Author: In.the.Wardrobe PM
. word of the day series One Shot. Ben delivered a gym membership to her house. Lucy, the I've-never-exercised-in-my-life girl, pretended to not be home. A match made in heaven?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Romance - Words: 3,508 - Reviews: 34 - Favs: 84 - Follows: 8 - Published: 01-05-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2617957
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
ok. i've decided i might do a series of one-shots based on random "word of the day" words from some websites. sometimes the word might not even match the story, but hey? whatever. i need to get back into writing somehow, so this is it. enjoy! most will be fluffy, romantic stories, but who knows what a word will inspire heh.
WORD of the DAY Series
lollygag: to spend time idly, aimlessly, or foolishly: dawdle.
A knock on the door startled Lucy. She stared down the hall, a spoonful of cereal hovering mid-way to her mouth. She was home alone, her mother and sister and brother all at work. School had finished for the day, leaving Lucy with naught to do but eat and watch television.
A Jehovah's witness?
Lucy stared down the hall, hearing strained, and her cereal getting soggier by the second. There was one last knock, a hard, impatient knock that made the hairs on her arms tingle, and Lucy bit her lip.
Should she answer?
But she didn't have to. There were no more knocks and there was a lightening to her chest that Lucy knew was relief. She didn't have to go to the door; she didn't have to feel guilty for being a careless Christian, or make unsure 'umms' and 'ahhs' about buying a new mobile phone, or even waste precious energy running from a murderer.
The door-knocker was gone and Lucy could go back to eating her cereal. Smiling smugly, she put the spoon in her mouth and chewed, idly looking around the kitchen at the silver appliances and dripping tap and the face at the window…
Half-chewed cereal and milk sprayed from her mouth and she threw the spoon, impulsively, at the window. It missed and hit the sink, making a clattering, ringing sound that had Lucy gritting her teeth together.
The boy gave an apologetic smile that was tinged with teasing. Lucy stared at him dumbly. Why was he at the window? Stalker? Spy?
Her heart gave a double-thump and she gulped.
There was a tapping at the glass and Lucy watched the boy as he pointed to the door and smiled kindly. The kind smile was ruined by his earlier sudden appearance at the window and Lucy was more inclined to call the police and get the hockey stick from under the stairs than let this boy in.
Now there was a knock at the kitchen door. The hazy image of the boy's head could be seen through the mottled glass. Lucy bit her lip. Another knock, and a voice said, "Just open the door. I have something for you."
Something for me? Lucy was intrigued. As long as this "something" wasn't a knife to be given in a thrusting motion to her stomach, Lucy wanted it. She crossed the room and had her hand on the handle before a thought crossed her mind and had the door opened before she could back out.
The boy's face was flushed red with the heat and his short brown hair was dampened at the edges with sweat. Lucy clutched the door with tight fingers. She stared at him in wait.
"It's about time," he joked. "I thought you'd have me stand out here all day."
Lucy frowned delicately, closing the door a little more.
The boy stared back, his eyebrows slowly rising. "OK. I guess you would have me stand out here all day. But first let me give you this." He stuffed a hand into the saddle bag he was wearing and brandished a piece of paper at her.
"Um," Lucy said, tilting her head to the side as she took it from him, "thanks?"
"It's a membership for the new gym that is opening up," the boy said proudly. "My family just moved here and we're the owners." He watched Lucy as she stared at the brochure with mounting confusion. "What do you think?"
"Um," she said again, before clearing her throat. "You knocked for five minutes on my front door without answer before coming around to the window to scare me half-to-death and then to knock on the other door scaring me all-the-way to death for…gym membership?"
The boy gave a light chuckle. "You look pretty alive to me."
Lucy frowned. "How did you know someone was home?"
"There were shoes outside the door," he said, and seeing the disbelief on her face, he ended with, "Plus, I heard the T.V going."
There was a pause before Lucy said, "You must really like the gym."
The boy flexed his arms with a grin. "Or the gym really likes me."
Lucy gave him a strange look. His cheeks reddened a little more. He cleared his throat slightly, turning his head away. "So…you gonna check the gym out?"
