Hello, friends! I’m trying something new for content here on Weaponized Language. I’m going to be writing very short stories based on prompts that I find (or sometimes make up for myself). They’ll hopefully be getting posted at least once per week.
This first story is thematically appropriate for the first post in this project. The source for the prompt is my own dang brain! Story is after the break; leave me comments below!
Prompt: Two people meet for the first time (500-1500 words)
“Hi, sorry, excuse me… is this seat taken?” He looks up from his phone at the owner of the voice who has just spoken. An odd person stands before him, all gray wool and marbled plastic. It’s a young man, dressed like an eager new fashion designer’s idea of a strict college professor on loan from someplace in Europe. The young man has a worried, anxious look on his face, and his posture is stiff and awkward. The man at the table gestures towards the seat across the table. The young man excitedly sets his coffee down as the table’s current occupant slowly take a sip from his own cup. His eyes stay on the young man as the cup reaches bearded lips, tilts, empties a mouthful of coffee, untilts, parts from the lips.
The younger man has gotten his shoulder bag fully off from his shoulder by the time the bearded man sets his coffee back onto the table between them. It’s the nice sort of bag that is meant to convey a certain status to onlookers, though the young man’s demeanor seems to indicate that perhaps he simply prefers this type of bag, for its function and its aesthetics rather than for its social power. The young man carefully draws a computer from the bag, one of those kinds that can also be used as a touchscreen. He sets the kickstand out and draws the stylus from another pocket in the bag. Rather than getting right to his work, the young man sets the pen down next to the computer and extends the same hand.
“Hi, I’m Derrick.”
The older man takes his hand firmly but not eagerly, reaching over his own computer with the slight strain of middle age.
“Thank you for letting me sit here, Frank. This place is packed!”
“No worries.” But then Frank’s curiosity got the better of him and he continued speaking. “What’re you working on?”
“Oh, I’m a cartoonist.” The young man told Frank the name of his website, but Frank had not heard of it. Frank drew it up on his browser without saying anything else as Derrick put stylus to his own screen. The cartoons on Derrick’s website were funny, even to someone Frank’s age. It probably helped that Frank worked as a journalist and therefore had to keep at least as current on news and culture as a typical young person would be naturally inclined to do.
“You get a lot of traffic on these strips?” About fifteen minutes had passed, and Frank had read back through a year’s worth of comics. They were very good. Smart, topical.
“Uh… Not really… I mean, I don’t update it as often as I like. I just don’t have the time, between a day job and taking classes at night…” Derrick looked a bit distracted. Frank decided to leave him to his work.
Frank opened a new text document on his computer and started typing a draft of an email. He’d decided that Derrick’s comics would be a fine addition to his newspaper’s online presence, so it was time to tell his easily-manipulated editor as much. The editor was younger than Frank, and good at her job, but Frank had been at the paper since before she’d been born, so he had some pull, to put it lightly.
Frank sent the email, finished his coffee, then closed his computer and slid his business card across the table to Derrick, who didn’t notice right away. Hard-working kid, Frank thought.
“My personal email and phone number are written on the back there. Shoot me a message and we’ll talk about getting you published.”
“Wh-what? What do you mean?” Derrick looked totally confused and a little freaked out. Frank realized his own way without words had gotten in the way again. He explained to Derrick about the newspaper and the website and the emailed editor.
The two shook hands. Frank left. Derrick went back to work. Each wore a different sort of smile.