Save Myself

Save Myself

I can feel Ashton’s eyes watching me, even with my face turned to the TV. The Office is on. He slowly gets up and walks toward the kitchen. I try not to watch him. He returns with oatmeal cookie flavored ice cream, and he walks right up to me, right to the edge of my side of the couch before asking, “Want any?”  

I feel like saying, No I don’t want any of that healthy crap you keep around here, especially not that garbage tasting ice cream. Instead, I say, “No.”  

He moves to the chair closest to me, the one facing the TV, and he just stares with the little pint of ice cream folded in his arms. He doesn’t even have a spoon!  

I realize that I’m staring, but he doesn’t seem to notice. Or care. So, I don’t care.  

His face has an empty expression. Illegible. Protected. Or maybe that’s just my angle. 

Part of me wants to hug him and fall on his chest in tears. The other part of me wants to scream at him. Part of me aches with pity, and the other part blames him for bringing this on himself. Part of me wants him to never leave me, to always love me, to somehow rescue me. The other part wants him to be free, and to escape the toxicity of my presence.  

My shoulders naturally start to curve around themselves. They do that when the feeling creeps up inside me like a snake. I look back at the TV and try to focus on what Jim and Dwight are saying, but I can’t.  

I remember the time when Ashton first taught me to take a decent picture by myself.   

“That’s one of the things that drew me to you,” he’d said smiling. “Your terrible selfies.”  

We were at the beach, and the sun was setting. Ashton wanted to be a photographer, but it was too big of a risk so he majors in accounting. He just takes pictures on the side.   

After I attempted suicide, he stopped going to classes.  

“You want to capture all the light that you can,” he’d said, coming up behind me and holding my hands as I tried to aim the camera on my phone. While I was playing in the water, he looked through the pictures and then started taking more.  

“Mine weren’t very good, were they!” I’d shouted over the waves. He had smiled and taken a picture of me.  

I don’t know where the depression came from. It didn’t hit me like a wave. Not at first. It crept up on me slowly, like how the setting sun carries off light until even the twilight fades. I don’t remember if I ever actually felt sad. It was more like emptiness. A hollow feeling. I would spend a long time, maybe hours, staring in the mirror at myself, trying to see something, but all I could see were features. Blue eyes. A nose. Brown hair. And I lost track of time.  

Any time I did feel emotion, I still don’t think it was sadness. It was more like anger. Once, I sat down and tried to figure out who I was angry at. My mom? Ashton? God? And then I realized that I wasn’t angry at anyone else. I was angry at myself.   

But why? What had I done?  

So, I would stare at myself, trying to find the dark lurking secret.  

There is something wrong with me. I can’t figure out what it is, but there’s something wrong.  

People picked up on this, and I tried to get away. I tried to tell them that I was fine, and when they didn’t believe me, I became angry. If there was something so evidently wrong with me, why wouldn’t they go away? So I tried to push them away. I tried small, angry remarks that grew in time to screaming sobs.   

I remember Ashton’s stare when the sobs were choking my throat. Finally, he’d said, “You’ve changed.”  

I think I may have thrown up after that.  

They stared, and the pain was so evident on their faces because they didn’t know how to help me, and I hated myself even more for hurting them. I pushed them away because I just want to protect them from my drowning emptiness.   

But, when they did finally give me what I wanted, to leave me alone after all of my fits and torments towards them, I would feel the sting in the back of my stomach like a knife carefully and precisely prodding itself against my insides. And I would lose the ability to breathe. No more tears. No more words. Just pain.  

But for all the pain I’ve caused, I certainly deserved it.  

Sometimes, there is this voice at the back of my mind faintly gasping and pleading, but I can’t understand what it’s saying. I don’t even know what it wants. 

I close my eyes because Ashton is looking at me again, and my cheeks are wet.  

When I first got out of the hospital, Ashton was there. He followed me home. He followed me back to my apartment. He was angry. He yelled. He became sad. He wept. He tried to be happy, made jokes, smiled, and told me that he loved me. And finally, he began staring at me, stupidly, silently, the same way he’s been staring at me since. I keep waiting for him to leave. I hope that he does while still wishing he won’t.  

What does he see in me anymore? What did he ever see? Haven’t I hurt him enough already?  

My first night back at my apartment, I told Ashton to go home. He didn’t. I found him sleeping on my couch the next morning.  

When I open my eyes, Ashton looks me over from head to toe like he used to. I wait for the pain and pity to color his face a paler shade, but it doesn’t.  

“I’m not leaving.”  

“No,” I whimper, like I’m a little child who is desperate and has just been denied the only thing she ever wanted.  

“I’m not going anywhere.”  

I wait for him to throw the ice cream aside and rush to me, grabbing my hands with tears in his eyes and begin pleading with me like he did last week. And the week before.  

I can’t save you, you understand? I would if I could, but I can’t. If you can’t pull yourself out of this, you need to get therapy. I’ll take you. Okay? Please, darling. I will be right here. Start praying. Ask God for help. I certainly do. Start reading again. Read Job or Psalms or A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Eat some chocolate. Start a journal. But, you have to want to save yourself. You understand?  

Instead, he looks back towards the TV, eyes glazed.  

“I’ve already told you what you have to do to fix this.”  

I know. I’ve known all along what I need to do, but I just… I don’t know how to cling to the side of me that wants to put in the work it will take to crawl out of this, to cling to the side that wants him to stay.   

I get up and squeeze myself next to him on the little chair. I’m shaking and doing my best to keep my face from contorting into that hideous expression I make when I cry.  

He doesn’t look at me, but he puts his arm around me.

Photo by Jordan McQueen   


Nice Book

Nice Book

I’m not sure why, but the doctor’s office is always cold. The temperature difference was obvious as soon as I’d walked through the sliding double doors. The parking garage had been two blocks away, and walking that distance in 98-degree heat had me sweating. Maybe that’s why the cold air inside the building had felt stark enough to cause goosebumps on my arm.  

I had no idea if I’d come in the correct doors. Nurses in masks and other people walked by me briskly, sometimes even bumping into my shoulder, but in too big of a hurry to care. The elevators were easy enough to find, and I looked over the TV screen that showed the different offices of different doctors on different floors. It was overwhelming, but I finally found Dr. Samvel’s office. Floor 3, Room 316. 

When the elevator door opened, I walked slowly, analyzing the number of each room I passed. Room 316 was at the end of the hall.  

The waiting room was empty except two other people. We were pretty spaced out, an air of gloom settling over each of us. I pulled out the copy of the email I’d printed off to make sure of the room number, the time, and everything else that Dr. Samvel’s secretary had mentioned. 

My hands trembled slightly, but I figured it was because I was just cold. Even the secretary – or nurse, whoever sat behind the sliding window – wore a thin black jacket over her scrubs. 

I figured the wait would be a while, despite arriving precisely on time, so I pulled a book out of my bag. I kept the back down on my lap as I read. 

The story in the chapter I was reading mentioned the history of William Marshall, his cruel father who had abandoned him to be executed, and the kind king who had refused to do so. 

I nearly jumped when a nurse opened the doctor’s door and called out for someone. Before I had a chance to return to reading, someone else walked in. Instead of an older loner, like most people in this part of the large medical institute, it was a mother and her daughter who looked to be around eight or nine. The child wore a smile, which lifted some of the heaviness off the room. They sat along the wall, directly in my line of view, but I went back to reading and didn’t think anything else about it. 

When the nurse returned to call for another patient, I nearly jumped again. From the corner of my vision, I could see that the little girl was staring at me. She smiled and held up a book she’d been reading. It was the same one that I had. I returned the smile, a little embarrassed that I had lifted the book off my lap enough to someone to see it. 

It wasn’t that I was ashamed of what I’d been reading, it just wasn’t a book typical of someone like me, but it wasn’t a book typical for a little girl either. 

We were the only three in the waiting room now, and the mom was busy on a phone call. The girl tilted the book over to show me how much she’d read. That’s when I noticed the cast on her arm. She then craned her neck like she was trying to see my place as well. She was much farther along than me. I tilted my book to show her too. 

Excited, she flipped back to a previous chapter and held it up. I shook my head. It was still too far ahead. I counted up the pages till my next chapter. Three. I held them apart and lifted my book to show her the chapter and the three pages I still lacked. 

The girl flipped back further to where I was, then mouthed the words William Marshal? I nodded. She went ahead several chapters and pointed at the pages. Sad, she mouthed.  

