Archive for July 7th, 2011

7th July
2011
written by amber

A Date

The day after I rescued Jessie from the man harassing her in a parking lot, I phoned her to ask for a date. It was the sixth time I asked, and the first time she said yes. She sounded resigned, as if she knew she owed this to me, but she wasn’t intending to enjoy it.

She’d been friendly enough the night before, driving me home after we sent that jerk packing. She asked about my daily wheelchair ‘hikes’ and about rock climbing, and she didn’t seem put off by my condition. So why the heck had she been turning me down?

My impulse was to micromanage the date, make it turn out perfectly. But if my accident taught me anything, it’s that you can’t control things and sometimes it’s best to let fate or whatever take its course. So when I wheeled up to her door, I asked, “Where do you want to go?”

I think that took her off guard, she’d probably been expecting me to try too hard. “Let’s go to the grocery deli, get stuff for a picnic and do the boardwalk hike at Smithers Park.”

It was a great suggestion. The park’s beautiful this time of year, the boardwalk is easy for me, and there’s a gazebo at the halfway point, perfect for our picnic.

Just like the night we met, our conversation flowed naturally. We have so many things in common and our temperaments seem perfectly suited. I had to ask, “Is there some reason you’ve been playing hard to get?”

“You really don’t remember, do you?”

“Remember what?”

“Grade 10 drama class. We did some improvs together. I asked you to the  Halloween Dance and you shot me down.”

I stared at her. “You’re Jessika Kelso?”  The shy girl I dimly remembered had brown hair, no breasts to speak of, no athletic inclinations and coke bottle glasses. All of which could be changed – and obviously had been. “Oh, Jessie, Jessika. If I shot you down then, it’s because I was a jerk. But I’ve changed-”

“You were a jerk, but mostly you were nice. That’s what upset me the most, the way you treated me like a friend until you treated me like dirt. Why should I believe that’s changed about you? Just because you’re in a wheelchair? Just because you rode in on your white horse and saved me from the big bad man?”

Damn, she was crying. She walked away, fast.  I watched her jog along the trail, getting smaller and smaller until she disappeared into the trees. After a while, I gathered up what was left of our meal, stowed it on my lap and headed toward the parking lot, wondering if there was a phone there to call for a ride.

I recalled something else about Jessika, when she first arrived in town, grade 3 or 4. At a birthday party, we were bride and groom in a mock wedding. Was that why I felt this odd connection with her? Was that why she’d had a school girl crush on me?

I was nearly at the parking lot when I found her sitting on a bench. “We got married once, didn’t we?” I asked her. “But I don’t recall if we got divorced or if we’re just separated.”

She laughed.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Jessie and Jonah stories come out every Thursday.