"Do I look like a gym person?" Lucy said, wrinkling her nose. The boy took that as an invitation to peruse her body; from her freckled nose and frizzy blonde hair to her lanky arms and legs and bare feet and glittered nails.
He shrugged. "Maybe."
Lucy was feeling a little hot and she knew she must be blushing. She backed a little inside and waved the brochure in the air, giving him a half-shrug and half-smile. "I don't know if I will."
The boy grinned and nodded and stepped away. "OK. I'll keep an eye out for you."
Not sure if that was his way of saying he'll be looking through her kitchen window again, Lucy closed the door.
Her cereal had turned to slush. She tipped it down the sink and rinsed the bowl before filling it once again with Rice Bubbles. Sitting at the table, she played with the spoon as she stared out the window, feeling oddly at ease.
It was the next week and Lucy was walking home from school. It was a hot, sticky day and her bare feet were stinging as they touched the burning cement. Her sneakers and socks hung from her hands as she squinted through her fringe at the sun.
Sixteen was a slow age. All there was to do was eat and sleep and go to school, multiply by three-hundred and sixty-five and there was the entire year. Lucy was slow to walk home, slow to think in the immense heat and slow to realise there was a boy peering in the kitchen window of her house.
She stopped on the footpath and stared at him with a strange mix of shock and nervousness. He had his hands cupped over his eyes and his face practically pressed to the glass.
No one was home, Lucy knew. Usually she would be but today she had decided to walk back from school, and that always took longer. Carefully, Lucy walked across the road, wincing when the tar was so hot it took her breath away. She stood on her front lawn, watching the boy watch her house until he turned.
His eyes were as wide as apples. "Oh," he said, and his cheeks ignited. "I, ah, thought you were inside."
"My shoes aren't out the front," she said, "and the T.V isn't on."
He walked slowly towards her, sheepish with his red hands. "I thought you were tricking me into thinking you weren't there."
Lucy frowned. "I'm not that sinister. Or immature."
"Says the girl with bare feet," quipped the boy with a growing smile.
"I don't like shoes," was her short answer.
"Who doesn't like shoes?" said the boy, frowning.
He looked at her whilst scratching his head. "Yeah, OK then."
Lucy walked to the house, asking, "What have you got for me today? Membership to the bowls club? Tickets to the monster trucks?"
The boy was frowning. "No, another gym membership. I thought you might have, um, lost the other one."
"Nope," said Lucy. "I threw it out."
"You don't hide the truth, do you?" said the boy.
Lucy shrugged. "I don't see the point. And why another gym membership?"
"What? You want tickets to the monster trucks?"
Lucy smiled at the door as she said, "They wouldn't be turned down."
The boy was silent as she dropped her shoes to the ground and shoved her bag under the stairs inside. He stood at the bottom of the steps, fiddling with the pamphlet. Feeling sweaty and impatient, Lucy jumped down the steps and snatched the brochure from him. His surprise was instant.
"I won't throw this one out," she said with rolling eyes. She turned and climbed back up the steps. "But I can't promise it will be put to good use."
"I can always drop another one off next week!" he called up to her. She turned around and stared at him with wide-eyes. "In case, you know, you need it." His smile was cute and dimpled and it made her stomach wiggle pleasantly.
Lucy couldn't find the right words, so she said weakly, "It's a date."
There was a slight pause, filled with the creaking of insects in the trees and the crick-crick of a sprinkler as it swirled over a lawn. "OK." He grinned. "I'll be back."
As he walked away, Lucy was filled with a growing impulse and she had to release it with: "Hey, what's your name?"
Without turning, he said, "Ben."
"I'm Lucy," she called, and he waved his hand at her over his head and she heard his laugh as it broke through the slowness of the day.
"Lucy, why do we have three gym memberships?
Lucy had to stay back at the school the following week, and when she got home she discovered the third brochure under the front door. With a small smile and a small shrug, she said, "I don't know, Mum."
Her mother frowned and sighed. "Well, I don't either. Who has time these days to go to the gym? I sure as heck don't!"
