Curve Ball, a shot story by Dawn DeBraal at Spillwords.com
Karolina Grabowska

Curve Ball

Curve Ball

written by: Dawn DeBraal

 

Angie made her way down the stairwell covered by a rickety roof outside the building. A good wind would take it away. Well-meaning but poorly executed. Late again. Why was it always her?
Didn’t she care? That was what Lauren would ask her when she got there. Always in charge of the best parties. Angie didn’t care about this, suspecting it was another flimsy disguised blind date. She was sure of it.
“Just a small intimate party tonight, only four of us.” Angie rumpled her face at Lauren. Would her sister ever stop trying to match her up with men who were not desirable to her? Why would she want to meet them? She’d told her sister this many times over, but Lauren said she wanted her sister to be as happy as she. Was Lauren really happy? Rick was always there; he had no life outside their marriage. It would drive Angie crazy to have a man underfoot like that.
He cared for their daughter, as her sister was the primary breadwinner, and Rick wanted to work from home. Well, good for him and her. Lauren wanted a career, and Rick didn’t.
Angie kicked through the snow, slowing down the nearer she got to her sister’s bungalow. That’s what they called in the real estate world a bungalow. The single-story house was cute but tiny.
Some idiot was shoveling snow toward her on the sidewalk. Why didn’t he throw it off to the side? You can’t keep moving down the sidewalk like a snowplow and expect to get it cleared.
The guy kept coming, and she had to step off the sidewalk to get around him. What an ass. She stepped back into the shovel-wide path he’d made and kept walking.
She knocked on the front door, and Lauren answered, a bottle of wine pushed into her sister’s hands.
“Hey! Thanks! You didn’t have to do that!”
“I did. I must leave my shoes out here on the porch. They’re covered in snow. I should have worn my boots.”
“I’ll get you my slippers. Come in.” After shaking it off on the porch, Lauren took her coat and hung it on the hall tree. She disappeared, returning with warm fuzzy slippers in her hand.
“Thanks, some jerk shoveling the sidewalk made me step into the deep snow. The guy was using his shovel like a plow.”
“He was a jerk. Come in. Let’s open the wine. It’s perfect.” Lauren grabbed three glasses and poured a bit into each glass.
“So where is he?”
“Who?”
“The guy you are going to pair me up with.” Angie looked around, searching for the nerd her sister would introduce her to, but no one else was there. She was almost disappointed that Lauren hadn’t found her another date.
“I don’t know what you mean, Angie.”
“You said the four of us.”
“Oh, you, me, Rick, and the baby!” Lauren laughed. “Is that why you were late?”
Angie rolled her eyes. Just when she thought she knew her sister, she’d thrown another curve ball.
There was a knock at the door. Lauren left to see who was at the front door.
“Come in!” Angie cringed, hearing her sister’s invite when she entered the kitchen, with the snow plow guy in tow.
“Angie, this is my neighbor, Ben. I’ve invited him to eat here tonight, he just shoveled our sidewalk, and since I had plenty to eat, I invited him.” Angie cleared her throat and glared at her sister, smelling a setup. But she stuck out her hand and shook Ben’s hand, the haphazard snow plower.
That was their first meeting. Conversation flowed around the dinner table, and Angie thought her sister might have stumbled onto something for the first time. Ben appeared to be a stand-up guy, even though he didn’t know how to shovel a sidewalk properly. And, he was a homeowner, so there was that.
She left early to get back to her apartment. The snow was still coming down, and it felt magical. Something changed inside Angie, she couldn’t put her finger on it, but it felt like hope or happiness. Ben had struck a chord in her, and she was still coming down from a first meeting where everything is perfect in a relationship. She hoped she’d see him again soon.
Rufus, her cat, was on the back of the recliner when she went to work and still there when she got home wanting his treats. Angie realized her cat was also stuck in a self-made rut.
It had been four days since their meeting, and Ben hadn’t called her. She could call him but didn’t want to come off as desperate. Why had Angie thought that? She wanted to see if he felt the same. Did he want her company? Maybe they could go to a movie, meet somewhere neutral. She pulled her cell out and pushed his number. They had exchanged numbers before the evening ended at Lauren’s.
She could feel her heart pounding after the first ring. Angie wanted to hang up, but it was too late. Her number would be in the missed calls. Why did she do this? Now she had to stick it out. And it looked like the call was going to voice mail, so she had to compose some witty remark.
