First Impressions

Flash fiction by Tina Konstant

Clock2

27 minutes.

I can’t wait that long. I’ll go nuts.

Ticktock, ticktock. Come on people. 26… I swear, I’m going to pee myself.

How do I know it’s 26 minutes? Not like I’ve got a clock to look at. There’s nothing here but walls. There are voices though. They’re being precise. Keeping time. Being good enough to speak loud so I can hear.

25…

Good impression. Smile. Isn’t that what they say? People create their first impressions within three seconds of meeting someone new. Well. I’m new. No one knows me. Three seconds. Make or break. So smile. SMILE!

Okay. I can do that.

I’m not the first. I won’t be the last.

21… 21? Where did four minutes go?

Breathe. Chill. Calm and breeeeeeeeeeeath. It’s not a competition.

What if they hate me? They might. They might take one look at me and say No. No thanks. Not bothered. Crap. I hadn’t thought of that.

Smile smile smile.

Eye contact.

That’s the other thing. Eye contact. Lord, it’s getting hot in here. 19… What? 9?

What are they doing? I’m not ready? I need time to prepare.

Okay, so they’re pushing the programme. Breathe. Smile. Eye contact.

I’m… Oh Jeez.

They’re going to think I’m an idiot. They’ll think I’m stupid and hate me.

No. No! Positive thinking. They’re going to love me. I’m funny. I have potential. HUGE untapped potential.

7 minutes.

They’re shaving time off like trees in the Amazon.

But that’s okay. I’m ready for this. I’ve been preparing for a long time. I’ve been watching and listening and learning. I know them. Joe Milton Henning, age 36. Scorpio. An accountant by day, a DJ by night. Married to Melissa Anne Henning, age 32. A botanist. Plays the cello. Virgo. Loves horses, dogs, Taylor Swift and Adele. I know these people.

4 minutes. Calm. Just relax.

That door will open. I’ll smile. Make eye contact. They’ll smile back. We’ll have good impressions all round. They’ll love me. I’ll love them. Happy like parrots in a bag of peanuts.

3 minutes.

What will be, will be. I heard that once. Doesn’t make sense but very little does from where I am right now.

Damn walls are closing in. Tight. Tight and hot. Come on. Come on!

2 minutes. Breathe. Almost there. Smile. Eye contact.

1 minute.

Go. Go. Go!

***

Joe Henning stared down at the blood and muck. “My God. He’s beautiful.”

Melissa sat up. Pain vanishing from her body like pigeons from a black hat. She stared at the brand new face. “Is he…? Is that possible?”

Joe grinned, wiping tears from his cheeks with the back of his sleeve. “He’s smiling. He is. He looked right at me and smiled. Hey, Harry.” Joe touched his baby’s cheek. “Welcome to the world.”

***

Harry looked up at his new mum and dad. Breathe. Eye contact. Smile… Aced it.