Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled Dream Girl. Please enjoy. I am currently listed at #16 on feedspot’s Top 20 Short Story Blog page. Please check it out. Also, if you haven’t already checked out my FAQ on my upcoming book, Magic Once Removed, please check that out as well. Thanks again!
“I dreamt of her again, Dirk,” Mark said.
“Jesus, really?” Stan replied.
Mark proceeded to tell his best friend of the petite young Asian woman with her auburn eyes and thick jet black hair wrapped into a ponytail of whom he perpetually dreamed. He especially emphasized her thick black-rimmed glasses in his description as he was really into that for some reason. He’d always close by going into vivid detail how he’d kiss those thick pink lips.
The two young men had been friends ever since elementary school. It was a daily morning ritual for them to meet at a café within walking distance of their respective workplaces, with Mark working at a marijuana dispensary while Stan worked in IT. Mark had told his companion about this dream so often and so loudly that even other regular patrons whom the two had never formally been introduced knew the story by heart.
“You’re making some of that up,” Stan insisted. “There’s no way you’d be able to remember all that shit in a dream.”
“I didn’t make up a single word.”
“All right, fine, whatever. You have to get over it, man. She’s not real and even if she was, what are the odds of you actually ever meeting her? Maybe you’ll meet someone similar but exactly her? It’s gotta be basically impossible.”
“People do win the lottery.”
“Well, the day you meet her is the day I will purchase a lottery ticket.” Stan checked his watch. “I think it’s about time I get going.”
“Yeah, I think it’s about time I get going as well.”
Mark put his fist out for his companion. “Talk to you this afternoon?”
Stan bumped his buddy’s fist. “Of course, man. See you later.” They departed in opposite directions.
As Mark walked, his attention grew toward a man in a bright yellow vest and a big two-way radio on one of the two ATMs that were by the entrance of the cafe. Mark noted that the one which the man worked was new and though he thought it was odd to have two of those sorts of machines standing next to each other, Mark speculated that perhaps it was for a rival money lender and the man was installing its new software. If that was the case, though, why was he working on the old machine?
Mark accidentally plowed into the young woman was hidden from view just around the corner spilling both her and her brown package against the unforgiving concrete, both emitting loud noises as they collided, the package’s sound akin to shattering glass and the girl’s sound akin to a little bird’s peep.
The woman adjusted her thick black-rimmed glasses with both hands from her derriere, an action that Mark could not help but find adorable. He helped her up to her feet and stammered a chagrinned, almost incoherent apology. Mark could not help but get lost in her auburn eyes. When she stood upright again, he was taken aback with the rest of her features. That ponytail, those thick glasses, those lips, the fact that she was a demure Asian girl. Though the two had never met, he suddenly recognized her.
“You’re the girl of my dreams!” Mark blurted. He covered his mouth with both hands in a vain effort to push back the words. He half expected her to run, but instead, she covered her mouth with one waifish finger as she choked back a laugh.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean-”
The young woman cut him off. “You know, in Korea, we believe that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the finger of those that are destined to meet one another in situations just like this.” She wrapped her pinky finger around his. “See? This one.” Mark’s palms began to sweat. “Maybe that’s kind of what you were experiencing?”
Mark stuttered. “W-w-what’s your name?”
“Dương Kim Chinh.”
“I’m Mark DeDumas.”
The two from the inauspicious start proceeded to engage in a heartfelt conversation, one in which Mark believed himself to be making a connection unlike any he ever experienced before in his life. She told him she was a second-generation Korean-American who had lived her entire life in the United States. The two seemed to share a lot of interests and were even able to recognize each other’s obscure allusions from little known video games. True, sometimes she needed to be told several details including the game’s name before she realized what Mark was talking about. And sure, she would often get the major parts wrong but she admitted it herself that she had an incredibly spotty and sporadic memory which is why she couldn’t remember everything.
As the conversation continued, the young woman grew increasingly flirtatious and forward. Several times she rubbed the young man’s right arm. “American muscles are so large,” she murmured just loud enough for Mark to hear. This conversation did not escape the attention of the man in the hazard jacket. He’d occasionally glance at them and seemed to take particular notice when the young lady would make her coquettish remarks.
“Would you like to have a cup of coffee with me?” Mark finally managed to ask. Sure, he already had a cup with his friend and was running a bit behind schedule but another one couldn’t hurt. Besides, who cares about work when love’s afoot?
“I’d love to, but I need to deliver this present to my grandmother. It’s her birthday and-” Her voice drifted when she looked at the shattered package at her feet. “Oh no! I was enjoying our conversation so much I forgot all about this!”
As she lifted it, the two heard a sound reminiscent of shuffling glass shards. “Oh my God! It’s broken!”
Mark reached toward her then stopped. He didn’t feel it would be inappropriate to hold her though he very much would have liked for her to feel his warm embrace. “I’m so sorry! What was inside?”
“An antique Korean vase. I paid over $200 for it.”
“I didn’t mean to run into you. I’m so sorry!”
“I know, I know. These things happen, it’s okay, it just that-”
“It’s just what?”
“I know there are other vases that my grandmother would love but this one because it was the only one I could afford.”
