18 December 2009

"Ablaze" #Fridayflash

Daniel met me for lunch, after we were assigned desks. His eyebrow shot up as he scanned the titles of my CDs. I plugged in my little stereo under my desk, stood, and dusted off my hands.

'What kind of music do you like?” He said, “I'm trying to get into this younger generation of music.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “You can't be a day over twenty-five.”

He chuckled gently. “Thank you for that,” he said and thumbed through the selection of music.

“Well if you're not twenty-five and happy with the compliment, I'd have to guess that you're older.”

“A bit yes,” he said and laughed again.

“Aussie or English?” I asked, curious.

“I'm more than peckish. You can ask me over sandwiches.”

There were others in the cafeteria, but no males aside from the two teen boys from Orientation. Daniel sat in his seat, radiating sunshine, and the women were drawn by it. I rolled my eyes and took a gaping bite out of my roast beef sandwich.

“Daniel, our team is having a meeting at ten,” one plump woman said as she waddled by. I watched her undress him with her piggish eyes. I sighed through my nose and she jerked her hawkish nose at me, narrowing her gaze to pinpoint lasers.

You're not on our team,” she growled and stalked off.

“That's right Claire, I was going to tell you, I was picked for the other Admin team.”

“Customer?” I mumbled around a full mouth. He nodded and laughed again. He laughed a lot.

“Ah,” I said with a shrug, “I think I'll prefer Client Admin anyway.”

He nodded quickly and folded his used plastic wrap into a square, to deposit it in the recycling bin. I watched this with interest. A man with manners. No wonder the women loved him.

I came to call his team of overly round, ugly, lonely women, his hens.

“Does that make me the cock?” he asked one afternoon as we stood outside the back doors. I smoked, he didn't. He stood there with his hands in his pockets and watched the teen boys walk around the narrow edge of the fountain, holding their arms out for balance.

“I remember being that young,” he said, and I studied him to determine just what was wrong with him. He had wild chestnut hair, those ice-blue eyes. Big hands. My artist's eye appreciated their astounding grace. His fingers were slender and exquisite, like a concert pianist's.

“So how old are you anyway?” I asked. It was abrupt of me but he merely shrugged.

“I'll be thirty-two in August,” he said, his eyes meeting mine. “And you?”

I snorted. “Just turned twenty-three. Looks like neither of us is exactly our age huh?”

We shared gentle laughter. I opened my purse and pulled out a square sleeve.

“Here, before I forget,” I said. I had to smuggle the damned thing out of the house to avoid Ed's questions. He always assumed that I was seeing someone, on top of his other nonsense.

“What's this?' Daniel asked, taking it from me and turning it over.

“You asked about recent music.”

“I asked you what you liked.”

“You asked both,” I said, scowling in exasperation. “I made you a disc.”

His eyebrows pulled together and he looked from the envelope to me. His face erupted in a brilliant smile. I was tempted to look away, it was that grateful.

“Yeah, you're welcome. But if you're wanting the kids' stuff, best to ask Tweedledee and Tweedledum,” I said jerking my head in the fountain's direction. One of the teens almost fell in, but got his pants leg wet. I could hear him cursing from where I stood.

“No, I believe I'll stick with your material first,” he said and shook his head at the explicit language filtering over to us through waves of evening breeze. The sun set in that moment, setting the sky ablaze in a kaleidescope of vibrant hues.

We stood there, marveling at the display in our own separate way, Daniel rubbing his chin, me just standing there slack-jawed. My boyfriend and I never did anything remotely as compatible. I smiled, in spite of myself. It was a small comfort, and I realized that Daniel and I had potential to be good friends.


Anonymous said...

This is a really interesting piece. I am most definitely intrigued by this Daniel fellow. Does that make me a hen? Lovely work, as always. :-)

David Masters said...

I wonder if Daniel and Claire become more than friends? Sounds like the beginning of the end for Claire and her boyfriend.

Great slice of life story.

Stina said...

Beautiful piece. Perfect amount of description, just enough to tease the brain into filling in the rest. Absolutely gorgeous sentiment.

Anonymous said...

This is good. Both Claire and Daniel have depth. The pace is lovely, it doesn't assault. And the gift of music - all the best relationships start with music! I like.

Tony Noland said...

This was nice. Sweet and charming, but rather intriguing as well.

Marisa Birns said...

Yes, this isn't horror but it's a rather wonderful story!

"Does that make me the cock?" LOL

I like Daniel and Claire's easy relationship. Well? Is he Aussie or English?

Really love the pacing, the tone, the tale!

Eric J. Krause said...

Very nice story. Her boyfriend better be a heck of a guy or it looks as if he may be looking for a new girlfriend soon.

Chadwick said...

Great story. I don't want them to get together, I want them to be close friends, no one seems to build friendships. Though there is that tension between them.

And as a 32 year old, I feel pretty lucky to not feel old or to be out of the cultural loops of the youth.

Weezel said...

It's a good story. The early dialogue seemed a bit strained to me, but once they began to interact with others, the pace picked up and carried me away with it. Nice slice of life piece!

Anonymous said...

Wow Carrie, you really captured the essence of Daniel beautifully. I felt myself wanting to kiss him. I hope you'll surprise us with a continuation of this relationship. Great work!

Laura Eno said...

Ed sounds like he needs to go.
Daniel is most intriguing, so count me as one of the hens. :)
You don't say much about the setting at all and yet it is enough for the mind pictures to grasp. Nice slice of life.

Carrie Clevenger said...

To all, thank you so much. Very nervous about showing this thing. It is part of a larger work, a romance (yes GAG, I know fine, fine) that I've written almost all of. It currently sits at 9k, and I don't know if I'll ever finish it, but I'll peruse the remainder of it and see if there are any more touching safe-for-work scenes. ^_^

You guys totally made my day.

~Tim said...

Very nice slice. I would enjoy hanging out with these people.

Anonymous said...

piggish eyes and hawkish nose.. love it!
Will make for an interesting piece of writing in its completed form... :)

Jodi MacArthur said...

A good demonstration how we can meet people and just 'click'. It's almost otherworldly. There is a tightrope of seduction and 'goodness' running through this piece. It's what creates tension.

I want to read more.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Ah - the beginning of a beautiful friendship... or the end of her relationship?
He is certainly an intriguing chap.
I look forward to reading more of this - there's nothing wrong with a bit of romance every once in a while ;-)

Robert St-John Smith said...

A nice feeling of depth to this piece,

Good stuff

Dana said...

Nicely written. I really got into the characters despite it being a flash piece.

Upon rereading, I realized how the MC's tone was more ambiguous than I first thought. When she describes Daniel sitting there radiating sunshine, I wondered if she wasn't being a little bit snarky. (The first time I read it she sounded sincere to me)


As an aside, I wonder why so many of us Friday Flashers decided to write pieces that were more chill this week?

shannon said...

Why does he laugh a lot? Is there something sinister there or is that just me projecting? :-) His character is intriguing, as well as their budding friendship. Enjoyed it lots.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Daniel just laughs a lot because he is that sunny disposition. You guys are marking him as a psycho, and that's so awesome.

No characters were harmed in the creation of this flash. Ha!

Unknown said...

You captured Daniel well, laughs and all. Could work as a nice start to a longer piece.

Crystal Posey said...

Hens. I laughed out loud on that one.

In my head, she leaves her boyfriend and her and Daniel live happily ever after. :D