Lulubelle smirked. There was nothing special about this. It was just some weird barbecue.
“Have a hot-dog, honey.”
“You know I don’t like hot-dogs, potato salad, watermelon, or any of this stuff.”
“It’s a cookout at the beach, babe, not a five-star restaurant.”
He knew something was wrong. Lulubelle had been somewhat lacking in enthusiasm for, uh, anything, for a month or more. He thought it was just a woman’s thing, but maybe she just didn’t like him anymore, and it had nothing to do with a beach picnic. “I hate love,” he thought.
“I’m not staying over,” he said when they reached her apartment.
“Why not?” Lulubelle looked at him bewildered. “I thought…”
“No. Not this time. I have some stuff to do and, you know, sometimes a guy needs time to himself.”
“You want to break up! I knew it! Look, I’m sorry I didn’t like the food at the picnic or your friends, or pretty much anything, but I don’t… That’s not fair!”
“Lulubelle, if you don’t like anything, then…” he stopped before he said too much. “I’ll call you later.” He leaned over and kissed her softly.
Lulubelle lugged her beach bag up the stairs to her one-bedroom apartment and unlocked the door. “You’re too picky,” her mother’s voice echoed in her head, “and too critical. Just because everyone doesn’t do things the way you do doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Sometimes you need to relax and enjoy something different. If you don’t learn how, you’re going to live in a very small world.” She was 7 at the time and had walked home from a friend’s birthday party because she didn’t want to eat yellow cake.
“Have I done that again?” She set down her bag.
She went into the shower to wash off the salt, sand, sweat, and disappointment. As the hot water streamed down her head and shoulders (clever product placement) the phone rang.
“Damn,” she thought, turning off the faucet, stepping out of the shower and grabbing a towel.
The phone rang. Why did she always leave it on the desk instead of bringing it with her into the bathroom? She hurried on wet feet — careful not to slip — and reached for the phone. “Unknown Caller.”