One Rainy Night, Midweek
Josie offered him a lift to the station so he could drink if he wanted to. Just before he got out, she yanked his tie sideways, downward, then more or less straightened it.
“Perfect,” she said. “Go get her, tiger!”
Did it go well?
They’d recognised each other, from their online photos, remembered each other’s names correctly. Stephanie, Steph, either was fine with her. She hadn’t been late. They’d both found the right clock to meet under. From there, it wasn’t far to a bar, running, where he’d helped her off with her jacket and bought drinks.
“I’m absolutely soaked!” she said with an embarrassed laugh, shaking her head so her red hair flew out in a fan of water droplets. He wiped his face with the end of his tie.
He waved off her apologies and noticed that her blouse was wet, perhaps too obviously: she slid her jacket off the back of her chair and back onto herself, muttering about it being colder than she’d realised.
“I could kill this,” he said, reaching for his beer. Froth slopped off the top and slid down the side of the glass to pool on the table. He looked around their surroundings, the copper finishes, brown faux-leathers, beefy wallpaper, smoked glass lamp holders.
“Have you ever been on a blind date before?” he asked, suddenly.
“Once. No, twice! The first didn’t turn up.”
“Maybe they did, but didn’t like what they saw,” he said, instantly regretting it when he saw her face, but not in time to stop his mouth running on with a quiet “and went home.”
They sat in silence for a moment.
“The fool,” he added.
The bar wasn’t busy, a few office workers, the barmaid reading a phone that lit her face blue.
Eventually he said, “You’re a school teacher, right? Tell me about your day.”
She did, and he nodded and made noises, but he hoped he wouldn’t have to answer questions about any of it later. He may have been opening and closing his legs without thinking because at one point, while she was still talking, she reached under the table with a slightly curious look and accidentally touched his knee.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, colouring deeply from the opening of her blouse upwards.
He laughed, it wasn’t that funny, and said “Don’t worry!” placing his own hand on the knee she had closest to him. “See!” She was wearing a skirt, and he felt her skin against his palm. His hand still there, he touched around the bone with his fingertips.
“And you think that’s where it went wrong?” Josie asked.
He’d called her on his way back. He hadn’t wanted to interrupt her evening, but she’d said she was free now.
“I think so,” he mumbled, running his thumb around the rim of his cup. She looked at him, and shook her head. “Oh, my useless husband,” she sighed. “We’ll get you having an affair yet!”
by Nick Black