Over the next ten days we will be publishing the ten finalists from the 2023 Voorheesville Short Story Contest. The theme of this year’s contest was “A Roll of the Dice.” This, the second of our ten finalist stories, made it to the final round of judging with our guest judge, Laurin Jefferson. Today, enjoy Isabella Carmody’s story, “A Tale Because of a Tail.”
Here we go again, I thought to myself. Another day my friends try to set me up with a “potential bachelor”. Julia and Beth, the friends in question, told me they had both set up blind dates for me later tonight and I was supposed to meet up with them now to pick which one I was going to go on. I walked from Kent Hall, where I had my last class today, to New Castle Hall where my friend’s dorm was. I was already tired from a miserable day at school and definitely was not into the whole idea of going on a blind date tonight.
My friends always have something to say about my dating life even though it’s pretty much nonexistent at this point. They’re always telling me things like how I’m 19 and need to put myself out there. Well, as I tell them, I’m trying to get into medical school, and don’t have time to be focused on someone else, yet here we are again with them trying to set me up.
I scanned my ID at the door and walked into the warm building. Not that it was cold outside, but it was at the point where if I was out there without a coat for too long I’d start to shiver. I took a left and went up the dirty gray stairs, trying to ignore the rancid smell coming from one of the dorms. Once I got to the third floor, I took another left and knocked on the second door down. Julia answered today, giving me a big smile as soon as she saw me.
“Carly! Come in, quick, we need you to choose which guy you’ll be going out with tonight!” she exclaimed as she grabbed my arm and quickly pulled me in. I followed behind her and slumped down in the pink bean bag chair in the corner of her room, which color has dulled from use. I let out a sigh to be off my feet, taking my backpack off and setting it down on the floor next to me.
“Okay, So,” Beth started, getting up from her desk chair to show me something on her phone. “We are each going to show you the guy we picked out for you, and then you get to choose which one you want to hang out with tonight. Exciting, right?”
She looked so excited, but I was just left confused for a second. “Isn’t a blind date where the two people don’t know what the other one looks like? Shouldn’t you guys just pick for me?” I asked her, hoping she would understand what I was saying.
“Well…Not exactly, I think a blind date is just when you haven’t met someone before. But if you want us to pick, that’s not going to work, because we each want you to pick who we chose for you,” she replied, looking at Julia who was listening intently into our conversation.
“Yes, exactly why you must pick Carly, the one guy I picked out for you is a good one I think you’ll like, his name is Matt and he’s more of the athletic sort. I don’t think Beth’s pick is your type, his name is Justin, and he’s more of the, how do I say this nicely, nerdy type I guess. Anyway, can we show you now?” Just from Julia’s description, I had a feeling she would be right about who I would choose, but to be honest, I didn’t even want to go in the first place. I was aware it was a Friday night, but my eyelids were sagging twenty minutes ago in class, and the late nights studying for midterms this week were not doing me any favors.
“Guys I don’t know about this, I’m not really feeling it tonight, and I know, I know, I say that every time but like especially tonight, it’s been a really long week,” I told them, praying they would let this one time slide. Julia and Beth looked at each other, and I could totally see them contemplating letting me go this one time, I mean they knew better than anyone how swamped I had been this week.
Julia sighed and offered up a deal. “Now how about this. We flip a coin. I call tails before anything by the way, so tails is you have to pick a guy and go out with him, and then heads is you can take the night off and we can all just hang. How does that sound?”
Honestly, I would rather it not be a fifty-fifty split of the odds on me getting what I want, but it was better than nothing. “Alright, deal,” I told them. They looked at each other and smirked. I thought they were being a little overconfident already to assume this was a win for them.
Julia pulled out a quarter from her pocket and flipped it with her thumb. We all watched it go up through the air, above her head, and then fall back into her hand. She quickly slapped it over to the back of her left hand and kept it covered, smiling from ear to ear while looking at me.
“The moment of truth!” she announced, looking back and forth from Beth to me. She lifted her hand and there was the bald eagle staring back at me as a huge groan left my body.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I grumbled, putting my head in my palms.
“Woohoo!!” Beth shouted, laughing with Julia about my fate.
“Alright, fine, let’s get on with it, show me Matt and Justin,” I knew I was going to pick Matt, not only because of his description, but also because Julia typically had better taste. Sure enough, when they both pulled out their phones to show me, Matt was the obvious choice by a long shot. To be honest, I was actually very impressed, and was pretty nervous thinking about how in like an hour I would be in the presence of this man. “Definitely Matt. Like not even a question Matt,” I informed them, ready to get on with the process.
“Yep, that’s what I thought. I totally told you Beth,” Julia shouted, letting her excitement shine through.
“Yeah, okay, whatever,” Beth said, rolling her eyes at us both. She pretended like she cared, when in all actuality she just wanted me to go at that point.
“So this is the plan,” Julia started, talking with her hands as she was explaining this to me. “We drop you off at the bar on Main street at 8, then we pick you up at 11, or when you text us. We told him to be there at 8, and once you’re there you can get all his information like his number. Then, after today, boom, perfect, you’re together forever!”
I raised an eyebrow at her for that one. First off, together forever, and one date? I didn’t think so. Second of all, he may have had the looks, but did he really have the personality or intelligence I was looking for? I was like 90% certain that he did not. But, I did try and have a positive outlook and just told her, “Let’s just get ready to go”.
