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American Romance Drama

At exactly 5pm Catherine heads into the restaurant. She sat in her car half an hour, waiting, but refusing to be early. She wasn’t early for Adam anymore. Before long, she is sitting at her booth, knee bobbing gently beneath her table. She stretches out her neck, feeling particularly sore before her meal. Ever since she took that wedding ring off, regular spin classes were back on the schedule. Beside her, a long, red, faux fur lined jacket. It was the first thing she bought after she walked out of divorce court and the perfect pairing for her skin tight red dress with stiletto black heels. She doesn’t need the cocktail menu, choosing their root beer float martini and a glass of water-her first of three for the evening. She doesn’t stand when he enters, just nods.


Adam walks right past the hostess to the enchanting woman in red. He takes his seat and his menu, hiding his face for a few moments before smiling coyly and lowering it. 


“As if you’d change your order,” she says with a delicate eye roll. Catherine uncrosses her legs and leans forward, letting the words pour out like champagne, “Good to see you, Darling.”


The waitress returns in her heels and a short skirt. Catherine pretends not to watch Adam’s green eyes take all of the girl in. Catherine sighs as he places an appetizer order. “Good to see you, Darling,” he parrots dramatically. 


“How’s Megan?” Catherine asks as she leans back against the leather booth.


“How’s John?” counters Adam as he strikes a mirrored pose. She responds by taking a long sip of that cocktail. They stare each other down like gunslingers in an old western until the waitress comes back to take their entree order. She approaches, eyes darting nervously to each side of the table before lingering on Adam and asking if it would be one check or two. “One,” he tells her and then looks at Catherine asking for clarification, “My turn, right?” She presses her ruby red lips together, nods, and adds the ribeye to their ticket. Adam frowns.


The memory of the stack of papers in the manilla folder comes their minds. Their words, biting and cruel, burst forward like snakes attacking one another. She called him a cheat. He called her a liar—just before thrusting a blue ink pen before her. Then, they ate dinner and drove home alone for the first time. Catherine had chosen to stare at the painting of the bull with the big horns hanging above Adam’s head after signing her name on the dotted line. He had drummed his fingers nervously. 


So they do the same thing tonight. She stares at the painting. He drums his fingers. It always goes like this. The food arrives and the soothing sound of knives on plates distracts the two of them. Catherine always likes this bit, it reminds her of all the reasons they had divorced: the way he chomps his food with his mouth open, that stupid goatee he’s always trying to grow, and the mountain of hair gel piled on his head. Not to mention the bigger issues…but those were gone, faded away like her name with his.


She sits back, sipping her cocktail and says, “I think someone’s watching.” Her dark eyes flit to their waitress, standing guard at the podium behind Adam. He sits up straighter, follows Catherine’s gaze, and waves her over. Catherine rolls her eyes, fake eyelashes tickling her cheeks.


Their waitress returns, flighty and nervous asking, “Do you guys want me to take a photo of you? Are y’all celebratin’ somethin’?”


Her fake accent makes Catherine want to barf so she sits boldly up in her seat, cheeks flushed as she says, “Yes. Yes, we are. We are celebrating our first anniversary.”


“Aaawww,” coos their waitress. “How’d y’all meet?” she asks, pressing her tray into her hip.


“High school,” mumbles Adam.


She gasps, “High school sweethearts? Well, bless my heart!” She presses a manicured hand to her chest. Catherine nods curtly at the girl before holding out her phone. The waitress waves her hand at Adam, indicating he ought to move to Catherine’s side. She sets her tray and all their dishes on a neighboring table before motioning at both of them to scoot in close. Catherine smells the soft scent of his cologne and tries not to cringe in disgust…tries and fails. She huffs a breath, remembering all of the nights of burying her face in his neck. Her smile holds the secret to eight years of wedded misery.


The photos are snapped and the girl with pigtails that hang just below her waistline asks, “How do they look?” before nodding at the two of them and bouncing back to the kitchen. 


Adam returns to his seat, sipping his soda. Catherine chugs down some water, feeling the effects of the alcohol. “Happy anniversary,” she says through a fit of giggles. 


He grins at her and echoes, “Happy anniversary.” Then, he asks, in the same breath, “Do you think we should tell her it’s the first anniversary of our divorce?”


Through painful belly laughter, Catherine shakes her head. The girl returns with the tab and Adam’s card. He scribbles down a tip. He smiles at her and ogles her ass as she walks away, something that, at one time, bothered Catherine. Not anymore. 


“Are you good to get home?” Adam asks, with a raised eyebrow. She had once found that charming. Not anymore. 


She nods saying, “John will come pick me up.” She holds his gaze for a minute and waits for him to crack a joke shout them “getting serious”. But she decides to beat him to the punch, picking up her cell phone and waves him away. Only once his back is turned does she sneak a peek at the broad shouldered man she had once called her other half. 


