All In (A Love Story in 344 Words)

He won the girl of his dreams on poker night.

She wasn’t dropped onto the table as part of the ante – a wry or rude joke offered by one of the frat boys to make up for a sudden lack of cash.

No, she was standing on the next table over, surrounded by similarly well-dressed girlfriends. And she was dancing to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” like she meant it.

He looked up from his cards and saw her hiding secrets both dark and bright in ironic dancing and un-ironic singing and a blouse with three buttons undone instead of a much more appropriate two.

He saw her and he knew. There was something in the air. Something piquant and perfect that sliced through the smell of beer and cigarettes to tease a smile from his lips despite the odds stacked against him.

“All in,” he said. He would have lost if the frat boys had known the subtle differences in his smiles. This one, born of curious magic, would reveal him a fool who would rather trust whim than logic. But they misread it as confidence and folded.

She looked at him as he scooped up his meager winnings, heard the swearing from the flustered frat boys and caught that rare smile. Even through a three-martini haze, she knew exactly what it meant. It was a thank-you and an invitation.

The song ended and she fell back into the arms of her laughing friends. She wiped the beading sweat from her brow, buttoned up her blouse, then stumbled elegantly to the bar.

He went all-in on the next round and lost everything. He excused himself from the table and walked up next to her at the bar.

The frat boys catcalled. The girlfriends whispered their jealousy.

He asked what she was drinking. She told him, “Kelly, what’s yours?” The music was really loud.

He smiled and asked again. She laughed, then said, “And what are you drinking?”


The music stopped. They scooted closer anyway.

He ordered a diet Coke. She ordered coffee.
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