What Would Olivia Do

Issue 23 by Elizabeth Markley

When people spoke about Eugene, Oregon, they most often referred to it as a college town, though Monica preferred not to think of her home this way. The phrase conjured up images of dive bars and sleazy frat houses, and these were not at all welcome in Monica’s world. The neighborhood where she lived, fifteen miles to the east of Eugene, was indistinguishable from the outskirts of any mid-sized city. It was suburbia with a touch of rustic, and overall a very agreeable place to live. Most pleasing of all were the remaining family farms, which Monica drove past on her morning commute. With their picturesque pastures and horse fences they made Monica feel closer to the Middle Woods, especially when the fields were so foggy and mysterious. Really, the only indication that the University was nearby was a preponderance of hunter green, which was an inoffensive color and blended in with the landscape of the Pacific Northwest.

Monica took her coat from the shared closet and shrugged into it. It was five o’clock, it was Friday, and Monica was filled with a solemn tingling. Only one thing could ignite such a feeling. A new episode was scheduled to air. Her anticipation was at odds with the communal mood, which was subdued and reflective of the late January weather. Monica worked in the office of a senior living community, a job her mom had arranged through a contact at the hospital. It was meant to be a stopgap measure, but Monica had been there, much to her own astonishment, for over four years.

Monica walked through the community to her car, the sidewalks as damp in the late afternoon as they were when she arrived. Mostly her job involved fielding calls and scheduling tours for prospective residents. These tasks, along with maintaining the news section of the company website, constituted the bulk of her responsibilities. It was not where she expected to be at the age of twenty-eight, but the job came with full benefits, and the people were nice. And—more important than any of those things—it allowed ample time for Monica to think, write, and daydream about “Happily Ever After.”

“Happily Ever After” was, simply, Monica’s show. She was not a writer, or a crew member, or connected in any way to its production, but if ownership were measured by sheer emotional toll, then “Happily Ever After” did in some way belong to her. Every Thursday night, and then after the fourth season, every Friday night, Monica could be found watching the show with a monk-like focus. The move to Friday night, normally a death knell in the world of prime-time dramas, was actually a boon for “Happily Ever After.” The people who watched the show tended not to be the same people populating bars on a Friday evening.

The premise was simple enough. Olivia Ravenwood, a normal girl lost in the miasma of her mid-twenties, is taken through a portal to a magic land, a place called the Middle Woods. Of course, Olivia is not as ordinary as she once thought and is instead the lost daughter of the king and queen. She is also the only one that can save her land from a terrible curse, one that has rendered the people into a fugue state, so that they go about doing the Evil Queen’s bidding without any control over their actions. The Middle Woods resembled the fairytale lands of Western folklore, with witches and giants, and goblins and fairies, and a host of royal figures who wore such lush period dress that the show had won an Emmy for costume design.

Monica knew, on a visceral level at least, why the show appealed to her. The main character, the heroine—Monica was not so different from her. The pilot episode finds Olivia very much as one might find Monica today, if Monica were twenty pounds lighter and had a team of professionals to tend to her hair and makeup. Monica thought a lot about this, about the similarities between her and Olivia and where they diverged. The problem was that things had begun to happen to Olivia, whereas nothing seemed to happen to her. No epic quests, no great battles. While Olivia was thrust from her humdrum existence, her quiet personality dissolving in the call to action, this was not the case for Monica. Her life in comparison amounted to a placid march of days.

There was the usual bullying in school, though even these were mostly mild and half-hearted attempts. Monica was never one of the popular girls, not by any stretch of the imagination, but she was not unlikeable, and by high school her classmates seemed to think she wasn’t worth the effort. An unremarkable appearance helped. She was 5’5, neither tall nor short, her hair an inconspicuous tawny shade. She did not consider herself overweight, but her body had a certain softness to it that had come about in junior high and never left. Her high school experience could thus be summarized in a single word—dull. She garnered passing grades and worked part-time at a frozen yogurt store, and generally seemed to slip by without anyone paying too much attention.

This was going to change in college. The University of Oregon was only thirty minutes from her parent’s house, so while she was not technically leaving home, college was still going to be the adventure that so eluded her. She ambitiously joined the University’s criminal justice school, with a planned major in forensic science, this being the peak of her obsession with procedural crime shows. But the classes were excruciating, grounded in math and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the lives of the characters she intended to emulate. And so after a year of problem sets, and statistical analysis, and the physics of fluid dynamics, she withdrew from the program.

