Guy Hater(3)

By: J. Sterling

Hiding my grin, I pretended to still be unconvinced. “It’s Wednesday night, Brit. Who the hell goes out on a Wednesday?”

Britney narrowed her eyes and tossed back her brown ponytail. “We do. We go out on Wednesdays. You’re just messing with me, right?”

It was true; we did go out pretty often when we weren’t exhausted from work. But, to be fair, we were twenty-six-year-old single women with no kids. Of course we wanted to socialize and blow off steam. Plus, it was really hard to meet guys in this town if you never left your apartment. Our only other option was at work, but our male coworkers were either married or too old for us.

Britney and I had met at the bank three years ago, when we were both tellers working our way up the corporate ladder. I now handled all our bank branch’s small-business loans. Nothing gave me more satisfaction than helping people make their dreams a reality. Starting a small business meant taking a giant leap of faith and required a lot of belief in the power of your dreams. I was inspired by my clients at least once a day.

I was also depressed at least once a day. I hated when I couldn’t approve a loan, or the bank turned someone down. Extinguishing their glimmer of hope by telling them their loan wasn’t approved was like a knife in my heart every single time. Part of me believed everyone deserved the chance to make their dreams come true. Some needed more help than others, but did that make them less deserving? I never thought so, but the bank was a business and it didn’t like risky endeavors.

Sometimes America didn’t build your dreams with you; it took them from you and stomped on them and told you that you weren’t worthy of having them.

My mom and I emigrated from Colombia to the United States when I was seven. We came here legally but outstayed our visa, which was illegal. I had never seen my mom so worried as she was between the time our visa expired and when she met my stepdad, Bradley. She was constantly afraid that we would be found out and deported. I didn’t know what that word meant at the time, but I sensed it wouldn’t have been a good thing. She was more worried in America than she had been before we left Colombia, and that was saying a lot.

Mom and Bradley got married, and three years later, she and I became official citizens of the United States of America. Again, I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the end result was that my mom didn’t worry anymore. She was happy, and so I was happy too.

We were lucky to have found Bradley, or that Bradley found us. I’d never really gotten to know my real father, and Bradley treated me like I was his own. As I grew older, I became more and more grateful for him, realizing that he chose to be in our lives. He didn’t have to stick around for an immigrant wife and stepdaughter, a child that wasn’t technically his, but I’d never felt unloved or unwanted in his home, two things that were important in any young girl’s upbringing.

At Britney’s frustrated glare, I burst out laughing. “Of course I’m coming. What kind of wingwoman would I be if I didn’t accompany you on your mission to bag this Ryan character?”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. I owe you.” She jumped up and down before pulling me into her arms for a quick hug.

“You say that a lot. I think you owe me a Mercedes by now,” I teased. “Or a house in Malibu.”

“If I land Ryan freaking Fisher, I’ll buy you whatever the hell you want,” she said with a huge grin. “I mean, you might not get it until we’re eighty, but still, I’ll come through in the end.”

I had liked Britney from the moment I first met her at work, charmed by the smile that brightened her face. She always laughed instead of complaining, which made her fun to be with.

Our bond was solidified during lunch one day when we discussed the cost of living at the beach versus the suburbs. I confessed that I wanted to move closer to the water, but I couldn’t afford it on my own. She suggested moving in together, and I only balked at the idea of having a roommate again for about two seconds. Living alone had been isolating and lonely, and I wanted to love where I lived. And I didn’t love living in Burbank, surrounded by couples with growing families while I was still very annoyingly single.