Thursday, 29 September 2016

He will always be my almost.

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“He will always be my almost,” Kathleen said and sighed.
Her friend, Marie, noticed. “Almost is a horrible word.”
“It is neither one thing nor the other. It is nothing.” She busied herself stacking the plates on their cafe table.
“Yes.” Kathleen handed her a side dish they hadn’t used. “That’s the waiter’s job, you know.”
“I know.” Silence for a moment and then Marie added, “If you don’t ask him, you will never know.”
Kathleen frowned. “Ask what?”
“Ask whom.”
“Is that almost’s name?”
“Yes, and no, I won’t ask.”
“Why not?”
“I just told you.”
Marie waved her hand dismissively. “No matter. Call him.”
“I don’t have--”
The look Marie gave her stopped her cold.
“You have his number. You know where he works and you know his name. You follow his career.”
“I--” she stopped at another glare.
“Slay the dragon, or fuck him. I do not care.”
“I think you mixed your metaphors there--”
“But finish it. Either way. Shift it from ‘almost’ to ‘never’ or ‘done that’. Don’t forget to tip well.” She stood, leaned down to kiss Kathleen and strode away.
“She’s right,” Kathleen said to the bill Marie had left her. “I guess I’m paying for the advice. And the tip.”
She laughed and the waiter who was clearing the plates glanced at her.
She did have David’s details. She sent him a message; a chatty, I’m-in-town, we should meet up type of thing. He responded so quickly it made her suspicious.
They agreed to a lunch for the next day. Lunch felt less like a date than a dinner, and if she did it quickly she wouldn’t have time to chicken out or drive herself nuts over what to wear.
Lunch was safe, right?
She suggested the cafe she and Marie had been at; the food was good and it also made it feel more like a safe, social thing.
He was a little bit overweight and his skin looked florid; she suspected he drank too much. When he ordered a bottle of wine she knew it.
She had followed his career, but not his facebook. She wasn’t a stalker.
If she had, she might have learned that he was mid-divorce. He spent the whole lunch bitching about his ex-wife and describing incidents that the ex had complained about. The more he told, the more Kathleen agreed with the ex.
She sat back in her chair, smiled politely, moved food around her plate and wondered how to escape.
As luck would have it, he got a call from his divorce lawyer. “She what?” he screeched before putting the phone against his chest. “I have to go,” he announced, and then left without paying.
She texted Marie. Disastrous
Why? Tell me everything.
He hasn’t changed. He’s still the selfish boy I had a crush on.
Right. Why did I think that attitude was so great?
So, he’s slain?
Hell, yeah.
No more almosts
Marie was right; she felt better. The lunch was delicious once she stopped stressing about how awful David was.
As she exited the cafe someone called out to her. She turned and ran into the waiter. He grabbed her arm as they almost overbalanced.
“Sorry for manhandling you.”
“I would have fallen otherwise.” She looked at him expectantly. It was the same waiter as the day before.
“You forgot your wine.” He held out the bottle with the screw lid replaced.
“Thanks, but I don’t drink alone.”
He grinned at her. “That almost sounds like an invitation.”
Kathleen could hear what Marie would say. “It does, doesn’t it?” She took a deep breath and went all in. “What time does your shift finish?”
“You hold the wine hostage and I’ll be back at five to ransom it. We can drink it together.”
He had the loveliest smile. “Perfect.”
And it was.

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