Rolling down the sleeves of her white collared shirt, Jess paused to admire the fresh shine of a scribbled black heart covered in splashes of plum, lilac, and baby blue watercolors on her left forearm- her latest and favorite tattoo.
There was a small white wicker-framed mirror – the only adornment on any of the walls in her room – that Jess used to inspect her hastily applied makeup, which consisted of a hint of mascara, a shimmery bronze contour, and her signature mauve lipstick.
Pressing her full lips together, the final touch, Jess turned to head out the door, only to bump into Lexi.
“Your hair looks terrible,” Lexi said, maintaining her balance. “I know you keep saying it’s the ‘messy bedhead look’ when it dries, but it just looks plain messy.”
“Oh, I thought it would dry-”
Lexi cut Jess off. “Don’t even say on the way to work. How many times do I have to tell you that the five minute drive to work is not the time to air-dry your hair?”
Jess laughed. How did Lexi know that she thought her drive to the bank was a good time to dry her hair? The perfect opportunity to multitask.
Truthfully, Jess didn’t care much about her hair anyway. Mainly because she didn’t have a clue how to style it. But she was fully aware that it was her sopping-wet-mop hair that was the tell-tale sign to Lexi that Jess snuck in a quick jog in the morning instead of giving herself time to blow-dry her hair.
Unfortunately, there were few options available when it came to fitting exercise into her day. Jess could:
A. Wake up earlier
B. Jog after work
C. Go to work with wet hair.
Option B was barely an option because Jess had to attend online college classes on most nights. And although she diligently planned for option A every evening by setting her alarm for the break of dawn, things never seemed to pan out the way she hoped; because as soon as she heard the blaring ringtone of her alarm in the morning, Jess would decide in her heart of hearts that she was truly fine with option C.
Jess patted Lexi on the shoulder and breezed past her to hunt for her purse in the living room. Realizing that her badgering was not having the intended effect she hoped for, Lexi decided to take a softer approach as she followed Jess out of the room.
“Can’t you just run with a buddy?”
“Who?” Jess asked.
They both knew Jess was an introvert with a pathetic rolodex of contacts. Lexi, herself, only ever offered to go running with Jess one time. And it didn’t go well. The problem was that Lexi hadn’t ran since her middle school physical fitness test, and in less than a half mile, her heavy panting rapidly mutated into a full-blown asthma attack.
“What about Sean?”
It was sweet of Lexi to offer her boyfriend up as a sacrificial lamb. Admittedly, Sean was in great shape and could run circles around Jess, but she liked to keep her contact with Lexi’s hipster boyfriend to a minimum. Although Jess did her fair share of drinking at parties held at “1969” – the clever nickname for the dilapidated three-story home built in 1969 that Sean shared with three other dudes – Jess often made up excuses to get out of invites from Lexi to attend the more sober outings that included Sean.
“Nah, I’m good. Headphones are better than running buddies anyway,” Jess answered, finding her purse under a pile of Lexi’s clothes in the living room.
“Why don’t you try joining that running group again? The one where all the females where skorts. Oh, you would look so cute in a skort! We can go shopping for one this weekend.”
Jess balked at the idea of wearing shorts that were designed to look like a miniskirt. It felt like false advertising to her, like padded bras and fake eyelashes.
“Running clubs are too damn social,” Jess complained while filling an over-sized travel mug with coffee.
“I promise that I won’t run on the trail tomorrow. I’ll just run downtown and get honked at by strangers,” Jess said in an attempt to compromise with Lexi.
“Thank you, that’s all I ask,” Lexi said. “Oh, do you want to have dinner at Sean’s tonight?”
“Can’t. I have a paper that I need to write.”
Lexi looked at Jess dubiously. “Okay, but you’re missing out. Sean and his roommates are great cooks.”
Now Jess was the one giving the dubious look.