“We should do something special Thursday evening.”
It was near the end of October, and I had just gotten a promotion. But that wasn’t why I was wanting to do something special. I looked at Douglas expectantly. The look on his face didn’t make me feel very good. Did he not know what was coming up…?
We had been living together for several months now. Five months. Hard to believe! In that time, he learned to read me very well. I, however, still had a hard time reading him. Sometimes I could like when he was very happy or very sad, and when he was mad. I could tell when he had a bad day at work, or a great day. But when we were having conversations, sometimes it was hard to tell what he was thinking.
Five months! That meant we had been going out officially for just over five months. It was a pretty nice feeling knowing my first relationship was still in full swing. My possibly only relationship…
I was falling in love with Douglas. I knew I was, even though I still ached at the thought of Hal. Perhaps that was something I’d never get over. The first blossom of love being squashed down in the miserable way it was–I did hope that one day it’d finally go away. But I accepted the fact that it was still there now, and it didn’t mean I didn’t care any less for Douglas.
“Special?” Douglas asked, glancing up from his waffles. His eyes were dark and sparkling. I quickly ducked my head to avoid that look. It was one that made me uncomfortable. Because that look was one I did know the meaning to–and I still wasn’t sure if I was ready. Oh, my body wanted to. My body reeeallly wanted to. But emotionally and mentally? I knew I wasn’t prepared for such a step.
In July–after about seven weeks of living with Doug–I talked to Dad about these feelings. I was so embarrassed about it and it took me ages to even get the words out but once I was able to, we began talking a little easier. The first thing Dad told me was about how proud he was that I was able to distinguish between what my mind and heart wanted with what my body wanted.
“A lot of guys… well, really, most adults your age see nothing wrong with being with someone when it’s just casual dating,” Dad had told me. “I can’t really pass judgement about that…” When he said that, I was totally scared he’d say something like he and Mom had… done that… before marriage. “Everyone sees sex as something different, and when it comes to two consenting adults, it’s an opinion–so nobody is really right about this subject. I personally feel that two people should take the step of marriage before taking the other steps. But I won’t look down on my kids if they don’t.”
We wound up talking for a long time which felt pretty nice. It had been ages since Dad and I had spent any time together just the two of us. Before college, at the very least. Once we were done talking, I decided to not give in to any physical urges. As difficult as it was.
“Yeah,” I said, poking at my own breakfast and wishing Doug would stop looking at me with those eyes. Oh jeez, he didn’t think I meant that by something special… right? “I was thinking dinner and a walk on the beach.”
Doug sighed. “Awfully chilly for the beach…”
I couldn’t help but look up at that. He was paying attention to his waffles again. Did he really not know what was going on? What time of the year it was? Maybe I was just making too big a deal of it. It seemed to happen a lot. Over the past couple months it was happening more and more: I was finding romance in things. I noticed couples when I was out and about. When on my paper route, I’d see cute houses and wonder if one day I’d be married, living in a little house… geez, all that was missing from my silly fantasy was a white picket fence and a dog!
Which is ridiculous, I thought with a shake of my head. Doug is allergic. I had kinda wanted to get a dog or a cat but unfortunately Doug was horrible allergic to most mammals. We considered getting a bird, but in the meantime we satisfied the wanting-a-pet thing with an aquarium.
“We don’t have to go to the beach,” I said, grabbing the syrup and putting more on my waffles. I began to feel nervous. I wanted to take back the conversation since it was apparent he had no clue what I was going on about.
“Mmmm…” Doug rubbed his chin. “Yeah, way too chilly for that. But if you wanna go to a dinner, we can. I guess.”
He guesses? I tried not to look too disappointed. “If you don’t want to do anything, we don’t have to,” I said brightly.
“I have to work late Thursday anyway,” he said, giving me a rather apologetic look. “How about we go out Saturday? Say–we could go to that arcade that just opened. That’ll be fun…” He trailed off and sighed. “Why the long face, sweetie? You look sad. Did–did I do something? If you wanna go out Thursday, we can!”
“No,” I mumbled. “I’m fine really. Saturday sounds great.” I checked my watch but I still had twenty minutes before I had to leave for work. After working in a graveyard at night, it was a big change having to be at work at 8am! At least as a spell-checker I didn’t need to go around throwing papers, though I would miss walking. I’d have to keep it up in my free time.
