FENNO: Out and about

BY

Fenno. Ah, Fenno. Her shoulder strap was digging into her neck, and it was way too early. She had skipped breakfast and just doubled the caffeine, and now she fidgeted, antsy in a four-person line waiting for the heavy automatic door to creak open. Couldn’t they just push it? First door. Second door. Fenno stalked through the dark hall, swerving and balancing her tea mug around slower students. It had been a long summer since last she had been in this place.

It, and Fenno, were much changed.

Somewhere along the way during the summer, Fenno had realized she was an adult, in the sense that your friends are now your colleagues. Work had become a lifestyle, and she was getting used to the idea that school wasn’t necessarily a break from her summer job anymore. Not that the firm had been all bad. The lunches were amazing, the pro bono fulfilling, the pay good. Freakishly enough, FYL had paid off. But somehow Fenno was unsure if it was what she wanted, and it was already time to interview again. Plus, her mediocre grades had left her hackles a bit raised upon return to campus. Fenno sighed, rolled her neck as she hit the second set of doors’ logjam, and thought maybe she just needed to relax.

Red button. Third door, fourth door. Each seemed an eternity until Fenno anxiously herded through with the others.

Fenno emerged into a bright clearing, and into the sudden sun, which made her eyes squint, which made her nose wrinkle. Fenno needed a break. A chair appeared, as if in telepathic response, out of the blinding light, empty, pulled out and ready. Yeah, as a matter of fact, she deserved a quick break. Why not? Fenno drifted into the chair and set her mug and bag on the table. She massaged the crevice in her shoulder and leaned back.

She took a sip of her tea, allowed the caffeine to swish around in her brain for a moment, and then attempted to calmly survey her new terrain.

A stone triangle had seemingly shifted into parallel lines, and where once there was common asphalt now lay a brightly bricked terrace, carpeted with chic iron café chairs. The worn crisscross of dirt footpaths too efficient to stay on the concrete had given way to optimistic stripes of kelly green sod. Beautiful people arranged themselves intelligently on bench, chair and grass.

This club was on the up and up, Fenno noted with approval.

Fenno swung an arm over the back of her chair, and looked down the length of it at the columns of Italian marble. She sipped more tea. Bikes whizzed past, legs in designer shoes clicked by, and strains of Italian drifted over from the next table, where three swarthy men argued animatedly over coffee. Fenno crossed her legs and pulled out a magazine; minutes passed; Fenno drank her tea and read only one paragraph repeatedly, constantly distracted by the beautiful day and the peoplewatching. The sun-baked elegance of the Riviera and the salt sea in the air intoxicated her; strains of violin floated from some hidden sidestreet. Looking up at the one white cloud that dared mar the Mediterranean azure of the sky, Fenno wondered: if they really wanted to, could the grounds crew have it removed? She finished her tea and looked around for a waiter. Fenno smiled languidly as a golden young signorina crossed the piazza and ran a hand through her gleaming mane. Fenno was late for class.

Fenno shrieked the metal chair back across the patio and jerked up. Professor Gerken froze, with her hand half way through hair, at the noise, and paused briefly.

“Hurry up, Fenno. I’m going to beat you there.” She smiled and continued into Pound.

Fenno glared up at the looming architectural beast that cast its blocky shadow over the courtyard and sneered. She had been duped! The caffeine, the sun, the flashy furniture. She stuffed her magazine in her bag, and looked up to see a bicyclist swerve around her chair. A bicyclist’s nightmare, that’s all this place was. Fenno grabbed her empty cup, slammed it into the trash, and hurried busily toward Pound. She glowered at the patio chairs on the way by, and at those who occupied them, with pangs of jealous rage.

Fenno angrily asked herself why those who lingered on the patio didn’t have anything better to do. Or maybe they, too, like Fenno, did. Were they victims like she was? Had they entered some Cantabridgian Triangle, where your watch face slid down to the veined side of your wrist, and your cell phone didn’t vibrate, Cambridge wasn’t cloudy, and the Hark coffee tasted good? She looked at the gleaming empty chairs, and saw them now for what they really were: a vicious siren song of leisure, a shining beacon offering its warmth only to those with free time. A breeding ground for lost Cartier sunglasses, Dolce and Gabbana coats, and their owners’ impassioned pleas that followed in the Adviser. An academic mirage.

Fenno vowed to walk behind Pound tomorrow instead, take the more appropriate ATM and dumpster route, lest she should subconsciously hijack her schedule again. She also vowed to cut back on the tea.

She stepped off the patio, noticing a thin razor of yellow running between two of the sod rolls next to her feet. In the corner, the grass peeled up and revealed a swath of beaten dirt path. You damned dirty apes, Fenno thought as she lugged open the door to Pound. It was HLS all along.

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