Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Here we go!
When Henry asked me out, I thought he was joking. We’d known each other for years – two decades an a half. Why now?
I remember staring at him dumbfounded with my mouth open for at least a couple of minutes.
‘I’m sorry, what?’ I eventually spat out.
‘I want to take you out. On a date.’
‘Oh. Okay.’ I nodded, not really sure what I was supposed to say in this situation. What do you say when the guy you used to take baths with as a kid asks you out twenty-five years later?
That’s how I found myself in a frustrating predicament – choosing an outfit. My bed was covered in clothes – dresses, jeans, t-shirts, blouses, skirts – and nothing I tried on was right.
‘Who choses a day date as their first date?!’ I mumbled under my breath.
Eventually, I chose a dark green skater skirt and white blouse.
It would do. It’s not like he hadn’t seen me in a sloppy tracksuit with no makeup before.
When he came to pick me up, I was surprised to find butterflies flitting against the walls of my stomach. Though, I was rattled by this, I decided to ignore it and press on. I figured this involuntary response was due to nothing but the nerves of embarking on new territory between Henry and I.
He didn’t look any different when he came to pick me up. He was wearing what he usually wears, and treated me the way he usually treated me. It was like this was a regular occurrence between us. But why was I the one so irrationally nervous about it?
‘Let’s go see some fish,’ he said, linking his arm with mine.
‘Fish?’ I raised an eyebrow at him.
‘We’re going to the aquarium, baby!’ He laughed.
I never thought that going to an aquarium would classify as a ‘great first date’. It seemed a bit kitsch – like an easy way out. But, somehow, Henry transformed my outlook on such a date.
We spent a good three hours wandering around. We gasped with wonder at the sea turtles, laughed about the impracticality and misfortune hammerhead sharks experience due to having a hammer for a head.
‘You’d be the ultimate handy man, though.’ Henry smiled, ‘Your wife wold love having you around to fix all those pesky loose nails and whatnot.’
I laughed, ‘Do hammerhead sharks even have wives?’
‘Dunno. But they should. Their divorce rate would be non-existent.’
Having exhausted our marine-related joke repertoire, we left. At Henry’s suggestion, we found a park to sit in and eat an early dinner as the sun set.
‘What would you like to eat?’ he asked.
‘You’re going to laugh,’ I hid my face from him.
‘Why? What are you going to say?’
‘I’m craving hot chips with chicken salt.’
‘Yessss.’ He laughed, ‘That sounds so good!’
‘Really? You don’t want a proper meal?’
‘Nope. Chips sounds great.’
I frowned at him. I wondered whether he agreed so readily just to please me, or whether he genuinely was on the same wavelength as me. I found myself wishing it was the latter.
With a scorching paper package under Henry’s arm, we searched the park for the best spot in the park. The sky was turning orange, pink and yellow as the sun sank lower in the sky. Sparrows daringly hopped closer and closer to our picnic until we finally passed over one of our chips. They were frenzied in their attempts to get their share of the prize.
Conversation flowed as usual. I found it hard to discern the difference between this and other days we have had together. The one difference, though, I noted, was the potential – the potential for more.
A boy on a skateboard whizzed past us then, ripping me from my reverie. He couldn’t have been more than about fifteen, and he manoeuvred the board as if he were born whilst riding it.
‘How do they do that foot thing?’ I stared after the boy, ‘I can barely stand upright on a skateboard for more than five seconds.’
‘Oh, I know,’ Henry nodded, ‘Remember when you decided that you wanted me to teach you to skate, and thirty seconds later you had broken your arm? I thought your mother was never going to forgive me.’
‘What are you talking about? My mother loves you.’
‘She didn’t that day,’ he murmured, ‘I felt so guilty that I had completely maimed you.’
‘You’re so dramatic,’ I shoved his arm.
‘No, just concerned for your safety,’ he smiled down at me.
I felt the world stop in that instant. The air seemed to still and, somehow, solidify. And I thought, this is it. But instead, he got up and told me he’d back in a minute. I couldn’t believe how anticlimactic it was. He just unstuck everything and dissipated the entire scenario in one extension of his legs. That takes great power. I was in awe.
He came back with a white cylinder balanced on his shoulder. It looked like a rocket launcher, or something technical and science-related.
‘I thought we could have a go at using this,’ he said, setting whatever it was on the ground beside me, ‘It’s a telescope, Beth. Don’t look so scared.’
‘Oh. I thought it was one of those rocket launcher things.’
He frowned, ‘You thought I would just randomly go and get a rocket launcher from my car? You’re deranged.’
‘I am not!’ I insisted, ‘Look, it’s not my fault I’m stupid, okay? Some of us weren’t born with the unnerving ability to understand every single thing.’
‘Or the ability to stay upright on a skateboard.’
‘Alright, enough.’ I shoved him again, ‘We don’t need to point out all of my failings as a person. I am well aware of them.’
‘What failings? I don’t see any failings.’
‘Well, you’re blind, then.’ I could feel myself turning red, the more he gazed at me in earnest.
‘So …’ I cleared my throat, ‘Stars, right?’
A bit of a sweet one today … long too!
Remember to follow me on here, and follow me on the socials whilst you are waiting for Saturday to roll around.