Today’s flash fic is inspired by the cashier at the board game store checking that I knew I had the kid’s version of a game. When I don’t know what to write, I seem to gravitate toward meet-cutes lately.
Angie sighed and shoved the box back into her bag. What a silly thing to do! She’d just seen the word “Carcassone” at the flea market and gone for it – she hadn’t even known there was a children’s version of the game. It should’ve tipped her off when the dude manning the table asked how old “the kids” were completely out of the blue as he was rooting around in his wallet for her change, and then gave her an odd look when she bewilderdly replied that she didn’t have any. Oh well, there was no going back now, they’d been starting to pack up when she happened by it. It was one of those markets where anyone could bring a table, so who knew if the dude would even be there next week and even if he was, she couldn’t really expect him to give her the money back when it was her mistake.
On the bright side, the game had been cheap and the Internet claimed it was bound to be a hit with kids aged 4 and up. Too bad she didn’t have any kids, of any age recommended or otherwise. Oh well, she knew people with kids. She’d find someone to give it to, eventually.
The metro pulled up at her station and she swung the tote over her shoulder as she slipped out through the still-opening doors. It was a nice enough day, bright and breezy, but the forecast said rain all weekend. Perfect board game weather, which was what had been behind her impulse buy. As she approached her apartment building, she spotted a moving van parked outside, the back opened to reveal a bunch of furniture and sundry boxes. A small chest of drawers, purple and covered in mostly ill-placed stickers, propped the door to her stairwell up. Oh good, someone must finally be moving into the flat above hers! There was no-one in sight but as she got closer she had footsteps rapidly coming down the stairs, and stepped to the side at the foot of the stairs to avoid the rapid approach.
“Oh! Hi! Sorry about that.” Her new neighbor was flushed and surprised, and cute a way that somehow made Angie think of picknicks in the early fall. She was wearing dungarees and had auburn hair up in a sloppy bun, and she looked hurried in a cheerful way.
“Hey, no worries,” Angie replied, feeling her pulse pick up the tiniest bit. “Moving in?”
“Yup. Just upstairs.”
“Figured,” she said, and nodded toward her front door. “I’m just underneath you. I mean, uh…” They’d been making eye contact and now suddenly they weren’t anymore, and Angie’s ears felt very hot. “I mean below, I’m on the floor below.”
“Right, cool,” she responded, voice crinkled with held-back laughter.
She cleared her throat, and told herself it hadn’t been that Freudian. Not enough to abort the conversation, anyway. “I’m Angie,” she said, holding her hand out. “Welcome to the building.”
“Thanks!” She shook her hand, and smiled more with her eyes than her lips. “I*m Jane.”
“Nice to meet you.” Angie looked back to the truck full of stuff, listened to the distinct lack of footsteps from upstairs. “So, is it just you, or…?”
“Uh, just me and my kid.” Jane shrugged.
“Oh shit, no, I meant… That sounded weird, huh? I meant, just you moving the stuff out of the truck.”
“Oh!” She laughed. “Yeah, I’m just waiting on my brother to come over and help me.” She glanced at the dainty watch around her left wrist. “Eventually…”
“You want a hand in the mean time?”
“No, that’s okay, he’ll get here.”
“You sure? I don’t mind.”
“I mean… I’m just taking some of the smaller stuff up first…” She seemed to be mulling it over thoroughly, weighing it in that way you had to when you didn’t know someone well enough to know if an offer was sincere. Finally, she nodded. “You know what, yeah, if you really don’t mind I’d love a hand.”
“No problem!” Angie replied. “Just let me get rid of my bag and stuff.”
They moved past each other, one toward the truck and the other toward her front door. As Angie stuck her key in the lock, the tote bag slipped off of her shoulder down into the crook of her elbow. “Hey…” she said as and turned around, glancing over toward her new neighbor. “Does your kid like board games?”