This post is a vignette, a snippet of time or a short episode depicting characters and helping establish what sort of world they live in. This post serves as an example for another post, which is located here.
Clementine sighed and pulled out her phone. As usual she was the only person in her group of friends who bothered to arrive on time. Normally she wouldn’t be quiet so annoyed but this restaurant was almost impossible to get a reservation at, and if you didn’t show up within ten minutes of your start time they would give your table away without a second thought. She had booked this reservation, and planned this get together, nearly six weeks ago.
She was always the one to organize their monthly brunch group, unofficially called the Brunch Brigade, and she definitely resented it.
Always punctual, she had left her tiny bachelor apartment with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, she had been spotted by her landlady, who had chosen at that exact moment to regale her with tales about her seven cats. Clementine had eventually been able to excuse herself politely, but the entire encounter had made her late. She had arrived just eight minutes after their reservation and managed to keep their table by the skin of her teeth.
Would it have killed the others to be on time just once? She thought to herself, sullenly scrolling through Instagram. She was always the one to arrange everything, always the one who ensured things went smoothly. She was sick of doing all the planning, but she knew if she didn’t do it then it would never get done.
Ten minutes later the first of her friends trickled in. Lola was chatting on the phone (as always), and gave Clementine little more than a cursory nod of acknowledgement as she sat down and continued her conversation. Finally she hung up the phone.
“Oh, hey Clem. Sorry about that. That was Bruno. His backpacking trip through Brazil is going really well, he got some beautiful photos for Instagram. I can’t wait until he gets back! I miss him so much!”
Bruno was Lola’s wealthy, trust fund fiance, a fact she never let anyone forget. As the first in their little group to get engaged she had declared herself the unofficial trendsetter regarding all things wedding related. As Lola turned her phone towards Clementine to show her yet another wedding dress she was considering (“This one is vintage Chanel! Is that too much?”) Clementine did her best to act interested. In reality she didn’t really care much for Bruno, and secretly felt Lola was only marrying him so she could gain access to his trust fund and use it to fund their perfect, Instagramable life together. Clementine dreaded the day they had children.
Luckily the arrival of two more of their friends saved Clementine from too much wedding talk. Hugo and Pandora, another couple, weaved their way through the crowded tables, bonking a few seated patrons with their large reusable shopping bag as they went by.
“Hey, sorry we are late! Hugo found the BEST selfie background on the way over here so we just had to stop. And I found the cutest pair of vintage sunglasses at Goodwill yesterday, so I needed some new photos of me wearing them.”
Goodwill? Yah right. Thought Clementine grumpily, taking a sip of her overpriced Minty Arnold Palmer. I saw those same sunglasses at Urban Outfitters last week. Those aren’t vintage at all. That was so like Pandora though, to try and pass something mainstream off as being something vintage or rare. Clementine knew Pandora was jealous of Lola and her, now seemingly bottomless, bank account and couldn’t resist the urge to try and show Lola up at every turn. Hugo was almost as bad, with his handlebar moustache and his man bun. They both had this drive to show the world how quirky and unique they were by being quirky and unique in ways that were considered cool.
As her three friends cooed over Pandora’s new selfies Clementine craned her neck over the packed room, scanning it for the last member of their brunch group. Clementine had been friends with Atticus since they had met at the Rays of Sunshine Montessori school as little kids. She would never admit it to anyone but herself, but she had always had a huge crush on him.
She really hoped he hadn’t bailed on her.
Finally she spotted his signature mop of black curls over the top of the crowd and her heart flip-flopped in her chest. Atticus was the brooding artist of the group, a persona Clementine found very appealing. He went everywhere with his vintage leather satchel, and that mysterious bag was always stuffed full of half-written manuscripts, obscure books and high brow literary magazines. Clementine didn’t know how much he actually read, or whether or not he was actually working on his manuscript, but she didn’t really care.
As he made his way towards the table their eyes locked, and Atticus favoured her with a small smile. In that instant she felt like they were the only two people in the world.
“Atticus! There you are!” Lola jumped up from the table, nearly toppling it, and rushed around to give Atticus a big hug. Clementine fummed. She had always suspected that she wasn’t the only one harbouring a secret flame for Atticus, but she had hoped that now that Lola was engaged to someone else her path would be clear.
“Oh, hey Lola. How’s the wedding planning coming?” Atticus slid into the chair next to Clementine and gave her a secret little wink as Lola launched into a complaint filled tirade against one of the venues she was considering. Lola paused while they ordered drinks (two Blueberry Moscow Mules and one Coconut Lavender Lemonade. Hugo and Pandora were on a cleanse, so they stuck to their travel mugs of cayenne lemon water).
Clementine would have been content to let Lola tire herself out, but Pandora clearly had other ideas. When Lola paused to come up for air Pandora cut in.
“So you guys, Hugo and I have some really fabulous news. We are getting married!” The table burst into obligatory cheers and Pandora basked in the flood of congratulatory attention. Hugo busied himself with the menu, clearly more interested in brunch.
“So you know how Hugo and I were in Marseilles last week, well we were doing this amazing bike tour and we came across this beautiful little picnic spot. It was in a meadow and there was this huge tree. Anyways, we sat down to enjoy our lunch. We had some really amazing champagne and did a cheese and charcuterie platter with the most delicious pickles
“Cheese? Charcuterie? I thought you guys were going to go vegan with me. You agreed!” Huffed Lola, rudely interrupting.
