Short Story: “The Right Thing”

This is a short story I wrote for an internship a few summers back. The chapters were spliced in between short tweets that also helped the story progress, but I haven’t included them because I like this flow better / I’m still trying to figure out what to do with this story (expanding, turning into a feature script?) so bear with me… Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1

“I blame technology. Too much data, too many stalking opportunities.”

“So you admit it? You stalked Jane before you guys met?”

“What? No. No. Don’t be ridiculous. As a research analyst I have to research things. It’d be a little awkward if I didn’t do my work thoroughly. When my boss told me to gather whatever I could on our audience, I did. Jane just happened to be one of the people who I did a substantial amount of research on.”

Amy, who is Jane’s successful, gorgeous roommate sits speechless. She crosses her slender black legs as she starts to crack her knuckles. The level of awkwardness in the room increases by the second. He, Doug, sits back in the chair while exhaling deeply. He ruffles his brown hair and begins to walk around the room, unsure of what to say next. He looks around and hopes his feet will make up for the moving his mouth isn’t doing. Then he sees it. On a quaint table next to a window draped with burgundy curtains is a picture of Amy and Jane; the still captures the two holding up moving boxes with grins on both of their faces. He slowly moves towards it. His fingers slide on the table as he gingerly lifts it from its dusty surface. A sigh of relief as the warm expression on Jane’s face captivates him– to him she is beautiful. She’s a plump brunette with tan skin, a radiant smile, and a large round nose. He inhales the captured moment for a few more seconds, lightly grazing his thumb over Jane’s face.

“This was the first picture I saw of her.” He turns back to look at Amy as he makes his way back to the chair.

“It was her profile picture at the time. I didn’t care for it, I was hooking up with a different girl every night. But Jane’s words on her page stirred something within me . There was something about her; that boldness she has; that nutty morality that you hate her for, but that you can’t help, but get lost in. She’s not afraid to yell at you or to challenge you or to force you to do the right thing. It pissed me off when I first met her, but I see why she does it…”

“Doug why are you telling me all of this?”

“Because.” He pauses, “Because it’s the right thing to do. I have to tell you how it started. I would tell her, but I’m scared. What I did was weird. I would read her posts on the Internet & I would just imagine her going through these things she would post…”

Chapter 2

Doug’s office is a bleak cubicle. White-washed walls surround him. He leans back in his chair as he looks over Jane’s Facebook profile.

What does she mean she “sold her soul to the devil”? I don’t get it. She seems like a pretty good person. Maybe she just thinks she sold her soul? I know I might sound like I’m losing it now, but I’m not. Totally calm, cool, and collected. Just been researching that Jane girl a little more. She likes our page at “Move it to Lose it,” and she’s purchased a lot of our crap… So yeah I’m taking an interest and learning more about her. It’s not my fault she documents just about every moment of her life on some sort of social media site.

********************************************************************************************

His thoughts are interrupted by ringing. He looks up from his computer and stares at phone. His hand hovers over it, but he can’t bring himself to picking it up. He has made up his mind. He pulls his hand away and sits back then forward. He impatiently shakes his leg as he waits for the to machine come on.

“Hey, you’ve reached Doug. You know what to do.”

“Hey Doug, it’s Catherine. I just wanted to call to ask if you wanted to go see that show with me tomorrow night.” She pauses for a moment. “I just really miss you and it’d be great to see your face again.” Another pause. “Get back to me when you can.”

He stares at the phone again, then at Jane’s Facebook Profile on his laptop. He shuts his laptop, walks over to his phone and dials a number. He waits as it rings. He smiles as he walks over to a dart board that is across the room from where he stands.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Dana, can I buy you a drink tonight?”

“Oh my gosh, sure!”

“Great. I’ll see you at Cliff’s at nine.”

He picks up a dart and tosses it at a picture of Catherine.

Chapter 3

Doug strolls through the park taking in the fresh air on this crisp autumn day. An attractive woman tries to get his attention, she looks familiar. She gets closer to him, and he realizes it’s Jane.

******************************************************************************************************

Act natural, Doug. You can talk to her; you’ve been practically stalking her via social media for the past two weeks. She’s a lot cuter in person than she appears online. Or maybe I think that because she seems lost and in distress about whatever abstract nonsense she’s been complaining about.

*****************************************************************************************************

Doug snaps out of his trance; he realizes that Jane is staring at him as if he was a patient in an insane asylum. The two stare at one another for a moment. Jane begins to walk away, but he stops her.

“Hey, what did you need?”

“Lighter.”

“Smoker?”

“I guess I also need a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but I hear it’s what all the cool bad people do.”

Doug laughs and smiles at her. Underneath the street light, and from such a close distance, he is really able to see her beauty, not because she’s in distress, but because of the way her appearance and online personality flow. She is a ravishing woman. She smiles at him then at the ground as she nods and prepares to head off once again.

“Wait. Can I walk you home?”

“As tempting as it is to take a romantic, and possibly deadly stroll through a park at night with an attractive stranger, I think I’ll pass.”

