This week, Guest Prompt Diva, Brenna Lyons makes her second appearance on our stage with this gem: “Did you ever notice that the things people hate about you are the same things you hate about them?”
Prompt Diva Julie Hayes offered these alternate prompts:
Use these three items: White Castle, cyanide, evolution
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"
have a character use a foreign accent, one that isn't his own
or our special Thanksgiving prompts:
turkey, stuff, wing and pilgrim
immigrants, Led Zeppelin and thanks
I went with Brenna’s prompt, though it was trickier to work it in than I’d thought.
Ethan stared down at the fallen fries surrounding his feet. He sighed and bent to clean up. Students diverted around him like running water around a rock.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?”
“It looks like you’re going to be hungry.”
Brad set his tray on a nearby table then disappeared. Ethan finished cleaning up his lunch, grateful he wasn’t the kind to order gravy on his fries. That would be a real mess.
He could go back, but the line up was long. He dropped into a seat across from Brad’s abandoned lunch and stole a fry from his tray. Where the hell was Brad anyway? This was the only time of the day he was guaranteed to see Brad. He looked forward to it everyday.
“I got you something else. My treat.” Brad sat down and pushed a sandwich and a carton of juice towards Ethan.
“Thanks.” Ethan examined the sandwich.
“Relax, it’s cheese. I know you don’t eat meat.”
Ethan unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. It was his favorite, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and two kinds of cheese.
Across from him, Brad finished his chili. He groaned and pushed his fries towards Ethan. “Here, I can’t eat all this.”
“Thanks.” Ethan started in on the fries.
Brad was energetic and a talker. He was always in motion, even when sitting. As Ethan ate, Brad kept up a steady monologue about his morning’s classes, the student with the annoying pen-clicking habit who, somehow, always ended up sitting in front of him, and the topic of his English paper.
Ethan listened, enjoying Brad’s animated chatter. Brad was exactly his type. Fair-skinned with blond hair and hazel eyes, and—equally important—gay. He was an active member of the campus GLBT society, but as far as Ethan knew, he hadn’t dated anyone since they’d become friends. Ethan wondered why. Brad was attractive and a happy extrovert. Someone must have asked him out in the time they’d know each other.
He mulled it over. In September when they’d started hanging out, Brad had eaten burgers and pepperoni pizza for lunch. Today he was eating vegetarian chili. Ethan couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Brad eat anything with meat. Because of him? Maybe it was time to find out. He’d been working up to this for a while now.
Brad was talking about a play. “Robert wants all the committee members to attend, to show support.”
“Are you a vegetarian now?”
Brad blinked at him and his cheeks pinked up. He grabbed his watchband and twisted it from side to side. It was an unconscious habit. Ethan had seen him do it often, especially when he was restless or excited. “Maybe a little.”
Ethan snorted. “That’s like saying someone’s a little bit dead.” Damn. That had been a stupid thing to say.
Brad’s entire face went red. “I thought I’d give it a try.”
Ethan tried again. “Any particular reason?”
“Brad let go of his watch and shrugged. “Why not? It’s a healthy lifestyle unless you eat nothing but fries.”
“I like French fries.” Ethan ate a few more while he revised his strategy.
Brad deliberately changed the topic.
“I told Robert I don’t usually go to plays, or movies. I don’t like to sit still for that long. I get restless. It feels weird just sitting there, trying not to fidget. It’s hard for me, always has been. But he just nodded and smiled. He didn’t listen at all.”
Ethan saw his opening. “I can go with you.”
“It was so irritating. He never listens. He can be so—”
Ethan reached out and lightly touched Brad’s arm. “Brad.”
“Huh?” Brad inspected his forearm as if Ethan’s fingers had maybe, somehow marked him. “Did you just…”
Ethan rolled his eyes. “Did you ever notice that the things people hate about you are the same things you hate about them?”
Brad looked crushed. “Somebody hates me?”
Ethan groaned. “You’re as bad as your buddy, Robert. You don’t listen either.”
“I listen. You said…” Brad closed his mouth, frowning.
“I said I’d like to go with you.”
Brad bristled. “I’ll be fine. I’m restless not claustrophobic.”
Ethan made a show of looking heavenward as if asking for patience. “I meant as a date, not as a babysitter.”
“Oh.” Brad flushed. “Sorry. I didn’t think you meant it like…that.”
“I did.” Ethan smiled at him.
“Wow. I’d hoped…you and me…cool.” Brad twisted his watchband, back and forth, back and forth. He seemed pleased and a little flustered. It was cute.
“Maybe we could have dinner first. There’s this steakhouse—oh, that won’t work with you being vegetarian and all. I mean with us being vegetarian. Maybe a pasta place—”
“You can eat whatever you want.”
Brad looked at him doubtfully. “Are you sure?” He leaned forward and whispered, “What about kissing?”
Ethan held his gaze, admiring the delicate lashes and the hint of pink in those cheeks. “I’m looking forward to it.”
“Ethan,” Brad scolded. “You sure you won’t mind? I do like to eat meat.”
Ethan fought a grin. He really shouldn’t say anything.
“Ethan!” Brad tried to sound scandalized, but he was grinning. “What are you doing tonight?”
Ethan opened his mouth.
“Do not go there.”
“Okay.” Ethan drank his juice.
“Want to get together later?” Brad asked.
“Yeah. I’d like that.”
“Great.” Brad looked happy. He rose and picked up his tray. “I’ve got to go. Hey,” his eyes sparkled with humor, “I wonder if it’s true was they say about vegetarians.”
Brad leaned down. His breath brushed Ethan’s ear. “They say vegetarians taste great.” He straightened. “I can’t wait to find out.”
Ethan stared uncertainly at Brad. He was talking about kissing, right?
“Your expression is priceless.” Brad snickered. He hurried off, still grinning.
He was gone before Ethan could come up with a response. Seconds later his cell phone buzzed. Ethan laughed out loud as he read the text.
“See you later, Sweet Stuff.”
Dating Brad was going to be interesting. Oh, yeah, very interesting.
Don’t forget to check out this week fellow flashers: