There's No Such Thing As Love

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write about a cynical character who somehow ends up on a blind date.... view prompt


Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

“Dude, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and you don’t have a date again. Why don’t you text Sabrina or Abbey and just get a coffee or something? Just one cup. It could be fun!”

“Hell nah, dude. Last time I went out with Abbey, she vented about work for two hours. I don’t want to be trauma-dumped on, again. Sabrina just wants to fuck and then kick me out. She already texted me earlier. I’m not about to be used again.”

“Or… She could just want to get some food and talk because she’s into your personality, too…”

“No way, man. It’s definitely not like that. Besides, I’d rather stay here and keep grinding on Baldur’s Gate 3 than be forced to pay for someone’s drinks that I don’t care about, who doesn't care about me, either.”

“Come on, Steven. How can you be so confident that every girl just wants to use you? You know, there are thousands of good people in this city, too.”

“Oh yeah? Name one.”


“She doesn’t count!” You met her in college!”

“And you said the same thing about the girls at school! Yet, here I am with a super cool, loving, supportive girlfriend who was one of the bunch that you were sure would be bad news.”

“Because the rest are all bad news!”

“You’ve only ever been on, like, three dates! Now you think your inkling of wisdom surpasses any kind of real-life experience you would get by going out and giving someone a chance!”

“No, I know purely from principal that staying here, playing video games, and doing what I like is better.”

“You’re impossible! I can’t with you!” Brian slams the door in Steven’s face, leaving him once again alone in his dim, dusty room.

Steven’s stuck-up grin slumps into a frown. He swivels his gaming chair around to catch a glimpse of himself in his long, narrow, mirror hanging on his wall.

His computer screen illuminates his pale skin in the shadows cast by his black-out blinds. He notices the crumbs on his shirt and brushes them off of his stomach onto the floor.

“Oh man, Brian.” Steven sighs to himself. He gets up, opens his blinds, and lets the light shine in for the first time in days. He changes out of his pajamas into a pair of black jeans, a white tee-shirt, and his black jacket.

He creeps out of his room into the hallway of their two-bedroom apartment. He sees Brian sitting at their island kitchen counter, leaning his head in his hand defeatedly, holding his phone in his other hand, texting someone. His sadness blows frigidly with each of his groaning exhales.

“Hey, bro. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be such a dick.”

Really?” Brian scoffs.

“Yeah, well… I could go for a coffee right now. Can I… take you out for a drink?”

“You are hopeless. But, yeah. I could go for a coffee. That sounds nice. Give me five and I’ll be ready to go.”

As Steven sits on the warmed stool, he watches Brian hurry into his room with a massive smiling beaming on his face, stretching from ear to ear. With his phone in both hands, his thumbs were nearly moving at the speed of light, rapidly texting someone.

Steven didn’t pay any mind to it. Brian was a popular guy, always texting his girlfriend or making plans with one of his seemingly infinite number of friends. 

It disgusted him.

Though Brian seemed like he was always having a good time being the center of attention, Steven could tell that it was all a ploy. A desperate attempt to fill some kind of void in his heart. He was sure that no one could possibly enjoy being strung thing, every day, always needing to meet the expectations of dozens of people who are begging for the perception and approval of others. Allowing himself to be used every day just so he could feel important for a moment in time was asinine to him. More so, he could never wrap his head around how Brian could not see that people were just using him for their own self-satisfaction.

It was so frustrating for him, but he knew from experience that if he tried to show him the clear truth, he would be angry with him. He did not want to put himself in a position of tension with his oldest friend- his only friend.

“Okay! I’m ready!” Brian sings as he emerges back into the hallway. His eyes twinkle and his smile hasn’t faded by even one millimeter. 

“Alright. Lead the way. Wherever you want to go is good with me.”

Brian’s jaw dropped open a bit. His smile, now looking more rabid than elated, somehow grew even bigger.

“...What?” Steven asks as they walk into the hallway.

“Oh, nothing,” Brian responds from his toothy smile. “Let’s get moving!”

He seems almost insincere in his response. It confused Steven. He couldn’t figure out what was going on, but he was sure that this trip was not going to be an enjoyable one. They rarely ever were. Especially since this trip was out of pity and not from a true desire to go.

