Friday, February 20, 2015

HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS, chapter two

Frisbee Guy

   Wh-what?I can barely speak, much less breathe. Thinking is out of the question entirely.

   He gestures at the keg with his empty cup. An
incoherent idiot―me―blocks his access to the tap.

   “Oh.I stumble, trying to get out of his way, spilling yet more beer on myself. Great, now Ive started my own wet T-shirt contest.

    “I heard Kevin invited you.He pours himself a refill. Hes my brother.” “Actually, he invited my roommate, Chrissy.

   “I know. Ive met her before.

   “Im not surprised. Shes always flirting with someone.After the words leave my lips, I wince in dismay. Oh crap. Did I really just say that out loud?

   Frisbee Guy smirks as I clear my throat in paralyzing embarrassment. 

   “Hopefully, just your brother now.I laugh awkwardly and struggle to say something more positive. Um, actually shes a good roommate.

   “So is my brother.Frisbee Guy pulls over a worn-looking wooden chair and sits down. Hey, do you want a chair, too?

   Im about to hyperventilate. Maybe I should sit down before I fall down. I nod, and he grabs a tall stool. When I move to sit down, my shoes stick to the brown carpet―how is that even possible?―and I half fall onto the seat.

   “Are you all right?He reaches out a hand to steady me.

   Oh my God. He just touched my arm. Now I can die happy. Wait a minute... Why is he sitting next to me? No. Stop it. Let’s not read too much into this. Hes probably just tired or wants close access to the keg.

   “By the way, my name’s Mike...Mike Carlson.He shifts his cup to his other hand in order to shake mine.
Hes touching me again.

   I force myself to take deep, calm breaths. Try not to panic. I’m Emma...Roberts.”
   Frisbee Guy glances at my feet. I like your shoes.

   “Seriously?Chrissy would call him crazy for saying that. “Uh...thanks.” “What year are you?The party music is so loud Mike has to lean closer. My ridiculous heart hammers. “Ahhh...sophomore,” I mumble, sounding like Im not sure what year I am.

   A large group of people across the room erupt in laughter, and Mike glances over at them. I sigh. Even though I probably have the highest GPA at this party, I sometimes have trouble forming complete sentences in front of attractive men.

   He turns back and smiles. So am I.

   As I attempt to focus on his blue-green eyes, my vision blurs and I get light-headed.

   “Whats your major?he asks.

   Its always the same old questions at these parties. Whats your name? Whats your major? This line of questioning seems like the fastest way to shove somebody into a little box under a certain category and then force them to stay there no matter how much theyd like to change. For once, Id like to talk about something real. Poetry. Plays. What somebody else thinks about the books Ive read. Anything but my constantly flip-flopping major.

   Dont tell him. Hell think youre a nerd. Im undecided,I lie. Actually, at the moment I have two majors―biology and math, but I don’t want to hear for the fiftieth time how everybody else hates calculus except for me. I love calculus. Numbers make sense. People dont.

   “Me too.Mike laughs. Hey, did you ever notice that nobody seems to know what theyre going to do after graduation?

   I nod. I think this is one of the great downfalls of the college experience. School isnt the real world, even though its the only world I know. And what does one actually do with a double math and science major? Except go on, of course. High school, college, grad school―it all just seems so endless. I remain silent, not wanting to bore Mike with all my lame ideas on the topic.

   “My brother Kevin is a senior this year. At least he knows what hes going to do with his life. He wants to be a police officer. My other four roommates have no idea.

   “Yeah, Chrissys wanted to be a grade school teacher ever since she first learned her multiplication tables, but I dont have a clue myself.My current reality is the constant, wearing stress of being in college with uncertain plans for the future.

   Mike surveys the room. Hes probably wishing hed chosen someone more interesting to talk to. I search my blank mind for something clever to say.

   “So six guys live here?Yes, Emma, that was sheer brilliance. What an inspiring conversationalist you are.


   That makes sense. It smells like six guys live here. Maybe more. I imagine piles of unwashed laundry and takeout food stuffed behind closet doors.

   “How old are you?Mike asks.

   “Nineteen.Suddenly, I feel too young.
   “In three weeks, Ill be twenty-one.

   “I thought you were a sophomore.

   “I didnt go to college right after high school. My mom got cancer. I stayed home to take care of her during chemo.

   Wow again. Mike is even nice to his mother. With horror, I realize my mouth is hanging open. Way to look like an idiot. Okay, now. Just breathe. And close your damn mouth.

   Mike continues to make small talk, and I struggle to answer him. I wonder if it shows. Even when I was a little girl, it was the same thing. Right in front of me, people would ask my beautiful mother if I was deaf or mute. She told them no, but secretly, she had me tested. I remember the beeping, the ear phones, and the technicians pretending to like me. While all the tests showed I was normal, their judging eyes indicated otherwise. I was labeled painfully shyas if it were some kind of disease...and maybe it was.

