This was the awkward part of the trip, Elizabeth thought to herself. She was extremely grateful to Christine for offering to bring her on this trip, she had always wanted to visit California but never had a reason or a good enough excuse—So when Christine told her that she was going to California to look at some Grad Schools and she would love some company for the week-long trip, Elizabeth was beside herself with joy. They got some cheap tickets, the spent most of their nights couch surfing on couches of friends of friends or other distant contacts to help keep their traveling costs down. After all, they were just a year out of college, and they did not have nearly the money that they wanted in their coffers yet. They still had plenty of saving to do.
And Elizabeth had been fine with that for the most part. She was put a little bit out of her comfort zone with some of Christine’s friends, but there were certainly worse things in life. But tonight they were staying with one of Christine’s really good friend, Stephen, and the two of them had gone out to dinner to catch up on old times, leaving Elizabeth at Stephen’s house with his roommate, Josh, to entertain themselves for a while. Stephen and Christine had left a solid seven minutes ago, and neither Josh nor Elizabeth had said a word to the other in that time.
Finally, he could not take it anymore. “So. Do you want to play video games?” Josh asked, turning to smile at Elizabeth.
“I really suck at video games, but I do not mind watching if you want to play.” Elizabeth responded.
“Really? You don’t get bored watching other people play?”
“Nope. When I was little I would play Playstation with my brother, but I sucked so badly that he would get impatient and take the controller from me to win the game for me so he could play something else. I just got used to turning the controller over whenever he came into the room so that he wouldn’t get irritated. Besides, it is fun to watch.”
“Do you back seat play?”
Elizabeth smiled and blushed just a little. “Sometimes. Depends on how shit the person I am watching is playing, or how much I have had to drink.”
“Well, if I tell you to shut up, promise not to take it personally?” Josh asked, only half kidding.
“Sure, if you do not take it personally if I call you an idiot and tell you where the next whatever you need is.”
“You’ve got a deal.” Josh crossed over to the console underneath his TV and started unwinding wires. “Do you have a preference in what you watch me play?”
“Nah, whatever strikes your fancy, you can play. I’m easy to please.”
Josh popped in a game that must have been at least five or six years old, because Elizabeth actually recognized the menu loading screen and the beginning of game play. She must have watched her brother play it sometime before she moved out on her own. Josh then came back and sank down on the couch and started to play.
“So,” Josh started after the game had been playing for a couple of minutes or so, “can I ask you a question that might be a taboo sort of question?”
“Well, you do not know me very well, but I will let you know right now that there are very few things that are taboo with me, so just ask away.” Elizabeth grinned a response.
“Okay then. Where did you get that scar on your cheek from? It looks like there is a good story behind it.” Josh was focused a little too intently on the screen, like he was trying not to look at her. Elizabeth’s hand automatically went to her face, lingering over the circle scar, about a centimeter in diameter, right at the highest spot on her left cheek bone.
“Oh, this little thing?” Elizabeth asked. Josh nodded, not actually looking over at her at all. “It was a tragic knitting accident.”
That got Josh’s attention. He paused the game almost instantly, and turned to face Elizabeth fully for a minute. “Sorry, I am clearly losing my mind. Did you just say that it was a knitting accident?”
“Did you stab yourself in the face with a needle?”
“No. It was just a nasty bug bite that I could not stop scratching at despite my mother’s wise teaching, and it ended up turning into a pretty nasty looking scar. But that is not a very good story, so I like to give random answers anytime someone asks just to make it sound a lot more fascinating than a bug bite. Like you said, it should have a good story behind it.”
Josh considered Elizabeth for a moment, with narrowed eyes. “I am thinking that you should go with some kind of thin tipped sword fight. They drew blood first, but you won the fight. That would be a fun story.”
“Why would I admit that I let them draw first blood? That is as much as a loss to many, many people. I do not want to be seen as weak.”
“It’ll show a sign of humility. You know you aren’t perfect in your sword fighting ability, you’re aware of that. But, in the end, you will not lose. You don’t lose.” Josh narrowed his eyes once more and gave her another long look. “Yes. Yes, I think that suits you.”
“You don’t know me.”
“True, but I have already decided that is the story I am going with in my head, and what I will tell other people if they ask me. Unless you truly, strongly, oppose it.”
“No. I don’t object. Call it however you want to call it.”