Fiction, Storytelling

When Nothing Came: A Vignette

He liked her handwriting very much but he had no idea why it now belonged among his possessions. But then that was the purpose of a gift — Is that what this is? She gave me a gift? Gifts came into a recipient’s possession by default, by nature; by a surprising natural default. Even the card which hosted the handwriting was simply decorated and well done, though he wasn’t sure he could mimic it.

She had invited him to talk to her because she was too nervous ‘to say “hi” in real life.’

He assumed she must prefer writing to talking but she talked to everyone else with perfect grace, finesse, and a smiling face. Everyone else was easy to talk to. Why not him?

In his shock, he nearly crumpled the well-handwritten, well-decorated card: he was shocked because he realized she must like him. Why else would she write to me? I’m bloody gorgeous. There’s no other reason.

He stuffed the note into his pants pocket — a worn pair of sweatpants that he only wore because everything else he owned at camp was smelly.

Resting his head on his pillow, he cursed her timing. He had intended to take a nap during rest hour but how could he rest now with the weight of her words collecting in his pocket? But the timing wasn’t her fault. It was just when the offices delivered mail to its counselors, and according to the date of the note she had expected him to receive it yesterday.

She must be anxious. She must be nervous. She must be in suspense. What am I supposed to say to her now?

He recollected their last interaction. The last word he remembered coming out of her mouth was ‘masturbating’. He smirked, then coughed in embarrassment (he also coughed because he was catching a sickness everyone called the ‘crud’).

She had said that word because the group of them were talking about the film ‘Her’. She was explaining a scene to the rest of the group who hadn’t seen the film and had expressed it so matter-of-factly that no one blinked an eye — a very child-friendly context, like she was used to teaching complex issues in a basic format. A child-friendly context, but he preferred it out of context. But other than that conversation he had no idea what she was really like; what else she might enjoy talking about; what made her laugh.

But then that was what her well-decorated, well-handwritten card invited: permission to get to know her.

Did he want to get to know her?

She’s pretty, yeah, sure. But certainly not Vogue-pretty. Am I into Vogue-pretty? I’ll have to think on that.

And why was he so interesting to her? Had he done anything interesting? No, they just talked, and it wasn’t even just the two of them talking — others had been in the ‘masturbating’ conversation.

He coughed again.

Do I want to get to know her?

He rolled onto his side and stared at the empty bed next to his.

What would he say to her? Should he write back instead of talk? But she also wrote in the note that if did not reply at all she would get over it: ‘I’m a big girl,’ she’d written.

But then, why the hell not? Why not just talk or write to her? What was there to—?

She might think I like her back!

VoV Logo- Flourish & Fountain Pen

People-watching was hardly a new hobby of his, but now he watched her with extra curiosity, careful to keep his eyes away from hers.

He learned by word-of-mouth and from watching her, that she was given a new position at camp- from girls’ camp counselor to office assistant. He heard people call it a promotion. He wondered if she thought it was a promotion, too. He wondered which position she preferred. (He shook his head to remind himself that that’s not the position he meant.) By just watching her, he couldn’t tell which she preferred especially because she maintained her bubbly demeanor.

One morning at breakfast she came in wearing a black pencil skirt.

He almost did the last word he remembered coming out of her mouth, but was then immediately disgusted by her impracticality. Who the hell brings a pencil skirt to a summer camp? Surely not even on your days off would that be appropriate. Too office-y.

He liked the way she sat and stood, and walked, and talked to people that weren’t him.

Perhaps he would keep it this way: watch her, let her be, and focus on his campers who were suddenly pouring cereal down each other’s shirts. If only she hadn’t looked over and admired his gentle touch around children. If she could just ignore him he wouldn’t feel so sheepish. He could be normal around her if it weren’t for her well-handwritten, well-decorated card that invited him to get to know her.

She’s religious… I wonder if she meant the biblical way of getting to know her.

“Why are you smiling?” one of his campers asked him.

“Because you’re adorable.” Am I allowed to say that? He hemmed, “Because I’m adorable. Yes! I am adorable. Don’t you know I’m adorable? What? How dare you disagree. Stop pouring cereal down Becca’s shirt. This is why I’m adorable and you’re not. Yes, yes, yeah. You’ll be adorable when you stop pouring cereal down Becca’s shirt. But don’t go pouring it down your own!”

VoV Logo- Flourish & Fountain Pen

Mr. Incredible’s suit broke the ice.

He was helping set up tables for lunch. So was she.

He was still laying out the plates, bowls, and utensils when she came around with the salad bowl, took one look at his outfit and grinned broadly. He caught her looking and snickered. Fuck yeah, he thought. He’d only worn it because it was red, the color of his bunk’s team, but she thought it so silly that after lunch she took time to ask him, “Where exactly did you get that?”

“Brought it from home.” All the way across the pond.

She joined him a little later at the staff lounge though she looked a little nervous about it. It took her a second try to ask, “Would you hate it if I joined you?”

“No, of course not. So, do you prefer administration or counseling?”

“I prefer being a counselor. How do you like being a counselor for little girls?”

But soon they sat silently across from each other. She with her notebook filled with well-handwritten, well-decorated words and designs; he with his phone.

Every now and then he glanced at her because she started humming, or flipped through pages he was curious to inspect had he the courage to ask.

She brushes her hand through her hair a lot. She bites her fingers a lot. She’s thinking.

She didn’t seem to want to look up at him, and when she did it was only to listen more closely to the music playing around them, the field to their left alive with relay races and cardboard mountains. She smiled a lot. He didn’t know if he’d like that.

He had intended to leave her be; to give nothing and, really, he gave nothing. Though he wasn’t so sure she’d given him anything either. Looking at the plethora of words she obviously kept on a daily basis she might not have intended to give anything at all. She’d only wanted ‘to say “hi” to him in real life.’ She only did so through a note because she wasn’t sure if he remembered her: ‘we only met for a moment.’ All because she enjoyed hearing his couch-surfing stories.

Now she could ‘say “hi” to him in real life.’ Mission accomplished. Because of Mr. Incredible’s suit. Maybe he wouldn’t leave it in drama’s prop closet.

“Do you know what time it is?” she asked, interrupting his assumptions.

“Ten past two.”

“Thaaank you,” and she resumed writing.

And then he had to go back to his bunk and campers, but not without saying, “I’ll see you in a moment.”

“You have fun.”

When Nothing Came Quote (1)


Justine Triunfo Author PhotoJustine Allread

My emotional outlet used to be dancing, but I switched it for writing…or at least for Microsoft Word. I collect used books, people-watch, and always need to shop with a friend because I’m an indecisive person who needs motivation to spend money. I’ve got a tumblr (5254jewels), an Insta (@franksmycousin), and a Twitter (@jehtriunfo) on which I post about mah nerd-life, adult-life, and the occasional political statement. Hollaback.


 

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