Meeting for the First Time Twice

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write about a cynical character who somehow ends up on a blind date.... view prompt


Romance Fiction Happy

She would buy herself a potbellied pig; it would be hypoallergenic, not prone to disease, intelligent, affectionate, and easily housebroken. Faye Rain had done her homework and found this information easily online. She had been feeling a bit lonely after moving into the little cottage her parents left her, not that she would admit this to anyone. Living away from the hubbub was ideal yet something was missing, and she was pretty sure that something was a little baby potbelly pig.

Faye’s next step was to find a reputable breeder that was not too far away or too expensive. The forecast said sunny and mild as she slipped on her favorite walking shoes and grabbed an umbrella just in case, for the two-mile walk from her place to the coffee shop. The day was young, but the sky was moody with variable winds pulling white wisps thick and golden across a hooded sun.

By the time she entered the little coffee shop, a storm had broken loose. It had been about a year since the shop first opened. Local people called the owner/manager Chuck because his real name was hard to remember and unfamiliar to their ears. Chuck was not new to the area, but his shop was new, and he was slowly building customers – Faye was one of the first to become a regular.

The shop was empty, and she grabbed her favorite seat at the counter.

“Rainy Day Faye just brought a storm to a forecast of hot and sunny! Your usual?”

“Sure, Chuck, sounds great.”

He was his typical cheerful, yet sarcastic self. He thought his nickname for her amusing, she did not.

It would take a bit to prepare the delicious Vietnamese coffee in the traditional way; Robusta beans were slow brewed, Phin filtered with a splash of sweetened coconut milk (and though Chuck always denied it, she was pretty sure he added some (a lot) of extra sugar).

As she waited, Faye googled, ‘nearest pot belly pig breeder’. Very little came up, and what did was certainly not nearby.

Chuck slid her hot coffee carefully in front of her and smiled, “So what are you up to today besides storm bringing and coffee drinking?”

Hmm, thought Faye, this might be something…oh, look at those cute little piglets! Aww, how disappointing the breeder is three states away…

“What did you say, Chuck?” she asked a bit impatiently.

“Nothing.” He busied himself cleaning and fiddling with items behind the counter.

Chuck was a sweet guy but not her type. It wasn’t that he wasn’t cute, and it wasn’t that he wasn’t smart. He was even funny if you gave him a chance. It was just that he was too obvious. It was written all over his face each time he looked at her: ‘I’m gaga over you’. Faye found this kind of blatant display of emotion to be…off-putting. It wasn’t that she carried unfortunate baggage or that she had “intimacy issues.” It wasn’t that she was hard or cold-hearted (as Chuck asserted after she repeatedly turned down his dinner invites). Faye just knew that the man she was destined to be with would set off fireworks in her soul and she would know the moment their eyes met.

The more she scrolled and viewed photos of pot bellies, the happier she became. OMG! George Clooney, Jason Mamoa, Arnold Schwarzenegger all have pot belly pig companions!

“What’s so funny, Rainy Day?” Chuck asked as he leaned in close to see her screen.

He was so near she could smell his familiar sweetness, probably from the spiced coffee additives. She knew he worked hard both in the shop and helping on his family’s farm, though he was always well-groomed – fresh from the farm to the table, wholesome in every way. Faye loved living in the country BUT she had no interest in farms or farmers.

Too late she shifted her phone to prevent him from seeing her screen. Chuck burst out laughing.

“Pigs! You are checking out pigs on the internet. Is this some kind of furry fandom lifestyle you are considering?”

“Why are you so weird?”

“Just so you know, pigs are not really furry, they are mostly smooth with a few bristles, and they blow their coat yearly – you won’t fit in. A misfit even in furry fandom.”

His twinkly brown eyes watched her face and traveled over her entire being like a feathery caress – there it was again, ‘I’m gaga over you’.

She ignored his annoying, too-readable face and his silly banter.

“I’m interested in getting a pot belly pig. I think it would be the perfect pet for me. I’ve been researching them and hope to find a reputable breeder nearby. I’ve been thinking of names; maybe Prudence if a girl and Ernst if a boy,” she said decisively.

Chuck smiled even more broadly as he slid a fresh Ca Phe Nong, just the way she liked it, over to her.

“Hmm. Cautious and Serious – sounds like good choices for you, but maybe you might want to wait and see what the pig is like before you hang a name on him or her. What if she’s zany and impulsive; what if he is playful and adventuresome?”

