Flan finally let Roy in after multiple attempts of applying her make-up. She ended up just putting a bit of moisturizer and minimal eye shadow. ‘Hello beautiful,’ Roy said enthusiastically despite half an hours wait in the hallway. ‘Shall we set off?’
‘Let’s,’ Flan said, fully aware of her curtness.
Roy took no notice, for he was too eager not to mess this second date up.
‘If we take the 101, we’ll avoid our last encounter of the underground.’ He said, holding the door for Flan. He wouldn’t dare try and push her chair this time. He was now privy to her peculiar sense of dignity of her self-sufficiency.
They shook in unison down the rickety lift. Flan could already feel this date going better than the last, but couldn’t let him know. She glanced at Roy who stood swaying with the elevator with an irreversible grin.
They managed to arrive at the same restaurant they went to months before, without the downpour and disaster of the lift being out of order on the underground and Roy offering to carry Flan down the stairs. The 101 bus was a pleasant enough trip, with an elderly lady complaining to no one in-particular about the rising cost of tickets she attributed to “an economy run by busy-no-bodies.”
Brasserie Pascal, Flan read with a sigh. Why he wants to relive the nightmare we experienced last time is beyond me. He keeps saying he wants to redeem himself, but it didn’t have to be the same exact place.
‘After you,’ Roy said beaming. ‘Deux pour Roy,’ he said turning to the hostess.
Flan shook her head to herself at his use of French and followed the hostess.
Roy glided behind as they were shown to their table along the window.
Flan lived in her head, so when Roy probed into her thoughts and life, she closed off, not ready to let him in. As for this date, everything was going right. Roy was patient, he never pressed, but was always interested in her. He shared his life, but never without an opportunity for Flan to share hers. Dessert came and she would never admit it, but she didn’t want the night to come to an end. They didn’t even make it to dessert last time, as Roy spilled the wine all over Flan’s blouse while trying to give her a bite of his meal, and angrily rushed home to forget their disaster of a night.
The bill came and Flan wanted Roy to press for them to stay, or at least linger, but also knew he wouldn’t, as he was trying to be considerate toward her. Damn you and your consideration. Let’s just stay.
‘Ready?’ Roy asked.
‘Absolutely.’ Flan said without hesitation, setting off toward home.
She lay in her bed beaming, clutching the bedding tight and reliving the night; laughing at how different this night had gone from the first and thinking of how charming and sweet Roy was. She had spent so long closing herself off to the possibility of love that this sense of relief was short-lived. Her joy was now turned to questioning everything; Why does he like a crippled woman like me? Why would he be so kind? Is he messing with me? What if he just breaks my heart? Once again, her pillow was a haven of doubt and fear, as it soaked the tears that began slowly rolling down her cheek.