Emily  Harper

“We walk past a clown who is painting kids’ faces, and I suddenly stop, something catching my eye.

“I like that unicorn,” I say, pointing to the bright pink stuffed animal hanging from the ceiling of a game booth.

Travis looks from the unicorn to me. “Is that a hint?”

“I didn’t think I was being subtle,” I say, batting my eyelashes at him.

“How much is it?” Travis asks the man in charge of the game, reaching for his wallet.

“One dart for three dollars, four for ten. You just pop a balloon with the dart and you get a prize,” he says, perking up at the prospect of a new customer.

“Oh, that sounds easy!” I say, clapping my hands together.

“How many times do you have to pop a balloon to get the unicorn?” Travis asks.

“Five,” the man answers brightly.

“I could buy you a unicorn for cheaper than that!” Travis says, turning to me.

My face falls. “But that’s not the point,” I argue.

Travis looks at my pout before he lifts his eyes up to the ceiling, shaking his head. “Okay, I will take five darts.”

I immediately perk up again, and reach out for his arm. “You’ll do great!” I say.

Travis takes the first dart from the man and throws it at the wall. It doesn’t even make it all the way and falls pitifully to the floor.

“Must have been a bad dart,” I argue.

He frowns, picks up the second dart and this time takes a little more aim before throwing it. This time it makes it to the wall but doesn’t manage to stick.

“That’s okay, it−” Before I can finish my thought, Travis is handing me his jacket to hold so he has both hands free. He picks up the next dart, his face all business, and plants his feet, ready for action.

None of the five darts pop any balloons, and before I can offer him any words of consolation he has slapped down a twenty on the ledge and rolled up his sleeves.

“Travis, you don’t have to−” but I can tell he isn’t listening to a word I’m saying.

He throws another dart and it actually connects to the side of a balloon, but it only serves to pin the balloon to the wall more. Is that even possible? These are like miracle balloons.

“This is obviously rigged!” I argue, picking up one of the darts. I throw it at the wall, my back leg kicking up from the effort and it connects with a bright yellow balloon, popping it instantly.

“We have a winner!” The operator yells.

I look up at Travis who is just staring at the popped balloon.

“That was just beginner’s luck,” I assure Travis, picking up another dart and trying to throw it at the wall a little higher than before, aiming for above the balloons.

It quickly curves down in the air and pops a blue balloon.

Honestly, I tried out for my high school’s baseball team and got laughed off the diamond. If it wasn’t so inappropriate I would have Travis take a video so I could post it on my Facebook page. That would show Shannon Winters and all her baseball friends.

“Another winner!” the operator yells. “Three more, pretty lady, and you’ve got your unicorn.”

I shoot my eyes to Travis, but he’s still staring at the wall in disbelief.

I have no problem popping the other three balloons and I stand gleefully with my arms outstretched, waiting for my unicorn.

“You have three more darts,” the operator points out. “Did you want to try and win your boyfriend something?”

I clamp my lips together while Travis stands beside me, completely silent.

“We’re going to try something else,” I say, holding my unicorn in one hand and grabbing Travis’s hand with the other.

Travis walks away shaking his head. “I played football in university. I was on the provincial lacrosse team.”

“I know,” I say, wrapping my arm around his middle as we walk away. “You were so close.”

I try and hide the smile from my face. There is hardly anything I’m able to beat Travis at and now I know whenever I challenge him it should definitely include darts”


Emily Harper, My Sort-of, Kind-of Hero
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My Sort-of, Kind-of Hero My Sort-of, Kind-of Hero by Emily Harper
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