Jemima had recently broken up with her boyfriend Steve. It had come to light that Steve was cheating on her with a very small woman named Amber who wore brightly coloured bandage dresses and body glitter unironically. She had discovered it through a series of deeply intense cyberstalking investigations. Since the break-up, she had continued to stalk Steve on all the social media facets he possessed. She did it at work one afternoon when she was meant to be copyediting a children’s book about mittens. She’d feel bad about wasting company time, but the whole book was roughly fifteen sentences long and it took her all of twenty minutes to edit the whole damn thing.
Jemima continued to cyberstalk Steve when she got home from work later that day. It had very possibly become unhealthy. She was choosing to ignore that, though. Self-reflection wasn’t her friend. Instead, she had come up with several different ways in which to ridicule Steve’s face. He did this stupid thing with his eyebrows when he was being photographed. It had never really bothered her before, but then again, he had been in love with her before and that had seemed like enough. Now she was kind of in love with him, also unbelievably angry with him, and annoyed that he did stupid things with his eyebrows in pictures he took at the gym. He took weightlifting selfies at the gym. She really should’ve known better.
She left her apartment, crossing the hall to where her Tallulah lived with her older sister Priscilla and their friend Bernie. Jemima had always considered her own name something of a burden. She’d been named in the hospital just after her birth by her very strictly religious grandmother Dorothy, who was crushed by the unplanned pregnancy of her unwed, teenage daughter Karen. Jemima had been named for Jemima Wilkinson, a deeply evangelist Quaker woman from the 1700s who preached total abstinence. Dorothy had found it both clever and wryly ironic. Jemima was less impressed. That having been said, she was pleased to later in her life, after growing up with a mass of Ashleys, Megans, and Lauras, find people with names like Bernadette. Priscilla claimed to have it the worst, however, because with the last name Cherry, she often argued that she had the name of a drag queen.
“Did you ever notice Steve’s eyebrows?” Jemima asked, walking into the apartment unannounced. The three of them were sitting in the living room watching Maid in Manhattan with Iggy.
“Almost never,” was Tallulah’s response, which was fair. Jemima had also never noticed his eyebrows until they were technically no longer there for her to notice.
“Should we have?” Priscilla asked, not looking away from the television. Jennifer Lopez was frolicking through Central Park in a white coat with Ralph Fiennes and a dog.
“He does something weird with them in photos,” Jemima explained, walking over to join them, holding out her phone where she’d pulled up a photo of him. “Look.”
“Is anyone buying the romance angle here?” Tallulah asked, blatantly interrupting. “I’m just not feeling J. Lo and Ralph together. He’s Voldemort. Who is pegging The Dark Lord as the man of their dreams?”
“He’s more than just The Dark Lord, Tallulah,” Priscilla chastised. “There’s a man behind that nose-less exterior too.”
“I can’t help but notice that we’ve gotten off topic here,” Jemima cut in loudly, slipping onto the couch between Tallulah and Bernie, who was devouring popcorn like she’d never see food again and focussing intently on the television. She had a weird thing with Jennifer Lopez movies in that she loved them. It was entirely likely that a stronger statement had never before been applied to Jennifer Lopez’s acting career. Jemima very much doubted that J. Lo herself even felt so strongly about it.
“What kind of dog is this?” Tallulah continued to ignore Jemima. “It looks like an enlarged greyhound, like it’s suffering some kind of anaphylactic reaction to shelfish.”
“It’s a weimaraner,” Priscilla answered.
“That’s not a real thing,” Tallulah replied, pointing at her. “You’ve made that up.”
“I haven’t,” Priscilla said calmly in return.
“You know, J. Lo’s son in this movie grows up to be the Teen Wolf,” Iggy offered. Still no one was discussing Steve’s weird eyebrow habits.
“You think this small Latino boy grows up to become Michael J. Fox?” Priscilla retorted dubiously, one eyebrow raised.
“The timeline’s all wrong for that,” Tallulah added. “This movie was made in the early 2000s. Look at her frosted lip gloss.”
“No, from the TV remake of Teen Wolf,” Iggy explained, rolling her eyes.
“Well that’s why we have no idea what you’re talking about,” Tallulah replied. “We aren’t fourteen.”
“You’d like it,” Iggy protested. “It has werewolves and attractive shirtless men with very slight unibrows.”
Jemima rolled her eyes.
“Oh, I probably would like that actually,” Tallulah said and Jemima rolled her eyes again.
“For fuck’s sake,” she said. “Look at this damn photo of Steve’s stupid eyebrows.”
Reluctantly, Tallulah, Iggy, and Priscilla turned to look at the photo, Priscilla leaning over the arm of her chair to get a good look. Bernie didn’t look over and Jemima didn’t bother asking her to. She knew better than to tear her away from a Jennifer Lopez movie. That would be like trying to steal a bear cub from an angry mother bear who’d just awoken from hibernation. Hungry and protective, like a bear, Bernie would tear Jemima to shreds. Not literally obviously, but it may very well result in Jemima needing a new phone or, at the very least, a new phone screen. Bernie had been known to lash out. She had this thing with her neck, she didn’t like it being touched, and she would physically lash out at anyone who tried. She’d once punched Iggy so hard in the face that Iggy had had a black eye for a week and a half. Iggy had been going for a hug, too.
“Huh,” Tallulah said after a minute.
“Yeah, he does do weird things with his eyebrows,” Priscilla agreed.
“Right?” Jemima replied, vindicated.
“Oh, I was going to ask if he always had that butt chin,” Tallulah returned. Jemima felt vindicated about that too.
Jemima would’ve been more upset about the break-up if it hadn’t provided more time for her to fantasize about her work crush on one of the other copy editors at the publishing house where she worked with Jacklyn. His name was Noel Woolf and he sat in the desk three in front of Jemima’s. She stared at the back of his head whenever possible. He was funny, smart, and handsome. He was nice to her, always asking about her weekend in the break room if they happened to be getting coffee at the same time. She didn’t know much else about Noel, except that he had a very particular sense of style.
“Now that Steve and I aren’t together any longer, I can focus on making Noel fall in love with me,” Jemima told Jacklyn over lunch one day. “He and I would look really good together.”
“He does dress quite nicely, though increasingly like a drag queen,” Jacklyn replied. She wasn’t actually wrong. Noel dressed like a cross between Steven Tyler and Jemima’s “psychic” Aunt Debbie.
“Maybe it’s all accidental,” Jemima mused in return.
“What?” Jacklyn asked, frowning.
“You know, like, maybe he dresses this way largely by accident,” Jemima explained, waving a hand as she spoke. Jacklyn’s frown deepened.
“How exactly would he wear leather trousers by accident?” Jacklyn retorted, looking extremely skeptical.
“Well, I accidentally bought underwear that have the words ‘party animal’ written on them,” Jemima replied. “I’m not sure I really like the statement they’re making for my ass, but I’ve already worn them so it’s probably too late to return them.”
“It is absolutely too late to return them,” Jacklyn said, pointing at Jemima with her fork. “Also, and I cannot stress this enough, that is not remotely the same thing as wearing leather pants and unbuttoning a patterned blouse to your navel.”
Jemima just hummed in response.
That night, Jemima began cyberstalking Noel instead. It probably wasn’t much better than cyberstalking Steve, largely because any amount of cyberstalking seemed like a bad thing, but she assumed it was a marginal improvement. At least she was moving forward with her life. That, at least, was what she told herself as she examined Noel’s Instagram photos for signs of a relationship.