My main writing project at the moment is a young adult novel about a fictionalized Basque American folk dancing group. Every Friday, I post excerpts from my novel draft. Get caught up on the last installment here.
A large man with two small children in tow, resplendent in the delight inspired by their Happy Meal toys, walked in front of the truck. Looking over, he noticed the two teenagers in the front seat and eyed them suspiciously. He gathered his children and quickened his pace.
Brigitte smiled at the man’s uneasiness. A warm glow spread over her as she imagined he probably thought they were a couple, hanging out in Patrick’s car because they would soon be making out. Her eyes darted to Patrick’s soft lips and passed over his distracted eyes the color of a deep lake covered in a layer of early morning fog. She wondered what it would feel like to kiss him, as a wave of arousal passed over her. As quickly as the thought entered her mind, she tried to forcefully push it out. Those thoughts were good for nothing more than making her nervous, and she needed to act like a cool and, more importantly, normal human being so as not to embarrass herself.
“I don’t think you ever told me… What are your plans for next year?”
Patrick’s eye twitched slightly at the question, and he fixed his gaze on a spot outside the front windshield. “I don’t know. Probably just go to Chaffey. I don’t really know what I want to do, so I don’t see the point to spending a bunch of money on a four year school.”
“Sure. Makes sense.”
Brigitte started ripping up the spare napkins, amassing a little collection of confetti in the sandwich wrapper in front of her, while Patrick changed the subject. It was a mindless job that subconsciously helped her focus on the present moment, redirecting her attention to the situation at hand. She needed the distraction, as she had the tendency to let her thoughts get the better of her—fantasizing and imagining what should be happening or what she wished Patrick would say, panicking over what she should say next to keep the conversation going, or falling into despair, thinking that he was only being nice to her because she was probably the only one free to hang out that afternoon.
“Would you stop that!” Patrick cried in frustration, stopping abruptly midway through the story of his homecoming dance sophomore year. He lunged at her and ripped the napkin out of her hands.
“Hey!” Brigitte cried in protest, stunned at his outburst. “What gives?”
“I’m cutting you off. It’s really annoying to watch you do that.”
Brigitte smirked and picked up one of the bits of paper in front of her. She pinched it with both thumbs and forefingers, threatening to rip it.
“Don’t you dare,” Patrick warned sternly.
She raised her eyebrows and ripped the piece in half, keeping her gaze steady on his face. He threw his head back and groaned, as if it were tortuous to be in such tight quarters with her. At this reaction, Brigitte laughed with glee.
“That’s what you get!” she gloated. Her point made, Brigitte gathered the corners of the sandwich wrapper and folded them over the confetti. While she wanted desperately to be liked, Brigitte also felt the need to assert that Patrick, or any other boy, did not control her. She tossed the mess into the paper bag with the rest of her trash.
Appeased with the termination of the paper ripping, Patrick continued to regale Brigitte with tales of his adventures with his buddies. He told of pranks they played on each other, nighttime drives through Angeles National Forest, sneaking off campus to smoke, getting dehydrated while hiking Chino Hills State Park. He had a story for everything and had the rare quality that he could turn the most mundane of life’s occurrences into grand, captivating stories. Brigitte loved to listen to him.
Patrick avoided eye contact throughout their conversation. This confused Brigitte, as she thought they were getting along well and, after all, he had invited her to lunch. Why the awkwardness? She might have to add that to the He Loves Me Not list. But then again, he was always a little awkward. While Patrick had endless stories and jokes to tell and could command the attention of several people with ease, he never really connected with people. Patrick always seemed to be talking at or to people, but rarely with them.
“Can I ask you something?” Brigitte asked hesitantly. Something about Patrick had always stuck out to her and intrigued her completely, and she felt they were in the process of developing enough rapport that this might be her (only) chance to ask him about it.
“Promise you won’t get mad.”
“Promise.” Patrick looked at her curiously, as if observing a squirrel in the road and wondering which direction it would go to avoid oncoming traffic.
“Why don’t you have any friends?”
© 2013 Anne Marie Chiramberro All Rights Reserved