Merry Go Round

An original song by MJ Hopkins has me listening hard to the lyrics because they sure ring true for me, especially the part about faking it till you make it. Some days, it feels like we all end up doing just that in today’s world and before we know it, we get too caught up with everything and we forget why we’re really doing that thing we’re doing.

Fake it till you make it
that’s what you said to me
I’m trying, baby, 
but I’m just a wannabe

I’m summoning the will
without a magic pill
so hard for me to make decisions
when I can’t think so clear.

It feels like I’m stuck
on a merry-go-round.

It’s spinning out of control
with nothing I can hold
I want to see a time I can stand
without losing my mind. 

On the writing front, I’ve started writing! And it’s not the story I thought I was going to write either! But looks like the characters have long percolated from last year and seem to be ready to go. Why my characters don’t work when they’re supposed to beats me, but I’ll take what I can get.

Here’s a sneak peek of the first draft:

I see her on my way back to the table, her long brown hair falling over her shoulders. There’s also that skipping of my heart followed by the clenching of my belly when she raises her hand to tuck her hair behind her ear and I see her face.

“Hayley?” The name emerges from my mouth before I can stop myself and she looks up, her eyes narrowing before they widen in surprise. “It’s me, Shane. We met last year at…” I pause, struggling to remember the name of the bar where we’d met.

“The Tipsy Cat.”

“Yeah, that one.” I grin, my mouth turning dry. “So how are you doing?”

“I’m good. Catching up on paperwork.” She gestures to the file folder in front of her, her glasses sliding down her nose.

“In a bar?”

She slips off her glasses and sets it down on the table. “Why not? What about you? You work around here?”

“I work down at Fire Station 7, just a few blocks from here. I’m here with my buddies over there.” I don’t bother to point for the guys make their presence known by hooting and hollering.

For a few moments, our eyes lock together. When she bites her lower lip, I swallow, suddenly out of words of to say. “You look great.”

“Thanks. You look great yourself,” Hayley says as her phone vibrates, its display flashing. “It’s really nice seeing you again, Shane, but I have to get this.”

“No problem. See you around,” I say before making my way back to the table, the guys watching me knowingly. I know I’m not going to hear the end of it—who is she, how did we meet, what’s the status—but I ignore their looks and sip my beer.

“So you gonna tell us who she is?” Kev asks. “She’s hot.”

“Not wearing a ring, too,” Brad says. “Older though. Maybe forty?”

“Who the hell cares how old she is? She’s still hot as hell, man,” Jerry says, elbowing him. “Did you know women get hornier the older they get?”

“Come on, guys, are we really gonna do this?” Reduce her to words like hot and older and whatever else they were about to say before I cut them short, I almost add but I don’t. I realize too late I just sounded defensive. “She’s just a friend of a friend, alright? I wasn’t about to pretend I didn’t know her.”

Kev’s eyes narrow. “So I gather she doesn’t have your number?”

I shake my head incredulously although it’s more a defensive reaction than anything. “Why would she? You gone deaf all of a sudden, man? She’s a friend of a friend.”

“You sure didn’t look at her like she was just some friend of a friend.” Kev pulls out his wallet. He takes out a ten-dollar bill and slides across the table. “Ten bucks says you don’t have the guts to walk over there and give her your number.”

I scoff. “What do you think I am, chicken?”

Brad lays a ten-dollar bill on top of Kev’s. “If you weren’t turning as red as a tomato right now, man, I’d stay out of it. But you and this chick got something going on even if you’re not saying anything.”

“Who made you some kind of mind-reader all of a sudden? She’s just a friend.” Another deflection. Too bad we’ve all worked with each other too long for them not to recognize what’s going on. Hell, even I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is that my heart is beating a mile a minute.

“Ah, hell, you are turning red,” Jerry chuckles, peeling a ten from his wallet and sliding it toward the two other bills. “I’m in.”

“You guys know you’re each gonna be ten bucks short tonight, right? Because this is gonna be the easiest thirty I’ll make in ten seconds flat,” I scoff, wishing my face isn’t burning with embarrassment the way it is now. Too bad being the youngest guy in the firehouse has its price and this is one of them.

“Like we care about that. It’s only money,” Kev says, laughing as I take a napkin from the holder and Jerry hands me a pen. “But watching you hand your phone number to that classy lady over there that had you bugging your eyes the moment you saw her? Now that’d be priceless.”

“You guys need to get out more,” I mutter as I scribble my name and my phone number down on the napkin and get up from the table.

From the corner of my eye, I can see Hayley slipping the file folders into her briefcase. While a part of me wishes she’d left minutes before the guys dared me to hand her my phone number, another part of me is thanking them. Sure, a year has passed since we first met but maybe that’s the way life works. Some people simply show up again in your life and it’s up to you to figure out what you’re going to do about it. In my case, the guys did it for me.

“Hey, Hayley,” I say, my voice almost cracking as I approach her table. I don’t know why my heart is racing but it is, just as it did the moment I saw her. “Thought maybe you and I could get together sometime.”

She frowns, almost surprised. “Shane, I…”

“But instead of me asking for your number, I figured I’d leave you mine.” I slide the napkin over the table toward her before she can continue. “You don’t have to do anything. You can leave it here, toss it on your way out. Or you can keep it, just in case.”

As her gaze goes to the napkin on the table, I don’t wait to find out if she picks it up or not. I turn around and walk back to the table where the guys are surprisingly quiet. As I sit back down on my chair, I’m glad my back is to her so I don’t have to see what she does with my number.

Is she gonna toss it? Slip it into her purse? Leave it on the table?


4 thoughts on “Merry Go Round

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