Third Place Winner in the Fiction in Five contest sponsored by The Center for Writing Excellence. http://janiewrites.com/writing-contests/year-three-fiction-in-five-winners/august-2012-winners/
“Waiting for the River”
by Camas Rain
“I didn’t sleep at all last night.” She draped her foot over the side of her plastic lounge. Jenny enjoyed the warmth of the sand brushing her toes. “Hand me the spray bottle, please.”
Aurie handed the bottle to Jenny. “You never sleep. What was it this time?”
Jenny raised her sunglasses just long enough to mist her bronzed face. The rhythm of the small, breaking waves would have been relaxing; unfortunately, the occasional squeal of playing children reminded her that the first day of school was quickly approaching.
Jenny sipped her soda and sighed. “I don’t want to go back.”
Brushing her silky, black hair aside, Aurie picked up the spray bottle and misted her face as well. “Still worrying about Blaine? You’re making way too big of a deal about it.” Aurie had been working on a recipe to get them together for months.
Jenny shot a look at Aurie. “Are you kidding? It was horrible!”
Aurie stifled a giggle. “Come on, drama queen. It wasn’t that bad.”
“Ugh. Forget it.” Jenny cringed and flashed back to the debacle with Blaine at the end of the last school year.
Blaine was shooting a basket at the community center when Jenny first fell in love with him. The glistening sun on his chocolate skin and the graceful way he moved made her swoon. He was known around the area for his way with animals. She once watched from a distance as he gently pulled quill after quill from the jaw of a puppy who had brazenly confronted a porcupine. Jenny was amazed at how he sweetly whispered to the puppy, keeping it calm during the painful procedure. Even though they’d had almost identical schedules throughout high school, Jenny was unable to find the courage to approach him until late last year when Aurie finally pushed her to take action.
Jenny and Aurie were sitting at lunch one day when Aurie blurted out, “Jenny, you have to deal with this. You need to play the cards you have. You can’t keep waiting for the river.”
Setting her Milk Cow ice cream bar down, Jenny furrowed her brow and said, “What does that even mean?”
Aurie sighed. “You really need to play poker with me. It means that if you wait for fate to make things happen, you probably won’t win. You’re cute, you’re smart and you’re fun. That’s a great hand! But you need to place a bet now, or you’re going to get left out of the game. Why don’t you just write him a note?”
“Like a love note? That’s so cheesy.”
“Um, Jenny. You’re not capable of telling him in person – remember when that guy at the mall asked for your name? Talk about cheesy.” Aurie started giggling.
Jenny laughed. “I wish you would let that go. I wasn’t expecting him to talk to me. I choked.”
Aurie almost spit out her cola. Struggling to talk through her laughter, she said, “Hi…my name is Jennifer…Jenny…Jen…crap. You actually threw your head to the side and said ‘crap’ out loud!”
Both girls collapsed in giggles. “Ohhhhh,” Jenny breathed. “That was so embarrassing! I can’t talk to cute guys”
Aurie wiped the tears from her eyes and composed herself. “You’re too hard on yourself. Seriously, it wasn’t that bad. Why don’t you make him some brownies and write him a note. Ask if he’d like to see a movie with you sometime. That combination would be The Nuts. Oh, sorry. It would be an unbeatable hand.”
“I don’t know. I guess I could try.” Jenny looked across the cafeteria at Blaine. She didn’t want to regret not saying something, and she knew that if she waited, she’d spend her senior year of high school watching him take someone else to homecoming and prom. She couldn’t live with that.
“Okay, I’ll do it.”
Jenny and Aurie decided that she should give the note and brownies to Blaine on the last day of school; that way, if he rejected her, she would have the summer to get over it. Aurie came over that weekend to help Jenny bake. As Jenny assembled the ingredients, Aurie read over the recipe.
“It says you need to combine two cups of sugar, one cup of flour, a half-teaspoon of baking soda, and two packages of cocoa powder.”
Jenny turned and looked at Aurie. “Two packages or two packets?”
Aurie looked again at the recipe. “It says two packages.”
Shrugging, Jenny added the cocoa. “It seems like a lot, but I’m sure it will be fine, right?”
“Oh, totally. I got this recipe online.”
The girls finished baking and plating the brownies, and Jenny taped the note to the top of the cellophane. The next day, Jenny nervously carried the plate to school.
“Just go do it, Jenny.”
Jenny sighed and approached Blaine in the school cafeteria.
Sheepishly, Jenny offered the plate and said, “Hey, Blaine.”
She handed him the plate and said softly, “I made these for you. They’re brownies.”
“Thanks,” he said, unwrapping the plate and taking a bite.
Blaine’s face turned bright red. He inhaled and coughed. He spat chewed brownie and saliva all over the checkered floor.
“What did you…”
Mortified, Jenny turned on her heel and ran. She hadn’t tasted the brownies before she’d plated them.
“Hey!” Aurie interrupted Jenny’s painful memory. Suddenly, she was back at the beach, toes in the sand.
“Aurie, I can’t go back. I practically poisoned him.”
“I told you it wasn’t that bad. It was just a little too much cocoa powder. You should have seen his face when you ran. He looked like he felt ashamed for hurting your feelings.”
Just then, Blaine’s shadow fell across Jenny’s legs. “I was ashamed,” he said, handing a rose to Jenny. “Forgive me?”
Her recipe finally complete, Aurie set her sunglasses down. “I’m going for a swim,” she said as she smiled and walked away.