rough draft of The Demon of Petty Disturbances
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
"So, ladies," he said, trying to appear far older than he was, "how much longer until you take your exams?"
Molly giggled and put a hand to her mouth and Colleen nudged her in the ribs to be quiet. "Molly started University last fall," she said, "and I've one more term before graduating with my degree in chemistry."
Dick felt embarrassment over misjudging their ages. You idiot! he thought. They called Mel 'little cousin'. "Chemistry, eh?" he blustered, "I suppose you get up to plenty of chemistry with all the lads on campus. Heh, heh," he laughed with forced joviality at his own pun.
Colleen met his gaze with silence and an even stare. He could see Molly turning purple from holding back her laughter. "Yes, ... well ..." he said. "Excuse me." He attempted to retreat gracefully to the house but didn't get more than five steps before he heard the girls burst out in unrestrained laughter. He managed not to stumble at the sound, but could feel his face burning as he slipped quickly into the bathroom. Not an auspicious start, he thought.
Dick sat on a small plastic chair at the edge of the lawn. The evening hadn't gone well for him. He didn't mingle easily and Melissa was busy playing hostess, so he'd been left alone for the majority of the night. He had tried earlier in the evening to join a few clusters of people in conversation, but the groups always seemed to break up as he approached them. He'd finally given up and taken up his perch here in the back yard to watch the party progress.
He kept looking for an opening, waiting for a time when he could spirit Mel away to a quiet corner to ask her the big question. But the opportunity hadn't presented itself.
An inauspicious start to an inauspicious evening, he thought as he reviewed the night's events. He shook his head and groaned inwardly at his remembered behaviour. Why did I make that stupid chemistry joke? The party was now beginning to break up, and the guests were slowly leaving. Melissa stood to one side, thanking everyone for coming and hugging and kissing them each goodbye.
Dick knew he should leave now; the last bus headed his way would depart within a quarter of an hour. But he'd waited this long, and he was determined to have Melissa's answer before leaving tonight. He saw Mrs. Saunders clearing away the dining room table inside the house as Melissa said goodbye to the last of the guests. Now was his chance.
He strolled out of the shadows as the last few people departed around the side of the house to their waiting cars. Melissa started a bit when she saw him.
"Oh, Dick, I didn't see you there. I thought you'd already left the party."
"No, I was over there," he indicated the edge of the lawn with a wave of his hand. "Enjoying the view. It was such a nice evening to sit outside."
"Yes," Melissa agreed, "it was a nice evening. But now it looks like we might get some rain. And isn't the last bus leaving soon?"
"Oh, no worries about that," he said, taking her arm and patting it. "Walk with me awhile."
Melissa glanced around a bit uncertainly and then fell into step beside him. "I haven't seen much of you these past few months," she said to him.
"Yeah," he said nonchalantly, taking in a deep breath, "I've been busy. New place and everything, you know? You should come and see it."
"Oh, yes, I suppose I should ... sometime," she replied. "I've been so busy myself lately ... it's just been madness! I've had so much to do for the exams, and Mom's been redoing the sitting room - did you notice? I just love the colour scheme we finally settled on. But you know she had to have me there every step of the way, and then, of course, we've had to plan for our holiday this summer ..." she squeezed Dick's arm excitedly. "We're going for six weeks this year! Mom and Dad have rented the cutest cottage out west, down by the sea. And there's a small boat there that belongs to one of Dad's friends, but he said we could use it anytime, and there are stables nearby so I'll go riding every day!"
"Holiday?" Dick asked, stopping to turn and look at her in the moonlight. His mind felt numb. Holiday. Of course. Mel's parents always took her on holiday when school was out. How could he have forgotten?
"But ..." the word formed on his lips before he could stop it.
"But what?" Mel asked.
His mind whirled and he blurted out the first thing he thought of. "But you can't go this year!"
"Why not?" she asked, pulling away from him. "I got to pick the place this year, and we've an extra three weeks since I did so well on my exams."
rough draft of The Demon of Petty Disturbances by K. Kylyra Ameringer