Short Story Sunday: “Settlement” [308]

Short Story Sunday 308: "Settlement" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

As much as Marin was nervous for this meeting, she was going to do her best to remain positive about how it would turn out. She didn’t want to admit defeat before anything started and she certainly didn’t want everyone in the room to think she was afraid.
So, she walked through the parking as though she were on top of the world. Well, she stood tall at least. If anything she might have looked like a snob with her nose stuck up in the air but that didn’t matter. Marin only cared about how one person felt about her and it wasn’t any of the strangers she passed in the parking lot or who drove her.

She entered the office with her head held high. She passed the lobby without needing to talk to the receptionist – she knew exactly where she was going. Unfortunately, she had been there one too many times already.

Marin didn’t know how her life got to this point and she wished it hadn’t. However, now that it had come down to this, she needed to stick up for herself. She had lost everything because she didn’t have much of a backbone. She felt bad for the situation so she didn’t care if she was left with anything at all. However, now she actually had nothing because she gave it all away. There was no way he was going to take the apartment as well.

She couldn’t be homeless with nothing to her name. That wasn’t fair to her at all. She was done playing nice.

When Marin made it to the third floor where the divorce attorney offices were, she drew in a sharp breath. She was fine, she could do this. She was going to walk in there and demand that she get to keep the apartment because she had given him everything else – even the things she bought with her own money. He took back one of the gifts he had given her because even though he never cooked, he knew he would for sure use an air fryer now that he was a bachelor again.

Marin seethed in the hall. She needed to calm herself down before she entered the office. She was a few minutes early. She didn’t think it’d be an issue if she paced outside the door for a moment or two to gather her bearings.

It wouldn’t be a big deal if she had asked for the apartment, right? Both of their names were on the lease and she knew they’d have to pay a fee for one of them moving out (a fee she didn’t mind taking care of if that meant he was gone). The bottom line was that it didn’t make sense for both of them to move out and have to find a new apartment. Marin knew what he was going to say. He was given everything else from the marriage so it didn’t make sense for him to have to pack everything up and leave the apartment. It would be easier (for him) if Marin just packed up what little stuff she had left and moved out of the apartment. Plus, the apartment was originally his. He lived there before Marin had even me him. They dated for six months before eloping. Marin moved in with him and now… Now she regretted just about all the choices she had ever made in her lifetime.

With that logic and reasoning between herself and the voices in her head, Marin barged into the office and stood in the doorway. Everyone in the room – her lawyer, his lawyer, and him – stared at her. Marin immediately regretted walking in at that moment.

“Thanks for joining us,” her lawyer said. “We’ve actually been talking about you.”

Marin felt her blood pressure rise. How could they start the meeting without her?

Her ex-husband stood from the table. “I already signed the settlement. We just need your signature and then we’re all set.”

Marin opened her mouth to retaliate. How dare they decide on something without her present!

Her lawyer raised a hand. “Hear him out.”

Marin was about to snap at him when her ex spoke up again.

“I realized none of this has been fair for you. We rushed into a marriage and it was fun while it lasted. I wish I could say I hope we keep in touch, but honestly…” he chuckled. “Anyway, I’m giving you everything. All the stuff you told me I could take, I’m giving to you. I mean, aside from the stuff I owned before we were married. The furniture, TV, the air fryer, other gifts I gave to you… it’s all yours. So is the apartment.”

Marin remained in the doorway with her mouth gaped open. She had to be dreaming, right? Maybe she had married the evil twin and the good twin was here to make things right?

“I talked to my brother and he said I can stay in his guest bedroom until I find a new place,” he continued. “I realize a lot of our problems from the marriage were my fault and I want to make sure you’re comfortable and taken care of. So, if that’s all okay with you, then please. Go ahead and sign.”

Marin felt tears form in her eyes and willed her emotions to stay in check. This was reason she had fallen in love with him in the first place. He could be a self-centered jerk, but he always came to his senses at the end. Even divorced, it seemed as though he cared and he still wanted to make sure things were not his fault. For once, he was taking responsibility.

She walked over to the table and picked up the pen. She glanced at her lawyer who nodded. Yet, she couldn’t find herself to sign it.

“I feel like this isn’t right. You should have something,” she said.

She cursed herself for saying anything at all. She knew she was too nice for her own good at times, but… how could she let things end like this?

Her ex shook his head. “Please? We’re already losing a friendship because we rushed into things. I’d rather just get this over with and be happy knowing that you’re taken care of.”

*

Marin got back to their – well, her – apartment. She had signed the papers. Everything was going to be processed and approved in a few months. The apartment was dull and quiet when it was just her there. She couldn’t tell if he truly did care or if he just didn’t want to deal with being in the apartment alone. Still, this was his apartment for about ten years. Marin couldn’t imagine him being able to give this up so easily.

After lying in bed that night and going through the following day as normal as she could, she realized something else. Her ex didn’t give up the apartment because he wanted to make sure she was taken care of, as he claimed. There was another reason.
Everywhere Marin looked, something was his. The apartment smelled like him. The apartment held a number of memories of the two of them – some good and some bad. Everywhere she looked, she was reminded of him and her heart broke all over again.

That was the reason he didn’t want to stay.

They hated each other, but they hated this situation more. Marin couldn’t help but smile. Well, it seemed as though he did like her a little bit.

She picked up her purse and headed out of the apartment. Without a second thought, she’d tell the leasing office she was moving out.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Advertisements

Short Story Sunday: “Coversation” [307]

Short Story Sunday 307: "Conversation" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

“What do you think they’re talking about?” Lyla asked. She picked up her hot coffee and drew it to her lips without taking a sip. It was still piping hot, the steam rising from the small slit in the cover.

