Austin Has a Girl

A

Austin has a girl. Sort of. That is to say, he’s got a girl he considers his girlfriend, except for the fact he’s never met her. Most of the time she’s thousands of miles away; therefore, it’s tough, even for a romantic like Austin, to think in terms of girlfriend, to put it into those words. It’s easier just to say he’s got a girl. Out there. Somewhere.

So, Austin has a girl. He calls her Sunfish, a private name that makes him smile. He also calls her hon and sweetie and, when he’s feeling a bit of a rascal, baby. Her name – her real name – is Laura.

Laura, as I’ve said, works abroad. Deep abroad. Machete-deep, you could say. There, she helps people. She gives her time and skills to people who need much more, but consider themselves blessed to receive even that.

She has a lot to give, Laura does. Giving is what she’s good at, what comes naturally. She’s got so much to give that when she’s done giving to the needy, she logs on and gives to Austin, and Austin gives right back. Austin’s not as used to giving, but what he has to give to Laura…well, it comes naturally, too, as naturally as if he’s been giving all his life.

They met the way people thousands of miles apart meet these days: by chance. Not dating service chance – that’s doctored chance, chance with a little body English. And it wasn’t through the grapevine, either – no friend of a friend of a friend for these two. If you ask them how they met, you won’t get them to say much except that it was so serendipitous, if you’ll excuse the word, as to seem like destiny. They’ll tell you this with all the arrogance of two people who have found each other, destiny being inevitable when you’re touched by it, bullshit when you’re not.

Me? I say we give them the destiny thing. At the end of the day it’s nice to believe in, and who are we, really, to say they’re wrong?

So, Austin has a girl, but today he’s sad. Today, Laura went back to the people she helps. She was here for awhile, home with family and friends, but now she’s gone back and Austin feels left behind and terribly, terribly alone.

While she was here they talked on the phone. At first it was odd, talking with their voices. Mechanical. Like talking with a stranger. But soon they relaxed and it became something to treasure, rich and complex and large, so very large.

But as large as it was and as much as they expanded to fit it, there is still so much they didn’t say. It bothers him now, these unsaid things. He has a healthy sense of tragedy, our Austin, so they taunt him alongside other things, things like a world that would grant him the improbable, only to hold it back on a technicality like mileage.

Still, they said the important things, the things they needed to say, to hear. What things? Why don’t we give them their space, huh? Don’t you think they already have enough stacked against them?

And yet. Though we shouldn’t eavesdrop, I suppose it’s okay to speculate, at least as far as their future is concerned. Will they ever get together, do you think? Face to face, hand in hand. Or are they doomed to be as they are now until time erodes what they have or Fate, the great partycrasher, intervenes?

Who’s to say? I’m certainly not ready to make a pronouncement, and I doubt they are, either. At least not right now. But regardless, they’re nice to root for, aren’t they? Austin and his girl. His Sunfish. His Laura.

About the author

Eric Johnson

Not to be confused with all the other Eric Johnsons out there, I'm the one who writes. I'm a journalist, editor and fiction writer with nearly 30 years of experience under my belt, and I can help you achieve your communications goals. Just let me know how I can help.

By Eric Johnson

Dispatches from a Burly Flow

Eric Johnson

Not to be confused with all the other Eric Johnsons out there, I'm the one who writes. I'm a journalist, editor and fiction writer with nearly 30 years of experience under my belt, and I can help you achieve your communications goals. Just let me know how I can help.

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