This weeks Flash Fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig of Terribleminds.com was a bit of a stretcher for me. This weeks challenge was to write a piece of flash fiction in no more than 1000 words, any genre any topic. Here’s the catch, it has to be written in the present tense.
This is the first time I have written anything in present tense, and even now after editing it so many times some of it just doesn’t flow very well. So now more than ever, it is very important to leave your constructive criticism.
As a final comment this is also the first time I have attempted a story like this. So there aren’t any aliens, murderers or psychos, and nobody dies. It could probably be considered a ‘nice’ story.
So here you go, ‘Waiting’…
Flash Fiction: Waiting
Michael couldn’t help staring at her. He sees her every morning but like so many other romantic clichés he couldn’t bring himself to talk to her. He doesn’t even know her name yet, the only thing he knows about her is that she catches a train on the opposite platform every morning. Today is going to be different, today he is going to stand up and walk over to her. He has focused on it all morning, he hadn’t even bought his coffee; a latte with three shots of espresso and hazelnut syrup.
She sits on one of the metal benches on the station platform, holding a cardboard cup of coffee in one hand and her mobile phone in the other, habitually checking her phone every few minutes.
As he builds up courage a familiar sick feeling starts creeping up on him. His forehead is sweating, and his glasses start to slip down his nose.
‘Get a grip for god sake.’ Michael says to himself under his breath. ‘Just do it.’
He counts to three in his mind and walks over to her. ‘Oh crap! What are you doing? We are not ready for this.’ He hears his mind shouting at him, almost pleading with him to sit down but he is already committed. Michael smiles when he thinks of their future together; their first date, their first kiss, their home together, how beautiful their kids are going to be. He is now within ten meters of her, and he knows just what he is going to say to her.
A blonde man walks into Michael’s eye-line, and sits down next to the woman.
‘Who the hell is that?’ The woman looks up at the blonde man and they start talking they laugh, sharing a joke.
‘No, don’t encourage him. Don’t fall for all that narcissism driven bullshit. He’s all blonde hair and fake tan. God he must love himself, look at that smile. What an arsehole!’
Michael slows his pace, he is getting too close to her too quickly and ‘Blondie’ is still bugging her. Sure she’s laughing at his jokes but she wants him to go away. She’s not impressed by his posh suit and his effeminate looking hair.
Without any warning Michael became aware of all of his faults. He’s sweating too much, his hair is a nerdy-looking side-parting, and his suit hasn’t been washed recently. Even when he looks down at his feet he sees a pair of old dirty shoes staring back at him. He can’t do this now, she’ll laugh at him.
Michael looks back up. He’s only about five meter’s away from them. He looks around in a panic trying to find another reason he could be over on that side of the platform. Come on there has to be something.
The only thing close was an old vending machine. Walking up to it, he fumbles in his pocket for some loose change, being as quiet as he could so he might overhear their conversation; overhear her rejecting him.
The coins clank inside the machine followed by a loud whirring sound. Loud enough to distract the couple from their conversation. Michael stared at the couple. What did he have to offer? Not as much as Blondie did.
The couple looked up at him after a few seconds sensing he was staring at them.
Michael caught their stares. ‘Sorry, do you have the time?’ he asks quickly hoping they won’t notice the Mickey Mouse watch on his wrist.
‘Quarter past seven.’ She answers, her voice friendly with a just a hint of irritation.
‘Thanks, sorry to bother you.’ Michaels heart sank, a lump in his throat was forming and he was feeling sick now he’s seen how well they’re getting along.
Michael grabs the chocolate bar from the drawer of the vending machine and walks back to the other platform, feeling sad and annoyed with himself. ‘What a moron, no wonder she’s been ignoring you.’
He sits back down on the bench, and stares at the ground. He can’t look back at them, he’s feeling too sorry for himself.
‘Why had she not noticed him? He’s been here every morning the same as she had, why hadn’t she taken the time to speak with him?’
Michael sighs as if he’s clearing his mind of all the negative thoughts by exhaling, ‘Maybe he would try again tomorrow.’
‘Hi’ said a sweet voice. Michael didn’t notice that a young woman with purple hair was sitting down next to him. She smiles at him, her lip ring punctuating her bright pink lipstick. ‘You didn’t come in for your coffee this morning’ she holds out a large cardboard coffee cup, triple shot late with hazelnut, right?’
Michael takes the cup ‘erm, yes thank you. How did you know my… have we met?’
‘No, not quite.’ The young girl’s bright green eyes sparkle from her glitter make-up. ‘I always sit on the table next to the bar at the Coffee House so I hear a lot of people’s orders. When I noticed you didn’t come in, I thought I’d bring it to you.’
‘Thank you again, how much do I owe you?’
‘Nothing, silly. I watch you every morning when you make your order, hoping you’d look back at me. Today I thought you know what I’m just going to ask. I’m not gonna be one of those people who just watches. I thought you were going to ask that woman out across the platform there, I thought you were heading straight for her.’
‘What? No, she’s not my type.’ Michael was no good at lying.
‘Oh, well I don’t think you’re hers either, I think she prefers her men with a little more uterus.’
Then Michael caught on ‘Hang on, ask me what?’