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the blind date
Elle looked at herself in the mirror quickly finishing braiding her bangs and pinning them back. She stood back and ran her fingers through her long wavy dark brown hair. She took one last look over her outfit which she loved because it made her striking green eyes stand out. She wore a simple black dress that hit a few inches above her knee and had on a pair of dusty rose colored flats. She took a deep breath and grabbed her keys before running out of her apartment and hailing a cab. She fidgeted with the hem of her dress during the short ride to the restaurant she was meeting her blind date Hogan at.
Elle had been set up on this date by her best friend Emma. Emma had gone on a studying abroad trip sophomore year to Ireland. When she was there she stayed with a family who had a son named Hogan and they clicked right away. Even when she got home Emma stayed in touch with Hogan and they had become almost as close as brother and sister. Elle had never meet Hogan but Emma was always raving about how much Elle would love Hogan and how well they would get along. Tonight though Emma had finally set the two up on a blind date.
Elle was really nervous; she didn’t want to screw anything up since this was her best friend’s pseudo-brother. She pulled a small makeup compact out of her purse and made some last minute touch ups. When she took one last look over her face her scar caught her eye. It was long, skinny and crescent shaped and it ran along the far side of her left cheek next to her ear. She ran one of her fingers over it remembering the night; so many years ago that she had got it.
It was mid October and a cool breeze was nipping at a 15 year old Elle’s ears. She was walking home from hanging out with her friends and it was dark but she wasn’t really scared because she lived in a pretty nice part of town. About halfway to her house Elle heard a young girl yelling. She spead up her pace trying to find where he screams were coming from. When Elle came to an alley she had passed a billion times before she heard the screams at their loudest. She peeked around the corner into the alley and saw a large man gripping the arm of the screaming girl. Elle pulled her head back quickly and pressed her back up against the wall behind her while pulling out her phone.
She quietly dialed 911 and when she hung up she heard the screams getting farther away she peeked into the alley one more time and saw the man pulling the girl farther. The police had told Elle they would be there in 8 minutes but that just wasn’t fast enough, the girl could already be gone. Elle knew she was no match for the man in strength, but she couldn’t just stand there and listen as the girl was dragged to what could be her death. Elle fished around in her bag and pulled out a can of pepper spray, she stood there, coming up with a plan for a minute before she began to sneak down the alley. She came up behind the man and sprayed at his face. He let out a yelp and dropped the girls arm. The little girl ran out of the alley, tears still streaming down her face and Elle followed suit.
When Elle was about 5 feet away from the end of the alley she felt a strong rough hand snake around her upper arm she looked up and saw that she had missed the man’s eyes with the spray and gotten his cheek. Elle lifted up the can again terrified and sprayed at his whole face keeping her finger down on the button the whole time to make sure an unbroken stream of spray was coming out on his face. But before she could do this the man managed to pull a blade out that she hadn’t noticed before and cut the side of Elle’s face. Judging by the screams now coming from the man in front of her Elle was sure she must have gotten his eyes. Elle ran home, and even though she filled a police report, the man was never found. It’s the experience that caused Elle to want to be a cop, and the scar waa physical reminder of that. The cab suddenly stopped and Elle was suddenly pulled out of her memory.
She payed the cabbie and shut the door, pulling out hand sanitizer from her pocket and rubbing it into her hands. She couldn’t stand cab door handles; it sent a chill down her spine thinking of all the other people who touched it and what they could have touched before that… she shuddered before walking in the restaurant.
“Bryant, party of two” She told the server who was dressed in a nice tuxedo and red tie.
“yes, the other half of your party has already arrived, follow me” he said turning and leading Elle through the noisy restaurant.
“here you are” He said motioning to a table in the back of the room.
She looked back and saw a man who looked to be about 22 sitting at a table by himself. He wore a nice pair of khakis and a navy blue blazer on top of a white button up shirt. He had messy dark red hair and an average build with clear blue eyes. When his eyes caught her he stood up and nervously ran his hand through his hair before pulling out a chair for her.
“hi, I’m Hogan and your name is Elle right?” he asked
“yes, nice to meet you.” Elle said reaching out her hand and shaking his before settling into her seat.
“It’s really nice to finally meet you Hogan.”
“Same to you, Emma is constantly talking about you it’s nice to finally put a face to the name” He said in an Irish accent.
“I hope they’ve all been good things” she said awkwardly smiling, fully aware of how cliché both of them sounded.
“Don’t worry” he let out a small laugh “She’s only talked about what great friends you are”
“Well, that’s good, but enough of Emma, how about we talk about you, all she really told me was that you guys meet in Ireland and you just bought yourself an apartment over her in the states a couple of months ago.”
“yea” he said “I meet Emma when she was on her studying abroad program, she was really a lot of fun, and she told me all about this city. She made it sound so amazing, with so many more opportunities than back on the farm. Ever since she left I’ve been saving up and once I had enough I came over here and transferred to Brown. It really is all she made it out to be.” He said
“Now it’s your turn, what school are you attending right now?”
“well I actually just graduated last June from NYU with Emma and since then I’ve gone to and graduated the police academy. I’m currently working as a rookie uniform in narcotics, collecting evidence and filling paper and such, nothing too exciting but I do want to work my way up to detective eventually in either Special Victims Unit, Narcotics, or Homicide.”
“wow” he said “ I know she mentioned you were studying something involving the criminal justice system but I had no idea you were a cop, isn’t it scary?” he asked giving her the same perplexed look most people gave her when they found out her profession. Not many people expected a 135 pound girl to be a cop, but that drove her even more.
