Ten Seconds to Fall

Lucy doesn't know what to do with herself after graduation. That is, until she stumbles upon The 10 Second Fiesta.

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2. The Next Minute

"Kali," I said into my phone as soon as she answered.

"Lucy, where in the world are you?" she whispered angrily into the phone. "You're mother has been calling me non-stop since an ungodly hour this morning."

"I'll tell you where I am if you promise to bring me some clothes," I said. "Like, that sweater you wore last friday with the blue stripes and a pair of denim shorts. Oh! And those gray boots you said you were wanting to get rid of. I'll take them off your hands."

"Okay, I'll bring them," she said skeptically. "Now, tell me where to drop off the ransom."

"I'm at a new cafe downtown," I said. "It's where that old sandwich shop used to be."

"Aw, I miss that place," Kali whined.

"You never ate there," I frowned.

"It's such a shame that good businesses can't seem to stick around in this town," she continued.

"They were open for thirty years, then their son took over and the sandwiches were awful," I groaned. "Just bring the stupid clothes."

"Fine, meanie," she said and hung up the phone.

Five excruciating minutes later, she was parked in front of the shop and carried a grocery bag into the store.

"Lucy," she said as soon as she entered the shop. "Where are you? I brought your contraband."

Jude shot me a look and I blushed uncontrollably.

Kali looked ridiculous in a tea-length dress and her hair up in sponge curlers.

"She's kidding," I said and limped to get the clothes from her.

He smiled at me and started to unwrap paper from the tables and chairs.

"You'll be at graduation tonight, right?" she asked. "And, what happened to you? Why are you limping?"

I shook my head, "I fell. I'm alright, though. I'll call you tonight, okay?"

"Don't expect me to answer," she giggled. "I'll be out celebrating with Max and everybody else. Tell me about it in the morning, alright?"

I nodded.

"Be careful," she said, then turned her focus on Jude. "Pretty boy over there, unwrapping the tables and chairs. Are you a decent fellow?"

I buried my face into the bag of clothes.

"I like to think so," Jude answered.

"Fair enough," Kali said, then to me she whispered. "See you later, you weirdo."

"Bye."

After she left, Jude said, "Interesting friend you've got there."

I nodded and limped toward the restroom, locking the door behind me.

"Okay," I whispered to my reflection in the mirror. "You're doing this."

That's all I could say before chickening out, and then I started to laugh as I changed out of my sweat pants and pulled on the clothes Kali had brought for me.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," I mumbled as I slipped my feet into the boots.

I looked into the mirror and looked over my face, then glanced away quickly. Something felt dishonest in my eyes and it turned my stomach.

I shoved my old clothes into the bag and went back into the cafe.

"Um... Jude, sir... Is there a place I can keep this bag?" I asked nervously.

"It's just Jude," he smiled. "No 'sirs' necessary. I'll take it up to the apartment. Wanna take your post behind the register?"

"Sure," I smiled and handed the bag to him, then sat at the chair he'd placed at the register.

And that's when I felt like a crappy fortune teller.

I sat at that register for an hour before anyone opened the door again, only to hear that person say, "Oh, this isn't the right place," before backing out and leaving.

The door stayed pretty much shut for another hour before Jude popped out through a door at the back and brought a guitar with him. He sat down on the table the little pixie had never left and lifted the headphones off of her head.

"What are you doing?" she asked, the annoyance thick in her voice.

"Lew!" he sang loudly and sloppily strummed a chord. "Oh, Lew, you gotta do..."

He thought for a moment, then continued, "Whatever your heart tells you to. That is, as long as it's not..."

He glanced at me.

"Smoking," I offered lamely.

"Smoking," he sang loudly and out of key. "And drinking and getting into fights."

He looked to me again and I said, "Staying out late at night."

"Very good," he laughed, then sang, "Or staying out late at night. You'll give your dear old brother such a fright. So, just be good, Lew, and just do whatever your heart tells you too. As long as it's alright by... me."

Then he strummed dramatically and stood from the table.

"Thank you for interrupting my studies," she frowned as he kissed her forehead.

"Aw, you're just reading manga," he laughed and yanked a book out of her hands.

"For your information, that is educational material related to my future vocation," she said.

"Only applicable if your a Japanese middle schooler who teams up with the number one student in his class, who also just so happens to be an expert marketer/slash/storyteller. This is not that helpful if you don't live anywhere near a manga publishing company," Jude said.

"There's a voice acting company an hour away from here," she said defensively.

"Yes, there is," Jude said. "And I've told you before, if you finish your school work on time then I will take you there and sign off on you working there."

She frowned, then put her headphones back on and took a few books and a pencil out of her bag. Jude patted her head, then brought his guitar with him as he walked toward me. Or, I thought he was walking toward me. He turned at just sat at a table near the door and started to pluck and strum the strings as he stared off at something distant.

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