By Samantha Rodriguez
A blue light illuminated her face as Clariss sat nested in a black booth with tufted leather cushions in a circle of strangers. Her stiletto shaped baby pink nails were tapping out the caption for tonight’s Instagram post: Be as bubbly as your drink with the champagne emoji. It was a picture of her and the girl next to her holding a bottle of rosé that Clariss had yet to drink from. The other girl was wearing a black leather miniskirt with knee high boots and had an infinity tattoo on her wrist. She must have gotten both ideas from Pinterest, Clariss thought. She shifted in the booth, peeling her sticky thighs from the leather.
“You don’t want any champagne?” The girl next to her shouted over the techno music that nobody knew how to dance to aside from pumping their fist in the air. Clariss looked up at the girl for the first time since she took to editing the photo. Ah, she looks better in person, Clariss thought and finished uploading her post.
“I’m heading out,” Clariss said to her with a smile. She had finished what she came here to do.
“Wait—” the girl said as Clariss slid out of the booth. “But you bought it…”
Clariss walked to her car while bracing the brisk night air with her bare arms crossed over her chest. It was as if the city was asleep and only she had stayed up to watch it. Once inside the car, she huffed warm puffs of air on her cupped hands. After her fingers thawed, she checked her Instagram post. A little under two hundred and fifty likes within five minutes. Not bad. Then she finally started the car, a refurbished 2010 Kia soul that she’d bought with the insurance money from her crash. She remembered unlocking her phone moments right before getting t-boned. Street lights periodically flooded in and out of her as she drove on the barren highway back home. The car’s bluetooth connected to her phone and shuffled through her usual playlist of songs but nothing sounded right. She eventually succumbed to the silence of the night.
The moment she got back into her studio apartment, she shed off her sheer, neon green, lynx ruched dress and swapped it for an old camp t-shirt with checkered pajama pants. Then she laid in bed, tucked between her cotton sheets, to rest but her mind did the opposite. A blue light illuminated her face in the darkness of her room while she checked her post again: two thousand and twenty three likes. Now I can sleep, she told herself. What was it about the post that garnered so many likes? Maybe it was her lynx ruched dress that has five more months of payment installations on it or maybe it was the classy rosé champagne bottle or maybe it was the other girl’s wide, bright smile. That was the only reason why Clariss had asked to take a picture with her out of all the other strangers in the group. Then again, who wouldn’t have a wide, bright smile after a stranger bought them an expensive bottle of rosé? Clariss turned to lay flat on her stomach. What should I post tomorrow? She flipped back around and kicked off her covers. The ceiling paint was covered in cracks and it gave off the illusion of the foundation cracking. This was something she could relate to, cracking under the weight of everything.