They didn’t know each other for long. It’s just been about 3 weeks that they had been talking to each other regularly. He was a bit shy and reluctant to ask her out yet. Veronica somehow knew it, but was hoping that he would make the first move. Although Keith wanted to spend some time with her outside of office hours, he was terrified of the thought of a date with her. Everyday, Keith would try to ask her out on their first date, but he just couldn’t do it.
It had been a lazy Sunday. Keith had been sleeping all day. They had been talking over the phone for 6 hours straight the previous night. Both knew they were just not friends anymore. Yet, they talked about all the other things in the world but themselves.
Keith’s phone rang while he was still in deep sleep. He thought it must be the alarm, and fumbled for his phone, muted it, and went back to sleep. He woke up at 3:00pm in the evening, tired of oversleeping. He was hungry. He fetched his snacks box from the cupboard, opened up a packet of biscuits and started munching on them. He picked up his phone and unlocked it. There were 60 missed calls and a message from Veronica. Keith opened the message which read:
“I am hungry. Let’s meet at 6pm at the Desho’s Lounge”.
Keith looked at his watch. It was already 4. Desho’s Lounge was about 30 kms from his house. He wasn’t sure if he could make it on time. Keith called Veronica to check where she was. Her phone rang, but got disconnected. He called again, Veronica didn’t answer. Thinking she might be busy with something, Keith got up to get dressed. He was ready in about 10 minutes flat. His phone beeped. It was a message from Veronica:
“Sorry, Change of plans. Let’s meet for dinner at 8, The High Bar”.
He tried calling Veronica again, but all his calls went unanswered. He was getting nervous, not knowing what to do, he turned on the television, and started browsing through the channels. He kept on looking at his phone impatiently, wondering why wouldn’t she answer his calls, and why did she change the meeting place. He kept on thinking about all possibilities, everything that they talked about last night. Was it about the last night’s conversation? Did he say something weird or inappropriate to her? Was she angry with him for not answering her calls while he was sleeping? He was so desperate to talk to her now.
It was 6 now. He turned off the TV, picked up his keys, and was about to leave for “The High Bar” when his phone beeped again. It was Veronica. Another message:
“Sorry Love. Change of plans again. Let’s meet at the “Ebony with a view(The 13th Floor)” at 8:30″.
His heart started pounding. His eyes couldn’t turn away from his phone. “Love” was the word he was staring at. She had never done that before. He knew she would never say something casually, even in messages, if she didn’t mean it. He had never had this feeling. What was it? He had been staring at his phone for more than 5 minutes now. The phone beeped again. Another message from Veronica.
“Let me know when you start from your house. It will take me about 30 minutes from my house”.
He came back to his senses. It wasn’t a dream. He smiled and messaged her back.
“Sure Love. I will be starting in 10 minutes. See you at the restaurant. Good choice.”
He didn’t know why he typed in the “Love” word in the message. But he thought he would pass it as a joke in response to her “Love” in her message. Keith was very happy now. He started going through all that had happened since last night, in his mind. Why did she change the meeting place twice. Why did she choose Ebony after all. He knew it was one of the most romantic restaurants nearby, while the other places were just usual hangouts. It was pricey too.
Keith reached on time. He parked his car, and went on to the reception to check if she already had a reservation. The receptionist ushered him to a table where he could see Veronica flipping through a magazine, seemingly bored of waiting for a long time.
Keith: “Hi Veronica. What’s all this about? Why wouldn’t you answer my calls? Why are we having dinner here?”
Veronica: “Calm down Keith. Take a breath. Have some water, sit down, and then we will talk.”
Keith sat down, took a deep breath, and looked at Veronica. She looked different. She was wearing a red top and a long black skirt. Keith had never seen her wear a skirt before. She was looking lovely. Was it her birthday? Why would she want to celebrate her birthday with him.
Keith: “You are looking different. Looking lovely. Is it your birthday? Why didn’t you tell me before.”
Veronica: “No Keith. If it were my birthday, I would have asked you to get a gift for me. I just wanted to have dinner with you today. I was a bit confused about the place, but finally settled for this. Do you like it? By the way, thanks for the compliment.”
Keith: “We will see. We have the whole night to arrive at any conclusions about your choice. Let’s just get started with the dinner. I am hungry. I guess, you are too.”
Veronica: “Of course I am. I haven’t eaten since 4. By the way, how come you missed all of my calls?”
Keith: “Oh, I was sleeping. Sorry about that. I never sleep so late. Anyway, tell me, what’s the special occasion.”
Veronica: “Come on, do I have to spell it out? Are you that dumb? It’s our “First Date” you idiot.”
Keith couldn’t take in the words. Although he knew it was the first time they were meeting outside office, it never occurred to him that it could be a date. He was also surprised at the blunt response from Veronica. And he really felt like an idiot right now. It was a little too much for him, all the things that had been happening today and the yesterday night. They stared at each other, until a loud voice startled both of them.
It was the waiter. He pointed to the glass of water in Keith’s hand, from which water was spilling over onto his shirt.
— To be Continued…