Boyshort Dissonance

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Begin or end your story with “Well, that was dramatic.”... view prompt

4 comments

Funny Happy Romance

To the tune of buttons and zippers tumbling in dryers, I typed an irresistible message into my phone screen.

Me: He just shoved his jeans in washer number 6

As expected, my bestie’s reply buzzed less than a minute later.

Brandi: Whaaat??? Better not be screwing with me, Fliss

I grinned as he pushed the button to start his load. Turning my back, I snapped a picture of him through my armpit. My flowy sleeve and long ginger waves obstructed half the shot, but Mr. Slim-Dark-And-Toned was discernible enough. I sent the image.

Brandi: OMG Keep. Him. There!

His laundry will do that, genius.

I shook my head, sighing. Brandi buzzed back with more enthusiastic garble, ending with a promise to be here before he moved his clothes to the dryer. Even for her in-shape self, that would be a stretch. She might make it if she dropped everything and sprinted the entire way like she was back on the track team.

I twisted back to face the subject of our gossip. He took a seat on the bench between the washers and dryers, hunched over his phone screen. Warm air and the scent of lavender fabric softener wrapped around me. Machines clinked and squeaked in rhythm. Two elderly women chatted in Spanish over folded piles to my right, but I snatched furtive glances through my lashes at him.

For several months, Brandi and I documented each time we saw him at the laundromat. She had a whole notebook with a fictional character sheet and everything. We speculated his age somewhere between twenty-five and thirty. He wore jeans with holes just above his knees and a flannel shirt. Those dirty blond locks were always pulled up in an oh-so-sexy man-bun.

Strands like that were better suited to the shores of Australia. A few escaped tendrils framed his strong jawline today. I wondered who got to twist them around their fingers. Brandi was positive she would be next to test the quality of his shampoo.

Until she arrived, I could memorize his shape all by myself, wishing I could borrow her courage. Still, I was okay just admiring him from the background. He crossed one knee over the other and rubbed his chin.

Beautiful.

I shoved my phone back in my pocket and leaned against the machine fluffing my shirts and socks with blessed heat. I patted the door to encourage it. Meanwhile, our boy ignored the chiming bell that signaled others coming and going with their own clean and dirty mounds.

I filled the next twenty minutes with wondering if he was texting his girlfriend or playing some mind-mushing game.

His washer beeped, snapping me out of my trance. A blur trailing a wispy ponytail whizzed by outside the glass window.

She made it.

Brandi snuck through the door just as he got up to fetch his clean clothes. He would move to our side of the wall with his pile like always, unaware that we were writing his life story like a movie script.

Brandi had a dusting of snowflakes on her when she approached me, winded. Her grin was infectious and told me more than audible words.

He’s here. Again. So handsome. Eee!

I brushed the beading moisture off her shoulders and asked the same question I always did when we spotted him. “Is today the day?”

“Maybe.”

She drew out the word while a corner of her mouth edged up.

I tilted my head. That was the first time she’d given me a favorable response concerning him.

She lowered her voice. “Remember that trick I used to play on my little brother?”

With my lip between my teeth, I squinted. Brandi was a performer by nature. All through high school, she used her skills to land several lead roles in plays.

I said, “Elaborate.”

“You know, with his silly capes.”

Her brother, Corey, had once been an impressionable child. He looked up to his big sister until he discovered the internet. Before his obsession with pimple videos, he used to run around the house dressed as superheroes.

If I focused hard on that page in my memory, I could still hear him yelling, “I’m Bamman!”

Brandi had stolen his capes and convinced him she was a witch. Then she—

My mouth dropped open when Brandi pulled a pair of lacy red boyshort panties from her sleeve. She vibrated with an inaudible giggle and glanced over her shoulder. Our boy was depositing his quarters into a dryer slot.

I leaned closer to her and whispered, “What are you planning?”

“Surely you know me well enough to guess.”

“Unless you’re gonna manifest them behind his ear and convince him you’re magical, no.”

She snickered and stuffed the panties back up her sleeve. Both of us snatched a quick glance at him when he sat on the bench again. His deadpan expression was back on his phone screen.

My dryer pinged. Brandi helped me pull out my warm pile and tote it to a nearby table. Shoulder to shoulder, we paired my patterned knee socks. Zaps of static punctuated the anticipation. The buildup was her favorite part, so I waited.

She said, “No more hiding.”

“We’re hiding right now. Into more panties, no less.”

