A Nice Dinner Chat (Flash Fiction)

Bob met her inside. He had arranged for the location, the table in just the right spot. The reservation had to be made almost two weeks ahead of time, but it was worth it. The view overlooked the shore, and the setting sun that poured down over the ocean was amazing, always setting fire to the rolling clouds in the sky. It was a blind date, but he knew it was her. That careful glance around the room to check for someone, to see if that new stranger is actually there waiting for you, not wanting the other strangers there to know that you’re up to such strange things. He tipped his glass to the air, to the empty chair in front of him, and she made her way over.

A bold, red dress wrapped around nice legs. Beautiful dirty blonde hair flowed down to her hips in long swooping curls. If those curls weren’t natural, Bob hoped she at least had the technique down. He couldn’t imagine her spending so many hours for someone practically pulled at random. He stood and kissed her hand, made her blush, complimented her earrings and lovely necklace. She made a giddy squirm in her seat. The wine was already there. A good year, a good pairing for the plate he planned on recommending. She smiled and said she was delighted, just delighted. Oh what a beautiful sunset. Bob looked and saw that the sun was setting a little early, a bit prematurely. He had hoped to enjoy those casting rays and glowing waters with the main course. Ah well, she was right. It was nice. Cheers to a lovely evening. It’s all working out so well, she said, so much better than she expected. She was honestly so very nervous about it.

If the fillet mignon was off, which it was, she never gave a hint of noticing. She took the time to smell her wine, swirled it slowly in her glass, held it by the stem. She listened, actually listened, and even gave a good show of thinking about the questions before answering them. Bob was intrigued, very intrigued. Twice divorced with no reasons why, not that her business should so readily become his own. No children though, no, none of those. Life hadn’t worked out that way it seemed. Wouldn’t be. They both took a moment to enjoy the stirring sea. The sun fell from the edge of the world and the glare went away and just blues and grays and a warm breeze.

The sound came then. For a moment, Bob thought he was dreaming. He wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. It really was a wonderful evening. It didn’t seem right that things should work out so well so early. But it persisted and Bob did not wake. It grew, overcame the sound of gentle lapping waves, that terrible sound of too much treble and not enough bass, that horrendous sound of a rhythm and a beat for some song no one would dare sing. A ringtone, no doubt about it.

She reaches down to her purse, and Bob thinks, sure, that’s reasonable. She means to silence that terrible thing and return to our nice evening. But she doesn’t. The device is in her hand and she’s looking at the screen and her brow is furrowed just slightly, and Bob thinks, sure, that’s reasonable. She means to check who is calling first before quitting the call. I can understand. Perhaps she has reason to be concerned.

But she doesn’t. She takes the call. And as she moves the device to her ear, she mouths the words, It’s my mother.

And those were the final words she said to him that evening. Not that it was a complete disappointment for Bob. She prattled on for quite some time with dear old mum, telling her all about the seaside restaurant and wonderful man she was with. The fillet mignon was to die for (it wasn’t) and the wine was just right (’72 instead of the hoped for ’63). What’s that? No, he’s not married. He’s much too nice to do something horrible like that. He hasn’t quite said, I think he mentioned real estate. I’m sure father would love him.

And so on.

Bob sat, swirling wine in hand, fading light on the horizon, bemused. On one hand, it was quite nice to know he had already passed muster with dear old mum, that he was pre-approved as they say. Good credit went a long way. His physique was quite nice and he had a full head of dark brown hair. A strong chin just like daddy and that same subtle grin. But when the waiter came with the desert menu, he was sent away. The check was paid in an instant, also with good credit, and the night was abruptly ended. She never got off the phone to say goodbye. She only mouthed the words.

Bob took it back. He hoped those beautiful curls took months to perfect.

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