Wearing a light jacket and a really cute knitted beanie she’s had since high school, Jessica Rodriguez stepped out of her Downtown Miami office, took a deep breath of the cool air, and for a moment was able to put the fact that the world was so damn awful outside of her mind. “The weather is so nice today,” said the young architect to herself just before an elderly man screamed at the second-generation Cuban-American to go back to Mexico.
Brushing off the vituperative stranger, Ms. Rodriguez walked a few blocks to her favorite local cafe for a hot chocolate, but it had closed down. “Commercial rent increases really do make it difficult for mom and pop stores to stick around,” she thought to herself before remembering the wonderful weather. There was an Au Ban Pan several blocks away so she headed there instead.
“One soy hot chocolate, please”, said a smiling Jessica to a 35-year-old barista with a nose ring who rang her up but otherwise refused to acknowledge her existence. Undeterred, Jessica swiped her card and flashed the barista a kind smile. “Yo, you need to insert the chip,” said the barista curtly in response. “Oh, of course,” Jessica responded as she inserted the chip. After she paid she gave the barista a $2 tip. “He needs it more than me,” she thought to herself and then waited 15 minutes for her drink to arrive.
As she walked back into the pleasant outdoor breeze, Jessica sipped her hot chocolate and realized it was not made with soy after all. She briefly considered asking for a new cup, but thought better of it because diarrhea can be nice sometimes and she really didn’t want to have another rude interaction with that barista. The hot chocolate was delicious though.
Jessica enjoyed the several block walk to the Miami-Dade County Book Fair. Along the way she almost got hit by a car only twice and was very happy to have had her headphones in so she could politely ignore the many homeless people who begged her for money. Pretending not to hear or see them, she saw one in an ill-fitting military uniform, which she figured must be fake. “Our government wouldn’t let real veterans live on the street,” she thought. Another had literally no nose and held a sign identifying himself as “Cancer Bob.” “Well, at least those people get to be outside on this gorgeous day,” she told herself as she tucked her purse under her arm and looked down at the sidewalk as she passed Cancer Bob.
When she arrived at the Book Fair, Jessica admired the vendors selling old copies of books and perused them knowing full well she would not buy any. She hadn’t actually read a full book since high school, and even then it was just the Cliff’s Notes of Brave New World.
She passed by a WLRN booth and was asked if she would be interviewed. She excitedly agreed and was asked what her favorite book was. “Brave New World,” she said trying to recall the name of the main character, which she couldn’t. “And why is it your favorite book?” asked the interviewer, to which Jessica nervously replied, “It just really was ahead of its time and is super inspiring” before adding “I do have to get going, though. Thanks! Bye!”
Walking through the fair, she then saw David and Gail riffling through a pile of old books at the Booklegger tent. “OMG! So good to see you!” she said to her friends, who she didn’t actually know too well or particularly like.
“Isn’t the weather just amazing?” she asked.
“Yeah, it’s nice. I guess. Did you hear the Trump is getting impeached?” said David.
“Oh yeah, I saw something about that. That’s bad, right?” sighed Jessica.
“Are you kidding? He was conspiring with Ukraine for his own domestic political agenda,” said David.
“It’s not like Biden wasn’t also using Ukraine to advance his interests. What about Burisma?” said Gail.
“Yeah, totally. Anyway, I love the Book Fair, I just was interviewed about my favorite book: Brave New World. It was pretty cool,” said Jessica, pivoting the conversation to a more pleasant topic.
“That book is crap,” said Gail, herself changing subjects to a backed drain pipe down the block that was sputtering sewer water into the street. “It’s going to be a Brave New World in a few years when this whole shithole is underwater,” she said and she lit up an American Spirit. “Climate change is a real problem. It’s why the housing market down here is crashing again. It wouldn’t be surprising if we had another recession I mean, he picked a climate change denier to lead the EPA,” said Gail as she flicked her cigarette into the street. “This is why we need to elect Tulsi Gabbard.”
“Yeah, anyway, I got to get going,” said Jessica, her stomach beginning to rumble from the whole-milk hot chocolate.
Jogging desperately toward a McDonald’s to use a bathroom, she was told by another old man to get out of the Country. When she finally made it to the McDonald’s it was filled with dozens of black teenagers. “They really shouldn’t be eating this crap,” she told herself as she limped toward the bathroom. There were three teenage girls waiting in line ahead of her, each casually staring at their phone and occasionally taking Snaps and playing with the filters.
It took about 10 minutes for the girls ahead of her to cycle through. When she finally arrived inside the bathroom and depants she pulled out her phone so as to occupy her mind during the act. “Fuck, only 4% battery,” she said to herself but nevertheless started to scroll through her Facebook page.
After several minutes a teenage girl started drumming on the door for her to finish, but she wasn’t close. As she scrolled through her newsfeed she saw story after story about what was going on with the Trump administration and the people he was picking to help run the Country.
The drumming on the door got louder.
“Hey, you taking a shit in there or something? I gotta pee, bitch,” laughed a young voice from outside.
As Jessica strained to finish, she read several posts about the god awful state of the world, the impeachment hearing, Taylor Swift’s feud with Scooter Braun, mass shootings, and Walter Mercado’s death.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said to herself, farting. This is supposed to be a happy time of year. The weather is finally nice,” she said to herself when her phone ran out of battery.
As she sat there in silence, with no distraction, she could hear the girl outside the door making fun of her. “She’s been in there forever. Someone better call the health inspector.”
As she finally finished she wiped and stood up to walk outside. The sink in the bathroom was broken. Typical.
Jessica left the bathroom and passed the group of snickering teenagers.
“Ain’t she going to even wash her hands, damn!” said one to her friends.
As she walked out of the McDonald’s she recoiled from the smell of oily fries and tried to once again put all of the awful things she had been hearing and reading about out of her mind
“Is the world really this bad,” she asked herself. As she stepped outside the nice breeze once again smacked her. “No, it really isn’t that bad,” she thought, readjusted her knitted beanie, and said out loud, “I love Miami in the Winter.”