Victor, sipping his coffee across the table, stared at her. He put the paper cup down on the table. “What do I think who are talking about?”

“Them,” Lyla said, turning her attention back to her friend, jerking her head to her left.

Victor looked to his right scanning the cafe. There was an empty table beside them but next to that one was another man and woman sitting together. They seemed to be deep in conversation, not taking their eyes off one another. The man sat back with one arm casually on the back of his chair and his other hand holding his hot beverage. The woman hunched forward with both hands cupping her hot drink.

“Why are you curious about what they’re talking about?” Victor asked turning his attention back to Lyla.

Lyla stared at the couple once more. “I can’t get a read on them.”

“Why do you need to get a read on them?”

“Why do you have to question everything I do?”

“Because I think you’re crazy.”

Lyla snorted through a smile. It wasn’t the first time someone called her crazy and she knew it wouldn’t be the last. In fact, she knew she was a bit crazy. She was too nosy for her own good, but these were strangers. There was no harm in wondering what they’re lives were like today. Lyla brought her drink back up to her mouth and took the tiniest of sips. It was still hot but at least she didn’t burn her tongue this time.

“Okay, let me ask you this,” Victor said, “What do you think they’re talking about?”

Lyla shrugged. “That’s why I asked you.”

“You’re the nosiest person I know and you eavesdrop all the time. I’m sure you’ve heard bits and pieces here and there in their conversation,” Victor stated.

Lyla frowned. “I tried, but it’s too loud in here and they’re two tables away.”

Victor laughed. He took another sip of his drink and looked back over at the couple two tables over. They hadn’t moved their positions, but they were still talking, staring deeply into one another’s eyes.

“It seems to me,” Victor began, “the woman is trying to have a serious conversation and the man doesn’t seem to care.”

“That’s what you get out of that?” Lyla asked in surprise.

“Body language says a lot.”

“But you make it sound like the man isn’t serious at all. The woman is trying to convince him of something and he’s brushing her off,” Lyla countered.

Victor shook his head. “I didn’t say the man was never serious. I meant this particular conversation isn’t interesting to him. Or maybe the woman is making a big deal out of nothing and that’s why she’s stressed out and he’s not.”

Lyla pressed her lips together in a smirk.

Victor narrowed his eyes. “What?”

“You’re just as nosy as I am.”

“I am not.”

“You are,” Lyla said with a chuckle. “You have this all thought out. You thought of two scenarios.”

Victor waved her off. “Oh, forget it.” He took another sip.

There was a moment of silence as the two old friends sipped on their own coffee. Lyla and Victor met up once a week at the cafe to catch up with one another and have a relaxing time after a long week. They had been doing this for years, ever since they graduated high school and they went to different colleges. They wanted to keep in touch and going to a cafe for about an hour a week was the only time they were able to make. Even when college was over and they both had full-time jobs this was the only time they could make. Life was always so hectic and on-the-go. Lyla enjoyed that they were able to take this time out of their week and keep in touch with each other.

“Why do you care so much?” Victor broke the silence.

“About what?”

“About what those people are talking about. You ask me that just about every time we come here.”

Lyla shrugged. “I’m curious about what’s going on in other people’s lives. I think it’s cool that other people live like we do.”

Victor raised an eyebrow. He wasn’t too sure how to respond to that one. Of course other people had lives. Everyone went to school or work, they hung out with friends. Everyone had feelings and their own worries and doubts about things. Someone somewhere was receiving good news while another person somewhere was receiving bad news. It was the way life worked.

“I mean, I know other people have lives, of course.” Lyla attempted to defend herself. “But it’s interesting to know how similar or different strangers are to us. We get so wrapped up in living our own lives, thinking, and worrying, and all that jazz that we forget there are other people around us possibly going through the same thing.”

Victor nodded his head. She made sense. He had some interesting customers at his work all the time and he often pretended they were having a bad day so Victor tried to remain as calm and nice as he possibly could.

“It’s true,” he said, adding his two cents. “Everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. I still don’t see why you need to eavesdrop on conversations in the cafe though.” He smirked.

Lyla laughed. “This place is filled with interesting people. It’s the perfect place to people watch.”

Victor smiled and raised his cup. “I can’t argue with that.”

*

“You don’t need to keep whispering. They can’t hear us.” The man two tables over took a lazy sip from his drink.

The woman, still hunched over the table, stared at him. “I know, but I don’t want them to see that we’ve been looking over at them.”

“Then don’t look at them. I don’t know why you always feel the need to know what other people are talking about whenever we step foot inside a busy public place.”

“You’re not the least bit curious about what’s going on in their lives?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not crazy.”

*

Victor nodded his head to two tables over and Lyla casually gazed over acting as though she was looking at something else.

“What about them?” she asked.

“I changed my mind,” he said. “I think they’re arguing.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 306: Hostility

Short Story Sunday: "Hostility" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Writing | RachelPoli.com

Detective Elliot stared at the suspect through the one-way mirror. The man sat in the other room, leaning back against the metal chair looking bored. The detective didn’t know what to do with this guy. He didn’t seem to care about the situation he was in right now. On the other hand, the suspect wasn’t talking too much. Elliot couldn’t tell if he just didn’t understand what was going on or if he was too crafty and knew exactly what he was doing. The suspect had refused a lawyer so Elliot was given the go-ahead to question him. So far, he hasn’t made a dent.

