The One That Got Away


She was giving me the brush off. I could tell by the way she twirled her pasta in loopy waves around her fork. She was biding her time. I simply smiled. “Tell me what’s wrong, Darling?”

She cringed. “You are the only man who has ever called me Darling. That is just another thing I will never get used to.”

I frowned. Then I grew distracted, like so many times before, at the way her lips puckered and pursed when distraught. She had quite the pout. She seemed to notice my fascination with her mouth and sneered. “Stop ogling me!”

I couldn’t help it. She had a face like no other. And the most mesmerizing body. In my forty-two years of life I had never seen anything quite like it. It was what drew me to her. I had always attracted the ladies to me, as I was told I was a dead ringer for Cary Grant. Perhaps it had always been too easy. Too boring. The models, the dancers, they were all alike. But Sheila was different. I had to talk her friends into a group date just so she would feel more comfortable in my presence. It took me three dates just to get her alone. And now, after dating for a mere month, the end seemed near.

“Look at me!” She insisted. “Really look at me!”

But hadn’t I just been? I gawked, mouth open. “Again, Sheila, tell me what’s wrong!”

She picked up her napkin and wiped the bit of spaghetti away that hung limply from her double chin. With her weak jawline and small, droopy mouth, the crumbs of food that strayed away often settled in the large crevices of her chunky neck.

Sheila stood up, defiant. “Tell me what you see when you look at me.”

I looked around the room and noticed the stares. “Darling, sit down, you’re causing quite the scene.”

“But isn’t that what you like,” she spat. Then, her elongated, bony nose twitched as it always did when she grew nervous. She rubbed it with the back of her hand. Her narrow eyes squinted into imperceptible dots as they scanned the room in horror. She sat down.

I immediately took her small hands in mine and held them tenderly across the table. She had incredibly small hands. With the exception of her long nose, she could almost be confused for a midget – actually, a midget wrestler. Her body fascinated me. The lumbering way she moved across a room. The way she’d practically stumbled right into me when we first met at the supermarket. I sighed deeply with the memory.

“This isn’t going to work,” she said quietly. “We have nothing in common and I…I can’t pretend that your looks don’t bother me.”

I moved my hands back to my lap and arched one brow. “What do you find disagreeable with the way I look?”

“It’s not that you’re ugly,” she said flatly. “It’s just you’re such a pretty boy. And I know that we’re not a match. I see that confirmation on everyone’s face who passes us. It’s like our relationship is practically taboo! A man and a woman like us, we just aren’t meant to be together!”

I tried to process that. I knew she was right, of course. There were the curious looks of bystanders. But I still wanted her. In the worst way. “I don’t care what anyone thinks!”

“But don’t you?” she laughed. “I think you’re a narcissist. My cousin told me all about you. How you always dated the most beautiful women and flaunted them around like they were prizes to be had. So is that why you want to date me? Because we make the most unusual couple…attract the most attention? You, handsome and tall, and me, homely and short?”

“No, of course not!” I argued. “How can you think I’m that shallow?”

Her face contorted like a sour plum and she leaned in closer. “Then tell me that you really care about me! Tell me you want me for more than my looks?”

I felt a pang of regret. For she was right, we really didn’t have much in common. And I really didn’t think I was in love with her. I couldn’t say I’d ever been truly in love with a woman. For it was always their looks that drew me to them. But she was the first one who cared! She was the first one to ever reject me!

She pulled back at my silence and stood up to leave. “I’ll leave you the check,” she mumbled, nose scrunched, and left.

I picked up my cell phone and scrolled the many pictures I had taken on our dates. I let myself shed one tear. Her glorious pictures were all I had now.

Word Prompt: Taboo

Tricia Sankey

 

 

 

 

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