Forks

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Madeline was starving.  She’d been too nervous to eat the entire day, her stomach churning as she sat anxiously in her work cubicle, waiting for 5 o’clock.  Now, it seemed as though all of the hunger stored up from the entire day had decided to take over her body at once.  I hope no one heard my stomach growl.  But she was sure someone had.

Her foot tapped a silent beat against the plush carpet.  She made up a recitation to go along with the rhythm.  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?   She couldn’t remember.  Her mother had mentioned it to her long ago in passing but hadn’t made a big issue of it.  Clearly she hadn’t thought Madeline had too many formal, black tie dinner parties in her future.  Madeline had never seen so much silverware at one place setting in all of her life.  Do I start at the outside and work my way in?  Or is it the reverse?  She didn’t want to look like a fool.

David had introduced her to his parents only about a month ago.  His mother, Claudine, had seemed decidedly underwhelmed by Madeline, coolly taking in her off-the-rack clothes and scuffed shoes before offering her a dry handshake and a tight smile.  David had told her not to worry when Madeline fretted that his mother didn’t like her, and sure enough, a week later Claudine had begun planning a dinner party to introduce Madeline to all of their closest friends and family.  It was their coming out party.

One piece of advice from her mother that Madeline did hold on to – if you’re ever unsure, watch to see what the other dinner guests do first.  Great advice, except no one had begun eating yet.  Claudine was in the middle of a lengthy anecdote, something about her and her husband’s recent visit to the South of France, and they all seemed to be hanging on her every word.

David was seated at the opposite end of the table.  He’d warned her this would happen.  Traditionally at dinner parties, he’d explained, couples were separated to give everyone a chance to meet someone new, make new acquaintances.  Madeline didn’t see the point. To her right, David’s great-aunt Dorinda was already lightly snoring into her uneaten garden salad.  To her left, the wife of David’s best friend from high school, Tiffany, kept leaving her seat every five to ten minutes to make suspicious trips to the powder room, wiping at her nose upon her return.  Is that going to be me in a few years?  Madeline wondered as she stared once again at Tiffany’s retreating form.  It also wasn’t lost on her that David had been seated next to his beautiful ex-wife, Elisa, who put her hand on David’s forearm and laughed lustily every time Claudine made a joke, or what passed as a joke in this house, anyway, tossing her hair back and leaning into David as though he were still hers.

Screw this.  Madeline raised the fork she thought was meant for the salad course and decided to go for it.  The salad was dry and underdressed but it was the first sustenance she’d had all day.  She bit down on a huge chunk of carrot and a loud crunch seemed to echo through the dining room.  Claudine stopped mid-sentence and every eye turned on her.  Seriously?  How do these people eat carrots?  Do they pay someone to have them pre-chewed?

Sheepish, Madeline, unable to remove her eyes from Claudine’s steely glare, went to set down the fork on the side of her salad bowl but accidentally knocked over her water glass and a glass of red wine, dousing the front of her dress and splashing poor Aunt Dorinda, who still didn’t wake up.

Are you okay?  David mouthed from across the room.  Madeline nodded as she rose from the table, gathering all of her confidence.  “I’m sorry to disturb you.  Excuse me for a moment, please.”  She rushed from the room as quickly as good manners would allow, making her way to the powder room Tiffany was exiting, glassy-eyed.

As she scrubbed at the front of her dress with a towel and made little headway, there was a gentle knock at the door.  Her heart lifted.  David.

“Come in!”

But it was a fiery-eyed Claudine who opened the door, quietly shutting it behind her as she stepped inside.

 

Today’s Story A Day prompt is Write at Your Natural Length.  

  • Today I give you permission to write a partial story, a scene, and extracts from a longer tale. It doesn’t have to feel complete, like a short story should, but it should still have something of a story arc. Use today to practice that.

I decided to write a scene instead of a complete story.  Instead of writing a scene from the novel I’m writing, I decided to write one using characters from a short story I wrote a while ago.

Read Part 2

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Comfort

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It had rained all day yesterday.  The torrential downpour had virtually flooded the route she usually took when she ran, so she decided to take a detour.  She ran everyday, rain or shine.   It was how she’d lost 70 pounds.

The rains had made the day humid.  She pulled off her jacket and tied the sleeves around her waist.  She relished the feeling of the fresh air on her arms and the tiny sliver of taut belly that peeked out from underneath her athletic top.  She felt powerful and sexy and beautiful.

