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February 10, 2018

Larry put down the phone slowly as he sighed in relief.  He had just broken another date with Mary and he felt awful.  This was not the first time he pretended to be ill.  He flinched with guilt as he recalled the disappointment in Mary’s voice.  He regretted having to wait until the last minute to cancel his date with her, but Susan’s schedule prevented her from planning much in advance.  She had phoned only two hours before to say that she could see him tonight and his stomach fluttered wild with excitement as he imagined the way she would walk through his door.

He had prepared the perfect dinner for a perfect evening, and as the aroma filled the air, he thought briefly of how he had never cooked for Mary, and he had been with her longer.  But then again, Mary didn’t know he could cook.  He thought of how hurt she’d be if she knew, but she never made him feel as Susan did.  Mary’s quiet and nonchalant manner was in sharp contrast to Susan’s bubbly sophistication.  He had not told Susan of his long time involvement with Mary, for fear of scaring her off and he had no plans to do so.

The doorbell rang as he checked the dinner table for last minute perfection.  The table was splendidly decorated with candles and napkins in her favorite color.  As he approached the door, he braced himself for what he knew would be a live entrance.  Susan was always full of surprises.

However, when he opened the door, there stood Mary, with a beautiful fruit basket, “Hi, I thought I’d bring you something to make you feel better,” she said with a big smile.  As he stood there speechless with his mouth open, the phone rang.  He stammered incoherently as he moved to get it.  It was Susan calling to say she was on her way.  As he heard Mary close the door and start toward the kitchen, his heart fell.  In a moment of panic, he told Susan in a “sick” whisper that his back had began bothering him and that he had to take a pass on tonight.  Then he heard Mary scream, as she entered the dining room and saw the candlelit table.

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