She puts five drops of lemon juice on her tea and then tastes it, to know if it’s the proper amount. It is: combined with the sugar and the quality of the tea, the beverage is perfect. She asks for a napkin and sips even more tea, as she watches out for her guest to make an arrival. The café is quite filled with different kinds of people but she would notice someone that shouldn’t be there or at least felt awkward, in a moment. She gives one, two and three sips, still waiting. She even eats some of the pastry she had asked for, instead of waiting to share it with someone else. She has never being very good at patience and it shows: she moves her leg, posed over her other leg, with a rhythmic movement that would put any dog nearby into a deep hypnosis.
Finally her guest arrives. She’s a young woman called Gaby, the daughter of her late husband. Since he died, they haven’t really seen each other, partly because their relationship was never very good. Not minding that, she waves to the young woman who doesn’t respond but has obviously seen her too, as she walks towards the table. She arrives and tries to smile but fails, instead sitting down and receiving the menu from a waiter that has appears out of nowhere. The woman tells her what’s good in this café, what kind of beverages they have and what to eat, but Gaby is not very focused or doesn’t seem to be at least. She breathes in slowly and lets out air through her nose in the loudest and most annoying way. The woman drinks more tea to calm her nerves.
Gaby then puts the menu aside and asks her why she asked to meet her. The young woman is obviously not comfortable, grabbing her purse as if she was afraid someone might steal it away right there. The woman sips a bit more tea and waits a few seconds to answer the question; meanwhile Gaby pierces her with her sight. She then declares she missed her and that since the death of her husband, six years ago, she has been trying to put her life together. She realized, or so she says, that she never really gave Gaby a chance when they lived together, not even trying to form some kind of relationship of any kind. She says she only wants for them to be friends and to be united by the memory or their beloved Peter.
But the young one doesn’t look very impressed by the words of her former stepmother. She just looks at her and, finally, sighs and smiles saying: “You kill me, Deb. You do.” Deborah, a name she had forbidden Gaby to use when in her presence, has shrills all over her body and turns around instinctively to know if someone has heard the comment. No one is looking at them, actually many customers have left the café, as lunchtime is now over. She sips more tea, which runs out and calls, with a trembling hand, another waiter and asks him for more tea. When she looks at Gaby, the girl is still smiling.
Gaby asks the waiter for a cappuccino and a croissant filled with chocolate. He leaves, not without looking at the horrified face of Deborah. Her expression has contorted into an awful grin and all because she has begun remembering the past. A past where she hated her husband Peter and had only wanted to marry him for the money but in the transaction she never thought she would have to put up with a little kid, he’s annoying daughter who was in that age when they just look at you and seem to know everything about your life and accomplishments. She was a pretty girl, but annoying like any other kid and Deb knew she had to make Peter realized she was the important one in his life and that’s why she planned getaways together, that didn’t include Gaby.
The girl, now twenty years old, just smiles. She knows what Deb has on her mind and she loves that the woman is now regretting of have a small reunion with the stepdaughter she never wanted. When the cappuccino and the croissant arrive, she starts eating and drinking loudly, only to annoy her stock up companion across the table. Deb is annoyed, extremely annoyed, as her life has always been one when she faked to be someone that she wasn’t. She had always preferred etiquette and glamour to many other things in life like honesty and hard work. Gaby knew her father was her third husband and that she had now divorced number five. She was what many people would call “a gold-digger”.
Gaby said it out loud and it had the expected reaction: Deb smashed her fist against the table, spilling her tea and dropping some sugar cubes to the floor. A waiter, apparently someone that had know her for a while, came in fast and helped her clean up and pick up what had fallen to the floor. She stood up and Gaby was hopeful she would leave first, humiliated. But she didn’t, she just dusted off the sugar and some tea and sat down again, with more rage in her eyes that she had ever seen. She remembered then the time she had seen him drink like a sailor because her father hadn’t arrived from a trip and she “needed” him urgently. Of course, the real reason was that she needed money.
To be honest, the girl didn’t understand how it was that a woman that had been married so many times had no idea of keeping money. One would think a person in that line of business would know to save a little for the future, as looks vaporizes fast and life is more and more expensive each day. She still kept her good looks, her nice dresses and her appointments to the beauty salon, but she was very late in her rent payments, she couldn’t get a job and a former lover had come to her, with wishes to blackmail her, thinking she had money but she had none. He didn’t believe it and kept asking for money.
Gaby did not know this and Deb wouldn’t tell her. Breathing slowly, Deb told the girl she had not been a great stepmother but that was precisely the reason why she had decided to make contact again; in the hope they could be friends. To the sound of the word, Gaby started laughing, again attracting the attention of the restaurant’s staff and of the few customers. But she didn’t mind, she kept laughing, authentically crying because she had found Deb choice of words extremely funny. She smiled to her and just couldn’t reply back because she found the situation so ridiculous and out of every context. She finally got serious and asked Deb how much money she needed and why she needed it. Deb, of course, started acting confused and offended but it obviously didn’t work.
Still smiling, the former stepdaughter told her she knew what moved her and what had made her marry her dad. Faking been horrified or something like that would not work, as she had known her much better than her father. Deborah attempted to talk but Gaby continued, reminding her that only she knew about the lovers she had back then and about the amount of money she spend on useless things. She was a shameless whore who just wanted money and a place to feel safe but Gaby wouldn’t be the person to provide for her. She had to find someone else to believe her, to buy into her trap of a femme fatale in distress, a performance for which she was growing older and older, becoming a comedic role.
This hit Deb right in her pride. Suddenly her facial expression changed as well as her body language. The red in her face did not go away but it was obvious the real her had finally come out. She approached Gaby over the table and, in a really low register, told her that what her life was like and what she had done with it, was her problem. Who she was a result of a series of things that had happened to her and that a spoiled brat like her would never understand. She pitied her for being so blinded by her youth and by her morals, which she would never think were wrong. She said, before pulling away, that she had done what she had to and that she wasn’t sorry.
It was Gaby who stood up first, grab a bill from her purse and put it on the table. She looked at Deb, not angry but with disgust. She told her that women like her were just poison and that she was just scum, not only for marrying old timers for their money but because she had the nerve to ask her for money, because she knew that’s what she wanted. She had no shame and she pitied her. Gaby turned around and left in a huff, leaving Deb drinking her tea, trembling because of all the rage inside of her. She picture every single one of those men and those lives she had lived through in the past and the only thing she could to was to throw her blessed tea cup across the room and smash it against a wall.