The Writer suggests we meet at her local for a drink. I’ve buggered up my train times so arrive 15 minutes late with a damp face and wild hair, gasping apologies.
“Oh no problem” she says smiling, “thank you so much for coming to me.”
Over a glass of wine we trade travel stories, fondly reliving the smoky milongas and snowkissed peaks of our youth and laughing wryly about shit life choices as we huddle under the pub garden heaters smoking. She talks about her writing (short stories) and I don’t talk about mine (cliterature) and everything’s going swimmingly until I ask when she moved to London.
“My husband and I actually moved here four years ago.”
“Aha. And you, erm, like it here?”
“Yes we do, we have a lot of friends which is great” she says taking a swig of wine.
I am in unchartered territory here and have no idea what the hell is going on. Does she have a free pass for the evening? Is she angling for a threesome? Will I wake up tomorrow morning in a sweaty, naked marital sandwich? Perhaps we’ll enjoy the flurry of bottoms so much we’ll up in some kind of poly-bonking scenario, all holding hands round the dinner table on date night.
“Obviously it was difficult after the break up as we have so many of the same friends.”
“Yes, of course” I murmur, breathing a heavy sigh of relief.
We end the evening with a friendly hug and as I’m walking back to the train station my phone vibrates:
“You should’ve stayed…x”
I wonder if I’ve made the right decision, if I should have ‘missed’ my train and turned up with simmering lust on her doorstep; but when she ghosts me the next day I know I did the right thing and I’m relieved; relieved that I don’t have to spend another night in a stranger’s sheets; relieved not to endure the hollow pleasantries and stale goodbye kisses of the morning after.
The following week I go on another date, but this time with myself. I head to the National Gallery and spend a couple of glorious hours in the company of the Old Masters before heading home with bread, cheese and good red wine. I curl up in the crook of my sofa eating dollops of baked camembert and watching City of God until my eyes grow drifty.
It’s one of my best dates ever; not least because I know that, this time around, the woman respects me enough to bag a second date.