“Oh yeah, baby!” A crude voice yelled from above her.  She looked up and saw construction workers standing on the scaffolding of a high-rise building.

“Take the rest of it off!”

“What a body!”

She kept her face stoic until she turned the corner, out of their sight, then pulled the jacket back over her shoulders.  As she tried to catch her breath, she found a stray chocolate candy in her pocket and popped it into her mouth, waiting for her body to relax.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Sprawl

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Erin Leary

The landscape was desolate.  A dirty swamp surrounded by an empty subdivision of cookie-cutter houses, so close together their future occupants would probably be able to hand a cup of sugar to a neighbor out of the window.  Gone was the dense forest with the heavy, lush green canopy of trees where she’d loved to camp and hike with her family as a girl, inhaling the thick scent of pine and sweet grass.  She missed the world of her youth.

Minutes later, she drove away at a furious speed, watching the whole abomination burn in her rear-view mirror.

For Friday Fictioneers

Six Sentence Story – Edge

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There was so much noise everywhere.  Every utterance, every laugh, every cough, every footstep sounded like an explosion.  Her stomach twisted.  She drove and drove and drove until she reached the edge of everything.  She stood outside of her car and wept as she watched the stars.  And finally, it was quiet.

The prompt for the Six Sentence Story  challenge was “trip.”

Road Trip

Inspired by this week’s Story A Day prompt.

Angie’s long shift was finally over.  She stretched her legs and poked her bare feet out of the open car window, enjoying the breeze as the cars and trees whipped by.  Her mom told her she was crazy to post a flyer at the college looking for someone to share a ride across the country.  What if a crazy person responds? 

Angie thought that most people would consider her to be the crazy person.  She insisted on taking her large German Shepherd, Susie, with her.  A retired police dog, she looked scary but was as docile as a lamb.  At the moment, Susie was curled up on the back seat, snoozing, seeming to smile in her sleep.  After a long life of forced labor, Angie wanted Susie to enjoy her golden years.  She had a bag full of homemade snacks for Susie at her feet, and insisted they stop every two hours so Susie could go for a short walk.  She worried she’d get claustrophobic stuck in the car all those hours unless they took frequent breaks.

Joe agreed to all of her terms.  He was the only person to respond.  The only person going the same direction she was.  He said finding her flyer was destiny, telling him it was time to finally meet his true love, starshinegal08 aka Mara.  They’d been playing StarShine, an online game, for years alongside each other.  Their avatars had been on countless adventures together.  They’d spent hours chatting late into the night about their lives.  But they’d had yet to lay eyes on each other.  Not even a picture.  Mara thought that would make it more romantic when they saw each other in person.

On the side of the highway, waving frantically, was a girl wearing a dress covered in pink feathers and clear high heeled shoes that increased her diminutive height by at least five inches.  Her white blond hair was in what Angie believed was called a bouffant, piled high and unmoving, despite her efforts to flag them down.  It was a either a gravity-defying freak of nature or benefiting from an obscene amount of hairspray.  Angie noticed Joe was slowing down, that the car was veering to the right.

“What are you doing??!!”  Angie sat upright.

Joe shrugged.  “She looks like she needs help.”

“She could be deranged!”

“Does she look dangerous?”

“Neither did Ted Bundy…” Angie mumbled under her breath as the car came to a stop.  The girl leaned in the open window.

“Thank y’all so much for stoppin’!”  She spoke in a Southern drawl.  “I was on a cross country bus trip with the Miss Magonlia USA pageant.  I’m Miss Georgia Magnolia…” she indicated her pale pink sash “…and well there was some trouble on the bus and I seem to have lost my ride.  Could I trouble y’all for a ride to the next town?  I hear there’s a bus station.”

“They ditched you?”  Joe asked.

The pageant queen lowered her eyes and nodded.

I wonder why, Angie thought, crossing her arms.

“That’s horrible!”  Joe was incredulous, clearly unaware of all the ways girls like that employed to torture each other.  “Sure we can give you a ride.  If you don’t mind sharing the backseat with Susie.”

“Oh, I just adore dogs! I don’t mind at all.”  She scurried around the front of the car and hopped in the backseat, while Angie glared at him.

“It’s just for a few miles.”  Joe insisted.

Susie sleepily eyed her new seatmate, before closing her eyes and putting her head on her lap.

“Where are my manners!  My name’s Lola.  Really Magnolia, but everyone calls me Lola.  Mama knew when I was in the womb I was gonna be Miss Magnolia USA.”

