The following is a short work of fiction.
Rachel’s life has no shortage of conflict to address. In fact, conflict is her bread and butter. Without it, lawyers like her would have no place in this world. She’d like to think she’s the peacemaker-type, someone who bridges the gap between two — or sometimes more — opposing sides. Today she’s about to meet her new pro bono client, a woman in her 60s whose opposed to having her ancestral house demolished to make way for a new commercial shopping mall. It’s a challenging case, but Rachel devours challenges for breakfast.
“Is everything ready for the — ?” Rachel was cut off mid-sentence by Holly, her ever-reliable assistant. “The deposition on Monday? Yes.”
“Did you schedule the — ?”
“The meeting with the new client. Yes, it’s this afternoon.” Holly replied without missing a mark.
“Well, it seems like you’ve got everything sorted out.” Rachel said.
“Actually, not quite. I need your answer. They sent another invitation and I've forwarded it to your e-mail. It’s this Saturday, you know.” Holly reminded.
“I’ll think about it. What’s my password again? You know what, just copy and paste the text and send it via Messenger. It’s easier that way.” Rachel said.
Final RSVP Reminder: You are cordially invited to the 15th-Year Class ‘95 Reunion.
When: Saturday, August 14 at 7PM
Where: The high school gym
Attire: Dress to impress
Rachel stared at her computer screen as she ruminates on whether she should attend or not. She’s conflicted. Graduation day was the last time she saw her classmates and after the ceremony, she swore that she will never meet them again. High school was a time in her life when she felt invisible, insignificant. In her memory, everyone was mean. The popular bunch called her names, made fun of the way she looked and although she excelled in her studies, it wasn’t enough to earn their respect. She didn’t want to see them again — until now. Now, that she’s a successful hotshot lawyer. At that moment, she made a decision. Yes, she’s going and you bet she’s going to dress to impress.
“Clear my schedule, I’m taking the rest of the day off,” Rachel instructed Holly as she picked up her Birkin bag.
“Did something happen?” Holly asked, alarmed.
“Yes, I need to prepare for the reunion. I’ll come back to review the documents tomorrow morning."
“Oh, so you’ve finally decided? And you need the whole afternoon to prepare? I think you just need to show up as you are. That pretty much takes five minutes plus commute time.”
“Don’t be sassy with me. I want to look my best. Please send my apologies and reschedule all my meetings today.”
“Consider it done.”
Today is the day. After tonight, she would have redeemed herself in the eyes of her high school classmates. No longer will she be remembered as the pitiful nerd that no one wanted to be friends with. She’s come a long way and she’s determined to show them that.
She’s already dressed to impress in her outfit: an elegant, figure-hugging metallic sequined dress paired with platform pumps.
Now all she has to do is to recreate the eyeshadow and hair look from yesterday. Eye primer first — something the sales assistant taught her — and then Rachel proceeded to attempt the eyeshadow look. In the bathroom mirror, it looked okay, but once she returned to her vanity, she was shocked. Under the bright natural light, it was clear that the attempt was a failure. The eyeliner was uneven, the eyeshadow was smudged and some of the pigment got onto the apples of her cheeks. Ugh, now I have to retouch my foundation.
She dabbed on some of her two-way powder foundation to cover the smudged matte eyeshadow before going in for a second attempt. Yes! Success.
She proceeded to do her hair. Ring, ring. Her phone buzzed, the name of her client flashing on the screen. Rachel turned to reach out for her phone, not realising that a bunch of her hair was still wrapped in the curler. "Ouch!" she yelled out in pain as she hastily tugged to get her hair out, but it was stuck. When she finally freed the over-heated bunch from the curler, she was horrified by the sight of the hot frizzy mess. She needed some assistance. Back to the mall.
A long queue formed at the beauty counter. Rachel forgot that it was a Saturday and many people were spending their weekend at the mall. She didn't have time to wait in line; there were documents in her office waiting to be reviewed. She made a mental note to come back later and rushed to the office.
Holly welcomed her as she entered her office.
“Oh, what happened? You look like —“ Holly struggled to find the right words.
“A hot mess, I know. It’s Saturday. Why are you here?” Rachel sighed.
“Because you told me you’re gonna drop by this morning. So what happened? I thought you were going to prepare for a high school reunion, not a Halloween party.” Holly chuckled.
“It turns out I have the hairstyling tool, just not the talent. I got distracted."
“Wait, you spent the whole afternoon preparing for a look? I thought you were preparing a speech. Why do you care so much about what some people you shared a classroom with decades ago think of you anyway?”
“I just wanted to prove that I’m more than what they made me feel like... a loser.”
As Rachel said that aloud, it dawned upon her how hollow and pointless that goal was. She didn't need to prove anything to anyone, especially to her high school bullies. But a part of her still wanted to go. She's all dressed up, after all. Might as well show up in style.
Once she’s finished with work, Rachel headed home to wash her hair and freshen up. Once again, she picked up the curler and gave it another a try; this time taking care not to get distracted. She turned up the radio. 'Cause I don't care eh eh, I don't care eh eh, 'Cause I don't care eh eh, I don't care, Boy, I don't care. Ah, so this is the song the lady was talking about.
20 minutes after and she's all ready to go. Not bad for a newbie, she congratulated herself. Rachel looked into the rear-view mirror of her car as she drove off. "This is it," she said as she gave a reassuring smile at her reflection.
Rachel arrived at her hometown too early. It was a long drive coming from the city and she's got an hour to kill before the reunion party starts. Nothing much has changed in this sleepy town except for a few trendy cafés here and there. She entered one and plopped herself on the cushioned sofa. Rachel was hitting a new high score on Fruit Ninja when a small voice interrupted her.
“Rachel, is that you?” She looked up and saw a familiar face, one she couldn't quite put a name on. “It’s me, Phoebe.”
“Oh! How have you been?” Rachel leapt out of her sofa and hugged her former best friend. It’s a funny thing, how friendships can go back to where it paused, even after a long hiatus.
“I love your hair and makeup. I’m good," Phoebe said with a beaming smile that quickly disappeared. "No, that’s a lie. I’m not good. Do you really want to know how I am?"
“No, of course, I wanna know how you are,” Rachel said in a surprised but composed manner.
“Well, my mum and I got into a fight recently. I’m a real estate agent and our house, the one where we used to hang out in, landed a buy-out by this developer so they can build a new mall. We could get a serious profit from the sale. But she hired a lawyer in the city to stop the whole thing. I heard the meeting got rescheduled, though.”
“Oh, well I can help you. I’m a lawyer now. I'm sure we can work something out.”
“Wow, really? Do you have Facebook? Can I add you?”
“Hey, all our classmates are on Facebook. I can get updates from them on this thing. What’s the point of a reunion when we have Facebook?" Rachel exclaimed excitedly as she began adding people to her newly created profile.
“You know what, you’re right. How about we ditch the party and see a new movie instead? Just like old times? I heard good things about Inception,” Phoebe suggested.
“Sure!” Just like old times.
Suddenly, Rachel remembered that her high school years weren't all that bad. Why do we only remember the bad moments from our past when the good moments were just right there? She could spend another few hours with her high school bullies, or she could spend it catching up with an old friend. Rachel chose the latter.
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