Judging from the way the suspect acted, Elliot and his partner, Detective Grace, assumed Elliot would have it all under control. Grace had decided to get a head start on the paperwork while Elliot finished up with the suspect. Now he waited for his partner in the back room so they could interrogation the suspect together. Elliot didn’t make any headway so maybe between the two of them, Grace would be able to get something out of this guy.

Grace entered the back room with a deadpan expression. “I thought we’d actually get off shift on time for once.”

Elliot sighed. “I’m sorry, but this man isn’t budging. I thought maybe if we gang up on him he’ll talk.”

“Does he want a lawyer?”

“Still doesn’t want a lawyer,” Elliot said, shaking his head.

Grace let out a frustrated sighed. “Well, it doesn’t seem as though this guy wants to make anything easy for us.”

“Why would they?” Elliot smirked. “I got all I could out of him. He kept giving me one-word answers. It got to the point he kept answering yes or no for all my questions even when I didn’t ask a yes or no question.”

“Oh, one of those?” Grace commented with a grunted. “Do you think he’s in a daze from all the events from today? Or do you think he’s faking trying to play us?”

Elliot reached over Grace and grabbed the manila folder on the shelf by the mirror. He opened it up and took a look at the case file that was quickly made up before they began their questioning.

“According to the woman in the apartment next door, she heard a man scream and she checked the hallway. The apartment to her left – the suspect’s apartment – was opened ajar. She took a peek to make sure everything was already and she found our victim dead on the floor in a pool of blood with a knife sticking out of his chest. Then she saw our suspect walking calmly out of the next room wiping his hands of, what she assumed, to be blood,” Elliot said, reading from the folder. “We of course, brought him in for questioning under the suspicion he murdered his roommate, but he has never once flinched. Didn’t resist arrest, doesn’t even seem to realize a homicide has taken place.”

Grace watched the suspect through the mirror with furrowed brows. He leaned back in his chair making the legs click on the floor. He began to hum along with the tune in a happy manner. “I feel like he doesn’t know what’s going on… either that or he’s a really good actor.”

“My guess is a good actor,” Elliot replied. “He refused a lawyer and said he didn’t mind talking to us about what happened. My guess is this is all an act in an attempt to fool us into thinking he’s crazy. If a lawyer was here, they’d see right through him.”

“That doesn’t matter. A lawyer would still try to protect him, that’s their job. We see right through it though and we don’t have to protect him,” Grace stated.

Elliot didn’t reply for a moment. While his partner was right, he still thought there was something off about the whole situation. Would a person really go through these lengths to cover up the fact that he murdered his roommate? People did crazy things when they were in crazy situations and were scared. Elliot had thought he’d seen it all but he knew he’d jinx himself for the next case if he said it out loud.

Either this suspect had planned to kill his roommate but didn’t expect the next door neighbor to hear – which Elliot thought was ridiculous in the first place. The apartment had thin walls that he was sure a lot of people in the building would have heard the struggle. Or, the suspect got too heated in the moment and didn’t mean to kill his roommate. Of course, you can’t accidentally stab a knife through someone’s chest, but Elliot has heard and seen a lot of crazy things throughout his years being a detective.

On the other hand, this suspect could have actually been innocent and the next door neighbor was too afraid and only thought what she was was actually what she witnessed. Maybe the suspect wasn’t talking because he was afraid. Why he didn’t want a lawyer was beyond Elliot. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford one or maybe he was too confident that he’d be found innocent that he didn’t think he needed one.

Elliot watched him carefully through the glass. The suspect was too calm. It truly was hard to say if he was innocent and confident he’d be found so – despite the evidence and testimonies against him – or he was crazy and didn’t care at all about the situation he was in.

“Any ideas how to pursue this one?” Grace asked.

Elliot shook his head. “Do you want to go in alone and see if he’ll talk to you or tag-team this one?”

Grace shrugged. “I’ll see if he’ll be inclined to answer any of my questions.”

Elliot watched as his partner left the room. There were quite a few suspects who usually submitted to Grace’s questioning. Elliot had been doing this for years and he wasn’t sure if he was becoming less intimidating. Grace, on the other hand, had only been doing this for a handful of years but she was more intimidating to most suspects than Elliot was. He didn’t understand what he was about her, but she often scared people into talking. However, she was never out of line.

He watched as Grace opened the door to the interrogation room. Before she could take a step into the room, the suspect stood, let out an ear-splitting scream as he picked up his chair, and chucked it toward the detective before rushing toward the door.
Elliot jumped out of the back room and was just about to help his partner when he entered the interrogation room. When he made it to the doorway, Grace had the suspect pinned on the ground under the chair. Elliot tried not to crack a smile. “Did you catch the chair?”

“Of course I caught the chair, I’m no rookie,” Grace said as though she were offended he asked. “Go get backup, will you? I think he needs some more time in the holding cell.”

Elliot did as suggested and as a few police officers cuffed the suspect and brought him back to a holding cell, Elliot and Grace watched from the hall. He had the case folder in his hand and let out a sigh.

“You know,” he began, “I know nothing is ever easy. But for once, I would like a case that’s on the easier side. He was totally calm with me, I don’t know what you did.”

Grace shrugged. “My face scares people, as it should.”

Elliot chuckled.

Grace then sighed. “Great, now I have to add this in the report. More paperwork.”

Elliot didn’t answer his partner. Yes, she was right. They were going to have to add that into the case file, but there was certainly something that wasn’t right. “I think we should go back to the apartment and check it out again. I feel like there isn’t something right with that guy.”

