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This is my entry for Week 3 of LJ Idol (therealljidol). The topic this week is "Everything Looks like a Nail."

He reminded her of Dr. Who. Not the woman, and not the older Scottish one, but the cute nerdy one with the bowties and fedoras. Tall and endearingly awkward, he had a shy, boyish smile that counterpointed the discerning intelligence in his hazel eyes. But as the only dad who turned up to the weekly Bibs and Books Storytime at the local library, he didn't have to look like a Time Lord to stand out.

Desiree was focused on her son, David, the first time the Time Lord arrived. At that moment, her curly-haired little boy was wailing because a younger toddler had knocked over the block tower he'd just built. As she comforted David, she became aware of someone to her right, sweeping the spilled blocks into a pile.

When he'd finished, the Time Lord said to her, "Jade cries whenever someone knocks over her towers, too. If he wants, maybe she can help him build another."

The little dark-haired girl already had a block in her hand, carefully laying it atop a long flat one.

"Look, David," she said to her son. "You can build together, if you want." She didn't expect him to do so: at his young age, he'd rarely showed any interest in other children, except when they stole a toy or knocked over a creation.

Much to her delight, her son bounced back from his tears and added a block to the girl's tower. And even when the new tower inevitably collapsed, David chirpily kept placing blocks with his new friend. She'd never seen anything like it.

"I'm Desiree," she told the stranger, as he bent his angular frame down onto the floor next to his daughter.

"Hi, Desiree. I'm Niall."

The next week, the kids sought each other out in an almost accidental way: David vroom-vroomed a wooden truck past Jade's section of colorful carpet, and Jade placed a teddy bear squarely in his path. After much honking, she picked up the teddy bear and squished it down on top of the truck. Instead of making him cry, David laughed. "Bear, no!" he said, and drove the truck wildly until the bear fell off.

So once again, Desiree found herself talking to the little girl's dad. In a way, it wasn't surprising they would have so much in common. They were, after all, both work-at-home parents. She was a freelance editor, while he was an IT consultant. Both had spouses with desk jobs, but both claimed they didn't miss the daily grind. The opportunity to stay home with their kids, they agreed, was worth it.

There, the similarities ended. He was a decade younger -- not a surprise, given that she'd been nearly 40 when she had her one and only child. Niall talked easily about scientific concepts, while Desiree was lost unless the topic encompassed film or literature.

Over the next few weeks, she recognized, in him, the same somewhat glazed glow of a first-time parent. Sleep deprivation may have made her care less about bad hair days, but frizzy hair on him looked delicious, she had to admit.

He could speak German. When he told her that, she asked him to speak some. He spilled out a long phrase, looking in her eyes, and she shivered involuntarily.

One day, he saw her sit down on an overstuffed chair and hopped across the floor to sit cross-legged at her feet. That's the day she realized she'd been thinking about him perhaps more than appropriate for the married mother of a toddler. She'd even begun putting on a little lip gloss before story time.

She inhaled abruptly, made an excuse, and took David to the bathroom for an unnecessary diaper change. For the rest of the session, she tried not steal so many sidelong glances at Niall. When he looked back with that crooked smile, her heart nearly stopped.

Then, later that week, she was reading an article about the latest season of her favorite streaming television show. The female creator, who was also the star, talked about what was so appealing in that season's love interest. "He really listens," she told the interviewer. "You should try it, guys."

Perhaps that was it, Desiree mused as she buttoned up David for a stroll around the neighborhood so that he would take a nap. As she walked past the leaves, slowly turning from green to shades of lemon and cranberry, she reflected on all the unrequited loves of her life. How different those boys had all been, but something about them had drawn her. The way they laughed, for example, or the mix of confidence and vulnerability. The way she imagined they could be together.

Her mind reached back all those decades to remember how she'd felt back then. Drawing names in a notebook, staring longingly at a yearbook picture, imagining a perfect kiss, a quiet walk holding hands. Unsullied by realities of relationships, break-ups, hardship, those young crushes had outlived decades. She thought, naive as it was, there was something to be said for a crush. For those buoyant, hope-filled moments of unrealistic love, filling you up.

Matt Smith as Dr. Who, looking dreamy in front of the Tardis
While this piece is fiction, elements are liberally borrowed from real-life people and events.


( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 15th, 2019 08:05 pm (UTC)
I love Eleven. And this story. And younger men.
Oct. 15th, 2019 09:42 pm (UTC)
Eleven is my Doctor. <3 Though he is far too young for me (while also millennia too old).
(no subject) - marlawentmad - Oct. 17th, 2019 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alycewilson - Oct. 17th, 2019 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - m_malcontent - Oct. 16th, 2019 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alycewilson - Oct. 17th, 2019 08:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2019 10:54 pm (UTC)
I love Matt SMith! I also like him as Prince Phillip in The Crown on Netflix!
Oct. 15th, 2019 10:59 pm (UTC)
The Crown is on my "to watch" list. Hmm. Maybe that should be next.
Oct. 16th, 2019 03:02 am (UTC)
I like this story, it sucked me in right off the bat! I'd love to read more about Desiree and Niall.
Oct. 16th, 2019 11:44 am (UTC)
Thank you! I don't write a lot of fiction, so I'm happy to hear that it sucked you in.
Oct. 16th, 2019 12:21 pm (UTC)
It's very relatable, I think. Not just that thrill of someone who listens, but also the moment of realizing you're getting carried away.
Oct. 16th, 2019 12:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I really did read an article about Season 2 of "Fleabag" starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge where she said just that about her leading man. It made me think about all the guys I've ever been attracted to!

Edited at 2019-10-16 12:48 pm (UTC)
Oct. 16th, 2019 02:30 pm (UTC)
Men who listen are rare.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:07 am (UTC)
Sadly, they are. My husband listens pretty well when he knows that things are important to me. However, he doesn't always remember details later, so I have to remind myself that I personally can't keep straight all the different places he's lived in his life. :)
(no subject) - cnotesays - Oct. 18th, 2019 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 16th, 2019 08:53 pm (UTC)
You could write romances. They sell well, you know. There's money in them thar hills.

Nine is my doc.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:10 am (UTC)
Eccleston gets overlooked far too much. I liked the mix of tough guy and geek that he brought to the role.

It's funny you say that about romances. I wrote a few erotica stories under a pen name about 10 years ago but never did much with them. I know that's different from romance, but I honestly don't know a whole lot about the genre. I've read maybe two official "romance" books in my entire life.
Oct. 16th, 2019 09:26 pm (UTC)
Everywhere she looks, there's a Niall.
Nicely written.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:11 am (UTC)
Thanks! I love names, so that was one of the first things that popped into my head. It felt like an original way to approach it, so I set to work.
Oct. 17th, 2019 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh! This delightful! Next to nine and ten, eleven was my favorite. ;-)

You drew this beautifully. Thank you for sharing.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:12 am (UTC)
So many people love Ten, but I'm almost embarrassed to admit that Eleven was the Doctor I first started watching, which gives him a special spot to me.
(no subject) - murielle - Oct. 17th, 2019 10:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alycewilson - Oct. 17th, 2019 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marlawentmad - Oct. 17th, 2019 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 17th, 2019 02:18 am (UTC)
I was ready for more, which is just a testament to how well you tell a story.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:13 am (UTC)
Thanks. I felt like leaving it a bit unresolved, because for me, the story was about that longing, that time when you see the person you adore everywhere you go.
Oct. 17th, 2019 02:56 am (UTC)
I like this. Matt was my favorite. I haven't actually had any crushes yet - too soon, I think, for us, or maybe because we just don't get out much, but I could see the appeal.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:15 am (UTC)
Yes, there's all sorts of weird things that happen in your brain when you're sleep-deprived. KFP really does have a female friend that he met at the local story time. They were babies, and they reached out towards each other in fascination when her dad and I were talking. I'd never seen him show interest in another kid before that. I keep hoping that maybe some day, they'll end up together, because that's the most amazing "meet cute" moment ever. :)
Oct. 17th, 2019 04:03 am (UTC)
Oh yes, how great it is to find someone who listens.
Oct. 17th, 2019 08:16 am (UTC)
So true! Once I read that article, I realized how many of the guys that I'd crushed on had simply been guys who had given me an ear. Which could explain why they came in such a wide variety of physical types.
(no subject) - banana_galaxy - Oct. 17th, 2019 12:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 17th, 2019 03:39 pm (UTC)
I adore the tender sweetness in this very relatable vignette.
Oct. 17th, 2019 04:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I was hoping to make it very everyday and relatable, so I'm glad you thought so.
Oct. 17th, 2019 04:50 pm (UTC)
I could totally feel the limerence here. :) I liked this-- it felt really real, you know? Trapped in a toddlers world, who wouldn't find a like-minded adult alluring??
Oct. 17th, 2019 05:01 pm (UTC)
Exactly! Those days are behind me now, but I remember how much it shrunk my whole world until the opportunity just to talk to other adults felt liberating.
Oct. 17th, 2019 07:55 pm (UTC)
Fun entry! I fell for Ten, myself, but I LOVED Eleven. <3
Oct. 18th, 2019 11:14 am (UTC)
Ten is loads of fun, as well. You have to credit him for making people fall in love with Doctor Who again.
Oct. 17th, 2019 10:08 pm (UTC)
I used to watch Dr. Who as a kid, but didn't get into the modern versions (my mom LOOOOVES all of it). I have to say though- Matt Smith in The Crown is highly recommended! I'm thinking about rewatching the first two seasons again before the third begins.
Oct. 18th, 2019 11:15 am (UTC)
I am definitely going to watch "The Crown" now. There: I've just added it to my Netflix watchlist.
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