Category Archives: 11 inch edition

One page fiction, direct to you.

Playing Pretend

I felt him before I saw him. Something changed the air around me, and I looked up and saw him. I drank him in. Tall, dark, broad, with this natural ease. I couldn’t pull my eyes away, and then I noticed the book he carried- one I had read recently. I don’t even remember what book it was. I do remember we happily chatted for a while, I may have even let my train stop come and go to keep talking to him. And then we sat in the station at his stop, and talked some more. Of course he had someone. He was too good not to. But, for a train ride, he was mine.

In the end, it was a really good conversation with an interesting stranger. The kind of conversation that lifts you, gives you lightness under your feet. We chastely exchanged contact information, with no plot other than a distant friendly connection. Good people are still curious. And over the years, we’ve watched each other through the safe distance of social media. We sometimes catch up with a short conversation, we often forget about each other. But, one day, I met this perfect stranger on a train.

I didn’t ask about a silly book to start a book club with this handsome man on a train. I had looked at him, and in that moment had already imagined what it would be like to kiss him, feel him against me. The book was pretext. It could have been a great book, too. But I couldn’t have cared less about the damn book. I can remember the thrill of capturing his attention. I may have blushed. I probably did.

Fantasies are tricky. They are easy to breathe life into, hard to control, you often find yourself stumbling over your own feet to decide how to move forward. What I like most about my stranger is that he is happy. He is happy to go with someone else’s plan, and he is happy to enjoy the moment he is in. He is happy to be in new places and meet new people and see new things. And it’s not about the novelty of it all, the saying he’s done this or that, it is because he actually finds happiness in these things.

That, and he is smart. Smarter than me, maybe- Smart enough certainly that I can learn a thing or two from him. An alpha in his field. Someone with ambition not just to make money, gain all those things the world around you tells you to, but ambition to excel at what he does. Ambition to do his job well and lead others to do the same. Ambition to change those things he can. So few people these days have that sort of ambition. Some never did, some have had it beaten out of them. He is these things, and compassionate and generous at the same time. Not just with things, that is easy, but with himself, his time.

I decided all this in a number of stops. I built him as he stood in front of me, with minimal contribution needed from him. Then I got on a train and went home. I left my perfect stranger- perfect because he’s a stranger- to his strange life, and rode the train back to mine. I met a perfect stranger one day. Reality doesn’t touch him, doesn’t burn the walls down around me; he’s fiction, beyond all that, and I do so love playing pretend.

 

 

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11 inch edition: She Turned

When he saw her across the bar he knew he was done for. She stood alone, apart from everyone else. It was hard to tell, even, if she knew anyone there, if she had come with anyone, with friends. She stood apart and comfortable with being apart. And he knew he was done for. There was not anything particularly beautiful about her. Average height, slim build, pretty face, hair simple in a bob- a style not quite outdated, but not modern either. It wasn’t anything about her appearance that made him stop and take notice; it was her comfortable defiance in standing apart from the rest. You’re not supposed to be comfortable doing that. You’re supposed to want to fit in, be a part of the group, accepted. It was her willful and easy insistence on being on the outside of things that caught him where he stood, and made him notice her.

She was pleasant to watch. Without seeming to be aware she would tilt this way or that on her hips to find the right stance, the effect of which was a slightly thrusted hip, her back curved slightly in, her neck lengthened, her chin almost up. She was close to observing everyone from the slope of her nose. Perhaps that was what in fact she was doing. He liked her for it, for his assumption of her personality; aloof and purposeful.

She caught him, then, looking at her, watching her. And she let him know it, before she turned to a group of women just behind her, a group he hadn’t noticed before. She looked right at him, blinked slowly, took one more moment, and then turned to join the group behind herm laughing at something that one of her friends said, apparently. It was quite a while before she turned apart from her group again. But he was watching, he saw her again grow tired of the incessant noise of people talking about nothing. He saw her turn into herself once more, and pick up again with an inner dialog he could only imagine at.

It seemed to be as good a time as any to approach her, then. But something stopped him. Something in the satisfaction of her pose, of her rest from it all once more. He thought he would disturb her from her reverie if he would talk to her just then. So instead he watched her, waiting, maybe, for a sign that it was alright to intrude on her throughts, that she perhaps wanted his company. He waited for that indication. She breathed in, out, deliberately, deeply, turned her nearest hip out just slightly and shifted her weight, opening her stance to him. He walked to her and she turned to look directly at him. There was a recognition in her face, and he also felt he had known her.

“I’ve seen you somewhere before,” he said.

“And I’ve seen you,” she replied, and smiled.