Her mother noticed her holding up the book and gently pushed it down against her lap. Then, she noticed me and smiled. I returned the smile as best I could. The mother was beautiful and wearing a business suit and three-inch heels. She made me feel very insecure for some reason. 

The girl began flipping to the back of the book when the nurse reappeared and called for me. I stood, tucking my book into my bag. The little girl stared after me disappointed, so I forced a smile. I didn’t know what else to do. 

The checkup went well. Nothing had spread. 

“The patient who is coming in after me…” I began, but Dr. Samvel raised an eyebrow, as if he believed I should know better than to ask about another of his patients. “That little girl,” I persisted. “She was reading the same book as me.” I pulled the book up near the top of my bag to give Dr. Samvel a glimpse. 

He smiled and said, “Yes, I know who you mean.” 

“She’s going to be okay, isn’t she?” I thought about the cast on her arm, wondering if she even knew better because of the good mood she’d seemed to be in. 

“Well… she isn’t my next patient, if that’s what you’re asking.” He raised another eyebrow at me with a stern expression, as if he’d already said too much. 

“Thank you.” 

I got up to leave and thought about the mother, her perfect nails and confident smile. Had she been wearing a wedding band? What would happen to the little girl? Did her daughter even know? 

“Keep up those dietary changes, and we may not have to do anything invasive,” Dr. Samvel called out. “Talk to Melissa up front about coming back in another six months.” 

I waved goodbye over my shoulder as I walked away to talk to the lady up front about my next appointment. Despite getting used to the temperature, I had chills again. 

As Melissa went over the different dates for potential checkups, I felt someone lightly hit my arm. I looked down to see the little girl. 

“Nice book,” she said grinning up at me, even as her mom gently pulled her away and down the hall towards the examination room. 

“Nice book,” I returned, and I smiled, because I didn’t know what else to say. 

Photo by Annie Spratt  




Cordelia likes to quote Shakespeare in arguments or “life defining” moments, and every now and then she’ll set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night just to look at the stars. 

Arnold is a “pacifist.” He doesn’t fight for or against anything. He just laughs and drives and nods his head at anything Cordelia says, and his round blue eyes gaze out the window like he’s a prisoner from underground who only gets to see sunshine once a year. 

These are my kidnappers. 

Cordelia and Arnold don’t believe that old ladies like Diana should have leopards living in her house, even though Jay and Stella, the ravens, told me that I had been born in a cage, and Diana bought me to keep me from living in a cage so I would get live in a very large house with a massive yard, running and catching the moles and forcing them to tell me something interesting in exchange for letting them go and wearing a diamond studded purple collar and drinking milk out of a porcelain dish. 

Cordelia turns around and grins at me. 

“Baby likes ‘The Time of My Life.’ don’t you? Yes, leave it on, Arnold.”  

Baby. That’s my name. That’s the best thing that Diana could conjure up when thinking of a word that would epitomize me. That’s also the name for an infant human. Adorable little creatures that smell good and are so lickable that you just want to carry them around in your mouth. But I learned that, even as a small leopard, opening my mouth around humans, especially infant humans, makes everyone get unnecessarily loud. 

Geoffrey, John’s Doberman, told me it’s because my kind normally have very dangerous instincts. He’s heard a lot about leopards from John and Cathy, who aren’t thrilled about the idea of John’s mother having one in her house. 

I like Geoffrey, but anytime John is around, he acts like something is stuck up his rear. It’s the act that “guard dogs” have to put on. Even his ears are fake. And he once had a tail, but the humans did something to make him “look the part.” I don’t think I would like my humans if they tried to do something like that to me, but dogs are strange.  

He told me that Diana thinks all of my ancestors living in cages has cured the wild streak in me, because “wild animals don’t know about all of the great things like Television and Good Morning America and Shakespeare like us cultured animals.” I don’t know how much of that is true, but I know that I don’t feel the same about Diana as Geoffrey feels about his humans. 

“What if Baby eats you while you sleep!”  

Diana had scoffed. I had also scoffed. I’d sooner eat a mole than that bag of loose skin. Or I’d eat Geoffrey. Or one of the ravens. But I never had to work for my food. I didn’t even have to jump on Gary like I had as a small leopard. He would just give me the food if I sat and waited. Actually, jumping on him makes him panic so badly that I might not get anything to eat. At first I had thought that an animal had to act excited to see a human feeding them to encourage them to do it again, but apparently that doesn’t apply to leopards. 

