This is another installment of our image inspired flash fiction. Below are a list of participating bloggers and my entry for this week. Hope you enjoy!
I admit I was frightened and a little embarrassed. She on the other hand, kept a brave face as was her style. Polite smiles, polite conversation, and polite gestures. Her dress shoes were polished and her hair, in a long loose auburn waves, fell over her shoulders. Nothing was out of place from the collar of her blouse to her perfectly lined white teeth. I, on the other hand, was sweating. Profusely I might add. A lock of hair kept falling in my eye and I could see it starting to curl from the humidity. I kept my jacket on, afraid of the moisture showing on my clothes and the wrinkles that may have now set in. My car was burning oil and if she noticed, she said nothing, though I could see the plumes of dark exhaust billowing in the review mirror. The cabin we were going to was still twenty minutes out. Well, it was called “the cabin” by my friends and I but really it was a house in a lake side neighborhood were people lived year round. This house had a cabin motif which set it apart from the rest. Elk head on the wall, dark wood panel interior, stuffed pheasants on the river stone fireplace mantel. Let’s not forget the wood carving of the bear in the front yard eating a fish that stood taller than myself. Or the large mouth bass mailbox perched precariously on the roadside.
She had never been out to the cabin before and I had never taken a girl to the cabin with me. This was a first for both of us. I had nothing to offer her. I was working hard but it was barely enough to keep my head above water. School was expensive. Very expensive. Someday I would be able to do things right and while I worked and waited, I had to improvise. A girl like her seemed fitting for a night out at a restaurant with actual table cloths and waiters who knew what side the plethora of forks went on and what side was home to the knives. Money was too tight to afford a proper date as proper she was, sitting in the seat next to me. Legs crossed at the ankles rather than the knees like a picture from an etiquette book. Instead the idea came from a suggestion. “Let’s have a couples night at the cabin.” If things are a little tense, there are other couples to talk to. If things go well, pull some chairs out to the lake side, keep warm with a shared blanket. Talk about the stars no longer drowned out by the city lights, shining and flickering distant suns.
I rolled down the window just a bit while she talked about how her and her sister never went camping due to her sisters sensitive allergies and how excited she was to be going to the cabin. The breeze from the evening was a welcome chill on my sweaty brow. Her hair began to blow and stick to her face. Before I could reach the handle to roll the window up she lifted her arm gracefully and pulled her hair over her shoulder, giving it a little twist, and held on to it while she continued her story. The wind no longer pulling more than a few strands free which she chose to ignore or simply did not notice. About then is when the engine light turned on and the car started to choke. I just was not going to get this night right.
“I think we should probably pull over.” She said after a calm pause.
I nodded, a lump in my throat and the whites of my knuckles showing as my hands clench the steering wheel. The car came to a rest at the side of the road and with the engine turned off I knew there was little chance it would start up again. I rolled up the window and though we were stopped, and the breeze had gone, she still held her hair over her shoulder with a twist and a grin on her face.
“I’m sorry.” Was the only phrase that came to mind.
“For what? Cars break down all the time. Let’s walk. If anything, maybe someone else heading that way will see us and give us a ride. But a walk sounds nice.” Opening the car door she get’s out and stands in the twilight motioning for me to follow.
I follow her feeling foolish though the fresh air is welcome, this wasn’t the situation I saw myself in when role playing the evening in my imagination. To my surprise she picks up the conversation were she had left off explaining how the size of the welts her sister would get from mosquito bites were obscenely large. But as much as she talked on, filling the silence, I could not stand the tension building up from my embarrassment.
“Listen. I’m sorry. I’m sorry this is not the best date and I have an old car. I’m trying and I can’t say I’m sorry enough if this isn’t what you had in mind and I’m disappointing you. You don’t need to be polite. I understand. Really, I do.”
She stopped and turned to me, pulling my hands into hers. “Starting here, stop apologizing. Stop acting like you have something to prove. You don’t. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be.”
“…want to walk with me? On a nice evening? Alone with the stars and the breeze? Good. Because that’s what I want to do with you right now.” With my hand in hers she leads me down the road, finding any way she can to make me laugh, and smile in the way only she can make me smile.
Eventually she let go of my hand and locked her arm in mine and we walked on for a time before a friend passed us and offered a ride. But through out the night I looked at her differently. I noticed her hair also curled in heavy air and she didn’t mind getting her shoes dirty by the lake side. She also had a little snort when she laughed I had never heard before and she covered her mouth every time it escaped. This is the day I’ll never forget. Starting here, she really was the perfect person. More so than I ever imagined.