She wanted to try a Bachelor of Fine Arts next—she was skilled at painting and drawing, but her parents quashed this idea immediately. They were practical people. Her father worked as a manager at a car dealership and her mother was a registered nurse, and doodling, as her father called it, was not a degree worth pursuing. In her junior year she settled on education, which had a lighter course load, though this turned out for the best. Because when she was twenty-one, “Happily Ever After” premiered, and from then on she had a duty to the show that she could not shirk.

Sometimes that enchanted world felt unbearably close. It was because of the landscape— the scenery of middle Oregon made it so easy to lose herself. Not because it resembled the world of “Happily Ever After,” which was all snowcapped mountains and sunny meadows and dark woods. But Eugene was never fully realized, the sun so often blocked, the land so shadowed and rain soaked that it seemed to take on soft edges. On cold winter afternoons just like this, Monica would swear that only the thinnest membrane separated her from the Middle Woods. She half-expected to see the dwarves’ cabin appear in the fields, chimney smoking softly. But there were only the recently constructed subdivisions.

Monica pulled into the driveway. She had to park outside, the garage allowing only her parents’ matching sedans. Did she feel embarrassed, to be living at home so close to thirty? She couldn’t say. There was a pleasing continuity to it, being in the same house she grew up in. Each room as familiar to her as her own body. On the off chance that someone asked her why she was still living with her parents, she could tick off her reasons quickly. There were student loans to pay back, and rent was expensive, even in Eugene, and this was an opportunity to really work on her nest egg. She did not mention how easy it was, how comfortable and safe it felt to return to the red brick house in the quiet cul-de-sac that had become her sanctuary.

And it wasn’t like she hadn’t lived anywhere else. She had tried again after college to somehow jumpstart her life, to make something happen to her. She summoned the will to move to Portland, where she worked as a first-grade teacher and lived with a friend in a house they found on the internet. But Monica was aware even then that the experience was slipping passed her. Her coworkers and roommate were always cajoling her to come out, for cheap margaritas, or trivia night, or free concerts in the park. And she did give in occasionally, though this was more from a sense of obligation than anything else.

She went on a few dates, some blind, some not. But the boys she met paled so utterly in comparison to the men from “Happily Ever After,” especially to Cameron Drummond, the actor who played Prince Charming. He actually played a pirate first, a character that emerged in the third season as a rakish antagonist to Olivia. But, it was soon revealed, he was in fact the rightful heir to the neighboring kingdom, a prince who had been kidnapped as a child and sold to buccaneers. Predictably, Prince Charming and Olivia ended up together and the last season had concluded with their lavish wedding. Cameron was British, tall and broad-shouldered, with a famous mane of chestnut hair that had its own Twitter account. Even Monica knew these standards were unrealistic, but the issue was that the men she dated didn’t measure up in any way at all. These lackluster dates, combined with a planned teacher’s strike, propelled her back home, and after two years the grand Portland experiment was over.

Monica entered the kitchen and found her mom at the counter, hammering chicken cutlets with one hand and clutching her cell phone to her ear with the other. She walked over to give Monica a quick hug before murmuring a reply into the phone. Monica removed her shoes and padded down to the basement. She tried not to think what a cliché it was, living in her parent’s basement. But it wasn’t the dank, pizza box littered place it was on sitcoms. Theirs was bright and spacious, and still felt new from the refurbishment. Her parents had been waiting for Monica’s little brother to leave for college before beginning the extensive renovation. Of course, they had not anticipated Monica moving back in.

She switched on her laptop to check the message boards. This was part of her routine when she got home. Every day, like clockwork, MRavenwood1 could be seen on the various sites, a few of which were official, sanctioned by the network gods, but most of which were fan run. All sorts of things happened on the sites—recaps, casting rumors, speculation, critiques. This was Monica’s real job, to monitor the various platforms and defend the show against the forces seeking to weaken it.

“Happily Ever After” was in its seventh season now, and some traitorous viewers claimed it was losing steam. They said that the writers’ once ironclad grip on the plot was starting to lessen, that the once sparkling dialogue was becoming tired or overwrought. To these comments Monica responded with a vitriol that would stun her coworkers. She knew, as all true fans did, that the story was only getting better, only taking them deeper into the characters and their motivations. Her greatest fear was that the show would end before they had fully explored the Middle Woods, not to mention all of the other fantastic realms the show had opened up. There was heart-stopping talk of cancellation after the sixth season, but better judgment prevailed, and the show had been renewed for another two-season block. Meaning that Monica was safe, for now.

