I present the next section as a sad offering. I tried to make it fun and relevant. But, it is one of those working pieces that just creates a bridge. I think this piece helps to explain why I didn't think Christine could carry a story on her own. She's just... not a strongly identified person yet for me. I don't know what I need to make her real, but whatever it is, I don't have it.
Fiction below the jump; the links to previous chapters are right here.
1. Start of Lucy's first chapter
2. Conclusion of the first Lucy chapter
3. Start of Sam's chapter
4. Sam's story continues with an unfortunate evening
5. Our two main characters interact as Sam gets shot down.
6. We're back with Lucy as she reflects on her new boyfriend
7. Lucy has a little crush; isn't it adorable?
8. Lucy never gets any peace.
9. Sam gets a phone call.
10. Sam meets "Rusty."
11. Sam ponders important questions.
12. Lucy is a wreck.
13. He has a night job.
14. The title makes you think it'll be a different joke than it is.
* * *
It was lunch time, I was hungry. But not hungry enough to eat fast food. Well, unless it was Taco Bell. Taco Bell was comfort food that my dad had always smuggled me when mom wasn’t around. Well, actually, any fast food was. Mom thought that should be beneath me; she never understood the weird one-minute-and-a-half window where a chalupa had just enough heat to make the cheese gooey. After that window, it was just a gross pile of pseudo-food. But, if you were able to time your microwave reheat just right, or better yet, eat in the atrium, it was heavenly.
In college, I had grown into a gentle custom of sneaking out of my dorm during stressful days when my roommate was asleep. I couldn’t watch movies there, so I would find myself in either the common area with Sleeping Beauty or walking alone to the near-by Taco Bell. It might have been the stomach bug I got — though I still maintain it could very easily have been the cafeteria food — that turned me off from Taco Bell.
Until today. I had some spare dollars in my purse from tips, and I had no desire to try and find a mom and pop joint that looked recent on its health inspections. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t. I know I can survive the worst Taco Bell throws at me. And if I can’t, at least my undignified death will be an opportunity for my mother to silently look at my father and transmit the simple “I told you so” without saying a word. It takes a real lady to nag with a look and a raised eye brow. I had tried that on one of my boyfriends, but he just thought I was trying to get him to compliment my eyes.
I was waiting outside, with a weather eye on the chip bin. If you waited, you could get in right when they swapped to a fresh batch, which made the nachos acceptable. I was still standing outside, glancing in now and then, when my phone rang. The screen read CHRISTINE. I liked putting everything in uppercase. It felt retro. My first instinct was to ignore the call, but I gave in and answered.
“Good morning,” I said.
“I’m sorry; I talked to Peter. Peter’s sorry. You shouldn’t be sorry,” She said. “Peter wants to make it up to us by cooking dinner tonight.”
“How nice of him.”
“By the tone of your voice, I guess you haven’t forgiven him,” Christine said. “That’s OK. It really is my fault for being such a light sleeper. He was afraid he’d wake me up getting dressed.”
“I screamed Christine.”
“You’re hysterics are white noise, like oceans and beaches. Speaking of which, I have a new sleep aid CD if you want to borrow it.”
“I want to know that there won’t be naked men in my apartment late at night.”
“With that attitude of yours, there never will be,” Christine said. “He gets off work a bit late; we can have dinner before you have to leave for the station.”
“I actually have plans already,” I said.
“Ignoring me isn’t a plan.”
“I can’t make it tonight; you’ll just have to make an excuse for me.”
“So, what is so important you’ll blow off a free dinner cooked by my hot, apologetic boyfriend?”
“Maybe I’m already getting a free dinner from someone else who is even hotter and more apologetic,” I said. Christine’s ‘Hah’ echoed in my head for the rest of the day.
“Let me guess: Early night at the station?”
“Something like that. Now, I have to go Christine,” I hung up as soon as I heard her say goodbye. The chips were still warm by the time I placed my order.