Karl had the following prompts to choose from:
- Amy: Sunflowers on Steroids
- Cameron: We were arguing over different shades of beige
- Erika: The Great Train Caper
- Jen: Describe some food and make me hungry, a scene will do. Bonus points if you also write about eating food.
- Wendy: Larry Porter and the Philanthropist’s Cone
Karl has been finishing up his first YA novel, written primarily from a young woman’s perspective. He picked a prompt that let him explore a masculine POV.
“Hi! Welcome to Prepster’s. Can I help you find anything?”
“Pants,” Drew said over his shoulder. He didn’t mean to be rude, but he was lost in front of a wall of clothing. He didn’t expect the chirpy voice behind him to be much help.
“We have a lot of those. What kind?”
“Do they have to be khaki?” the girl asked.
He shrugged. “That’s what they told me.”
“Well, then we should move over here.” She went to his left and pulled out a lighter pair of pants.
“I kinda’ like the darker ones.”
She reached out and touched stack of folded pants on the shelf in front of him. “This color, it’s called ‘taupe.’”
Drew looked back and forth across the wall, “Which one is beige?”
The girl smiled. “You don’t have any sisters do you?”
Drew blinked. “Denise is six.”
“Wow, so there’s like ten years between you?”
The girl smiled. She looked like she was in high school too. “Well, she’s probably too young to know that’s bone, that’s cream, this is khaki, taupe, there’s mustard, tobacco, and — on the end — coffee.” She pointed to stacks of pants, each one dedicated to a single shade. “Technically, khaki is a color, not a style of pants. The British took the word from India; it literally means ‘color of dirt.’”
Drew looked back and forth across all the colors. “Not one of them is beige?”
Her ponytail swished back and forth as she shook her head. “Sorry Sport.”
Drew assumed that was a dig at his basketball shorts and hoodie. “Fine,” he sighed, “I’ll take the light ones.”
“Great! What size?”
Drew hesitated. “Medium?”
The girl covered her mouth when she laughed. “Medium? You’re buying pants, not a t-shirt. Does your mom buy all your clothes for you?”
Drew folded his arms and glared down at her.
“Do you even look at the tags on your clothes?”
“Yes, every time I get dressed to make sure they aren’t on backwards.”
The girl laughed again. She had shiny brown hair and big brown eyes that sparkled. He didn’t know why she covered her mouth when she laughed; there was nothing wrong with her teeth. Drew couldn’t help but smile.
“Okay put your hands up.”
Clueless, Drew raised both hands like he was going to catch a rebound. The girl lunged forward like she was going to tackle him. That startled Drew; he backed into the shelves and knocked over some pricing signs. “What are you doing?” he yelped.
The girl stood up holding a yellow tape in her hand. “I’m trying to measure your waist! Now hold still.”
Drew sucked in his gut and held very still. It felt awkward, so he tried to distract himself. “So you live in town?”
“Yep… now relax.”
He couldn’t. “I haven’t seen you in school.” He glanced at her and got a stunning view down her shirt. It was a pleasant surprise, but he didn’t want to be caught staring.
“Thirty inches.” She stood up. “I go to St. Bethany’s.”
“It’s a private high school in West Hills. My family values ‘a good Catholic education.’” She said this last bit puffing out her chest and tucking her chin into her neck. Imitating her father, no doubt. “You never heard of it?”
“We’re new here. Moved from Indiana this summer.”
The girl nodded and raised her hand, “Military brat.” She pointed to a sticker on the pants. “Okay, so this is how sizes work for big-boy pants. The first number is the waist and the second is the inseam. You’re tall so I’m guessing you’re 30×34.”
“Aren’t you going to measure that too?”
Her head snapped away from the shelves to him. She seemed surprised and impressed. “You want me to measure you inseam, Sport?”
Drew shrugged. “Sure, what’s that?”
The girl held one end of the tape measure. “First I hold this end under your crotch…”
“These pants are fine!” Drew grabbed the pants off the shelf. “I’ll take three of these.” He felt his cheeks get warm.
“Three? Exactly the same? You know you can mix it up a little — take a fashion risk. This is Prepster’s where we have lots of neutral colored chinos to choose from.”
“It’s for work. I got a job across the mall at GameCave. They said ‘beige khakis.’”
“I get it. That’s cool.”
Drew didn’t think so. “I’d rather be playing basketball. My folks say a job ‘builds character.’”
“Sport, you’re thinking about this all wrong. You got a job! Now you can leave the house whenever you want and your parents can’t say ‘no.’ They can’t keep up with your shifts, and if they try, just say so-and-so asked you to cover for them and you are out of there.”
“You do that to your military dad?”
“Catholic dad. Mom’s the one with the big guns.”
“I see.” The mention of ‘big guns’ made Drew think about her chest again. She wasn’t particularly top heavy, but the bright polo shirt she wore was tight around her small, athletic frame. The fabric puckered around the few buttons that were fastened at the bottom of her low neckline. It was distracting.
“…plus, you’ll have cash now to spend on the honeys.” She said with a wink and a nudge.
Drew had no idea how to respond to that.
The girl laughed. “You are so much fun to tease.”
“Do you treat all your customers this way?” Drew asked.
“Just the cute ones.”
“Oh, were you going for hunky?” She ran her fingers across his jaw. “Maybe in a few years when the stubble comes in and the shoulders fill out. There’s definite hunkage potential.” She laughed. “Oh, that time I even got your ears to blush!”
“I can’t believe the grief I’m getting for buying some beige pants.”
She looked at him sternly with her hands on her hips.
“What?” It took a minute for Drew to realize his mistake. “Khaki chinos.”
“And he’s trainable! Come on, Sport. Let’s go try those on.”
He rolled his eyes, “Drew. My name is Drew.”
“Marissa, pleased to meet you.”
Drew subjected himself to more abuse by modeling the pants for Marissa. She insisted he come out of the room and show her. She was right about the length.
After buying three identical pairs, Drew left Marissa at Prepster’s to get a smoothie for himself.
He thought Marissa was the oddest girl he had ever met. He towered over her, yet she was fearless. He had to walk by Prepster’s again to get picked up, but didn’t see Marissa in the store. He kind of wondered if he would, and was kind of glad that he didn’t. She seemed to make sport out of watching him squirm. Did his ears really turn pink?
Then he couldn’t find his phone, so he walked back to the smoothie place looking for it. Still no Marissa. He found his phone in the wrong pocket, so he passed by Prepster’s a third time wondering where Marissa could have gone. He peeked outside and saw his mother was waiting in the car with Denise, so he had to leave.
“Hi Drew, are those your new working pants?” Denise asked.
“Yeah.” He handed her the bag to see.
“What’s wrong?” his mom asked as he got in the car. “You look down.”
“I’m fine.” He handed his mom the change and the receipt.
His mom put the money in her purse and looked over the receipt. “Who’s email is this?”
Drew snatched the receipt out of his mother’s hand, and read it. It started with “marissa4219@”.
“Hah!” Drew started laughing and waived the receipt.
“I see you made a friend?” mom asked.
“Not just a friend, mom. A girl.”
Denise launched into a chorus of “Drew has a girlfriend! Drew has a girlfriend!” Drew didn’t care.
Mom shushed Denise and started the car. “How’d you meet her?”
Without taking his eyes off the receipt, Drew buckled up his seatbelt. “We were arguing over different shades of beige.”