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We Were Seated at a Small, Dimly Lit Booth...
We were seated at a small dimly light booth in the back of the busy restaurant. A steady hum surrounded us. A waiter came and went asking what we would like to drink, returning a few minutes later placing an iced tea in front of me me, and a coke for Anthony.
“Well this is off to a magnificent start.” I looked up and smiled, not sure what to say back to him.
I scanned the menu studying everything, unsure of what to order. Nothing too expensive, I don’t want him thinking I’m a gold-digger. Nothing that will make my breath stink, that’s one way to ruin a good night kiss for sure. I sighed aloud and scolded myself for even thinking, or wanting this to turn into a kissing situation. I focused my attention back to the menu. The wedding soup sounds good, but I thought better of it. The idea alone of hot soup made me shudder, it surely would end up everywhere but my mouth. I let my eyes skim over the top of the menu to see if Anthony had figured out what he wanted to order. His smile was amused and what I thought to be a low laugh came from his side of the booth.
“You look to be having some difficulties” His smile broadened and his dimples made two perfect craters in his face.
“I’m perfectly fine; in fact I already know what I want.”
“Let me guess, a salad. Typical girl date food. Just so you know, you can relax. I promise I’m not judging your every little movement. How about we forgo all the awkward dating formalities and just get to know one another?”
I smiled for the first time since this night had started, “And how would we do that?”
“Let me order for you.”
Great, I’m on a date with a control freak. I thought for a moment, “What's the worst that could happen?”
“I could order something that you found repulsive, you could freak out and run away in hysterics and put this down as the worst date you’ve had in your life.” Anthony said back, audibly laughing towards the end.
I laughed too finding it easy to be happy in his presence, “That was definitely a rhetorical question.”
The waiter arrived and Anthony ordered a steak for him and a simple chicken parmesan for myself.
“I’m sorry but our kitchen is a little backed up right now and the food may be a little bit longer than the usual wait.” He said more to Anthony than me.
“Its fine, more time for us to talk.”
The waiter nodded his head and blended into the crowd of people. The awkward silence fell thick upon us again.
“How about we play a game while we wait?”
I raised my eyebrows
“What type of game do you have in mind? Remember we are in a public place, with a lot of people around us.”
“I call it 5 questions.” His smile grew, “We can each ask each 5 questions. The other has to respond as truthfully as possible.”
I could feel my hands start to sweat and my heart pick up pace. What if he gets personal? I don’t know this guy from any other person on the street. I took a deep breath once again and probably not for the last time tonight and willed myself to relax and enjoy the moment.
“Okay, I will ask first.” my answer took him by surprise.
“I’m ready; throw your best one at me.” He folded his arms onto the table and leaned forward so his face was closer to mine.
“I think I will save that one for last. Give me a second to come up with one.” He nodded his head and I racked my brain for an original question to ask. His voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Actually, I would just like to ask you questions, you can think and save the ones you have for me until another time.”
I jutted my bottom lip out and gave my best pout.
“Aw, don’t do that to me. Fine, you can ask one and you can save the other four for another time.”
“How old are you?” I rolled my eyes at myself, A plus for creativity Marie.
“I just turned 18 last month. I share a birthday with Robert Frost, March 26.”
“You seem a lot older than that” His presence gave off the sort of confidence and surety of ones self that came with age.
“I’ve only been on this planet for 18 years but I’ve experienced things most people never do in a life time, and learned things that should be left unknown.” The truth flowed easily from his mouth. A hint of pain was hidden behind his upturned mouth and vivid auburn eyes but it faded quickly. I wondered if I had imagined it.
“I believe it would be my turn to ask the questions now.”
I groaned aloud thinking of a million embarrassing questions he could ask, and because of his blatant honesty, I couldn’t lie.
“Have you always lived in New York?” His question could be answered easily as a yes or no, but giving him a little insight into my bland life couldn’t do any harm.
“I was born in Germany actually. I was an army brat; I moved from place to place finally landing in New York a few years ago after my father died.” I flinched, I hadn’t planned on giving away that much. His presence acted like a battering ram, knocking down any barrier I had put up between myself and the world. I seemed to spill my guts without thought.
“No, its fine. It was a long time ago.” I replied
Conversation began to flow easily after that, and time passed quickly.