Five years later, Catherine is sitting at her booth, knee bobbing gently beneath her table. She admires the diamond on her hand. She stretches her neck, impulsively waiting for it to ache. But it doesn’t. Beside her, a silky red wrap. Tonight, her outfit is a sexy black number that shows plenty of cleavage. She doesn’t need the cocktail menu, choosing a soda pop-her first of three for the evening. She doesn’t stand when he enters, but smiles.


Adam walks right past the hostess to the girl he once loved in the little black dress he doesn’t recognize. He takes his seat and his menu, hiding his face for a few moments before smiling coyly and lowering it. 


“As if you’d change your order,” she says with a cheeky grin. It’s light and easy, confidence only given with diamond rings. Catherine uncrosses her legs and leans forward, letting the words pour out like champagne, “It’s good to see you.”


The waitress returns in her heels and a short skirt. Catherine pretends not to watch Adam’s green eyes take all of the girl in. Catherine sighs as he places an appetizer order. “You, too,” he says.


“How’s Megan?” Catherine asks, smiling fading when she realizes he didn’t return her joke; she leans back against the leather booth.


“Good. She’s itching for a ring,” replies Adam as he strikes a mirrored pose. Catherine’s cheeks pull her lips into a knowing grin and she tosses a lock of long black hair over her shoulder. “I always liked it long,” says Adam with a smile. “So, you gonna show me the ring?” he asks. Catherine leaps forward in her booth, extending her hand out across the shiny glass table top that the manilla folder full of paper was once sitting on. In the light of the restaurant, her brand new diamonds glisten. Adam nods approvingly and offers her a soft smile as the waitress returns with her order pad out and ready to go.


Catherine orders first and then reminds Adam it’s her turn to pay so he adds an Old Fashioned to the ticket with a grin. As he sits back, Catherine glances at the painting above his head. The bull’s horns seem less menacing than they once had. She sighs contentedly and barely notices Adam’s fingers, drumming nervously. 


When the food comes, Catherine digs right in. She only pauses when she sees that Adam’s drink is long gone, leaving his steak and potatoes in a puddle of gravy. Her eyebrows furrow, her mouth frowns, and her finger feels heavy with a new ring. She sets her silverware aside, leaned across the table asking, “Hey, are you ok?” He shrugs and begins cutting his first bite of the evening and taking it in slowly. 


The waitress returns with a cardboard box and the check which Catherine paid without looking at. “Hey, can we get a picture?” asks Adam. The girl turns around quickly, smiling at the two of them. Catherine nods and waits for Adam to take his seat beside her. She feels the warmth of his body, the way their thighs touch, like the good old days. Up close, she’s able to notice the stubble on his cheeks, the way his eyes seem set further in his skull. Her smile longs to hold him the way they once did, to offer the comfort only a partner truly can. Once they are done, Adam’s eyes shoot down to the table. His voice is soft, but deep and gruff, “Happy sixth Anniversary, Catie.”


“Happy Anniversary,” she echoes and stands. She grabs her wrap and pauses by his side of the booth, placing a hand on his shoulder.


He watches her red high heels as they depart before suddenly standing up and calling to her, “Hey Catie!” 


She turns and he sees the way her eyes sparkle in the night.


He jogs lightly to stand beside her, feeling his pulse beat loudly in his ears. “Do you think there’ll be a seventh?” he asks her.


She nods and he watches her walk past the host stand. The doors let a gust of cold air in as she opens them and slides into the passenger seat of a big black car. Through the window, Adam can see a figure lean across the seat and place a kiss on her lips. He shakes his empty glass at the waitress who promptly returns with another one.


On the evening of the seventh anniversary of her divorce from Adam Montgomery, Catherine is sitting at her booth, knee bobbing gently beneath her table. She is pouring over the texts they’ve exchanged over the past year. He had sent her funny videos, she had countered with a few good memes, he had sent her promises that he intended to keep this time, and she swore she believed him. Beside her, a small black ring box. She doesn’t need the cocktail menu, choosing a bottle of champagne and a glass of water-her first of three for the evening. She runs towards him when he enters.


Adam walks right past the hostess to hold his best friend. She is wearing his favorite dress-the one with the little blue birds. He takes his seat and his menu, hiding his face for a few moments before smiling coyly and lowering it. 


“As if you’d change your order,” she says with a laugh. He pats his booth and she leaps forward, sitting right below the painting of the cow. Catherine uncrosses her legs and leans forward, letting the words pour out like champagne, “Good to see you, Darling.”


The waitress returns in her heels and a short skirt. Adam’s eyes never left Catherine’s as he orders the appetizer. “Good to see you, my love,” he whispers after the girl leaves. They lean in close, their eyes flutter shut, letting their foreheads touch. While ordering food, Adam assures Catherine that it’s his treat saying, “The guy should always pay on the first date.”


