I just can’t leave goofy prompts alone, can I?
I’m supposed to be writing like five other things.
It’s extremely distracting.
Well, I justified it by writing my assigned screenplay in a couple of hours, anyway. So I guess I’m sorta justified.
Anywho. The prompt was to shuffle your iPod/playlist/music in general and write a short story (under 2,000 words) based off of it.
So, my song was an old WWII song called “Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive” and I didn’t think I would follow through until I got an idea in bed at night. And those ideas are, of course, always the best.
Funny, though… I started out intending to write it in third person. *shrug*
Here’s the song:
And here’s the story!
Having a bad day? Seem like the world’s out to get you?
I can help!
No problem too big!
Call the number below to make an appointment.
It was a ridiculous claim, I knew. But for some reason, the smudgy, rain-puckered piece of paper caught my eye. I stopped my steady swinging along on my crutches and squinted my eyes against the rain to look a little closer.
The phone number was a scrawl, but still barely eligible. I reached out my hand and tugged the paper from the staple that held it in place.
Worth a try.
The red painted door swung open into the small office and a loud cowbell clang sounded as I came in the door. For some reason, it sounded a little too loud. I looked up just in time for the bell to drop and hit me in the face.
“Augh!” I dropped my crutches in surprise and pain and sat down hard on the floor, holding my nose. The metallic smell of blood hit my nose and I took my hand away to see red.
The sound of clicking heels came from behind me. “Oh, goodness. Sir, are you alright?” A clean faced, young woman dropped down next to me. She reached to grab my crutches and helped me back to my feet. Well . . . foot and hunk of plaster.
I kept my coat sleeve held securely against my nose despite the awkward position it caused while propping myself on the crutches.
“I am so sorry,” the girl apologized again, biting her lip and brushing a strand of hair away from her face. “I’ve been thinking that was getting a little loose on there.” She sighed. “Anyway, are you here for an appointment?”
No. Just here to check if your cowbell booby trap is in working order.
“Yes, I am.”
She walked back to her desk and tipped her head up to look at the scrawled writing on the calendar. “Let’s see . . . you’re Amos?”
“That’s me,” I swung forwards to the desk. “Hope I’m not late or anything.”
The girl smiled, “No, we don’t stand on much ceremony here anyway. Just right down there,” she nodded her head towards the short hallway to my right. I nodded my thanks and awkwardly made my way in that direction.
After the rather long while to traverse the hall’s short distance, I reached the door at the end of it. It was made of red-ish wood and held a glass pane with the block letters: OPTIMIST, PHD. The sound of someone whistling softly from inside reached my ears.
PhD? I frowned. Taking my sleeve away from my nose, I found that the bleeding had stopped. Well, one good thing that had happened today. I’d rather not meet someone else new while staunching a flow of blood fauceting from my face. I raised my hand and gave a soft rap on the glass of the door. The whistling stopped.
“C’mon in!” a cheerful voice called out, “The door’s open.”
I turned the knob and gave a gentle push in, giving a cautious glance upwards to look out for any more cowbells waiting to bomb my face. Nothing seemed to be hovering above the doorframe, so I made the rest of my entry.
At the desk inside sat a smaller-framed, young man with curly, brown hair. He was bent over an envelope, scribbling furiously. I stopped, unsure if I was interrupting something.
He glanced up at me, flashing a smile with his bright green eyes for a second before going back to scribbling. “Go on. Take a seat.”
I did. All was quiet for a few minutes except for the scratch of the pen and I began to wonder if he’d forgotten I was there. Then he popped up, resting his chin in his hand and looking down his funny little, pointed nose at me.
“What rhymes with refrigerator?”
Is this some trick psychological question? “Umm . . .”
He waved his hand as if to dismiss it and shoved away his envelope. “Never mind. You’re here for an appointment. Amos, right?”
“Yeah . . .” I shifted in my seat.
“Good. I’ll be your Optimist today, then. I’m Henry.” He gave me another wide smile and steepled his fingers on his desk.
“You’re a PhD?” I asked, my skepticism seeping through in my words.
“Yep,” Henry gave a happy pop to the P on the end of his word. “Though mine is different. I’m a Perfectly Happy Dude.”
I nodded slowly, “Ah.”
“Have a mint,” he flicked a peppermint to me across the desk.
“Um . . . thanks.”
“Now,” he leaned back, folding his arms behind his head, “What seems to be the problem, Amos?”