“Hi Lola.  I’m Joe and this is Angie.”

“Nice to meet y’all!  Thanks so much again!  I don’t know what I would have done if y’all hadn’t come along…”

Lola’s damsel in distress act was growing thin, so Angie popped in her earbuds and turned up the volume, letting Adele lull her to sleep.

She woke again when she felt the car come to a stop, opening her eyes to see a huge hot dog statue in towering in front of her.  Home of the Six Foot Hot Dog!  The sign above the statue declared.

“Lola was hungry,” Joe offered as explanation when he noticed Angie’s confusion.

Well, we can’t have America’s Sweetheart’s stomach grumbling.  Angie stumbled from the car, opening the door to let Susie out as Joe and Lola made their way inside the diner.  After walking Susie, Angie went inside to peruse the menu, noticing that the only item that accommodated her vegetarian diet were the french fries.  She ordered a large basket of fries with a soda and reluctantly joined Joe and Lola.  At least the fries were perfect, hot, crisp and salty.  She noticed Joe seemed distressed as she sat.

“…so you’ve never seen this girl, this Mara?”  Lola asked, a cruel twist to her voice

Joe shook his head.

“…not even a picture?”

“She thought it was…romantic, I guess…”

Lola screamed with laughter, her hot dog forgotten.  “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, but that is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  But I mean, I guess that’s the only way some people can meet…”

Joe winced.

“..and you.”  Lola turned to face Angie.  “Driving cross country so your dog can see the ocean for the first time?”

“You told her?!”  Angie yelled at Joe.

“She asked where we were headed.  I didn’t think you’d mind…”

“I’m sorry, but that is just the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard.  A vacation with your dog.  At least Joe has someone to meet at the end of this trip.  Allegedly.”  Lola brazenly grabbed a french fry from Angie’s basket before hopping up.  “I need to go to the ladies’ room and then we can get back on the road.  Y’all excuse me.”

Lola sashayed down the aisle to the restrooms, reveling in all the male attention she received along the way.

Joe tried to wipe his wet eyes without Angie noticing.  She noticed, but didn’t say anything.  He’d been humiliated enough.  Instead, she said, “Let’s ditch her!”

“What?”  Joe asked, a smile slowly forming across his face.

“You heard me.  Let’s go.  Come on, hurry!”

She grabbed his hand and they ran back out to the car.  Susie was roused from sleep as they screeched out of their parking spot.  Lola burst through the front door, screaming some language very unbecoming of a Miss Magnolia USA at the retreating car.  Joe and Angie laughed so hard their stomachs hurt.

“Oops,” Joe said a mile down the road, still chuckling.

“What?”  Angie asked, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

“I think we left her with the bill.”

Get Happy – pt. 2

Assignment for Open University

  • Make a summary of what the character is like.
  • Show him or her through appearance.
  • Show him or her through a habitual or repeated action.
  • Finally, show him or her through a speech in a scene.

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Yesterday’s story from the other sister’s perspective. Amy’s feet were throbbing, but her shoes were killer.  She felt faint from the constricting bright blue bandage dress that seemed to be cutting off her source of oxygen.  Her hair fell in loose, auburn waves over her bare shoulders.  She was hyper aware of the men walking by, taking in the hard-earned, pert curves of her body as she perched on the bar stool.

Beauty was pain, and work.  Everything was work.  Nothing was fun and easy and natural.  There was no such thing as a natural beauty.  There was no such thing as love at first sight, or a perfect marriage.  In any so-called happy marriage, there was a woman who spent two hours in the gym six days a week, routinely skipped meals, spent an hour a day on hair and make up and had a dresser dedicated to nothing but lingerie.  Their husbands bragged on them to their friends; their friends envied them.  The ones with the wives who’d let themselves go after the babies and mortgages and 401Ks.

“Amy’s holding up,” she’d heard one of Steve’s friends whisper to him as she’d slowly walked up the stairs from the basement on Steve’s poker night.   She’d smiled secretly to herself. That’s why she spent an hour making her sister beautiful that afternoon.  If she’d left it up to her she’d have shown up in a pair of ripped jeans and a Nirvana tour t-shirt from 1993.  She made no effort and it was embarrassing.  Happiness was work too.  Just like beauty.  She’d found the man who would make her happy and she made him love her. Made him her husband.  It hadn’t been easy.