She used the time before dinner to work on her drawings. She was using pen frequently now, and some pencil for sketching, and every so often she took out her paints, though she was worried about staining the furniture when she used this medium. She drew scenes from the show but lots of other things too. She withdrew the piece she was currently working on, a rendering of a magnificent hawk she had seen last week. She kept all of her work in artist’s folios due to her mother’s rule. It was the most ridiculous thing. Ever since the renovation, her parents had been obsessed with keeping the basement in its pristine condition, and Monica was forbidden from nailing any of her artwork—not to mention any posters or pictures—onto the walls. She wasn’t even allowed to use tape. Only a few carefully selected pieces decorated the basement walls, pretty but meaningless items her mom had bought at a home goods chain.

For dinner Monica ate the chicken her mom prepared and listened to her dad complain about one of his coworkers. She desperately wanted to talk about “Happily Ever After,” but she did not. Her family and friends knew she watched the show, though Monica tried to shield them from the extent of her obsession. It helped that she didn’t turn into a freak over it. She didn’t dress in costume, and she didn’t hang around the Vancouver set like some kind of stalker. She allowed herself only one public display of loyalty, a replication of Olivia’s ring, the one used to travel between the Middle Woods and our mundane, real world. Privately, however, it was a different story. Several times throughout the day, when Monica was feeling particularly challenged, she would think to herself, What Would Olivia Do? It was just like those cheesy embroidered bracelets that kids wore when Monica was little, the ones that made you ask yourself —What Would Jesus Do? Only Monica had altered it to her own specifications. When her boss was being difficult, or if a stranger was rude, Monica would think simply WWOD? And sometimes the thought itself was enough to get her through.

It was time. Monica wished her parents goodnight and stole into her lair. For the next hour she sat enthralled, hardly moving. As the credits rolled she was overtaken by the feeling that always struck at the end of an episode. It was mostly a powerful rush of satisfaction, but also present was a vein of inexplicable sadness. She shrugged the feeling away and climbed into bed, thinking of what she might write on the message boards. She fell asleep quickly, cocooned in the comforter she had owned since high school, her familiar house warm and dark above her.

*

Monica lay in bed the following morning, listening to her parents move around upstairs. She would need to go out tonight. Her parents worried when she stayed in both weekend nights, pestering her about being a homebody. It wasn’t such a raw deal though. Aside from these concerns and the nothing-on-the-walls rule, they treated Monica with the absent-minded kindness one would extend to a forgotten roommate. She reluctantly texted a friend from high school, a girl who was also living with her mom, and they agreed to meet for dinner.

Before she went upstairs, she clicked on the show’s official site, and her heart dropped into her stomach. There was an announcement. The Inaugural Happily Ever After Fan Event. A whole weekend dedicated to the show and its fans, to be held in a hotel in Vancouver, with a panel, and signings, and all sorts of other wonderfulness. Monica’s breathing quickened until she could not catch it. They had never done something like this before. She had her ticket confirmed and hotel booked within ten minutes.

Monica knew she should do something productive. Cook a nice breakfast for her parents, read a book, take a long walk. Instead, she spent the morning rotating through the actors’ social media profiles. This was the real gift of the internet. She was now afforded intimate glimpses into their lives—their meals, their vacations, their friends and family. And what’s more, the fans could write their own observations below the pictures, the comment sections the Greek chorus of the digital age. She lingered on Cameron’s page. He had bought himself a new car recently, a sleek red convertible that he flaunted in every post. It was a little tiresome, to be honest, but Monica had still liked each picture.

Everything was so much easier now. Dinner with her friend was a breeze, and Monica felt free to be funnier than normal. Her secret—the knowledge of the fan weekend and her plans to attend—glowed like an ember within her, giving her extra light and warmth. When she returned home, she went immediately to the site to confirm it was all still true. And it was. She needed to do something with this great swell of emotion. A plan began to form in her mind, and she flipped to a fresh page in her sketchbook.

*

Monica’s back was starting to hurt, but she ignored it. She was sitting cross-legged on a hotel lobby floor, staring at a pair of closed ballroom doors. Any moment now, they were going to open, and she was going to see the entire freaking cast of “Happily Ever After.” An army of security people had recently arrived, rupturing the quiet status quo of the line, and Monica’s heart started to beat double time. She had been waiting outside the ballroom since one in the morning, the third person in a line that stretched so far back she lost sight of the end.

