The irascible penmonkey Chuck Wendig has thrown another flash fiction gauntlet down, this time to incorporate five words/concepts into a story of less than 1000 words. My entry is called "I bet she does".
It had been one of those mornings- I overslept, a common enough event. But it made me feel strange for the entire day, throwing me off stride. It wasn't the only thing- I had my period, which made me feel fatigued and a little insecure, and I was up early on a Saturday, which no amount of iced coffee on Earth could fix.
I was volunteering for Cuts For The Cure, a cancer charity where hairdressers gave out free haircuts, keeping the hair to make wigs for sick kids and collecting donations for research at the same time. I was there because my school said I had to in order to graduate, because my mom was the vice president of the charity, and because I cared about sick kids. What order those priorities came in varied as the day went along.
My job was to do basically what I was told, just like in the rest of life. I got drinks and snacks for everybody, explained to folks what was going on and how they could help. I smiled a lot, to the point where my cheeks started to hurt.
It was getting late, the shadows starting to grow long as the sun hid behind the Target we had set up in front of. The demand was starting to drop off, and I decided to start organizing the cash, separating the denominations to make the counting easier. As I was stacking the fives in a pile, preparing to put them into a rubber band, a shadow came over me.
I glued on my smile and looked up. My heart froze. It was a boy, a beautiful boy with dark eyes and an unruly mop of hair under a University of Michigan cap. I tried not to stammer, and failed utterly.
"Uh, er, um....hi!" I was hopeless.
"So what's happening?" I could picture his voice in my ear, a late night stolen phone call under the blankets.
"Uh, this is called Cuts for the Cure," I began, my speech evening out as I ran through the sentences I had gone through so many times over the long day. Even while I was talking, I was saying to myself, "Oh, God, OK. Stand straight. You don't have a figure like Karen's, so at least show him what you do have. Don't let your voice crack, don't giggle, just be cool, just....oh my God, he's so cute."
Karen was a friend who whined at me until I let her do her service hours with me. She was leaning back, talking with my mom's coworker Janette, her long legs crossed demurely at the ankle as Janette finished with a customer. I wanted to turn my head and tell her to look, but part of me hoped fervently she hadn't noticed him.
"My mom said I should get a haircut," he said, his voice warm and thrilling. Inside my head, a voice repeated shrilly, "he didn't say girlfriend! He didn't say girlfriend!"
"Come right this way," I said, guiding him over to my mother's empty chair. We exchanged a series of conspiring glances behind his head. "Don't blow this, Mom," I thought at her urgently. I walked backwards towards the unguarded money table, watching my mom begin to play with his locks while she brightly chattered. My phone buzzed in my back pocket as I reached the table. It was a text from Karen, just three letters.
At least I knew she saw him as I did.
I didn't want to turn back to the money, but I knew I had to. After only a minute, I had the bills sorted out, finally turning around to see Karen, her long legs now perched at my mom's station, winding a long strand of hair around one finger. I felt uneasy, only compounded by my mother's comment on the way home, "Boy, your friend Karen sure liked that boy Josh, didn't she?"
I bet she does, I thought grimly.