The girl is spinning all around a small vinyl table and its two chairs. She's wearing a workout bra and shorts. The table is, inexplicably, orange. One of the chairs is grasshopper green, the other a deep, calm, meditative azure. You'd expect this contrast of coloring reflect in some sort of difference of movement between the two chairs, but no such luck : they both sit quietly with all four legs on the floor and await patiently. Even the green one.
The girl is moving to unheard rythm, eight to the bar. Beat me up Daddy, beat me Daddy, eight to the bar. The small stove has two of the three burners going, she's pouring something in the pan with one hand and mixing something else with the other. For minutes the process continues at devilish speed, methodically assembling a full, proper, complete Southern breakfast. There's fresh made biscuits but no gravy, eggs and cheesy grits with ham, bacon and sausage. There's also something with spinach in it, and mushrooms. A little speck of fresh parsley lingers on the large knife blade. A pot of parsley shudders faintly on the windowsill.
In the background, by the fridge, a television set shows a large head on a blue background. The head is talking. The girl isn't making much noise but you still can barely make out the words coming out of the head in the television set. Something to do with how voters will make irrational electoral choices inasmuch as they vote for the wrong party in the head's estimation when clearly the right party would have paid off more in immediate benefits. His sour expression suggests he might have failed a number of careers before settling on barely audible talking head.
"Mommy!" a little girl, maybe seven or eight stops briefly in the entryway to the small kitchen, then runs to the stove. "Mommy! Mommy!!!" Candice hugs her and showers her with kisses. They look almost exactly identical, outside the size differential. Oval faces, hazel eyes, thin eyebrows, curled noses. The mother's hair is curled elaboratedly and in front slightly matted with sweat, the little girl's all ruffled up. They sit down and have breakfast.
Later the child will take the bus to school, and the mother will collapse fatigued in their only, still warm, double bed. Then even later who knows what. For now however they're having breakfast, under the sour face and wordly assault of the head on the television set. Neither seem to notice him just as he can't notice them, or do anything for that matter outside of continuing the verbal deluge nobody can really hear.
There was a time, you see, when Candice herself was about six or seven years old. Her mother's nose was also curly, and her eyebrows thin and her eyes hazel. Her mother also had a little girl, just like she has a little girl of her own today. Her mother was however married, unlike her, and went to Church on every Sunday, also unlike her. Times have changed, of course, and if stripping was not exactly unheard of twenty years before, it was certainly not something you'd be telling people about. Then again even today many don't, so maybe it's more complicated a thing. Her mother cooked breakfast every morning, just like she did. It wasn't easy, especially at the end of the shift. It probably wasn't easy for her mother, either, but then again it rarely works out that something easy to do is actually worth doing. Perhaps one day the head on the television set may catch wind of that and extend his pontifications to cover the irrational nature of things, too. Why limit oneself to voters if one doesn't have to ?
In the meanwhile Candice is sleeping, and in her sleep the scent of grits cooked and eaten twenty years afore comingles with the scent of grits cooked and eaten just a second ago. You could call it dreaming, perhaps, but it's really just a mixing of times and places and memories and thoughts. Her mother wasn't happy, not really. Things just didn't work out that way. Is Candice happy ?
Who knows these things... She has her daughter and her tiny apartment. She's not late on the rent, even if it is pretty high. Then again what's she to do, this place is close to where she works, there's nothing cheap around here. Go far enough to save on rent you need a car. Add up the financing, gasoline and maintenance it ends up even more expensive. What's being happy take ?
Perhaps all it takes is making rational choices. For sure when it comes to handling money rational goes a long way. Like for instance not getting the cheaper, further away flat and then ending up stuck with a beat up old car that'll never start and being always late and always stressed out and eventually getting fired like Krystall last week, and like the other Krystall before her a few months ago. But then again rationally speaking no woman would ever let herself get caught.
Do you know what "getting caught" means ? Obviously if you're a boy you think you do, on the grounds of how familiar the expression "getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar" sounds. Or if you're a politician, same thing. Or if you're a girl, aged six, or seven or eight. There's another meaning to that expression however, one that Candice knows full well. She picked up a copy of Sexus from the discount bin because all the other girls were talking about it. It's a book by this guy Henry Miller, he had a brother who was a playwright or something like that. Candice actually read most of it, unlike most of the other girls, and so she knows : getting caught is what happens to the girl if she's young enough and warm enough and having sex but not using protection. Boys get caught and go to jail, girls get caught and go to the maternity ward. Politicians get caught and go to the television set, with particularly dour expressions on their time-wrinkled leathery mugs. It's the way of the world.
Perhaps all it takes to be happy is making the right irrational choices. How'd one know which ones are right though ? Passion thinks she always knows, because, she says, your gut always knows and you just have to follow your gut. Passion is Candice's best friend, and has been, for years. They work at the same place now and do a lot of sets together, but before that they used to share a slightly larger flat. Candice got her the job, really, because the boss likes her a lot. Not in a slimy sort of way, there's obviously plenty of people who run joints and try to corner the girls into putting out, but not this guy. Then again, he wouldn't need to anyway. He's gorgeous.
Perhaps all it takes to be happy is being gorgeous. The boss probably is happy, if you think about it. Or maybe the secret is to not really care. He certainly doesn't seem like he does. Then again, maybe he's not really happy, it's impossible to actually know what the man thinks at all. He might tell you, but he might be just pulling your leg - which he does all!the!time! - so in the end you never know. Candice is pretty certain Passion's ideas are all out of whack. For one, she falls in love about every other month, and then it doesn't work out and then she cries her pretty creole eyes out of her head for a week. For the other, guts are ordinarily full of shit.
Maybe all it takes to be happy is to be asleep. Judging by Candice's expression there may be some truth to that, she looks relaxed and a faint smile is curling up her lip. But then again, how long can you sleep ? And even if you could, how long would you sleep ? Sleep is a little like being dead, and being dead is a little like being the loser on the show, among other things. Have you seen that one where that woman was to pick which is largest among the moon, a peanut, a kettle and an elephant and she picked the elephant ? Something like that, unless of course you die of old age, in which case it's not quite as visible. But maybe that's the point, by the time you're old you've made enough little mistakes to be pretty much in the position of that woman, if you add it all up.