"Left! Right! Left! Ri--dangit."
"What on earth are you doing?"
I jumped. Headphones on and music blasting at full volume, I hadn't heard Cat come in. Somehow managing to spin, yank the headphones off, and land in a combat stance, I blinked in surprise. "Oh. Hi. When did you get here?"
Cat put her hands on her hips. "About a minute ago. Not very observant."
I shrugged. "No one usually comes in here." I patted down my shorts before walking over to my bag and pulling out my phone. "And in my defense, you're late."
"I got held up at the music library," Cat explained. "You still didn't answer my question."
"Which was?" The echo was killer in here, so I dropped my voice a bit.
"What are you doing?"
I held up the two rackets and grinned. "Playing racquetball against myself--left hand versus right. My left hand is winning, for some reason. I think it's because it's not as accurate--and weaker--than my right, so the ball's unpredictable and kinda just dribbles off the wall." Flipping the left racket in the air, I caught the business end of it and offered the handle to Cat.
"Showoff," Cat smiled wryly, shrugging off her coat.
"Talent!" I declaimed, trying to scoop the ball off the floor with the other racket. It worked--on the third or fourth try.
Cat accepted the proffered racket and took up her position in the racquetball court. "How was your day?"
"Okay, I suppose. I didn't tick off too many people, your sister still wants to kill me, and good Lord in heaven, did you see anything edible in the caf?" I served with a little more violence than strictly necessary.
"I know, right?" Cat returned the shot. High right corner. "The vegetables were all limp!"
"I can't believe you eat caf veggies," I muttered, spinning for the heck of it and smacking the ball back to the back wall. It was a little higher than I wanted, but given that I'd taken that shot behind my back, it was pretty dang good. "I was referring to the doughnuts. How can you ruin a doughnut?"
"By doing whatever they did to it." Cat returned the ball to the middle of the wall. Perfect. I lined up and whacked it straight into the corner, where it dribbled out onto the floor and bounced like four or five times. Since it could only bounce once before it had to be returned, Cat lost that round.
"Point!" I said triumphantly. "Wow, I'm getting good at this."
Cat waved her racket at me. "Go get the ball. I need to whack something."
I let my eyes widen in mock horror. "Yes, ma'am! Why, was your day sucky too?"
Cat shrugged. "It was long."
"You miss Jimmy?" I suggested. Jimmy was her fiance; I'd met him a few times--actually, he still owed me two beers for fixing Cat's computer for their nightly Skype sessions. (I'd have to collect after I turned 21, though.) He was off somewhere getting his masters.
"That too," Cat said ruefully as I served. "I really hate having him so far away." She smoked the ball with a lot more force than I thought she was going to. It rebounded off the wall way faster than I was expecting. Since I couldn't get my racket up in time, I opted for the path of least resistance and ducked. The ball parted my hair as it missed me (fine, I'll say it) by a hair.
"Geez, remind me not to bring that up," I remarked casually, picking myself up off the ground. "Point to you. How's he doing these days?"
Cat winced. "Sorry about that."
I waved it off and retrieved the ball. "You know me--I'm never happy unless I'm in danger of losing valuable body parts." I gave it a moment's thought. "Although, it is debatable whether or not my head is a valuable body part."
"Well, I didn't want to break your nose," Cat huffed. "And I keep telling you, you should be more careful!"
"Careful is my middle name. Not is my first," I snickered, pointing to my face. "Besides, there's no way this thing could get worse!"
"It would if you broke your nose!" Cat protested.
I shrugged and served. "My nose is already flat. Worst case scenario is that the docs fix it since my nose would be in pieces already."
"Well, I would feel bad," Cat said emphatically, whacking the ball back at the wall.
I spun the racket around in my hand and backhanded the ball away. "So how is Master Jimmy, anyway?"
Cat grinned and completely missed the ball with her next swing. "Oh, he's doing great!"
I retrieved the ball as she waxed eloquent on Jimmy and his virtues, a regular occurrence that I found both amusing and edifying. If I ever got into a relationship--in doubt, as always--I figured I'd have some very impressive role models.
My next three serves went completely unreturned by Cat. She seriously missed every single one. I tossed her the ball, (after five serves, we switched) and asked, "So, when is the next time you'll be able to see Jimmy?"
Cat tossed the ball up, swung, and missed. "Ugh! Why can't I hit this?"
Now, I might not my the sharpest knife in the chandelier (yes, that was deliberate), but I wasn't bad at noticing patterns. I tried not to laugh; Cat may have been a foot (or a foot and a half) shorter than me, but I was convinced that my martial arts skills would not save me should she decide to shred me like her namesake. I kept a straight face. "I really don't know. Maybe you're tired. So, when are you going to see--"
Cat tossed the ball up.
"--Jimmy?" I finished.
Timed it perfectly. She missed the serve again, giving me a free point by our rules. "Dang it! I don't know--what is wrong with you?"
I'd completely lost it, collapsing to the ground and laughing my head off. She stomped over and threatened me with her racket. "Stop it! Just because I can't serve--"
"It's not that," I gasped out. "You miss every time you think of Jimmy!"
Cat narrowed her eyes. "No I don't!"
I wiped my eyes and stood up. "I'll prove it. Go serve!"
Cat gave me the evil eye and resumed her place. She tossed the ball up--
"Oh, come on!" Cat yelped, turning red.
I doubled over laughing again. "Talk about being smitten!"
Cat scooped up the ball and tried to throw it at me. I yelped "Jimmy!" and she...missed me completely. I fell down anyway, roaring with laughter. Cat didn't help much by poking me with her racket. "Dang it, that's cheating!!"
"How can I help if it if you can't daydream of your fiance and play at the same time?" I demanded, snickering.
"I'm not daydreaming!" Cat protested.
I laughed. "Fantasizing?"
I swatted her racket away. "I thought girls were supposed to be able to multitask!"
"We can, better than men," Cat retorted.
"Fine, then. Serve," I suggested mischievously.
Cat narrowed her eyes at me again. "Don't you dare say anything."
"Wouldn't dream of it," I said innocently. "I must say, though; this psychology experiment is intensely interesting."
"I am not a psychology experiment," Cat declared, serving.
I bounced to my feet and returned the serve, running straight into the wall afterwards because a) I was laughing and b) I was pretty focused on the ball. "Wait until I tell Jimmy about this!"
"RADAR!" Cat tried her hardest to look mad, but broke down laughing as well.
Needless to say, I won by a very large margin. Cat graciously allowed me to live, though.