Friday 30th January 2009

by Tina

The green room wasn’t green. This was the first thing that Ruth noticed when she stepped inside the “green” room. Sure there were some plants here and there and it was a generally nice looking room with comfortable seats, but it wasn’t green.

“This is the green room?” Ruth heard a voice behind her. She turned slightly and saw younger woman walk up beside her, looking around the room. The newcomer was slightly smaller than Ruth, dressed in something that she called a “college getup”: jeans, pink collared top and pink low-cut Chucks. The last time Ruth wore Chucks was five years ago. And Chucks weren’t even a hit back then.

“Yeah, my thoughts exactly,” Ruth said, smirking a bit. The girl looked at her and returned a smile.

“Rain,” she said, extending her hand to Ruth.

Ruth accepted the hand and shook it firmly. “Ruth.”

“Hello,” Rain said, smiling again. Ruth noted she had an easy smile, a little bit like her friend Mitchie. She thinks she’ll get along fine with Rain. They headed to the overstuffed chairs and took a seat each.

“So,” Rain continued, looking around the empty room. “Are you here for the show too?”

Ruth nodded. “The Wrimo Show. I was invited to guest here last week. I take you’re here for it too.”

Before she could say anything else, she heard heels clacking on the tiles and in came a tall, beautiful girl wearing a really short dress, dropping onto the love seat.

“I’m not late, am I?” she asked, turning to Ruth. Ruth met her eyes and was surprised to see that they were a very dark shade of blue.

“I don’t think so,” Ruth replied slowly.

“Good.” She shook her long black hair behind her and pulled out a mirror from her purse to check her make-up.

“Hi!” Rain greeted the newcomer. “Are you a guest in the show too?”

The blue-eyed girl looked away from the mirror. Ruth saw Rain blink when she saw her eyes. “Yeah. I’m guessing you girls are too.”

Rain nodded. “I’m Rain, this is Ruth. You are?”

“Marianne.” There was something in Marianne’s tone that made Ruth a bit apprehensive of her. She reminded Ruth of one of her officemates, Phil, who seemed bored with everyone around him. Marianne wasn’t rude, but she had this tone that felt like she was above other people, which made Ruth bristle.

“So…do you guys know why we were called to guest here?” Rain asked after a moment of silence.

Ruth glanced at the younger one. “It’s a pre-Valentine’s special, I think. Something about single looking available girls. Girls who have never been in a relationship.” She wrinkled her nose when she said that. She hated talking about her singlehood.

“Really? That’s what they told you?” Rain asked, surprised. “I was told it’s about single girls with guy best friends.”

“It is?” Marianne asked, putting her mirror back in her bag. “They told me it was about girls in relationships.” She raised an eyebrow at the two of them and Ruth felt a bit trapped.

“Well, maybe it’s about different topics?” Ruth wondered, but she was uncertain. That was weird.

“Maybe,” Rain said. She leaned back on one armrest and swung her legs onto the other side. “So…what’s your story?” She looked at Ruth questioningly.

“My story?”

“Well, you must have something to say,” Rain said. “You wouldn’t be here if you don’t have anything.”

Ruth shook her head. “I’m single. I have been for the past twenty-eight years of my life. Is that something to talk about?”

Marianne glanced at Ruth. She had pulled out an iPod from her bag and was about to put the earphones on — which kind of irritated Ruth — but stopped when she head what Ruth said. “You’re NBSB?”

Ruth’s face reddened. NBSB — No Boyfriend Since Birth. How she disliked that term. “Yeah. So what?”

“Nothing,” Marianne said, shaking her head. “That’s a rarity.”

“Really?” Rain asked, turning to Marianne. “I’m NBSB too, but I’m only twenty-four so I’m really not hurrying.” She paused as if thinking about something. Ruth and Marianne looked at her expectantly.

“Sometimes I wonder how long I’d be waiting, though,” Rain finally added. She glanced at Ruth again and looked away. “Sorry.”

Ruth smiled and shook her head at the younger woman. “No problem. I’m still waiting.”

“What’s with all these waiting, anyway?” Marianne asked. She finally put her iPod down beside her, earphones wrapped neatly around the gadget.

“We’re waiting for The One,” Rain explained, turning to Marianne. “You know, the One that God created for us.”

“Oh sheesh,” Marianne said, rolling her eyes. “No offense, but please don’t go all preachy on me. I’ve had too much of that for the past days.”

“So you have a boyfriend, Marianne?” Ruth asked, after she saw the look on Rain’s face after Marianne’s preachy comment. She looked like she was about to go preachy herself, and though she’d probably side with Rain on that discussion, she did not want to have one like that right now.

Marianne nodded. “Sort of. We see each other.”

“Do you see anybody else?” Ruth asked. “Like, date around?” She remembered Ian, who was probably on another date then. He had wished Ruth luck earlier, but after trying to call him earlier while she was waiting, there was no answer. Guys can be so inconsistent.