“Fair enough. I have to go meet my ex-wife in a bit anyway.”

“Why so late?”

“Because it’s the one time I wasn’t able to come up with an excuse to not see her. Her name’s Catherine, by the way, telling you so you know which crazy woman that’s running around this city you should stay away from.”

“Noted,” she says with a laugh.

“Anyway, I’ll see you around.”

Jane nods, and smiles again as she walks off into the night. Doug can’t help, but stand and stare as she goes.

Chapter 4

There’s that word again, “stalker.” I wasn’t technically stalking her—just sorta. I would stop, but there’s something about her that’s so alluring.

******************************************************************************************************

Jane and Amy are sitting on a bench talking. Doug sees them, he has been following for a distance, hanging out of sight. Jane sees him and waves at him. He doesn’t know whether to be disappointed that his cover has been blown or to be happy that she has welcomed him over.

Jane smiles when he reaches them. Amy clears her throat while putting her hand out for Doug to shake.

“I’m the roommate, and best friend since college, Amy.”

“Doug.”

A silence hangs in the air. Jane has been going on and on about Doug for weeks– they had a second and third meeting at a coffee shop and ever since he has been on her mind.

Doug ruffles his hair while staring into the sun while Amy stares at Jane, waiting for her to break the silence.

“I have to go run to the ladies room.” Amy says while scurrying away.

Doug has a steals the seat next to Jane.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Doug says.

“Yeah,” Jane pauses as she bites her lip again and begins to shuffle her legs so that the right one rests behind the left. Just as Doug prepares to open his mouth to speak, she beats him to it; the words spitting out of her like wildfire, she says:

“Would you wanna go on an actual date sometime?”

Doug grins as he slowly nods his head.

“I’d love to.”

Chapter 5

“So are you going to tell me about your co-worker?” Doug says.

Jane, silent for a few moments slowly walks to bench and sits down. She exhales and stares up at the sky’s nighttime jewelry that illuminates the darkness. He stares at her without her realizing.

“You really like the sky, don’t you?”

“You ask a lot of question.”

“I’m a curious guy.”

Jane pauses, looks at him and grins. He moves about an inch closer to her as he slowly puts his hand on hers. His thumb graces her thumb as it gently caresses the spot in between her pinky and other finger. His hand slowly moves up her arm as he slides it all the way up to her face only to place it on her cheek. All is quiet and still in the world as she turns her head and looks into his eyes. He looks back. He slowly moves her head in and gives her one slow kiss on her nose. She blushes and giggles.

“You’re a tease,” she says.

“I know,” he whispers.

Their eyes still locked on one another.

“About my ex,” Jane opens. “He’s a jerk. We worked together at the same advertising agency a few months ago, and then I quit.”

“Why’d you quit?”

“Found out that our boss was threatening to fire three of the top employees if they didn’t sleep with him. This wasn’t a one time thing and he was married.”

“Why didn’t they quit or press charges?”

“He has connections. He promised to blacklist them. I begged them to go to the cops, but they all refused, said he would give them great reviews when they start looking for work elsewhere.”

“Was he making you sleep with him?”

“No.”

“So why did you quit?”

“Because it was the right thing.”

Chapter 6

Jane and Doug lie next to one another in the park as they stare up at the stars.

“So now that we’re Facebook friends does that mean you’re going to start stalking my page?”

Doug uncomfortably laughs. Jane shifts closer to him as she reaches for his hand and intertwines her fingers between his. Doug looks over at her, sits up, leans over her and with his free hand he pushes her hair behind her hair. The crickets make music as he kisses her  for an extended time. When he stops, he stares into her eyes. They smile at one another in ultimate bliss.

“I think I love you” Jane says.

Doug, now silent kisses her forehead.

“Why do we always end up in parks?” He says as he rolls back onto his back side.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I shouldn’t have said that.” She sits up. “It’s just, when you’ve been with so many Mr. Wrongs, you start to imagine Mr. Right; you imagine what he’ll look like, what he’ll act like and even what he’ll smell like. At that point Mr. Right seems more like a fantasy that’ll never come true. And then I met you. You don’t always act perfectly, nor do you always say the right things, but when I’m with you, I forget about what makes a guy right or what makes him wrong. Every good and bad part of you makes me so happy and free. Ya know, and I’ve never felt this before with anyone.” She pauses to look at him.

He remains silent. He ruffles his hair as he looks up at the sky.

“If you don’t feel the same please just tell me now so I can stop making a fool of myself.”

“It’s not that, Jane.”

“Then what is it?”

“I have to go.”

Chapter 7

Doug stands in the room pacing. Amy just stares at him in shock.

“If you don’t tell her, I will,” she says.

“I know. I want you to do it.”

Just when, Jane walks through the door.

“Doug, what are you doing here?”

“He was just leaving,” Amy says as she stands to re-open the door.

Jane looks confused. Doug meets her eyes. She knows something is up, but after their talk in the park, she’s too scared to ask. She lets him go.

“Goodbye, Jane,” he says.

She watches him go.

THE END

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