Steve was clearly out of her league from the beginning, she’d known that.  She was a lower middle-class townie with a state college degree, he was an Ivy League investment banker that just happened to be a friend of a friend of a friend that she’d met at a group hang out thing one of her friends had arranged.  But being married to Steve meant happiness.  So she reinvented herself into a woman he would marry.  And it’d worked, in six months flat.  Much quicker than any of her girlfriends would have guessed.

Her mother had never been happy.  She was too afraid.  Never asked for what she really wanted.   She’d settled for a man who adored her, but was beneath her.  Weak.  Unambitious.  They still lived in the same shabby starter house they’d bought right after Amy was born, the only empty-nesters in the neighborhood surrounded by singles and newlyweds with fat, cooing babies.  Her mom had told her what she really wanted when she was a kid.  Secret whispers laying side by side on her parents’ bed while her father was downstairs, watching some sporting event or game show, cheers erupting from far away.  She’d wanted a house on the lake with windows that faced east.  She would sit on the porch next to her husband with a cup of tea and watch the sun rise.  She wanted to write novels, she wanted to have more children, she wanted to go hiking in Europe, she wanted, she wanted, she wanted.  But they were just whispers.

She couldn’t stand to think of her mother in that sad house, watching the reflecting lights of the television in her husband’s blank face, a husband that she desperately wanted to love, thinking of trips untaken and the one page of the book saved on the computer upstairs that she knew she would never finish.  She loved her mother dearly, but she was lazy.  She wasn’t depressed, or defeated, she was just lazy.  She could finish her book, she was in good health, she could go hiking anywhere, her father would follow her wherever. It was easier to complain about the things she would never do than try.  That would never be Amy’s life.  And she was going to make sure that it didn’t happen to Sara either.

Amy wound a fat strand of hair and smiled as Sara approached.  She was stunning.  Much prettier than Amy when she was all dressed up, Amy was confident enough to admit.  It was such a rare treat to see her that way, a bubble of pride expanded in her chest.  Chet was a lucky guy.  And he was smart and ambitious and handsome, a great father to his son with his ex-wife.  Amy had always thought guys who’d been married before made the best husbands, contrary to popular belief.  They’d gotten that first disastrous marriage out of the way and were ready for the real thing.  But Amy was shocked that he was going to be so late for the date; it was the height of rudeness.   She wouldn’t let on to Sara.  Sara was too much like their mother.  Aimless, no plan, bouncing around wherever the wind blew her.  If she didn’t nudge her in the right direction every once and a while, she stood still. Sara greeted her and Steve with a hello that was a bit too chipper, refusing to remove her coat.  Maybe she was waiting for Chet to arrive before making the big reveal.  She knew the dress she was wearing underneath was stunning, but she was hiding, just like their mother.

When Sara found out Chet was running an hour late because he was at spin class, she laughed like it was the most ridiculous thing she’d ever heard (and it sort of was) deposited Amy’s $500 shoes on top of the bar and practically ran out the door, five inches shorter.  It was as though she’d been freed from some sort of oppression. Spending the evening with her sister and her brother-in-law was oppressive to her.  And that’s when Amy started to get angry.

She downed the rest of her wine, and without a word to Steve, she stormed out of the restaurant into the cold night after her, catching up with her on the corner.  She was so angry she didn’t register the cold or the fact that she’d left her coat inside until she was standing face to face with her sister, who was standing under a street lamp, waiting for the traffic light to change.  She’d already wiped off most of her makeup with a towelette, back to regular Sara.  Under the lights, she looked so young.  Her baby sister.  Despite her anger, she felt a wave of affection. Sara stared back at her, unintimidated, with a tiny spot of red still left on her otherwise bare lips.

“What do you want?” Sara demanded.  “Did you really want me to sit and wait an hour for that douche-bag?  Do you really think I’m that desperate?”

Amy shook her head, crossing her arms against the cold.  “I just wanted you to meet someone new…I mean….when have you even been in a relationship..?

Sara threw her arms in the air in frustration.  The light changed and the other pedestrians pushed against them as they made their way to the crosswalk. “You know nothing about my life.  You’re too busy trying to get me to become you.”

Amy tugged at her hair and flipped it behind her shoulders. “And what’s so wrong with that.  Having a happy marriage…starting a family?”

“Nothing, if you’re really happy.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Sara sighed. “Come on, Amy.  You and Steve and your whole fake Stepford Wife thing you have going on…that’s happiness?  Wearing designer shoes and going to dumb pretentious restaurants and talking about….investment portfolios and overpriced preschools or whatever with your ridiculous friends?  That’s what you call a life?”