Her dedication paid off. She secured a seat in the very front row, not ten feet from the stage. She could feel the jealousy pulsating towards her from the back of the room, and Monica was overcome with a rare smugness. And then, the lights dimmed. And the cast walked on stage. Monica was stunned and barely had the wherewithal to rise with the rest of the audience, a standing ovation given before the panel even began. A few thoughts managed to sneak through her wonder, however. In their everyday clothes, and with the stage lights illuminating their imperfections, the cast resembled…nothing. They looked to Monica like a normal group of people, a hodgepodge crowd you might find waiting for the bus. And the actress who played Olivia was much too skinny in real life; she did not look capable of fending off dragons or scaling a mountain in search of a hidden amulet. Nobody on the panel did, except for Cameron. He looked every bit the Prince Charming even in his black V-neck. As the panel drew to a close, Monica checked her bag for the hundredth time, ensuring that her drawing was still safely nestled within. It had taken her weeks to complete and was, in her humble opinion, the best piece she had ever produced. It was a rendering of Prince Charming in full regalia, and she was going to present it during the autograph session. For months she had fantasized about the moment she revealed it to a grateful Cameron.

One thing she had not been counting on, however, was that the people in the back of the ballroom would be the first to leave, which meant they would be the first to line up at the signing tables. Monica emerged into the hotel atrium aghast to find most of the lines stretching through the glass doors into the rain. She had the disagreeable choice of joining Cameron’s line, which was certain to be cut off before she reached the table, or joining the one for Rupert Carr, an older, minor actor whose line was a quarter the length of the others. She glumly walked towards Rupert. He played the Evil Queen’s father, and while he was still technically on the cast, he had not had any meaningful scenes since the fourth season.

The line moved slowly, but they were allowing each person a few words with Rupert, as opposed to the lines for the main characters where fans were shunted through like cattle. Monica perked up at this. When at last she reached the front of the line, she found herself a little dazed.

“I have some art,” she said, by way of greeting.

“Wonderful,” he replied.

Unlike the tables for the others, which were littered with gifts and fan art, Rupert’s held only a few small trinkets. He waited while Monica unfurled her creation. She did it slowly, with great fanfare, the way she had imagined doing so for Cameron. Rupert’s smile dimmed. Like a light bulb losing wattage.

But he dutifully said, “That’s great.”

“Could you give this to Cameron for me?” she asked.

“Sure,” he replied and held out his hands to receive the drawing. But Monica held it back, the moment lacking the import she had imagined.

“Could you give it to him now?” she asked. “I want to be sure he gets it.”

Rupert’s smile became so hard and brittle that Monica feared one movement might shatter it.

“Sorry,” he replied. “I don’t think I’m allowed to.”

He looked over his shoulder and made desperate eye contact with one of the publicity people, a girl who hurried forward like a royal attendant. Without Monica’s blessing, he reached out and carelessly took the drawing, then thrust it into the hands of the waiting girl. The man in line behind Monica sighed impatiently, and she could feel the energy shift beyond her. The fatigue she had been holding off all day descended at once. But just then, Cameron himself stood from his table and started walking towards them. Monica could hear him saying something about the loo. Why, he was coming closer, to save the situation like the Prince he was. He was going to pass right behind their table. She had to do it.

“I made you something,” she called out, and several heads turned towards her. Cameron stopped and looked at Monica, unsure who she was addressing.

“For you,” she said excitedly, and pointed to Cameron. He made an exaggerated motion and pointed to himself, mouthing the word, me?

“Yes! She has it!”

Monica gestured frantically to the public relations girl, who seemed embarrassed by the whole situation. Cameron looked to the publicity team, received a collective shrug, and so he walked the few steps towards Monica.

“What do you have for me then, love?” he asked.

“Show him.” Monica pleaded to the girl, who obediently unrolled the drawing and presented it to Cameron.

He studied it for a moment, and then said, “That’s amazing.”

He placed one large hand on the paper, the tips of his fingers resting on Prince Charming’s sword.

He said, “You have a real gift. Thank you so much.”

