Tea. Claire was moistening her armpits with tea.
She was running late and where was her deodorant? She could only find that weird crystal stick that Dan had left. It didn’t work when your skin was dry. There was a bit of tea from last night in the cup on the dresser. No time, that’ll do, she thought as she dabbed it under her arms.
At least her armpits were shaven. As long as you’re doing it for yourself and not for some man, Sylvia’s voice was in her head. Nothing wrong with a hairy woman.
Mangoes. Claire smelled mangoes.
Shit, it was that fruity tea, the one Shoshana had given her. Good for your skin, apparently. Too late to wash again, she mustn’t be late for the job interview. At least the tea-lubricant worked. The crystal stick slid smoothly, and she thought of Dan.
She had met him as she was pulling out of a roundabout, nearly hitting the long-haired cyclist in sports gear. She stopped to see if he was OK, expecting an angry rant as he approached her window. But instead he said, “I’m terribly sorry, that was my fault.” They were both shaken by the near miss and after apologising to each other repeatedly, she asked if he’d like to go for coffee. He joked that neither of them needed caffeine.
Claire put on the navy blue suit, and admired herself in the full-length mirror. She approved: smart, professional, feminine enough, but not too sexy. Shut up, Sylvia, she thought, pre-empting imagined judgement. She leaned in to inspect her makeup. Her skin did look good, maybe Shoshana’s tea had helped.
She missed Dan, but didn’t regret breaking up with him. It’s not an open relationship, it’s polyamory, he had said. He could commit to her, but he had another two girlfriends, and they had other partners. Claire was more comfortable in group conversations than one-on-ones, but group relationships? I don’t think so.
She sighed. When did I become so old-fashioned? Suddenly, the navy blue suit looked wrong.
She breathed deeply, silenced doubt, and walked out the door. Traffic was mercifully calm, and even parking wasn’t too bad. One last look in the rear-view mirror. Smile! she reminded herself. Think of a bad joke. Erm… Where do you find mangoes? Wherever womangoes!
The receptionist greeted her warmly, “Come through, the rest are already here. As we’re looking to hire a team, you’re going to start with a group exercise.”
As Claire followed her through the double doors, she smelled mangoes again, and discretely sniffed herself.
“You noticed the smell,” the receptionist responded. “We told you there would be surprises. Your first task, if hired, will be our tropical fruit campaign.”
Claire found herself in front of a round table around which interviewers and interviewees were sitting together. In the middle of the table was a large, aromatic pile of sliced mangoes on a tray. She remembered to smile. I can do this.