In about forty-five minutes, Julia and Beth had picked out the “perfect outfit” for me in their closets as I did my makeup and fixed my hair. By the time I was all ready to go, we had to get in the car and go. We all left the dorm, exited the building, and piled into Beth’s silver 2012 Honda Civic. The whole drive there I was zoned out, not really paying any attention to the conversations at hand. I was dreading this event and I think seeing him only made it worse. Don’t get me wrong, he was easy on the eyes, with fluffy, dirty blonde hair, blue-gray eyes, and a nice jawline. I just wasn’t sure his personality was going to be there. Typically the gym guys were just focused on the quickest way to grow their muscles, with not much else.
Once we parked, Julia grabbed my arm again before I left to give me some final words of encouragement. “I’m sure it will go fine and don’t forget, don’t judge a book by its cover! I think you will be pleasantly surprised,” she smiled at me, giving me some sort of knowing look.
I decided to have some hope and returned the smile. “You’re right, Thanks!”
As I was closing the door, Beth shouted, “Good Luck! It’ll go great!” I shut the door and they both gave me a thumbs up and big smiles. I returned the smile, although mine was undeniably a nervous one. I was shivering without a coat since the sun had gone down, and quickly walked to the door. I pulled it open and looked around for the man I had seen in the photo. I didn’t see him so I checked my watch to make sure I wasn’t too off on the time. 8:05? I furrowed my brow as I thought about how he wasn’t here. Maybe he just ran late? Or he had gone to the bathroom? Or even maybe he had been pulled over because he was speeding on his way here?
Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Carly?” a deep voice asked.
I whipped my head around and up to see that it was in fact my date, Matt, looking at me. “Hi! Matt, right?” I put my hand out to shake his hand, which he took as he nodded his head.
“I grabbed us some seats over in the corner, follow me,” he said, as I followed him to our seats. He was even better looking in person, his eyes had a nice sparkle to them. His hair flowed nicely as well, along with another hundred things I had noticed upon first look. So far so good I told myself. He pulled out the chair for me at a little two-person table and I sat down in it as he took his seat.
We started off the conversation with just the basics like where we were from, what hobbies we had, and what sports we played in high school. He only mentioned the gym as one of his hobbies and other than that didn’t talk about it, which was a good sign that he was not like the other guys I had met before. Then we got into talking about things like our majors and what our after college plans were. I had mentioned that I was going to premed, to which he replied, “No way! Me too! I’m surprised I haven’t seen you on campus before then”.
As soon as he said that, a buzzer went off in my head. My brain was basically shouting at me that this was it right here, the whole package deal. I had to calm myself before I got too excited though, because alas, I had only talked to him for a total of twenty minutes in my whole entire life. Still, the basic essential needs of Carly Caufield were all checked at this point in time. He was funny, smart, focused, athletic, and attractive. Not much else I could ask for at this point. So Julia had done some background research for me. My question was to how she found him. Maybe her boyfriend, Dylan, was friends with him or something, either way, didn’t matter now.
I decided to take her chances and pay him a compliment while I could. “Well,” she smiled, “I think I would have remembered a guy like you if I had seen you on campus before”.
He laughed at that, a really nice laugh may I add, and said, “Well I know for a fact I would have remembered you if I had seen you before, I’ll tell you that much”. I felt my face get bright red with that comment. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at that moment, which turned out to be for the rest of the night.
Throughout the night, I just felt myself beginning to like him more and more and it got to the point where I knew that if it was up to me, I would without a doubt be seeing him again. We found out we both played lacrosse, and while he played basketball I played volleyball. While it was nearing 11, he informed me that he played for the basketball club team at the school.
“You should come to a game,” he told me, as he was putting his number in my phone. “I could even teach you how to play close to as good as me if you really wanted,” he smirked, waiting for my response.
“That sounds like a date to me. I’m down!” I told him, putting out my hand to shake on it.
“Well looks like we have a deal, Miss Caulfield. How about this, I’ll text you when my next game is so you can go, and you let me know when you want to learn how to play,” he took my hand and shook it, making impressive eye contact with me.
“That sounds perfect to me,” I told him, not being able to hide the smile on my face.
We talked a little bit more about classes we were taking this year until Matt got his card back since he had so graciously paid. We got up from our seats on the dark wooden chairs and headed for the door. He held it open for me as I walked through it and I thanked him.
As we were nearing Beth’s car, he told me, “I had a lot of fun, and I hope you did too. I’m excited to see you again soon”.
I smiled up at him and said, “I had more fun than I’ve had in quite a long time, so thank you, Matt”.
He just smiled and opened the door to the car for me, and after getting in he shut it behind me. I waved to him and he waved back as Beth backed up out of the parking spot. As soon as we left the parking lot I was nonstop getting slammed with questions and decided to give them one general answer, “All I have to say is that I am very thankful you guys persuaded me to go because that was perfect. On top of that, I already have plans to see him again soon. So thank you, thank you, thank you, both of you”. Once I said that they both screeched and Julia clapped.
“I knew it, Dylan knows him from his club basketball team and thought he would be good for you! This is so great!” She proclaimed, smiling to herself.
I just couldn’t stop thinking about this man now, and already knew he was about to take over my thoughts for days and days to come, but there was no way for me to stop it. As I was thinking to myself, I didn’t think I wanted to stop it either. Suddenly I felt a buzz from my phone in my pocket and looked to see who it was. As soon as I saw the name, I knew I was done for. After that moment, I made the decision that with every coin toss I was ever included in from this point forward, I was picking tails.