Humans, in theory, would be better to eat than other creatures. Because there’s hardly any hair on them, the skin would be more edible. In theory. But skin isn’t very good. It’s the blood that’s good. Cordelia and Arnold have yet to learn this, and I hope they learn this soon or else I will have to start acting up again. I do know that eating a human is very bad because it upsets other humans to the point of them wanting to kill you. Even if you have to kill a human to protect another human, you do not eat that human. 

Cordelia turns the radio up and starts singing along to another song from the movie Dirty Dancing. It seems like such a strange thing. Dancing. When I first saw humans flailing themselves around, I thought it similar to dancing weasels disorienting prey, but then they rub themselves all over each other and fling each other around, so I thought it was a mating ritual. No. Humans don’t use it for hunting or mating. They just like to flail around with music. 

Cordelia turns the music down but continues singing the song. She smiles at me, bobbing her head. She thinks I like it when she sings. 

When Arnold and Cordelia first kidnapped me, they acted so frenzied that they forgot to feed me for a while. I could smell the confusion and fear all blended with adrenaline, but this only annoyed me. Finally, I had to start acting up.  

I learned early on that humans dislike when you use the bathroom in undesignated places. They also dislike the act of marking one’s territory. I couldn’t let this slide, even in my old house, so I had to be crafty. But not when I want them to know something is wrong. Humans are bad at understanding unless I do something intentionally wrong. It’s not that they don’t want to understand. They just can’t. Like with this pair. Arnold had been extremely upset to find his newly marked vehicle, but it hadn’t been enough. So, I left.  

Humans are harmless. What could they harm me with? Their soft skin, flat teeth, or short nails? Unless they managed to slip a cage over me, I would be fine. I went off in search of other humans who could feed me. 

I found a house, it was smaller than my house, but I sat at the door. It was night, and since humans cannot smell, in the dark they are utterly useless. So I began scratching at the door. Nothing. Then I climbed to the roof to find a window of some sort. That’s when Cordelia had showed up. Her anxiety hit me in the face as strong as soured milk. 

I sat and watched her from the roof as she tried to call me down. Then, she began to sing. I was confounded and amused. So strange, even for humans. 

The lights in the house came on, and the man who opened the door was not happy. He and the others in the house thought she was “drunk” or “high” and used all sorts of terms like “trashy.” Attempting to explain that there was a leopard on their roof did not help things either. Poor woman. She should have given me food. 

They had made a call to the “police” and tried dragging her inside, but Arnold had showed up. Then I heard something terrifying that resembled a shriek and a whine. I remember having heard it once before, but I had been very small then. It made the hair on my back stand up. I jumped from the roof and raced Arnold and Cordelia back to their yellow, boxy shaped vehicle. They gave me food. A “hamburger.” It was disgusting, but I was hungry.  

Once back in my partially cloth, partially yellow sponge back seat, I began examining Arnold and Cordelia to discover what these new terms “trashy,” “drunk,” or “high” meant. Certainly, they don’t dress like Diana, John, Cathy, Martha, or Stewart – the only humans I’ve ever known. They speak somewhat differently, too. But they don’t seem like the type of humans who would cut Geoffrey’s ears or tail. 

Ever since that night, Cordelia believes that I enjoy hearing her sing. I don’t care for it, but Arnold does. I can tell by the way he bobs his head and glances at her frequently with a settled smile.  

He rarely speaks to me, and it’s usually only to say “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” And I agreed, because put in a corner, I would certainly find a way out. But he says this much too often for it to be for my sake. Almost every time, Cordelia will laugh, and he will look at her with a more excited smile than he usually wears. I think they would make good mates since humans, similar to ravens, like to have only one mate. But Cordelia doesn’t seem to think of him that way. Their smells of affection don’t add up.  

Humans are strange, even stranger than ravens. They don’t even talk about it. Even a raven will ask another raven to be his mate for life, and if she refuses, he moves on to find another.  

I’ve never cared to have a mate. Maybe if I ever encountered another leopard, but even then, I don’t think I would care very much about them. Well, maybe if we were always together I would. I would like to meet another leopard, but Arnold and Cordelia are taking me back to Diana. 

