Hello and welcome to Friday Fiction! How many of you have an unpublished book tucked away in a folder and are wondering what to do with your story?
I have a few of those books, gathering computer dust. They are imperfect, full of plot holes but were very fun to write. If you’re finding Friday Fiction for the first time, I’ve recently posted small chapters of one of these books. The story is Launch and is about how people are forced to redefine themselves. After all, nothing stays the same, does it?
Today we meet Ted and Cindy Clarke’s son Brian. He’s recently graduated college and is on the brink of big changes.
I hope you will take a look and if you like the story, check out the links at the bottom of the post.
Launch – Chapter 5
Brian Clarke sat at the table next to his small galley kitchen. He took the last swig of his beer and banged the bottle down, unintentionally, he would later say, on the table. The noise echoed in the room when it’s first quiet and something loud invades the peace, and he heard a stir in the bedroom. Good, he thought. He got up, rinsed the bottle and dropped it in the recycle bin with reckless movements and grabbed another from the fridge. Not knowing what to do with himself, but certainly not returning to the bedroom, Brian walked the short distance to the living area and sat down on the couch.
He grabbed the remote, took a sip from his beer and settled into a session of mindless TV. Those were his expectations, at least. He turned up the sound, a little too loud, he was later told, but he did it with satisfaction. It was his apartment, after all. If he wanted to get out of bed at 2:30 in the morning, drink beer and watch TV, he could do that. He was paying rent to be able to do what he wanted. It was the limping end of a Friday night, he’d worked all day, and he had the right. Who cares that his girlfriend was in the bedroom, presumably asleep?
Denise Pagano had been Brian’s girlfriend since their sophomore year at Moravian. They had met on the intramural soccer fields. Brian had been warming up with his fraternity team when he’d noticed Denise with a group of girls. They were laughing wildly at something unknown to him, a loud, exaggerated laughter and Brian had turned just in time to see Denise look away from her friends. She had a broad smile on her face, the kind a person has at the height of laughter, at the recognition of a joke. And she had locked her eyes on Brian just at that moment, before the laughter had begun to fade, so that she had shown him a secret and beautiful side of herself, without realizing it.
Brian took it in, gladly. Denise had long black hair, wavy and thick. It was pulled back in a messy ponytail, after a game of soccer, Brian presumed. The girls, in shorts and matching team shirts, were walking off the field, heading his way. He thought quickly of something to say. Brian knew that it didn’t matter what you said exactly to a girl walking by, as long as it wasn’t rude or insulting, was somewhat clever and got her attention. The trick was to get her to stop. Brian was good at these greetings. He’d developed this skill during high school, the grin and the witty comment, and he’d refined it somewhat during his first year at college.
“Who won?” he called to the group, hoping to catch Denise’s attention.
“We did, of course,” answered another girl, taking Brian in. He smiled and looked at this girl. Also nice, but he had been aiming for Denise. His mind worked quickly. He noticed an ice pack in Denise’s hand. This was his opener.
He looked at Denise. “Rough game?” he asked. “No serious injuries, I hope.”
Denise smiled, “No, just a kick to the shin.”
“Well, good. I don’t think they have trainers at these games,” he added.
“No,” she answered and then she smiled again. She had stopped and was smiling at Brian. His mind was working for something to say.
“Well, we’re up next,” he added, somewhat weakly, for although he had experience with these kinds of conversations, Denise’s smile and her dark, sparkly eyes were mixing him up.
He didn’t know this, he could only hope it, but Denise was taking Brian in just as much. She liked his sandy brown hair, cut short in a buzz, but it had some style too. She liked the way his brows framed his light brown eyes. Or were they hazel or green? She couldn’t tell exactly, in this light, for the sun seemed to be shining right on Brian’s face, like a sign from another force, locking her there in front of him. She worried that she was gawking at him, looking foolish.
“Well, I hope you have a good game. This was our last game before the playoffs. Are you guys on the same schedule?”
Brian felt relieved. She was interested. By then the other girls were beginning to disperse. But Denise stood with the first girl who had answered him. They were both smiling.
“When does your game start?” she asked.
Brian grinned. This was going well. “Should be getting started any minute. Do you girls want to stick around?”
Denise looked at her friend, sending a signal. Brian knew girls liked to stick together in situations like this. He knew Denise wasn’t going to stay unless her friend agreed.
“Sure, we can stay for a while.”
Signals sent and received.
“Great!” he answered. Brian had a bit of an ego and even though this was just an intramural game, he had been a standout player in high school. He had decided not to play in college, but he was competitive nonetheless. He knew he was probably the best player on his frat team and now was his chance to show this girl.
“Well, I’ve got to go warm up. My name’s Brian, by the way.”
“Hi, I’m Denise and this is Angie.”
They exchanged extra hellos and Brian turned to leave. “Maybe I’ll see you two after the game?”
Denise smiled again. “Maybe,” she answered. And then, in an afterthought, “But I’m sure I’ll see you around otherwise.”
Thank you for reading.
Click on the chapter links to start from the beginning:
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