“Ya think?”

“I want to go back to the apartment.”

“Alright, we’ll go back to the apartment.” Grace shrugged. “You can drive.”

*

The two detectives ducked under the caution tape that sprawled across the door frame to apartment 205. The remained in the doorway on the other side of the tape staring at the still-life apartment before them.

“Died right away from a stab wound to the heart,” Detective Grace said shaking her head. “What a way to go.”

“We’ve seen worse,” Elliot added.

“We have, but it still never gets less creepy. What are we looking for here?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Elliot replied softly. “I thought something would jump out of me once we got here. I know that sounds a bit too easy, but… I have this feeling that we have the wrong guy.”

“The crazy guy is the wrong guy?” Grace said with a deadpanned tone.

Elliot nodded. “Maybe? I’m not sure.”

“He threw a chair at me.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s a murderer.”

“A metal chair.”

“Right, but-”

“And then he tried to run out the door. If he were innocent, would he try to run? What does he had to hide?” Grace continued.

“I can’t imagine being accused of murder when you’re actually innocent. I bet he’s afraid trying to put on a cool act.” Elliot explained.

“I get that, but I still find it completely odd. Something must be off about him. Regardless, he attacked a detective so he’ll be in trouble for something,” Grace stated. She watched as Elliot entered further into the apartment. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for clues.”

“I’m pretty sure we got everything.”

Elliot wasn’t convinced. He looked under tables and chairs but nothing seemed to be jumping out at him. He stared at the blood stains on the carpet in the middle of the living room.

“Do you think,” he began, “it’s possible our suspect came home and found his roommate dead? He might have tried to revive him with CPR or something and that’s how he got the blood on his hands. That’s what the neighbor witnessed.”

Grace walked further into the apartment and looked down at her partner who was squatting on the ground. “It’s possible, yes. Anyone who would walk home to see that would try to revive them with CPR despite a stab wound to the hear. Panic and grief sets in. But what about the scream?”

“It was our suspect. He came home and was shocked to find his roommate dead.” Detective Elliot stood up. “How would our witness be able to tell the two screams apart? They’re both male and I’m sure they don’t scream so often that their neighbor has been able to tell them apart.”

“Well, I hate to admit it, but you do have a point. Our witness didn’t actually witness the murder, she saw the aftermath,” Grace agreed.

*

The two detectives made it back to the station. They immediately walked down to the holding cells and found their suspect. He sat in a lonely corner of the cell weeping.

“I don’t think he did it at all,” Elliot whispered. Seeing him in this state confirmed any thoughts he had. He walked over to the cell and knocked on the bars to get his attention.

The suspect looked up, his face wet and eyes blood-shot from crying. He stood, walking to the bars. He looked confused but Elliot could tell he was trying to act tough.

“We went back to the apartment,” Elliot began. “You didn’t kill your roommate, did you?”

The suspect’s mouth gaped open. He looked back and forth between the two detectives before settling his gaze back onto Detective Elliot. His gaze softened as he smiled with relief. He shook his head.

“Then why wouldn’t you talk to us before?” Grace asked, glaring at the suspect. Elliot put a hand up signaling her to simmer down. Though he couldn’t blame her. He’d be annoyed if a chair was thrown at him too.

The suspect shrugged. “I’m sorry. I thought I was done for. I panicked.”

“You need to tell us what happened. No more staying silent if you want your roommate’s killer to be caught,” Elliot said sternly.

The suspect nodded. He looked Detective Elliot in the eye. “I think I know who killed him.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 305: Suit

Short Story Sunday: "Suit" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Writing | RachelPoli.com

Jude stared at himself in the full-length mirror with disgust. In his 18 years of being alive, he had gotten out of wearing a suit with an almost 100-percent success rate.

Weddings? He’d wear sleek black jeans with a nice dress shirt. He’d the same thing for other special occasions or parents. The only time his parents truly forced him to wear a suit was when they had a funeral to attend and, lucky enough for him, he’d only gone to two in his life.

He fluffed out of the dress pants he was forced to wear. They were a bit baggy on him and they made a rustling sound when his thighs rubbed together as he walked. When he complained about it, all his mother had to say was that she told him to get the suit fitted before tonight. Apparently, he had no one to blame but himself. He supposed that was true. He didn’t get the suit fitted because he thought if he had “forgotten” to do it, he’d get out of wearing it.

The shirt fit just fine but the buttons at the end of the shirt were bothering him. The small plastic pieces rubbed against his wrists – not tightly, but just enough to be annoying. He tried to fold the button over, rolling his sleeves up a quarter of the way.

Whenever he did, his mother appeared by magic and “fixed” them for him. He tried to leave them unbuttoned but that didn’t work either. His mother wouldn’t stand for that because it looked too sloppy.

Jude didn’t even want to talk about the shoes. They fit him fine, but he must preferred his sneakers. He had half a mind to sneak his sneakers into his car so he could change without his mother’s knowledge. He was lucky she wasn’t chaperoning the senior prom. Otherwise he’d be in big trouble.

Looking at himself in the mirror, Jude realized something. He cleaned up nice. However, if he didn’t feel good in the suit, he didn’t care how good or bad he looked. He wanted to feel comfortable so that he was able to have the best time he could.

His father now entered Jude’s bedroom. Jude sighed knowing his mother had sent him into the room. He had most of the suit on so now they were arguing about the tie. It wasn’t fair that his mother didn’t feel fit enough to fight that battle. So she tagged her husband in to take her place. Jude didn’t have anyone to tag in, so what was he supposed to do?

