Awkward Conversation

The Daily Prompt – Conversation


“You can do this. Talk and then everything else will fall into place,” Arthur muttered to himself. His voice held less conviction then the words he spoke. Arthur combed his fingers through his dark hair and pushed open the door.

The music blasted through him as he stepped inside the gym. He cleared his throat, the sound of which he couldn’t even hear, lifted his chin and walked with as much confidence as he possibly could toward the back of the room.

Arthur’s head swiveled from left to right as he scanned the crowd. The low light made it difficult to make out individual faces, that and the fact the sheer number of people overwhelmed him. He weaved his way through his peers, though he didn’t consider any of them as such. There were only a few he cared for and he hadn’t spotted a single one. Aware of the eyes that followed him for a moment, Arthur paid no attention. He was on a mission.

Arthur’s heart stalled for a second when his gaze landed on what he’d been searching for. His feet came to an abrupt halt. A sudden wave of heat crept up his neck, reddening his cheeks and making his ears burn. He swallowed. Go get her; he heard his older brother’s voice inside his head.

Arthur considered Owen an expert when it came to girls. After all Owen was the only boy Arthur knew to have kissed not just one but two girls. And with his thirteenth birthday being only a few months away, Arthur had some catching up to do.

His right foot stomped forward as though Owen had slapped him on the back and nudged him ahead. Arthur turned and looked behind him for a moment at the group of kids dancing. Satisfied that no one watched, Arthur pulled his shoulders back and took the few remaining steps towards the bleachers.

Jessica was beautiful. Soft blond curls framed her face and hung down to rest on her shoulders. Her hands smoothed over the skirt of her blue dress and came to rest in her lap. She hadn’t noticed him approach as she busied herself in conversation with her friend, Amy.

“Hi!” Arthur said in a voice loud enough to be heard over the music that suddenly dipped in volume the moment the word came out of his mouth.

Jessica and Amy turned away from each other and stared at Arthur. He sensed other eyes glaring at him too but as the volume increased and bodies returned to the rhythm, the sensation faded. A flash of light landed on Jessica’s face long enough for Arthur to notice the colour of her dress matched her eyes. Arthur gave a small wave and a half-smile. Amy leaned over and whispered something in Jessica’s ear before rising to her feet. She smiled at Arthur and walked away.

“Okay if I sit?” Arthur pointed to the empty spot beside Jessica.

Jessica shrugged and shifted over a little as Arthur sat down beside her. Arthur’s pulse raced. He stared at the crowd on the dance floor; his fingers tapped on his knees to the beat of the music. After several seconds passed, he took a deep breath and turned toward Jessica.

“So… come here often?” Arthur wanted to die, or at least disappear, or be abducted by aliens. Why couldn’t his brain and mouth coordinate just once? His brain knew how lame the line sounded the second it came to mind but his mouth uttered it anyway, completely oblivious to the ridiculousness of it all. All he wanted was to talk to Jessica, maybe even ask her to dance, but his mouth ruined everything. There would be no coming back from the awkward conversation that would undoubtedly follow, if there was any conversation at all. Jessica might get up and walk away. Arthur sighed; his shoulders slumped.

“Every day, except on weekends and holidays.” Jessica’s response came to Arthur’s ears. The hint of a nervous chuckle in her voice made Arthur relax.

He smiled. “Funny, I don’t recall seeing you around.”

The music changed to a much slower beat. “I love this song!” Jessica closed her eyes.

“Would…” Arthur hesitated. He took a deep breath and began again. “Would you like to dance?”

Jessica opened her eyes and bit her lower lip; she nodded.

Arthur rose and held out his hand. Jessica smiled and took it. As he led her to the dance floor, Arthur sensed the eyes on him once again. He smiled, they could stare all they like.

Arthur held Jessica the way Owen showed him and they swayed back and forth to the music. Way to go, he heard Owen’s voice in his head once again. Arthur shook his head a little. Sure he had the girl in his arms and now that the hard part was over, he wasn’t in any hurry for anything else. Suddenly, his first kiss wasn’t so important anymore. He could wait.

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