Pretty Lady, 27

The sound of fake birds gradually gets louder as a phone alarm goes off in this studio apartment. Sheets rustle. Slick lips whisper in an ear-

 

Would you like some tea?

 

Beat.

 

Is that a yes? I always start the morning with tea. I know I should brush my teeth first, but there’s something about the taste of something on an unbrushed tongue.. Like orange juice, or a swallow of Coke that you left on the nightstand. Like it mixes with all the flavors from yesterday. 

 

She steps away from the bed on the hardwood floor – quick steps to the kitchen area. She fills the kettle and turns on the gas burner. She returns to the bed. 

 

I got a super cute kettle for my new place, a glass one, online. I thought you weren’t supposed to heat glass on a burner, but the tea companies have been selling these for years, and I didn’t see any settlements in the review section. I try not to turn the gas up high, though, don’t want to scorch the bottom like metal does. Does glass scorch; or does it just burst? 

 

Does glass whistle? I’ve only used the kettle once since being in here. You should feel some kind of special. Just kidding! It’s my kettle. I’m the special one. 

Haha, you’re special, too…I tell you what, I’ll get you whatever tea you like – chai, green, green with mint, green with lemon, ginger… 

 

The kettle begins to simmer. 

 

Let me get you a mug. Sugar? Or agave nectar? Why do you look so confused, you’ve never… you’ve never had agave nectar? It’s like sugar and honey mixed together but still sweeter…and supposedly healthier.

 

She hops from the bed, a soft thud. She takes out a squeeze bottle and a spoon. The bottle, almost empty, spurts agave nectar onto the spoon. On her tiptoes, she leans her upper body onto the mattress.

 

Here…taste. 

 

Their teeth scrape the spoon. 

 

Mmm. 

 

Her teeth scrape the spoon. 

 

Mhmmm, I knew you would like it. But if you’re going with the ginger, it’s better with sugar. 

 

She leaves the bed again, quick steps on the hardwood floor. A mug clinks on the countertop. She pours sugar. 

 

I’m not for cream in my tea, but hey, to each their own. Almond milk right?

 

She pours in a little cream. 

 

That’s ready to go. Wow – wait, sorry to be so cliché, but the way the light is hitting you right now is just so… incredible. 

 

Birds chirp outside the window. 

 

You look so lovely. I don’t do this with everyone, I promise, but… can I take your portrait? 

 

Movement on the bed. 

 

No, don’t move! Your hair is fine, don’t move, literally, do not move. Breathe, yes, okay, just a second. 

 

She opens and shuts drawers, rummages around looking for her camera. 

 

Okay, one, two, three.

 

The film camera clicks. The kettle boils. 

 

I’ll get that developed when I get paid. Ooo, one for the polaroid! Let’s…

 

She rummages for the Polaroid. It turns on.

 

One, two, three!

 

The Polaroid fires. 

 

Give that a few minutes. I’d let you take it home, but I keep all of them. How about one more? Last one, I promise, don’t move! This light is so lovely…

 

The Polaroid snaps…out of film.  

 

Oh. I guess I wasn’t keeping count. 

 

The kettle boils. 

 

What’s your email? I’ll email you copies of them. You can just text it to me later. 

 

She puts the cameras away. Birds chirping mix with the awakening of the city. 

 

What a beautiful morning it’s – 

 

The kettle bursts. 

 

She screams. 

 

No, no, stay, I got it. Wow. Whew, I… sorry about that. I’m okay, I’m okay, no, it didn’t get me. I got it, seriously, stay right there. 

 

She tiptoes, grabbing a broom from the closet. 

 

Maybe I should mop up first…

 

She opens a drawer for a towel, sloshes it around the floor, steaming water and glass. 

 

That wasn’t so… well… I could heat you a mug in the microwave. Except, there’s already milk in it, and well… anyway. Sorry about that. I’ll fix you up another mug. 

 

She scoots the soaked towel mound steaming with glass into a corner.

 

Oops!

 

She clicks off the gas burner. 

 

That could’ve gotten worse. 

 

She sees the Polaroid beginning to develop, swoops it up, and takes quick steps back to the bed. 

 

Look! Your photo's developed. You look so lovely.