Don: My husband passed away last weekend.
Crystal: I know this is weird but my friend thinks you’re faking.
Like you’re faking your dead husband.
She’s in denial.
Don: Who is this?
Crystal: Sorry for your loss.
Tell your friend she should be ashamed of herself.
Brianna doesn’t get up, but her eyes snap open. She wasn’t really asleep in the first place. “You’re gullible. Some dude tells you his wife is a bitch and you’re like all over it.”
How unfair, how stupid. Brianna’s life is ordinary: dorm, class, friends her own age, out-of-state parents mailing giant checks. She’s never understood Elkie’s adult existence, the adult relationship with Don.
“You think you’re so much smarter than me,” Elkie says, “but you’d be broke if your dad wasn’t a lawyer. You’ll probably go broke anyway. Film studies.”
“At least I’m not a hooker.”
“Get out. Go find a bus back to your stupid dorm. Don’t even talk to me.”
“Fine.” Brianna puts on her socks and shoes and bra in the early morning stillness of Elkie’s room, sunlight streaking in the window. There are no sounds but Elkie’s mother and grandmother waking up, making their slow breakfast-time procession to the kitchen.
Elkie and Brianna have only been mad at each other once before. One of Elkie’s clients wanted to watch porn so Elkie put some on, only the woman in the first scene was black and the client made a face and told Elkie to fast-forward. “I’m just not into that sort of thing,” he said, and Elkie was confused because the woman was pretty, and anyway, the client himself was black. Did he hate himself? Later, she tried to tell Brianna, but Brianna said she didn’t want to have a conversation about whether black women are pretty, or black men hate themselves, or race in general. She sulked for a week after that, pouting whenever she thought Elkie wasn’t looking.
But this morning, Brianna is beyond sulking. She throws her laptop in her book bag and looks Elkie in the eye and says, “Fuck you. I don’t even know why I hang out with you.” Elkie keeps her face straight. She pretends that’s not the most hurtful thing she’s ever heard.