Fiction Romance

Rosalind still didn’t know why she had agreed to come on this date. Date seemed a ridiculous word to use at the age of sixty, but she didn’t know what else to call it. She found herself in a trendy, hipster restaurant, serving organic, locally sourced food. The wait staff were friendly but young enough to be her grandchildren and heavy on tattoos and piercings. Rosalind was glad to be seated in a booth. She’d brought a book in case this Steve didn’t show up. Sipping a glass of wine, she looked around. To her relief, no one was paying any attention to her. She must not look as out of place as she felt. She started slightly as a figure materialized at her elbow. He was a pleasant looking man of about her own age, slightly out of breath.

    “Good evening. So sorry that I’m late, but I had a little trouble finding parking. I’m Steve.”

He proffered his hand and sat down across from Rosalind. His smile was friendly, and his green eyes twinkled with humor. He seemed to have his own teeth and all his faculties. Perhaps this would not be as bad as she feared. Steve ordered a glass of wine.

     “Well, here’s to new acquaintances,” he said, as they clinked glasses. “It’s nice to finally meet you, though I’ve heard so much about you that I feel as if I know you already. How do you know my cousin Mandy?”

         “We’re in the same book club,” said Rosalind. “I hate to think what she’s told you. She got it into her head that I’ve been single too long and should meet you. Not that I’m looking for anyone, or assuming that you’re looking for someone. My goodness, this is awkward.” She took a gulp of wine.

       “I was just looking for a pleasant evening and maybe making a new friend,” said Steve. “Don’t overthink it. Mandy didn’t make it sound as if you were desperate for company. In fact, she said I’d be lucky if you agreed to meet me. We grew up together. She’s never let me get above myself.”

      “I feel like a fish out of water,” said Rosalind. “Bill was my first boyfriend and he and I were married for thirty-five years. He died five years ago. It was hard, but I’ve adjusted. The kids are grown and gone. Then Mandy took me on as a project.”

      “A project?”

       “She’s tried to update my computer skills. That was an uphill task, but I did improve. Then she persuaded me to try her hairdresser and get a new style. I even started going to the gym with her. I should have realized where it was leading. She’s convinced I’ve been single too long and should get out and meet people, more specifically men. Honestly, it sounds ridiculous at my age. Most men my age are married, decrepit or both. I’m not about to have an affair and I don’t want to be anyone’s nurse. I'm not looking for anyone older. They'd most likely have one foot in the grave. I've raised two boys already and don't need anyone younger."

        “Well, I’m not married, and I don’t think I’m decrepit yet,” Steve said, laughing.

        “I’m sorry. That was rude,” Rosalind said, almost choking on her wine.

         “More like realistic.”

           “Mandy realized I was never going to start online dating. All that swiping right and left, and who knows if anyone’s being honest on those sites. I can’t stand seeing my own picture, never mind imagining what other people think when they see it. Then she suddenly had this brain wave that I should meet you. I finally ran out of excuses. Oh, lord, I’m being rude again.” She peered at her wine glass. It was almost empty.

         “I don’t usually drink, and not on an empty stomach. That’s why I’m rambling on.”

       “That sounds like Mandy. Bossy in a very well-meaning way and thinks she knows what’s best for everyone. I’ve been divorced for years. Don’t think less of me for it, but I have tried a few of those online sites.”

        “You’re braver than I. How did it go?”

        “Results varied and I’m sure the feelings were mutual. Nothing lasting came of it."

         “I'm sure it’s not taking any more of a chance than hanging out in a bar and hoping to meet someone as we did when I was young. The thing is that I met Bill almost immediately, so I never did get much practice at flirting or hooking up or whatever they call it nowadays. Hooking up sounds like going fishing, except not knowing if you’re the fish or the angler.”

The waiter appeared at that moment and they ordered. To Rosalind’s relief, the food was good and gave her an excuse to change the subject. The time passed pleasantly, and they found it was still light outside when they left the restaurant and emerged into the historic district, full of quaint, slightly crooked buildings. They merged with the crowds, stopping to listen to some street musicians, browsing in windows.

           “Look,” said Steve. “Home made ice cream. It’s been years since I had a cone. Why don’t we get one and people-watch for a few minutes? You can’t beat it for entertainment.”

           “Why not?” said Rosalind. “I was at the gym earlier today, so I’m owed a few calories.”

Cones in hand, they found a bench where they could relax and survey the scene. A mixture of tourists, college students and locals were passing by. Rosalind realized she felt more relaxed than she had in a long time. They discovered they both liked to read and travel and hated parties. The conversation flowed easily until Rosalind suddenly noticed the time.

         “My goodness, I’d better get home,” she said. “Roger will be getting anxious.”


          “My mutt. Mandy says I should call him an ethnically diverse dog. He’s a bit of terrier, bit of hound and who knows what else. Ugly as sin, but very sweet. It’s about the time of evening that he gets his walk.”

           “In that case, allow me to escort you to your car,” said Steve.

They had to pause to get past a group of tipsy, giggling girls peering into a photographer’s window. The brides were all beautiful, the grooms were all handsome and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky in any of the framed wedding pictures.

              “Those weddings must cost a fortune. Bill and I got married at the registry office with our parents and a couple of friends. We went out to the pub afterwards,” Rosalind said. “We didn’t have two pennies to rub together in those days.”

               “My ex and I had a big shindig like that,” Steve said, nodding towards the pictures. “Courtesy of her parents. No expense spared for their only little girl even if they certainly didn't think I was good enough. She came to the same conclusion after a while and traded up. Just goes to show that happy endings aren’t guaranteed.”

         “True,” Rosalind said. “But good beginnings are a start. This was a lovely evening. I’ll have to thank Mandy after all.”

Steve clutched his brow in mock horror.

          “Oh, no. She’ll never let me forget it.”

Rosalind laughed and took his proffered arm as they strolled off into the dusk.

February 17, 2021 21:16

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.