense wanting what they had.
Her cousin Hannah is online. She just posted a status describing the difficulties of motherhood when your baby is teething. #boymom #norestforthemothers #mommyproblems Evadora’s finger hovers over an angry emoji a moment, before settling on a like. Her eyes roll, before she rolls out of bed. Perfect house, perfect family, perfect life. She couldn’t stand all the complainers on social media these days. She would certainly not complain about a fussy baby, if she had everything Hannah had.
A pair of sluggish unicorns carry Evadora to the bathroom mirror, where she is greeted by her own blue gaze. Crescent shadows hang from her pale lower lashline. Nothing that a swipe of age defying eye cream and mascara couldn’t fix. Scarlet strands flossed through the slender black teeth of the comb and fainted against her scalp, asphyxiated by a cloud of maximum hold floral hairspray. She gasps, uprooting a gray rebel with disgust. A Loreal grade hair extension, transformed her basic pony-tale into a masterpiece that would put Ariana Grande to shame. The vacant eye of her phone takes Evadora in, a carefully constructed casual Insta-success–done-up for the gram, pouting to perfection, oversized tee, understating effort–before filtering her out to her followers. #cantsleep #insomniac #bored #likeforlike #followfollow In the bottom corner she sees it. A small numeral one cloaked in red hovers over a heart, a tiny fragmental beacon of connection. Adam Theus emotes a flame. Three, four, five, likes in under a minutes. She grins. Evadora hits refresh expectantly, and waits without reward.
Mascara inks from her face like a wounded sea-creature, sinking between the crimson tentacles of her hair, and soaking into waves of linen. Evadora shifts on her mattress, and sinks deeper under her blankets. Her mascara smudged hands swipe right, right, right, cold despite the warming emblem of a flame burning before her. An orange bottle with a white cap and label sits beside her vacant wine glass. Her phone once cradled in her hands, slowly slips, as her fingers relax their grasp. Her phone slides to the floor as her eyelids slowly collapse under the weight of false eyelashes. The closed phone writhes violently on the carpet. A voice, trapped within the mobile box, calls desperately. The screen illuminates with the caller ID. Hope is calling, but goes unanswered.