Friday Fictioneers – Lots to Learn

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Lots to learn 181003

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Lots to learn

In his mind Arnold labelled her “Girlfriend”.

They’d met occasionally in cafes. He’d taken her to the Natural History museum, where she had admired his knowledge of palaeontology. ‘That was a date,’ thought Arnold. ‘Perhaps I could invite her to my flat.’

He vacuumed and dusted. Used an air freshener.

He showered, anointed himself with deodorant.

The doorbell rang. She smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek. ‘First kiss,’ he thought.

Entering, she looked around.

“Everything’s covered with labels!” she exclaimed.

“I’m learning Mandarin.”

She drank a cup of coffee and left. She needed to wash her hair.

77 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Lots to Learn

  1. Oh, what a surprisingly sad turn. Washing hair is really no reason to go! Although I have already experienced serveral times, that I had to leave an event against my will, because I had a different duty elsewhere. This is always sad when you can not put your own preferences first. Hm, nevertheless, in my opinion something is not right here, because they already have been several times together and if she follows the invitation, then she is probably also in love and then such a reaction can not be understood!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear anie
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s great to have you back!
      Falling in love isn’t necessarily a “coup de foudre” is it? Sometimes attraction grows gently, we see more of each other, and then after weeks or months or years we realise we love each other.
      Arnold was a nice enough young man; somebody, sometime will fall in love with him and be happy with him. But not this girl. Note that the labels are a metaphor. As well as being a description of his flat they describe his behaviour towards people as well as towards tasks. In terms of dealing with others he has “Lots to learn”!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’re right Love is not always at first sight and it can and should grow with time and build a strong bond. It is fascinating how much you have constructed and cling to the boundary conditions of your stories in your mind. Often, I do not like the twists at the end, because it is always so sad and reflects a temporary hopelessness. But it is your story, not mine, so I do not care. The thing with the notes is interesting, what does it have to do with other people and tasks? And what do they have to do with the behavior of the girl?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor Arnold. As long as all of the labels are in Mandarin shouldn’t have been a problem – a clever way to learn a language. If the place is all labeled in English…. How do the Chinese say “Hopeless nerd”?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Arnold’s a young man. I expect he’ll gradually improve his human relationship skills. And even if he doesn’t, there are, as you say, plenty of fish in the sea.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and commenting. No, this relationship is going nowhere I’m afraid. Still, he has good points too, and I’m sure he’ll find the right girl eventually. He’ll be OK.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Kirstwrites
      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. “Show don’t tell,” as the textbooks urge us! As you say, poor old Arnold. Still, if he persists in looking for a girlfriend, I’m sure he’ll find one eventually. It won’t be me, though…
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sorta ties into last week’s piece (maybe a little – the whole one-sided love where the other person is not interested – their heart belonged to Deborah) but this is different and love how she asked about the labels. I once had sticky notes all around to help my foreign language endeavor – and so I felt akin to your character – although he projected way too much –

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful and interesting comment. I hadn’t really thought about a link with last week’s story, but maybe you’re right. The trials and tribulations of thwarted romance are an endless source of inspiration, aren’t they?
      Yes, sticky notes are a great idea, but Arnold was way too fond of labelling!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Penny,

    Poor Arnold. Obviously, she wasn’t thinking first kiss or anything that remotely sounded like “date.” This story breaks my heart. I hope he finds someone who appreciates a man who studies Mandarin. So well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You needn’t feel too heartbroken! I think she’ll have put Arnold’s nose out of joint rather than broken his heart. He’ll learn! And as Josh says, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.
      Shalom
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jilly
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, we can feel sorry for Arnold because he’s just not very good at relating to other people. He can’t help that, although if somebody gives him a few tips I’m sure he can improve. And when he meets the right girl, perhaps love for her will force him to pay attention to his (and her!) emotions!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      You’re the second person to comment on the similarity between last week’s story and this week’s. which interests me because I hadn’t spotted the resemblance. I can see it now it’s been pointed out though.
      I hope you do write a story where the poor man doesn’t realise the girl is madly in love with him; I’d like to read it!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Stuart
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Arnold certainly has some of the character traits that could make him of interest to the FBI (or the Metropolitan police, as he lives in London). He’s obsessive, but worse than that he doesn’t really experience other people as people. However, I’m optimistic that he could improve and even find a girlfriend eventually; but he has ‘Lots to learn’.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Lish
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      In some ways Arnold is a great guy, and I heartily approve his interests. But I didn’t see him as a good romantic prospect at all, so I fear I’ve not succeeded this week! I’m really grateful for your feedback!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Abhijit
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, Arnold is very mistaken in his approach to finding love. But he’s a scholar. Maybe he’ll study his own behaviour and improve. He has ‘Lots to Learn’!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m sorry it felt like a sock in the gut; a wry smile and the words ‘Well, yes, he’s got lots to learn,’ was more the effect I was trying for!
      I think perhaps it was over-ambitious for 100 words. I was trying to show obliquely that Arnold really was pretty bad at personal relationships. He labelled the girl in his mind as ‘Girlfriend’, and, although I tell you his name, I don’t tell you hers, to hint at the way he depersonalises her. (Just in case you’re interested, her name was Jennifer…) He categorises his time with her (‘first date’), her peck on his cheek (‘first kiss’). The labels stuck on everything in his flat are part of the story, yes, but they’re also a metaphor for the all-pervasive way he analyses, categorises, de-humanises.
      As for why she showed up in the first place, well other commenters have been quick to point to his good points, his desire to better himself, his orderliness. And he might have been quite good looking!
      Thank you once again for your comment!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • See, the work you do influences how you see things. As a therapist, I saw his OCD, his people-pleasing but not really knowing how. For Jennifer, I just saw curiosity and maybe some fear as she observed his place, but mostly that she hadn’t really been interested to begin with. In any event, you certainly covered a lot of territory with 100 words, and gave us a lot to consider. Your writing and editing are always outstanding.

        Liked by 2 people

      • What is OCB, Linda? And Penny, I think if you love somebody or feel a big sympathy, I do not think that you do NOT whant ti be his girlfriend… you make not a list of things before you start loving slmeone… love is a higher law, and you do not care about such things,… no one is perfect!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the labeling theme here. I do catch your meaning, that labeling is a very immature way of classifying people and relationships and he has some growing up to do. Still quite lovable. At first, with the excessive labeling and fixation on this girl, I thought you were going to go the sexual predator or psycho-killer route with this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Andi
    Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you like the labelling theme. I agree that Arnold is quite lovable; if I were his mom, I’m sure I’d love him to bits! But I don’t think I would ever have wanted to be his girlfriend – would you?
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Like

    • Dear Plaridel
      Thank you for reading and commenting. As you say, poor Arnold. Never mind, perhaps the experience will help him understand that a relationship is not a sequence of events leading to the bedroom, but a connection between two individuals who respond emotionally to each other. He has “Lots to Learn”!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. No, they were never going to be a couple. Indeed, Arnold will have difficulty finding a girlfriend – even one similarly obsessed with labelling things – until he realises that a relationship is a mutual sharing of an emotional space together. He has ‘Lots to Learn’!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Some people just find other people hard, don’t they? And if he loves to be so organised and put things in boxes, he’s really going to struggle with a relationship which by their nature are messy, complicated, contradictory things. Poor Arnold 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Arnold may be a fascinating person to tell you about the fossils of the Liaoning region of China, but possibly rather limited when it comes to literature, art, and music, and downright illiterate in the matter of human relationships!
      I’m glad you liked the story.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The labels around his flat parallel his habit of labelling people and events – brilliant! Hopefully, he has now removed the label of “girlfriend” from the girl. It would have been embarrassing if he’d introduced her to his friends/family as his girlfriend.
    This is an ingenious take on the prompt, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Magarisa
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed my take on the prompt. Thank you, too, for showing that you understood the metaphor of the labels around the flat – I was wondering whether it had worked as I hoped.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jo
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, he needs to stop categorising people and start responding emotionally to them! As you say, let’s hope he learns how! (Of course, it’s possible that trauma or even just the character with which he was born might be the cause of his behaviour).
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Half of me agrees with you about telling him the right girl is out there. The other half wants to find a way of helping him relate better to those around him! Of course, one could do both.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anshu
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right – it was a rude awakening! I expect, though, that he is analysing what went wrong even as I type these words…
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s