In order to truly kill your comfort zone, you must sacrifice confidence, self-esteem, and ego. Embrace the possibility of failure. Embrace it, I say!
You might fail, FYI. But you'll learn so much from your failure.
And who knows, you just might be utterly successful.
That Comfort Zone didn't stand a chance.
(Yes, my Comfort Zone is a blob and the weapon is a feather pen.)Previously on In Vein: Part 1, Part 2
Devin's giving blood to impress his favorite daydream subject, Natalie. Then oddball Sarah hops on into his day and challenges him to a blood-draining race. Looks like more than needles are getting Devin's heart pounding...
In Vein, Part 3
I begin rolling the ball more rapidly in my palm. I try not to stare at Sarah, or her ever-filling bag of blood. The absurdity of the situation, having a blood-draining race with a stranger, hits me completely, and I can’t help but smile.
“Good,” she says when she sees it. “You looked too nervous before.” She pauses. “I’m sorry. My grandmom always says I’m too forward. It’s just you seemed nice, and I hate sitting still so I tend to ramble. Like that.” She blushes a little.
“No, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it.”
I realize that I’m telling the truth, and it surprises me a little. Everyone I know is reserved, or puts up a front, or only interacts with people they know. Sarah startles me. It’s nice to be startled. The silence builds for a couple minutes, and I suddenly wish we hadn’t started talking. She breaks the quiet like she read my mind.
“So… do you come here often?” The line is pure cheese, and Sarah completes it with a wink.
I know just how to reply, and I deepen my voice slightly. “Can you help me look for something? I think I just dropped my jaw.”
“Oh no no, because I’m the love pirate, and I’m here for your booty.”
Both of us crack up, and Marta comes back over to my table.
“Okay Romeo, you’re almost finished,” she says. I almost gloat, but then I see Sarah’s lab coat lady begin to disconnect her from a full packet of blood. A minute later, Marta starts doing the same thing to me. I cringe when she pulls the needle out of my arm, and Sarah gets up and crosses the space between us. I’m holding my arm in the air, pressing down on the puncture mark with a piece of gauze.
“Beat you,” she says.
Sarah seems different up close, more feminine or something. She’d taken her ponytail out when she laid down, and now brown hair frames her face. It looks soft. She has blue eyes, only a couple shades lighter than her Nittany Lions t-shirt.
Marta tapes the gauze to my elbow and tells me that I can get up when I feel ready. I’m not quite sure what “ready” feels like, so I swing my legs around the side of the table and sit up.
Sarah and I are eye-height, and I suddenly wish I’m lying down again because conversation seemed easier when we were on the tables. I must have a strange expression, because she asks, “Whatcha thinking about?”
“Being horizontal." I immediately see the error in translation from thought to words.
Sarah raises her eyebrows but says nothing.
“I didn’t mean it like that, I just – ” I just what? Like lying down with you? Wish we were still lying down? Prefer horizontal conversation? Crap. A grin spreads across Sarah’s face, and I exhale with relief.
“So, you ready to get some snacks?” she asks.
I slide off the table in response. After two steps, my head feels fuzzy and my legs buckle slightly. Instinctively, I grab Sarah’s arm to steady myself.
“Whoa.” I feel my cheeks redden. “I um, didn’t have lunch yet. Little lightheaded I guess.”
“Really? And here I just thought I made you weak in the knees.”
Wow. I give her a look, and we walk to the snack table. Natalie sits there, finishing up a mini bag of pretzels.
“Hey,” I say, taking the chair two seats away from her.
Sarah sits across from me. “Hi, I’m Sarah.” She extends her hand to Natalie.
“I’m Natalie,” she says, shaking it. She turns to me. “David, right?”
“Devin.” David. If only she knew how many fantasies of mine she starred in freshman year.
“Oh yeah. You had Bartley’s English class with me. I don’t think you said one thing the whole semester.”
“I’m not really the literary type.”
“I’m an English major,” she replies. We munch in silence for a minute. “Alright, well I have to go. Nice meeting you Sarah.”
Natalie grabs her bag and walks out. She doesn’t look back.
By the time I sense Sarah watching me watch her go, I know it’s too late.
“So that’s a pretty big crush you got there,” Sarah says.
My head snaps back to her. “What? No.” My face gets hot.
“Yeah you do.”
“No I don’t, what’re you talking about? We just had a class together.” I take a long drink of my apple juice. In my head it’s a martini, and I’m James Bond.
“It’s fine. I’m not worried.”
What? “What do I even say to that?”
Sarah shrugs. “Maybe ‘Hey, why don’t we go to lunch?’”
I smile and start breathing normally again. “That works for me.” I stand to leave, but Sarah remains sitting.
“You didn’t ask.”
Shamed, I sit back down and look into her eyes. “Sarah, would you like to get some lunch with me?”
“Of course,” she says. “On one condition. Take that stupid sticker off."
THANKS FOR READING!
Leave it in the comments: What did you think of my exercise in discomfort? How did you want the story to end? What are your short stories about? Any good blood donor stories?