The Next Step (March Flash Fiction)
I eyed my computer screen, several tabs open to the websites of various apartment complexes, while one, open to Facebook, had separate message boxes for Nicole, my best female bro, and Mary, my so far still casual girlfriend. My familiar Furball lay on my computer desk, indifferent to his location as any cat ever is to where they are. Fortunately my cat wasn’t on the keyboard.

[So you’re asking me for advice why?] Nicole asked.

[Because I like you giving me free food and booze and don’t want to give that up.] I typed back.

[:P]

[So you want my advice on what apartment to move to?] Mary asked.

Chatting with two people at the same time was going to get confusing very quickly. Fortunately my coffee was fortified. Taking a long sip of said coffee, and making sure my cat didn’t try and take a swig, I typed out my response to Mary.

[More like I want your input on my decision. And I also wanted to know where you wanted to go for our first non-coffee date. I was thinking the Chinese place.]

[That’s the best you can come up with?]

[I’ll drink if we go somewhere with a liquor license.]

[So I’ll drive. I like Ale Inn’s pizza.]

[Okay then, how’s Friday at 6 sound?]

[Great. So what apartments are you looking at?]

[Shitty ones], I replied.

[:P Be specific.]

[Hey], Nicole chimed in on her message thing, [Are you talking to Mary about all this?]

[Yes,] I replied, [though we’re nowhere near close enough for it to really matter. I just wanted another opinion and to set up our first official date.]

[What about your other bros?] Nicole asked, [The guy ones I mean. Asked their input yet?]

[It’s on my to-do list.]

With Nicole satiated for the moment, I typed out a brief overview of my options for Mary. At first glance they weren’t bad –the problem was utilities; once they got thrown into the mix, my affordable options dropped to a small handful, and several of them were in areas with crime rates that probably ranked in the top ten on a list somewhere.

[Are you basing your options on working full time?] Mary asked, [Doesn’t construction pay pretty well?]

[It can, but you have to remember I’m technically still labor. If I want to actually become a carpenter I need to put in a lot of work and a fair bit of schooling as well. Ugh my accountant is going to hate me next year.]

[You use an accountant?]

[I don’t trust tax programs or myself.]

[Fair enough. Anyway, which apartments were you liking the most?]

[Did you have a favorite apartment selected yet?] Nicole chimed in.

I sighed and reached for my coffee; carrying on a conversation with two people at the same time was harder than I expected. I told both of them which apartment I preferred and why, and to my surprise received similar reactions.

[Wanna go tour the place? I’ll go with you for moral support and to buy fried chicken afterward.]

[Cool, would you like me to go with you to help you look the place over?]

I sighed and looked to my cat.

“Any idea what to do now? My best female bro and my girlfriend just offered to apartment hunt with me.”

My cat languidly rose upon its paws, stretched, yawned, sat, and turned to look at me, the wisdom of felines past coursing through its veins as it gazed upon the Bringer of Food, Water, and Pettings.

Quoth the Furball: “Meow.”

I swear to God, Martin Luther, and Gary Gygax I am a dog person.

“Fine,” I grumbled to my cat, “Have it your way. You haven’t even met Mary yet, so I don’t even know why I’m listening to you.”

“Meow.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered.

After checking my schedule, I messaged both women to pick a good tentative time to apartment tour –separately of course. I’m not a complete moron, despite my tendency to drink too much and talk to my cat.

To Mary I added the chance for dinner afterward, and quickly made sure there was a nice place so we could have our first official date –screw the Ale Inn, it was time to step up my game. This information was naturally told to Nicole, who used far too many emoticons to express her excitement.

[You have to tell me how the date goes!]

[I don’t have to tell you everything about my romantic life, you know. I have guy friends for that.]

[Aren’t they all getting married and shit?]

[…You have a boyfriend.]

[I also buy you beer and chicken.]

I groaned and drained my coffee, wishing I had the bottle of scotch handy, “Women are scary. Well, guess I’m in for it now. Think this’ll work out?”

My cat failed to respond, which I took as a good sign. My life was moving forward, and the people close to me were in full support. It had been a long time since that had happened in my life, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it, but I’d figure it out. In the meantime, I had an apartment to find and a Master’s degree to finish. What came after that… well, I’d find out the hard way.

I also had a real date to worry about, but one insurmountable problem at a time.