The Darkness Can Be So Enlightening
The sudden darkness befalling the interior of the movie house of a small mid-western town was like a pall being thrown over the hopes and dreams of one Terrance Billings—for you can hide in the darkness—yet there was no hiding from the disaster which this night had been! As he sat amidst total darkness, Terrence yet again reflected on every mistake which he had made that evening.
It is a Saturday evening in May; the cold grip of a long bitter winter has finally passed to be replaced by the promise of the regeneration which spring carries with it. A pleasant cool breeze carries the aromas of blooming flowers along with the arrival of the very first lightning bugs of the season. Just a typical Saturday evening; however, for High School Juniors Terrence Billings and Darcy Ainsley, this night could not be further from typical!
Having known each other since Grade School, they had always been what could be considered good friends—becoming fairly close friends within the past year in fact. But tonight, years of friendship and trust could be put to the test; for they were on their first official date together! If Darcy appeared to be somewhat nervous, Terrence was flat-out terrified!
Sitting in the theater as the film played, Terrence was paying no attention to what was transpiring on the screen—he was too busy replaying the evening in his mind trying to decide if he had badly screwed up so far, or if Darcy was truly enjoying herself and he may actually have a shot at a second date.
If he needed any reminder that this was a night he would never forget, he just had to recall when he went to pick up Darcy to begin the evening. Having been over to her house countless times over the years, Terrence knew the family well and didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when he arrived to pick her up.
Led into the family room by Darcy’s mother who had answered the door, he was immediately pounced upon by Darcy’s father and older brother Paul; who proceeded to grill the young man on just where did he think he was going and what exactly were his intentions! When he replied that he was there to pick up Darcy to take her to dinner and a movie, he was informed that nobody had given him permission to take her anywhere!
Becoming extremely nervous, Terrence tried to think how he was going to overcome some serious objections, when he was rescued by the appearance of Darcy…who proceeded to scold her father and brother for giving Terrence such a hard time. Playing mean as long as they could, both of them broke out laughing hilariously, each pointing out to the other how Terrence had turned white as a ghost when confronted.
Told to be home by eleven, they were finally given permission to leave and told to go have a good time….but not before Paul threatened him not to have too good a time if he knew what was meant!
By the time they got out the door, Paul was still laughing heartily!
Terrence arrived at the opinion that—all in all—it hadn’t been so bad. For hadn’t he remembered to open the car door for Darcy while telling her how beautiful she looked? That had to count for some points, right?
And hadn’t she apologized profusely for their behavior as they were walking to the car? Points for that? Probably not, but it let him know that she was definitely on his side.
OMG! This business of being on a date could drive you mad, he thought! He had never been so afraid to say or do anything ‘wrong’ when they were just hanging out together. He found himself smiling at the thought how in the space of one evening, everything had changed—when in reality, nothing was different.
Letting his guard down for a few moments, he took a sip of his drink and was actually going to watch some of the movie, when in the course of reaching for the tub of popcorn Darcy held in her lap, his hand accidently brushed up against hers!
Immediately, he withdrew it and whispered an apology. He had been told time and time again that there should be no ‘touching’ on a first date…or on a second one for that matter. While he was certain that before the evening had begun this did not mean an accidental brushing up against her hand, after what he had been through, now he was not so sure. He did manage to sheepishly look over at her to gauge her reaction, however.
Darcy knew him well enough to know that he was not being himself that evening. Being somewhat flustered over the concept of being out on their first ‘official’ date herself, she had begun to relax with the passing of every minute they were together. But with him, every time that he seemed to relax to the point where he was becoming his old self, something would occur which would set him back on edge. Knowing how badly he wanted everything to go perfect that evening, she could envision that the ‘edge’ in question was on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea and he could feel himself slipping!
They had arrived at what was their favorite Italian restaurant talking freely and laughing as if it were just a normal day. When they had gone to take their seats, Terry had even held her chair for her…something she certainly was not expecting. Making the comment of she didn’t realize just how gallant he could be, the beautiful smile she was giving him turned into a grimace of pain as he accidently smashed her knee into the leg of the table!
Instantly, the mood changed as he turned as red as the tablecloth and proceeded to apologize over and over. Making a joke about the experience, she could tell that he was mentally kicking himself for what he saw as a major blunder…and what she thought of as something they both could be laughing at under different circumstances. Making sure that she kept the conversation going so as to show him that everything was fine and he needn’t be concerned, dinner became quite enjoyable. The food was excellent; soon they were laughing and smiling once again, until…reaching to buy her a rose from a tableside vendor, he accidently knocked over his glass of tea, totally soaking her plate of spumoni!
Terrence could see the points he was about to rack up with the short speech he had prepared for just that moment fly out the window as the mood went south just as rapidly! He just knew that she had to be disappointed by all of the mistakes he was making. Had he stopped to remember who he was with and her sweet and kindly nature, he might have realized that he was getting worried over nothing.
But thinking straight is just something that guys do not do on their first ‘official’ date!
Thanking him for the beautiful flower, her sweet smile had nearly won him over, when…in the process of bending down to pick up his napkin which had fallen onto the floor, he had banged his forehead onto the table, causing his fork to go spinning off with a seeming life of its own to land directly in the middle of the fish tank!
So shocked that neither could say a word, Darcy finally declared how if Terrence had wanted fish for dinner he should have just ordered it. This actually brought a smile onto Terrence’s face; it was brief and it quickly disappeared, but it had been there none-the-less.