“yea, it can be, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.” She said
“That’s good,” he said smiling “People are supposed to love their jobs and there are so many people out there who don’t.”
“yea.” She agreed. Right then a waiter came by and placed what they had ordered in front of them.
“Thank you” Hogan and Elle said in unison to the waiter as he walked away.
Elle smiled to herself thinking that the awkward part was pretty much over and that the date was going to get better. After all Emma was right when she had told Elle that Hogan was cute.
But then the night took a sudden turn for the worst. Elle looked up and saw Hogan pick a piece of hair out of his food and then continue eating as if nothing had happened. Elle froze, she tried to get a hold of herself but she just couldn’t. She mentally cursed her OCD. It was like her own twisted form of kryptonite, always finding a way to get between her and what she wanted in life.
She began to breathe heavily as she watched Hogan continue eating, then taking a drink, then wiping his mouth on the napkin. Which each move he made the closer Elle felt herself pushed to the edge of a cliff, a cliff she knew that as soon as she fell off of would lead her to a full fledged breakdown. She couldn’t help but imagine the germs going from the hair to his mouth to his drink to his napkin. They were spreading everywhere and Elle could do nothing to stop it. Her breathing started to shake and small tears started to erratically escape the corners of her eyes. When Hogan looked up at Elle his face flickered from shocked, to confused and then lastly to understanding.
A small “oh ,no” managed to escape Hogan’s lips. “Are you…? Emma never mentioned…. Elle are you OCD..?” His sentence trailed off and Elle shock her head slowly up and down.
Hogan put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a bottle of hand sanitizer which he quickly worked into his hands and wrists and then pulled out a small bottle of travel mouthwash which he quickly swished around in his mouth. He placed a pile of bills on the table, and Elle tried to protest but weakly accepted when he wouldn’t let her, still completely overwhelmed with what had just happened. Had she really just had a breakdown on a blind date? Why Hadn’t he been completely freaked out? How did he know she was OCD? Why had he had the hand sanitizer and mouthwash? Why had he known what to do with them? Hogan began to walk towards the exit and Elle followed the strong smell of alcohol coming from his direction was a comfort.
Elle felt the cool breeze hit her face as she walked outside and savoring it, she took a seat on the first bench she saw. Hogan followed and sat down, leaving a good foot between the two of them on the bench. For a few immeasurable moments they both just sat there, taking in the view of the river and the sparkling skyline of New York. Elle was the first to break the silence,
“I’m Sorry” She said in a voice that sounded too small to be her own.
“it’s okay” He said
“I have OCD and I mean it might sound really weird to you but” she started before being cut off by Hogan.
“No, I really to get it” He started “Emma probably never told you this but back in Ireland I have a baby sister. Ever since she was little I always adored her she was just so cute. I used to spend a lot of time with her and as she started to get older I started to see she was slightly different. She would always spend more time washing her hands then all her friends and would constantly remind me to do the same. One day I had taken her into Dublin to celebrate her 8th birthday. We were at a restraint and she saw the waitress in the bathroom come out without washing her hands, and she did the same exact thing you just did. She froze and started crying and I didn’t know what to do so I took her home. The next week we took her to a doctor and he diagnosed her with OCD.”
It all suddenly made sense to Elle, why he had been so calm, why he didn’t think she was a freak, why he had the mouthwash and the hand sanitizer and how he knew exactly what to do.
“Wow, I’m so sorry, I know how hard that can be. ” Elle said looking back up to meet Hogan’s eyes.
“No need to be sorry” he said “we’ve learned to live with it and control it but every once in a while, not matter how strong she is, she breaks and I’m guessing that’s exactly what happened to you tonight.”
“yea” Elle said sighing.
She thought back over the last couple of years thinking about how hard she had trained herself and how hard she tried to hide her OCD, only telling her family and closest friends. She never told anyone she worked with unless it was strictly necessary because she didn’t want anyone to treat her differently. She only went to a psychologist once, and got diagnosed but after that she hadn’t gone back. She knew there was nothing wrong with getting help and for most people it was the right thing to do, but she was stubborn and wanted to fight her own battle.
“It’s been a tough year” she started, “I really don’t like people knowing I have it.” She admitted “Being a cop is a tough job and having OCD doesn’t help. I managed to keep it under control at work, I’ve never had a breakdown there but I’ve been close, managing to barley keep myself under control”
“I can’t Imagine what’s that like, trying keep that all inside” Hogan said
“It’s tough, but strangely enough I think it sometimes helps me, it forces me to work harder and set and achieve goals in a way I’m not sure I could of it I didn’t have it. It really drives me.”
“yea, that doesn’t sound crazy my little sister’s the same way” Hogan said
They both sat in silence for a little bit both occupied again by staring out at the beautiful scene in front of them.
Hogan let out a deep breath and a small laugh as he stood up
“Hell of a first date” He said smiling down at Elle
“Hell of a first date” She agreed smiling to herself at just how true that statement was. She had just had an OCD breakdown in front of this guy, who just happens to have a little sister with OCD and she just spilled her guts to him. And she’d just meet him 2 hours ago.
“How about I walk home with you, I’m crashing at Emma’s place tonight anyway.” He said.
“Sure, that’d be nice” Elle said
Elle stood up and began walking back towards the apartment building with Hogan both of them quiet just enjoying the city around them . When they were about halfway home Elle reached out and held of Hogan’s hands. Hogan looked down at Elle and smiled taking hold of her hand too. Maybe Elle hadn’t messed this up after all. Maybe, just maybe Emma was right.