Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stuck At The Light: A Short Story

"This doesn't really mean anything does it."

I kept cutting at my steak. Without breaking my concentration, I pulled a medium-well cube of meat from the tip of the fork with my teeth. It was a question I knew wouldn't end well. 

"You've asked that question before," I said, glancing up at him. He fidgeted uncomfortably across the dinner table, swirling whatever was left of his Riesling in his glass. He'd been doing that for the past ten minutes. 

"The fact that I still feel the need to even ask it is what's bothering me..." 

I felt bad. Chey was a nice guy. A great guy, actually. I met him at an internship luncheon two years ago and we clicked immediately, making sure to exchange business cards at the end. We kept in loose contact for about a year and a half, updating each other via texts and emails about our day jobs and occasionally grabbing coffee during our off days. He was a senior account executive at some hotshot advertising agency in the city, but you wouldn't be able to tell unless you asked for his resume. He was a natural jokester, and laughter came easy and often with him. Even when he clowned me for having flyaway hairs or tripping over the gaps in the sidewalk, I couldn't help but laugh before the embarrassment set in. 

Chey was a looker, too. He was tall enough for me to wear my favorite black pumps, tip toe in them and still not match him. He was sturdy without looking like a ball of muscle, but gave warm, gentle hugs that could make you lose track of the time if you nuzzled into his chest. His even, ceramic skin had a warm glow to it and his high cheekbones were peppered with freckles that seemed to dance around his glassy brown eyes when he laughed. 

"I just want to know where we stand," he continued, his eyes pleading with mine. His inquiry was a fair one. 

This was our fifteenth "date." His words, not mine. Outings were a more appropriate term. And this was an outing with a friend… who wanted to add "boy" as a prefix. I dodged his hints as often as he dropped them. 

My mother fussed over my lack of commitment the weekend prior. "Dionne. Are you blind? Chey is a keeper." She made it quite clear that she was pro-Chey. "Get with it. Or stop stringing this young man along if you're not going to take him seriously. It's not fair for him to be hanging in the balance while you get your act together."

Ma wasn't wrong. I mean, when was she ever? Chey was undoubtedly a great friend and fun companion for city explorations and fine dining. He even willingly listened along whenever I needed to talk my shit, which I did quite often. 

He was nice. But nice wasn't quite enough. He didn't thrill me. He wasn't like Dane, and for some reason, I couldn't look past that.