That is why, as they sat in the theater immediately after the dastardly hand-brushing ‘incident’ Darcy was determined to let him know that there was nothing wrong with what he had done. Taking matters into her own hands—literally—she wiped the grease from the popcorn onto a convenient napkin and proceeded to reach out and place his hand within hers, which she clasped as she gave him a smile and returned to watching the movie once again.
Feeling the touch of her hand upon his, a warm glow washed over him as a sense of peace and serenity replaced the questioning and worries which had filled his mind since very early that day. He found himself asking what had he been so worried about? This was Darcy he was out with after all! He knew her kind and gentle nature would keep her from tabulating his mistakes as if she were keeping a scorecard at a baseball game. Why had he even considered such a foolish notion?
Giving her hand a squeeze—which resulted in her once again glancing over towards him and giving him that sweet smile which he relished so much—he scooted over from the far side of the theater seat where he had positioned himself since they had sat down until it was only the arm of the seat which separated them as she had done the same.
Having absolutely no idea of what was happening on the screen as he had been paying no attention—it was a chick-flick which he had no interest in to begin with and had chosen it because he knew that Darcy had wanted to see it—he turned his thoughts not to what had gone wrong that evening, but rather to pleasant memories they had shared over the years.
He found himself wishing that this evening would never end…but could go on and on forever.
And that’s when disaster struck!
The evening would, of course, have to come to an end. This would lead them having to say good night as he walked her up to the door. But what then? How should he handle what is rightfully considered to be the most awkward moment of a first date? Should he just say goodnight and leave? An embrace would be out of the question, naturally; but…what about a short kiss goodnight? He knew there was nothing more that he would like, but how would it be received if he attempted such a move? Would she slap his face? Doubtful, but what would it say to her about how he thought about her? And yet, if he did not, what would that say to her about how he thought about her?
What to do? He got so worked up that his head was spinning to the point that everything appeared to go dark. It wasn’t until he heard Darcy wonder what had happened that he realized that the film had stopped running and everything had indeed gone dark!
Expressing that he had no idea, he did add that he swore that it wasn’t anything he did! The cute little laugh he could hear emanating from the darkness in the direction of her seat made him smile.
A voice amidst the darkness coming through the sound system informed them how the lamp in the projector had just burned out. It would only take a few minutes to get the film set into a back-up projector the voice indicated, and the movie should be starting back up in a very short time.
This interlude gave the two a chance to talk once again.
“Look Darcy, I know that this has been a bit of a strange evening, but I just want you to know that I am enjoying myself immensely,” Terrence told her…hoping against hope that she was as well.
A chuckle escaped from the darkness surrounding its source as she replied, “It has been a touch ‘unique’ shall we say, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Just to show him that she meant what she said, she gave his hand—which by now had lost all feeling other than an intense numbness which there was no way he was going to claim—a squeeze. “I suppose that we’ll just have to see how our second one compares, won’t we?” she asked, anxious to see if he was thinking along the same lines as was she.
He did not answer right away; and when he did, he asked if he could tell her a secret? Bending her head over to where she figured her ear should be placed, she could hear the sound of his breathing as he drew near. But it was no words which escaped his lips, but rather the soft touch of a kiss she felt upon her cheek!
It was just at that exact moment when the projector kicked back in and the film began anew; bringing light back into their little world.
Anxiously gazing upon Darcy’s face in order to gauge her response, when she didn’t say anything, he began to become worried that he had gone too far. He began to babble, saying how he had lost his head, but that she was just so special…and so wonderful…and…and that he was sorry if he made her uncomfortable by doing that…and…
That was when he felt her finger upon his lips as if to say “Hush.” Looking deeply into each other’s eyes, each one could feel something which years of friendship had never awakened. Barely able to hear her whisper that she had a secret to tell him as well, he bent his head towards her. Taking his face in her hands, it was obvious that she had no interest in his ear as—ever so slowly—her lips rose to meet his.
Long they stared into each other’s eyes, until finally he placed his arm around her shoulder as she nestled deeply into his embrace.
Later, they would laugh as they realized that the name of the movie which neither of them could remember a single moment of had been titled “Forever In A Moment!”
While it often seems how that experience was only yesterday, in reality, their ‘Official First Date’ was nearly twenty-four years ago. And while being married to your best friend and soulmate lends to sharing many a special evening, this was definitely one to be remembered.
In response to a knock at the door, Darcy rose from her place on he couch to go answer it. She returned to the family room where Terry was eagerly awaiting the visibly nervous young man she had in tow.
“Who are you?” Terry growled, reveling in watching the young man melt right before his eyes.
When the young man answered that he was Donnie Belanger and had come to take their youngest daughter Melanie out on a date, Terry raised his hand to stop him mid-sentence.
“Is that what you think?” Terry questioned harshly. “I don’t recall anyone asking permission to take out my daughter…do you Darcy?” he inquired of his wife.
Fortunately for young Mister Belanger, the appearance of Melanie saved him from further interrogation, as with a “Really, Father!” the concept of the two young people going out to dinner and a movie was sealed.
Upon hearing the front door close, Darcy glanced over at Terry and just shook her head. And Terry…he just smiled, knowing that some traditions are just too important not to be kept!
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I'm certain that we all have had wonderful dates..or how else would we have found our significant others? On the flip side, I still cringe when I recall ones which made this look like a Royal Cotillion!
A sweet story steeped in nostalgia and one I'm sure many can relate to. I liked the story from his perspective as we experience his anxiety and all the wacky things which went wrong on their first date. Well done :)