“Good point,” she conceded.

“I won’t ask you why a pig…oddly enough I kind of see why a pot belly would appeal to you.”

Was he trying to insult her? Chuck put his hand on his chin and gazed out the window as though in deep thought.

It was a planned pose, no doubt intended to show off an attractive profile with his smooth olive skin, blue-black shiny hair, and killer cheekbones. She couldn’t help but admire his looks for a moment.

His eyes slid mischievously over to hers, “Enjoying the view, Rainy Day?”

Faye’s face reddened and she clumsily knocked her phone off the bar – oh no! It was a brand-new iPhone 15 Pro, and she hadn’t had a chance to put the Otter Box on it yet!

Cat-quick Chuck snatched it from the air as it descended toward the cement floor.

Faye grabbed for it too and their heads collided with some force.

“Ouch! What a hard head – figures it would match your hard heart,” Chuck rubbed his head tenderly.

It was difficult to act mad at him at this moment – he had saved her phone after all, still...

She said coldly, “Thank you.”

Faye placed her phone in the pocket of her sweatpants and stood up ready to leave.

Chuck shook his head slightly but pretended not to notice her attitude or tone of voice.

“I may be able to help you with a reputable pot belly breeder nearby. He doesn’t advertise but he has raised them all his life. He is close to my father.”

Faye immediately perked up and forgot her former annoyance.


“Yes, but he won’t sell to you unless he thinks you would be a good, responsible, and caring parent. He treats his little side business like an adoption agency, and he loves his piggies like children.”

“Oh my God, I’ve got to meet him! He sounds perfect…I hope he will like me…that he will think me suitable…will you vouch for me?”

“No. You are on your own,” Chuck said matter-of-factly, “I’ve got some work to do in the back.”

He scribbled something on a small scrap of paper and handed it to her. It was the breeder’s name, Ong, and phone number. Then he turned and abruptly left her sitting alone at the counter - this was a prime example of why he was not boyfriend material; rude, arrogant, and prone to moody little displays. So totally aggravating; so awfully frustrating.

The storm had subsided, and Faye laid a fifty on the counter which she knew would piss him off. She walked out without any goodbye.

It took a couple of days before the breeder answered her calls but at last, she spoke with him and set an appointment to come to his farm. It was within ten miles of her place. He laughed a little when she called him Mr. Ong. It was not a mean laugh, but she knew she had said something silly…it occurred to her that she should speak with Chuck before meeting Mr. Ong, but she was still miffed and hadn’t spoken to him for over a week after his hard heart, hard head comment.

* * *

Faye dressed modestly, arrived ten minutes early, and thanked Mr. Ong for agreeing to meet her, bowing slightly. He seemed amenable to her efforts to be pleasing, but then suddenly asked why she wanted a pot-belly pig.

Should she say, ‘Because they are hypoallergenic, not prone to disease, intelligent, affectionate, and easily housebroken?” Was this what a good prospective parent would say?

Mr. Ong’s crinkled eyes reminded her of Chuck’s, and he watched her carefully.

All at once, from around the corner of the barn, scrambled a tiny, apricot colored piglet with a busy little black snout, kissed by a touch of pink in the perfect shape of a woman’s lips. Faye’s heart melted as the little piglet ran to her, sniffing her leg and rooting around her feet.

“Can I pick him…her up?”

“If Maizey will let you,” Mr. Ong said smiling.

“She is completely adorable – is she for sale?”

Maizey squirmed in her arms and rooted gently against her body.

Mr. Ong looked suddenly very stern.

“Maizy is not cheap. There are many things to learn and do to prepare for the arrival of a pot belly in their new home. She is only four weeks old and cannot be adopted until weaned – probably at 8 weeks. You are late to the game to be able to adopt her as soon as she is ready. What do you know about my pigs?”

Before she could even try to answer, Mr. Ong began to rapidly fire questions at her: Where will you keep your pig – inside, outside, or both? What is a healthy diet for a pot belly - do you know what is poisonous to them? When should you get them spayed or neutered? What vaccinations are needed? What do you expect your pig to do while you are at work or on vacation?

Yikes! Faye had not thought all of this through or researched deeply enough yet to know how to answer. Maizey settled into her arms and was staring up into Faye’s face with intelligent, human-like eyes that seemed to say, “Well, don’t you have anything of import to say or add here?”