The only thing on the glass table was her open palm, waiting for him.


Catherine leans back in her seat, clutching her beloved’s hand as she says, “I got the promotion.” Glee twinkles in her eyes and a huge smile spreads across her face. Adam’s hands move to clutch her cheeks as if he could squeeze his pride and love into her face. He smiles back at her and she admires the way his teeth sparkle. She even begins stroking his annoying goatee. Their meal arrives and they eat their meal slowly, savoring each and every bite. 


Catherine grabs the ring box from her side, slipping Adam’s silver back onto his finger. He reaches across her and mirrors her action. “This is getting pretty serious, huh?” he asks playfully. Finally, the joke she had been waiting for.


Their waitress appears with a slice of their famous mudslide pie which the couple dug into together. As they enjoy their last bite, a familiar face appears. This time, she’s wearing a pants suit and her long hair is not in braids, but neatly curled and done in a full up do. “Hey you guys!” she calls at them with a huge smile. She rushes by to the table and looks at them expectantly. “It me! It’s Sherri! I was your waitress from your first anniversary, remember? You came here! It warms my heart you two have made this place a tradition,” she gushes and places a hand of polished nails over her heart. Then, she extends it for one of their phones, which Catherine happily provides, noting, but not caring that Sherri has dropped the fake accent. Sherri grins and waves her hand to have them move closer together. Adam places a wet kiss on Catherine cheek as the photo is captured. 


“Gosh, guys, I am just so glad to see you!” she says. “So…how long has it been? Almost a decade, huh? That’s a long time to be together,” she muses as she plays with her necklace. Her eyes seem to linger on the cow photo above them. She sighs contentedly and calls, “Happy anniversary,” as she walks away in her sky high heels. 


Catherine smiles, turning to Adam, and echoing, “Happy anniversary.”

October 06, 2023 16:07

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9 comments

Chris Campbell
07:14 Oct 20, 2023

Amanda, Having yearly celebrations to a divorce, told us this couple were not over each other, demonstrated clearly at the finis, where they seem to be celebrating a different anniversary. The first back together, maybe? You have a very romantic heart and it shines through in this piece. I, for one, have always burned those romantic bridges in the belief that what went wrong could never be mended. However, I liked the wonderful optimism you portray in this. Well done.

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Helen A Smith
07:12 Oct 20, 2023

I loved this tale Amanda. It was so poignant and the more I read it, the more the characters grew. On a deeper level, it shows that in real life, relationships mean accepting someone’s flaws, even the most irritating ones and that divorce isn’t always mean the complete end. I like the way the story builds. Catherine at first is thinking of the things that bothered her about her ex, but “not any more.” Gradually, it comes to a more well-rounded realisation - they both still love one another and there is something still there. A great read.

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Tom Skye
12:07 Oct 18, 2023

This was a really clever story, Amanda. You got such realism and sweetness out of a really simple premise. Well drawn characters in a sorry that didn't necessitate high drama to be compelling. It was a brilliant twist on the romance genre. Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed this

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Marty B
05:15 Oct 15, 2023

That is a celebratory anniversary, and as important as a wedding anniversary, in that it is life changing. This is a great 'romance' story. I like the repetition on the story, showing what changed, and what didn't over the years. Thanks!

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Karen Corr
18:59 Oct 11, 2023

An every year the leaves change, lost and found, touching, moving, happy ending story. I loved it!

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AnneMarie Miles
21:03 Oct 10, 2023

Hey Amanda! Love this idea of a divorce anniversary, and how you used repetition over the years to create this sort of monotony, a monotony we often associate with a "boring married couple." But youve kind of flipped it on its heels and made it a sort of comforting monotony. I could feel the two almost feeling nostalgic in their comfort together which must have created a sort of longing since they eventually decide to get back together. You do romance well, dear! Always have!

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Robin Owens
22:17 Oct 09, 2023

I loved the tension in this story! I did not know where it was going to go. There was so much weight in "How's Megan?..."How's John?" I love that they shared this secret dinner. As observers, we never know what's really behind the relationship. Enjoyed this!

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Michał Przywara
00:09 Oct 09, 2023

That's a cool idea - both the divorce anniversary dinner, but also the changes it shows us, and how they ultimately end up. Divorce is the end of a lot of things, but it's not the end of everything, is it? Old feelings linger, and in this case, they get stoked and fanned, and ultimately relit. A couple lines caught my eye: "She presses a manicured hand to our chest." - should that be "her" chest? "Her smile feels holds the secret" - seems like one too many words What I really like is the feelings and attitudes they display at each dinne...

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Mary Bendickson
20:13 Oct 07, 2023

Unexpected anniversary.💍 Thanks for reading and liking my Modern Day Monsters

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