Walking really helped clear my mind even though I didn’t have many troubles. My biggest trouble was, of course, the whole Hal thing. We still spent time together when we could. Sometimes with Viola, sometimes just the two of us. He was seeing someone else now… but he seemed happy. That was the important thing.
Unlike Todd, I actually got to meet this boyfriend. His name was Derek and I got to meet him when he, Hal, Doug, Vi, Vi’s boyfriend Claude, and I all went out on a triple date. I despised Derek. At first I was worried it was jealousy but soon I realized I had a sound reason to dislike him–it seemed he stood Hal up often. I would get calls from Hal on random nights whenever Derek canceled a date. We’d spend over an hour talking, unless Doug and I were doing something.
Of course the whole date thing had been awkward. Claude Pierce was becoming even more famous since his TV show had gone into a second season. So there were people coming up randomly to take a picture or to get an autograph. It was embarrassing. But even worse was when Hal and Doug got into an argument, though they never did tell me what it was about. Except the worst part about that night (besides Derek, the fight, and all of Claude’s fans) was when Claude approached me to talk to me alone.
“I hope we can keep getting to know each other,” he had said nervously. I expressed a vague interest in getting to know him better and he immediately smiled. “That’s great!” he exclaimed. “I was hoping… see, I really like Viola… and I really wanted to talk to her family first…”
Ugh. Viola married. I didn’t think that seemed like a good idea, not with Claude. Not with anyone, I grouchily admitted to myself. I blamed Zari for it of course, since it had been his idea to have the two of them go out to help Vi get over what’s-his-face dumping her. At least Zari regretted it. That gave me some satisfaction.
And at least Claude wasn’t going to propose anytime soon. He wanted to talk to our parents, and then wait until they had been going out for at least an entire year. Which meant anytime after this winter. Erf.
“You want a ride to work?” Doug asked, dragging me out of my thoughts. I looked down at my syrup-soaked waffles and then looked at my watch. I needed to leave pretty much right away.
“Sure, that’d be great. Lemme get my shoes on.” I tossed my soggy food, grabbed my work bag, found my shoes, and then went to the car with Doug. When we pulled up to my work, he leaned over and gave me a kiss. “Have a good day!”
“You too,” I said, still feeling slightly down that he didn’t know what Thursday was.
How do these people become journalists? I wondered, getting rather annoyed at all the spelling mistakes. Some of the writers didn’t even put their stories through a spell check. At least, that’s how it seemed. Even the ones who did there were always mistakes. I liked when there wasn’t much to do. Then I was able to relax and play chess online.
But today there was a lot of work. And a lot of mistakes.
I was able to stay in a cheerful mood till Thursday which was when I felt a little down. Work wasn’t much so I had to try to distract myself with virtual chess. Once 2 o’clock came, I headed home feeling down again. I soothed myself with a bubble bath and some episodes of my favorite show.
Doug usually came home at three but as he stated before, he had to work late. He didn’t come home until nearly five and he barely said two words to me as he went to the shower. I stayed curled up on the couch, telling myself to stay calm. If I made a big deal out of this then it would just cause problems.
“Hey, I was thinking we could go out to eat,” he said as he trudged into the living room. “I’m exhausted.”
“I don’t mind making dinner,” I said, glancing up at him.
“I’m in the mood for some French food or something,” he said, turning off the TV and offering me his hand. “Let’s go out.”
I put my shoes on and we headed out, though pretty soon it was obvious we weren’t heading to the French restaurant in town. In fact… we were… at the beach…
Doug parked the car then led me down to the sand where there was a picnic waiting. I stared at the spread blanket and the basket, then looked at Doug with my mouth open. “Ah–um–“
“What?” he asked with a grin. “You’d think I forgot our first meeting? Right on this spot, exactly five years ago.”
“You–little–liar!” I sputtered, feeling very emotional. “You tricked me all this week!”
“Yep,” he chuckled, putting an arm around my waist. “I wanted to surprise you so when you brought it up on Monday, I had to pretend to forget. I’m sorry.” He kissed my knuckles and then pulled me to the basket. There were some flowers laying beside them and he picked them up, presenting them to me with a beaming smile. “Happy anniversary?”
I took the flowers, breathing in their scent then smiling back at him. “Happy anniversary,” I replied. It was a wonderfully romantic night and the only thing in the world was him. I realized then that my love for him was really, truly love. I wanted to be with him and only him, for the rest of my life. That night after dinner and a walk on a beach, we went back to our place and took the next step in our relationship which I didn’t regret at all.