Unbeknownst to her mother, Lucy was secretly planning on filling a membership form out. She had never been to a gym before, and she had never voluntarily exercised in her life either. Phys Ed at school didn't count, because that was hockey and running and soccer, fun things to do. But gym was just weight lifting and getting sweaty on immobile running machines and feeling self-conscious with all the uber-fit people prancing around.
But Lucy was still filling the form out, not because she was going to hand it in, but just to show Ben next time he came, to let him know she was actually thinking about the gym—him—and was considering it—him.
The slow days were now filled with fast belly butterflies as she dawdled down the street and ate cereal and watched the television with a pillow and a bottle of raspberry cordial.
"What are you smiling at, young lady?" her mother snapped as she washed dishes. "You've got all the time in the world, don't you? Well why don't you put some of that time to use? I've got vacuuming and cleaning and washing…"
Lucy started another slow day, but the fast butterflies got her through.
It was raining the next week. Sheets of water fell from the sky and hit the glass and made the trees bend like they were in pain. Lucy sat at the window, staring at the black road and chaotic grey sky. The house was empty and silent. The T.V was off for once. The only sounds were those of the rain hitting the windows and roof and splashing onto the path outside.
There was a certain nervousness that tumbled in her stomach, placing her on edge. This kind of weather usually made Lucy feel calm and collected. But not today, not this Tuesday afternoon. Ben hadn't dropped in the day before like he had been for the last few weeks, so she was concerned. And confused.
She wasn't confused as to why she was concerned. Lucy knew she liked Ben. She liked his short brown curly hair and his chocolate eyes that crinkled when he smiled. She liked his teasing sense of humour and the way he blushed and made her blush.
She was confused as to why he hadn't made a move yet. That's what boys did, wasn't it? They made the first move, the first joking comment that wasn't really a joke, the first casual touch that wasn't so casual, the first locking of the eyes and he doesn't look away.
Lucy wanted Ben to do that. She wanted him to be the one to confess his like for her, to take her hand, to touch her face and push hair behind her ear. She had never had it before and she wanted it, now, from Ben the Gym Boy.
There was a sudden clap of thunder that made Lucy jump from her seat. The second clap made her jump just as far until she realised it was someone at the door and she started to feel silly. The knocking continued insistently, like it was urgent. Lucy walked towards the door, biting her lip, hesitating.
As she was reaching for the handle, the door burst open. Lucy was sprayed with water as Ben rushed in and she gasped as he bumped into her, sending her tumbling back. She regained her footing quickly, before she could fall into the stairs. Ben shook his head like a hound, sending drops of water everywhere.
"God, I'm so sorry," he said quickly, mopping water off his face with his hands. "I thought you were going to ignore me again, and I knew you were here because I saw you at the window and—"
"I'll get you a towel," said Lucy, hurrying off down the hall. The butterflies were so strong in her belly she couldn't speak properly. Seeing him so suddenly had her breath escaping; all damp curls, shiny eyes and apologetic, dimpled smile. Her hands were trembling as she grabbed a towel and headed back to the front door. Ben was standing barefooted in a small puddle. He accepted the towel with a grin.
"Sorry for barging in, Luce," he said, his voice muffled as he dried his hair and face. "But the rain was freezing! And I was already soaked from running here—"
"You ran here?"
Ben paused, glancing at Lucy before shrugging and busying himself drying his feet. "Well, yeah. It was raining, remember?"
"But, you ran…here."
"Um…" Ben looked unsure as he fiddled with the towel. "I said I was coming, didn't I? I wasn't just…joking, or anything."
The moment was poised with some tense emotion, with Ben's damp face turned towards Lucy's, and Lucy's heart hammering wildly in her chest. She felt compelled to do something, to either break this spell or embrace it. What she did was: "I'm getting a drink, do you want a drink? Lemonade or Coke?"
Ben stared at her dumbly for a few seconds, and finally he blinked and nodded. "Um," Coke," he said, dropping the towel to the floor to mop up the puddled water. "Thanks."
They sat at the kitchen counter in an odd silence, sipping their drinks and making brief eye contact that had them both looking quickly away. The rain continued to fall. They watched it hit the glass window with increasing intensity, and Ben started to frown.