She could not think of what to say in return, but it didn’t matter, as Cameron had already disappeared behind the makeshift screen. Monica was going to burst. It felt like she was floating as she walked around the exhibitor’s hall. She replayed their interaction over and over until it began to take on mythical status. It was difficult to focus on the vendors, though Monica did manage to purchase a floor-length cape, identical to the one that Olivia wore when she traveled into the cold mountains. It was unclear where Monica could wear it, beyond the privacy of her bedroom, but it didn’t matter. She was feeling bold and free and she wanted the cape, so she bought it.

When she lay in bed that night, her head was filled with comforting visions of her future self. She vowed to take her drawing more seriously. Why was wasting her time in a dead-end job? And why was she still living with her parents, when she wasn’t even allowed to put her own artwork on the walls? The whole world was open to her. She was no longer Monica, office assistant and basement dweller. She was the Monica who Cameron Drummond said had a real gift.

*

Monica woke to a weak spring sun, and she read this as a good omen. All of the positive feelings from yesterday remained, and Monica was filled with possibility. She decided to get breakfast before she began the long drive back to Eugene and stopped at a café she had read about in her research for the trip. A little place made famous for its eclectic décor, and the best- selling novelists who frequented it. There were no novelists this morning, but there was someone better. Far, far better. Monica stood in the entrance of the café, not moving. It couldn’t be him. But it was.

Cameron Drummond was sitting alone in the corner, wearing a baseball hat and staring at his phone. It was destiny. The universe was sending them a message. It was no coincidence that Cameron had stood up yesterday, right at the exact moment Monica needed him. And now here he was again, alone, waiting for her. Monica was not going to question fate. She walked over to Cameron’s table. She thought she asked if it was ok to sit, but maybe she didn’t. She plopped down in the chair opposite him.

“Excuse me,” Cameron said, looking up from his phone. He glanced around the café as though for an explanation.

“It’s me,” Monica said brightly.

His face was blank.

“From yesterday,” Monica prompted. “I gave you a drawing. At the signing tables. You were going to the bathroom, to the loo, and I called out to you.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, his British accent shining. “Thank you for coming to our event. It was fun, wasn’t it?”

But his smile was too tight.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Monica gushed. “I’m a huge fan. You could probably tell, from my drawing.”

“Actually,” he said, “I was waiting for…”

But Monica could not contain herself. She never interrupted people. But she interrupted him.

“I’m so glad you liked it,” she said. “I worked on it forever. I can actually sign it for you, if you want. Or I could do another.”

“I don’t mean to be rude,” he said, “but I’m waiting for someone.” He pointed to Monica’s chair, and asked kindly, “Would you mind?”

His face crinkled in the way she had seen a thousand times before. It was just like on the show, but on screen it came across as charming. Now it struck her as the smug expression of someone who always got what he wanted.

She asked, “Did you even keep it?”

“Keep what?” he said.

“My artwork!”

Her cheeks began to flush. She tried to describe the drawing, and his lack of recognition was so painfully evident. He seemed tired and he looked passed her, examining the café. He was already forgetting her. This made Monica even more flustered, and she floundered at the end, helpless to better convey the piece she had spent so many hours on.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I remember it now. Thank you. I do truly appreciate it.” He paused, then said, “But I am expecting someone.”

He gestured to her seat and waved in a vague upward motion. Monica remained firmly planted in the chair. His hazel eyes did not have the spark they did on the show, and his skin was dull. Monica wondered if the special effects team didn’t take a little artistic license with his appearance.

“You said I had a real gift,” she said slowly.

Cameron pressed a hand hard against his forehead, and Monica suddenly understood. The lackluster skin, the bags under his eyes. He was hung over.

“You said I had a real gift,” she repeated, though now the statement emerged as an accusation.

He exploded, his actor’s voice taking up the whole room, and he cried, “I say that to everyone. For God’s sake, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Now, please leave me alone.”

Everyone was staring at them. Monica could feel humiliating tears building behind her eyes.

She said, “You’re a…” but she trailed off.

“What?” he prompted.

But Monica’s voice was caught somewhere deep within. She worried she would never talk again. Cameron had no such trouble. There was a gleam to his eyes now, though not one that Monica had ever seen before.

“No, I’d like to know,” he said. “What am I exactly, in your esteemed opinion?”

The attention of the universe coalesced, focused itself on Monica.

“You’re a jerk,” she finally muttered.

He stood at this.

“I’m a jerk?” He questioned. “That’s rich. Coming from someone who just accosted a stranger.”

Monica tried to explain herself, that she wasn’t a stranger, that she was a nice person. They could still right the ship. But now it was his turn to interrupt.

