Every week I’ll install parts of this California short story I wrote three years ago for a fiction class. It’s since been rediscovered and reread and revised and unrevised for what I ultimately wanted to accomplish in this small story of a summer in between college and the growth of a youth in love. Here is the first part of many for this story, and I hope you enjoy!
*If you would like to read the next part of the short story, stay tuned, or simply click above the BY YOUR SIDE page for the full story. P.K.
It wasn’t that terrible of a movie. Maybe it was because June hated action. She wanted the romcom, as silly as it had looked, but had the tickets not been sold out Noah would’ve endured it for her.
Even if the film was over, their first date hadn’t reached its own conclusion. The cinema on Shattuck was perfectly situated for June and Noah to aimlessly walk about the shops and possibly grab some drinks in one of the cafés or bars. But he had to keep it light. She kept complaining of dizziness for sitting too close to the big screen. If only their ailments could be switched—that she could have the strained neck so he’d be able to touch near her slender smooth back.
A block up the street they got Yogurtland. It was February. It took her by surprise. As they sat in plastic high chairs by the window front spooning up raspberries with the cold tart cream, she asked if it was customary in the Bay to go cold when it was cold.
“Well,” Noah started to answer, “I’ll tell you that it’s customary for Noah to go cold.”
“It’s fucking freezing out!” June squeaked. Her lips were stained a brighter red by the raspberry juice.
“I can do anything as a young careless man,” he said with a sly smile. “After being in cold and fog for pretty much my whole life, it just grows on you. Like lukewarm to me now, I guess.”
“Hmm.” She looked out onto the street. Frost was taking over the bottom of the wide glass, and she looked with sympathy to a small group of homeless men shut away under the lamp post on the corner of the block. One in a dull burgundy sweatshirt got up and was making their way to the window; June pressed her hand into Noah’s, despite how chilly it was. The poor man, tapping on the glass, lifted his tattered Raiders’ cap to smooth out the thinning but long hair underneath and zipped up the sweatshirt, mouthing to the couple if they had any change to spare. Noah looked at the man, shaking his head almost routinely. With June, her heart gave out. She smiled at the man and despite Noah’s plea to not stir, she briskly went out to give him a five dollar bill and patted his back. His face crinkled into a sheepish grin and he rejoined the lamp post gang.
Before Noah could say anything, she explained, “No one should have to stoop so low to ask.”
“I’m just used to turning my head,” was his reply. “I mean I try and give what I can but I can’t give to all. It’s just such a huge problem up here; something that I don’t think needs to be blown up like this. I mean, he could get a job.”
“In this economy I doubt anyone can. Even us! The future is always uncertain, dear.” He looked up from his yogurt to her. She sat prim and straight with her legs warm in their blue tights and taupe oxfords without laces, scooping up the last of her desert. Dear. She said it so casually, but beautifully.
He hadn’t spoken for a few seconds, but came back with, “I’ve got a few places lined up for opportunities. I mean, graphics is a big deal in such a technological-based society we’ve got going on here.”
“Society!” she remarked, rather dramatically. “I think advancement’s boring. Fucking dull, and expected. People always want to strive for the newest thing, but then you’re never going to enjoy what’s in front of you.”
It got Noah to think that night, after he’d walked her back to her Uncle’s apartment, that it was true for new things to always be in pursuit. Him, he wanted to stop now; this new thing had lingered in front of him for the entire evening, lingered long enough to understand what a nostalgic romantic sort of girl she was. He’d sure enjoyed that.