   It certainly isnt a blessing.

   During a lull in our primarily one-sided conversation, Kevin and Chrissy approach.

   “Hey, Mike, want to help me walk the girls back to Towers dorm?Kevin asks. Sure thing.Mike stands up and sets his cup down.

   “Sorry, ladies. The partys breaking up and the others are headed out to the bars,Kevin explains. But we Carlson boys have to call it an early night. Weve gotta go see Mom tomorrow.

   These guys seem really attached to their mother. Is this good or bad? I wonder.

   “Thats okay,Chrissy chirps. Wed love it if you walked us home.

   On the way to the dorms, I dont say much, but I dont have to. Kevin talks pretty much the entire time. Chrissy clings to his arm, giggling at every joke. Mike and I walk behind them. I make sure to keep my distance so Mike wont think Im hanging all over him.

   After they leave us by the elevator of our gray shoebox of a dorm, Chrissy shoots me a big grin. Those guys are hot!

   I hate this way of thinking. I want to believe that when Im interested in a guy, I care about more than just his appearance. Then I remember Mikes smile, and know my heart is a hypocrite.

   Chrissy spends the rest of the weekend pretending not to wait for Kevin to call. When the phone finally does ring, she pauses to seductively shake back her hair before answering.

   “Oh, it’s you, Angie...” Chrissy frowns. No, its fine. I was just hoping you were someone else... You bet I meant a guy. He’s super cute, and so funny...” Chrissy blabs on and on to her younger sister, in excessive detail.
I tune Chrissy out. I need to study.
   When she doesnt see Kevin at all on Monday, Chrissy acts like she doesnt care. On Tuesday, she gives in and drags me past his Accounting class, stopping short when we spot him laughing in the hallway with some other girl. We turn to make a hasty retreat.

   On Wednesday, Chrissy announces shes going to forget about Kevin. She never has any patience with boys who dont abide by her schedule. She even consents to study with me in the library. I have my first quiz in Zoology the next day.

   On the third floor of the library, we weave through the long tables in the open area near the windows.

   “Lets sit here,Chrissy says.

   “Why dont we sit back at the private desks?I ask. Its much quieter there.

   “Yes. Too quiet.She plops her backpack on the table.

    I sigh and do the same. I focus on my notes and try to ignore the other studentsloud complaints about how hard they are all studying.

    Chrissy stays busy, scanning every guy who walks by. An abrupt change in her breathing catches my attention.
I glance up. Kevin and Mike approach our table. My heart thuds, and I stifle the wide smile that threatens to take over my face.

   “Time for a study break. Do you want to join us?Kevin asks, focusing on Chrissy.

   My roommate stuffs her folders into her backpack in a nanosecond. She glares at me when she realizes Im not following her lead.

   “Sorry, I cant.I grimace. I havent finished reading my notes.Why do I have to have a test tomorrow? This sucks!

   Chrissys study breaks tend to last the rest of the night. No matter how wonderful Mike is, I have to finish studying if I want to ace my quiz tomorrow. Zoology is not a difficult class, but theres a lot to memorize.

   Chrissy snorts and flips her hair. Shell never come. Shes obsessed with her grades.

   “Im sorry.I peek at Mike.

   “Thats okay,he says with an adorable grin. Well catch you next time.
   His smile haunts me after they leave. Hes even cuter than I remembered. Plus he likes my shoes.

   Maybe Ive studied enough. Maybe I should take a break.

   By the time I change my mind, they are long gone. My concentration 
falters. Instead of highlighting and underlining my notes, I doodle in the margins. When the same page blurs in front of my eyes for over twenty minutes, I give up and go searching for them.

   They arent in the student union or the TV lounge. They arent getting ice cream or coffee. They arent anywhere to be found. I consider texting Chrissy, but don't. It would only annoy her that I changed my mind. I hike my stupid self back to my stupid, empty dorm room and brush my stupid teeth, then flop down on my stupid bed.

   Im still trying to fall asleep when Chrissy comes in about an hour later, humming a tune.

   “Emma, are you awake?

   “Unfortunately,I grumble.

   “Guess what?Chrissy squeals. Were going on a double date this weekend!
   “We are?I sit up, my heart racing.

   “Yeah... Well, when I said ‘we, I meant me and Angie, though. You knew that, right?


   “Well, Angies coming up this weekend. She’s my sister―I can’t just ditch her. Besides, you dont even like those guys. You didnt want to go to their party last weekend, and you wouldnt hang out with them tonight. I just figured you wouldnt want to go.

   “Oh...right.” I flop back on my bed, defeated.

   Angie doesnt even live here, and she still gets more dates than I do. 

Looking for more? Tomorrow I'll post the third chapter of How to Date Dead Guys on my blog.

If you can't wait, here are purchase links:
AmazonBarnes & NobleMagers & QuinnThe Local Store

published by Curiosity Quills.

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