Mr. Ong’s cell began to buzz, and he answered in Vietnamese.

Faye stroked Maizey’s head as her little eyes grew heavy. Something about little pot bellies pulled at her heartstrings. She seemed to be sleeping but her snout still worked slightly, and Faye was enchanted by its little, pink-kissed spot.

She noticed that Mr. Ong was becoming agitated or maybe just animated by his phone conversation. At last, he hung up and carefully took Maizey from Faye’s arms.

Indicating she should take a seat on the porch swing, he walked around the barn to return Maizey to the pen with her mother and siblings.

Faye feared things had not gone at all well despite her preparations and desire to make a good impression on Mr. Ong. She really wished she had sucked up her pride and sought more guidance from Chuck.

Mr. Ong returned momentarily deep in thought. Faye started to rise from the swing, but he motioned her to stay put.


“Sure! Thank you very much.”

After a short time, he returned with a tray and two coffees, one Cafe Da and the other, the way she liked it, Ca Phe Nong.

“You have much to learn about pot bellies, but I can tell you love them, and from the way Maizie acted, she kind of likes you too. I am willing to give you a chance.”

“I would like that very much, Mr. Ong! What do I need to do?”

“You must cram as much knowledge as possible in the next few weeks and make some changes to your house and yard. I suggest you learn these things from my protégé, Hoai - not from the internet. He is close to your age and can teach you. In turn, I ask that you teach him. He is naïve in the ways of the world and could use some polish. Your first meeting will be what you Americans call a ‘blind date’. After this, it will be up to the two of you where and how often you meet. I see doubt on your face.”

“Well, I honestly have never been on a blind date, I’m not sure…"

“You may meet Hoai at a restaurant of your choosing, the bill is on him – do not fuss about splitting the check as this would insult him. The two of you will continue to meet for as long as it takes to learn what you need to know about caring for a pot belly. Do not tell Hoai about our mutual understanding, he would be embarrassed. I should not have used the term ‘blind date’ - it seemed appropriate since you don’t really know Hoai and that you are setting a date to meet.  Forgive me.”

“Oh, no! Please, I am not offended. It’s just that our meetings should have nothing of romance in them, just a teaching and learning experience, right?”

Mr. Ong smiled thoughtfully. “Your meetings will be what you make of them. But you are correct that the only expectation of you is to learn what you must know.”

After making his strange and cryptic remark he continued, “I also offer you a fifty percent discount on Maizey and ten percent discount on special pot belly pellets I make myself. This is a take it or leave it offer that I have never extended to anyone before.”

She vacillated a bit more as Mr. Ong added, “My protege is very handsome, intelligent and can be a gentleman with proper motivation – I will make sure he is properly motivated.”

Faye accepted the offer.

* * * *

She selected a lovely local restaurant known for its seafood and steak. There were no Vietnamese restaurants in the area that she knew of. Besides, she felt unable to judge a cuisine with which she was unfamiliar other than their wonderful coffee - best to stick with tried and true.

Faye wondered what she was expected to teach this boy and realized she hadn’t asked about his age, nor did she know anything about him.

She arrived at the agreed upon hour, the valet parked her car, as she entered the Cakes and Ale.

“Table for two under Rain?”

“I’m sorry, Miss. I don’t see a reservation under that name…could it be under another name?”

Hmm. Mr. Ong had made the reservation and she assumed he would put it under her name.

“Perhaps Ong?”

Again, the hostess said, “I don’t see a reservation under that name either.”

Faye felt someone close and inhaled a familiar scent as she turned slowly.

Chuck was dressed in a stylish suit, not too formal, and wore a pair of aquamarine, suede penny loafers that somehow managed to look hip and cool instead of wrong and garish.

She realized she had missed seeing him and couldn’t even remember what their week-old spat was about…something about her hard heart and head.

“Please check for a reservation under Ban Trai.”

The hostess brightened, “Ah yes, Mr. Hoai Ban Trai! Right this way.”

They were seated at a small table near a window. The view was magical this time of day in late June as the sun’s last rays shone through darkening clouds and imbued the lake with an ethereal orange brilliance.

Faye was amused and confused at the situation.

Chuck (should she call him Chuck?), held her chair and arranged his own so that they were side by side rather than across from each other. He had apparently already ordered wine as the waiter poured the Pino Noir after Hoai (should she call him Hoai?!) approved the sampling. Also sitting on the table was a bottle of Blue Phoenix rice wine.

