She was tired, and he was not. He walked fast; she strolled. He looked ahead; she looked down. They were clearly incompatible. It was obvious in the coffee shop a week ago. Their first meeting. Even though their personals ads were almost identical. His: Straight m seeks humor and ice cream. Hers: Straight f seeks stories and root beer floats.
They met at Izzy’s. He was eating a double cone, raspberry chocolate swirl with mint jalapeño when she arrived. He waved her over as soon as she bought the float.
“I’d know you anywhere.” His first words. Then he offered her a taste of his cone before she could speak.
So it had been easy—too easy—“So easy it scares me,” she told Rachel. “I don’t know what to do with a nice man.”
And now it was raveling. She could hardly keep up. He was almost running—his sandals slapping on the path as he plowed up the hill. “Come on! Come on,” he called. He had an unusual lightness for a big man. The passion for ice cream showed itself on his body: the belly, the big arms, the round face.
“Yes, he’s fat, but he’s so . . .”
“. . . nice.” Rachel finished the sentence for her.
The root beer floats (diet root beer) didn’t show on Ana. She had the waist of a damselfly, the flutter of a moth, the radiance of a dragonfly—his words. “My butterfly,” he’d said that first day when she sat down at his table.
“Beauty needs a taste,” he’d said and held the cone out. She touched it to her tongue—thinking pistachio, blinked at the cool jalapeño burn, then smiled without meaning to. Nobody had ever called her beautiful before.
“He’s fat, I’m not beautiful, not fun, I get tired . . .”
“Do you like him?”
“Well, yes. I told you. He’s nice.”
One more time—Rachel’s rule, a last date, just a little walk, so here she was trudging to catch up with the nicest man who’d ever liked her. The only man.
Where was the problem?
Lot’s of problems, she thought, and was about to list them, but now they were at the top of the hill, and he was smiling and holding out his hand to her.
She sighed and took it.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran