SHORT STORY OF THE MONTH

 

GAME OF LOVE

“So there it is,” he said leaning over the table towards her, arms outstretched as if he would embrace the young woman sitting opposite. He shrugged, “That’s all there is to say about me. What you see is what you get.”
He had chosen this restaurant most carefully and they sat at a discreet table in the corner. He knew the food was good here and this evening, he was out to impress.
She smiled mischievously. “I can’t believe that’s all…. It would make you a very dull fellow.”
“No really, there are no skeletons in my cupboard.”
But he was thinking, she doesn’t entirely believe me. There’s no way I want to spoil this date with revelations about my past.
“Didn’t you feel conspicuous, wearing that flower in your button hole?”
She’s testing me, he thought. “Why would I ?” he said.
She shrugged her shoulders, “You don’t look the type.”
“I wanted to be sure you knew it was me you were meeting.” He grinned self-consciously.
She shook her head. “When someone says they don’t have any secrets, they usually have.”
How easy it would be, he thought, to inadvertently reveal something from the past. Something which might get misunderstood. He could go back a long way too.
There was that time the man in the newsagent told him to either buy the magazine or put it back on the top shelf. (he was thirteen years old at the time).
Once dabbled in politics, filled in the application form for the Communist party, Labour party, Liberal Democrats, Greens and National Front. (fourteen years)
His sexual awakening, when it came, had been a rather lackluster affair.
There was that dalliance with Tracy whose father had the Fish and Chip shop on the corner. Unlimited supply of chips, but Tracy’s eau de toilette was never strong enough to overcome the feeling he was embracing battered cod. (fourteen and a half)
Girlfriends came when he started to cycle to school and discovered the secrets of the bike shed. There had been quite a number. But passionate embrace with a handlebar poking in a sensitive place was not for him. (fifteen)
He was most ashamed of the time he was caught in flagrante delicto on a bed under a pile of coats, at a party in his girlfriend’s house. At least that was what her parents called it. To this day it remained a dissappointment .
His dreaming came to an abrupt end when her empty glass banged heavily on the table. He was grateful for the interuption.
“Tell me about you,” he said trying to recover his composure.
“Oh I’m very un-complicated ,” she looked at him over the top of her refilled glass of Chablis. There was a long pause while she thought.
“I work at the hospital; but you know that much.”
She was looking at him in the self-same way she had at their first meeting.
Her eyes were the first thing he had seen after waking from his minor op. Muddy pools of passion, he’d thought. He had fallen in love with her eyes.
“I like going out,” she said. “staying in, good food, holidays, walking and children. I hate bad table
manners, strong smells, politics, people who talk about themselves, and deceit.
“Right…,” he sighed. “Fairly easy going then.”
“I think I am. What about you? No,” she raised a hand.” “Let me guess. You like expensive clothes, eating out, cars. Your appearance matters to you, and you don’t much like other people’s children.”
“ I’m impressed. How did you know that?”
“You're wearing an expensive suit and that shirt is a Ralph Lauren. Youv’e chosen an expensive
resturant and they know you here, Oh and you drive a Mercedes.
“Ahh caught you there. How do you know about the car; since we met at the door.”
“I watched you driving away after you left the hospital.”
“And how do you know I don’t like other peoples children?”
“Let’s say I know someone very like you.” She bit her bottom lip as if to stop herself saying more.
He screwed up his eyes and looked.
“Have you got any skeletons,” he asked.
She pursed her lips and frowned. He waited and waited while she appeared to be ticking them off on her fingers.
“Well?”
“I’m thinking,” she said fixing her eyes just above his head. Finally she shook her head. “None I can share with you.”
“I must ask you,” he said. “Don’t answer straight away, but.” He stopped.
“Go on,” she said.
“No,” shaking his head. “ it’s alright forget it.”
“You can’t stop now; it’s not fair.”
“It’s just that.”
She raised her eyes. “Get on with it.”
“Would you consider having an affair with a married man?”
“Who is he?” She smothered a smile behind her hand.
He pointed a finger at himself.
“I’ll have to ask my husband.”
“He won’t mind.”
She looked at her watch, “I think we should be going now if …. Truth is,” she said leaning across the table. “There is only one man in my life and that’s the way it will be.”
“Come on then,” he said holding up the car keys. “Let’s go before we get too carried away. He’s a lucky man your husband.”
“I know,” she said. “I keep telling him.”
“Are we silly, playing such games”
She shook her head.
Shall we do this again?
She smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “As long as the babysitter’s available.”

 

 The End