This story is by Pen-Ship and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“How do I get a date?”
I continue to stare at my socks, my side eye sighting Kurt. His hair is cut and gelled in a way that makes him look like a pineapple, but I know that, in his words, he doesn’t give a fuck. A smile flashes on his face, as does his high cheekbones, as his eyes land on me again.
“Let’s make a bet: get a date tonight, you win a twenty. If you don’t, I win a twenty,” Kurt sticks out his hand. “Deal?”
I don’t move. Kurt shrugs. “You’re the one who asked.”
“Isn’t there another way to…you know.”
“Nope;” he springs up from his chair. “We’re betting whether you like it or not.”
Kurt reaches for my desk and pick up my wallet. He rummages through its contents and pulls out two ten pound notes.
I look up. “What the fuck!” If I could, I would force them out of his damn dirty hands, but Kurt has more muscle than me, and he knows it.
Kurt slips my notes into the pocket of his trousers. “Calm down, I’m sure you’ll get them back.” He winks at me.
I cross my arms. “I didn’t want a game, I wanted advice. Give me my money back.”
Kurt takes out my notes and then pinches them like clothes pegs.
“Don’t you dare.”
“Mate, in the five weeks since we’ve started I haven’t seen you anywhere. Use that above average mug of yours; come out of this damn dorm room; go to a bar; live a little.
“I was busy with homework and you know I hate bars.”
“I hated bars too, but now I’m a regular; you never know what you’ll like until you’ve tried it. Come on, it’s the normal thing to do.”
I don’t agree with his methods, but he has a point; I’ve always been told to take opportunities, which is why I’m busting my ass in university by the way, but that hasn’t changed my relationship status, and I’d hate to worsen my financial status. Fine! I’ll go to the bloody bar.
I reach out in resignation. Kurt clasps my hand; we shake on it. My face finally softens into a smile as I release my hand. “Forcing yourself here out of ‘friendliness’ and blackmailing me into a bet. You’re kind of a dick, you know that?”
Kurt grins. “It’s what I do best mate.”
The crisp winter breeze flows on my face as we face the door of the bar, sound seeping past its hinges. Kurt approaches that sound like a moth to a flame. I follow like a wombat, callous rump first.
I scan the territory: the bar is crammed with people, like a pack of small sardines wet with booze. This better be worth it.
“I would be your wingman, but this is a bet, so no help for you! I’ll be upstairs; later mate.”
I wave at him. Kurt chuckles to himself before wading through the crowd.
So much for my wingman. Maybe another time.
I consider my options: do I have to act like Kurt? I doubt I’d share common interests or perspectives with bar girls, so what do I say? Oh god—what do I say?
I look at the girls smiling, laughing, and embracing their time. I shrink towards my heart’s compulsive pulse to protect it from being ripped out.
No, calm down; imagine those girls as Kurt with tits. I put my hand over my mouth as I snigger at my own dumb brain.
Butterflies gnaw my stomach.
“So…my name is Sam.”
A girl twists on her barstool to face me with her shrewd eyes. She had a modest look: plain clothes and no makeup.
She makes no welcoming gesture.
I look at my shoes. “Okay, so this bar is pretty crowded; I hope…this doesn’t happen as much.”
“Sorry, I don’t date nervous wrecks.” She takes out her smartphone.
I walk away with tears inside.
Who to next? I have to keep going; I can’t stand around like an idiot; there’s money on the line.
I must move.
I spot a familiar face: Sasha from our biology course! I’ve barely talked to her, and she’s talking to her friends, but it’s way easier than talking to strangers.
Butterflies nibble my stomach.
All her friends observe me as Sasha turns. I like how Sasha sculpted her makeup perfectly onto her fair face.
“Hey Sam! Didn’t know you hung out at bars.”
Okay, you’ve got one, um, attractive female talking to you, don’t fuck this up.
Sasha giggles; her eyes glance at her friends, now in enrapt conversation, before they lock onto mine.
“You like my new haircut Sammy?” Sasha twirls her head so that her cheek joins her gaze while she strokes her bob hair.
Sasha giggles again as she slinks towards me, her hips swinging sinuously. She stops close enough that I can feel our tentative breathing in unison.
I gaze into her eyes, as she does mine, over the white noise of the bar for what feel like hours. Both of us refuse to make a move.
“Do you like what you see?” says Sasha.
I see a glint of sadness in her eyes before she looks down to hide it.
“Thank you, I needed that.” Sasha met my eyes again. “Can I ask you something?”
Sasha hugs me tight, and then takes a deep breath: “Will you be my boyfriend?”
There’s no doubt in my mind.
“What are you doing Sasha?”
Sasha let’s go of me to face the speaker. “What’s it to you Trisha?”
Trisha crosses her arms. “You were about to cheat on your boyfriend.”
“Can you really call him my boyfriend?”
Trisha glares at Sasha. “Connor loves you with every fibre of his being. I’d know; he’s my little brother!”
“You. Are. Wrong. If he loves me so much then why doesn’t he show it?”
Trisha’s face softens. “You think it’s easy to do that. But that’s beside the point; how are you making Sam feel?”
Sasha looks at me. “Please.”