Marion glared at the surface of the tablet. The screen was filled with letters and words that ultimately formed a sonnet, but he was utterly unsatisfied with the result. He highlighted the entire entry. His finger hovered over the delete switch. A part of him wanted to stand and fling the device into the lake.
“You all right, man?” asked a voice. He looked up. Hot pink shorts over some kind of skintight spandex suit thing. Well-worn shoes. Long dirty blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. Shining eyes and a friendly smile. She had a wireless speaker setup connected to her left ear. Soft strains of Billie Holliday drifted from it.
“What?” he asked. He shook his head as if clearing a fog. “Oh, yeah. I’m just… I’m trying to write this sonnet and nothing seems to be coming out right.”
“Write it wrong, then,” she said with an arch of one delicate eyebrow. “You’re not an astronaut. It’s not like writing it wrong for the content and fixing the patterns later is gonna crash a spaceship.”
He sat staring at her for a moment, unable to form words. He was reminded of standing on stage with his friend when she suggested he try karaoke. After half the song had gone by and he was unable to speak, he had simply handed the microphone back and walked away. There was no microphone today.
“Sorry, pal,” she said a moment later. “I’ll leave you alone.”
“Wait,” he called as she turned to jog away.
“I… Look, I’m not used to, you know, like, having someone to, I don’t know, help me and stuff.”
“Is that code for ‘stop offering your opinion, Amanda’?”
He chuckled. “No. More like, ‘he don’t get out much.’ I’m Marion, by the way. Marion Devilbiss.”
Her eyes widened. “The guy that wrote the book about the cheese?”
“Everybody remembers that one,” he said with a chuckle. “Stories about sentient Gouda have a way of sticking with you.”
“Dude, no way. Glitter sticks with you. That book is a dozen times more. I’ve got three copies and they’re all so dog-eared it isn’t funny. I’ve read that, like, a hundred times.”
“One day you should let me give you a new one. I’ll even sign it.”
She smiled and pointed up the trail. “There’s a coffee shop up there. You bring the book, and I’ll buy the coffee.”
He cocked his head to the right by a few degrees, looking at her with an expression of curiosity until it suddenly dawned on him what she was suggesting.
“Oh! Oh. Umm… Tomorrow, then? Say, at three?”
“Three is good.”
Elements: sonnet, astronaut, cheese, glitter, karaoke