It’s time for another challenge. This one kicked me up and down the street before letting me actually write it. Stories can be such brats.
The rules this time were:
- Prompt: You’ve been stood up, but someone you don’t know takes the place of your date.
- Write in 2nd person
- Include a twist
- Only one viewpoint character
- 1,500 word limit (this is 1,347)
In conjunction with Milli Gilbert
Table for Two
You sit there, alone at a table for two. For the third time you send the waitress away with nothing more than your drink order and a plea to wait just a bit longer. You can see the annoyance on her face and the pity in the eyes around you. The only thing keeping you in that chair is the knowledge that once you give up, it’s over. Leaving means accepting that he stood you up. It means taking the walk of shame, leaving Emelio’s without your dinner, and covering the hole in your heart with a pint of chocolate ice cream.
Since I’m also alone tonight, I take that open chair and save you from having to spend a week at the gym scaring the pants off the guys while you work off the ice cream. Besides, everyone deserves at least one meal from Emelio’s
“Sorry, darling. Traffic was a nightmare. I hope you weren’t waiting too long.” I smile in the hopes you’ll play along.
“Not too long,” you lie. Your eyes rake over me. You think you’ve seen me before, but you don’t remember. I know that look, too well. “You could have called.”
“Sorry,” I say again. “I’m here now, though. Have you had a chance to look over the menu?”
You’ve read the menu so many times you’ve got it memorized. You’ve decided what you want, and changed your mind several times. Still you bury your face in the menu again to give me time to choose.
The waitress comes by, a look of relief on her face as she takes my drink order. You play along, exchanging exasperated looks with her and have that unvoiced conversation about idiots. That one about why do you bother to put up with the less than responsible dates? She returns in moments and we give our orders.
You don’t mess around, prime rib with the loaded baked potato and a Caesar salad. I choose the baked salmon with asparagus and risotto. Then we are alone. Even the other diners, so curious about you being stood up, have found their partners more interesting for the moment.
“So,” you fix me with a challenging stare. “How was your day? I want to know all the details.” Then you prop your elbows on the table, lace your fingers together and rest your chin on your hands. That smirk of yours hides your true emotions, or maybe you really are curious about my day. It’s not the question you want to ask though.
You want to know who I am, but asking or answering that could bring back all that unwelcome attention. So I answer the question you did ask and tell you about my day. I tell you about the kitten who wandered into the firehouse and how Derrick, even though he’s allergic to cats, volunteered to go buy the cat food and kitty litter. How there was only one emergency call for our station today, so we spent the day hiding the kitten from the captain while performing maintenance work on the trucks and cleaning of the firehouse.
Your follow up questions dig deep while implying you knew all about my work. Although, we don’t call the captain “Cap.” Maybe we will, now.
“And then Cap says,” I say as though that were totally normal, “Looking right at me, ‘Pat, it’s your turn to cook.’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so, I have a date tonight.’ And all the guys were all ‘wooo,’ because guys are like that.”
You laughed and nodded.
“I guess you forgot to tell them what time our date was, Pat.”
It’s a game now. Can you introduce yourself to me, without breaking the rules?
“I told them.” I say. “I told them a half an hour earlier than I was supposed to be here, you know how they are.”
You roll your eyes. “They made you late on purpose.”
That they did, but he wasn’t going to be here anyway. “Thanks again for waiting.”
Our food arrived just then. You had another voiceless conversation with the waitress. This time I think you were asking for privacy because she gave me that skeptical look like “are you sure?” You were sure and we were once again alone. You must have been hungry. I don’t know how long you waited, but you dig into your food as though you hadn’t eaten all day.
“How was your day?” I ask after the first frenzy has died down.
You smile and shake your head. “Just another day.” You tell me about Jane’s inability to get her work done on time. Then Fred spilled the coffee, probably in an attempt to never have to make it again. Alison and Shiva were late back from lunch and your boss, Laquia, threatened to bar them from taking lunch together again.
“At least they remembered my birthday, even if they spelled Karen wrong on the cake.”
Nicely played. “How do you spell ‘Karen’ wrong?” I ask.
“They spelled it with a ‘C’”
I laugh. I can’t help it. Then we eat in silence for a bit.
“Have you read The Deep Blue?” You ask.
I haven’t so you tell me about a great science fiction romance set on deep sea farm. You admit the science is a bit sketchy, but the story sounds fascinating. In turn I tell you about Into the Mist, a dance performance modeled on classical ballet, but incorporating tribal dances from around the world.
“I’d love to catch that, if it’s still running.” You poke at the remnants of your dinner.
“It is, for another couple of weeks.” I hope you’ll suggest we go together, but you just sigh instead.
“Thanks for dinner,” you say after a pause. “I suppose we should complete this show, and you can walk me to my car?”
I nod. We are being watched more closely than our audience would like us to know. I decide to wait until we’re outside to tell you the truth.
You beat me to it. We’re barely out the door when you say: “I know who you are.”
“Oh?” I ask.
“You’re one of the other women.”
I can only nod.
“So, where is he tonight?”
“Girlfriend number three went into labor.” I sigh.
You just nod. We walk to your car.
“It’s funny,” you say as you turn to face me. “I was going to break up with him tonight anyway. Now I’m going to have find another spectacular way to break his heart.”
I laugh. If only… “I might have an idea.”
Your eyes flash with mischief, and I know it’s safe to continue.
“Did he always talk to you about how he loved bi-women?”
You snort. “Made me wish I’d never said anything. All that talk of threesomes.” You stick out your tongue.
I smile. “Then the perfect way to let him know he was caught, is for him to catch us.”
“That’s…” You pause and I can see the thought taking shape behind your eyes. “That’s brilliant.”
I love that smile, it’s full of joy and mischief.
“But…” you continue after a pause, “how we will be sure he sees us? This could mean a long series of dates.”
It’s my turn to give you my best Cheshire grin. “While that would be fun, I’m supposed to meet him at the theatre on Wednesday. You did say you wanted to see Into the Mist.”
You step in close. “I think I love you,” you say, running your hand over my shoulder. “But Wednesday is almost a week away. We should probably get in a practice date or two before then.”
My heart is racing. You’re kissably close, and those lips… I take the chance and close the distance. As our lips meet your arms slip around my waist. It’s as though we’ve been lusting after each other for months.
“Get a room.” Someone yells.
We break the kiss, but you don’t let me go. I’m not trying to escape.
“Sounds like a good idea.” You grin. “My place or yours?”