Our first date went perfectly.
She was almost an hour late but I didn’t mind. She texted me to let me know what was happening and that was the main thing. The extra hour meant that Hope could stay with me and keep me calm. And it was a beautiful summer’s day which gave me an opportunity to sit in the sun and relax which is something I rarely do.
When we met we hit it off immediately. I found her attractive, bright and bubbly – just my opposite persona. I found myself laughing and smiling easily, and conversation wasn’t a problem at all.
She wanted to go drinking straight away – no coffee or anything like that – but it was cool. If that’s what she wanted, that’s what she wanted. I was prepared for anything in any event, so we went to a bar and had cocktails followed by food.
She sat close to me, and before I knew it I had an arm around her and she was resting against my chest. The few hours we had together passed at the speed of light and before I knew it, it was time to go home. I insisted on paying for her taxi.
As we stood in the late evening glow of the setting sun she asked if we were going to have a second date.
“If you would like to, I would like to as well.” I said smilingly. “Would you like to?”
“Then that’s what we will do. We can agree on something. I will call you and we can decide together.”
“OK. I look forward to hearing from you then!”
And with that she was in the taxi and away.
I took the much slower option of taking the bus home. I wanted time to savour the moment. Finally! Finally! Finally something might work out. Finally I might get the break I was looking for.
For the rest of that night and the next morning I felt I was walking on air. The demons were gone. Hope laughed and made fun of me in the background. She was delighted that I was so happy and relaxed. I was too.
Then at around 3pm the next day I got a text.
“I want to see you tonight. Can’t I come to your place?”
My heart leapt although I felt that odd feeling deep down within me urging caution. And amidst the turmoil in my mind, I registered that Hope had stopped laughing and had gone strangely quiet.
I thought quickly.
One thing I could not understand was her constant urgency to come to my place. I could not understand why she could not slow things down a little. Things were moving just a little too fast for me. Maybe this was normal? I didn’t know, but something felt off.
“….Listen to yourself…..”
I tried to listen. But instead of hearing myself, all I could hear was my old companion. Fear.
“….If you keep saying no she is going to find you boring. And if you don’t act fast, you will lose her. Stop being such a coward and invite her round…..For once in your life act like a man…..”
I lifted the phone.
“OK. Come round.” I texted. I gave her the address.
I turned to look at Hope. She looked back at me. And I thought I detected a little hint of sadness in her gaze. I turned away again. I didn’t know what to say. And she remained silent.
The rest of that afternoon I couldn’t focus. I left work early. And instead of feeling excited I felt nervous but I put it to the back of my mind.
“It’s OK.” I told myself. “It will work out.”
“It will work out.”
With that I stopped thinking. I had a bigger problem to deal with. And that was having only 3 hours to get my apartment into shape. It hadn’t seen a visitor in months.