“I brought three of them. You said your date is wearing a black dress, right?” his father asked.

Jude lifted one shoulder into a small shrug. “I think she said it was mostly black but it had silver specks in it. She said it looked like a starry night.”

“Oh,” his father chuckled holding up a tie. “So, I guess you don’t want to wear this one?”

Jude’s eyes widened at the tie his father presented to him. It was a crisp white with large, black polka dots all over. It looked like a cow and Jude didn’t want to be caught dead wearing that.

“That’s hideous,” he said.

His father continued to laugh as he tossed the tie onto the bed. “Alright then, you’ve narrowed it down to two.”

Two ties were held up in front of Jude’s face. One was a sleek black that seemed to be almost as shiny as his new dress shoes were. The other was another black tie with gray at the bottom. The gray dissolved as it climbed to the top of the tie allowed for small gray specks in the middle of the tie. Jude thought it looked as though someone had spilled something on the tie, but he thought it looked okay enough. He pointed to the black one with the gray specks.

“That one actually probably matches Paige’s dress.”

“Ah,” his father grinned, tossing the black one onto the bed. He stepped toward his son with the gray tie and tossed it around his neck. “So you do care that you match your date.”

“No, I do not,” Jude said firmly. “But I know girls tend to like this kind of stuff and can go overboard with the whole matching thing, so I guess I might as well try to make Paige happy about it.”

“Sure,”

Jude sighed. His father’s “sure” was always code for, “We both know I’m right so I’m not putting in the effort to argue.”

“Is Paige excited?” his father asked tightening the tie around his son’s neck.

Jude swallowed a lump in his throat hoping he’d be able to breath. Who invented ties, anyway? They were such a stupid way of being classy. There was no need to choke yourself in order to look good so you can have a nice time.

“I think she is. She hasn’t said too much about it, to be honest,” Jude explained. He put a hand on the knot in his tie trying to loosen it just ever so slightly as his father took a step back to admire his handy work.

“You look good, son,” his father said, a proud grin on his face.

Jude didn’t reply in fear he’d say something mean. He certainly didn’t feel good.

“Have you asked Paige much about tonight?” his father asked.

“Asked her what? I wanted to know about her dress because we need for match for some weird reason. I’m just glad she didn’t pick a bright pink or purple dress.” Jude rolled his eyes. He turned back to look at himself in the mirror dropping his hands down by his side. On the outside, he looked good. On the inside, he felt like a dope. Prom better go quick.

“Aside from making sure your tie matched her dress and asking her to the prom, have the two of you talked about it at all?” his father asked again.

“What else is there to talk about?”

His father let out a sigh.

“What?” Jude peeled his eyes off himself in the mirror and at his dad.

“Do we need to have a talk about woman?”

“God, Dad. No.”

“Alright, well, make sure you listen to her tonight, okay?”

Jude’s face twisted in confusion.

“Girls live for senior prom. Paige is probably way more excited than you’ll ever be about it. You want to make this night special for her, not for yourself.” His father sat down on the bed and patted the seat beside him, but Jude ignored the gesture.

“I need to make this night special for her by dressing up fancy even though I’m uncomfortable?”

“Yes.”

Jude’s face deadpanned. He didn’t know what else to say to his parents at this point. They didn’t know Paige, but if Jude thought about it, he didn’t know too much about Paige himself.

No, the two of them had never really talked about prom or anything else. He saw Paige across the room in math sophomore year when she moved to the area and he had wanted to talk to her ever since. They barely spoke a word to each other when he asked her to go to prom with him. They were working on a lab project together in science just two months ago and he blurted out, “Will you go to prom with me?” instead of a normal greeting such as saying hello.

Much to his surprise, she found it amusing and agreed.

Most girls Jude knew were going ga-ga for senior prom. It was true, he heard them talking about it ever since freshmen year. He didn’t doubt his father when he said some girls lived for senior prom. He wasn’t so sure one of those girls was Paige though.

In fact, the more Jude thought about it, the more he realized that when he asked Paige what color dress she was wearing so they could match, she didn’t seem too enthused about the idea. He got a weird tone from her voice over the phone when she described it. She only seemed to be excited about the starry night part of the dress.

Jude paused in his thinking. Maybe she wasn’t actually excited to go to prom at all. Maybe he was forcing her to do something she didn’t want to do. Maybe she was too nice and didn’t want to say no to going to prom. That was possible, wasn’t it? Some girls actually didn’t care about the prom stuff. Or maybe she didn’t actually want to go with him but she had already made the commitment a few months ago that she’d feel bad going back on her word or feigning ill. He knew he had asked her too early!

“Uh, Jude? Are you okay? You’re making an awful lot of faces.” His father stood up holding his arms out as though he thought Jude was going to fall over and he needed to catch his son. “It’s okay to be nervous. I sometimes feel that way when I’m nervous too. Just head to the bathroom now and get it all out before you leave.”

Jude stared at his father horrified.

“Otherwise you’re in a long night of embarrassment in front of your entire school.”

“Dad, please stop talking,” Jude sighed. “I’m not nervous. Of course I want Paige to have a good time. It’s just…”

He stared at his father who patiently waited for an explanation. Except, Jude had no idea how to explain this to his father and he didn’t want to get into it just then. He knew he needed to pick up Paige in about ten minutes.

“I need to leave now,” Jude said.

“That’s the spirit!” his father cheered.