“Hi Ben, it’s Angie. I was wondering if you might want to go to a movie sometime. If you do, give me a call. Bye.” She punched the phone to end the call. That wasn’t so bad. She came off as casual, interested, not desperate.
Ben still didn’t call, so she put him on the back burner. Ben wasn’t into her, so she needed to move on. Now she was ticked at her sister for introducing him to her. Lauren gave her hope, which was pulled out from under her in a week. This roller coaster of wanting to meet someone needed to end now. She was going to give up men for a while and concentrate on herself, her needs, and her desires.
She opened her laptop and started typing.
“Why Do Men Ignore Women?” The story flowed from her; she couldn’t type fast enough to get her thoughts into a story. This most recent experience with Ben instilled anger, for yet again, she’d put hope in someone liking her. Why did she care? She read through the fifteen hundred words that navigated through all the emotions, happy, glad, sad, and mad. The article made her laugh. It was good. So, she polished it and sent it off to an Ezine.
Rufus jumped into her lap. Feeding time, she obliged him. A typical man wants his needs met and nothing for her. She tried to pet him while he ate, but he had no time for her. She gave up.
Opening the refrigerator, she picked through the leftovers trying to decide what to eat, when her cell rang.
“Hello?”
“Hi Angie, it’s Ben,” her heart again. Could he hear it?
“Hi, Ben. What’s up?”
“Sorry I haven’t called, I was out of town, but I’m back now. Would you like to do a movie? Maybe some dinner too.” She twirled her finger in her hair.
“That sounds nice. When would you like to go?”
“How about tonight? I know it’s short notice, nothing fancy. What kind of movie do you like?”
“I’ll give any movie a chance. What did you have in mind?” When he mentioned a shoot -em up, she sighed but was willing to try it.
“Give me your address. I’ll pick you up. We can stop at a small Chinese restaurant. I hope you like Chinese?”
“Yes, I do.” She didn’t, but she would find something she liked. A half-hour later, she was standing on the stoop when Ben pulled up. He had a little sportscar. It was cute but didn’t seem safe in the snow. His car was warm inside.
“Hi,” he said awkwardly.
“Hi, I’m glad you called me back.”
“Called you back? When did you call me?”
“Last week.” Ben pulled the phone from his pocket. There was no call from Angie.
“I have the wrong number?” They checked she had two numbers reversed. They laughed breaking the ice.
“I hope I didn’t call a married man and invite him to a movie!” Angie giggled.
“Can you imagine the look on his face when he got that?” Angie changed the number and called him, just in case. When Ben’s phone rang, he picked it up.
“Hello?”
“You, dork!” She laughed at him. The date was going well. They talked through dinner. The Chinese food wasn’t bad and then stood outside the theater.
“We don’t have to go to this movie. It was something I was interested in.”
“No, I’d like to see what kind of movie interests you and try to get to know you better.”
“Next one is yours.” He’d said the next one, and she smiled.
“Wow, that movie was intense,” Angie said as they left the theater.
“Did you like it?”
“Like it? No, I thought it was sad, but it was entertaining. Thank you!” An awkward hug at the door, no kiss goodnight. She stood behind the door peeking through the window and watching him drive off, feeling like a schoolgirl. Something was special about Ben. She would like to see where this went.
The phone rang. Angie picked it up after seeing her sister’s name on the screen.
“Hi, Lauren. Dinner tomorrow? No, thanks. I don’t want you to set me up on blind dates anymore. I am going to have to say no. Ben? You said you invited Ben for dinner? In that case, I can come. Thanks, Lauren. I think this one could be a keeper. You are a wonderful big sister.”

Dawn DeBraal

Dawn DeBraal

NOV 2019 / NOV 2022 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, Red, two rescue dogs, and a stray cat. She has published over 550 drabbles, short stories, and poems in online ezines and anthologies, including Spillwords, Black Hare Press, Black Ink Fiction, Blood Song Books, Zimbel House Publishing, Terror House Magazine, CafeLit UK, Potato Soup Journal, Impspired Magazine, Commuter Lit, The World of Myth, Valiant Scribe, Wicked Shadow Press, Unsettling Reads, and many more. She co-wrote a novel under the pen name of Garrison McKnight, nominated for 2019 Pushcart Award by Falling Star Magazine, Mystery Category winner, 2021 SOOP contest, and runner-up in 2022 Horror Short Story Contest.
Dawn DeBraal

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