“No not really,” Marianne said. “I see them when I want to see them. Get it?”

Somehow, Ruth did not want to. “Okay. So you’re not really in a relationship.”

Marianne shrugged. “I guess not.” She leaned back on her chair and looked like she was in deep thought. Ruth noted that Marianne could not be older than her, probably a few years older than Rain, but still younger than Ruth.

“I know you’re like inexperienced, but I was thinking about something,” Marianne said after a while.

“Yeah?” Rain asked, looking at Marianne from her position.

“How would you know if a guy really likes you?”

Ruth looked at Marianne, surprised. “A guy likes you? Aren’t you supposed to know that already?” She could hardly believe Marianne would be asking such a question — she was the one who’s dating around, seeing other people, right?

Marianne nodded, her cheeks looking pink. “I mean…I know the other guys I meet seem like they like me, but I know they don’t. They just like me because I’m hot or something like that. And they want to get into my pants.”

“Is there someone who’s not like that to you?” Rain asked.

“Yeah…well, I don’t know. Half the time he’s mean with me, like he doesn’t want to acknowledge me, but the other half he’s really nice. He let me stay at his place when mine got flooded because he didn’t want me to commute alone.”

“Wow, that is nice,” Rain said, shifting in her seat. “But you never know about guys. They’re too confusing.”

“Right with that,” Ruth said absently, looking up at the ceiling. She thought about the non-reply from Ian. Is it so hard to send a text message even if he was on a date with someone? A date that he wasn’t really even serious about — at least, not exclusively?

“Why? What’s with you, Ruth?” Marianne asked. The tone she had earlier that irritated Ruth had softened, like she was actually curious about what Ruth had to say.

“Just confusing. I don’t even know if there’s anything,” Ruth said slowly. She usually doesn’t talk about this other than with her closest friends, but the silence of her phone was bugging her already.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…he’s nice, funny, caring and he seems overly concerned with me all the time,” Ruth explained. “But he’s dating other girls and he tells me all about them, and it’s weird because if a guy likes you why would he tell you about his dates?” Her tone rose a couple of notches higher as she ended, clearly agitated.

Marianne clucked her tongue but said nothing. Rain looked at Ruth sympathetically. “Guys.”

“Yeah, guys.” Ruth gave her a small smile. “So what about you?”

Rain made a face. “A case of the guy best friend having a girlfriend.”

“Are you in love with him?” Marianne asked, not beating around the bush. Rain’s face reddened.

“No. I mean…I don’t know. I used to like him a lot back in college, but we became best friends and then he got a girlfriend — someone I introduced to him! — and it’s just weird,” Rain wrapped her arms around herself, as if she was cold even if the temperature in the room was the normal. “Just weird.” She repeated.

The three of them fell silent, each lost in their own thoughts. Ruth checked her phone once again but there was still no message. She sighed and turned it off, giving up on the hope that Ian would send her another message. Marianne fiddled with her iPod but didn’t put the earphones in her ears, just fiddled with it. Rain continued to look at the ceiling, hands playing with the edge of the throw pillow on her lap.

“Girls, you’re up in five,” Ruth looked at the small girl in glasses standing at the door, holding a clipboard in one hand and wearing a headset. “Okay, make that three. Come on.”

Ruth, Rain and Marianne exchanged looks. Rain sat up and fixed herself, while Marianne put her iPod back in her bag. Ruth smiled at them and said, “Ready?”

“I guess,” Marianne said, shaking her head a bit, making her long black hair shimmer under the lights.

“Come on.” Ruth stood up from her chair made sure her blouse was on straight. She let Marianne and Rain get out first, and followed them.

“Maybe that’s why we’re here,” Rain whispered to the two of them as they walked out of the green room. “You know, to talk about these things.”

Marianne laughed. “Right. Like I’d talk about my personal life on TV.”

Ruth smiled and just shook her head. “I’m just going to pretend that this isn’t real.”

And the three of them entered the set.

[1696 words]

Prompt from Write Anything’s Fiction Friday # 89: Pick three of your characters from different stories. They are all invited to be guests on a talk show. They are all sitting in the green room waiting for the show to start. What happens next?

Author’s Note: The three characters are from my 2006-2008 NaNoWriMo novels: Rain from “Fall Like Rain”, Marianne from “Red Meets Blue” and Ruth from “I Am Single (And Everybody Knows)”. I have a feeling they all sound the same, haha.

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3 Responses to “Common Denominator”

  1. Annie says:

    I liked the interplay – clever.

  2. […] It’s all about the wordplay « Common Denominator Household […]

  3. raichu says:

    this is a script, right? it’s like samuel beckett’s “waiting for godot”, in a way. btw, the comment about guys being “too confusing” is just hilarious; usually, when guys are direct to the point about these things, they usually end up without girlfriends.

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