Amy stumbled back, as though Sara had punched her. “It’s better than sitting in some crappy apartment with boxes and clothes and trash everywhere cause you’re too lazy to clean.  You’re 30 years old, Sara.  Grow up already.”  She maintained her angry stance, but she was losing steam.

Sara stepped closer to her, smiling, looking more at peace than she’d ever seen her.  “I love my life, Amy.  As hard as that may be for you to believe.  I don’t need your pity, or your set ups, or some pretend version of your life.  I’m actually happy.  I’m not pretending. And I think that makes you a little crazy.” The light changed again and Sara darted across the street, blending into the crowd of other pedestrians. Amy stayed on the street corner and watched her sister start to skip down the street away from her in her ballet flats like a little girl, until she couldn’t see her any longer.  Her heart began to slowly crack, and she wondered if she’d ever known anything at all.

Get Happy

Open University – Start writing fiction – 1.3 Sources of characters Assignment:  Imagine a character very like you but give him or her a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.Now write a brief character sketch in which you reveal the character’s appearance, their feelings about it, and their current circumstances. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’).  This character is very much like me, but I changed her race and made her single instead of married.

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Sara shimmied into the warm restaurant through the throngs of people, tightening her coat as girls her age around her shed their outerwear and slung them over tables and empty barstools. The restaurant smelled of garlic and olives and full-bodied wine.  Very American-Italian.  Not Italian-American, an important distinction.  A bad choice for a blind date.  Too loud, to aromatic, too warm, too trendy.  Trying too hard.  Just the kind of place Amy would pick. She wasn’t ready for what her sister would call “the big reveal.”  She’d let Amy make her up.  The works.  Dark-rimmed eyes that made the gold in her green eyes glow, pouty red lips, something called contouring, very popular with the reality star set, that made her already prominent alabaster cheekbones even more angular.  Her chocolate brown hair was shiny and blown out, hanging sleekly just beneath her shoulders and parted down the middle.  She’d let Amy talk her into heels.  Stilettos!  For goodness sakes.  She walked in them well enough, but they were so uncomfortable she didn’t understand why anyone would willingly stuff their poor helpless feet into them.  Besides women like her with pushy big sisters.  Sara felt like a contestant on one of those dumb reality dating shows. She normally wore flats.  With worn jeans and T-shirts with ironic sayings or tights with ballet slippers and 50’s A-line skirts with retro blouses, sometimes short floral dresses and flip flops in summer with chunky shoes and frayed denim jackets.  She didn’t wear stilettos.

“It’s just to get him interested,” Amy insisted as she added some blush to her already rouged cheek.  “You can go back to being you in a few months…it’s just how it works.”

She was meeting one of her brother-in-law’s childhood friends, a man unfortunately nicknamed Chet (could she marry a man who freely called himself that?) who was newly divorced.  Sara thought it was too soon for him to be dating again.

“Come on, Sara, just meet him,” Amy had insisted.  “Plus, I know you’re sick of being single.”

Am I? Sara had thought.  It was just like Amy.  If she wanted something, everyone else must have. Her life was of course the default master plan that everyone craved.  Amy would never understand that she liked solitary nights next to the open window in her small apartment, sipping good wine and reading a book, letting her feet rest against the window sill, feeling the delicious chill of the wind between her toes.  She liked eating in bed without anyone complaining about crumbs, watching whatever movie or show she wanted on television, not having to talk at all for hours if she didn’t feel like it, she liked waking up on a Saturday morning and doing whatever she wanted to do whenever she wanted to do it, she liked being able to call a girlfriend and plan a spontaneous adventure, no husbands with whom to smooth things over or babysitters to arrange.  She liked her life.  But this was Amy.  And for some reason, since the day Amy convinced her to go down the big slide on the playground at Chastain Park when she was two, even though her legs and arms were shaking and she’d nearly wet her pants, she hadn’t been able to say no to her.

Under her tightly wound coat she wore a dark red dress with a V-neck criss-cross neckline and an A-line skirt that swished as she walked.  It wasn’t really her, but she’d felt adventurous when she bought it a year ago.  It’d hung in her closet forever, waiting for the day it would make its debut.  She feared she’d wasted it.  She wanted to wear it on a date with a guy she’d already met and was maybe a little in love with.  Not full on, let’s run off and get married love, just fluttering in the belly, tingling in your toes, can’t stop smiling all day, goofy kind of love.  She would have worn it to a place where a live band played old standards like The Way You Look Tonight or Fly Away With Me, he’d twirl her on the floor as she pressed her cheek into the curve of his neck.  So the coat was staying on, for now anyway.

