Five minutes. Just five more minutes to wait. The preliminary results will be announced, and we’ll know who has moved on to the next part of the competition. My leg can’t seem to stop bouncing up and down.
Kara is right behind me, both figuratively and literally. She’s laying on my bed swiping through her phone as I refresh the page every few seconds. She’s trying to be the calm and collected one, but I know better, she’s just as nervous as me.
“Would you stop jiggling your leg? You’re shaking the whole room,” she says. Her voice is even and controlled. She’s totally freaking out too.
“I can’t help it! It’s nearly here!”
“You keep moving that leg, and I’ll unplug and hide the router.”
My leg instantly stops. Damn, she knows me too well.
“Better. Now come sit on the bed and wait a few minutes without burning out your eyeballs.”
I push my chair slightly away from my desk and flop out of it onto my bed next to her. My face is buried in my comforter.
“So how went things with Michael today?”
“Ahh dood now…” my muffled voice started.
“And if you try to tell me you did not go back to the comic shop, I’m hitting you with a pillow.”
I flip over and shoot her a dirty look.
“You’re history’s worst villain, you know that?”
She gives a quick grin.
I pull myself up onto the bed proper, and sit next to Kara.
“Fine, yes, I went back to the comic shop today. Found out pretty boy actually owns the place.”
“Really? That’s impressive.”
“Right? It’s so intimidating.”
“Relax, he might be gorgeous and successful, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of your league.”
“I guess. He’s not that successful anyway. Apparently, I was his first repeat customer.”
She puts her phone down, giving me all her attention.
“Weird. Seems like the kind of place he’d get a lot of foot traffic.”
“I talked with him a bit about my entries to the contest. He seemed really interested, though, I’m not sure if it’s because he’s planning to use me, or if he genuinely likes me.”
“Could be both.”
“Then some fancy guy came in and ordered a bunch of old issues.”
“Fancy you say?”
“Nice clothes, expensive comics. Michael’s eyes seemed to light up at the idea of selling so many comics.”
“I change my mind; he might not be out of your league, but he sounds like a gold digger.”
“I really don’t need you saying that.” I groan, as I hit the back of my head against the headboard.
Kara moves and adjusts to sit right next to me, she lazily rests her head on my shoulder, and I rest my head on hers.
“Don’t assume the worst.”
“You, of all people, are telling me to be optimistic?” I’m incredulous. I don’t think she’s lying, and she’s definitely not being malicious.
“Yes, me of all people. Sure, I can hate people just as much as you do, but I don’t want to hate people. I sometimes worry you like being proven right about how rotten the world is. Aren’t you supposed to wish for something better?”
“Wow, Kara… that… was way too frikkin sappy. What the actual hell?” I tease. She shoves me so hard, I nearly fall off the bed.
“Never mind. You’re still hopeless. Just, do me a favor and at least open yourself up to the idea of something good happening.”
I sigh, almost wanting to argue. But I don’t.
Maybe I am a little more dour than I should be. Maybe I am looking for the worst in people. As much as I think Michael was just using me to improve his store’s image, he wouldn’t have spent so much time with me if he didn’t like me, right? I’m not famous, and I have just as little a chance as anyone of being a comic artist.
Ugh, either I hype myself about how good I am, or I give myself reason to think Michael likes me. I can’t do both.
Kara brings me back to reality. My computer is beeping with a notification of a new email. I don’t even have a chance to blink before I find myself back in my computer chair, opening my inbox.
It’s a message from Fantastik Comics.
Subject line: Congratulations!