“I could pay for it.” The young man reflexively reached for his wallet.
“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly ask you to do that.”
“I broke it so it’s the least I could do. How much do you need?”
“You see, that’s another thing. The place I went to is like an old-school Korean place run by this really old Korean guy. He like hates Americans or something, I don’t know. Anyway, my point is I’d need cash and more importantly, you couldn’t come with me. I’d have to go alone.”
“I understand. How much are we looking at?”
She hesitated and looked at her shoulder away from Mark. “$500, maybe?” The young woman looked directly into his eyes. “I know that’s a lot and I don’t need the entire amount. I’d appreciate whatever you can chip in.”
“I can give you the full amount.”
“Yeah, we made a lot of money this month. I can easily afford that much.” He looked in his wallet before he remembered. “Wait, you said you needed cash, right?”
“And I can’t go with you.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have that kind of cash on me.”
“Well, there’s an ATM over there.” She pointed at the empty machine next to the man in the yellow hazard jacket. “You could get it from there.”
“Okay, sure, that sounds fine.” He walked a couple of steps toward it before pausing and looking over his shoulder at the young woman. “After you’re done giving your grandmother her present, maybe you don’t have time for coffee but would you maybe like to get some lunch sometime this afternoon?”
She nodded vigorously. “Of course! That sounds great!”
The two exchanged phone numbers before Mark walked over to the empty ATM. The young man put his card in and typed in his four-digit code, but before he could ask for a withdrawal, the man in the yellow vest pushed the young man’s hand aside and moved his brown mustachioed, sunglasses-wearing face in front of his.
“I’m sorry sir,” he said. “I was so focused on my work that I did not notice that you had walked next to me. Both of these machines are out of order. Some idiot installed some new software yesterday but there’s a huge bug where these things only give you half of what you asked for yet the lender still thinks you withdrew the full amount.”
The man held up a thin white card. “This thing contains the software with the necessary fix.” He pointed with his thumb at the machine he was occupied with. “I’m still working on this one and I’ll get to that one soon.”
He pulled Mark’s card out of the machine, handed it to the young man, and pointed across the road. “There’s a working ATM across the street, inside that drug store. It’s in the back. I’d use that one in the meantime.”
Mark thanked the man and turned to the young woman. “I’ll only be a minute. Will you be all right?”
“Of course.” She winked at him, smiled coyly, and placed a crimson tipped finger at the corner of her mouth. “I’ll be waiting.”
The young man practically sprinted across the road. His lack of caution nearly caused a collision and the driver was only more than happy to express his displeasure. This did not dampen Mark’s spirits, though, not at all. He was so excited that he could not help but give his friend a call to gloat.
“You won’t believe it, Stan. I actually met her!”
“My dream girl?”
“The girl you’ve been dreaming about? She’s real?”
“Not only is she real but we’re going to have lunch together this afternoon.”
“Seriously? Shit, I guess I will buy a lottery ticket after all. Look, dude, I’ve got something I need to do. I’ll call back in five minutes, a’ight?”
“Sounds good to me!” Mark gleefully put away his phone, ran inside the drug store, and sprinted to the back. There it was, the ATM he was looking for. Luckily for him, it was currently unoccupied. The young man placed his card in the machine and typed in his four-digit code. He typed in the amount he wished to withdraw, $500.
He heard a buzz. Mark was denied.
“INSUFFICIENT FUNDS”. Mark was baffled by the onscreen text. He had deposited over $5,000 into his account only a day before.
“Bullshit,” Mark whispered.
Again and again, he tried only to be met with the same result. With every successive failure, his ire grew as did the number of expletives he spouted and the amount in which his voice elevated. He began to attract a crowd. Once he grew cognizant of this, he muttered an ashamed apology to the sea of staring faces. Though it was hypocritical for most in the crowd, silent condemnation was their only response. Mark hastily grabbed the card and left to save himself further embarrassment.
After escaping the hypercritical mass, he paused momentarily in an empty aisle so that he could call his bank. There was no answer. Mark checked his watch. It was only 8:30. The bank wouldn’t open until 9:00. Left with no other option, he decided to leave. As he walked out the door, his head rattled with ways in which he was going to break the bad news to his newfound paramour.
Only, he didn’t have to.
She had disappeared and was nowhere to be seen. Neither was the man in the yellow hazard jacket.
He looked to the left. He looked to the right. He took several steps all over scanning the scene for any sign of her. The horrific truth dawned on him slowly. Desperate, with only a shred of hope that was currently fading, he pulled out his phone and dialed her number.
“I’m sorry, but the number you’ve called has been disconnected.”
Incredulous, he tried again repeatedly only to be met with the same soulless response. In a complete frenzy, he tried different combinations of the phone number, adding and subtracting numbers with the vain hope that it was simply mistyped. The angry voices that answered let him know what a ridiculous notion that truly was. His mouth was agape. His mind struggled to truly process what had occurred. He felt nauseous and nearly vomited. The young man tried but was unable to move.
The phone suddenly vibrated in his hand. He meekly answered, his voice only as loud as a rasp. “Hello?”
“So, tell me all about your dream girl.”
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