“Back to South Carolina, Baby! You ready to go home?” 

Apparently Diana was giving away a lot of money to whoever brought me back. It was strange thinking of myself as being stolen. I had always stayed because I’d wanted to. When Arthur and Cordelia had lured me into following them, it was because I had been curious. They smelled differently than the humans I was used to being around. Once inside the yellow vehicle with the adrenaline cooled and somewhat shifted from fear to contentment, Cordelia had exclaimed, “We’ve kidnapped a leopard, Arthur! Just let that sink in. A leopard!” 

That’s when I learned that to “kidnap” meant taking a leopard, maybe something else, away from its home. So, Cordelia and Arthur were my “kidnappers.” 

They then began to tell me that I belonged in “the wild,” and it was wrong for Diana to keep me on her massive property with her big house. The only reason I would want to go to “the wild” would be to see another leopard. They’d taken my jeweled collar off and told me I was free, probably thinking, like most humans, that I could not understand them. 

Soon they began asking each other how long it would take for “the old lady to put out a reward for returning her dangerous cat.” Then Cordelia would turn and scratch the bridge of my nose and tell me that I wasn’t dangerous. I was a “sweetheart.” I was Baby. 

They’d been so happy to learn about the reward. Their anxiety faded and intermingled with joy, and Cordelia sang more often. I was also relieved. I’d enjoyed watching the mountains turn into fields with long grass and other plants until the trees appeared. Not skimpy, weak trees, but massive glorious green trees that made my heart throb like there was something inside of me that just needed to run. They would let me out to climb and jump and play. I loved those trees, but I returned to them when I was hungry. I would give up my trees to keep from going hungry. That’s why my home is better than the trees or this moving, yellow box. 

I will be happy to be home to see my croaking Jay and Stella, my stern Geoffrey, my anxious Gary, my saggy Diana, and my porcelain bowl full of milk. 

Photo by Dustin Humes

fiction, Writing Portfolio

Third Date

Third Date

It feels like Paris. It’s dark out, but there’s too many lights from the city to actually comprehend that there could ever be night. The candle is burning low in some scent of linen that makes me think of clouds. 

He has some cute little music playing. It’s French, of course. He told me that he’d learned some famous cuisines from his trip in France, and he wanted to try them out on me. I’ve never had a man cook for me. 

He dances around to the cute little “Suis-moi,” and I tap my feet. Is he singing? I start to laugh, and he glances back at me and grins.  

When I first met Adam, I never imagined that such a goofy character could be as brilliant as the nation’s top neurosurgeon. He’d run into me while walking sideways to keep one eye on one of the city’s monuments. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except I had been honored with the task of gathering coffee for my coworkers that morning.  

My first thoughts of this person clumsily slamming into me were not very kind. He had apologized at least twelve times and attempted to help me pick of the remains of four americanos and two frappes. He probably would have gone further had I not stomped away. 

Well, this wasn’t the last I’d see of old Adam. He showed back up at my work on my floor carrying all of the coffee I had dropped. Of course, it wasn’t the way they were supposed to be ordered, but how was he supposed to know? 

He later told me that he’d found me by asking the man at the front desk which floor the angry looking woman had headed to. All of my girlfriends were quite impressed, not only with his smart, photographer looking smile, but also his initiative to follow me. He obviously wasn’t a city dweller, and I had always told myself that I would never marry a city man. 

“Do you like brussels sprouts?” 

“Yeah,” I laugh nervously. 

“Magnifique,” he says with a grin. I smell the green little “healthy foods” start to steam, and it’s mixed with olive oil and pepper. The other spices waft in circles over our heads, drowning out the candles, and I close my eyes and tug my librarian sweater tighter around my shoulders. Though steam is supposed to be warm, I feel these cold chills traveling down my arms. 

After Adam delivered the coffee, he told me that he absolutely was not going to leave until I agreed to let him make it up to me by taking me out. The guys at the office sneered at his corny behavior, while the girls all swooned, but I honestly wasn’t used to being asked out.  

I had recently lost ten pounds but was still seen as the “fat girl” of the workplace, so I was so much at a loss that I just grinned and handed him my number. He said something in French, bowed and winked at me as he left. They entire workplace erupted in laughter and chatter. This was the most exciting thing that had happened in a while, and I was filled with both butterflies and dread. 

