Information

It’s two-thirty on a Sunday afternoon. I’m leaned way back in my chair, pulling my gum out of my mouth in a long ribbon and popping it back in. My supervisor would throw a fit, but no one’s around, so it doesn’t matter. I have afternoons because I hate getting up before eleven. I have Sundays, because no one has a pressing need for information on Sundays and I’m close to antisocial.

When the guy cuts through the lobby and stops at the map kiosk, I watch him for awhile. When he glances over his shoulder, the look he gives me is casual, not overly curious. No love for a girl as skinny and flat-chested as a boy.

After a minute though, he comes up to the desk. “Hey, is Macy around?”

Macy. The pretty one. Too blond to function. She wears bright rayon shirts and can never stop touching her bottom lip. I hate how she’s always getting her lipgloss everywhere.

But fiddling with your mouth is a kind of mating ritual, and guys like him like that kind of thing. I stop torturing my gum. His hair is shaggy, falling artfully over one eye. His smile is the kind that melts glaciers off of bigger glaciers.

“Macy’s only here on Thursdays,” I tell him.

When he leans his elbows on the information desk, the formica surface seems to shrink between us. I’m completely unimpressed by his orthodontically perfect teeth, but god help me, I want to kiss him anyway.

He smiles like the Texas sun. “I’ll come back on Thursday, then.”

But he doesn’t wait that long.

*****

On Monday, he comes over to me, carrying a black canvas book-bag and a little paper map.

“Can you help me?” he says, planting his elbows on the desk and spreading the map between us.

“That depends,” I say with a tiny, bashful smile. “Are you in the market for information?” and then berate myself when it comes out stupider than it sounded in my head.

He just hunches closer and smiles back. “Man, you’re way friendlier than that girl yesterday. What was up with her?”

I roll my eyes and hope it seems natural. “You mean Kelsey? Don’t take it personally. She’s not really a people person. What can I help you with?”

“Look, I thought I knew where I was going, but now I’m not so sure. Macy—you know Macy?—I need to get to the science block, and she told me how, but now I’m not finding it.”

We lean over his paper map, considering the corridors and classrooms. He smells like running water and forgetting. He smells like a birthday party where you get just the right present.

“You want C-wing hall,” I tell him, drawing out the path with my finger. “When you get to this corridor that runs past the gym, take your second left.”

“Hey,” he says, sounding so offhand that it makes me feel fat and close to invisible. “Thanks. What’s your name again?”

“Lesley,” I say, and don’t point out that there is no again, that he never knew it in the first place.

*****

On Tuesday, he shows up just after the late bell, looking wide-eyed and harassed. He starts down the C-wing hall, then doubles back. “Hey, can you tell me how to get to the science block? I thought I knew, but now everything seems turned around.”

I close my book, using my finger to mark my place, and take a minute to admire the way he looks so crushable and cool, even with his hair standing up a little, like he can’t stop raking his hands through it. “Yeah, it’s easy. Just cut through the commons, and then take a right down D-wing hall. It’ll be just past the library.”

“Are you sure? I swear the girl yesterday said to head towards the gym.”

“That was yesterday,” I tell him, wishing for Macy’s easy smile. For her blond curls and her flirtatious way of tilting her chin or messing with her pen. “You need to turn right at D-wing.”

“Wow.” He shakes his head, grinning sideways at me. “And that other girl, Macy, told me something completely different. Looks like I’m going to have to give her a talking to when I see her. Maybe sit her down for coffee and give her a hard time about, you know, misdirecting me.”

I raise my eyebrows, opening my book again. “You do that.”

“Thursday, right? That’s when she works next?”

“Yeah, she’ll be here.”

His smile is so warm it makes my heart race, and I can’t wait for Thursday.

Photo/prompt courtesty of karenkincy

31 thoughts on “Information

  1. I think this is just symptomatic of how I want to have a new hairstyle for every day of the week.

  2. That was…mind twisting, mind boggling, and absolutely fantastic. I love how as I read it I was trying to figure out how everything fit together and then at the end it just clicked into place. Brilliant.

  3. I was going through in my head other names your character could have- but did not guess Macy would end up being her also! Haha clever twist… in much awe now. Felt I definitely had to comment and say so 😀

  4. I want to read more of this, I want to know where this will lead. It’s interesting how you changed the personalities and names but with the same guy and the same format. Overall, a thumbs-up.

  5. wow. that was awesome. i thought it was going to be great just by the quirky details and descriptions and how i instantly fell in love with this character; but then, like wow, i didn’t get it until the last section and then everything just clicked into place and i was like dude, this is fantastic!

    As much as id love to read more i love that it is a short story – i can’t really envision how much more would work and have the same impact that it did have on me – but you know… if you do want to write more…

  6. hi its me anonymous again. its funny but it took someone else commenting on their MONDAY for me to realise that there is actually a time difference between AUSTRALIA…which is in fact another country…and AMERICA.

    and that is the reasoning behind me reading this on a tuesday (or i guess really late on a monday)

    Story was awesome dude

  7. The. Story. Was. Awesome. And. Really. Funny.

    Really.

    For one, that guy sounded really… I mean, he doesn’t recognize the same girl twice? But I don’t like this Macy. And I really like Lesley… Oh, and the guy… 🙂

  8. Oh, disturbing!!!
    *sings* “I’m everywoman, it’s all in meeeee…”
    She is having way too much fun with her multiple …whatevers.

  9. Oh, this was fun, especially that last line–the perfect little twist to end the story with! 🙂

  10. I think this guy knows something…. It’s the again and something in the end.

    I think I like this guy.

  11. Glad you liked it! (sometimes it’s hard to tell if something’s going to turn out clever, or just self-indulgent :D)

  12. It’s funny, I keep going back and forth on whether there’s more or not. Part of me thinks it’s over, but then I still want to know how the coffee date goes!

  13. Whew! I’m glad this turned out pretty much how it went in my head, because sometimes having a “clever” ending turns out to be not so clever.

    I was thinking about what if it was longer, because I want to know how it will be if they meet for coffee, just to satisfy my own curiosity 🙂

  14. Hahaha 😀

    I’m not ever sure what her multiples are–I think she could just be Information, and as the building changes, she does too (?)

  15. Thanks! It was actually really fun to write, so I’m glad that’s translating 🙂

  16. I love the photo, how the directions make sense–they do make sense–they’re just very, very convoluted 🙂

  17. I like the descriptions on each characters — it looks vivid and it sounded so mysterious. I apologized for asking this stupid question but isn’t it the guy already knew he’s talking to the same person and trying to find an excuse just to talk to her?

  18. Write it! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassseeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    I’ll love you forever! And faithfully read every short story you come out with! Even when I’m puking my guts out!

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