I’m still writing a short story!
Published: May 30, 2015
Here’s the second piece of the short story I’m writing.
If you missed the first piece, and you want to catch up, you can do that here.
Thanks for reading!
The Boy shifted in his seat again. No matter how many times he redistributed his weight, he couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position. His mind was restless, and when his mind became restless, his body always followed suit.
He picked up his fork, and then, realizing he wasn’t actually hungry, set it down again. A few small bites were missing from his stack of pancakes, but otherwise, his plate was full. He grabbed his glass half filled with ice water, and tipped it around its circular base. Wet from perspiration, the glass left a perfect ring in the yellowed tablecloth where it touched. The Boy thought about taking a sip as an excuse to prolong his silence, but he knew his glass would run dry long before he was ready to speak.
Even so, he raised his glass to his lips, and he stalled.
While drinking, his eyes darted around the diner, not resting on anything for more than a heartbeat. He wasn’t looking for anything specific. He wasn’t looking for anything at all. He just wanted to avoid her gaze for a few seconds longer. He could feel her looking at him, and that made him nervous.
Why am I nervous? I’m never nervous around her. It’s a date. So what? We’ve gone on like a dozen now. Stop acting weird. She knows you’re acting weird.
His eyes landed on a wall of framed black and white photos over her left shoulder. The photos looked old, but The Boy knew that was unlikely. He wondered who the owners were trying to fool. The diner was constructed less than a year ago. It wasn’t a secret. It was a big deal for the town to get a restaurant that stayed open past 5pm on a Sunday.
A picture of a couple sitting on bar stools caught The Boy’s eye. A man and a woman. A boy and a girl really. They were sitting together under a row of lights much brighter than any bar The Boy had ever been to. Cigarettes burned in both their hands, and smoke danced in the empty space between them. Except for the bartender cleaning glasses behind them, the boy and the girl were alone in the picture. They looked happy.
That could be us.
The Boy stared for a second longer.
But what if it’s not?
Fuck. Is this even a date? If someone asked her if we were on a date, what would she say? Do I want to know? How do I not already know?
The water drained, The Boy set his glass down and started tipping it around its circular base again. The ice became a quiet rattle.
The Boy continued scanning the wall of photos. He saw a small tractor in a big field, a classic car on a worn street, a line of eager people outside a plain building, and an old woman sitting in an older rocking chair. As he reached the bottom of the wall and the last of the photos, The Boy noticed a Man sitting at a table in front of the wall watching him.
The Man looked to be of average height, but his seated position and sagging shoulders made it hard to tell. He looked heavy but not overweight. Sturdy. He had light brown hair that probably looked blonde in the summers. Shortish. Unkempt. He was holding a blue pen which looked tiny in his large hands. Had he not been staring, The Boy never would have noticed him.
You too? I hope you’re enjoying the show.
The Boy stared back at The Man who quickly looked down at his notebook.
What are you thinking?
The Boy stared for a second longer before his restless eyes went back to the wall of pictures. Back to darting. Back to stalling.
I’m just going to ask. I’m tired of not knowing. I’m going to look her in the eyes and just fucking ask. I want to know. I really do. What is this? What are we doing right now? Is this romantic? Is there room for romance?
What if she says no? Do we change? Does she go away? What if she says yes? What changes then? Am I ready for this to change?
He looked away from the photos and turned his head to look out the window on his right. It was black outside, so the only thing The Boy saw was his own reflection. He looked tired. His focus drifted from his reflection to her reflection. She was sitting opposite him at their small table, and she was still looking at him.
The window distorted her image, but The Boy knew her well enough to fill in what her reflection left out. He saw long eyelashes. He saw rogue strands of dark hair hugging her forehead. He saw pursed lips fighting off a smile. She was always smiling.
She’s so pretty.
The Boy stared for a second longer and then turned away from the window, away from her reflection, and looked down at his hands. He took a breath to steady his nerves. Deep. Silent. Surprisingly calming. Still tipping his glass, he turned his eyes upward and met her stare.
Image credit: Mario Calvo