FridayFlash: Not My Intention

Not My Intention

by Tony Noland

Sunday afternoon, and R.J. was hanging out in the laundry room, waiting for his dryer to finish. He always waited for his stuff. It drove him crazy when people just dropped their clothes off then went back up to their dorm room. Half the time, they didn't come back for hours or even days, and they were the ones who got all pissy if you took their stuff out of a machine. There were only six washers and dryers. He thought it was a matter of simple courtesy to get his stuff in and out as efficiently as possible.

There was no way they were going back up to read or study; they could have done that down here at either of the beat up old desks. No, they were going back up to watch TV or hang out. There were no bars or WiFi down here in the basement, either, so people couldn't use their phones or laptops. Only the dedicated students stayed and read actual books or went over actual notes while the laundry tumbled.

Dedicated, hard working, lonely, friendless students. He looked up from his book and shook his head a bit as he rejected the thought. Too hard on himself again. No, he thought, not friendless. I have lots of friends. Or rather, I have lots of classmates and a few friends. He'd just started down the old, familiar path of wondering if he had enough real friends when, as though on cue, one of his real friends walked in. Teegan was carrying an empty laundry basket.

"Hey, R.J.", she said.

"Hey, Teeg. Great minds think alike, huh?" He smiled at her. She smiled back, then turned to take her laundry out of one of the washers.

Teegan lived in Willott House with him, and she was in his American Civ and Calc 201 classes, too. She was really bright and was also kind of a smart-ass with the Civ TA. He thought that was a riot, although he never really spoke out of turn himself.

She carried her wet clothes to the one empty dryer, next to the wooden desk where he was sitting. He pushed back out of her way so she could start putting items into the machine. T-shirts, jeans, a towel, socks... white cotton underwear with pink elastic...

R.J. looked away, and lifted his book up with a bit of a jerk. He knew even as he did it that he was overreacting, that he looked silly. He was an adult now. He shouldn't be embarrassed at seeing a girl's underwear!

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Teegan smile very slightly as she shook out the wadded clothes, item by item, before adding them in. All except for the bras, which were apparently not going in the dryer. These she hung over the side of the basket. Beige satin, beige satin, gray athletic. R.J. felt his face grow hot.

"So, R.J.", she said, startling him, "what's the matter? You've never seen a bra before?" She pulled the bras down into the empty basket and stood up. She kicked the dryer door closed and began to fish in the right front pocket of her jeans for some quarters.

"Ah... I, uh..." He tried to think of something witty and cool to say, but drew a complete blank. The absurdity of the scene struck him. He gave a laugh and shook his head. Screw it. It was just Teegan. "All right, fine, Teeg, you caught me off guard. Must be a guy thing. Automatic response to lingerie or something. Sorry. It was just a... a thing, or something, I dunno. Never mind. Sorry." He should stop talking, just shut the hell up for Christ's sake, but she was smiling as she stood next to him, holding her basket with its three damp bras.

"It's OK, R.J. Don't worry about it." She turned away from him and reached over to put the six quarters into the dryer. Her T-shirt rode up in the back. She was wearing white underwear with pink elastic. He lifted his book slightly, but didn't look down at it.

She straightened as she turned around, repositioned her basket. She smiled at him again then headed toward the door. "See you around, R.J."

"Yeah, see you," he said to her back. He watched her walk toward the door and was swept up by the craziest goddamned impulse. Years later, he would marvel at going straight to Talk without passing Think.

"Hey, Teeg?" no no don't stupid stupid don't don't

At the door, she turned back to him. "Yeah?"

"I was just wondering," don't do it don't no don't stupid don't "would you maybe like to go out sometime?" NO NO DON'T SHIT YOU STUPID FUCK NO NO "You know, to a movie or something?"

Teegan's eyebrows went up, then came together as surprise was replaced by thought. She didn't answer right away, but just looked at him, considering.

"I mean, if you don't want to, that's cool." DUMBASS FUCK FUCK STUPID FUCK "I just was, thinking, you know, if you wanted to, but that's cool -"

"Well, to be honest, R.J., I kind of promised my mom I wouldn't date any white guys."


"But... yeah. Yeah, we can go out. I'd like that."

Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. White cotton? Hmm. The pink elastic keeps it from reaching the realm of granny panties, but to each their own, heh.

