I am so proud of myself at the moment. This is my first official Short Story! The previous ones all were under the classification of short-shorts/flash fiction! This is my first story over 1,000 words! Woot to me! Happy Reading all!
It was a typical Wednesday afternoon at the Caffè dei Libri, a few couples out for some caffeinated thing to enjoy, the few waitresses checking on their tables, and The Libri. The Libri was an affectionate nickname the staff gave a group of artistic majors from one of the universities in town that would gather every Wednesday at the Caffè dei Libri. The Libri were intelligent, cheerful, quirky, and always good for a laugh, and most of them good for sharing a joint too.
Diana, Lexie, Steven, Edward, Chrissy, and Tianna had arrived and just ordered their drinks when Paul arrived late, looking haggard and drained. Susan their waitress that day caught Paul’s eye just before asking, “The usual?”
Shooting her a weak smile he responded, “Yeah, thanks Sue. That would be great.” Slumping down into the empty space on the end of the large wrap-around couch The Libri had claimed for their own Paul gave a “Sorry for being late,” by way of a greeting to his friends.
Ever tactful, Steven asked, “Dude, what happened to you? You look like you just watch your dog get run over a few dozen times.”
The others chimed in with variations of, “Yeah, what’s wrong, Paul?”
“Let me get some caffeine in me before I tell you.”
“Sure man, no problem,” said Edward silencing everyone else for the moment. “Looks like Sue’s coming over now with our drinks.”
Thanking Sue everyone got their beverage of choice and quietly awaited Paul’s tale as he took a few sips.
“Ed, you remember in class this morning, I told you Professor ______ wanted to see me this afternoon and that I might be late getting here?”
“Yeah, you were psyched, you thought it was about the summer internship at that art gallery he always talks about in class.”
“Yeah, well it was. I didn’t get it. Apparently I wasn’t now enough to get it. Not his fault. Heck, it was because of him I was even able to get an interview and he was nice enough to give me a heads up. Said most who applied didn’t even get that much and that maybe I could try again next year. Oh, well.”
In her soft-spoken voice Tianna kindly said, “I’m sorry, I know you were really looking forward to getting that position. I’m sure you will find a better match.”
“Yeah, sounds like you wouldn’t want to work there anyway. If they think you aren’t now enough. They sound like a bunch of stupid wannabes to me.” Chrissy never was one for hiding what she thought.
“Yeah, Chris, your probably right, still sucks though. I seriously need a change of scenery.”
Lexie, the resident crazy creative writing major seems to come out from her usually haze at this, saying, “Do not we all want for one? I want mine to have rainbows and unicorns.”
There was just silence as the others at the table just looked at her before laughing. Paul with a slight chuckle said, “Thanks for the laugh. It always amazes me that the one person in our group who won’t even have caffeine, nevermind anything more interesting is the person who sounds like they are on a permanent high.”
Lexie, tilting her head slightly to the side, looked at her friends and said, “I don’t get it. What is so funny?”
Chrissy just shook her head, “It is because of hearing you say things like that, that the cop wanted to try and bust you for drugs at the Fall Festival in town last weekend.”
“Oh. Come on, I’ve heard you all say worse things.”
At this point Steven chimed in with, “Not sober, you haven’t.”
Paul, who had a bit of a crush on the oddball Lexie, told her, “Ignore them Lexie. While you become a world-famous writer, they will all continue to suffer from mediocrity.” At this Paul found not a few crumpled napkins being thrown at him with accompanying shouts consisting of “I’ll give you mediocrity!” and “You’ll be suffering along with us!” The whole group was laughing uproariously at this point and what came to jokingly be known as “The First Great Napkin War of 2010” by the lot of them came to an end.
“Thanks guys, I needed the laugh,” said Paul finally as the laughter among The Libri began to die off.
“Anytime, boyo, anytime,” replied Diana for the lot of them. She finished her moca-frappe-something and left her usual share of the bill and tip. With a “Hey guys, it’s getting late, I’ve got to head out. I’ve got a paper due tomorrow for music appreciation. See you later,” she threw on her jacket and started to walk out just as a crack of thunder sounded through the cafe.
Chrissy followed suite hightailing it out after Diana calling out, “Hey Diana, mind if I catch a ride?”
“Mama Mia!” Steven exclaimed as he jumped up looking at his watch. “I’m gonna be late for work!” He grabbed his jacket, threw down some money from out of his wallet and was out the door before anyone could say “Ciao.”
“Wow they left in a hurry.” Paul was starting to worry. He didn’t drive over because he walked to the campus this morning and he only lived 3 blocks away. “Hey guys, mind if I snag a ride with the two of you?”
Edward just smiled. “Sorry Paul, Tianna and I are heading to the movies and we will just make it as it is. See you later.”
“Yeah sorry Paul. See you, Lexie.” Tianna’s smile at least wasn’t quite as big as Edward’s as they left.
“Great,” Paul thought, “now I either have to walk in the rain or ask Lexie.” Glancing over at her, “Looks like I’m walking. I’m such a coward.”
“Hey, Paul, I could give you a lift, if you want.” Lexie was rummaging in her purse looking for her wallet.
“Um, uh, I mean yeah, great. Thanks. Let me get that. Least I could do since you are keeping me from having to walk in that,” he gestures out the front window of the cafe.
“Oh, um thanks. You don’t have to do that.”
“I know, but still.”
“Thanks.” She smiled.
“She smiled at me. Oh. My. God. She smiled at me. And not just in the I’m happy way, but smiling at me happy kind of way. Come on Paul, don’t mess this up!” Paul snapped himself out of a panic before he could spaz any worse.
“Let’s get going before it get’s any worse. My car is just out front.”
“Uh, yeah, sure. Right behind you, Lexie.”
They rushed over to her blue Corolla and jumped in before getting too drenched.
Pulling into traffic, Paul asked, “So, Lexie, any big plans for tonight?”
“Not really. Probably just stay up late watching some old movies and eating popcorn, since my morning class was cancelled I don’t have to get up early tomorrow.”
“Oh. Cool. Anything in particular?” The whole while Paul was thinking, “play it cool.”
“I don’t know. I was thinking of a Ray Harryhausen marathon.”
“Seriously? I love Harryhausen!” Paul exclaimed just as Lexie pulled the car up in front of his apartment building.
“Really?” Looking down at her lap, “Would you want to join me?”
Paul’s mouth open and shut, open and shut, open and shut again while his brain tried to process what he had just heard. “Did she just invite me over? Got to be a friend thing. I am not this lucky.”
“You don’t have to, you know. I’m sure you probably already have a date for tonight anyway. Sorry to put you on the spot.”
Finally Paul’s brain started to function again. “No! No, I don’t have date! I would love to join you!”
“Really?” She smiled again.
This time he smiled back. “Really.”