Eleven

The poor guy needed a distraction, so I approached table eleven with my most reassuring smile. “Would you like to put in an order for an appetizer while you wait?”

“What? Uh, no. Thanks.”

“Well hang in there,” I offered. “And just flag me down if you need anything.”

A vacant nod. Eyes drifted back to his phone. A frown. He’d been waiting nearly 45 minutes for his date. I wondered what it was like to be that infatuated.

A gust of wintry air entered the restaurant. At the door, a bright, rosy-cheeked woman scanned the room. I felt a strong surge of relief when this newcomer scurried directly for table eleven.

I gave them a few minutes to get settled, then once more approached the table. The girl was chatty and upbeat, asking a whole stream of questions about the menu. But whenever she tried to pull her date into the discussion, he responded with a flat one or two word answer.

Another surge of relief when I could finally walk away with their drink orders. Table eleven was now tense and silent. I wondered if either of them could tell how much they both wanted to be together.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Jessie McCall on Unsplash

Wool

On their third date, Candace and Michael were still getting used to seeing each other without masks. They grinned at each other constantly all through dinner until Candace pointed out a seed stuck in Michael’s teeth. She laughed so hard at his panicked expression that water squirted out of her nose.

Michael had been mortified, but Candace still invited him back to her apartment for drinks. “You look warm,” she remarked. “Why don’t you take off that sweater?” She indulged herself in a quick peek at his narrow hips and flat stomach as his undershirt pulled up with the sweater, but then he started writhing awkwardly, stuck halfway with the sweater covering his head. With one forceful tug, Candace freed him from his woolen constraint, but the static electricity left tufts of his hair standing on end.

“What is it?” he asked as Candace stifled a giggle.

“Nothing,” she insisted, leaning forward to kiss him. A bolt of static electricity crackled between their puckered lips and both jumped, clutching their mouths.

Then Candace started giggling.

Michael’s shoulders slumped. “I guess I should go,” he sighed.

“No!” Candace said. “Stay! This is the best date I’ve had in a long time.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Date

Serena grinned enticingly as she set her empty glass on the bar. “Why don’t we take this back to your place?”

“I’d love to,” Phil said staring into his own glass, “but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”

“Oh.”

“But what about your place?” he offered hastily.

Serena’s brow furrowed, then her eyes went wide. “Oh no,” she gasped. “You’re married.”

“What? No.”

“But there is someone else.”

“Not . . . really.”

Serena shook her head in disbelief. “I’m an idiot,” she said gathering up her jacket and purse. “I have to get out of here.”

“She’s not—” Phil winced. “I mean, I can explain.”

But Serena was already on her way to the door. “Don’t bother,” she called without even looking back.

Fifteen minutes later, Phil opened the door to his dark apartment and turned on the lights.

“You’re back early,” a woman’s voice remarked.

“I know,” he grunted.

A spectral figure glided into view. She was dressed in rags, her skin was cracked and crumbling, nothing but two deep pits for eyes. “So how did it go?” she asked.

“Like you care.”

The ghost considered, then shrugged. “Turn on the TV. I want to watch Great British Bake Off.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox