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Third Date

Posted by Mujtaba Rana on
Third Date

What did she like about him? Her friends wanted to know. She raised her tea to her lips as she paused to think, then smiled, feeling rather sheepish. How could she choose any one thing and not list them all? She hardly knew him, of course—tonight was only the third date. But there was such familiarity between them, as if they’d known each other a lifetime ago and were simply catching up.

Across the city, he stood over the bathroom sink brushing his teeth, thinking of her, and noticed something he hadn’t experienced in years: butterflies in his stomach. He shook his head to himself, laughing. They hardly knew each other, yet she’d already made a giddy fool of him. He could hardly wait to see her again.

On the train, she pulled her compact from her purse to check her lipstick one last time. She brushed a few stray hairs into place, then ruffled her hair again, wanting to appear thoughtfully—artfully—effortless. She caught the eye of an auburn-haired lady across the aisle, who clucked to herself, remembering all the trouble she went to as a girl to look untroubled. The two women shared a knowing smile.

His anticipation got the better of him, and he arrived to the restaurant early. As he waited for her—giving his best performance as a levelheaded, self-assured person—he noticed that the orange-blossom clipping in the vase on his table gave off the most bewitching scent.

He was not one to notice the scent of a cut flower, typically, yet recently he’d become attuned to these subtle pleasures. He realised that he’d become acutely observant. The oxidised cufflinks on the elder gentleman that lives in his building, for one. The choir of birdsong emanating from the autumnal foliage, competing with the rustling of leaves. The soft, yet cracked, feel of leather on his well-worn boots. Amused that he’d gotten himself lost in so many little details, since he was not much of a daydreamer, he was hardly one to get lost in a reverie.

Then he felt a delicate hand on his shoulder, and he suddenly understood why.


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