NPR Three-Minute Fiction Entry

I didn’t win but this was my entry.  I liked it, though in hindsight I can see a few things I’d change, such as the last line.

To see the winning entry and other notable entrants go here:

NPR Three Minute Fiction

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Single Male Seeks Soulmate

Single Male, 32, short, dumpy and troll-like, seeks female soulmate.  Must have kind heart, sense of humor and love cabs.”

Cabs?  Gayle reread the words again as she sipped a cappuccino at her tiny table near the door.  Surely that was a typo and he’d meant cats.  His words made her smile.  Who wrote that type of ad except someone with a great sense of humor?  Overcome by impulse, she punched his number into her cell phone.  A deep male voice answered, the background sounds of his environment threatening to drown out his words.

“Hello?  Rolly here,” he repeated.

She placed a finger to her other ear to help her zero in on his voice and bellowed, “Oh, hi. Yes.  I loved your personal ad.  My name is… Stella .”

Other patrons in the coffee shop turned and stared.  A man seated near her scowled, folded his paper and rose to leave.

“Hi Stella .  Let me pull over so we can talk without yelling.  There.  Better now?”

She pulled her shoulders back and took in a deep breath.  “Are you in the city?  ‘Cause I’m at the coffee shop on Fifth and Glisan,” Gayle said as she curled the edges of the newspaper between her fingers.  She released the remainder of her breath and wondered where she’d found the courage to call a stranger and invite him for coffee, even in a public place.

“This must be fate because I pulled over at Fifth and Burnside .  Give me five minutes and I’ll join you…that is, if you’re inviting me.”

He sounded delicious, Gayle thought, as visions  of hunky males she’d seen on romance novel covers paraded through her brain.  She reflected on her nonexistent love life and delivered a mental pep talk.  Desperate times called for desperate measures.  She could do this.

“I would be honored if you would join me…uh, Rolly,” she said with more confidence than she felt now that their date was set.

Five minutes after concluding their call, Gayle checked her watch.  Seven o’clock.  Work at seven-thirty, eight at the latest.  She listened to the rhythm of the baristas as they called out impersonal drink names for nameless patrons.  A few of the waiting glanced her way then inched closer to the serving counter.

Gasps near the door hijacked her attention.  A mother bolted by, her baby clutched tightly to her breast, words of “oh my God” rolled off her lips.  The low murmurings of the coffee shop evaporated into silence so pure, only the sounds of her own breathing disturbed it.  All was still.  No one moved, frozen in their tracks, looks of horror on their faces.   Gayle smiled.  He had come.

His long hair captured her eyes first–high, full, brushed into a magnificent mane of blue that crowned his wide face.  He grinned when he spotted her and waddled toward her table.  A dash of freckles graced his fleshy cheeks on either side of a broad and commanding nose.  His warrior-like ears protruded on either side of his head.  He wore no shoes, his sturdy feet weathered and tough-looking beneath the pot belly his t-shirt strained to cover.

Gayle sighed and said, “Rolly, I presume?”

“ Stella .  Wow!  You are a vision!  May I?”  He pointed to the seat opposite her.

She nodded and extended a pudgy hand.  “Actually it’s Gayle .  A girl can’t be too careful these days.  All sorts of weirdos out there.”  She fluffed her pink hair, a nervous preen, as she gazed into Rolly’s laughing chocolate brown eyes.  She was in love.

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