Some of you know that I belong to the really fun Lightening Quick Reads short story blog. If you don't, well, I'm totally going to bombard you with it today ;) The blog is all about short stories--less than 5-10 minutes to read. We have a monthly theme and it's a blast to see how we all interpret that differently. March's theme is Luck, which seems appropriate with St. Patrick's Day nearing. So, today, I'm stealing Crytal's idea and going to give you a little teaser of my short for this month.
(This is the one that I mentioned before...the new MC's voice that's knocking around in my head and bound and determined to be let loose!)
It's all just a game...so long as you know the rules.
|New College Scarf :)|
It’s a game. Pure and simple.
Or at least, this is what I tell myself to pass the time. The ticks of the clock that can stretch on infinitely if I allow my mind to wander. I count flecks of dandruff and know my boss has changed his shampoo. I watch the way my coworker tries to hide the blister on her heel from her new shoes with the tilt in her walk. I know that exactly 3,597 regular holes mark the ceiling, with the exception of the left corner near the window where the straight lines waver slightly and there’s a perforation missing.
Someone changed the water filter in the building last night—the coffee tastes better.
It’s easier this way. To pick apart the pieces to keep distracted. Dwelling’s a little too easy. The articles I read last night could keep anyone up. The upsurge in violence in Africa has me frightened. But no one wants to hear about that. No one wants to talk about the real world. No, it’s better to hide in the news-that-is-not-news, or at least news masked in the parody of some comedian. That’s not reality. It’s a bastardization of it. The real world is so chock full of problems I can understand why people willingly blind themselves; let themselves be led by the nose to the scandalous, the inane, the downright ridiculous. It’s easier that way.
Just like it’s easier to pretend I’m the same. It’s all part of the game.
“Those shoes look fabulous! I love how they match your shirt.” My smile tips up just enough, reaches my eyes with the right little crinkle at the sides. She’ll never know I can tell she’s been waiting to wear them for months. Something must have happened yesterday for her to drag them out. From the slight redness around her eyes, I’d put money on it being her husband.
“Oh! Thanks. I saw them and just couldn’t resist.” She blushes a little and I relax into the conversation. Just because I could analyze every word to figure out how well her two kids are doing in school (one’s struggling in English), or what her husband did (embezzled at work), it’s not like I have to. Or want to. Sometimes it really is easy to just let that all slide. A part of the game.
She doesn’t wobble quite so much when she walks away, her shoulders straighter. A little smile, this one not calculated for the perfect angle, touches my lips.
My computer dings with a new message and my heart picks up a notch. The thing with playing the game? There are days when I find myself arriving home and collapsing in a heap on my bed. My friends would come if I called them. We could go out and have a good time. But it’s not like I can explain the truth of the matter.
That there’s a part of me that’s lonely, that wishes I could discuss the potential the new algae carbon processing strains might have on reducing our environmental impact. That wants to do more than debate who’s going to be given a rose on the show my brain refuses to remember the title of, as if in some silent protest to the fact that I record and watch every episode (albeit on fast-forward) so I know what the ladies talk about at lunch.
But that changed about a month ago with the email in my inbox.
“Do you always read Schrödinger on the train? I always thought his views on his cat were rather morbid.”
It made me laugh.
The email though—no name, just initials and a generic @gmail account. Tracing it back to where it’d been sent from didn’t take much work. Whoever it was must have wanted to be found. But, that turned into dead end after dead end—all coffee houses in various parts of the city with no record of who the person behind the emails could be.
My response, amused, part of the game, was more because I had to know who this person was, especially if they managed to work out my email based off the only clue I could see in my outward appearance: the Oxford scarf I’d grabbed for no particular reason other than I felt nostalgic.
Someone else played the game. If that was the case, I was sure to win.
Curious about what happens next? You can keep reading here!