“Just the calm before the climax.”

“Wow, was that innuendo?”

She hummed a few notes while she folded my scruffy dog socks together. “I figured out the perfect plot, inspired by a past victory.”

“Which one?”

Her smile crinkled the edges of her green eyes, but she kept silent. She wasn’t shy like me, but she swore by unconventional methods to set her stage. I hoped that charisma would transfer to me one day.

I thought back to her most inspiring moments. In Freshman year, she got her crush to ask her to carnival night by “accidentally” popping her bubblegum in his hair. In Junior year, she goaded several boys into having a breakdance competition after school. She won, and two of the guys bought her coffee.

That day, she became my role model.

By college, I lost track of how many guys she’d wowed, each one more beguiled than the last. They couldn’t keep up with her. And today, I was privileged enough to witness another of her ovation-worthy performances.

Okay, brain, take notes.

I nudged her with my elbow. “Come on, tell me.”

She twirled one of my thongs around her pinkie. “Okay, so flashback to Senior year.”

I snatched my panties away and nodded for her to continue.

“That play with the guy who doesn’t notice the chick with the limp.”

“Oh, right. Hobbly Sal?”

“Yeah!” She snuck another peek behind her—as if our boy would catch on to our random conversation using some form of telepathy. “Remember how Sal got the guy?”

I tapped a nail on the table. During that performance, I had worked lights. For me, the play was a blur of backstage hubbub. Brandi played the lead female, limping around the classroom stage under a blue spotlight. The love interest stood with his back to a wall, chatting with friends while she sang her courage-triggering ballad. When she was finished, I switched the light to bright yellow. She wobbled up to him and—

“Wait,” I said, “you can’t do that here!”

“Why not? This right here"—she patted her sleeve—"is the ultimate insurance plan.”

Her eyebrows were set in the same expression I’d seen on dozens of occasions. Each time, she got what she wanted without penalty.

This time, with a complete stranger involved, I wasn’t so sure.

“Brandi,” I hissed when she stepped into her imaginary spotlight. My nails slid off her coat in a botched attempt at reason.

She ignored me and walked toward Mr. Slim-Dark-And-Toned’s dryer. I couldn’t force air into my lungs if I tried. This was either going to be her greatest performance to date or get her arrested.

A handful of other people went about their boring laundry routines, unaware of the drama about to unfold. Brandi stood in front of his dryer and cleared her throat. One toe tapped the diner tile. It took a few seconds, but he lifted his eyes to her.

She had her hands on her hips, brows pushed into feigned indignation.

Dear God, she’s good.

Brandi spun and yanked his dryer open. He jumped to his feet and said, “Uhh, that’s mine.”

She reached into his dryer. When he came up beside her, protesting, she removed her undergarments and dangled them in front of his eyes.

He pulled back, raising his hands. “What the…I didn’t—”

Brandi slapped his cheek and stomped toward the door. He watched her go through it. The clicking latch signaled her triumph. This time, when she passed outside the window, she winked at me. The only sounds came from the busy machines, clinking their applause.

I had to hide my grin behind a shirt. Mr. Slim-Dark-And-Toned spun his head, his hands wide. All eyes were on him. That bewildered expression was worthy of a fashion advertisement.

The atmosphere drifted back into dull fluff with heads and eyes turning away. Our boy glanced out the window, craning his neck in search of the woman who slapped him. Would he chase her? Look for her here next time? She could be waiting just down the street to ambush him. The stage was still hers.

Oh, how I wished I could be there when they met.

I reached for my phone and busied my fingers. Brandi didn’t need me or anyone else to stroke her ego. The performance left the audience and unknowing costar speechless. My understated response would have her howling.

Me: Well, that was dramatic.


December 06, 2021 23:15

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4 comments

Stevie B
13:56 Dec 14, 2021

Lydi, your writing takes on a nice sense of rhythm in this story. Especially enjoyed the relaxed and natural dialogue between friends in the beginning.

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Lydi B
13:19 Dec 16, 2021

Hey, thanks for the lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the dialogue. That's often my favorite portion to write.

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Stevie B
13:42 Dec 16, 2021

You're quite welcome. For me dialogue offers writers a handy way of giving readers a deeper insight as to what's inside a character - while other areas of a composition are more prone to detailing what's outside the individual.

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Lydi B
15:23 Dec 16, 2021

My thoughts exactly. It's a tough balance to strike at times.

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