01
Nov
17

A Date with Corona #2

*****

Date #2:  The Stuck Update

It was a mild and relatively uneventful Thursday afternoon when I went searching for some Word on my new acquaintance.  Along the way, I came across a game shop and couldn’t resist a bargain, a few new decks of cards.  I have a peculiar fascination with playing cards but am so sick of magicians’ card tricks.  I also was tiring of the solitaire life which was why I needed to track down Corona before my hard drive went soft and useless.

Forgetting what I originally sought, I soon found myself at an impasse.  Traffic was terribly slow, and my patience was thinning fast.  Accidents were piling up everywhere I turned.  Progress was lost.  After a lengthy discussion with helpful police, I was finally able to cruise along the unlit highway.  [I mean there were no wires; thus there were no lights.]  I had spent too much time.  My plan to play the links would have to wait for another day.

I found Corona idling at the docks.  She was perched atop a rope-bound cluster of weathered posts, gazing out at the sea.  She had been sitting there too long.  Her interests were not available at the moment.  Though the scene was strangely motionless and serene, my ears detected distinct sounds:  the ding of a buoy, a seagull circling overhead and the swish of the incoming tide.

When I tapped her shoulder, a boot descended from its step, probing the amber sand.  She turned to me, her face a silhouette framed by a warm, watercolor sky.  I searched her blank façade for some way to break the ice on my skin (though my hands were sweating).

As if I had asked a question, she said, “Sorry about that; I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are holding.”

Blinking twice at the oddly worded request, I remembered the bag of card decks.  If she thought I put her off to shop for my own amusement, I was sure she would leave me in the next few minutes.  It was almost sundown, and I did not think this was the best time or place to play any games that required a table.  So, I suggested we move somewhere closer to home.

She replied, “On the range,” and proceeded to search her memory for more info on that old song.

Calling her by the name I had chosen, she replied, “Sorry; that is not my name.  But, if you like, I can change it.”

“Can I call you Corona?”

There was a long pause.  Her shoulders shifted slightly.  “All right.  Call me Corona.”

[That was too easy…and a little creepy.]

I reached for her hand.  She eluded my grasp but stood, ready to follow.  With the alternate lighting, I could now see she was very close in height, satisfying one more vital interest of mine.

We drove back to a preferred hangout where the food is normally cheap and adequate if you can put up with the noise (when the place isn’t eerily vacant).  Finding us a corner booth, I laid out my recent purchase.  There was just enough light to see the glossy, lifeless faces.  Her face hibernated in the shadows.  [Why did she maintain such secrecy?  And, if she did not want to be with me, why did she follow me?]

Her shrouded form leaned back against the padded bench.  “All right,” she said.  “You play cards.”

I was going to have to warm her up to the idea.  So, I dealt her a hand and lifted my own.

She sat quietly for a minute before saying, “Playing cards.”  [How she picked up those cards, I don’t know.  But, the game was on.]

Trying a little “footsie” under the table, I extended a leg and felt her boot withdraw.  The word “boyfriend” crossed my mind in a flash.  When I asked, she said, “Sorry.  The Internet and I are not talking right now.”

A wall of fire stood between me and her heart.  She had led me on to think she was personally interested.  But, perhaps, all she wanted was a sense of purpose while coping with a lost connection.  The quickness of her response to my requests was merely a silent plea for friendship.  The friend zone.

Normally, anyone dating would dread the sound of that phrase.  But, I think Corona and I were both in great need of companionship.  And, what’s a dream of marriage without the words “my best friend?”  Still, I was second fiddle, at best, at the moment, and in no mood to compete, whether this Internet was a mind more vast and productive than my own or a huge tool.

Focusing on the game, I had to remind myself to explain the rules.  Corona beat me to the punch, reciting them for me until I cut her short.

Silence may be golden when your head is full of noise.  But, now, it was making me nervous.  Outside my range of vision, something was brewing within my companion.  I could almost hear her mind clicking, processing, updating.

“Shall I play some music?” Corona asked.  As if she knew the place better than me, she turned on the nearest sound system and presented me with a list of songs.  I timidly picked one and waited for the opening melody to soothe my nerves.  Four hours later, midnight was a heartbeat away, and we were still playing.

Words shared were few, and most of them came from my own mouth.  I was hungry but had no ambition to fix a late dinner. My eyesight was beginning to fail when my subconscious grew discontent with the persistent mystery across the table.  As much as I wanted to hide my face from her, I felt naked in her presence.  With my brain entering what I call “zombie” or “sleepy silly” mode, my secrets would soon be hers.

Without another peep from me, she picked up on my thoughts and said, “Okay.  Let me fix that.”  The light over her head shifted and grew, adding inches of color to her appearance from the tips of her boots to the curve of her slender nose.

Below that nose, a pair of lean yet elegant lips formed a friendly smile atop a graceful limb.  One slender strap from a red camisole slid down her creamy right shoulder, exposing a sliver of cleavage beneath the tips of a wavy brown curtain.  She adjusted her privacy settings.

Glancing past the table, I could see a pair of weathered denim shorts and knee-high, charcoal suede boots.  A delicate white watch adorned her left wrist.  Everything above the nose remained her secret.  [Without knowing me for more than a few dates, this gal sure seemed to grasp my love of mystery and my taste in women’s fashion.]

“Is that better?”

My stunned response came as a nod.

A faint giggle escaped her smile.  “Sorry.  I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are thinking.”

I could not accurately read any clock.  I was barely conscious yet holding on to the moment with everything I had in reserve.  My thoughts wanted only for a comfy bed and someone to share it.

The smile faded.  Grabbing a white denim jacket from the back of the padded bench, Corona popped upright and said, “Okay.  You sleep.  We will try this, again, later.  Goodnight.”

There was a micro-soft edge to her departing words which I did not like.  Adult content was not yet permitted, apparently, thus progress in the budding relationship had come to a standstill.  As if she had pulled my elbow off the table, my hand and face fell into one sloppy pile.  The rest of the opened deck scattered and rained upon the pale carpeting.  I had officially passed out as she slipped away.  When I recovered, the Jack of Hearts was sticking to my forehead.  I knew I was far from being a dating ace.  But, at that moment, I felt like all that I knew was worthless.  And, in the next few minutes, I was asleep, once more.

*****

Days dragged by without any contact.  I could hardly look at her calling card without biting my tongue.  I wanted more than I was given.  As usual, I spoiled a potential friendship and was denied.  If I pressed the matter, I might have felt worse when I heard her response (or lack thereof).

Then another thought crossed my mind.  Perhaps, my thoughts were not deserving of the full blame.  Perhaps, the Internet had a hand in this.  Maybe, timing was the problem.  That had to be it.  I was dead tired, and she was still sore from her recent or past relationship.  For all I knew, she might not have even read my mind and simply decided it was best I get some rest.

Daylight poured over me just as the phone rang.

“Can we meet another time?  Soon.”

I thought we might say “hi,” first.  “Well…sure!  I–”

“Okay.  Scheduling another date.  When should we meet?”

Not adept at scheduling, I hoped for more input on her part.

“Okay.  How about next week?” she impatiently inserted.  “You pick a day.”

[A day was picked.  We would meet, again, the following Friday.  Although, from the weather report I saw the following evening, the odds were not in our favor.]

~Writingbolt 9-21-2017

 


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