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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2228255
Some challenges happen. Some, we choose.

It was the end of another challenging week.

Rizwana felt she had earned an ice-cream sundae. As she walked to the ice-cream shoppe, she mentally checked off the situations she had been in ... and handled with her usual efficiency. The contract that the client was going to cancel because one of the clerks had goofed ... and how she, Rizwana, had smoothed it over. The boss's wife's birthday, with the cake that had to be replaced because his secretary's cat had fallen into it .... (who brings a cat to work, anyway?) ... the leaky taps in the visitor's bathroom that had ruined Mr. Fussy's new suit ...

She was at the cash counter. "Choco sundae, please. With extra chocolate sauce."

One more glitch, to add to her week's worth of glitches. The credit card machine didn't work. "Sorry, Ma'm," the cashier said. "Do you have cash?"

The sundae somehow paid for, she sat back at her little table and looked unseeingly at the traffic. She couldn't get her mind to stop thinking about her week. When the sundae arrived, she tried desperately to focus on chocolate ... she was breathing in the aroma of chocolate, she had the taste of chocolate in her mouth ... but her thoughts kept intruding.

She walked slowly home. She usually went straight to the kitchen and made herself some tea, but today, having had a sundae, she plonked in front of the TV. She only flicked past two channels before settling to watch whatever-it-was on the third. Heck, she wasn't paying attention to the screen anyway. She found her eyes closing.

"Who? What?"

She awoke. The doorbell wasn't ringing on the TV, it was someone incessantly trying to reach her. She rubbed her eyes, pressed the mute button on the remote and went to the front door.

"Rizwana?"

He was tall, with a mop of curly brown hair. A bit too thin for her liking, but handsome enough. He smiled at her and held out ...

"My handbag?"

"It had your name and address in it, so I brought it over."

"But ..."

"At the ice cream shoppe," he said, anticipating her question. "On the floor, near the cash counter."

"Oh, yes, when I had to search all over for cash, I took it off my shoulder, then I searched in my pockets ... it must've fallen off."

'Anyway, I brought it back. Here you go."

"Wait, thank you. Sorry, I am still only half awake. Won't you come in?"

"HEY! You like that show? I'm a huge, huge fan! Don't find too many folks who watch it, though."

He sat on the sofa, un-muted the TV and was soon into the episode, turning to speak to her at intervals as a fellow-fan, who knew all the ins and outs of the characters and their lives. Fortunately, he did so much talking that Rizwana had only to grunt or smile now and then, so show she agreed with him.

"What luck, it's a back-to-back night!"

"Do you like pizza? Shall we order some for dinner, if we're watching this together?"

It was late when John finally left, promising to come over and binge-watch the entire previous season with her over the next weekend.

She had one week to learn everything she could about that show, so that she didn't just grunt and smile when he came over ... she had to know what each character liked and disliked, how they spoke, and the plot so far, broken down episode by episode. She needed to either 'search' it on the net, or buy a few TV guides and read up.

She wanted to impress John. He must not know that she wasn't a fan of the show.

It was going to be a challenging week.

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