Jude left his bedroom with his father trailing behind. He didn’t know what his dad meant by his cheer, but he didn’t want to ask.
After saying a quick goodbye to his parents – well, it wasn’t as quick as he would have liked. He needed to take the corsage from his mother and take a couple of pictures first. Once that was out of the way, he got into his car and headed to Paige’s house, which was about ten minutes from his own house.

He had to do the same thing at her house. They took picture after picture. Individual pictures, pictures together (all in various poses), pictures putting on the corsages… Jude was seeing so many spots he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to drive to prom.

Throughout the picture taking, Jude grew more nervous. Paige seemed to be in an okay mood, but she didn’t seem to want her picture taken at all. She was flattered by the corsage and even his tie, but she wasn’t overly excited about any of it. Jude knew there had to be some other guy she wanted to go with or maybe she just wanted to go with her group of friends. Jude shouldn’t have asked her in the first place. How was he supposed to help her have a good time when it didn’t seem like she wanted to have a good time with him from the get-go?

They made it into the car and as Jude pulled away from her house with Paige waving goodbye to her parents, Paige let out a long groan which startled Jude.

“Um, are you okay?”

“My mother picked out the floofiest dress,” Paige said.

“Floofy…?”

“I hate wearing dresses. I just wanted to wear pants. I even tried to compromise with her and told her I’d wear dress pants instead of jeans. She didn’t budge, as you can tell.”

Jude took his eyes off the road for a moment to look at her. “Well, I think you look lovely.”

“Lovely? Really?”

“Great?”

Paige snickered. “Listen, you don’t need to feel like you have to make me feel good or pretty or anything tonight, okay? Let’s just have a good time.”

“Do you want to have a good time with me?” Jude asked. He didn’t know where the question came form and wanted to rewind the moment it came out of his mouth, but there was no going back now. He continued before Paige could answer. “I mean, you don’t seem all that excited for prom. I didn’t know if you agreed to go with me because you felt awkward saying no or maybe I asked you too early… I know we barely talked before I even asked you and it’s kind of a weird situation.”

“Dude, shut up,” Paige laughed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you think I didn’t want to come with you or anything. I just don’t like getting dressed up. I want to experience prom but I also want to be able to move at prom.”

Jude let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, okay. Well, we’re in the same boat then. I didn’t want to wear a suit or even these shoes.”

“The shoes look good though. I brought an alternative.” Paige pulled a pair of sneakers from the floor in front of her.

Jude glanced at her. “Where did you pull those out from?”

“I told you, this is a floofy dress.”

“Yeah, but…?”

“I’m going to step on your feet at least eleven times tonight, would you rather I do so in heels?”

Jude shook his head. This was the most he had ever heard her speak. He didn’t mind it though.

“I’m sorry you need to wear those shoes all night,” Paige said.

“Nah,” Jude smirked, “My sneakers are in the trunk.”

Paige grinned. “I knew I liked you.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 304: Month

Short Story Sunday: "Month" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Writing | RachelPoli.com

It wasn’t the right time to ask questions. Ava knew something was going on but for some reason she couldn’t remember exactly what it was. Everyone kept mentioning the following month and even though she nodded and agreed with everyone she really had no idea what was going on.

She sat on the couch in the corner of her friend’s living room, people surrounding her. The music playing in the background was a little too loud to be background music and there were so many people crammed into the small apartment that Ava couldn’t hear herself think let alone figure out what she had agreed to do for the following month.

It was her friend’s birthday party. Rose had turned 21-years-old over the week. Ava was the youngest in her group of friends and she didn’t turn 21 for another two months. Obviously she was there to celebrate her friend’s glorious day of birth, but Rose had invited a lot of her college buddies. Ava didn’t know anyone there. There were a handful of people who had tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t hear anything that was going on. She felt rude. Most people trying to talk to her probably thought she was being snobby, but she was just practically deaf that’s all. Despite being the youngest in her group, she acted the oldest. Her friends often called her an “old fart.”

So, there she sat in the corner of Rose’s living room in her tiny apartment. Ava wished she could whisk herself away to Rose’s bedroom just to try to get a moment’s peace. However, there were so many people standing in the hallway – because there weren’t enough seats for them all – that Ava felt awkward trying to shove her way through the crowd.

“I’m looking forward to next month. Rose said everyone is going to be there.”

Ava tuned in to a stranger’s words. She looked over her shoulder and there were two guys standing directly behind her. She was surprised she heard them at all, but she was certainly intrigued trying to figure out what they were talking about.

“Everyone? I thought there were a handful of people who couldn’t come. Or, I mean, they weren’t allowed to know about it.”

Ava narrowed her eyes. What was that supposed to mean? She didn’t remember Rose talking about any big event for next month and if everyone was supposedly invited, she should have heard about it. Right? Ava and Rose had been best friends since elementary school. Of course Rose would have told Ava about it.

“There are some people who can’t know about it because they won’t be old enough to attend,” One of the guy’s said.
Ava sunk in her chair. Maybe Rose didn’t talk to her about whatever was going on. She wasn’t going to turn 21 for another two months. What else could she not be old enough for? Whatever Rose had planned for the following month, it must have been some sort of party where only people 21 and older could attend.

That obviously didn’t include Rose’s best friend.

Ava stood from her chair not wanting to tune into the guys’ conversation anyway. Out of all the conversations to overhear, why did it have to be that one? She could have sworn she and Rose had talked about something for the following month and she couldn’t remember what it was. Now Ava figured she heard rumors of something happening in the next month and she must have been thinking about that.