"I might not be able to go home for a while…"
"That's OK," Lucy was quick to say. At Ben's look, she hurriedly said, "I mean, um, your parents won't worry?"
"I'll send them an SMS," he said, pulling his phone out. As he fiddled with the buttons, Lucy looked back out the window, fingers tightening around her glass of lemonade. She almost jumped when Ben said, "Maybe you should give me your number."
She stared at him.
"Um, so I can call next time to see if you're going to be home," he finished, cheeks reddening. He gave a casual shrug. "Just in case, you know?"
"Of, of course," Lucy said with a strange echo in her voice. She gave him her number with a robotic edge to her words and told him to call her and hang up, so she had his number too.
"Cool," Ben said when numbers had been exchanged. His eyes were brighter than before and they had Lucy's stomach twisting with the butterfly's plight. "So…what do you want to do now?"
They sat on the couch, watching some silly afternoon program as the rain continued to fall. Lucy couldn't help shifting every few minutes, all too aware that Ben sat just a few feet away, one of his hands sitting on the cushion beside him, almost beckoning. She bit her lip, gnawing at it, caught in a thin web of indecision and uncertainty. She didn't have the guts to make the first move, she knew that much. So why wasn't Ben doing something?
What if he didn't like her?
That thought had her heart squeezing terribly. Lucy had never had the chance to be rejected before, but she knew it would be a horrible feeling. She didn't want that, not at all. But if not that, then what?
"Hey," said Ben suddenly, "the rain has stopped."
Lucy stopped thinking such horrible thoughts to listen to the outside world. Ben was right. There was no rain hitting the roof. In fact, some sunlight was streaking through the windows. "So it has," said Lucy philosophically.
"Maybe I should go," Ben said, giving her a sideways look.
Lucy nodded. "Maybe you should."
There was a passing look on his face, a certain downward tilt to the mouth, a shuttering of the eyes. Then it was gone and Ben was standing. "OK. My parents are probably worrying, anyway."
Lucy stood and walked him to the door. She was warring with herself to do something, to act, to—
Her time came when Ben stepped in some of the puddled water of earlier and his bare foot slipped. Acting impulsively, Lucy leapt forward and grabbed his hand. He swung around, pulling her with him. They stopped before they could hit the wall, but it made them close, so close Lucy could see the flecks of gold in Ben's eyes and the few faint freckles on his nose. His hand was cold in hers, his fingers strongly wrapped around hers. Her heart was hammering wildly, and she was sure Ben would be able to hear it.
The moment was poised, teetering on some unseen edge, and Lucy broke it by saying in a small voice, "What did you have for me today?"
Ben's answer was slow to come. "Oh, I had something different today." He let go of her hand, making Lucy frown, but his hand was soon back, pressing a bit of damp paper into her palm. Lucy looked down and her confusion welled up in waves. "You said you wanted them, so…"
"You got me…monster truck tickets?"
Ben's cheeks were pinker than ever. He half-stepped backwards and Lucy unconsciously followed. His eyes widened. "You, you said you wanted them. So, I, um, got them yesterday… For you. I got one, too, so we could, um, go together…"
Lucy looked up at him, speechless for once, the butterflies slowing in her belly to tender flutters. She bit her lip and Ben's gaze dropped to her mouth. Lucy couldn't move, lest she broke the magic of the moment. It seemed time was slowing, dawdling just for them. Ben's fingers slid around hers, tightening and loosening, and he carefully stepped back.
"Um, I'd better go," he said in a quiet voice. Lucy opened her mouth to object but before she could speak, Ben had leant in and brushed his lips, awfully slowly, across her cheek. When he stepped back, he was blushing but was smiling a dimpled smile. "I'll be back next week," he promised.
Lucy clutched her ticket and watched him open the door. The world was wet and shining and brighter than it had ever been. She went out after him, watching him walk down the steps and start down the path. When he was at the road, Lucy called out, "I'll be here!"
Ben's smile was quick. "You're not going to pretend you're not?"
Lucy shook her head and grinned. "Even if I did, you'd know."
He waved and walked away, and Lucy's day couldn't get any faster.