Out of all the girls that made up the kitchen and wait staff – the cutie, the Goth, the big breasted and heavily made-up bottle blondes, the ones who wanted to be seen – the one which caught Liv’s eye was a lanky green-eyed girl with the plainest face, an unimaginative brown burden of hair and a senior citizen’s choice in clothes.
She wasn’t ugly or particularly misshapen; just awkward-looking. To anyone else – to the other girls, to the college douchebags in line – she looked like a nerd or a librarian, flat-chested, socially inept and fashion illiterate, but Liv saw through it right off. Saw through to her marrow.
To her, the green-eyed girl looked like a nudist. An Amazon.
She wore brown slacks and a beige cardigan that hung from her as if draped on a radiator. They spoke to a disinterested functionality, an indifference to aesthetics. If she wore them every day, it was purely out of convention, and at the end of her shift, Liv knew they’d be shucked out of and discarded as hastily and with as much relief as fireman’s boots and a turnout coat.
While most girls in this town had grown up playing dress-up and still got off big time trying on outfits and seeing how far parts of themselves could be bunched in or pushed up wherever, everything about her was noncommittal to the pursuit. Clothing was merely an occupational necessity, the mandatory equipment; appearance, an afterthought.
Despite the girl’s apparent introvert quietness, she detected a sensible maturity in her actions – watching the order screen, jumping in to fill the gaps that opened up in the line, a mastery of every job – that had likely propelled her to management.
She was ill-decorated to blend into the world around her, though, and probably liked it that way. She seemed – in Liv’s mind anyway – entirely competent and perfectly at home in her own skin – just her own skin – to hell with your social conventions, mister, I’m an Amazon and I’ll bust right out of this fucking cardigan and beat you to death with your 12 piece family pack, noodle salad and gravy included. You want fries with that?
She saw all of this in her, right or wrong, while she stood in queue waiting to place her order – a Toonie Tuesday special please, it was all the coins she’d swiped from the fountain – and noted that the green-eyed girl with the brown hair had, for the past several minutes been discretely watching her from various workstations in the kitchen.
When she reached the register, after pointlessly looking up at the menu boards one last time – pointless since it was all the money she had, what the hell else was she going to order?? – she looked back down to find that Wonder Woman had relieved the little Menno cutie at the cash register and stood ready to take her order, with just the slightest curl at the edges of her lips and something fearless shining in her eyes.
She was waiting. Everyone, it seemed, was waiting, for Liv. It caught up to her that she’d spoken to her, asked her something completely disconnected from what her eyes were saying. ‘How can I help you’ or some junk. And Liv could think of a million ways to answer that question, all of them inappropriate, but at just that moment, crunch-time, she couldn’t think of the right thing to say.
“Green eyes will get you everything,” she said, before she realized she’d spoken at all.
But Wonder Woman kept on, unphased, sort of, and asked her again, “What can I get you?” This time she had to force it through tight, trembling lips; it was impossible to hold back that smile.
“Damn,” Liv said, with barely any sound to it, just mouthed the word and saw her own lips move in the iridescent green of those eyes. Saw Wonder Woman’s lips part, the pale triangle of skin in the V of the cardigan rise with the short breath. Felt the clamminess of her hands and realized with a start and a sudden wide angle of her vision that her hand was touching Liv’s hand on the counter, their fingers rapidly entwining, a million townsfolk watching them, surrounding them.
When she looked up again, zeroed back in on her face, the girl was looking up from under a beaded brow, eyes blazing emerald fire, that wild smile trembling like a taut wire. Ready.
They both breathed, deep, slow; the hot wind that comes before the thunder.
And then they exploded upward, both of them propelled skyward by unimaginable force, breaking through the ceiling, the steel trusses and roof, without even a scratch and merging into a single distant fleck viewed from beneath quivering hands of huddled and frightened restaurant-goers, and lost in the pale blue northern sky.