“Beautiful night,” I said.
She gazed past me to the street lamps that illuminated the park. Parks at night have always enticed me, so I took Melinda to Lincoln Park for our first date. Melinda looked happy enough, not distraught by any means, but content. Her ear length black hair had those weird little spikes and swoops that are usually reserved for women over forty. She made it look good. The moon reflected off her glasses as I stared into her eyes, despite her not looking into mine.
Melinda finally turned to me, clearly searching for the right words. Her thumb came to her mouth. She had a terrible habit of chewing her stumpy digit when something wasn’t right. I braced myself.
“Why did you wait till the day before I go home to ask me out?”
Her tone wasn’t angry, but felt exhausted. I could tell she was annoyed, but still glad to be with me. I didn’t have an answer for her. Melinda was British and had apparently worn out her welcome in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. We had been friends for months while I built up the courage to ask her out, beautifully seductive accent and all. It was probably one of those things where you sabotage your own happiness.
“I’m sorry. My timing is terrible. But I’m happy you’re here.”
“I am too, but why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Her accent was so charming.
“Fear, I suppose. Fear of rejection from a gorgeous woman.”
That made her pale cheeks blush a bright red, like a mime. Melinda took my hand gently. She held it close to her heart. I briefly thought about the proximity to her boob, but then felt her heart beat.
“Jonathan,” she started, “You’ve always been wonderfully kind to me. And you’re far better looking than you think. We could have been great together.”
The words “could have” told me what she really meant. I was too late and this would be as close as we would ever be. My chance was blown. The water in my eyes begged for release, but I said no. I wanted to get down on my knees and beg her to stay, but that would be useless. The only way was for her to be married to a citizen and I was too much of a coward for that kind of gesture.
“Let’s just finish this evening. No more talk of what tomorrow brings. We’ll pretend we’re a perfect couple, finishing a perfect date,” Melinda said with a tearful smile. I loved her smile. I loved her.
From there we walked hand in hand to my apartment. She undressed and put my boxers and a dress shirt on. I told myself to kiss her, but for some reason I just watched. We pretended we were a real couple. We were beyond sex. So we cuddled close to each other till the morning. Melinda went home and I let her go. I was a coward.