They trot down three flights of stairs and march out of the stairwell, out of their apartment’s big, steel doors, into the cold, windy streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

As they approach the coffee shop, Steven mutters into his collar, “Let’s get in and out. I want to get back to Baldur’s Gate. Let’s not be long.”

“Oh, hush,” Brian scolds him as he reaches for the door handle. “Just try to have a good time. Or at least pretend, for my sake. You do owe me one, that’s why we’re here you mopey fuck.”

“Alright, alright.”

As they wait in line together, Brian begins to rattle off his Valentine's Day plans to Steven without warning. Steven took his advice and did his best to pretend to care.

After hearing the word “love” twenty times in under five minutes, the illusion he presented shattered. His true personality slipped out in his frustration.

“‘Love’. Ugh. You do know that pompous concept is merely a primal reaction of your brain reacting to the pheromones of those who have a complimenting gene pool to yours, right? ‘Love’ is simply just your brain overwhelming your nervous system with those butterflies in your stomach and that stupid, dizzy feeling in your head in an attempt to tell you to, “Fuck that person so you get the best possible offspring with them,” right?”

Caught off-guard, Brian’s smile slumps and he blinks twice back at Steven, slack-jawed. He does a double take to snap him out of his jarred stupor.

“This is why you’ve only been on three dates.” He scoffs as he approaches the counter.

“One large iced matcha, please. And whatever he’s having; he’s paying." He says to the barista, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder, signaling to Steven.

“Ooooh! A happy early-Valentine’s, eh?” The barista smiles.

Steven stares at her blankly.

“Yep! He sure loves me! Isn’t that right?” Brian chuckles at his roommate.

“One large black coffee.” Steven orders.

He taps his phone on the card-reader and pays the six dollar fee.

No tip.

They stand back next to each other for a moment while watching the barista’s co-workers make their drinks. Brian stares at Steven with a giddy smile and giggles to himself as Steven rolls his eyes and goes back to staring at the workers.

Within minutes, their drinks are ready.

“Why don’t you go sit down over there? I need to use the restroom real quick.” Brian said, pointing to a table next to the windowed wall.

Seriously? Guh! Why didn’t you go before we left?!” Steven groans.

“Didn’t have to go then. Sit tight!” Brian smiles as he pats Steven twice on the shoulder before turning to walk away.

Steven walks over to the open table and sits down quietly. He stares emotionlessly at his white, paper cup with it’s brown, cardboard wrap around it. He cups it in both hands to feel the warmth of the coffee inside and inhales the dark-roast steam that he’s always loved. His right hand slowly wraps around his left. 

Within the warmth of his own physical touch, for a brief moment, he thought about what Steven said. He wonders if what he said about discounting any potential good time with someone could be right while enjoying the soft touch of his fingers gently overlapping.

Suddenly, he feels a tap on his shoulder that snaps him back into reality.

“Hi! Um, are you Steven?” A soft, honeyed voice asks.

He throws his head over his shoulder in a tizzy. There behind him stood a tall, beautiful, blonde-haired woman in a black trench coat. Her grey and white sweater underneath it accentuates her golden jewelry that sparkled in the light as it dangled off of her ears and sat draped around her neck. 

She stands smiling at him, waiting for a response with concern marked in the folds of her forehead.

“Yes… I’m Steven… Who…?”

Thump! Thump! Thump!

He whips his entire body around towards the sound. There, standing with a beaming, devilish grin, stood Brian outside on the sidewalk. He waves at Steven after knocking on the window and points at the lady behind him before giving him two thumbs up, waving goodbye, and skipping away. 

It was in this moment, Steven understood what was happening.

His Valentine’s-Day nightmare had come true and he was smack-dab in the middle of it:

A blind date.

“That son of a bitch!” He mutters under his breath.

He turns back around in his seat to see that the beautiful woman, whom he wanted nothing to do with, had taken the open seat across from him.

“Oh! Um… Hi. How did… Where did… Um… I think I know what’s going on here…” He stammered.

“Oh?” She asked.

“Brian set this up, didn’t he?”

“Oh my gosh! I thought he would’ve told you! That jokester!” 

“Yeah, you would’ve thought!” He replied, begrudgingly. 

“Oh, man! I’m so sorry about that. My name is Erin! I work with Brian in the same Ad-Agency. He’s told me so much about you! I honestly thought you might not have shown up with how busy he says you always are! I’m glad that’s not the case. So, what do you do?”

“Well, he didn’t lie. I do have a lot on my plate.” He said, staring off into the distance thinking about the mere twenty hours he’s played and the forty-plus hours he still had left to play through in the new Dungeons & Dragons based Role-Playing-Game, Baldur’s Gate 3.

“Oh, man. Me too. I love volunteering on the weekends at the women’s shelter in Bushwick when I’ve got the time. What about you? Have you got any weekend hobbies?”

“Nah. I like to keep to myself. I don’t like the responsibility of having to worry about other people.” He replies bluntly.

“Oh…” She says with a frown. She looks down at her now clamped hands embarrassed.

“Oh! But, um… that’s so great that you do that. I’m sure you get a lot out of it.”

“Yeah… Anyway, what do you do for work?”

“Oh, I’m the lead developer of an IT software company. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. It’s based out of Norway.”

“Ooh, how exciting! Do you ever get to travel out there? I’ve heard it’s gorgeous!”

“Nah. Never really wanted to. They’d just have me working out there, anyway. Likely with more work to do since I’d be in person, putting out fires. I’d probably never be able to enjoy the sights if I went out there for work. I’m good working in my apartment without the hassle of international travel.”

“Oh, I’m sure they wound’t have that tight of a grip on you!”

“You’d be surprised.” He said, crossing his arms.

“Well… Um… Do you like to travel otherwise? What’s the last place you visited? Inside or outside the US.”

“Nah. Traveling is too much of a hassle. Plus, I find tourism to be gross. Parading through the streets of a foreign country, posing for pictures with statues and artifacts without knowing anything about their deep-rooted significance. Bleh.”

“Oh, come on! You can’t be serious!”

“I’m afraid so. It’s arrogant.”

“Experiencing and appreciating other cultures has contributed to so many amazing works of art! Poems, songs, paintings, plays- you think those are all pompous cultural appropriations?!”

“Well, I didn’t say that. But, yeah. More or less.”

‘Ok… well… What do you like to do for fun? Do you like to go out? Have any favorite bars or restaurants?” At this point, the stress lines in her forehead were visibility protruding. Her smile visibly hurt her to keep on. But, she was determined to break through.

“Oh. Um, nah. I mainly stay inside my apartment.”

“Ugh!” She cried.

“I like this coffee shop, though.” He chortled.

Got her. Let’s get this over with already.

“Ugh. Okay. You know what? This isn’t working out. I’m truly sorry for wasting your time. I’m sure you’re being short because you’re pressed for time. That’s okay. Seriously. I should have figured as much.” She says in a huff while getting up to put her coat back on.

“Nooo, don’t go!” He says disingenuously half-cocked.

“No, it’s fine. Really. I want to get back to playing the new Baldur’s Gate, anyway. I have a lot left to get through. Again, I’m sorry for taking up your time. Have a good one.” 

A light went off in Steven’s mind for the first time in several years. His face flushed and his stomach rippled as if it was filled with fluttering butterflies trying to find their way out. Suddenly, Erin was glowing a beautiful, golden shine all around her.

He felt like he was going to throw up.

“Wait!” He called out to her as she took a turning step to leave.

“What is it?”

“D-did you just say… you play Baldur’s Gate?”

“Yeah, it’s so much fun! I’ve always loved D&D.”

“Woah… hang on… Can I… buy you a cup of coffee? I love Baldur’s Gate ˆ3.

“Nah. No thanks,” She replied bluntly. “I’m not into cynics.”

February 16, 2024 18:17

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Esme Bonner
13:08 Feb 22, 2024

Hiya! This is one of my critique circle stories. Twist is excellent!


Jordan Tyler
23:01 Feb 22, 2024

Thanks a ton!


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Nina Yaney
19:29 Feb 20, 2024

Oh I LOVED the ending! The conversations felt genuine. Very nice


Jordan Tyler
22:59 Feb 21, 2024

I feel like I've always struggled with dialogue so hearing that they flow well means a lot- thank you!


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Cleo Barkley
00:00 Feb 20, 2024

Love this! I was not expecting that ending.. what a twist!


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Griffin Asbury
20:22 Feb 16, 2024

Loved the twist Brian pulled. And Steven … lighten up!


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Jordan Tyler
16:14 Feb 20, 2024

This is currently my favorite piece that I have on here


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