The waiter interrupted, placing down our meals and refills while swiping the empty glasses in one fluid motion. The buzzing of the restaurant had subsided; I looked around to see that it was only us and a few other couples placed sporadically in the large room.
“So let me get this straight, you’ve told me that you’ve lived in a few different countries. You’ve skipped a grade and are now soon to be entering your first semester at NYU studying performing arts, your toe next to you big one is slightly taller, and you’ve never been in love.”
“That was very interesting.” Anthony leaned back into the booth and tapped his head lightly with his pointer finger. “I’m storing it all away for safekeeping.”
“Mhm, that about covers the surface.” I leaned to the side and my hair fell onto my face. Before I could push it away, another hand swept it up and carefully tucked it behind my ear. An electric current pulsed on my skin where Anthony had touched me. I looked away from him shyly. A cell phone buzzed and Anthony quickly glanced at it.
“It’s getting late I think I should take you home.” I frowned and didn’t try to hide it. I truly didn’t want this night to end. It was more than I expected a lot more.
Anthony flagged the waiter over with his hand and slipped a bill into the small black leather fold and handed it to him.
“Thank you; keep the change as a tip.” The waiter wished us well and was off to a table with another couple
“Money obviously isn’t a problem for you, is it?” My question confused him.
“Either you have something against receiving change, or moneys not too big of a concern.”
“My job is a bit different from that of an average 18 year old, it pays well, so I guess no, money isn’t a big deal for me.”
I slid out of the booth and stood up. My body ached from sitting for so long, I looked at my watch. Three hours had passed since we arrived. Anthony waited for me and we walked out the door to the street. A woman got out of a cab and we got in, Anthony and I both in the back seat closer than we had ever been.
“Where to darlin’ ” A deep scratchy voice asked
“420 Jefferson Ave.” I shouldn’t have given him my actual address, now Anthony knows where I live.
The cab ride was silent I leaned my head back on the seat, not realizing until now how tired I actually was. I was jousted out of my day dream, someone was shaking my arm.
“Marie, wake up, we’re at your house.” A soft voice whispered in my ear. I would do anything it said, as long as he kept talking. I opened my eyes and let out a small squeal. I had forgotten where I was in the 25 minutes It took from the restaurant to the house. Dazzling white teeth grinned at me.
“Come on lets get you to bed, I mean you need to sleep, I wouldn’t go to bed with you.” This time I laughed, Anthony’s normally composed self was now rambling like an idiot.
“Its okay, I understand what you mean.”
I gave the taxi driver a 20.
“Your short 5 kid.” The taxi driver grumbled over his shoulder.
“Anthony reached into his wallet about to pull out a 10.
“Its fine I can get it put your wallet away.” He nodded and placed it back into his pocket.
I pulled out 5 from my purse and placed it in the fat driver’s hands
“Have a good night Miss, Mister.” He said turning back to his money.
Anthony was already out the car and a hand appeared back inside the door. I took it and stepped onto the street, barley closing the door behind me before the cab was speeding off down the road.
“Buffoon.” Anthony mumbled under his breath so low I wasn’t sure weather or not I was meant to hear it.
We walked to my front porch and stood facing each other. Standing face to face m head just came to the bottom of his chin. I angled my face upwards to see his face.
“I really had a good time tonight.” The cliché after the date line fell from my mouth, but it was true I did.
“I’m glad I did too.” His eyes sparkled with excitement, “I told you I wasn’t that bad”
I knew what was coming next and I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to it. Anthony’s head was coming down and I was sure his lips were on a mission to get mine. I moved forward slightly surprising myself, and our lips touched for a brief moment. I opened my eyes and looked at him.
“Goodnight Marie, have sweet dreams.” He said in a sweet sing song voice. Anthony turned to the street and walked down my four stairs that lead to the sidewalk, he paused and turned back towards me “I think you’re mothers café has become my new favorite morning ritual.” He laughed his deep warm laugh and started to walk down the street and around the corner out of sight.
I let myself into the house and went straight to my room not wanting to give my mother every detail of the night. I changed into my pajamas and laid in my bed, my mind was replaying the night in my head. I closed my eyes and was close to sleep when one last thought popped into my mind. Thank god I didn’t eat the garlic bread. I giggled and turned over ready for whatever dream would greet me.