Lana held her girlfriend’s hand, their fingers intertwining together as they sat on the edge of a picnic table, their feet resting on the wooden bench. She rested her head on her partner’s shoulder as the wind blew strands of her curly, red hair into her face. Her girlfriend gave her hand a squeeze and she could smell the peppermint on her breath that came from her chewing gum.
“You okay, Lan?” her girlfriend asked. Lana nodded without looking up.
“I’m good,” she said.
Scooter sat on the bench a few feet away from them. He smoothed out his black hair that was already shaped with gel. He stared at his phone and the heel of his foot moved up and down like a lever. A soft sigh escaped his lips and he muttered something to himself that no one else could hear.
Lana brushed the loose strands of hair behind her ear with her fingers and glanced over at him.
“You seem troubled, Scoot. What’s goin’ on?”
He looked at her, startled, as though he forgot she was there, and then shrugged.
“It’s Skyler. When we first met, we hooked up and drank wine at her apartment. We had fun, no strings attached. But she was funny and adventurous. I wanted to take her out for real, so I did. We went to dinner and drank beer beneath the stars, and then slow danced, not well by the way, while music played on the radio. She said she really liked me,” he said.
“Sounds like you had a nice time. Why are you upset?”
He slumped his shoulders and looked down at the grass. The air smelled like fresh earth and the clouds provided partial shade from the warm sun in the mostly blue sky. The park was mostly empty with the exception of one or two families who were at the playground, on the other side of the field. Two small birds landed in the grass several feet away and started pecking at the ground.
“She hasn’t texted me back all week. I haven’t heard from her since that night,” he said. He placed his phone on the table with a soft thump.
Lana’s girlfriend slid over to Scooter’s side and sat next to him on the bench. Her short, brown hair was shaved on one side and she wore a leather jacket even though it was summer. She popped her gum and gave him a playful punch on the shoulder.
“Hey. Don’t worry about this. Maybe she lost her phone, maybe she had a family emergency, and maybe she doesn’t want a relationship after all and is too scared to tell you the fuckin’ truth. You can sit here on this beautiful day with friends, driving yourself crazy with maybes, or you can accept the fact that you had an amazing time with this girl, which might lead to something more. Or it might not. But you can’t let one person blind you from all the affection you already have in your life. Keep your door open to all forms of love and the right person will find their way in. This is one girl. Let her come to you. And if she doesn’t, then move on. But for now, spend this day with us. Don’t spend your day with maybes,” she said.
Lana hopped down from the table and smoothed out her skirt before sitting next to her girlfriend. She reached over and held Scooter’s hand.
“Court’s right. We can go out. We can have fun. And we can make new friends, new memories, and new stories. You don’t have to stay stuck in this chapter,” she said.
He nodded and smiled a bit, revealing his dimples.
“You’re right. I guess I just wanted to have someone by my side who could help me forget to be sad.”
Courtney gave him a playful nudge in the ribs.
“That’s what the night is for,” she said.
Behind them, Scooter’s phone vibrated and rang. He picked it up off the table and looked at the caller ID. A picture of a girl with brown hair appeared on the screen along with her name. It was Skyler. He looked at his friends as if wondering if he should answer it, and Courtney gestured with her hands to say that he should.
“Tell her that the three of us are going out for milkshakes,” Lana said.
“Yeah,” Courtney agreed, “she should come.”
Scooter took a breath and answered the phone. He walked away from the bench and the two birds who were in the field flew off into the sky together. When he walked far enough to get some privacy, he cleared his throat. Lana rested her head again on Courtney’s shoulder, the two of them were barely able to hear Scooter’s soft hello.
#fiction, short stories