“Le petit…” I heard Adam murmur, and the smoke from the chicken moved over to the table. I could practically taste it. It reminded me of where I had agreed to meet him for our first date. Downtown Diner. I had never been to a diner, and much to my horror, it wasn’t exactly a diet friendly place. When Adam showed up, with his huge smile, librarian glasses, and thick peppered hair combed across his forehead in loose waves, I couldn’t help but think of how he was very attractive. 

“Hey Anna, do you know where this song is from?” He calls out.  

“Um, no. Where?” 

He flashes me his signature grin. “Have you ever read ‘The Little Prince?'” 


He walks over, half skipping to the bouncy music. He sits across from me and blows out the candle. 

“Ugh, I didn’t have anything but a scented candle, and I figured it would be fine with my cooking. But it smells a lot better than I thought it would. It actually smells good. Like an actual meal. Don’t ya think?” 

“Yeah,” I laugh. I want to ask him why he has a scented candle. 

“Well, after we eat, we’re going to watch that movie. Don’t worry,” he smirks. “I won’t trouble you by showing the French version.” 

“I appreciate that.” 

He laughs, like even being a little flirty was too much for his personality. He’s always just so happy, and I have no idea how. I always want to ask him. 

He went through the trouble of asking me everything that I liked to eat when he saw that I was having trouble with the menu at the diner. I tried to act annoyed, but Adam never catches these things. Either that, or he doesn’t care. Just like when I spilled the coffee everywhere. I kept growling that it was fine, but Adam kept persisting that it wasn’t.  

On our date at the diner, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to be one of those girls and just let him order whatever for me. It ended up being really good, but the conversation was even better. 

“Oh my gosh, Anna! This chicken looks so good!” 

“Better than the first time you cooked it?” 

“I’ve never cooked it before!” He laughs. 

Adam is an expert in just about everything that he does. By the end of our first date, he figured out that I wasn’t exactly a very outgoing person, but he got me talking enough to know that I’d had past relationship problems… as in, I’ve never actually dated. I blame my confidence problems. The closest that I ever came to a date was with Brad – the popular linebacker from high school – who tried to woo me on a dare because he just assumed that I was a virgin, as one of my dear friends took the trouble of finding out for me. 

Shudders go up my arm, and I smell the rolls in the oven, mixed with the spices and the chicken. The combination sounds disgusting, but it’s actually so delicious smelling that I can almost block out all of my horrible memories. Adam takes the rolls out and sets them on the table. 

Ah, bread. My old friend. Immediately upon discovering the “Brad Plan” – as we later came to call it – I want to the bathroom and threw up everything I’d had for breakfast. My eating disorder did not result in my starving myself. It was one of the other kinds. The “Brad Plan” also resulted in a horrifying introverted, goth phase.  

And I explained all of this to Adam.  

On our first date.  

As my excuse for not being able to talk very well. 

After realizing everything that had spilled out of my mouth, I was mortified. And he looked mortified, too. As my insides wrung themselves dry, and I could feel the chocolate waffles traveling back up my stomach, Adam started to laugh. He told me that he thought Brad was a total jerk and hoped that he had a horrible life now. Then, to beat it all, Adam told me that Brad was a bland, uninteresting name. 

“Hey Adam, do you have this song on repeat, or something?” 

“I sure do! It’s really great. The only other song in the playlist that has words is really sad, and you can tell it’s depressing even without knowing what it’s saying.” 

“I hope this movie isn’t sad.” 

“Oh, you will probably cry.” 


“Yeah, probably.” He smiles sheepishly and shrugs. “But it is one of those things that make you the better for it at the end. I mean, I cried.” 

Precious Adam. I was honestly shocked when he asked me for a second date. I had thought that the first one was a disaster. I agreed, though I tried not to sound too enthusiastic. And I later regretted not showing more emotion because, what if I had acted too uninterested? Adam is very handsome, a dorky sort of handsome, but better looking than me Thankfully, he didn’t seem to notice how much I paled in comparison. 

He had decided to play it a little safer. By taking me to a drive in movie. I’ll be honest, I was not thrilled at watching some old movie outside amidst the bugs and damp air, but I’m a boring person. I didn’t want him to know that, so I agreed, just praying that I would have a better time than what I was expecting. 

A whiff of salad dressing joins the combination. 

