Romance

“You teach English, eh?”

“I teached it.” Lilian smiled. “I gave up. Just three months ago, as it happens.”

“Good. I could never date an English teacher. They’re always at you about your grammar.”

“Pretty much ONLY when you’re in their class and they’re paid to do that. The goal is to help students write and think more clearly so other people can understand them should they ever wish to you know? Communicate something?”

“I’ll tell you about English teachers. They’re punctilious anal superficial hyper-critical sadists, if you want my opinion. They get off on throwing red ink around and hurting peoples’ feelings.”

“I didn’t want your opinion. But thanks. Glad I retired so we can be on this date. So, where we going?”

“I thought we’d go over to the laundromat and watch the clock.”

“I already did that on a date, back in high school. Boyfriend – Tony – had no money. I don’t know why we did that, parked his old Ford in front of the laundromat. He said it was so we could be together, which, I admit, was sweet, but it was so cold and the laundromat wasn’t even open. It had this phosphorous-green kind of light inside coming from the green neon circling the clock. I dunno if you’ve ever seen one like that.”

“Where was that?”

“Colorado Springs. It was winter, too. I was home for Christmas break.”

“I guess you didn’t go out with him long.”

“I married him.”

“Are you going to marry me?”

“Doubtful, very doubtful. In fact, I don’t see much point in your wasting the gas to drive over to the laundromat. Just let me out here, OK?”

“Here?”

“Yeah. I’ll call a cab.”

“Baby, c’mon. Let’s try to work this out. Sure we will have had our differences…”

“Wow, now you’re hitting me with arcane conditional verb tenses? On a first — and only — date?”

“We might have had our differences.”

“We just met!”

“I know I will have felt regret over this for a long time. Can’t we start over?”

She felt dizzy. She felt as if she’d been in a long-term dysfunctional relationship with Ralph for years. She could almost remember their breaking up and making up and starting again, repeatedly — even for the sake of the children! A whole lifetime of strange little arguments.

“We haven’t even started, Ralph. Like I just said. I just met you.” Lilian sighed. “I knew internet dating wasn’t a good idea. I wish I hadn’t let Lana push me into it. I know she had her reasons and they had NOTHING to do with my happiness.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I think I’m talking to myself, Ralph. Look, please stop the car and let me out. This isn’t the way I want to spend my evening. I’d rather walk all the way home in the rain than do this. It’s not for me. I’m too old.”

“Don’t be silly. Age is just a number.”

“No it isn’t. Age is a lot of things. It’s experiences and a knowledge. It’s finally ‘getting it’ you know? Answers to questions about who you are?”

“I think you just need to get laid.”

“Let me out.”

Ralph pulled over to the side of the road. Lilian collected her purse and wrapped herself in the brightly colored blue and lavender shawl that drew attention away from her wide hips (liability) to her shining blue eyes (asset) and got out of the car.

“Can I call you?”

“Why?”

“We could go out again.”

Lilian closed the door and stepped up on the curb. Not much traffic here. She couldn’t expect a taxi to come zooming by looking to pick up a late evening fare. She fished around in her purse for her cell phone and then realized she’d taken it out to call a cab while she was still in Ralph’s car. “Shit,” she thought. “Wait, there’s a pay phone.” She hurried down the street where she found only the dangling remnant of a long-lost communication device. “All the quarters in the world won’t help me now,” she thought. “Oh well.”

She walked along the sodden street. The rain had stopped and reflections of the streetlights made glimmering images on the sidewalk. TheΒ  damp, fallen leaves were fragrant when she stepped on them. “I’d have missed this. Life is certainly surprising. I’d have missed this.” The moon was breaking through the dissipating rain clouds and the night took on a magical quality, like a story in a kid’s book.

A car came up behind her, slowed, passed by. Something flew onto the sidewalk in front of her. She reached down and picked it up. It was her cell phone, wrapped in a note. “I can’t believe you didn’t recognize me, even when I invited you to go to the laundromat and watch the clock. I thought for sure you’d know then. I know it’s been more than forty years, but I thought there might be a little something familiar. Still love you, Tony.”

10 thoughts on “Romance

    • That part really happened to me. I guess every story is a little bit fiction and a little bit not. πŸ™‚

  1. It worked, Martha. You even managed to stump me on the ending and I nearly always figure them out before they occur. I like this very much. (I, too, am a reformed English teacher.) Judy

  2. I guess you have an edge in romance too. I hope this is not the last time you’ll write about that. πŸ™‚ Please check out my response to the challenge too! ❀

    • I wish I could write real romance novels. I might earn a living that way, but I just can’t do it. Here I’ve written two romance stories that I ended up liking, but they are not “romance” if that makes sense.

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