Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Close Encounter

by Amanda Stonebarger from the July 30, 2012 issue

Tagline: Angie intended to give the guy who'd blocked her car a piece of her mind. She ended up giving him a piece of her heart instead...

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker (cc)
In a Nutshell: Divorced Angie is late to pick up her daughter Chloe from soccer practice. When she comes out of the grocery store, she sees that the two cars on either side have parked way too close. The owner of the truck comes out and he's handsome and charming, and--what do you know?--he is the uncle to Chloe's best friend.

Observations: I thought this story was adorable, one of those ones where I think to myself, "You've been in that situation many a time. How come you never thought about making it into a Woman's World story???" But there's a good reason for that. This story had the challenge of putting the heroine into a highly, highly annoying situation, casting the hero as the "bad guy," and then somehow making the two amenable to a date.

I'll show you how I think Stonebarger pulled that off.

"Need some help?" a male voice asked. Angie could hear the amusement in his voice.

This amusement is the first subtle softening of the hero/villain.

Prepared to vent, Angie turned her head. But one look at this very good-looking man stopped her. He was smiling, but it was an embarrassed smile, and his friendly eyes weren't mocking her.

This was not subtle at all, but we see that Angie's annoyance has come down a few notches. She's still upset, however...

"I'm surprised you could fit it into that space at all," she said. "That thing needs a whole lot to itself."

But when the hero/villain, Mike, tells her it's his brother's truck, she softens even more.

"Well, I"ll let you off with a warning, since you're a first time offender," she said. "At least, I hope you are."

After that Stonebarger throws in a convenient coincidence--that Angie's daughter and Mike's niece are best buddies--and the rest of the story plays out like we'd expect. They make a date. Do notice the slight black moment. (Maybe I should start calling them gray moments.) It was one of those awkward silences...

They stood for a moment, hands still interlocked, while the misty rain began to patter down harder.

You think that this is it, that they're going to part and the chance for love has slipped away, but no. Mike steps up to the plate and asks her out. Atta boy!

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