Welcome to Wednesday Briefs which is a feature on my blog where I share a piece of flash fiction for you, and link you to some other amazing authors.
I dropped my backpack into the chair across from me. The café was crowded, noisy and I claimed the last table in the back corner, wedged between the wall and a column it was the perfect place to work uninterrupted. My laptop took a few minutes to power up; it was in desperate need of a few updates. I couldn’t afford to get a new one, and there was no point in asking my mom to help me out. She worked hard enough to keep food on the table without worrying about whether my electronics were going to make it.
The headphone jack was secured into the port via a piece of electrician’s tape, and soon the sounds of screaming guitars and heavy rhythmic drums drowned out the coffee house noise. I stared at the blank word document, glaring at the cursor which blinked, seemingly mocking me. Balanced precariously on the table edge, next to my mocha was my history book. There were only sixteen hours left before my midterm paper was due, and I was still absolutely no where started with it.
Frustrated with the lack of motivation and the fact that the paper hadn’t written itself, I closed my eyes, hoping that an idea would come to me. I was jerked out of my inner Zen when the table jerked, history book falling into my lap. I yanked out my earbuds, and glared at the person who had settled himself in the chair opposite me. My bag was on the floor next to his, and he had a coffee in his other hand.
“Can I sit here?” He asked after the fact, flashing a toothpaste-model grin my direction.
“If you have to,” I muttered, wiping the spilled coffee from the table.
“Come on Logan,” He flashed another grin my way. “We’re both not working on Mullens’ paper, and I figure you could use a bit of distraction since you were falling asleep in a Starbucks.”
“I wasn’t asleep, Cal.” I pushed the sodden napkins to a corner of the table. “I was thinking.”
“You were snoring.” He pushed a hand through his hair and settled back into the chair. He was taller than me, all arms and legs with a broad chest and narrow waist. He couldn’t sit still, energy radiated out of every pore, and seemed to make everything around him move in slow motion. Captain of the Varsity basketball team for the third year, he also played soccer, rugby, and somehow managed to rig it with the school that he ran track—which was the same time as soccer. His hair was a little long, curling into his eyes when he didn’t comb it back, a dirty blond color that offset brilliant green eyes. Gorgeous, and could easily pull anyone that he wanted in school to date. And he did. Often. Shamelessly.
I wasn’t quite sure if my resentment toward him was the fact that he could fart and amazing things would fall into his lap, or if it was the way he could say my name and everything else faded away.
Crushes were stupid anyhow.
“Wasn’t asleep,” I muttered again, rolling the cord to my earbuds up and shoving them into my backpack. “What are you writing for Mullens?”
He shrugged, swallowing a sip of his drink. “I was thinking about touching on the comparison of Post World War Germany with the modern economic downfall of the past few years, but I’m not sure.”
“It really is.” He grinned again, a different grin that seemed to go right through me and deliver a closed fisted punch to both my heart and gut at the same time. “A little terrifying if you look at it, but I mean Mullens is always going on and on about history is a circle, and the similarities are startling, if not fascinating.”
He talked with his hands, gesturing widely, punctuating his words with sweeps of his fingers. He did that when he got excited about something. We grew up together, separated only in middle school when his parents put him into the private school across town. I ended up getting into the high school with a scholarship, and once he found me he latched on. To the dismay of most of his friends and the general population at West Pierce Prep; he dragged me along until I told him to shove off.
And yet, here he was. Again. As if nothing had ever changed between us.
“Logan,” He waved his hand in my face. “What are you thinking about?”
“I told you I was trying to figure out something for Mullens’ paper, but I’m coming up short.”
Cal was quiet for a few moments, though his foot was tapping against the floor. “What about talking about the psychological impact on war propaganda posters and images? You’ve got the knowledge of art during that period and your photography brain would make it easy to write.”
“That’s actually…really good.” I said, typing the idea into the laptop before saving it and closing it down. Research would be easier at home, and so would writing the paper now that I actually had an idea to go with.
“Of course it’s good, I came up with it.” He said, and reached across the table, his fingertips brushing my hair. “Did you put blue in it?”
“Yeah,” I managed to get out around my heart which was now hammering in my throat. His fingers carded through my hair, playing with it before he drew back.
“I have to get home to get this paper done. You need a lift, man? Or are you going to hang here a little longer?”
“I think I’m going to hang here for a little while longer. I’ve got to pick mom up from work tonight.”
“Cool,” He said as he got to his feet, flashing me another grin. “Text me later so I know you got back.” He shouldered his backpack and sauntered through the packed café.
Julie Lynn Hayes