A.Word.A.Day drabble – 6/30/08: costive, 7/3/08: atrabilious, 7/4/08: linctus.
MEANING: adjective: 1. Slow to act or speak. 2. Stingy. 3. Constipated.
ETYMOLOGY: Via French from Latin constipare (to cram together), from com- (together) + stipare (to pack or crowd).
MEANING: adjective: 1. Gloomy. 2. Ill-tempered.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin atra bilis (black bile), translation of Greek melankholia.
MEANING: A syrupy liquid medicine, especially for treating coughs.ETYMOLOGY: From Latin lingere (to lick). Ultimately from the Indo-European root leigh- (lick) that is also the source of lichen (apparently from the way it licks its way around a surface), and lecher, but not lingerie (which is from the root lino: flax).
But why was it so important that he set things right with this guy? Why did it matter so much what a total stranger thought of him? Except he wasn’t a total stranger anymore; he was the guy Eric had called a fag. And it wasn’t impossible, in a city the size of theirs, that their paths would never cross again. Better to deal with it now than take the chance of running into him somewhere that it would matter.
Eric examined the packages of sunflower seeds, tubes of toothpaste, packets of aspirin. The good stuff, like condoms and cough linctus, were locked up behind the cashier, so anyone wanting those was SOL until Daisy got back...but there she was, following close behind waving-hands guy, her mouth set in a hard, don’t-fuck-with-my-friends line. The guy saw Eric and walked right up to him, stopping a few feet away. He crossed his arms over his chest, and stuck one hip out as he shifted his weight to one leg.
“Okay, I’m here. Say what you have to say.”
The voice, the posture, even the guy’s hair – dark with blond tips -- made Eric’s mind scream the f-word again, over and over. He didn’t dare open his mouth, just in case it jumped out, so he waited, trying to bite back the word and willing his mind to shut up.
But the silence had gone on too long. He knew he was being costive, knew that every second that passed made it harder for him to get out that apology. So he sucked in a breath, blew it out, then said, “I’m sorry.”
Waving-hands looked less than impressed. “Why are you sorry?”
“Why. Are. You. Sorry?” he enunciated, as if Eric were deaf or stupid or both. “Are you sorry I’m offended? Or are you sorry because a pretty girl told you off, or because you couldn’t buy your beer, or what?”
“I’m sorry because…because no one should be called that. I’ve, um.” Jesus, his heart was racing. “I was in a bad mood and I took it out on you, and that was wrong. So I’m sorry.” A bad mood. Hardly an accurate description of the atrabilious prick he’d turned into over the past few weeks.
Waving-hands seemed to be on the fence, but then he shrugged one shoulder. “Okay. Apology accepted.” He stuck out his hand, not like a normal handshake, but with the palm down, like he expected Eric to kiss it.
Eric hesitated, then took it, turning it so he could shake it properly and withdrawing his hand as soon as he could.
Waving-hands made a “humph” sound. “I’m Armand, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Eric. You want to go get a drink and tell me why you were in such a bad mood?”
Hell, no. “Um, thanks, but I gotta, you know, I gotta go home.”
“Of course you do. Wouldn’t want to be seen out in public with a fag.”
Blood pounding in brain. “Look, I apologized for that! It doesn’t mean I want to go out on a date with you! I’m not like that, I’m not like you!”
“I wasn’t asking you out on a date, you arrogant little shit!” Armand shouted, and god, could his voice have been any louder or higher? “I just thought you might want to talk about whatever bug’s crawled up your ass, but never mind!”
Eric cringed, hoping to God that the store was still empty. “Sorry,” he mumbled. He headed towards the door but didn’t make it outside before he heard Armand say, “Daisy, sweetie, I know you meant well, but next time, tell him to go fuck himself.”