The following is part 1 of a short story I wrote recently. It was first published on ClutchMOV.com. Parts two and three will follow over the next two weeks. It's set during Christmas time, but it's not just a Christmas story. It's about a young man trying to work up the courage to open his heart to a girl he really likes. Chapter two of the story of Evan and Renee will be appearing on ClutchMOV and then here over the next couple of months.
The box seemed to weigh a ton in his pocket. He reached in to finger the bow, long battered into submission by being carried around in his coat since the first day after Thanksgiving break. He opened his pocket just enough to peek in. Her name was still legible, but only barely. By this time, he not only had the struggle of working up courage to give a gift to the girl of his dreams, but of explaining why it looked like he’d kicked it all the way to school before he gave it to her. Even if it were pristine, he was taking the gut-wrenching chance that she would reject him or, worse, accept it out of pity. He didn’t want to think about the absolute worst case scenario, in which she publicly humiliated him by laughing, along with all her friends, at the idea that she, a beauty with guys lining up to date her, would accept a gift from, let alone go steady with, a troll like him.
On his good days, which were (at least in his 8th grade mind) much rarer than average, he felt like he might not actually be a troll. He was a smart kid. He could act; he could sing; he made people laugh. And he was nice to everyone. But then, he always came back to the thought that those things didn’t exactly scream hunk. Chunk maybe, he thought, rubbing his round belly.
He looked at the clock. Two minutes until the end of class and the beginning of lunch. He realized he’d heard not a word of Mr. Beck’s lecture on erosion. It was their only class together that year, so he needed to give her the gift by the next day or suffer the sting of taking home her gift, ungiven and still wrapped. He couldn’t face the idea of it joining the present he’d gotten her the year before, but never managed to work up the courage to give her, under his bed, mingling with the dirty socks, old board games, and sports equipment.
“Hey Renee,” he said as she walked by after class, giggling with a couple of other girls. Well, the other girls were giggling. When she laughed, it was more like the flutter of angel wings. Her dark ponytail swung as she turned toward him.
“Hey Evan.” She smiled. He froze. Even in braces, her smile bewitched him. He had the box, which contained earrings with a tiny chip of her birthstone in each—his mother had helped him pick them out of the Avon catalog—in his sweaty hand, but his arm was immobilized, unresponsive. As was his mouth. No sounds came out, but at least it did open and close repeatedly, kind of like a goldfish.
“Going to lunch?” she asked as she and her friends swept by. She didn’t seem to have noticed his buffoonery.
“Yeah.” Well, at least that was a word. Sort of.
“Yeah.” No. Give it to her, you moron, he thought. But still his hand remained clenched, his arm unmoving.
“Well, maybe see you in the cafeteria?” She hesitated at the door.
She gave him a look he couldn’t decipher. Sympathy? Puzzlement? Nausea? He was betting on the last. “Okay. Well, bye.”
“You really need to give her that present.”
Will he give her the present? Tune in next week to find out--same Bat time, same Bat channel!