Today's excerpt is from my upcoming YA (young adult) short story, Me & Timothy Cooper. To be released January 10, 2013.
Book is now live. To purchase visit:
Pre-publication review comment: "Timothy Cooper should be 40 and married to me."
Timothy Cooper, with his sandy-colored hair and sparkling blue eyes, was an absolute dream. Too bad he didn’t notice me. Ever. Could be there were lots of prettier girls around. Or could be we were only seventeen and he wasn’t interested in a serious relationship.
I didn’t think I was ugly. In fact, I’d gotten comments from other boys saying different. I had brown eyes, nothing remarkable about that, but my lashes were long and dark. I also had thick, brunette hair with a natural wave to it. Girls always envied my hair. More than one told me every day was a good hair day where I was concerned.
But maybe Timothy Cooper wasn’t interested in brunettes. Or maybe he liked girls with stick figures because I didn’t have one of those either. That was embarrassing at times. Mom would take me to the big department store in the middle of town, and we’d have to shop in the women’s department to find clothes. I simply couldn’t wear those skinny, tight things made for girls my age.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t fat – overweight. Just curvy. Which seemed like a good thing for the future, but not so much for a girl who was trying to fit in. And I wanted to fit in badly. I wanted the in-crowd to treat me as equals and Timothy Cooper to look my way.
But fate or the devil or whatever you believe in always conspired against me. Until our teacher, Mrs. Walker, decided to put us in pairs.
“Taylor Lawton, you will work with Timothy Cooper …”
My head shot up from my desk into the eyes of the very boy I spent all my days thinking of, and my gut twisted. Me and Timothy Cooper? Work together? The twist in my gut became a stone.
Then he smiled, and the room became brighter than the noonday sun. “Guess you’re stuck with me,” he said.
Heaven help me, being stuck with Timothy Cooper wasn’t such a bad thing.
The teacher walked between us, her skirt swishing against her panty hose. “Now, this assignment,” she said, “will require you to share a bit about yourselves with each other, so you’ll need to schedule time after school to work together and be sure to take good notes.”
Time after school together with … with him? The fist curled itself around my insides and yanked.
Mrs. Walker fixed her gaze on my face, like she could see inside my head. “Pretend you’re writing a novel about the other person. Ask yourself what about their life you would put into the story and also, what you would change.”
She moved back toward the front of the class. Lisa Maiton threw a wad of paper at her butt, and snickers broke out.
“Once you’ve compiled all the information,” Mrs. Walker said, oblivious, “write one to two pages, double-spaced. It’s due next Monday. That gives you the weekend to finish. This assignment will teach us about writing and some about our fellow students as well.”
The class began chattering as she turned away, everyone figuring out how and when to spend time with their partner, yet I sat there my tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth, my palms sweating.
Write about Timothy Cooper. Share my life with Timothy Cooper. I didn’t know which was worse. Or better.
“So … when you want to get together?” he asked.
Monday, today was Monday. I gathered my thoughts. And this was the second week in March of 2010. And my name was Taylor Marie Lawton. And–
I smacked my lips. I could use a glass of water. “Y-yes. Taylor,” I said.
He chuckled and shook his head. “You’re a funny one.”
A funny one what? Girl? Human being?
He opened his book bag and removed his cell phone, poising his finger over the digital keypad. “What’s your number?”
My number. Give my number to Timothy Cooper. Dear God. I wiped my hands on my blue jeans. This wasn’t happening to me. I rattled off my number.
His thumb flicked across the keys. “Here, I’ll send you a text, then you’ll have mine.”
My phone buzzed in my purse, and I bent to remove it. But I immediately faced a huge problem. My shirt.
See, each day my primary consideration was what to wear for the big moment Timothy Cooper finally spoke to me. Okay, that was silly, but to me it was important. Yet this particular day, standing in my bedroom, looking at the mound of laundry I’d forgotten to do, I decided to wear the last thing in my closet I’d ever want him to see me in.
The shirt from Grandma.
I loved Grandma, but she had no idea what size I wore or what style was in. And that, I think, is par for the course in being a grandma. Therefore, this shirt was (a) too big and (b) inclined to gap open.
I hesitated, my phone buzzing incessantly inches away, and considered my options. I could be quick. Maybe with my hair fallen over me, he wouldn’t notice. Or I could hold the shirt to my chest with one hand, but that would make me look either inept or vain.
“You going to get that?” he asked.
I glanced up to see him grinning from ear to ear. Apparently, something about this situation was funny. I only hoped it wasn’t my shirt.
“How about you look away?” I said.
At this, his grin spread wider, and for some reason, that made me kind of mad.
“What if I don’t?” he asked.
I sat up straighter. My phone had stopped buzzing. “Well, that’s your choice, but I don’t think we know each other well enough for you to see all there is of me.”
He gave a snort and reclined in his desk, his arm thrown over the seat back. “What if I don’t want to see all there is to see of you?”
And I don’t know what came over me. This was, after all, Timothy Cooper, my dream guy, but sure as the world, I said the first thing that came to my head.
“Oh please,” I rolled my eyes, “You’re male.”
He burst out laughing.
Fortunately, this was the diversion I needed, so retrieving my purse from its spot in the floor, I wielded my phone before him as evidence of my success, more than a little relieved. The bell rang then, and we snatched our books and rushed out into the hall. But he pulled me to a stop before I could escape, and I swear my arm burned right where his fingers were.
“You never said when.”
When. When would we spend time together trading life stories? When would I have the pleasure of looking into his blue eyes for a few hours of my time?
“Well, when then?” I asked.
He hooked his thumbs in his pockets, his book tucked beneath his arm. “You wanna go out?”
Out? On a date? I blinked back my surprise and swallowed heavily. “Whatever’s good for you.”
“How about Wednesday? I can pick you up for church. Then after, we can get a burger.” He waited, his blue eyes growing even bluer the longer I stared at them.
“Wednesday’s good,” I said.
“Text me your address.”
I nodded and made to turn, but his last words pulled me short.
“Maybe don’t wear that shirt.”
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.