“Did we? Hugo and I talked it over and while we really appreciate your viewpoint we just don’t share it, so we aren’t doing that now. Anyways, don’t worry. We will make sure there is a vegetarian option at the reception.”
“Vegan.” Hissed Lola through her perfectly white teeth. “I’m Vegan, not Vegetarian.”“Oh whatever, that is what I meant.” Pandora waved her hand dismissively and continued on. “Anyways, after the picnic we were enjoying the afternoon sun and reading French poetry to each other when Hugo changed one of the lines to ‘Veux-tu m’épouser?’ which is, of course, French for ‘Will you marry me?’ At first I thought he had read it wrong so rolled over to correct him and I look down at the book in his hand and I see that there is a ring in it!”
Pandora stretched out her long, slender tanned hand to show off the ring and Clementine nearly choked on her drink. The ring was gorgeous, a huge shiny emerald set in a stunning vintage setting.”
“It was Hugo’s great grandmother’s! Her husband bought it for her when they were in Paris for their honeymoon.”
“No, that isn’t true.” Interjected Hugo. “I found the actual ring it in a second-hand shop, but the stone was really badly damaged. I got it for a steal and then convinced my Mom to let me have the emerald, which is from a ring that belonged to my Grandmother.”
Pandora rolled her eyes. “Yes I know that Hugo, but I thought we agreed that my version was much more romantic. It’s all about crafting the right narrative.”
Hugo shrugged and returned his attention to his free-range eggs benedict and Pandora continued.
“Anyways it was so romantic! I’ve already started looking at venues and there is this amazing vintage diner in Midtown that just screams-.”
“Wait… the one between the record store and the cold brew coffee shop?” Asked Lola, narrowing her eyes.
“Um, yah. Why?”
“Because that is the venue Bruno and I were looking at for our official engagement party!” screeched Lola.
“Oh, was it? I must have forgotten” Pandora was a terrible liar, but that didn’t stop her from doing it. Clementine thought Lola was going to blow a gasket.
“And you are getting married in June.” Lola stood up and leaned across the table. “ You can’t get married in June, I’m getting married in July and I have to get married first!”
“What? Why?” Demanded Pandora, standing up as well. Hugo and Atticus, who had mostly been ignoring the wedding talk looked up confused.
“Because Bruno and I got engaged first, that’s why! I get to be the first to get married!”
“Well I’m not changing my date, so you will have to change yours!” Screeched Pandora, practically frothing at the mouth.
“Let’s get out of here before they bring the building down. We can settle up our portion of the bill with them later” Whispered Atticus in Clementine’s ear, his beard tickling her ear and neck. She accepted his hand and the two of them scurried out of the way and threaded their way towards the door.
“I’m so glad you aren’t like that.” Atticus said as they stood outside blinking in the bright summer sunlight. He was still holding her hand and Clementine wasn’t in a rush to let go.
“Thanks. I can’t stand those two.”
“Really?” Atticus turned to her, confused. “Then why do you invite them to these things?”
Clementine stared at him, taken aback. “Because I thought you loved hanging out with them. And even if Lola is engaged she is still definitely into you.”
“Me? But I can’t stand them either. I only put up with them because I thought you liked hanging out with them.”
Clementine laughed nervously. “Then why don’t we go do something just the two of us?”
Atticus squeezed her hand.
“I would like that very much.”
Sorry, this vignette ended up being much longer than I intended. Still, let’s unpack:
This story clearly takes place in a fairly contemporary setting and revolves around a group of frenemies going for brunch. The whole group has a distinct millennial hipster vibe, and at least three members of the group (Lola, Pandora and Hugo) are quite well off. It is implied that Clementine, the narrator, is distinctly less wealthy, as shown when we mention her tiny apartment.
Lola and Pandora are both pieces of work. They are vain, shallow and narcissistic. They are discourteous (they arrive late for the brunch, and Lola doesn’t even bother to get off the phone when she first arrives.) Lola is concerned with status, and might only be marrying her fiance Bruno for his money. Clementine considers this to be a terrible reason to get married, and her views are not indicated to be anything out of the ordinary.
Pandora’s main goal seems to be upstaging Lola. Once Pandora and Hugo get engaged her first order of business is to book the same venue as Lola (admittedly for her main reception, not her engagement party. This may indicate a wealth disparity between the two of them) and to make sure she gets married first. This sends Lola into a frothing rage and the two girls argue, loudly, in public. This scene was to demonstrate how crass and rude they are. Lola is also a very forceful personality and clearly tried to force her vegan lifestyle on Pandora and Hugo. Pandora and Hugo, instead of telling her outright to back off, instead eat cheese and charcuterie while in France and then tell her after the fact. Hugo remains largely in the background and only participates in the conversation in order to correct the facts in Pandora’s story.
All three of them are just generally awful.
We don’t know a lot about Atticus aside from the fact that he either is a writer or is at least trying to convince people he is a writer and that both Lola and Clementine have crushes on him. Out of the whole group Clementine and Atticus seem to be the most grounded and likeable, but even they have flaws. Clementine clearly has trouble standing up for herself (she risks being late rather than offend the landlady and is always the one to do all of the organizational work for the group). She has also had a crush on Atticus for years but is reluctant to act on it. This changes when she asks him if he wants to do something just the two of them after they abandon the disastrous brunch. We also learn that both Clementine and Atticus have some communication problems and avoid conflict since neither spoke up about how much they hated Lola and Pandora until after they leave the restauraunt.
I hope you found this example useful!