Oh, my pets...
I received SO MANY incredible entries in response to Friday's Writing Challenge. It was wonderful to read such a variety of interpretations on the short spoken exchange, and really underscored how creative it's possible to get with a limited quantity of basic materials: from the same pretty run-of-the-mill back-and-forth between characters, we've ended up with different characters, settings, atmospheres, and tones.
I can't possibly post all of your responses, so I've selected some at random (and check out the "posts" section of the challenge for some equally excellent entries). And thank you to everyone who emailed and posted your responses! I hope you enjoy the writing challenges as much as I do--you all are really inspiring!
From Kate of I Just Want to Sit Here and Read:
Brian’s subtle cough was unheard so be blurted out, "Hi."
Ried nearly jumped out of her Jimmy Choos, "Oh! Hi. God, you scared me."
"Sorry." He looked down at his poor excuse for work boots and anxiously tapped his toe on the ground.
She turned to straighten the rack that nearly fell, trying to hide the heat that was steadily creeping up her face."No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." She stammered, embarrassed that after all of this time she still could not help but want this man who broke her heart.
He took the opportunity to press her,"What?"
She shrugged. She fingered the ends of her long blonde hair, force of habit,"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." She had to pull herself away from him, thankful to see a customer at the cash register.
He followed right behind her, "I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here." He realized his hands were shaking and willed them to stop.
"Yeah. Three times a week." She practically jogged around the counter to help the young teen with her purchase.
"You like it?"
Her eyes flicked to the girl, not wanting to exploit the fact that she loathed working here, "It's a job. Money's not bad." She finished with the teen and once again they were left alone only with a counter between them.
"You look good." His mesmerizing sea green eyes stared into hers.
"Thanks." She tore her eyes away from his and looked toward the door, hoping that someone would come in to call her attention away from this conversation.
"Is that weird to say?" His hand reached from the counter yearning to touch hers if but one last time.
"No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?" She asked, staring at the military buzz cut. She smiled to keep herself from crying, soon enough he would walk away from her to go back overseas and who knew when she would see him again.
From Bethany Beznos:
I rested my elbows on the counter. Cheri was turned around making a smoothie “Hi." She flipped around her eyes bugging out making them seem larger then they already are. "Oh! Hi. God, you scared me."
I shrugged "Sorry." Cheri shook her head.
"No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." she was keeping her eyes down. Cheri seemed to be determined to put the cap on that smoothie just right. "What?" I said
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." She twirled her dirty blond hair through her fingers.
I know I have a stupid grin on my face but I can’t help it. It always happens when I’m with her "I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here."
"Yeah. Three times a week."
"You like it?" I asked
"It's a job. Money's not bad."
"You look good."
She smiled shyly “Thanks."
"Is that weird to say?" I ran my hand through my newly buzzed hair nervously; I’m still getting use to it.
"No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?"
From Zoe MacDonald:
, "The Job"
I was sitting by myself alone on the dirty old park bench when I heard footsteps behind, which I promptly ignored, focusing on the glow my computer screen.
"Hi." The only sound beside the cars and the pigeons and the far away squeal of children playing on the playground.
"Oh!" I exclaimed, turning around and faking surprise. "Hi. God, you scared me."
Conner was standing behind me, looking down at me, or more likely, at my computer screen as he flipped his hair out of his eyes. He then nervously patted his hair and squinted as he tried to read - something I knew he couldn't do without his glasses, which he wasn't wearing.
"Sorry," he said and blushed. Things hadn't been the same since I had gotten The Job a couple weeks ago and he hadn't.
We had spent three years together, working as interns at that terrible newspaper. Then The Job came along and we both wanted it. I wanted it so badly me teeth literally hurt. He wanted it so badly, he'd stop at nothing to get it. All in vain, I suppose, because he wasn't the one sitting there with a brand new laptop, finishing up to meet the first deadline.
"No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." I said, hoping that he'd drop it, as I shut the laptop so he couldn't see what I was writing.
"What?" he asked and I groaned to myself. I just wanted him to leave me alone but I knew that wasn't happening anytime soon. Good thing the laptop was being put away.
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all," I lied. My mom usually brought me lunch around this time.
"I ran into Caitlin recently," he told me and I nodded - I could tell he was just trying to fill space, until he got the courage to talk about why he was really here. "She said you were working here," he said nervously, and I rolled my eyes to myself. Cait couldn't keep a secret if her life depended on it. Even when I told her not to tell anyone - Conner in particular - where I was working.
"Yeah," I said. Then I added on: "Three times a week." That was what the bosses would let me. They didn't really mind where I worked, but liked me being in the office at least two days a week.
"You like it?" he asked, kicking a pile of dirt with his boot. I could tell just how badly he still wanted the job.
"It's a job. Money's not bad," I hinted, mainly just to taunt him. I tried to seem nonchalant, like it wasn't that big of a deal. Remind him that I was better than he was - good enough to get the job that he wanted.
"You look good," he said with a sneering smile that I knew was being used just to mock me back. We both knew I looked terrible.
"Thanks," I said with a smile to bug him back.
"Is that weird to say?" he asked and I shook my head, still giving him my workplace smile.
"No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?"
He touched his hair nervously and I knew I had hit a nerve. Conner hated anyone talking about his hair.