They met eight years ago in high school. After a failed weird two-year period where they were maybe more, they agreed to just be friends.
“Alright you too, what can I get you to drink? Or are you ready to order?” The waitress looked back and forth between them, her hands folded over her sash.
“Tell me,” he said, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms. “How many tables are you waiting right now?” He looked at her like he was going to call the police.
Her eyes fluttered. “Well,” the waitress politely said, “I, I am in charge of about five tables right now. Now, would you like to start with drinks or are you ready to order?”
“That’s interesting,” he said, “because you must have a phenomenal memory.” He leaned closer to her and brushed a leaning flower in his way with one finger. “Do you have a good memory? Because I noticed you don’t use a notebook. I don’t have a good memory, but I do observe things. Her?” He pointed to his friend across the table. “She has a great memory. She had to remind me it was her birthday today.” He pushed his back into the velvet cushion of the chair.
“Oh,” said the waitress, bewildered, “Well happy birthday! Can I get you anything to drink or eat?”
Her, his friend, stared blindly at him from over her tall menu. “I’m sorry,” she said to the waitress, finally coming to life, “he feels a little guilty that he forgot.” She winked at the waitress. “I will have a house salad with no dressing and, as for a drink, just water. Thanks.” She handed the waitress her menu, stretching her red lips.
“And you sir?”
“Oh, I’ll have the same thing as her – the water too – but can I get Caesar on that salad? Thank you so much.” The waitress walked off, the flowers in the vase shaking with each step.
He sighed and relaxed his back, folding his hands and looking at his friend through the flowers. He smiles at her. She looks out the wide window burning with light, her naked fingers playing with the edge of the tablecloth.
It was a birthday tradition to take her out for lunch ever since they agreed to just be friends.
“What’s wrong?” He finally says. “You seem upset. I know you. Talk to me.”
Her shy fingers disappear and she mutters, “Evidently, you’ve never known me.” Then she clears her throat and, with a little laugh, “I hate when you do this.”
He opens his mouth wide and gets a bewildered look on his face. She smells the bacon he ate for breakfast. “No, I hate when you do this.” He said. “Don’t get upset with me when you won’t tell me what’s bothering you.”
He closes his mouth and picks some velvet lint off his white dress shirt. “It’s not my fault you don’t say anything.”
As she looks out the window, he notices a tall dark-haired man come towards his table.
“Oh! Oh my God! It’s you! I saw you from across the restaurant and wanted to say hi, but wasn’t sure.” The dark-haired man was addressing her.
She turns her head to him and immediately lights up. “Oh my gosh! It’s so good to see you!” As she is about to get up to hug him, a woman comes up behind him with a big grin on her face. The woman slips her hand into his.
“This is, this is Ronald White,” she says deflated, falling back into her chair. She doesn’t know where to look.
“Oh. It’s good to meet you.” Her friend says, shaking Ronald’s hand from his chair.
“And this is Mrs. Ronald White!” Ronald says, grabbing his arm around her and then quickly pecking her lips.
The woman at the table glances at Mr. White’s dimples. The man at the table notices that the woman standing before him is taller than himself.
“Oh, Mrs. White,” he says with a smirk, “this is my old friend, Lisa. We grew up on the same street.”
“Hi Lisa.” She says faintly, delicately shaking her hand.
“Are you two…?” asks Ronald, pointing back and forth.
“Oh us?” Lisa’s friend says. “Oh no! We’re just really good friends. A month from now, we would have known each other for nine years. You know, today is her birthday.”
“Really? Well gee whiz, happy birthday!” Ronald says.
There is a pause.
“Well that’s really something. Anyway, me and the Mrs. are meeting some friends. It’s good to see you again!”
As he walks away, with his wife holding his hand, he slightly tilts himself and waves goodbye. His wife follows behind him with jolting pushy movements.
In Lisa’s imagination, they are taking a midnight walk underneath the bridge. He comes close to her, with one hand behind his back holding something.
“I need to ask you something that I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time.” He grabs her tightly around the waist, his body at hers.
In her mind, she gets excited, the question on her lips. I will, she whispers, I will. “What is it?” She asks with a fluttering heart.
“Do you want to just be friends?” He says, squeezing more tightly around her waist.
She releases all the breath she held, and moves her gaze over the dirty pebbles. She wants to pick up all the pebbles with her fingers and shove them in his mouth, but his grip is too tight for her to move.
A fierce glow falls over his face and he reveals the stone he was holding. He raises his arm and in a quick motion smashes her face in with the rock.
In her mind, laying cold on the wet pebbles, she thought she had time to fight back.
“What’s wrong?” His voice is distant. “You have to tell me. Tell me.”
She can hardly hear him, staring out the window at the blinding river. The last words she heard were, “Here is your food.”