“I’ll tell you something about you fucking people. You need to get a life. It’s pathetic.”

Monica stood, gathered her purse, and calmly walked towards the exit. It took a decade to reach the glass door. She thought she was free, but then she heard him call out after her.

“Where are you going, love? Don’t you want to sign your drawing?”

Laughter followed her as she frantically pushed open the door and stumbled into the street.

*

Monica walked blindly in the wrong direction, her thoughts a wretched tumble. She made it a bare half-block before the tears came, fat drops that spilled down her cheeks. People stared as she hurried by but mercifully no one bothered her. By the time she calmed herself enough to think clearly, she was a mile from the café. She found a park and sat down on a bench to collect herself.

The betrayal ate at her very core. Cameron was an imposter, a fake. Just like Olivia’s love interest in the second season. Eduardo had come onto the scene, a dashing prince from a foreign land, though over the course of several episodes Olivia was clever enough to unravel his deception. He was nothing but an evil wizard, trying to get Olivia’s ring so he could travel to our world and attack it. Cameron was just as bad, pretending to be so lovely yesterday. Monica pulled out her phone. She needed to look up the café so that GPS could direct her back. But she just sat on the cold bench, phone in her lap. Everything was so wrong. The eight-hour drive stretched before her like a barren desert. Coffee would have to be procured once she was on the road. She would rather die than return to the café. The longer Monica sat, however, the more she came to realize the truth.

Why, something had happened to her. At long last she had been struck by a great inciting conflict. In the same way that things always seemed to happen to Olivia. But it felt nothing like Monica thought it would. More than anything she felt embarrassed, and sad. All she wanted was to crawl into her bed. Her mantra What Would Olivia Do? was now a taunting refrain in her head. Olivia would never have let a man belittle her like that. Her sword would have been drawn in an instant, the razor-sharp edge positioned against his carotid artery. Cameron was right about one thing at least. She was pathetic.

Monica followed the GPS back to her car. She was careful to circumvent the café and enter the parking lot from the other side. And there, like a ruby glistening amongst the dull basalt, was Cameron’s red convertible. The one she had seen so many photos of. And then suddenly, Monica didn’t feel embarrassed, and she didn’t feel sad. She was filled with rage. How dare he say those things to her. How dare he call her a loser, when people like Monica were the very reason he had a job. The entitlement and the arrogance, it was unfathomable.

Monica studied the businesses facing the parking lot. Then she walked to the smoothie store, flung open the doors, and marched to the counter where she ordered two extra-large strawberry smoothies. Cameron was allergic to strawberries. She knew this from social media, where he had once posted a picture of his face after accidentally eating a strawberry energy bar. It wasn’t like he was allergic allergic. In the photo his eyes were red-rimmed and his skin a tad splotchy, like he had a mild cold.

She walked back to the lot, the enormous smoothies balanced in her hands. The top of Cameron’s car was down, revealing the beige leather interior. It was a stupid car for Vancouver anyway. She placed one smoothie on the ground and climbed carefully into the backseat. She expected the alarm to start blaring, but it did not. Instead the world had gone strangely quiet. She stood on the small backseats, teetering on the uneven leather. She must have had a crazed look in her eye, because already people were stopping to watch her.

She began to pour the smoothie out. Slowly at first, the liquid plopping onto the luxurious interior in infrequent bursts. But she quickly found her rhythm. It was mesmerizing, watching the pink smoothie land on the carpets, the seats, the door handles.

“Get him, girl,” a woman encouraged. “Men are pigs!”

Monica looked up to find several people surrounding her. She doubted that the woman knew whose car it was, but she appreciated the sisterly encouragement. When the cup was empty, Monica motioned to the woman, who handed her the second smoothie without a word. Monica climbed into the front seat. Most of the onlookers had their phones out now, filming her, but this only fueled her. She watched the smoothie fall over the steering wheel and the dashboard. She put a little extra in the driver’s seat and smiled in satisfaction as it formed a viscous pink pool. The alarm started shrieking, but it didn’t matter. The job was done, and she jumped over the side of the car like an action hero.

There was a commotion at the far end of the parking lot. She saw Cameron, stopped short, his face pure shock. But this too didn’t matter. Monica was already climbing into her own car. She drove past the scene and threw the empty cup into the air, the last bit of smoothie trailing behind it like the tail end of a comet. What would Olivia do, indeed.

About the Author

Elizabeth Markley

Elizabeth Markley is a writer living in Atlanta.