Hi! I'd love some feedback on the beginning of my short story
Hi everyone! First off... I'm new to this community, so thank you in advance to anyone taking the time to read this.
I recently finished and revised a short story that had been on my mind for a while. It turned out a bit longer than anticipated, so I'm only including the first part of it here... would love to know what you all think, I'm aware there's LOADS of room for improvement, and any critique is welcome.
Parkour dating, or how to get your boyfriend to dump you right before moving in together.
“Give me twenty,” said the stall vendor and extended his hand to close the deal. I’d been going back and forth with him for a while now, all the way down from the initial thirty five he was asking, but I still wasn’t sure. I looked at the silver frame in front of me for the hundredth time and frowned. “It’s too small,” whispered one part of my mind. “Yes, but look at that delicate leaf engraving along the edges. A bit of polish and a cute picture and boom, you’ve got the top shelf decoration covered,” said the other half, the one that had been unsuccessfully trying to get me to splurge for most of the morning at the craft fair.
“Mmmh, what do you think, Freddy?” I turned towards my boyfriend, who was busy piercing a lava lamp with his eyes, following the bubbles floating around like a cat about to bounce.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he answered, snapping his head back towards us. “I mean, it’s cute. If you like it, buy it.”
“Yes, I know it’s cute. It’s also small. And useless in the grand scheme of things. And twenty seems like a bit steep, don’t you think?”
He shrugged his shoulders and put his hands in the front pouch of his hoodie, a sign that he was growing impatient.
I took one last look at the frame, sighed and set it back down on the table with the other silverware on display.
“Maybe some other time, thank you though!”
But the vendor had already turned his back to us and was now praising an older woman who was trying on one of the wide brimmed fedora on the other side of the stall.
Freddy and I started walking down the bustling street full of shoppers admiring the wide variety of items on display at the many wooden stands that were set up on each side. The smell of recently fried churros, waffles and hot chocolate sweetened the air and made the heat even more oppressive. I felt a rumbling in my stomach.
“Do you wanna go eat something?” I asked Freddy.
“Sure, whatever you want,” he replied and forced a hint of a smile on his face while looking straight ahead. I grabbed his arm to make him turn to me.
“Are you bored? We can go if you want to…”
“No, it’s fine. I know you like this sort of stuff.”
And he stepped ahead to the next stall. I inhaled one last mouthful of calorie filled air, and shuffled after him.
Now, I know what you must be thinking. Clearly, he’s not in love. Clearly these are the final stages of the relationship, surely we must be on our way out, so to speak. But you would be wrong. We absolutely weren’t. In fact, at this time we were still planning on moving in together in a few months, after we’d taken all of our final exams and handed in our term papers (just so you know, he was chasing a Telecommunications Engineering career while I strolled through a much more bohemian Theatre Studies degree, unsure about anything else but the fact that we were going to start a life together).
The truth is, he had been like this since we’d met. At first I was sure he must have some form of mild Aspergers or something similar, which, I must confess, only added to my attraction for him. But after talking to his family and friends, and even asking him about it directly, it transpired that he did not in fact have any kind of syndrome, he simply was, as his mother put it, “wonderfully easy to get along with”.
Still, looking at him, it was hard to guess what was going on in his mind. A tortured, silent guy type thing, but without the torture and overdoing the silence bit. The lower part of his face, all around the mouth was covered by a shield of a beard which he made a point of taking especially good care of, always in perfect symmetry and with the right “bushiness level”, as he liked to call it. He also let his dark hair grow into a long fringe over his forehead, so that really the only thing visible from his face were the eyes, two blue dots sandwiched in-between copious amounts of hair. As our relationship developed I noticed he only ever wore jeans and shirts / hoodies / blazers in varying degrees of gray to black colors. I pointed this out to him once, a few months into dating, and the next day he picked me up for dinner wearing an orange shirt that was so bright it could have helped a plane land. All during dinner and later at the movies he kept tugging at it from all sides, until I told him that all that tugging was getting on my nerves and he was able to contain himself during the drive home. He never wore it again, and I never mentioned his lack of color variation again.
We did have great times though. He always seemed in a good mood, never too good though, just the right amount, without being annoying or overbearing. As you may have suspected, great listener. Supportive. Hard-working. And with a superhuman ability to remember every little thing, from birthday wishes to little quirks, music, food and film preferences all the way to my lucky number and my grandmother’s name day. I suspected that, in my grandmother’s eyes, that and the fact that “he was studying a real thing” made him the favorite of the two.
It all started to fall apart during our third anniversary dinner. We’d (I’d) decided to go to this fancy Middle Eastern restaurant that we would always pass when he walked me home from class, and which offered all sorts of sweet and salty delights. As with most things I suggested, it was approved uncontested. We sat down, and we (I) ordered a few entrees and two main courses to share. All the plates came, hummus, halloumi strips, two tabouleh bowls with different condiments, your traditional falafel with a side salad, and a few other we’d picked out blindly and looked equally mouth-watering. I dug into the nearest plate and began wolfing down the tabouleh, scraping the bottom of my plate with pita bread after each serving, and grunting my approval at every new taste. I noticed he had yet to actually put anything in his mouth, and was still pushing bits of a collapsed falafel around his plate.
“Everything okay? Try it, it’s really good!" I told him.
“Yes, it smells very nice,” came the answer.
I put my fork down and swallowed. Clasping my hands together under my chin, I cleared my throat and asked: “What is the matter?”
“Nothing. I’m just allergic to nuts. And all this seems to have a whole lot of nuts in it.”
“Of course it has nuts in it! It’s Middle Eastern, most of their food is somehow nut based!”
I was attracting the attention of the couple sitting at the next table, but I was beyond caring. Three years of pent up frustration were boiling over. The beer must have been doing its job, too.
“Why didn’t you say anything? Why don’t you ever say anything? I feel like all these years you’ve basically been following me around! Sometimes I feel like I’ve adopted a pet… please tell me what is up with you, I don’t get it!”
I knew I’d gone over the line with the pet thing. I was expecting him to pick up his glass and throw the lemonade at my face. Literally anything would have been preferable to what he actually said. “I knew you like all this stuff, so I didn’t wan to ruin it for you."
“The enjoyment is a little inhibited when the person in front of you only watches you eat. Also, how the hell did you expect me to eat all this stuff by myself anyway?”
He shrugged his shoulders, but his eyes betrayed his bewilderment.
“Honestly, Lu, I feel like you’re being a little overdramatic with this. I already ate at home a bit before leaving, so I’m not really that hungry."
I give up.
“And I was thinking you could take the leftovers home to eat tomorrow.”
I threw the napkin on the table and left the restaurant. The proximity to knives was giving me ideas that were better left unentertained.