She sat down at the bar, where her sister and her husband were already sitting, nursing glasses of red wine.  Sara had insisted on driving her own car.  Amy’s husband Steve was exactly what Amy said she’d always wanted, like she’d ordered him from a catalog.   Tall and generically Ken-doll handsome, romantic but in a conservative, non-overt way, polite, gentlemanly, always stood when Amy arrived and when she left, opened car doors and always paid the tab, no matter how many of Amy’s friends have been invited along.  They went from just friends, to boyfriend and girlfriend, to engaged and then married in six months flat.  All according to plan.

Sara confused Steve.  She could tell.  She only politely laughed at his jokes, stayed only as long as needed at his and Amy’s soirees so as not to be considered rude, and turned down every invitation to travel with them until they stopped offering all together. Sara liked alone Amy, not Amy-and-Steve Amy. It was rare to catch alone Amy anymore.

“Hi guys,” Sara said in a fake-cheery tone.

“You look great!”  Amy responded with a wink as Steve nodded.  She flipped her dyed auburn hair over her shoulders and blinked her matching green eyes excitedly at Sara.  People always asked if they were twins until Amy had lightened her hair.  Sara didn’t know if that was an insult or not since Amy was three years older.   “Take off your coat!”  Amy demanded.

Sara stood, noticing expectant, appreciative glances from men around the room.  The big reveal. Her face flushed.  “I’m a little cold,” Sara lied, sitting back down. ”

You’re so beautiful, Sara,” Amy had told her earlier that day, hanging a gold locket around her neck.  “You shouldn’t hide it.”

Sara had stayed silent.  Beauty wasn’t something that you could hide.  It was always obvious to those who were smart enough to see it.  She wanted be with someone who saw her, actually saw her, or else, what was the point?

“So, a bit of a setback,” Amy started in that babyish, sing-songy voice she used when she was about to deliver bad news.  “Chet is running super late.  He got held up.”

Sara raised her newly manicured eyebrows.  “Really?”

Steve nodded again.  “He just texted.  He’s really sorry.  He’ll be here in about an hour he said.”

“Oh, is everything okay?”

Steve and Amy exchanged worried glances.

“Of course, he’s fine, just a class ran late.”

“What kind of class?  Is he going back to college or something?  That’s interesting.”

A long pause. “No, not that kind of class.  It’s Heart Cycle.”

“Heart Cycle?  What in the world is that?” Amy released an elongated sigh, emphasizing for Steve’s effect how hopeless Sara was.

“It’s a new cycle studio?  It just opened in Buckhead?” Steve looked at Sara expectantly as if these details were supposed to jog her memory.  “There’s a two-page long waiting list to get in and he finally got in last month, but his favorite instructor was late for class today.  He felt really bad, but he couldn’t miss it.”

Sara looked at the gravely serious expressions on Amy’s and Steve’s faces, glancing back and forth to see if they were joking.  Then threw her head back and laughed heartily, so loud that half the diners dropped their forks and looked up at her, probably thinking she was deranged.

“Saaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaa…” Amy whined.  “You should be glad that he takes care of himself.  A lot of guys don’t even care about that stuff.”

Her admonishment only made her laugh harder.  She slid from the bar stool, still chuckling, and pulled on her coat. “You aren’t even going to wait?  He’s a really nice guy.”  Steve got that confused look on his face he always did when Sara didn’t behave according to his or Amy’s expectations.

Sara shook her head.  “You tell him I hope he enjoyed his class.” Amy put her hand on Sara’s arm as she turned to leave.  Her face was flushed red with annoyance. “What are we supposed to tell him when he gets here and you’re gone?”

Sara paused.  Then bent down and took off Amy’s ridiculous shoes and placed them on the bar, probably breaking a few hundred health code laws.  Her feet breathed a sigh of relief as she slipped them into the pair of flats she’d dropped in her purse just in case.  “Tell him I was never really here anyway.” She smiled at their dumbfounded faces, then turned her back to them and headed out the door to do…whatever the heck she wanted.  But first she would stop home and hang up her dress in its usual spot –  in anticipation of a night that was worthy of its presence.