A Reply

Anne glanced at her phone, ambivalent.

A text hid the rest of her screen. A good text, to some. A bad one to others. A friend, maybe, or more, or less.

Want to meet for a drink? the text read.

Anne did and didn’t. He was nice, or had been to her at least. She new to the school, though, only just starting a month or so before. New to the country, having only arrived two weeks before school.

Anne didn’t have any problem with this. He was cute, he was interesting, and he was, as she kept thinking, nice. But her mother had warned her about the white boys, how they would do what they could to fool her, take they wanted and leave her sad and damaged, unmarriageable. That was Anne’s mother.

She stared at the text, and wondered what she should do. The longer she waited, she knew, the more awkward would be her response. Did she want this? She had chosen this place to try somewhere new, to be away from the old life. It was important to her. But important enough? Did this fit?

The more she thought about it, the more she thought about how it was only a drink. That could mean many things. Maybe it was just a friendly chat. Maybe he needed help with his paper. It would be impossible to know, until she found out.

Anne tapped the screen, bringing the phone back to wakefulness. She quickly typed in a Sure. Where and when?, then breathed out to relax herself.

She sat, waiting for the reply, excited and scared.

New Name

“Meghan Yoon?”

Meghan stepped forward. “Here, sir.”

“Okay, what name would you like this year?”

“Can I keep the same one?”

“No. You must change your name today. You know the rules, everyone changes their name once per year.”

“But why though?”

The clerk sighed. “One every year,” he muttered. “Because that’s how things have been done, and how they need to continue. Because the new Renaming Act of 2035 sets out how everyone must change their name, once per year, in order to ensure that no name becomes better than others. And because if you don’t, you’ll be fined and face possible prison time.”

“But I don’t think it’s a good law. It doesn’t help anyone. It just makes everyone confused about who they are, and I think might be a means of con – ”

“Ms. Yoon, you have five second to choose a new name, or I’ll call security and you can deal with it that way.”

“Okay, um, is Chantal Broady taken?”

“No, congratulations Chantal. Next please.”

Chantal left the office, still uncertain about this. The clerk flagged her file.

New Friends

Lucien picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Lucien.”

No one answered.

Curious, Lucien set the phone down, then looked at the call display. The number was there, so he pressed call back.

“Hello?”

“Hi, I just received a call from this number?” Lucien said.

“That’s odd. No one here called.”

“Huh. So you’re not looking for a Lucien?”

“Nope. But you sound nice, which is good.”

“Oh thanks,” Lucien said with a smile. “You sound quite friendly yourself!”

“Thank you! How are you today?”

“I’m fine. A bit sleepy, but you know how it can be.”

“I do. I didn’t sleep very well last night, I kept getting these odd phone calls.”

“Yeah, I had that the other night.”

“Weird.”

“Very. Anyway, I guess there was some misconnection or something, so sorry to bother.”

“No problem! Hey, what are you doing tonight?”

“Umm…nothing, why?” Lucien asked.

“Some friends and I are going out for a birthday dinner, want to join?”

“Oh, happy birthday! And, umm…sure?”

“Great, it’ll be at La Trattoria. Oh! My name is Jamie, by the way.”

“Well, I’ll see you at La Trattoria then, Jamie. What time?”

“8.”

“See you then.”

Lucien hung up, then wondered why he had agreed to that. Well, no matter, he thought. New friends are always of value.

Dreams on the Back Seat

There was trash strewn all over the floor of the passenger’s seat. Mostly bags from McDonald’s and such, though the occasional shriveled apple core and blackened banana peel. On the floor of the back seat, many blank canvases rested, gathering dust. His paint box was on the seat itself, along with a two half-finished paintings. He kept them there to show off, and with the idea that he could work on them anywhere, which really meant that he didn’t work on them at all. They hadn’t changed in the past year and a half, and he continues to get promoted at the revenue agency. He still tells people he’s an artist, and shows them the canvases, ghosts of a former self. The car itself is old and barely running, but it’s about to be replaced with a brand new vehicle, with power windows and locks, a sunroof, and an mp3 player. The canvases will move to the new car, where they’ll sit in the back seat for several more years.

New House

“Sweety, you’ll love this house I saw, trust me. It has the type of fence you wanted, it’s small but not too small, cute, with the trim and the porch, and it’s right on the water,” John said, following Anna as she walked toward their dining room.

“But I like our house. It’s perfect for us, we have everything we need, plus a room for a baby if we decide to have one. It’s out first house together, and we haven’t even been here a year!”

“This one I saw is very near a school if we want kids, and it has two extra rooms!”

“But it’s not our house, John. This is our house. It’s where we are, where we see ourselves now.” Anna picked up the newspaper, left on the table that morning, and shuffled the sections around for the sake of something to do rather than any desire to read it.

“Right, but this new one is where we see ourselves soon!”

“I just don’t want to move again.”

“I know you don’t, but if we get this one, it will be the last time for a long time, if ever!” John pleaded.

“That’s what you said about this one,” Anna ejaculated, throwing the paper down towards him.

“Honey, just come look with me, would you? And if you don’t love it, I’ll drop it?”

“Fine. But you’re buying me ice cream too.”

“Done,” he said, grinning and jogging to the door to get his keys.

“Oh, right now?” Anna called across the house.

“Yes, now!” he replied. She sighed, and followed him to the door.