my stories · writing

Hidden Change (flash fic)

Currently reading Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It’s fun! I looooove that opening scene. Hope to review it next week if I can. In the meantime…

I originally wrote this for Women’s World magazine. Then, in trying to figure out how to submit, I realized it would be more trouble than it was worth.

Why am I telling you this? Because stories like this are what happens when you try to make a story fit a market. Just so you know, this is very different from my usual style. Not only are there no fantasy/paranormal/shapeshifting elements, this is positively fluffy compared to what I usually write.

Hidden Change

by Amy Keeley

The best thing about waiting in line for coffee was watching the barista, Josh, work his magic. Misty was amazed by the way he easily moved from machine to machine, with enough time in between for a smile. Not to mention he was handsome, with his dark brown hair and strong, broad shoulders. His green eyes sparkled when he saw her.

Today’s the day, she thought. I’ll ask him out. This won’t be like last Saturday, when I stared at him for a solid minute, then finally made it sound like I was thinking of ordering something else. She opened up her purse to collect her change for her coffee. It also wasn’t going to be like two weeks ago when she’d first decided to ask him out and couldn’t even look him in the eye.

The girl in front of her paid for her coffee, then walked away.

Josh said something to one of his co-workers and the co-worker, a not-as-cute-as-Josh young man now stood behind the counter, smiling at her. “What would you like?”

Josh, she almost said. “Um. What would you recommend?”

She watched her potential date disappear into the back and shook her head, realizing that the guy behind the counter was done. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Can you repeat that?”

Again, he listed the different coffees, their pros and their cons and his personal favorites, until Misty shook her head again. “I’m really sorry. Can I just have a latte?”

She dug through her purse, looking once more for the small envelope with the change she’d budgeted for this weekly treat. No way was she going to give up on something that was working on her debt.

You can charge it, you know,” the barista said.

I know. But I’ve been trying this new budget, where you only use cash,” she rifled underneath her wallet, “and I have an envelope here. That sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it?”

The barista behind the counter only smiled patiently.

I thought for sure I put it in here when I left this morning. All new systems have kinks that have to be worked out, you know? I guess this is one of them.” Misty heard someone get in line behind her and gave up. “Yeah, I guess I’ll just charge it.”

How much do you need?” Josh said.

She froze. There was spare change she could use, but that would mean– “Another forty cents.” Turning, she watched him flip open his wallet, and take out four dimes. “Thank you,” she said, her cheeks flushed from embarrassment.

You’ve been paying cash for a while now. I’d hate for you to break the habit.”

I’ll pay you back,” she said, paying for her coffee.

Forty cents is nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

Say it, just say it, she told herself. You can pay me back by having coffee with me. We could share a coffee. You could sit with me and I’ll consider that payback. Her panic at being suddenly in front of the guy she would love to get to know better made the words sound jumbled, no matter how she arranged them.

Well,” she said, “thank you. I really appreciate it.”

He shrugged and ordered plain black, paying with cash as well. “You seemed pretty happy about the progress you’d been making with your finances.” He shoved his hands in his jeans’ pockets as they moved to the side to wait.

Wait,” she said, watching another employee going on break get some coffee from behind the counter, “why did you stand in line?”

Oh, well, it’s just, I don’t like mixing business with, you know–” their coffees arrived. “Do you want to sit and talk for a minute?” he said.

Sure.”

Fifteen minutes later, she’d discovered that although his music career was doing well, he had a second interview lined up with a major keyboard manufacturer. “I hope you get the job.”

Thanks.” He didn’t look very excited. “What I was saying before…I decided to stand in line to get my coffee so I could ask you out, because if I get the job there, I’m not going to be around here at all anymore. But I almost didn’t because it sounds stalkerish.”

I don’t think so,” she said, and then told him about her many times trying to get up the courage to ask him out herself.

He smiled, and she felt warm all the way down to her toes. “Well then,” he said, “how about dinner tonight?”

Misty smiled, glad she hadn’t gotten all the kinks worked out of her new system.

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