A Chocolate Carol
“Come on, Marissa! Get up! Let’s go!” Gabriela bellowed while plopping herself on Marissa’s bed.
“No. Shut up. I am a sleeping and it is Saturday and Christmas eve eve. Go to sleep.” Marissa grumbled in response.
“It. Is. Noon. GET UP! WE NEED TO GO!”
“Shit. It’s noon? Ugh. Go where?”Marissa started stretching in her bed and turned over to look at Gabriela through her short black hair.
“I am feeling so melancholy today,” Gabriela says while dramatically lying next to Marissa, tangling her thick and curly brown hair with Marissa’s. “I need something warm and sweet!”
“Oh. cider? I have some in the fridge. Didn’t you see it? Just warm it up. Or some tea, just add sugar!” Marissa says this smiling and using her best matter-o-factly tone.
“Ha. Ha. You’re so funny.” Gabriela says in her driest voice. “You know what I need. Now, get up and let’s go! Let the Hot Chocolate Tour begin!”
Gabriela has researched three hot chocolate places that they could go to today. The two girls have a tradition so that if either of them feels any hint of sadness, they must get hot chocolate. Their hot chocolate tours are only to be done when something huge has happened and they need to go out. Either one of them can decide that they must go and the other one of them has to go.
Gabriela guides Marissa through the busy streets around Rockefeller Center in New York City. Her long legs moving much faster than Marissa’s, her being a foot shorter than Gabriella.
While doing research for their day out, Gabriela watched a YouTube video stating that the Godiva Chocolatier had some of the best hot chocolate.
Gabriella rushes into the store, excited to get her drink but jolts to a stop when she notices her ex-boyfriend James standing at the counter. Marissa walks into Gabriella’s back and pushes her into the store and into the warmth. Marissa walks right around Gabriella, to buy the hot chocolate when she sees James and snarls.
“Hey, piece of shit. So, you work here now?”
James just stares at Gabriella for a moment later before she dashes out of the store.
“If it wasn’t the holiday season, I swear I’d end you without laying a finger on you. You scum bag.”
Marissa heads over to the other employee and she gave her a proud smile before taking her order of two hot chocolates. Then goes out to find Gabriella with their drinks in hand. Gabriella was waiting for her two stores over still with shock on her face.
“Here, sweetie,” Marissa says handing her hot chocolate and reaching up to hug her. “It’s okay, he can’t bother you. You’re okay. Come on, let’s get somewhere warm.”
Marissa guides a quieted Gabriella into the Magnolia Bakery around the corner. They buy some banana pudding and sit down.
“How are you feeling?”
“I- I’m okay. I just didn’t expect to see that fucking scum bag,” she sighs deeply. “I just needed a moment. I haven’t seen him since we broke up since he continued to make me feel like shit. He always made me feel like I wasn’t enough! I hoped I’d never see him again.”
“Yea, I know. I’m sorry, hon. Do you want to go back home?” Marissa asked as softly as she could in the business of the bakery.
“No, the hot chocolate is already making me feel better. I’m sure even more hot chocolate would make me feel even better. I heard you yell at him before I left. What did he do?”
“He just stood there looking stupid. I didn’t give him a full on curse out. I mean, it is the holiday season. But did you see that haircut? Plus his apron looks tight around his beer belly.”
Gabriella cracks a smile and the growth on her dark skin came back in full force, “Yea, and was it just me or were his eyebrows tattooed on. Why did he do that?”
“I saw that too! What the fuck. Thank goodness he is over and done with. He ain’t shit.”
“I know! Come on. Let’s go get our next cup. We’ll eat on the way to Brooklyn.”
Marissa and Gabriella walk into their favorite Panera Bread and quickly order their hot chocolates.
“We come here every year. Aren’t out Hot Chocolate tours supposed to be us trying something new?”
“Yea, but it’s so gooood! There are chocolate chip marshmallows! CHOCOLATE CHIPS! I needed this! Seeing James’ tattooed eyebrow face. I think we deserve some consistent deliciousness.”
“Ha. Alright. That’s true. I’ll go get us a table.”
Marissa went upstairs to look of seats when she bumped into Gabriella’s current boy, Michael. He was slouching in a corner looking dejected and staring into his cup of coffee. The sight of him looked so different from the cheerfulness he usually had. Marissa quickly put two and two together. The only reason they have Hot Chocolate tours were to perk them up when they’re feeling sad. By the look of Michael, and Gabriella this morning, Marissa assumed they broke up. Which means they should not see each other. Marissa needed to move quickly to stop Gabriella from coming upstairs. She turned around to see a smiling Gabriella holding two drinks. The smile slid off when she saw who was slouching behind her.
Marissa shooed Gabriella into a booth that was out of sight of the slouching boy.
“Why didn’t you tell me you guys broke up? What happened?”
“I was gonna tell you but later. Over wine or something.”
“What? Why? What happened? Spill it!”
“He’s just- He doesn’t make me happy. He doesn’t make me feel anything. He’s just boring.”
“Things were going so well. Now you’re saying he is boring? What made you come to this realization?”
“Honestly, I kept reading about these amazing fictional boyfriends and I knew that Michael just wasn’t it. He didn’t make me feel feel good about myself and I didn’t feel like we had a supporting relationship. It just didn’t feel… good. I needed to end it.”
“I wish you told me. I had no idea what happened between you two. You normally tell me everything. I understand though. I really do. That’s why we came out today?”
“Yea, I broke up with him this morning. I needed a day out to forget about it but then I end up seeing two ex boyfriends. I just wanted a break!” Gabriella flopped on the table looking forlorn.
“It’s okay sweetie. We can always go home and lay on the couch and watch the entire Harry Potter series OR the entire development of the Avengers, Hulk to Civil War. Just say the word.”
“No, we have one more place to go before we head back. Let’s go before he notices we’re here.”
Both girls carefully get up quietly and leave without bringing any attention from the boy in the corner.
“So the final place is around the corner from our home? We could’ve came here first!”
“Yea, but we needed the adventure. Now we don’t have to go on a journey just to go back home. Plus, we love this Connecticut Muffin!”
“Now we can have our movie marathon. Right?”
“Yes, but we need to decide if we’re watching Harry Potter or Hulk to Civil War”
“Can I take your order? By the way, my choice is definitely Harry Potter.” The curly haired employee behind the counter asks. She gave Gabriella a dazzling smile while she asked.
“Yes. Can we have two hot chocolates, please?”
“Yea, sure. And you?” The employee asked Gabriella.
“Oh. No. Thank you.” Gabriella have the employee an even wider smile.
Marissa decided that she should excuse herself from their smiling competition and went to grab them a seat.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. Are you new?”
“Yea, I just started last week. Why? Do you come here often?
“Well, I live right around the corner. It’s the best place to get my morning coffee.”
“Does that mean I’ll be able to see more of you?”
“Yes, every morning.”
“I look forward to it. By the way, my name is Angela.”
“Hello Angela, I’m Gabriella.”
They both smile at each other for a while, already sensing the bond between them.
Angela makes three hot chocolates and joins Marissa and Gabriela. They sat talking with each other in the empty cafe on this cold winter evening.