Contemporary Fiction Romance

Our first date took place in the rain.  We hadn’t planned it that way, but when I arrived at the sculpture garden and saw him patiently waiting (I have a tendency to run late) in his rain jacket, I knew we had something special.  We spent two hours walking around in the rain before our hunger, not our wet shoes, got the best of us.  “I know a place,” he said.  “I thought you’d never been here before?” I asked.  “I haven’t been.”  He shot me a coy look.  “I did some research, I think you’ll like this place.”

The rain had let up by the time we arrived at the Cuban restaurant for dinner.  I could feel his eyes on me as I took in the bright colors and unique architecture of the place.  Even from the sidewalk I could make out strains of music that made me want to dance.  We opted to eat inside as the patio area was soaked.  I never could recall if anyone else was in the restaurant, all I saw was him, seated across from me.  He insisted I choose the dessert and he insisted on paying the check.

Outside the restaurant neither of us wanted to say goodbye.  Sunday evenings are not prime for finding places in which to hang out, so the best we could do was a Dunkin Donuts a little over two miles away.  We drove there separately, not wanting to overstep invisible and unstated boundaries.

He told me about his childhood, his family, his goals for the future.  I asked questions, he answered them.  He asked me to recount my experiences as a new teacher and I did so gladly.  The tea we had ordered grew cold before either of us remembered to drink it.  The arrival of night brought us back to reality and reminded us Monday loomed large.  He had classes to attend and I had a classroom to set up for another school year.  We awkwardly stood in the parking lot for a moment before he pulled me into a hug.  “Want to do this again sometime?”  He asked.  I nodded, barely managing to suppress the large smile that threatened to take over my face.

I sang along to every love song the radio played on the way home.  Did I fall in love with him that day?  To that question I have no answer.  I’ve never been able to answer that.  All I know now and knew then was that never before had I felt so comfortable, so safe around a person that early on.  

I never expected to date him.  Things were cordial the first time we met through a mutual friend.  I was dating someone else at the time and spent a good portion of the night on my phone, texting that person.

The next time we saw each other over a year had gone by.  My relationship with that other person had crumbled.  My friend and I were sitting on her couch, a bottle of red sitting opened and half gone on the table, dissecting every conversation I had recently had with men.  A few dates had gone well enough, but I felt indifferent.  “He thinks you’re cute,” my friend stated casually.  It took me a moment to place the person about whom she was speaking.  “Yeah, okay.”  I rolled my eyes.  “No, I’m serious,” she insisted.  “He’s brought it up a few times.”  I shrugged.  “Alright,” I said.  “Let’s see what happens.” 

Our first date was the sculpture garden, his idea.  Most of our early dates were his idea.  Museums, parks, themed bars.  It was easy, it was fun.  And then, when I asked he said he wasn’t looking for a relationship.

The silver frame is cool in my hands.  The picture was taken on a cloudy day in June, a Saturday.  Although the clouds threatened to rain, the precipitation mercifully held off until the tailend of the reception.  At that point, hot from the dancing and nearly delirious from excitement and joy, the fat raindrops felt refreshing.  I tilted my face to the sky, unworried about ruining my makeup.  Our pictures had been taken, the night was rapidly drawing to a close.  I kicked off my heels and we reenacted our first dance outside the venue, the only musical accompaniment our off-key rendition of our song.  I think a video exists of it somewhere.

Our profiles are what’s visible in the photograph.  We’re posed so that we’re gazing at each other in a way only newlyweds and new couples can manage.  It’s my second favorite photograph from our wedding.  My favorite is a candid taken by my sister before we left the church.  In it, I’m looking down so as not to trip on my dress and my new groom is looking at me, unaware he is about to walk into a low table.

The man I married is not the man with whom I spent hours in a sculpture garden in the rain.  He is different in every way and I am thankful for that.  That other man came back into my life recently, by accident.  The world, while large, is also incredibly small.  

I brought my daughter to the same museum I had gone to on a date so many years before.  We stopped to visit the butterflies.  My five year old squealed with delight each time a butterfly alighted on her outstretched hand.  

I checked her carefully for errant critters when we exited the special exhibit.  She waved to someone behind me, always a friendly child eager to please.  I turned around to smile at the stranger.  “Hey, I thought it was you,” he said.  My daughter excitedly told him all about our day at the museum and he kept his attention on her the majority of the time, only pausing periodically to look at me.  I smiled weakly at him when she finished her tale.  “Long time no see,” he said.  “We should catch up sometime.”  He handed me a business card.

The business card is simple.  There are a few emails sitting in drafts, but I do not plan on sending any of them.  I run my fingers over the glass covering the wedding photo.  My daughter calls me from another room so I place the frame back on my nightstand.  On my way out of the room I drop the business card in the trash. 

February 20, 2021 02:33

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11:54 Apr 28, 2021

Great job! I enjoyed reading it, and I’m glad she threw away the business card. Now time to delete those unsent emails. Ha!


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David Moyer
22:22 Feb 27, 2021

Good story. Well written, well paced. In my opinion you sort of missed half the prompt about "one character setting up a romantic dinner" - there really wasn't any kind of setup it was just "I know a place." Even so, it works within the world you're creating here. :) Good read.


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