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Contemporary Fiction Funny

“Are you coming tonight?” Sue asked.

This phrase I’m sure most people are delighted to hear. Yes, you’ve been included in something, hopefully fun, a party or dinner out, maybe even a movie. They are seeking out your presence at the event. They want you there.

“Tonight…” I stammered.

Yet in me, it instills dread, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, a racing heart. I kept myself from running away by shear force of will. I’m sure this was not a normal response of the average human being and wondered what’s wrong with me. Who doesn’t want to be included, to be wanted in a group of friends? These are friends after all, not some random stranger inviting you over for a visit with his dog in his basement with a jar or lotion. No, this is your friends whom you actually like, you enjoy spending time with, find them humorous or kind or whatever it was that drew you into this friendship to begin with.

“Yeah, you know, snacks and a movie at my place. I know Johnny is coming and Cindy. Martin from accounting. My friend Sophie from church. I think you know most everyone that will be there.” Sue seemed to have noticed my reluctance.

“Actually, tonight, something’s come up. I can’t make it.” There, I’ve said it. Now I needed a reason. She was going to ask. They always do. It is a perfectly normal response to “I can’t.” Why don’t you want to come to a gathering of friends who are going to eat good snacks and watch a fun movie together in a safe place like your friend’s house? It’s not a matter of cost, as this will be a free event unless you spring for some snacks. And you have to eat so even if you didn’t eat snacks there, you’d be eating at home, which does cost money. No grocery fairy has visited lately to my knowledge.

“Why not?” She eyed me with just a hint of suspicion on her face, then understanding dawned. “Do you have a date?” Her face lit up like a paper lantern, and she grabbed my arm. “You do, don’t you? You vixen, you. Tell me all. Spill! I want dets!” She was grinning from ear to ear. Well, now I’ve done it. I can’t very well tell her “No, I actually just want to stay home.” Maybe I do have a date. I have to come up with something. But I don’t want to lie. She IS my friend after all.

“Uh, yeah, I do. I do have a date. It was kind of last minute, so I didn’t mention it earlier. I…”

“Who is he? What’s his name? What’s he do? Come on girl, don’t hold out on me!”

“Whoa, slow down there,” I laughed a nervous half-hearted laugh, but she didn’t seem to notice. “It’s a blind date, so I really don’t know anything, other than I’ve been told he’s really cute. And very sweet. And just my kind of guy.” I shrugged, hoping it would be enough to throw her off my trail. And it was all, for the most part, true.

“Oh, I’m dying. Okay, you’re off the hook this time, but tomorrow, I want to hear all about your date. I want everything, every minute, every second, described to the last detail. You have fun and take care. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye!” Sue hugged me and was off like a hyper child high on Halloween candy. I shook my head. Well, at least I was free for tonight. First catastrophe averted.

I arrived home and unlocked the door to my small colonial.

“Jake? I’m home!”

Jake came barreling toward me at top speed, his feet slipping on the exposed wood in the hallway, the runner having been thrown aside by one of his speedy take-offs. I needed to get some more carpet tape and secure that. The big Newfie, or Newfoundland dog, sat at my feet, and I dropped down to hug him. His tail swished back and forth like a giant feather duster, and he leaned into me. He used to jump on me in his excitement to greet me, and while I don’t mind it, I trained him not to do that so he wouldn’t accidentally take out one of my visiting elderly are small-statured friends. Just what I’d need, “Local woman crushed under Bear-sized dog.”

I let him into my tiny postage-stamp back yard, and then got his dinner ready. It was a mix of dry dog food and raw fruits and vegetables, a diet the vet recommended to keep him trim. These dogs were heavy naturally and had a tendency to gain weight, which could be hard on their hips. It seemed an easy compromise to keep him on a diet to avoid future medical issues. My svelte 175-pound pooch had been bigger but was slowly, very slowly, trimming down. And he seemed happier and more playful as a result.

We spent a good five minutes chasing each other around the dining table and into the living room, then back down the hallway to the kitchen. A few trips and we were both winded. Then I grabbed his leash and a poop bag, and we walked two blocks down to the nearby park. A quick stroll around the lake and we headed home for dinner. I was famished.

I reheated some left-over Mexican food I’d made the night before, grabbed a frozen Kong from the freezer, and we settled on the floor in the living room. I turned on the movie and settled in, Jake leaning heavily against my leg, propping the Kong between his feet and chewing away.

Tomorrow I would have to describe my lovely date, the walk in the park, dinner and a movie, the whispered sweet nothings. Hopefully, Sue wouldn’t be too upset when she found out my blind date was just my Jake. But hey, he is my dream date after all. 

July 25, 2021 20:59

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5 comments

04:51 Aug 06, 2021

She technically didn't lie. It's a date with a male being haha she simply omitted the part that he wasn't human haha :D love this story <3

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Palak Shah
09:00 Aug 05, 2021

Nice story, I loved reading every bit of it :)))

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Cheri Remington
23:41 Aug 01, 2021

I love the clever solution to her social anxiety. This is a sweet and humorous story on a topic many can identify with.

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Paula Young
14:42 Aug 01, 2021

Love the story!!

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Diane How
01:03 Aug 01, 2021

Nothing compares to the unconditional love of a dog.

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