Clara stared at the heap of eggs, bacon, and peppers steaming in her face.
"I don't get it. Is this another challenge?"
"What?" Tamara asked, scooping her fork and knife up in matching swift, graceful motions. A napkin tucked into the front of her blouse, Clara thought she looked like a cartoon wolf drooling over a cauldron of boiling water as she waited for everyone's favorite rabbit to finish cooking. "You don't think they'd let us just eat and live normally for one meal?"
Clara couldn't tell if she was joking or not. The sounds of cutlery scraping porcelain filled the lovely outdoor dining area. The Central Hall had seating indoors and out, but the island's beautiful weather had finally awakened so all the guests chose to take their breakfast on the wrap around veranda. Trees covered half the length. Here and there, older statues, worn down by winds and seasonal storms, dipped elegantly toward the railing. In some cases you could reach up and pluck a healthy green leaf from a branch. Clara didn't do that now. She was too focused on whether or not she should eat.
"Even if it was a challenge," Tamara said, a fork full of cheesy scrambled eggs hurtling towards her mouth. "It's not like you get kicked out for eating."
It was true. [The Getaway] didn't operate like a tacky reality show. No one was walking away with obscene wealth or a handful of roses. But still, the Agency was clear: everything was a test. Not so much for the Agency but for the other guests.
Of course, the Agency gathered data as well. But that was to be expected. How else could operate so exclusive an operation if they weren't selling off shipfuls of data to other dating apps and god knows which other companies.
"Besides," Tamara said, though she struggled to be heard through the mouthful of food. A piece of well-cooked onion, slightly browned, fell from her lips and plopped back onto the plate. It landed next to, what was that? Slivers of equally well cooked bell peppers. Red and green and yellow. All perfectly sliced and cooked just right. Their edges presented a bit of burnt darkness while the rest drooped from having sat in frying pan, sizzling alongside the onions and an untold assortment of spices. Clara's mouth watered. "Even if it is a taste, would you really want to end up with someone who didn't appreciate good food?"
Clara held her stomach. Tamara had a point. She always had good points. And besides, they weren't exactly competing against each other. Tee had had her eye on a petite little blonde girl all morning--this after the fiasco with Stacey, a short Californian with straight, jet black hair and lips that, according to Tamara, looked softer and more inviting than the Agency's pillows. High praise from someone who had spent the better part of the first week refusing to come to breakfast on time because the beds felt like a second womb.
"You hear that?" Tamara, utensils still in hand, puffed her chest out and craned her neck dow toward them. "I want someone who knows how to cook this. So if you can host some kind of cook off, that'd be great."
"Tee!" Two months in and Clara still had not gotten comfortable with the idea of having microphones everywhere. "You've already had microphones everywhere," Tamara had shot back when she first revealed her trepidation to her first--and only friend--at the Resort. "It's called living in the 30s. Christ, even our parents know that. And they were born back when phones were chained to the wall. Savages."
She was right. Of course she was right. But that didn't change the fact that she could no longer convince herself it was otherwise. Her phone listened to her. Fine. At least she could compartmentalize that. The government didn't give a shit what she had to say. The most radical thing she had ever done was wear a green dress with hot pink nail polish. And as for companies. It wasn't anything they didn't know already. But the Agency. She had paid them to listen to her and while that should have leveed a fair bit of comfort in the equation it somehow made it worse. It meant it was their JOB to listen. They weren't taking her offhand comments about wishing her apartment was cleaner and spitting that out to various cleaning companies and DIY project sites. They were inspecting every sentence, every syllable, breaking down her cadences and meaning. The psychological profile at the end was meant to direct her for the of her dating life.
No. A sense of resolve washed over her. She was right to be freaked out. She'd paid good money for this--more than she should have--and she wasn't going to waste her time cracking jokes into microphones. What would that say about her? That she wasn't taking this seriously? That she didn't value her own time and money enough to make the most of this situation.
Convinced, she placed her hands on the rim of the plate and pushed. "I think fruit will be enough."
Tamara stared at her. "You're serious?"
Clara responded by piercing a piece of cantaloupe and pineapple with her fork, flourishing the morsel between her and Tamara, then taking a big bite.
"You're out of your mind."
Clara shrugged. Before she could say anything, Brad walked past the table. She stopped chewing. Broad shouldered, tall, sandy blonde hair. He looked like an old actor from old Hollywood. Robert Redford she thought. If that was his name. She could never keep them all straight, no matter how many times her dad had tried to show her the classics. Her jaw moved slowly, chomping down in quiet, deliberate chomps. Had she taken too big a portion? How did she look stuffing all that food in her mouth?
Out in the real world, she wouldn't have given too thoughs
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Event Breakfast is served
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Location A dating agency
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Prop Include a microphone
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
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