As I came around the stacks on the first floor, I couldn’t miss the blonde ponytail pulled tight behind her head.
Bathed in the morning sun radiating through the library window, her face had an angelic glow.
So did her ample chest.
Now I’m not saying that’s the first place my eyes went. But with the sun and all, it just kind of came together in one instantaneous look.
A look that shoves a gorgeous picture into the back of your brain where you have to decide quickly where you’re going to file it.
Angelic face file? Ample chest file? My heart raced as the image confusion kicked in.
Either way, my trip to the library was already infinitely more interesting.
As I approached, I did my best to stay focused on her face. She seemed like a sweet girl. The dateable kind. Hot but not one to flaunt it. Not like Jodie back in high school.
She was crazy smart, but the way she threw her body around she wasn’t someone you took home to meet the family.
But this one, beautiful and unpretentious. From what I’d seen in class, she was nice to just about everybody.
As I closed the gap to her table I decided to skip the chest and keep an eye on her face. That or her copy of Catcher in the Rye.
It was on our reading list and I was already dreading it. Angling toward the opposite corner of the six-person table, I asked, “Hows the book?”
She looked up with an approving smile and I sat.
“Pretty good I guess. I’m not that far along, but I should have it done in the next day or so.”
“What? Who reads that fast.”
“What can I say, I like books.”
“Oh. I was never much for reading. Too much T.V. as a kid I guess.”
“Probably just haven’t found the right books.”
“Maybe. Doesn’t really matter what I like since we have a massive reading list.”
Quipping warmly, “It’s only six books.”
‘That’s more than I’ve read my whole life.”
“Really?” She looked at me as if I’d lost something. With a gentle mix of sympathy and verve she dove right in. “You must really hate books.”
I paused and did the math in my head. She likes books. I like blonde hair. She likes books, I like breasts. I fumbled for the image in the back of my brain as I didn’t want to stare.
I thought if I had any hope for a second conversation or third, I’d better be honest from the start.
“Yeah I do. I hate ‘em.”
As I said it she didn’t break eye contact. It was as if she was searching for something. My discomfort grew as she leaned back.
“I don’t believe you.” The conviction in her voice stung. “You hate something but it’s not books. I’m sure of it.”
What do you know? I thought. Part of me wanted to get up and leave. Goody two shoes bookworm thinks she has it all figured out, I thought. But as she put the book down and continued to look at me, I felt I had to stay.
And it wasn’t just the blond hair and breasts.
I felt like she knew something about me, even though we’d just met. And That’s when it hit like a flood. I just started talking without thinking about it.
“In first grade, I could read 7th grade books and I quickly became the novelty act for my parent’s parties. ‘Look how smart he is’ they’d say. I didn’t mind it at first, but after a while I felt like a carnival sideshow.”
“Maybe they were just proud of you.”
“Maybe at first. But after I told my mom I didn’t want to do it. She said ok until the martini’s kicked in at the next party and things would get ugly.”
“I get it.”
Without hesitation she jumped in with both feet. “My dad died when I was seven, and my mom went off the deep end. They were high-school sweethearts and once he was gone she just kind of snapped. More wine than martinis but I get it. My brother and I did our best to stayed off her radar. He was older and could drive. Me, I was stuck at home with mom and books became my friends. A way to leave that house anytime I wanted.”
“Sorry to hear about your father.”
“It was a long time ago and I hate to say it, but I really don’t remember him all that much.”
Sad. Her dad dies and her mom goes off the deep end. Sadder still, my mom was off the deep end and I wish my dad was dead. Either way, neither one of us got to know our dads.
Catching her eyes, I sat motionless. We’d only been talking for a few minutes and I’d already said things I’d never told anyone. It was as if she knew my thoughts needed to get out. They needed oxygen. Just enough oxygen to combust and burn off the resentment.
Again she looked through me, “What are you thinking?”
“I’m not quite sure. I’ve only been sitting here for a few minutes and all I want to do is keep talking.”
She crossed her arms on the table and leaned in with a gentle smile.
“Works for me.”
“I just find it odd how your dad dies and then your mom goes off the deep end. And here my mom was already off the deep end, and it wouldn’t matter to me if my dad was dead.”
Her blue eyes and warm face told me to keep going.
I pulled my copy of Catcher in the Rye out of my bag and put it on the table next to hers.
Looking down at it I started.
“On the last day of school, right before summer break, he put me on restrictions for getting a “B” in English. He was a man of perfection and anything less than straight “A” wasn’t tolerated
And as part of the punishment, he took me to the library and told me I wouldn’t be off restrictions until I picked two books and completed a full book report on each one.
He only gave me about fifteen minutes to find two books, and after looking a while I just grab two that had the best covers. Something about kudzu taking over a town, and I can’t remember the other one. All I know is when I got home they were both horrible. Long story short. He refused to let me exchange them. And I refused to do the book reports.
So I spent nearly the whole summer in my room. No T.V. nothing. He wasn’t giving in and neither was I. Eventually my mom intervened. He settled for a one page summary of each book, which I took from the dust cover, and I got off restrictions three weeks before the next school year started.”
She winced. “That’s nearly two months on restrictions.”
“Yup. And that was just one of my run ins with Mr. Perfection. A small taste of why I wouldn’t care if he was dead.”
Sitting up with a hint of triumph she said, “I knew it.”
“I told you you didn’t hate books.”
ot plenty of time. Let’s have the long one.”
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Jinn…
“ ‘Murica! “
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.
To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: TBA
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Scar 4