Greed (A Short Story)

Published by Monogenes in the blog Monogenes's blog. Views: 83

“I’m pregnant” said Elise. Her face returned to neutrality and her voice tinged with a demented satisfaction beneath the cold, removed glare she now wore.

Each friend fidgeted.

“What, what do you mean you’re pregnant? You don’t get to be pregnant, especially if there’s a chance that’s mine… I am an English major for God’s sake, I will barely be able to support myself, let alone a whore and a bastard child” cried Petr.

As the bronze hour hand accelerated towards, then struck, eleven, it was earlier in the day.
“Just a macchiato with four drops of honey, two spoons pure cane sugar—none of that Splenda crap—three spoons brown sugar and my guilty pleasure of the day, whipped cream” said Petr.

“Quoi?” said the French waiter.

“Water” said Elise.

“Je ne parle pas Anglais”

“Dammit Elise, this is a café, you order coffee or tea; that’s it, those are your two options. Hell, anything with caffeine will suffice” said Petr.

“Like I said water”

“Putain Americannes!” said the waiter, ironically storming off in search of rude French customers.
In Lyon, on the balcony of the renowned café La Madeleine sat four agitated, study-abroad college students from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Petr, how’s Calculus?” said Cyrus.

“Well, the AC in the room works well that’s about it. Elise, you’ve been acting strange since two days ago. You’re reminding me of my mother, it’s scary” said Petr.

Glancing back at the rustic clock on the aged brick wall and rising with the stroke of noon Elise said, “I need to use the restroom.”

“The restroom, that’s your third time this morning” said Petr.

Petr’s bemoan merely grazes the firm back of Elise and floats by her ears unnoticed.

“Where’s that coffee?” said Petr.

“By coffee, do you mean the drink born of ignored exploitation? With each sip, do you acknowledge the starving Brazilians and Ethiopians who are robbed daily of their honest labor?” said Hana.

“You know, out of our social circle, you are the least liked” said Petr crudely, almost mechanically.

Petr’s lack of regard did not hinder him; it was his strongest trait. As he barked, pretentiously, Gil’s and Hana’s eyes fixated on him.

“But just to enlightenment you, I could care less and so do you. It’s how the world works. There is need and people fill it. We’re all self-serving flatterers—even philanthropists.”

“Petr, how’s the chapter on trigonometry working for you?” said Gil, who was a Mathematics major and top of the class.

The thick, black restroom door tucked in the corner of the superfluously, vibrant café, excepting the sullen students, croaks open, drifting above cracked, archaic tiles revealing a once attractive but now ghastly pale woman. Her face smeared with red paint, before, neatly contained by the crests of her lips. Dried tears carve Elise’s face as she nears the tense table of squabblers.

Petr’s eyes shoot towards Gil; the narcissistic prick, he thought.

As the evidently disturbed frame of Elise enters into the peripherals of the group—the jousting ceases. Each corrupt face rises in anticipation with a faint, fleeting snicker.

“My God, you look terrible; is everything alright? You’ve stopped drinking coffee—you loved coffee” said Petr.

“Tis an evil drink” said Hana, with an inexplicable Jamaican accent.

The voices were faint, faces bleary and hearing muffled—for Elise. Brown whiskers of her eyebrows bend up forming waves of wrinkles as she tilts her head toward Petr, while reminiscing of two days earlier. She gnarls her teeth which contrast the redness of her cheeks.

An hour passes, seizing the grunts of the group.

“Well, don’t just wait for her belly to swell, get her a chair” said Hana.

“You know, I am really curious about the median score on that last test we took, probably because of my own insecurities” said Gil.

“A chair, how about answers? When were you planning on telling me? Do you only think of yourself? I mean, did you even look over your options? This will derail both our lives” said Petr.

“It’s Gil’s.”

“But we’re engaged” said Hana.

“I knew it, there is a God!” said Petr.

“Pi is an infinite number… Pi is an infinite number… Pi is an infinite number… Pi is… What is infinite?” said Gil.

Hana’s caramel body rises from the disarray of metal chairs and now silent adversaries. The most honest we’ve ever been, she mused, while drifting towards the marble countertop in front of the cash register. She strains her numb face up to meet the cashier’s distant gaze, waiting for her to place her money in his hand, masking that hunger with customary, contrived kindness.

Glancing back at Petr and then twisting towards the daunting menu, “I’ll have a double shot Caffè Americano—make it strong.”
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