Furious Fiction - October 2019

On the first Friday of every month, the AWC hosts Furious Fiction. Participants are given a set of criteria to follow with a strict word limit of 500 words or less. Below is my entry for October.

If my mum finds out I snuck out of the house I will be dead meat. Not only has glandular fever taken over my body physically, but it’s consuming me mentally too. It’s all starting to feel like a broken record and I need a distraction. I need a book. Something that is wordy enough to send me into another dimension. Something that will make me forget all about my swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches. When I walk into the store I see him. He’s handsome but doesn’t have that smug face that you want to punch. He’s packing the shelves as though his life depends on it – not a single book is left untouched. I take it he’s a wealthy boy, purely because even from a distance he smelt like expensive cologne. But the way he desperately makes his way around the store makes me think he’s a man in need – a man whose career could implode by simply doing one thing wrong. I look down at my hands and notice they’re shaking.

‘Coffee does that to me too,’ he says and I flinch, ‘sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just thought maybe you needed a hand with something.’

I place my keep cup in my backpack and remind myself that I came here for a book, not to play cupid. Though the more I tell myself not to think of him, the more I can’t stop. He’s even more beautiful from this close, his beige polo top tugging onto his pecs. I notice I am yet to respond. His manager is staring at us.

‘Hi, yes,’ I stutter, ‘I’m looking for a new release sci-fi, any recommendations?’

‘I can’t say I’m a sci-fi lover but let’s see what we can do.’

‘No no! By all means show me what you recommend!’ I say, in order to make conversation.

He walks over towards the YA section and shows me a hardcover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I can feel his manager glaring.

‘A YA guy, impressive…’ I say.

‘Don’t tell anyone, they’ll judge me,’ he blushes, quickly looks at his manager and then looks back down, ‘was there anything else I could assist you with?’ his tone instantly changes.

I don’t want the conversation to end but I can tell he’s nervous, his temples forming a sweat.

‘No, I guess that’s it.’

‘Perfect. I’ll place the book on the counter. It’ll be twelve dollars.’

I walk towards the counter, my peripheral vision focusing on the nameless sales assistant. The manager doesn’t blink. She doesn’t even smile. The boy shyly moves away and heads back to the shelf in the opposite direction of me. Why is he so nervous? What am I missing? There’s something going on that I just can’t figure out. I guess I’ll have to go back tomorrow to find out. My phone vibrates; shit, it’s mum.