The cell phone is an amazing tool in modern fiction. It lets you tell stories with people in radically different places talking to each other, without having to deal with logistics like you would with stories even set in the 80s. I mean, they also mess up a lot of possible tension and plots ("Why doesn't so-and-so know such-and-such? They have Google in their pocket!"), but you can avoid that because of Rule of Funny.
I'm trying two new things with today's post. First, posting in the morning before work. We'll see how much I think this is a good idea come 10:00. Second, regular readers may have noticed a post go up yesterday or Sunday that didn't get much announcement anywhere. It is a table of contents post. That'll be where I direct people to from now on, instead of having a rolling TOC throughout each post, to help save space. So, fiction below the fold; check out that link if you've missed anything. Today: We're back with Lucy.
* * *
At 6:05, I was starting to regret not agreeing to have dinner with Christine and Peter. Mainly because I was starting to regret having to decide whether to shell out more money for food, or to try and find a coffee shop or bookstore to while away the last bit of time before I made my second attempt at a first impression with Jon. I had already practiced a dozen different apologies in my head. I was very good at apologizing.
It takes talent to apologize without groveling. But, it takes a natural born gift to grovel without appearing to grovel. I had been fortified with bad fast food and feel good movies. I was ready to take on the world. I hated taking on the world, because the world always wins. Life never works out like in the movies; we don’t all hug at the end. The power of friendship does not save the world. Rather, the power of self-debasement saves your job.
I was just sitting down to a coffee with all sorts of things to make it not taste like coffee when my phone rang. If it was Sam, I would kill him. Probably slowly. Maybe by boiling. It was not. It was Fiona. I don’t think I have the heart to boil Fiona. I debated not answering the phone for a ring, then I hit the big green button. I keep telling myself I should be more assertive, but there’s no benefit in being assertive when no one is there to see you be assertive.
“Lucy, is now a good time?”
“I think so,” I said. “I have to be somewhere soon, so will it take long?”
“You’re busy today. It shouldn’t take that long,” She said. “I just wanted to thank you for your advice and ask if you and Rusty wanted to join me and my new prospective boyfriend this weekend?”
“Oh, wow, I don’t know,” I said. I debated between pretending to lose her because I was in an elevator or because a man was mugging me for my phone. I was leaning in favor of the mugging before I came up with something else. “We already have plans.”
I didn’t say it was a good something else. Imaginary boyfriends are almost as frustrating as real boyfriends, I decided. As soon as I had a chance to talk with him, I was going to have to consider breaking it off. He just wasn’t giving me enough time with my friends. Well, then again, if he didn’t exist, Fiona wouldn’t have asked us to go. So, for now, he gets to stay.
“That’s OK,” She said. “I was just hoping to have someone else there in case he turns out to not be very good company.”
“If you didn’t know if he’d be good company, why say yes?”
“I like to take risks Lucy,” Fiona said. “And I like to have nice dinners out on those risks.”
“You’re terrible Fiona,” I said. This was half true. She was terrible. Terribly awesome.
“Well, I don’t want to keep you from whatever important thing you’ve got going on tonight,” Fiona said. “See you later.”