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Chapter 4 : February
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If there aren’t prices on menus, it’s probably not a good sign.
When Lizzie and I were young, we used to play restaurant. Lizzie would spend all day creating a menu with teas and snacks we had in the cupboard, but she would never include prices, because she claimed it made it more professional. So I would come to her restaurant and she would serve me wonderfully, commanding my every order.
And then I got the bill.
My own sister charged steep prices for lukewarm tea and stale crackers.
It was then I learned a very important lesson:
If there aren’t prices on menus, it’s probably not a good sign.
Until I met him…
Wednesday, February 23
I have waited for three weeks James effing whatever to call me.
Like a school girl I’ve waited every night by the phone in my dinky old apartment, without proper heating because I forgot to pay my bill again this month.
So you can imagine my mood walking home from a long day at work in the rain. Rain and my hair are not friends. I would venture to say they could even go for grade 8 enemies; bitter and harsh, for no apparent reason, really.
I fumbled around in my bag for my keys and jammed it into the lock of my apartment door; fiddling them in the lock with my cold fingers until I heard the click and my door opened.
I kicked off my heels and took off my jumper, stumbling over to the kitchen and pouring myself a glass of wine. I took a delightful sip before collapsing onto my old sofa in the living room. I nursed my throbbing head, my legs hanging over the edge. Taking another sip, I began to feel the pain and aches of my body start to ease. I set my head on a pillow and closed my eyes.
It was then that James decided to call me.
After three weeks, and the minute I close my eyes that damn phone rings.
My eyes fly open and I sit up quickly, spilling my wine. I mumble profanities under my breath and grope the side table looking for my phone.
Finally finding it on the last ring, I answer quickly.
“Uh, Hello?” I ask distractedly, trying to lick the spilt wine off my hand.
“Hi, Lydia, right?”
I freeze mid-licking, as if he could see me over the phone.
Placing the glass on the floor, I move my phone to my now wine-free hand and reply, “Yes, who is this?” I asked even though I knew his deep voice, even over my crappy phone.
“James,” He replied and I could practically hear him grin, thrilled with himself. I rolled my eyes, as voices shouted in the background.
“Look Lydia,” He started, the voices growing faint and the sound of a door closing in the background. “Do you, uh, do you wanna come to dinner with me Friday night?”
I closed my eyes, trying to remind myself of what day it was. Deciding that I honestly did not care all that much, I smiled to myself and said “Sure, that would be great.”
“Oh! Great!” He practically shouted, sounding genuinely surprised at my answer. “Uh, I’ll pick you up at 19:00 then?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“Okay, see you then Lydia!” He practically screamed again. I had to hold the phone away from my face.
“Uh James, don’t you need to know where I live?” I asked, not to certain of his “charm” anymore.
Thursday had come and gone.
And walking home from work on Friday was far from pleasant.
The rain had another love affair with my hair, and I was soon becoming distraught for James had not said where we would be going.
Which meant I had no idea what to wear. Which sucked.
Bursting into my apartment, I quickly rushed to my room to try and salvage what was left of my good hair day and opened my wardrobe for some ideas.
Which was a mistake, to be honest with you.
Because I was then increasingly overwhelmed by all the clothes in my closet. I settled on something pretty casual because really, who takes a first date anywhere fancy?
Because when I opened my door, I was greeted by a smiling James… In a tux.
“Hello,” He said, handing me flowers from behind his back.
“Hi,” I replied uncomfortably taking the flowers and managing a small smile. “I didn’t know where we were going, so is this okay, or do I need to change?”
“You’re perfectly beautiful. Ready to go?” He asked. I nodded, grabbing my purse and slipping on my heels.
I didn’t exactly know what being “perfectly beautiful meant”, but I didn’t change, which was a bad decision. We ended up going to Bibendum. And jeans and heals weren’t going to cut it.
It seemed he had made reservations for the waiter greeted him at the door.
When we sat down James ordered us some fine wine, which I was a bit nervous about, for all I ever really drink is the cheapest-ass wine that I can afford with minimum wage.
The waiter came back with our wine and talked for a bit, but all I could do was stare at the menu.
It didn’t have prices. Which meant it was really expensive.
Which started to worry me… a lot. But more than that, I felt so uncomfortable and out of place.
Everywhere I looked, high class men and women, eating, laughing, dinning. It made my skin crawl to think that their dinner could add up to more than my monthly rent.
James just kept smiling and talking about everything that was good here and I began to wring my fingers, growing anxious.
“So, what looks good?” He asked.
“Uh,” I said, realizing I had yet to really look at the food on the menu.
“The steak is lovely. You can have that… or anything really.” He said kindly.
I sighed, nodding my head and closing the menu, tired of trying to make a decision.
James and I made small talk… which was equally as painful as trying to find something to order.
Everything about this date was going horridly, horridly wrong. The tension was growing to new lengths. James kept trying to run his hands through his hair, only to remember he had gelled it back; which is really not a good look for him…
My own blonde hair was starting to fall from its curls and I just prayed and prayed that this date would end.
Everything just felt so… fake.
Our food finally came, as well as my third glass of wine. I scarfed the steak down, not wanting to waste a single quid, no matter how unattractive I must have looked.
When the check came I was a bit worried. Luckily, James’ hand blocked the amount as he signed ‘James…’
“What did you say your surname was again?” I asked.
His hand slammed down over the signature and he looked up at me in alarm. “Oh, uh James Tho.. Thompson.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, my eyebrows wrinkling, “You don’t sound sure,”
“Yes. I am sure.”
Great. So now I was on the most awkward date ever, wearing unappropriate clothes, eating steak worth 80 quid and this guy is turning out to be very sketchy.
I took a deep breath and faked a smile as the waiter came and picked up the check and we left. Finally.
“I guess I should take you home now,” he said trying yet again to run his fingers through his hair. Now that I looked at him properly the suit was too small in some areas, and rather baggy in others, an obvious sign of a failed fitting charm. Which means this god-awful suit wasn’t his and I suppose that was a step up, really.
“No no, that won’t be necessary James,” I said quickly.
James took my hand and gave me a shy half smile. “Let me take you home.” He said. He turned on his heal and we spun to my apartment.
I opened the door with my key and stood in the doorway awkwardly.
“Thanks for everything. Do you wanna come in for a bit?” I asked, hoping he would say no.
“No, I better head home. My mum will be…”
I raised my eyebrows. He still lived with his mum? What did I get myself into?
James pursed his lips and shut his eyes, his hand finding the back of his neck.
“I’m going to go. Goodbye, Lydia.” He said, walking back down the hall of my apartment complex.
I closed the door and collapsed onto my bed in a fit.
Covering my face with my arms, I took a deep breath and let it out.
Without meaning it to, a tear escaped my eye and I moved my arms to wipe it. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, I guess.
James had seemed so normal the times we had met. For three weeks I dreamed of what it would be like when we went on our first date just like I did in primary school.
Disclaimer: Alcohol is present in this chapter, however, both Lydia and James are legal to drink, and did not place themselves in dangerous situations (ie. Drinking and Driving) I do not condone any of the aforementioned things.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to feed that hungry review box! J
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