Deadline--a VERY short story

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“You don’t take me seriously!” she says, plopping onto a sofa.

He swivels his desk chair to face her.  She grabs and hugs a large pillow, one foot jiggling impatiently.

“Women always say that—what does that even mean?”

“What do you care?”

“Perfect! You ask for attention, then you don’t want it. I really cannot understand—“

“I love it when you become the subject of the discussion I started!”

He sighs and folds his arms. Then swivels back to the desk, shuts the laptop, and swivels around to face her again.

“There! I’m all yours!”


“What is this about, huh?  Seriously—I’m on deadline.”

She raises her chin slightly.

“Truer words were never spoken.”

“And now I have to be a mind reader, too.”

“You don’t have to be anything!”

She sits back, staring.It’s an impressive poker face.

He sits back and stares, too.It’s not quite as effective—his impatience shows.

He says, “Veiled threat.  Well played.”

“This is not a game.”


She throws the pillow toward, if not at, him.

“I hate it when you do this!”

“What’s…this…exactly? So far, I‘ve turned to give you my undivided attention and…that’s about it.”

That’s ‘this’!  That…thing you do, that makes me feel about 10-years-old!”


“If the shoe fits, right?  I’m ‘way ahead of you!”

“Baby, what is—“

“Oooo, very Freudian.”

“No, not really.  It wasn’t…well…it wasn’t Freudian.”

She smirks and rolls her eyes.  But doesn’t speak.

He rises and heads over to the sofa. But sits gingerly on the arm of it. The arm farthest from where she’s sitting.

“I really do have a deadline, okay?  Can we get to the point of all this or—“

“So what’s more important? Having me in your life or making that deadline?”

“That deadline…deadlines…are how I pay for…everything!And God knows everything is what keeps you interested.”


He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. Notices, in his reflection in a mirror on the wall not far away, that he’s gone a little more gray at the temples.  Runs his fingers through the gray on the right side.

“You have to be kidding me!” she cries.


She folds her arms and stares.  He smiles.

“You are really lookin’ for a fight today!  Let’s do it!   Start swingin’!”

He puts up his “dukes” like a fighter in the ring.  She doesn’t smile.

“Baby girl…this is what I do.  And all this,” he swings an arm in a slow arc, as if inviting her to take a good look at the opulence surrounding them.It’s a penthouse apartment.  Expensive décor.  Incredible view of an incredible city.  Some would say the most incredible city of all.

She hugs herself even tighter.

“It’s not mine, it’s yours.”

“It will be yours,” he says.“Someday.  A day which you are probably hoping will come soon.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Ah.  Predictable, but…effective.”


He sits nodding pensively, for a few beats.  Then smiles at her.

“What do you want?  World peace doesn’t count—real answer, please?”

She looks away.  Runs a hand through her long, blond hair.  He smiles.  He likes that hair.  He likes her.  Loves her.  Even when she’s like this.

He slides down onto the sofa and folds his arms the way hers are folded.  She does not look at him.

So he slides over an inch or two.  She turns and glares.

He slides over another few inches. Arms still folded.Letting out a little petulant puff of air as he lands a little closer to her. She continues to glare, but there’s something in the eyes…

He falls over, resting his head on her shoulder.  She tries to push him off, but he falls right back—gently.And turns his face so that she can see the puppy dog eyes and the playfully quivering lip.

“God, you are so annoying!” she cries.  But she’s smiling—she tries to make the smile less…smiley.  But then she laughs.  And shoves him harder.

He sits up straight. Turns to face her, folding his legs into lotus position.  Grateful, suddenly, for the yoga lessons he’s paying a small fortune for. Because she insisted he exercise more instead of sitting in front of “that damned computer” all the time.

“If I didn’t take you seriously, I wouldn’t have all this.  It’s the scripts I’ve written about you and me and your mother and…everything else—that word again—that has given us all this.  You…are my inspiration, my dear.”

“And you…are full of shit.  My darling.”

She says it almost lovingly. He leans to kiss the shoulder he leaned on a moment ago.

“Many critics agree with that assessment,” he says, adding a little nose tweak for good measure.  He loves her nose, too.  Even if it’s like her mother’s.  He loved her mother once, too.Still does, but the way he loves her now is very different.  But also, very real.

“I just want…I wanna spend some time with you when I’m spending time with you,” she says with a resigned sigh.“And quit being so damned charming—listen to me, for once.”

“Oh, I always do!   It’s money in the bank, the stuff you say—no kidding.”

Stop it, damn you!”

He attacks and she squeals as he tickles her relentlessly.  He loves, most of all, her laugh. And does not stop until he has heard every version of it.  He will write about it later after her visit is over.  But not because it makes him money.

He will write about it because he misses her.  So very much.

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