This is the first section of the the second chapter of my novel “Among The Thorns”. If you haven’t read the first chapter you can start HERE. Enjoy:
After the fourth and fifth time that Zach asked me to go to the beer festival with him I reluctantly caved. He was incessant about it because he wasn’t sure how to handle the Sarah situation. He had been texting her and trying to talking to her, but he feared that there was another guy that she was talking with. There were pictures online that gave him this suspicion, but other than that it was just “a feeling”, he would say. I liked beer, anyways, and I didn’t have any other plans that weekend.
I trudged along as Zach greeted people I didn’t know, and I waited in line at the beer station and listened to Zach complain about his job.
“And then my boss calls and tells me that if I don’t have it finished by Friday, this week, this week, he’ll have to reevaluate my work assignment. He has no idea what went into the system we built. He just knows that Bob called him and demanded that we finish it soon. They want a perfectly polished site, but they also want it fast. Those two things don’t go together. You have to have time to fix the bugs, because there are always bugs. Hey do you know that girl? Oh, never mind, I thought she looked like that girl you kissed in college. But they just keep demanding more and more from me and sooner and sooner.”
“What girl I kissed in college?”
“So I told Frank, my boss, who hasn’t been to my job site to even see where we sit yet. He was out on vacation for two weeks in the Barbados or somewhere. And now he is telling me that I need to move my deadline up. I told him that I will try to have it finished by Friday, but if there are any bugs it’s on him.”
“Well you definitely worked hard for this client. You’ve put in a lot of hours, so I don’t think they can come back to you and say you did something wrong.” I tried to stop his rant. It didn’t work, but we finally got to the front of the line to get our beers and that was able to derail his mind from thinking about it. We got back to the mass of people collecting under the tent and immediately he started looking for Sarah.
When he finally spotted her, with her bleach blond hair in a braid, talking with a ring of girls at the other side of the tent, he gave me the eyes that said “we’re going over there to find out what’s going on.” We squeezed our way through the crowd and were able to bump ourselves up into the back of the group before Zach almost spilled his beer on the head of one of the girls in the circle.
“Woah, almost just lost my beer on ya there.” She just looked back up at him with a tinge of disgust. Sarah was on the other side of the group and had not noticed us come over yet. “We gotta get her to come over here.”
“Why? What is the purpose of this again?” I pleaded with him.
“Come on. I can’t just stand here while she’s seeing someone else.”
“She’s not currently with a guy is she? How do you even know she’s talking to anyone else?”
“I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out,” he was barely paying attention to me as he tried to glare a hole through Sarah’s forehead. “Here come with me,” he pulled my arm into the ring of girls. “Oh hey, Sarah. How’s it going?” He tried to sound casual but came across as more of a creepy uncle.
“Zach, how many beers have you had?” Sarah barely turned her head to talk to him.
“This is my first, I swear. You can ask Pete, right Pete? Tell her this is my first.”
“Hey Sarah,” I said with a smile I couldn’t hold back.
“So, did you come over here for a reason? Or did you just want to say hey?” Sarah still hadn’t turned her whole body towards us yet. Her friend she was talking to looked on in amazement.
“Yeah just wanted to see how things are going. This festival is great isn’t it.” Zach was so chipper I almost rolled my eyes.
“Uhuh,” Sarah said nodding her head.
“What are your plans for the rest of the day? You guys doing anything tonight?”
“Zach, what do you want? You texted me like thirty times this week. We’re not together you know. We’re on a break.”
“I know,” I don’t think he knew what to say. “I know. I just wanted to – see how you’re doing. And catch up.”
“Catch up? About what?”
“I don’t know. About – ”
“Look, we are on a break, so unless you have something important you need to say to me, I’m going to go be with my friends. Okay?” Sarah swayed her head as she landed the punches. Her friend led them away as Zach and I were left standing in the middle of the group of girls.
“That went pretty well,” I sipped my beer as I glanced at Zach who was already fidgeting with his phone, trying to look distracted. “So what now? You want me to follow her? Find out what spy agency she hired to conceal her new boyfriend?”
“Do you want another beer,” Zach looked around at the tent we were standing under. There were so many people in there, and yet none of them seemed remotely interested in Zach’s dilemma. I could see Zach trying to process what his next move should be as his eyes darted around the shadowed festival.
“We just got here? I haven’t finished mine yet,” I held up my cup as evidence.
“I’m gonna go get another.” Thus our afternoon was spent sitting next to strangers, sipping on beers trying to figure out what the next step in the Zach and Sarah saga was going to be. He seemed dead set on trying to contact her and I tried to peel back the layers of his imagination so that he could see a little glimpse of reality amidst his drunkenness.
The afternoon swept over us as we sat at a picnic table under the tent, and we finally decided to leave once I had somehow changed the subject from Sarah to eating food. We both were starving after a hot afternoon of just drinking, so we walked to a local pizza place and picked up a few slices before heading in the general direction of our apartments. It was going to be a long walk back to them, but I knew I needed to walk off some of that beer anyways. We chatted here and there about which pizza place we liked best, but when we finally got to the point where we were going to have to split paths, Zach tried to convince me to go out with him later in his pursuit for revenge against Sarah.
“Come on, I’ll pay for one drink of yours. We just gotta enjoy ourselves a little. If she is out flaunting herself around town, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t be.”
“Oh, you definitely should flaunt yourself around town. I just don’t want to be there when you do it.”
“What are you gonna go home and read? You old man.”
“Maybe, I already went to the festival with you today. That more than exceeds my going out quota for today.”
“Whatever, hey if I text you if I need a ride, could you come pick me up.”
“Depends on the time of this text.”
“Never mind, I’ll just Uber home. Cause I’ve got buckets of money, right?” The guilt trip was tangible.
“You do have a lot of money,” I tried to hold back the laughter. Zach was very well paid for his job, and he always seemed to play the broke student card even though he had pocket aces in the bank.
“Fine, whatever. I’ll see you later,” he stumbled in the other direction, almost enough for me to feel worried about his safety. I found myself sprawled out on my couch wishing away the beer I had drank earlier. I seemed to always end up lounging on my couch. It was a much more attractive alternative than tagging along with Zach and whatever club he was trying to get into, but it did feel a bit lonely. I never wanted to be completely alone, I just always denied myself the opportunity to go out and be with others. The blank TV screen taunted me to watch Netflix, so I gave in and binged while I soaked in the antics of the day.
I hope you enjoyed this section of “Among The Thorns” and I truly appreciate any input or feedback.