The last 4 weeks I’ve written stories that were based in truth. I thought it was time I tried writing something that was completely fiction, but I didn’t know where to start. Then I found this page of writing prompts. Today’s story was inspired by this prompt:
I’m sitting at my desk at work. I’m supposed to be preparing a budget presentation for our next big marketing campaign, but I can’t focus. I’m going to kill Becky. Why did I let her set me up for this blind date? Sure, Keith sounds like a great guy – stable job, involved in his church, never been married. But I hate meeting new people, especially in awkward one-on-one settings where I’ll actually be expected to talk about myself. I’m not that interesting. I live alone with my two cats. I watch TV and read for fun. I never really go anywhere besides work.
I pull out my iPhone and text Becky. I am freaking out!
She responds right away. It’ll be fine. Keith is nice. You’ll love him. I promise.
Feeling only slightly better, I clench my jaw, put on my headphones (Taylor Swift) to drown out my thoughts, and go back to work. Amazingly enough, when I look up again, two hours have gone by. People are starting to leave the office. Thank God, the workday is over. I mean: Oh shit. My date is now only two hours away. I am freaking out again.
I shut down my computer, pack up my bag, and head towards the elevator. I work on the 14th floor of a high rise on Wisconsin Avenue. A middle aged man joins me in the hall by the elevators. I smile at him and then look down quickly. I’m not in the mood for small talk. When the elevator dings, I rush inside and jab the button for the first floor. I fix my eyes on the illuminated number 14 over the door. The doors close, and I watch the descending numbers light up as the elevator speeds down. When the doors open, I call a quick, “Have a nice night,” over my shoulder and walk briskly out to the parking garage.
I find my red Honda CRV quickly on the ground floor, stow my work bag on the passenger seat, and back out of my space. At the exit, I swipe my employee badge to open the gate. Once I’m out on the road, I call Becky as I head to the highway. It’s a 20 minute ride home. Plenty of time to discuss what I should wear tonight. I’m meeting Keith at The Italian Grill, a popular restaurant in our suburban neighborhood. That’s another positive about Keith. He lives nearby.
“Hey,” Becky answers. “How’re you doing?”
“Why am I doing this? I’m happy alone. I don’t want a boyfriend,” I lie.
“Chelle, relax. It’s going to be fun. You’ll be so much happier if you have someone to spend time with. It’s not healthy to be alone all the time.”
“Excuse me,” I say. “I’m not alone. I have Whiskers and Mr. Toes.”
“Cats don’t count as company, Chelle,” Becky replies. “You need human contact.”
“Fine. What should I wear?” I whine, giving in to her insistence that it’s not normal to spend every night alone. I agree. I’m just painfully shy. I always have been.
“What about that cute top you bought last weekend? And your favorite jeans. And boots. Nothing too fancy. You should be comfortable and feel like yourself.”
“Right. Thanks. Good advice.”
“You’re meeting Keith at the restaurant, right?” Becky asks. She already knows the answer, but I suspect she’s trying to help me calm down. Make me feel better by going over the details of the night. She knows I love details.
“Yes. Then I can leave whenever I want. I won’t have to suffer through an awkward ride home if the date doesn’t go well.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” she says. “It’s going to be great. I just know it! I’ve been wanting to fix you up with Keith ever since John told me about him last spring. And then when I met him at Fall Fellowship Night, I knew you guys would be perfect together.”
“OK,” I say. “Distract me. What’s new with you?”
Becky dives into a long string of stories about the latest craziness from her students. She teaches 3rd grade at the elementary school in the next town over. I can’t believe the stunts her students try to pull. It works. I’m drawn into her world for a few minutes while I finish my drive. When I pull into my driveway, I end the call with a hasty, “Wish me luck.” She does.
I grab my bag and head into the house. I hang up my coat, take off my shoes, and head into the kitchen to fix dinner for my cats. Mr. Toes hears me opening the can of food and comes slinking into the kitchen. He jumps up onto the counter and starts eating as soon as I dump the Fancy Feast into his dish. I set Whiskers dish on the floor. My boys don’t like to eat together. I know he’ll come out later and get his food once his brother is gone.
I head upstairs for a quick shower. When I finish, I put on the outfit Becky suggested and sit down to read for a few minutes while my hair dries a little. No luck. I can’t focus. I give up and start blowing my hair dry right away. My mind is racing with possibilities for tonight. What if I don’t know what to say? What if he finds me boring? What if I start crying? I do that sometimes when I’m nervous or put on the spot.
When my hair is dry and styled, I put on a little makeup. Only mascara and lip gloss. I don’t like the feeling of foundation on my skin. And I’m too nervous to put on eye liner. I’d probably poke myself in the eye and then look like a total freak for Keith.
I glance at the clock. 6:17. I still have about 30 minutes until I need to leave. Now what?
I head downstairs to watch a little TV. I sit down on my black leather couch and grab the remote. I flip through the channels, not really registering anything. I’m thinking again. I need to stop that! I finally settle on HDTV. They’re redecorating a kitchen. My favorite. I get sucked into the beauty of the granite counter top and dark wood cabinets.
Whiskers come out of the kitchen and jumps up next to me. I stroke his fur while I watch. My phone buzzes. A text from Becky. Good luck! Love you.
It’s 6:49. I better go. I turn off the TV and head through the kitchen to the back hall. I pull on my brown boots and my jacket. I call goodbye to my cats and go into the garage. Once I’m in the car, I plug my iPhone into the AUX cable and put on a little Katy Perry. After only two songs, I arrive at the restaurant. I think I’m going to be sick.
After a few deep breaths, I get out of the car and walk to the front door. I find the hostess and tell her I’m meeting someone. She says Keith is already here. She leads me to a table in the back of the restaurant. A man with dark hair and beautiful brown eyes is sitting at the table.
“Hi,” I say.
“Hi,” he says back.
I sit down. And my blind date begins.