Friday, March 10, 2017

The Object of My Attention



Friday is finally here and I'm ready for the weekend. But first, here's my new story prompted by the Flash Fiction challenge over at Terrible Minds. There were two opposing themes to pick from and this is my offering. I think it works. I'm not going to list the themes here so as not to give anything away. I'll post a link to the challenge below along with my choice. I hope you enjoy it. 




The Object of My Attention 

By Michelle Baillargeon



  I’ve been waiting for the perfect time, waiting for the moment when we can be alone together. I’ve been following him around trying to get my courage up to approach him, but he doesn’t know I exist. I keep a note in my purse, when my nerves get the best of me, I pull it out and read it to help me focus.


  He's not hard to find. He’s a handsome, football-playing rich kid, which means he’s usually where the most popular kids hang out. He hasn’t noticed me yet, which kind of hurts, but I’m used to it. People like him have a tendency to look right through people like me; at the moment that works in my favor. When the time is right, I’ll know; my desire will override my nerves and it’ll happen. My palms get sweaty just thinking about it. But, the universe doesn’t respect the timid, it taunts us. And, good things don't always come to those who wait. These are harsh lessons for a high schooler. The people who win, who come out on top, who are happy, are go-getters. I’m not one of those people, yet, but I will be. When the time is right. 


  I’ve been paying enough attention to him that I’ve picked up on his routine. His family’s got money, so he doesn’t have a job. That leaves his afternoons free after school. The first stop for him and his buddies is usually the diner at the edge of town, good food cheap. Afterwards, being jobless and with no direction, they drive around and usually end up at their hangout: a clearing in the woods (fire pit included) near Miller’s Pond. 


  It’s harder for me to follow him there, though. At the diner, I can blend in with the crowd or sit on one of the benches outside. I pretend to do homework; I can get close, but not too close. The nearer I get, the faster my heart beats and the less I’m able to think straight. 


  I haven't been able to figure out how to get near enough to him at the hangout without drawing attention to myself, so I usually just tail him there then head home. My gut tells me the hangout will be the best place for me to get his attention, get him alone for a few moments. Approaching him at school is too nerve wracking. The diner is a no-go, they do everything as a group: enter, eat, leave. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a leak as a group.


  I’ve got to get him alone, it’s the only way I’ll have the nerve. At times I get overwhelmed and wonder if it’s all worth it. Then I pull out the the note and remind myself why I’m doing this. Courage, girl! I’ve got to at least try or I won’t forgive myself. 


-----


  It’s come to this. I’m standing in the woods, behind a tree, in the dark, like a creeper. The darkness of the evening and the shelter of the woods makes for good cover. Tonight is the night, it’s now or never. I’ve tucked the note into my bra, over my heart, for support. I keep touching it, seeking support, calmness; instead, I’m wiping my palms on my pants and reminding myself to breathe. At least no one knows I’m here, they’re all sitting around the fire joking and drinking. Oblivious. 


  Occasionally, one of them breaks off and heads to the edge of the woods to make room for more beer. I’m far enough from the edge of the woods not to be spotted, but close enough to gain their attention if I want to.


  It’s time, here he comes! I don’t think my heart can beat any faster than it is right now behind this tree. I touch the note once more and it speaks to me, “you can do it!” I take a deep breath and obey. 


  I wait until I hear his fly unzip to step out from behind the tree. A whisper comes out, quieter than I intended, “hey.” 


  He looks up and into the woods, unsure if he’s heard anything over the noise at the fire pit.  


  “Over here,” another whisper, but a little louder this time. I wipe off my palms and clear my throat, “I’m over here.”


  He tends to his zipper again but doesn't leave, he’s heard me. He’s curious and I see the wheels turning in his beer-fueled brain: It’s a girl. His eyes light up in anticipation and search the dark for the source of the female voice. 


  “I’m here, I want you…” my voice cracks and my courage leaves me. I practiced the words I would say over and over, I had them down cold. Damn. 


  Despite my silence, he’s headed my way without even glancing back to his buddies, curious and sure of himself. He’s so close, I can see now just how handsome his is, even in this low light. It’s very disarming up close and I think my heart has actually stopped beating. 
 

  “Who’s there?” He spots me and closes the distance between us. 


  He doesn’t recognize me and I search for the words I practiced. The words I’ve been waiting to say for so long. “I want you…” Breathe, girl, breathe; you’ve got this. “I want you to know, this is for Amy.” Those aren’t the right words, but they’ll do. 


  The mention of Amy’s name triggers a brief moment of recognition that’s followed by confusion. I watch as the light leaves his eyes. He drops to the ground at my feet without a sound. What little light there is reflects off the hilt of my knife, which is protruding from his gut. I am finally able to breathe, it’s done. 


  There’s no need to pull the note out of my bra to remember what it says, I’ve memorized it. The lines repeat in my head: I’m not strong enough to do this anymore. He’s used me and thrown me away. I thought it was love, but it was just a big joke to him. A damn dare! I’ve cried all the tears I can. I can't look Mom in the eye anymore and I can’t raise this baby by myself. I'm sorry.


  I leave him the way he left her. Rest in peace, Amy. 


This short story was based on a prompt from this challenge: Terrible Minds Challenge


(I chose option #1)

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and read my story. This is an ongoing learning process for me. If you are so inclined, I would very much appreciate comments and feedback.
 

 




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