    Liked how his thoughts berated him, and the twist was unexpected. As twists should be, eh?

  2. I loved the thoughts as he asks he out. You capture that awkwardness beautifully. You've made me so glad I don't have to do all that dating stuff anymore, urgh!

  3. I liked how you showed him berating himself even as he asked her out. And she was a real girl, elastic on the panties and everything.

    Nice work.

  4. HAHA! - I like this story. I like the nicknames, the casual glances, and then the impulse. That's how it usually happens, you mouth is talking and your brain is screaming the opposite!

  5. Great tension, yikes! I was biting my nails for him. Your characters are so real and unpredictable. Very nice :-)

  6. Great internal and external dialogue. He should give himself credit: He tried to not pass Think and go straight to Talk.

    A racial twist, eh? It could be taken any number of ways. I knew a girl once, yes a white girl, who didn't want to date white guys because she thought they were jerks more often. So what if she promised her Mom that she wouldn't date white guys? Your twist might not be what we, as readers, think.

    Jeff Posey

  7. Ah, yes, it was fun to revisit the awkward self-immolation of being swept up by an impulse and asking a girl out. Real-life horror stories of fear and humiliation, played out daily...

    Glad you liked it, guys!

  8. "...he would marvel at going straight to Talk without passing Think."

    Such a great line, I love it.

    The internal dialogue, contrasted with the external, is terrific. There's a great dynamic tension between them which accentuates the tension R.J. feels dealing with Teegan (now he's noticed she's a "girl").

    Very well done.

  9. Great internal dialogue going on at the same time as external. Nice and believable!

  10. I have so been there. You captured the self doubt perfectly. Awesome piece.

  11. I agree - great job with internal and external dialogue together. And I love that line too "...straight to Talk without passing Think".
    Good read Tony!

  12. Enjoyable familiar slice captured well, and a smooth read. What about "Talk" and "Think" in italics? It works as is.

    Thanks for sharing this one.
    -David G Shrock

  13. That talk/think phrase is golden. Sums that awkward state of mind perfectly. You capture attitude very well in your characters.

  14. Awesome! I just wished you hadn't captured my college days quite so accurately!

  15. I'm thrilled that everyone seems to like the way R.J. is squirming inside, and the Think/Talk bypass, too.

    One thing that I'm a bit surprised about is that the racial twist that I put in seems to be not nearly as much of a twist as the fact that a goofy dork like R.J. seems to have caught the heart of Teegan, at least to the extent of a first date.

    In light of the comment by Anasazistories... how do you see Teegan? Her promise to her mom suggests that she isn't white. Out of curiosity, how do you see her? Black? Asian? Latina? Indian? Other?

  16. Love the play of internal and external dialogue.

  17. Yeah, the internal dialogue reminded me I must try to write some stuff like that myself. They worked really well instead of dialogue tags. Great characterisation as well. The first paragraph wasn’t as smooth as the others (an echo with waiting/waited and a couple of other bits), but after that it picked up and I was at the end before I knew it.

  18. You brought me back to my awkward college years. Loved the 'actual book' and 'actual notes'. And so true that only losers hang out in the basement laundry (I know - I was one of those geeks). Great story. Peace, Linda

  19. Linda said: And so true that only losers hang out in the basement laundry (I know - I was one of those geeks)

    And I wrote this scene with such ease and familiarity because... because... I... I knew guys like this! Yeah! I knew guys like this! Other guys! Not me! Other guys!

  20. Love the Talk/Think line!

    for the record, I would have been one of those geeks too (except we had a washing machine in our student digs!)

    I like the suggestion that it might have been more than just a date or two ("Years later...") - that would certainly have got her mum's knickers in a twist

  21. As someone who did not start dating until college this hit very close to home. I could really identify with this guy. So VERY glad it worked out well for him.

    The internal/external dialog thing worked well too.

  22. I think what gets me about this piece is just the realness of it. You write real and raw, everyone and anyone can relate. (Great dialogue too!)

    Great job, undies and all.

  23. I loved this line ... Dedicated, hard working, lonely, friendless students ... it painted a good, clear picture, and I immediately liked your main character and felt for him. He seemed so controlled and directed, so it was great to see him act impulsively even though he doubted himself every step of the way. Yay! He got the girl! Wonderful, thank yoU!

  24. Nice dialogue, both internal and external. I could feel the tension. Great job.

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