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Today's Story by St. John Campbell

Now she wondered, affectionately, “what’s wrong with you?”


How many times?  She shook her head and looked away, pretended she wasn’t here, took out her phone and acted like she was checking a very important email.  Joe was getting rejected, again, and it was too much to bear.   An unattractive man who tried so hard, she rooted for him like she rooted for the Cubs, while she wished he wouldn’t try to hard in public.  It was part of his charm, though, this willingness to be humiliated in front of people.  To make an awkward, stumbling move when he thought the time was right, and not second guess himself.  Although it wasn’t really guessing:  anyone else would have put all the pieces together by now.  Would have given up and just been lonely for a while.

Her phone chimed.  An email really had come in, but she was too busy pretending to read it to actually give it a look.  She glanced up, caught a quick look at Joe’s face as the words “not that way,” or some variation, came down again.  Oh, God.  The first time she’d seen it, the first five times, she’d been worried that he wouldn’t have the strength to try again later.  The next 10, she’d been amazed at his inner resolve.  Now she wondered, affectionately, “what’s wrong with you?”

He walked back from across the room, through the party, no one was staring openly, though getting shot down makes for great entertainment, and sat down next to her.  Acted like she really had been engrossed in her phone – maybe he really thought that.  Maybe she’d fooled him.  She quickly opened up the email, from Mike, and then looked up at him.  “Howsitgoing?” Casual.  Act cool.  What was it about losers that kept her hanging around?

“This is a good party,” said Joe, handing her a beer.  “I’m glad you invited me.”

“No problem.”


St. John Campbell is a pseudonym

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