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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Story: The One That Got Away

Information and comments on the story:
The One That Got Away

from the book: Life Will Get You in the End:
Short stories by David Satterlee

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Life Will Get You in the End:
Short Stories by David Satterlee
A young man decides to introduce himself to one of a cluster of girls. What could go wrong? Wrong enough that the reader gets two endings to choose from.


The One That Got Away

A Fergus Johnson story of gender relations
[Note: Contains mildly erotic descriptive imagery.]

Fergus Johnson has been watching a group of girls for several minutes now. Fergus is seventeen. That’s one of the truly awkward ages between toddling and toupees. 

One of the girls is gorgeous. It’s not entirely the close-fitting but not-quite-tight pure-white dress she’s wearing, with long sleeves, a tailored waist, and a hem four inches above her knees. The dress accents her sleek neck and trim but neatly muscled legs, which seem to go all the way to the floor. Okay, Fergus has actually been staring for several minutes now while she talks and eats an ice cream cone.

The white dress has a scooped neck, which reveals a flawless expanse of chest, heaving gently as she talks. A slender silver necklace suspends a large teardrop crystal in just the right place to
catch and direct one’s eyes. Her chest extends in a continuous outward slope to two perfect scoops of breast. She is just barely (so to speak) avoiding being immodest but still showing enough cleavage that Fergus feels compelled to check to see if his mouth needs closing. The entire effect is absolutely stunning and most any boy would find himself immobilized, like a deer transfixed by her headlights. The girl doesn’t seem to be aware of the chaos she is creating outside her circle of power.

The girl in the white dress is standing, talking in a small group with three other girls. This is a difficult, but not unusual, situation; girls tend to keep company in huddles. One friend is mousy but staring with adoration at the shining star who is holding court; another is listening, but seems to be frowning at the floor; and one is alertly watching the crowd with darting eyes. Fergus wants to approach the girl who has caught his eye and say something coherent without tripping on his shadow. He knows that he’s a decent enough fellow, quick, trim, and tanned from frequent tennis play; he’s occasionally been called handsome. Sometimes girls come over and start conversations with him. This time, it looks like it has fallen to him to take the initiative.

Gathering his courage, Fergus deliberately unclenches his jaw and rehearses a small smile, one with his cheeks pulled up only slightly and his lips parted only slightly. Just as he’s approaching his object of attraction, the gorgeous girl takes another lick of her ice cream, the scoop tilts and falls.

FIRST ENDING
Fergus, his nerves drawn tight, reacts instantly, his trained reflexes move faster than he can think. His arm stretches his hand out, firmly grasping the escaping orb. Chocolate extrudes from between his fingers. Fergus and the gorgeous girl gaze into each other’s eyes. They glance at the ooze in Fergus’ hand. Their eyes meet again. Fergus turns sadly and wanders off to find a washroom.

ALTERNATE ENDING
Fergus does not notice the accident because his eyes are fixed on the girl who is quiet, thoughtful, and alert. Her nose and arms are a little too round and her eyes are a little too far apart, but he does not notice. She turns slightly to face him — comfortable and friendly — the fire of quick wit dancing in her eyes. 

With gentle assurance, he offers his hand to her. Her arm stretches her hand out, grasping his with a perfect gentle firmness. Fergus and the quiet girl gaze into each other’s eyes for the briefest moment. Together, they smile and wander off to find a quieter place to talk.

As stories go, this one is classically semi-autobiographical. The model for the “gorgeous girl” is a magazine advertisement that happens to be lying nearby just now.
I was, in fact, once walking past a girl when she dropped her ice cream scoop, which I reflexively caught. Of course, I then had an unspeakable mess in my hand.
On the other hand, I preferred to court a girl with “the fire of quick wit dancing in her eyes.” To all those wonderful women who are especially endowed with alternate charms of the mind and heart, I dedicate this alternate ending.