Nex up in the Summer Short Story Writing Challenge is RJ with Goats and Jacob starring Ryker, Alex and Henry. You can find the picture that inspired this story here.
Alex pushed with his feet against the side of my tube and ended up floating in my direction, sculling with his hands to steer himself until he ended up bumping into me. There was a reason I’d deliberately moved to the outside line of the area marked off for floating, and part of it was not wanting to talk to anyone.
“Whatcha doing over here?” he asked.
“Floating,” I said, even though that was plainly obvious from the fact I had my ass in an inflatable tube and was spinning in lazy circles well away from the rest of the team who’d decided water was an acceptable alternative to ice.
“You don’t say,” Alex deadpanned, and shoved at my tube until I bobbed away from him, which was fine by me. I didn’t want to people this afternoon, I wanted some isolation, with the water cool on my hands and the expanse of the blue sky above me. I wanted to think about how unfair life was and how much I loved and missed Jacob.
“You wanna tell me what’s up?” Alex encouraged, and I gave him the finger, getting splashed with cold water for my pains. “Come on Ry, you’ve been miserable since you got off the phone.”
“I haven’t,” I lied.
“Dude, you’re as miserable as Henry when he doesn’t get his Captain Crunch.”
“No one is that miserable,” I tried to lighten the tone.
“Wait,” Alex snapped, “Shit. Is it Ten? Is he okay?”
I sighed noisily. People on this team were far too interested in my connection to Ten, expecting that every little thing that happened in my life was connected back to him.
Alex was persistent. “Then what? Come on Ry, talk to me.”
In answer I kicked out at his tube and propelled myself away from him, anything to get some space, and collided with Henry who’d decided to join us from my blindside. I sighed noisily, then added a curse word that would make my mom smack me upside the head.
“I don’t even know that word,” Henry said, and splashed me. “So what’s up?”
“There. Is. Nothing. Wrong,” I said, very firmly, directly, and inviting no comment whatsoever.
“I think it’s boy trouble,” Alex commented
“You think?” Henry circled to face me, causing the water to rise and fall around me.
“Definitely.” Alex paused a moment and I knew he was thinking of something to wind me up even more, because that is what he did. Everything in Alex’s world was fun and freaking sunshine. “Aha!” he announced dramatically. “I know what’s happened.”
“What?” Henry asked.
“I think it’s obvious, Jacob has left our Ryker for one of his cows.”
“You’re right!” Henry laughed, “Or a goat.”
“Does Jacob even have goats?”
“Maybe it’s a rabbit then, you know what these farmer types are like.”
“Fuck both of you,” I said, and tried to move away, only the assholes had me pinned between them.
“Maybe we should ask the rest of the team if they know whether Jacob has goats—”
“Okay, Jeez,” I slapped the water and got them both looking at me. “He said he couldn’t get out here until October. Oct-fucking-tober. That’s like eight weeks, and I can’t get to him after camp starts, and I love him and I really miss him and it’s only been a week since he went home.” That whole speech was from the heart but the minute it left me I wished I’d said none of it, because Alex’s mouth was twitching, and Henry was looking in the opposite direction. They were good guys, but at the end of the day they were guys. I should have kept the whole missing my boyfriend thing to myself. This wasn’t the Railers, this was the bottom-of-the-table Raptors, and I needed to change how I was around people. Even the good ones like my roommates Alex and Henry.
They was silent, Alex covering a snort with his hand and pretending to cough.
“Sorry, dude,” Henry began sincerely, biting his lip to stop a smile, “that sucks.”
More silence, then Alex couldn’t get control of his laughing. I scooped up water and drenched him but he didn’t stop. His laughter was infectious and I began to smile. I should remember that Jacob was just as frustrated as I was that we’d be apart, and he hadpromised the best phone sex known to man.
That had to be enough. We could do this.
But it was Alex, the asshole, who had the last word.
“There is some good news though… at least he’s not marrying his goat.”