A Very Important Date

He walked back to the booth from the register in the cafe and sat down beside me, every move smooth as honey and without ever averting his gaze from my face. I felt it like you feel the sun prickle your skin on the first day of summer. I self-consciously sucked myself in to make sure that my midsection didn’t accidentally brush against his arm and potentially ruin anything about that look in his eye. I was so very flawed, but here he was, with me, and I still didn’t understand why.

After settling in at my side he reached out and handed me a wrapped cookie, and I tilted my head in confusion but maintained eye contact. I didn’t want him to stop looking at me. I never wanted him to stop looking at me.

“What is this?”

“Try looking at it,” he replied with a smirk. Confident, but not arrogant, he leaned into my neck and my stomach dropped as I felt his breath move my hair. I was petrified thinking that he might actually touch my skin. On purpose. He lingered there just long enough for me to close my eyes in anticipation of the impending contact. It would go off in my life like a bomb, changing everything and nothing simultaneously.

Stupid, I looked down. The icing covered the rectangular wafer and looked like a playing card, beside the white rabbit in the waist coat and kid gloves. He held a pocket watch, almost identical to an image from the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The quote above him read, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” He sat there, amused at my current state of paralysis and inability to hide the effect that his presence had on me.

“What is this for?” I felt like the heat of embarrassment in my face might actually melt the beautiful confection in my palm. Wrapped in plastic or not, I was ten thousand degrees of flushed and hadn’t felt like this in years.

“I just wanted you to have it. I thought it was a suitable sentiment for the occasion.”

“And what occasion is that?”

“It’s our first date.”

“Is that what this is?”

“Of course, babe. I love you and nobody else matters. It isn’t too late to go back.”

I jumped at the sudden sound of the fire alarm, and spastically clenched my hand as I did so. I looked down at the chocolate peaking out from in between the cracks in the icing. I was the sentimentalist that would have saved it for the rest of my life just to remember this. I looked up in apology, afraid to disappoint him with my clumsiness, but he was gone.

The iPhone alarm woke me to a rainy morning. My back crunched as I tried to roll off the aged leather couch I’d fallen asleep on. Again. One of these days we were going to remember to climb into bed before we turned on the most recent binge-worthy Netflix series.

I felt guilty as I rolled over and looked at him laying there on the other couch; my handsome husband with the salt and pepper beard he had hoped for in his youth. He snored with his head on our son’s superhero pillow, wearing the pajama pants our daughters had picked out for him in Walmart. I was lost in the haze of my dream, still with bread and butterflies in my stomach mourning a date we had never gone on, but had felt so real just moments ago. It was as if I’d cheated on him by manipulating our romance, which didn’t need any changing.

I gathered my thoughts and got up to turn off the alarm. 6:15 a.m. Late again.

“Morning babe,” he muttered as he opened his right eye and grinned at me.

“Morning,” I replied, guilt heavy in my stomach like I had something awful to admit. “I had this crazy vivid dream last night. So weird.”

“Oh yeah? You gonna write about it?”

“Probably.”

Not enough. I still felt like I was deceiving him somehow. I had to try and mend this subconscious betrayal or it was going to bother me all day.

“Hey, there’s this place in the city. It’s like an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. I really want to go… I think. Will you take me sometime?”

“Of course, babe.”

He caught a few more minutes of sleep while I got ready for work. I returned to the couch before I left and gave him a kiss. My stomach dropped a little bit in a way it had when this was all brand new, and I flashed on the boy who had won my heart nineteen years earlier.

“I love you, babe. Have a great day.”

“I love you, too.”

It’s never too late to go back.

 

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10 thoughts on “A Very Important Date

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  1. Wow! I love having detailed dreams like that. You have nothing to feel guilty about. At least he is the guy your subconscious put you with on the date. 🙂 This piece had great flow. The dream had the feeling of a romance novel, which made me wonder where you were going with it until you woke up. Nice work!

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  2. I have a love/hate with the kind of dream that feels real. It’s kind of delicious to move through your day afterwards, like you have this secret that no one else knows. But you feel it so strongly that you can’t believe it hasn’t affected everyone else too!

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  3. This is all-around great. Your pacing is perfect; the dream sequence is full of emotion, the wake-up to the alarm is jarring, and the post-awakening processing feels very real!

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  4. The descriptions of what it’s like to be flushed with love/lust hormones were quite enjoyable and accurate. You pulled off “it was a dream” well; the transition didn’t feel clunky or artificial.

    Liked by 1 person

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