As Vivienne walked in to the coffee shop every eye turned to look at her. Some just a quick glance, others a full on stare. Holly wasn’t even sure if they realized they were doing it. She knew Vivienne didn’t notice it at all. Holly was just used to it happening and watched other people watch Vivienne. And then she watched their faces to see who had noticed. Not Vivienne’s long blonde hair, everyone noticed that. Or her ice blue eyes. They would have noticed that as well. Or even her outfit. She was always dressed perfectly. Like she walked out of a fashion photo shoot. Head to toe not a hair out of place. But no, if they really noticed. See it was pouring rain outside and Vivienne, no umbrella, no jacket, nothing, was completely dry. Not a drop on her.
Holly had asked her once how she did it. And Vivienne looked at her like she was a child asking as silly question. As if the answer was obvious, “Well I just walk where the raindrops aren’t.” Simple really. Of course she did. That was Vivienne.
Holly stood when Vivienne (never ever Viv, not even when they were children) reached the table. She received her dual air kisses and then sat back down. “I wasn’t sure what you would want so I haven’t ordered yet.”
“Oh anything is fine with me.”
“I’m getting just a cup of black coffee. Do you want that?”
Vivienne pursed her lips and thought for a moment. “Do you remember that coffee we had in Italy? The one that was so rich Elizabeth Taylor wanted to marry it? That’s what I want.”
Holly smiled, “I’m not sure they sell that here.”
“Then probably just an espresso.”
Holly was going to get up to order their drinks when Vivienne grabbed her arm, “Did I tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“I’m getting a dog.”
“A dog? In your house?” Vivienne lived in a beautiful apartment uptown. White carpets. White couches. White walls. Every few months she would change the art work, the throw rugs and the pillows on the couch to a different color. Right now it was royal blue. Before that it was red. At Christmas she would go with gold. Perfection. But white. “Dogs are a bit messy you know. They shed. They track in dirt.”
Vivienne stared at her, “Why would you let them do that?”
“You don’t let them do that. They just do that. They are dogs.”
“Hmmm…well, I won’t let that happen. Look.” She pulled out her phone and showed Holly a picture of the world’s cutest little white fluff ball of a puppy. There was no way that dog wouldn’t shed everywhere. Except in Vivienne’s apartment. Holly started to giggle imagining the dog holding back all of its fur until it could go for a walk. Then POOF a giant cloud would automatically pop off and the dog would be shed free until the next time. Of course, not getting a single hair on Vivienne.
“You know dogs have to be walked right? Especially dogs that live in apartments. You would have to walk the dog. In the park.”
“Oh no, Rodrigo, the nice man next door has a dog and said he would love to walk my new puppy. So that’s all taken care of then.”
These sort of things happened for Vivienne. People took care of things for her. Another thing Holly was pretty sure they didn’t notice they were doing. They just felt compelled to handle her problems for her.
“Excuse me? I happened to overhear your order and just thought I’d bring it over to you. Coffee and an espresso right? I also thought you might want to try these. We’ve just started carrying them.”
The young lady from behind the counter set their coffees and a plate of croissant down on the table. Holly reached for her wallet. “Oh no, that’s okay. That gentlemen paid.”
Holly looked toward the counter where everyone else was standing in line and ordering. An elderly gentleman was standing there looking at Vivienne like he had seen an angel. “Vivienne, wave to him.” Holly whispered.
Vivienne flashed her brilliant smile and gave the man a small wave and then mouthed the word “Thank you.”
He blushed and turned back to the counter. Holly shook her head. Only Vivienne could make a man nearing his 80s blush with a smile and a wave.
They sampled the croissant. It was wonderful. Holly wasn’t sure she had ever had one so delicate and flaky. She looked down at her lap. Covered in crumbs. Looking over at Vivienne she wasn’t surprised to see her spotless. No errant flakes at all. They wouldn’t dare. A potential grease spot on her silk blouse? Unimaginable. And so it wouldn’t happen.
“What is going on in your life?” Vivienne turned to Holly again.
This is where Holly could tell Vivienne about the troubles she was facing at work. Or try to start a conversation about the refugee crisis or the recent terrorist attack in Paris and the global and political ramifications that she feared. She could talk about the fact that she thought she and her boyfriend might be splitting up soon. But if she did she knew that Vivienne’s beautiful blue eyes would glaze over, the smile would freeze on her face and she would soon make an excuse to leave. Vivienne treated trouble the same way she treated rain. She just walked where it wasn’t.
It had taken Holly a few years to understand this about her. Perfection was hard to maintain. Vivienne was like a collectible in a box. Nothing touched her and so she remained pristine. Mint condition. The only way Vivienne could maintain her ways was to walk where the world wasn’t.
So Holly told her everything was fine. They laughed about new puppies. They drank their coffee. They discussed the latest fashion trends, the hottest new movies, the bestselling romance novel. Then they parted ways. Vivienne walking back out in to the world between the raindrops.
Holly looked at the rain and took a step forward tilting her face toward the sky, water rushing over her.
Perfection was overrated.