I blew out my breath through my lips in a half raspberry, “Where do I start?”
Henry’s eyes flicked to my leg cast, “Your leg?”
“Well, that was sort of the start of it all,” I rubbed a hand over my eyes, “I’m a construction worker. My leg just got twisted the wrong way under a beam. I thought I’d get a bit of a break to recover. But then, jobs are tight. I got laid off right after that. And I was going to propose to my girlfriend, but I can’t do that without a steady income support to offer her . . .”
Sighing, I slumped back in my seat, my chest tight with all of my returned worry. “And that’s not counting the little things. The rain. The fact that the cowbell above your entrance bombed my face and now there’s a lovely bloodstain all over my sleeve cuff . . .”
Henry nodded slowly and took on a studious expression as though he was working out a hard math problem. “This is a tough one,” he said, though it seemed more to himself than to me, “But I think I’ve had tougher. Yes . . .”
“Tougher what?” I asked, “What the heck are you talking about?”
Henry threw his hands out wide, “I’m the Optimist. I tell you the good in your situation. Accentuate the positive. That’s why you came here, right?”
“I . . . I think I misunderstood the premise of this. I thought you were some sort of therapist.”
“You could say that, I guess. But I’d like to think I’m more fun. Now, I think I’ve got a decent start on this.” He leaned forward, “This broken leg of yours. It opens up worlds of opportunity in other directions.”
I snorted in disbelief.
Henry gave me a raised eyebrow. “Hear me out, now. I happen to know quite a bit on this subject. So, your job, for starters. This places you in a very good position for your potential marriage. So you’ve worked in construction and have a lot of nice muscles. That’s good, and you’re working them even more with the crutches now.
“But, with how much you’d have to work, that wouldn’t be the best job to keep while starting a family and this is the perfect time to find another one. A higher paying job with less hours, you know. And you’d probably be able to get a good recommendation. Bosses usually feel horribly guilty after laying someone off, so I’m sure he’ll be happy to give you a glowing reference.” He smiled, “Think things are looking up yet?”
As ridiculous as it sounded, the straight-up optimism made quite a bit of sense. I did have some doubts about construction being a good family job to begin with. Maybe there was something to Henry’s point of view. The tightness in my chest relieved a little and I allowed myself a smile.
Henry flashed his back triumphantly, “See? There’s always something good in where you are. And now,” he clasped his hands, “Just because I can, I’ll tackle the little things.” A glance up at the clock reassured him that there was some time left on my appointment.
“Personally,” Henry’s eyes flicked to my bloodstained sleeve, “I sort of find it fun when I get bloodstains on things. Everyone notices them and asks and stories about how they happened are very fun to make up. And this one, since you have a broken leg too, you can combine them and come up with something really spectacular.”
I couldn’t help laughing at that one and despite myself, my mind started coming up with different story possibilities.
Henry continued, becoming more animated with hand gestures, “And the rain is good as well, while you’re on crutches. If it was sunny, you’d be sorry you couldn’t go out and do something, but since it’s raining, everyone else is stuck inside anyway.
“Finally, the cowbell . . .” he twisted his mouth sideways, “Well, I’ll have to thank you for that one. The next person we have coming is rather important and I really wouldn’t have liked it to fall on him.”
I nodded slowly, my smile growing a little wider, “I see. Well . . .” I shrugged, “Doesn’t seem like such a bad day anymore.”
Henry shook his curly head, “I don’t believe they exist.”
I pulled out my crutches and hauled myself to my feet, “Well, it was a pleasure meeting you, Henry.” I held out my hand across his desk.
“For me as well,” Henry grinned, “Feel free to drop in anytime. I’d love to meet your future wife.” He braced himself harder than I thought necessary on the desk and gave a heave as he pulled himself up. Then he simply smiled and held out his hand as if nothing was wrong.
I shook it, but my eyes went downwards. One of Henry’s pant legs was cut short, noticeably empty of a leg. My mouth opened as I met Henry’s sparkling eyes again.
He gave an “oh well” sort of shrug, his smile growing bigger if anything, “I told you I’d had tougher problems to work out.” He let go of my hand and swept his arm around the office, “How do you like my solution?”
I might have to use Henry again sometime. And maybe Amos.
I have too many characters, guys.
Well, hope you liked the story!
Please comment and tell me what you thought! 🙂