Of course, now she didn’t know where to go from here. Ava wanted to get away from people and their conversations but there was no where for her to go. Ava spun in a circle as though she tried to look for a way out, but there were so many people. She didn’t even know where Rose had gone. She couldn’t sit back down in her chair because then she’d look silly.

Well, maybe it wouldn’t matter. There were so many people around and she wasn’t engaging in conversation with any of them, so who would notice Ava standing and then immediately sitting again?

She turned back around to take her seat again but one of the guys was sitting in it now with the other guy squatting on the floor. They were still engaged in a deep conversation though it appeared to be a different topic. Ava could have sworn she heard one of them mention a video game.

Now she was stuck. She stood in the middle of the floor of the living in a tiny apartment surrounded by a crowd of people, most of whom she didn’t know. What was she supposed to do?

Ava looked at the time on her cell phone. Another one of her and Rose’s friends were supposed to come, but they hadn’t arrived yet. (Unless they had and Ava just hadn’t noticed among all the people.)

“Hello!”

Ava jumped at the sudden voice coming behind her. It was so loud as though it was directly in her ear. When she turned around, sure enough, there was a woman standing right behind her, close enough that Ava could smell the beer on her breath.

Please don’t be drunk, Ava thought to herself. “Hi,” she said, forcing a small smile.

“My name is Kate. I’m was Rose’s roommate during our first semester of college. How do you know Ava?”

“Oh, hi Kate. I’m Ava. Rose and I have been best friends since elementary school,” Ava replied.

She sort of recognized Kate now that Ava knew her name. Rose used to talk about her a lot. Ava was actually quite jealous for a while because it seemed as though Rose suddenly liked Kate more than she did Ava. It was a tough first semester of college but they never really fell out of touch with each other. Rose had always wanted Ava to meet Kate and, well… here they were except Rose wasn’t there to witness it.

“Wait, are you the Ava?” Kate gasped.

“Sure?” How was Ava supposed to reply to that? As far as she knew Rose didn’t know any other people named Ava, but who was she to truly say?

“Rose has told me so many great things about you!” Kate shouted.

Ava took a step back attempting to get away from the horrid stench of Kate’s breath. She wasn’t sure if she had shouted because the music was too loud, she had too much alcohol, or if she was truly excited to meet her. Ava guessed it wasn’t the latter.

“I think it’s so cool you and Rose have been best friends for so long. No one can compete with that that kind of commitment,” Kate continued.

Ava grinned and nodded. While she didn’t like how Kate seemed to compare them to a couple in a relationship, she did agree. Rose and her had a special friendship bond like no other. She was lucky to have Rose, despite the fact that Ava wanted to kill Rose for ditching her in the middle of this party where she didn’t know anyone and couldn’t even join in enough to have just one sip.

“You must be so excited for next month!” Kate exclaimed.

Ava’s eyes grew. Was this her chance to figure out what was going on next month?

No, Ava didn’t want to know. It didn’t seem as though Rose wanted to invite her anyway.

Or, on the other hand, maybe Rose couldn’t invite her because Ava wasn’t old enough.

Still, Rose could have told Ava about it.

Then again, Rose might have told Ava about it and she just didn’t remember.

“The fact that Rose would do that for you is so cool!” Kate went on, a dreamy look in her eye.

Ava froze. “For me?”

Kate nodded, a goofy grin on her face.

“What are you talking about?” Ava asked. She didn’t want to know but her interest was piqued too much. It seemed as though everyone at the party knew what was going on next month except for Ava – and she wasn’t sure if she was supposed to know or not.

Kate giggled and took another sip of… whatever was in her red cup. Ava forced herself not to roll her eyes. Kate was Rose’s best friend from college. Ava didn’t want to make a bad first impression. If Rose was friends with her, then Ava wanted to be friends with her. (Though not while she was drunk. In fact, maybe Ava could be rude to Kate and she wouldn’t remember it in the morning.)

“So, how exactly did you and Rose meet?” Kate asked after gulping down an amount of liquid that filled up both her cheeks.

Ava sighed. “Rose tripped and fell at recess in first grade. I helped her up.”

It was a stupid story, really. Ava was chasing after a ball and while she ran past Rose, Rose had tripped over her untied shoe. Ava forgot about the ball and walked over to help Rose up. The two of them started playing with each other and they ended up becoming the best of friends. They spoke with each other every day after that. It got to the point where, in the coming years following that moment, teachers would attempt to separate them and pair them with different peers. The teachers and their parents were afraid they weren’t socializing enough with other classmates. It didn’t help though. Rose and Ava continued to remain best friends. They stopped ignoring everyone else around them as they got older. Still, the two were peas in a pod.

“Wow, that’s such a beautiful story,” Kate said, a look of awe plastered on her face.

“Sure,” Ava agreed.

“Hey, you two found each other.” Rose appeared out of seemingly no where and put an arm around Ava’s shoulders and Kate’s shoulders.

Ava smiled. “Yeah, Kate seemed to have stumbled upon me.”

“I’m so happy you guys are finally getting a chance to meet. I’ve wanted you to be able to put a face to the name for such a long a long time.” Rose explained.

“Yeah, me too,” Ava lied. Well, it wasn’t too much of a lie. She had been wanting to meet Kate for quite some time as well but she didn’t expect it to happen in the middle of this party where she could barely hear. She also didn’t fancy talking to people much when they were drunk.

Kate tried to take another sip from her cup, but Rose took it out of her hand. “Hey, why don’t you go ahead and lay down in my bed for a minute?” she suggested.

“Okay.” Kate shrugged and walked away.

