500-600 Words

THE DATING GAME

July 27, 2020

Rachel and Paul had been together for six years. They assumed one day they would marry, have kids – the whole nine yards – but life has a funny way of taking twists and turns. Their romance and dreams just fizzled out but they remained very close and relied on each other for guidance – from the job scene to the dating game.

One night Rachel texted Paul: “Hey, babe. Ella & Sam set us up with blind dates for Fri. U in?”

Paul: “Y not? No plans anyway!”

Rachel: “Great! Emilio’s @ 7. Glad U R my back-up!”

Paul: “Ditto, babe! C U there.”

Both kicked themselves for calling the other “babe”. Old habits die hard.

Friday night the foursome met at Emilio’s. Paul and Rachel exchanged looks; her eyes were screaming “WTF!” Dinner was quick.

As soon as Paul got home he called Rachel: “What just happened?!”

Rachel howled: “A TOTAL FREAK SHOW!! Your date was downright scary! She looked like Vampira and I swear her eyes were red! She wore a black cape – with a hood, for Christ’s sake and her steak was so rare it was practically throbbing!”

And what about YOUR date?!” Paul exclaimed. “Wrist-to-neck tattoos, facial piercings, boots with spikes and a ‘Carcass’ t-shirt! He downed a bottle of beer in two gulps and belched like a bloody Viking!”

I’ll never let Sam and Ella play matchmakers again. I’m sure they thought it was hysterical” Rachel quipped. “So … my mother set me up with her friend’s son, ‘The Doctor’, for next Saturday. If you get a date maybe we can try this again.”

Sure. Noting could be as bad as tonight” Paul replied. “I’ll call ya.”

A few days later Paul called to say he had a date for Saturday – a friend of his cousin. “But she said ‘drinks only’ and she’ll take a taxi.”

Fine” Rachel agreed. “If it’s another debacle we can all go our separate ways.”

Arrangements were made to meet at ‘The Aviary’ in Central Park. Rachel’s date was Wesley, a gynecologist/obstetrician. He was handsome, tan and suave. Paul’s date was Ginger, a salesgirl at Victoria’s Secret with modeling/acting ambitions. She was a vivacious redhead with mischievous green eyes.

The hostess seated them at a semi-circular booth; Ginger smoothly slid in between Wesley and Paul. With each sip of her martini Ginger inched closer to Wesley, asking risqué questions about his practice; he was more than happy to oblige. Before long they were blatantly flirting, leaving Paul and Rachel dumbfounded. Giggling, Ginger excused herself to use “the little girl’s room”. The trio sat in awkward silence until Wesley’s pager beeped. He announced he had an emergency at the hospital, apologized and left.

Well, there’s no point in me hanging around” Rachel said glumly. “Ginger should be back any second.”

As Rachel got up to leave she glanced out the window and saw Wesley and Ginger getting into his car. “What the hell, Paul! We’ve been dumped!”

Arm in arm Paul and Rachel started the slow walk of rejection through Central Park.

Do you think we’ll ever be as happy as when we were together?” Paul asked quietly.

I don’t think that’s even remotely possible” Rachel sighed.

In the loneliness of the park they held each other tightly, sharing a warm familiar kiss in the moonlight.

Why the hell did we ever break up, Paul?”

I have no idea” he replied wonderingly.

Take me home, babe” Rachel whispered. “I miss us.”

Fingers entwined, they climbed the stairs and went inside, locking the door and the world behind them.

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