Game Face: Page 1

The members of my writing group have recently challenged ourselves to each write a short story that we would all submit to the same contest.  I am working on that story and thought I would bring you all along for the ride.  I am going to post it here in three increments (in total it’s roughly five pages) and would very much appreciate it if you made comments.  I will also pose specific questions, to which I would be interested in hearing your answers.  Below is the first page and the question is, “Whose story do you think this is going to be?”.  Thanks for reading (and commenting, I hope)!

Game Face

I dreamt of you again last night.  We were outside, lying on the ground, staring up at the night sky.  We were no longer a couple but your legs bridged mine, close but not touching.  There were thousands of stars, but there was one area where they were clustered more densely than I had ever seen.  Just as I pointed this out to you, a meteor shower started and the sky was filled with falling stars.  And you asked me, “What did you wish for?” and I responded, “What I always wish for.” 

***

Travis lurked around the corner from Cosmos, staring at his watch, reluctant to move.

He was late.  Travis was always late and Andi was incapable of being anything but punctual even though she knew she would only be kept waiting.  Thank God she had her phone; even if she didn’t have any messages to check, emails to clear, and was too scared of the embarrassment of being caught playing Angry Bird.  So she stared at the menu, knowing already what she would order – a coffee – the phone safely on the table by the menu’s side.

She was secretly grateful that Travis insisted on meeting at a coffee shop.  Much better than at the office where it would have inevitably caused people to talk.  None of it good.  She would have, however, preferred Starbucks, where the wait staff – baristas – spoke pseudo Italian behind high counters, cutting themselves off from the transaction.  At Cosmos the waitresses wore retro pink polyester and frilly aprons.  Snapping gum – it seemed to be part of the uniform – they came to you, giving Travis occasion to ogle, flirt, his whole body twisted towards them.

Travis resisted the urge not to enter.  She was already there.  Why did she always already have to be there?  Why couldn’t he too feel the luxury of having been put upon?  He stopped halfway across the café.  It was a big place.  Travis liked that.  Allowed more time for an entrance.  He chatted with Cathy.  He didn’t remember her from last time but her name was helpfully written right there on her name tag, which he managed to read while pretending to check out her breasts.  Which weren’t bad even if he suspected the bra to be padded.  They gave him hope, no not hope, the strength to cross the rest of the room and sit down at Andi’s table.  She always chose the same one, skulking in the corner.

Andi watched Travis cross the room.  It’s why she always chose the table at the back, so that she wouldn’t miss one moment of his performance.  It’s what he wanted.  An audience.  And she was willing to provide it.  It gave her strength to watch him perform.  The villain of the piece so that she could be the ingénue.  The feisty ingénue, she told herself.

“How about those Leafs?” he asked.  This what he always asked.  Except in summer when he asked, “How about those Jays?”  He was being ironic.  It was their little joke, apart from neither of them finding it funny.

They had been forced upon each other.  The firm in its wisdom thought that they should be “buddies”.  This was the term they actually used.  Even in written correspondence.  Without the quotation marks, although one sensed that they were still there.  The firm itself not being oblivious to irony.  The term allowed Travis and Andi both to believe they were the mentor – however reluctant – in the relationship.

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