Rose sheepishly grinned at Ava. “She just turned 21 the week before I did. She’s a little excited about it.”

“Oh, you guys almost have the same birthday? What a shame, I didn’t get a chance to wish her a happy one,” Ava said trying not to sound as sarcastic as she felt.

Rose then frowned a bit. “I’m sorry this party is a bit much. We haven’t had a chance to see each other all night and it’s way more crowded than I thought it would be. People keeping asking me if they could bring their boyfriends or girlfriends and I didn’t think it’d be an issue.”

Ava genuinely shook her head. “No worries at all. It’s not a problem. Your apartment just isn’t… well, it’s small.”

Rose chuckled. “Right, I know.”

There was a moment of silence before Ava cleared her throat and broke the ice. “Hey, what’s going on next month?”

Rose’s eyes grew twice the size of what they normally were. “What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, but so many people have mentioned something grand that’s happening next month that you’re apparently throwing. Is it some sort of party that I’m not invited to because I’m not 21 yet?” Ava asked. She felt like a jerk for bringing it up at all, let alone in the middle of her birthday party.

Rose furrowed her brows. Ava couldn’t tell if she was becoming annoyed or not, so she continued.

“But then Kate mentioned that there was something going on for me? I don’t think she was thinking straight anyway, but I’ve just gotten curious. Maybe it’s none of my business anyway. Or maybe you told me about it and I forgot and if so, I’m sorry.”

At that moment, Ava realized that she and Rose had never fought in all their years of being friends. Yes, they’ve bickered and argued as though they were sisters, but they never had a huge blowout with each other or stopped talking to each other for a long period of time.

They were always close. They did everything together and told each other everything. Ava knew everything they needed to know about Rose and vice versa. Ava didn’t want to get into an argument over something that may or may not be going on next month. She also didn’t want the two of them to drift apart simply because Rose was going to experience being 21 for an entire month before Ava would get the chance.

After a brief moment, Rose let out a sigh though her lips were curled into a smile. When she looked Ava in the eye, she shook her head. “I didn’t tell you anything about next month. I was going to tell you about it next week. It never occurred to me that you would hear about it through the grapevine so I definitely should have told you sooner. Especially since it seems as though people are playing telephone and wires keep getting crossed.”

Ava nodded not knowing what else to say. She wanted Rose to continue talking.

“I’m not throwing some elaborate party next month that’s only for people who are 21. I have no idea who started that one. Kate, despite her being a bit tipsy, is the one who’s on the right track,” Rose clarified.

Ava tilted her head to the side. She still didn’t know what to say.

Rose jerked her head to the side taking Ava by the hand. She squeezed past the crowd, Ava trying to stick as close to her as possible. It was though they were at some sort of club and not a tiny apartment. The bathroom was only a few feet away, but it seemed to take a bit for them to get there. When they did, Rose pushed her into the small room and shut the door behind them.
The music was still loud, but Ava could at least hear herself think. She didn’t need to speak loud either in order to make sure Rose could hear her. She wondered why she hadn’t thought to head into the bathroom and stay there for most of the night a while ago.

“I had something special planned for the two of us next month. I didn’t want to tell you right away because I wanted it to be a surprise. As I said before, I was going to tell you next week,” Rose explained. “Your parents already know about it and have known about it for a while. That’s why they’re so adamant on you staying for your family reunion the third weekend of next month.”

Ava rolled her eyes. “Oh, right… I forgot about the stupid family reunion. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of when I thought you told me something I forgot it.”

Rose chuckled. “They didn’t want you to make any plans for that weekend which is why they told you a lie.”

Ava’s face flat-lined.

“There is no family reunion, lucky you.” Rose laughed.

“No, lucky you. I was going to drag you with me,” Ava said chuckling herself. “But what do you mean there’s no family reunion?”

“It was lie your parents and I cooked up together because we wanted you keep that weekend free. In reality, you and I are going on our very first vacation just the two of us!” Rose grabbed both of Ava’s hands in hers and jumped up excitedly.

Ava stared at her open mouthed. “You mean…?”

“Happy early birthday to the two of us!” Rose exclaimed. “I wanted to do something special since we’re both 21 this year. I know you won’t be quite 21 yet so no drinking – your parents made me pinky-swear – but pretty much all the other weekends were booked at the hotel. So I had to grab it while I could.”

Ava didn’t know what to say. She felt like she wanted to cry. All She had gotten Rose for her birthday was a cool wine glass, she didn’t think of surprising Rose with some elaborate gift such as a weekend getaway!

“Are you happy?” Rose asked shyly.

Ava nodded. “I just don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. Just jump with me and be excited!”

The two laughed and cheered in the small bathroom, holding hands and jumping. When they finally stopped to catch their breaths, Ava held up a finger.

“Okay, since this is for both of our birthdays, I call doing something special for you while we’re away. Let me pay for breakfast and dinner one day… or something.” Ava realized how lame that sounded compared to planning a secret weekend getaway trip. She’d think of something special to do for Rose. A good idea was going to come to her soon enough.

Rose shook her head. “We’ll work out all the details later, but this isn’t a competition. Besides, I’m doing it just as much for your birthday as I am mine.”

Ava snickered. “Okay, that’s fair. Where are we going, anyway?”

Rose grinned as though she was cooking up some mastermind plan. She opened the bathroom door and began to head back out to the party.

“Wait,” Ava said taking her by the arm. “Where are we going?”

“I’m not spoiling all the surprises. I said I’d tell you next week.” Rose winked.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump