It’s tough being stuck in Friendsville. You once took a wrong turn with a girl and ended up in this town.
A rabid networker, she took to playing social tennis in a dress that covered her only as far as her liver, or perhaps, when stretched, her small intestine.
“It’s very short,” you remarked as she bent down to adjust her shoelaces.
“Well, that’s just how it is in Friendsville,” said the girl. Tossing her ponytail at you, she proceeded to chase a green ball down a white line towards a golden tournament trophy, which was also half-dressed.
You, lonely, walked until the street petered out, unfinished. Ahead were train tracks laid in concentric circles and lined with bonsai oak trees and runt-sized ponies, both short enough to pat in a condescending fashion.
You walked through sporadic grass, along the outer track.
“Maybe,” you rehearsed, “do you want to, would it be okay to, this is hard to ask — I’m sorry, please forgive me for my very existence — but could we take that trip I planned originally? Even just a very, very small, tiny, mite-sized trip? At most, you’d only need to pack a sandwich, maybe even just an apple. It’d be such a miniature trip — you wouldn’t even notice it happening! We’d go up to that ark in that mountain over there where people go about in pairs?”
Trains flustered your jacket and rearranged your hair. Passengers, unwittingly moving full circle, stared at you from passing windows.
Back loitering behind the baseline, you are trying to find precisely the right moment to begin your hesitant oration. But the girl with whom you took that fateful turn is recklessly waving a racquet around and exclaiming to you (amongst others) that:
“Isn’t it a glorious day in Friendsville?”
“I like things just the way they are!” and
“How about a spot of tennis?”
And though you queue obediently and quietly behind all those patient others to retrieve your racquet, you realise that, the longer you stay in Friendsville, the harder it will be to accept that a spot of tennis here means only getting part-way through the first set.
Besides, as you kick at that plastic turf, waiting for the first serve, you feel very sorry that you went to the effort today to wear your best underwear in the hope that it really would be a glorious day in Friendsville, especially for your undergarments, which you had thought might gain some happy exposure at high altitude, up there in that complete, unreachable, tennisless ark.
First published in May 2011 by online journal, Subtle Fiction, edited by New Zealand poet, Jill Chan.