“Adam, are you making a salad?” 


“With the chicken and the bread and the brussel sprouts?” 

“This is a four course meal!” Adam laughs. “That’s how they do it over there. Dinner is a huge deal. It’s more of a feast,” he adds, raising an eyebrow at me. 

Our second date turned out to be one of the most fun times I’ve ever had. It was a silent film, and it was interesting seeing how humor back then is so different from comedy now.  

Once again, Adam had somehow gotten me talking. I explained to him that I worked out regularly. It was a decision that I’d made in my third year of college because I wanted to clean myself up and show all my high school peers just how beautiful I could be, though I knew in the back of my mind that they would never notice. They’d probably already forgotten who I even was. Fortunately, I refrained from sharing this tidbit of information.  

He told me that he wasn’t much of a gym guy, and he preferred hiking, boating, and basically anything that could easily become an adventure. I was honestly terrified because we’re so different. I didn’t want to lose him. 

It was also on this date, only a week ago, that he told me he had pushed me into going on a date with him because he could tell that I needed a friend. I remember my heart dropping through my chest, but he continued to tell me that he really liked me, and he asked me – as in actually asked me – if he could hold my hand. 

My face burned to a point that I knew it was glowing red, but Adam wasn’t looking, or he pretended not to notice. He was watching the movie. 

He asked me where I wanted to go for the third date, since he had decided the first two, and he actually pressured me into saying something. Being the boring person that I am, I said that a meal would be fine. So, here we are, with Adam cooking for me. 

He puts the plates down on the table, and I stand up wondering what I should do to help. He grins and throws the napkins at me.  

“Try to fold those into a ‘Three Cornered Hat.'” 

“Is that a thing?” 


He brings over the rest of the stuff and dips us both out some salad.  

“I made way too many rolls,” he mutters then smiles when I look at him. “There was a pack, so I figured I would just make them all.” 

“So this movie… Did you discover it while in France?” 

“No! This movie was actually the reason that I went to France. I read ‘The Little Prince’ forever ago, but then I discovered this movie. And I read it again. They have an English version, too, but the original is in French.” 

I laugh. “So that made you want to go to France?” 

“Yeah! I know, right? I mean, I already knew some French from high school, but I wanted to pick it back up and get fluent. What better place to learn French than in France! Plus…” He shrugs and smiles sheepishly. “We’re still young, right? Remember what it was like to be a kid with all of these huge dreams and stuff? Well, it’s not too late, and when that hit me, I decided, well, why not? So, I went to France! And then to London, and then to Tokyo. That’s one reason I took up photography along with my writing. I need the extra money, and there’s too many amazing things out there to not take pictures of.” 

“Wow. How could you afford to do all that?” 

“I didn’t go to college.” He laughed nervously. “I didn’t want to really. I’ve never really liked school, so all that money from high school jobs went towards a camera and a plane ticket.” 

“I didn’t like school either, but college just – I don’t know. It was where everyone was going.” 

“Well, it’s okay if it helps you get a degree to get a job you like. You like your job don’t you.” 

“Yeah,” I mumble. Adam glances at me, but remains quiet. “I wish I could just drop everything and go somewhere, but I have a good job now. Those can be hard to come by.”  

“I’m not quite that adventurous anymore. It takes a little time to save up the money to travel, you know.” 

“Yeah,” I mumble. 

“Hey! Maybe that’s why we’ve met, Anna. I’m going to help you escape the same rut that I escaped. It may not be photography or France, but it will be something.” 

I laugh but notice that he’s not laughing. He’s just smiling at me. We start to eat, and I occasionally glance at him and can’t help but notice that he’s glancing at me.  

“Do you like it?” 

“Yes! It’s – I think it’s amazing.” 

“Great! Maybe I can add connoisseur to my resume.”  

I start to feel awkward, trying to think of something to say, but Adam takes out a piece of paper and starts to write down the translation to the lyrics to the song. Somehow, that, and the smell of these spiced Brussel sprouts, take away all of my feelings of nauseousness. 

He hands me the translated lyrics and grins. Even if it is only our third date, I feel myself falling in love with him. Maybe it’s because I trust him. We could work, balance each other out, I hope. Even if we don’t, it’s going to be fine.  

 Live a little, Anna. Let yourself fall in love. 

Photo by Chris Karidis