We met every Tuesday night in the Newsroom, a tiny restaurant only ten minutes walk from where we both worked. It was quiet enough to have a conversation, but there was enough of an after-work crowd to not feel like we were on a date (although that's what all my friends called it). Dating, they said. You're dating. You can't meet a single man every week for dinner and it mean nothing. But that's the thing. I'm not sure it did mean anything. And anyway, I said, it's not dating when you share the bill.
Roger and I worked in the same building, but for different companies. I worked in law and he as an accountant. We got talking one day in the early morning queue at the Starbucks counter two blocks away. We seemed to chat easily and agreed to have a bite to eat after work. But it wasn't a date.
That first dinner was very pleasant; we both enjoyed our meals and had a glass of wine each, mine white his red, and after we shared a pot of tea. We agreed to do it again next week, same time same place. Oh so slowly we got to know more about each other, our families, our dreams and our realities.
One Tuesday he told me, halfway through the main course, that he was getting married next month. I could feel a burning sensation in my eyes and in my stomach and realised in an instant that I had, subconsciously, been hoping for more than friendship. I was initially too stunned to speak and finally murmured something along the lines of 'best wishes', followed quickly by the fact that it was inappropriate for us to keep meeting. He didn't agree. I tried to put myself into his wife-to-be's shoes and told him that it most definitely was. He slowly wiped his mouth with his napkin as I stood, knocking my chair into the person behind me. I muttered an apology and left quickly.
When I got home I realised that I had forgotten to pay for my share of the bill.
Flash Fiction Diary
Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to read and/or comment on my first FFF piece I had posted in three months last week. I felt very welcomed back.
This piece was inspired by a real restaurant in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, close to where I live.