Gray

I was trying to be happy. Your smile was radiant, and you wore the necklace I gave you for your birthday. Rumbling down the dirt road in your jeep made me feel like a kid again, but then I felt embarrassed for being so old to begin with.

Could you tell what I was feeling? I think you could.

We had the beach practically to ourselves. A biting, misty wind whipped in over the waves. We huddled close together on the pale sand. You slipped your hands beneath my jacket, clung tightly to my sweater. “You’re so warm,” you sighed.

Were you just trying to make me feel better? I’m not sure.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “This was a bad idea.” I felt your body go rigid, felt you begin to pull away, felt everything start to fall apart. No point in putting it off. I lowered my gaze to meet yours.

Your eyes were hard, and I felt myself break against your glare. I didn’t want to lose you. A smile curled your lips. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” you said. “I’m right where I want to be.”

But did you mean it? I believe you did.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

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