April's Assignment

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               This is the first installment of Free Fiction Friday.  These stories will be connected.  This one is sort of out of order if there is any kind of order.  In the coming weeks, I will continue to post, and the frame will become clearer.  Until then, enjoy this one. 


               I always dream of this place that I can’t be.  It seems like it’s the 90’s.  I’m wearing baggy, pleated jeans, chukka boots, and my huge red Big Drill Car shirt.  I don’t know why this is the image.  I don’t want to go back to the 90’s; I don’t idolize them.  Is it  just about my age?  I really don’t know.

                In class the other night, the teacher asked us to come up with a specific setting.  I got nothing except this image, but I’m nowhere.  I try to write about nowhere.  It doesn’t work.  I decide to pick the lobby of a restaurant in California that I went to once - yes, once when I was little. 

                The double doors are glass.  I see my reflection just before I pull the left one open.  My jeans are blue and baggy; my red Big Drill Car shirt hangs way low past my ass.  I can see the bump in my pocket where my car keys are.  I’m alone.  I look like me.  Hiding.  There’s no definition to my body.

                In the lobby, the host asks me, “How many?” 

                “Just me.”

                Then, “Smoking or non?” 


                I don’t think I’ve been seen.  I smile to catch his attention.  Nothing. 

                I’ve stuck my pens on my notebooks.  I’ve got a good hold of them.  I feel excited to be somewhere where I can write.  He chooses a table for me and hands me a menu.  My waiter’s name is Cameron, and he’ll be here soon.  I smile again.  Nothing.

                Across the way I see a cute boy hanging out with his friends.  He looks like me, baggy jeans, big t-shirt.  I can’t see what’s on his.  He wears a baseball cap.  He looks familiar.

                I slide out of my bench, so I can dig my cigarettes and lighter out easier.  My back is to them.  I hope he sees me.  I am not sure why I think I’m attractive, but in that moment, I know I am.  Really, I’m just a blob of clothes.  I put my lighter on the table and mess with getting a cigarette out of the pack while I sit back down.  I bust his friend looking at me.  Cameron shows up.

                “Coffee, please,” I say.  He is silent.  No smile from him either.

                He’s quick with the coffee and cream.  “Are you going to eat?” he asks.  My stomach turns over and over.  Boys make me nervous.  “Not yet.”  He walks away, and I open my notebook and grab my pen.  I can’t help but be distracted.  I keep glancing in the cute boy’s direction until I finally get busted by one of his friends.  I can feel my face, my ears, my everything go red.  Damn it.  I think.  I smile as discretely as I can.  They know, oh shit, they know.  I try to focus on writing my story when his table erupts in laughter.  I doodle instead of write.

                It gets a little darker above me; I look up.  He’s there with a small smile on his face. 

                “Can I bum a smoke?”

                “Yeah, “ I look at my cigarettes and nearly push the box off the table while I try to get one for him.  Boys make me nervous. 

                He takes the cigarette.  He’s wearing a Farside shirt.  His hat is blank.  Am I breathing?

                “Need a light?”  I ask.

                “No, I got it,” he lights his cigarette and says thanks.  He turns to walk away, but doesn’t quite finish the turn.

                “Can I sit down with you?”

                “Yeah,” pops out of my mouth so fast I get embarrassed again.

                “What’re you doing here by yourself?”  he asks me.  I look down.

                “Writing a story,” I don’t know how to keep the conversation going.  My smile is huge and I’m wishing I had brushed my teeth this morning.  “I’m trying to write a story about the first show I went to.”

                “What was your first show?”  He asks me.

                “Suicidal.  You?”

                “Circle Jerks.”

                “Hey Mike, we’re taking off.  You comin’?” One of his friends asks, walking over a little towards my table.

                “Yeah, I need a ride.”  Mike replies.

                He turns back to me, “I’m Mike.”  He grabs one of my pens and writes his number in my notebook.

                “Now you,” he holds his arm out for me.

                “I’m April,” I say while I write my number on his arm.  His arm is warm and soft.  I want to smell him but don’t.  I hold on with one hand while I write with the other and I feel sparks, static electricity between us.  I feel crazy.

                He takes one last drag and then puts his cigarette out in the ashtray on my table.  “Late.”

                I wave a silly wave, and he’s gone.  The restaurant becomes foreign, and I hear every little sound.  I smile, get giddy, feel stupid, then wonder if I’ll ever hear from him.  I light another cigarette and sigh.



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