Today’s Story a Day prompt was about character desires.
Establish, within the first couple of sentences, your character’s desire. Put them in a situation that conflicts with that desire. Tell us how it works out.
I’m continuing with Erik’s story from yesterday.
Erik needed to get out of this damn store. His father was back there, and after the way just seeing him had sent panic streaking through him, he couldn’t stay to see what happened if they came face to face.
He made it up to the checkout lines without having a complete meltdown at least. He started putting the items from his basket on the belt. “Hi, Erik.”
He looked up at the bright voice. “Hey, Zoe,” he greeted the girl. Well, not girl, he knew she was in college now, but she hadn’t even been a teenager when he graduated high school. Not that age was the only reason he barely did more than notice her. “Fancy seeing you here.” He struggled to keep a light-hearted tone to his voice. But, it was what everyone in town expected of him.
Zoe’s face flushed, and she glanced away as she reached for the first of his groceries. “I’m home for spring break this week,” she said. “Hugh offered me a few hours before I go back next week.”
“That’s great,” he said, barely paying attention. He glanced over his shoulder as he reached for his wallet. Still no sign of his father. Thank goodness. Maybe he would get out of here without a confrontation.
“Sorry,” Zoe said, “the card reader’s not working. I should have told you before I started ringing these up. I got distracted.”
He looked back at her and saw she was flushing even brighter. He wasn’t even going to question what had her distracted. He needed to get out of here. “So you can only take cash?”
“Or a check.”
Which of course he didn’t have with him. He didn’t know too many people, other than his mom probably, who took a checkbook with them these days unless they knew they were going to need it. He slid his card back into its slot, and opened the main part to see what cash he had on him. He’d just gotten paid the day before and had cashed his check. Since Gabriel refused to let him pay rent, he didn’t have too many other bills to pay, so he kept most of what he made in cash.
“I should be able to cover it,” he said, offering her a wink.
She giggled and reached for the next item.
“What, son?” a voice said from behind him. “You can’t even keep it in your pants in the store. You disgust me.”
His shoulders stiffened. He forced himself not to turn and look at his father, though. It was what he wanted. To see Erik shamed, or even scared by simply his presence. He refused to allow himself to be the first anymore. His father had tried to lay enough shame on him as he was growing up. But, the latter, yeah, there was always that when his father was around.
The flush had drained from Zoe’s face, and he hated that his father had that effect on someone so sweetly innocent. But, bringing attention to that would only embarrass her more. So, he did his best to ignore the man.
“Really, Erik,” his father continued. “Isn’t she a bit too young for you. She’s barely out of high school.”
Now, he could see Zoe’s eyes growing wet. His father was trying to embarrass Erik, but it was rolling over onto Zoe, and that just wasn’t fair. He turned to glare at his father. “Just stop. I haven’t done a damn thing. Leave her alone.”
“I didn’t say anything about her. You’re the one making indecent actions. I’d think she was too female for you, too.”
Right. He was still on about that more than six months after he kicked Erik out of the house for flirting with another guy when he was at physical therapy. Zoe scanned his last item. His hand shook slightly as he pulled the bills out of his wallet to pay for it. “You forget, Dad. No one’s too anything for me. You’ve made it clear how you feel about it. And me. And I thought I made it clear that I’m not going to let that affect how I live my life. Now that you’ve aired our dirty laundry in the middle of the grocery store, I’m taking my groceries and going home.” He offered Zoe one more smile. “Don’t let him get to you. He’ll be gone soon enough. And your next customer can’t be as much of an asshole.”
She offered him a wavering smile, and he grabbed the bags, his change from Zoe, and headed for the doors. He could hear his father arguing with Zoe about how the card reader couldn’t be working. And the store manager was already heading over to them. At least she had someone who would back her against the angry old man. And it would give him some time to get away from here.