“I didn’t know which you would prefer”, was all he said when he saw her inspecting the two bottles.

She felt duped, but she did not feel angry. Instead, she was a bit flattered that Hoai (yes, Hoai seemed right) would go to such lengths to get her to go to dinner with him.

“I did not know your real name was Hoai. Your surname is…Ban Trai?”

“You never bothered to ask! Hoai is my name…but Ban Trai is just for this occasion. I apologize for my grandfather’s trickery, and for me being complicit. When I knew you wanted a pot belly, I could not help but recommend my Ong (that is the word for grandfather, no Mr. required.)”

“So, you and your Ong conspired to trick me…”

“Mostly it was me. Ong went along with it, but he only wants to ensure Maizey has a good owner.”

The waitress came and they both ordered steaks. After finishing off the Pinot Noir, Faye sampled the Blue Phoenix - it had a pleasing taste.

Conversation turned to Maizey, and Hoai told silly stories about the antics of pot bellies. Faye took notes – there was still Mr. Ong to impress (should she call him grandfather)?

They laughed easily as old friends, and yet, it felt like the first time she had met this man named Hoai.

An old woman at the table next to them smiled and whispered to her companion, “She’s gaga over him.”   Some children playing near the lake set off early 4th of July fireworks that lit up the night and skittered across the lake’s dark surface like liquid fire. 

February 11, 2024 23:45

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Kailani B.
19:51 Feb 18, 2024

Aww! This is so sweet. I can definitely see this as a rom-com movie. Good job!


Tracy Phillips
18:55 Feb 20, 2024

Thank you for reading and commenting! I am delighted that you liked it - I could see it as a movie as I wrote it too! :)


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Danie Holland
22:36 Feb 17, 2024

Okay I was hooked at pot belly pig because I too have always wanted one 😭 They really are the sweetest most intelligent little things. Very heartwarming story! “Some children playing near the lake set off early 4th of July fireworks that lit up the night and skittered across the lake’s dark surface like liquid fire.” — and look at that! Our cynical MC got her fireworks after all. Thanks so much for the story!


Tracy Phillips
00:16 Feb 18, 2024

Thanks so much for reading and delighted to find someone enthralled by those adorable little potbellies! I appreciate you taking time to comment!


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David Sweet
21:09 Feb 12, 2024

Even though it seemed obvious where this was going, it was a sweet story and well told. Perhaps a pitch to Hallmark? I've never seen a Hallmark movie centered around a pot-bellied pig. Haha. Seriously, I did enjoy the story. And it did a great job meeting the prompt requirements. I had a Korean girlfriend in college who said that I was cute and hairy like a baby pot-bellied pig. I never knew what to take from that. Hahaha.


Tracy Phillips
21:44 Feb 12, 2024

Thanks so much, David! I knew the potbelly would bring a bit of originality, but I totally gave away the direction early on…need more work on the mystery and suspense components lol! I always appreciate your insightful comments. As for your girlfriend, it is conceivable she really meant cute in the best most possible way…maybe-ish. I have loved these little guys for sometime now, so it was fun to incorporate some of my research about them into a story. 😊😊🤗


David Sweet
22:37 Feb 12, 2024

They are cute! I had pet pigs on the farm growing up. They would be fun to have. I know people who have them. Pigs are cleaner than people think, especially cleaner than chickens. It's okay that we knew where it was going; it was kind of the premise of the prompt. I almost thought you might go a different way, but then I realized how sad Chuck would have been. BTW (also in college) anyone I didn't know or couldn't remember their name, I called them Chuck. Hahaha


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Carolyn O'B
02:47 Feb 23, 2024

Hello, I was sent your story to critique. The only advice I would give is to wrap up your story by referring to the beginning. For example, "Living away from the hubbub is better with good company.”


Tracy Phillips
13:15 Feb 23, 2024

Thank you for your short and focused critique. I appreciate your time in reading and commenting. :)


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Alexis Araneta
16:14 Feb 20, 2024

What an adorable and fresh concept! Lovely job!


Tracy Phillips
18:16 Feb 20, 2024

Thanks so much for taking time to comment - I also followed you and enjoy your style of writing. Glad you liked this one :)


Alexis Araneta
23:09 Feb 20, 2024

Aww, thank you so much, Tracy !


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08:59 Feb 15, 2024

So cute :)


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